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comment by kantos
kantos  ·  872 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: On Veganism

    So. A few things to consider, to add to this ethical confusion of yours.

Woohoo!

    Is comparing the animal food industry to the Holocaust or any other type of genocide pretty hyperbolic? Is it really fair to say the life of one pig is equal to the life of one man when the man had the potential to not only live longer, but contribute so much more to his community?

With regard to the Holocaust, on the basis of treating sentient people, my perception is "not really," though imparting a bit less cognitive ability on animals in today's industry. On the other hand, by virtue of man's cranial development alongside our suite of tools via evolution (hands, bipedalism, etc.), it makes for a funny point comparing a pig to a man in terms of contributing to the greater good as it were. Boiling it down for what a pig can do for our man-made country sounds more of a moot point. In the realm of "What you do defines you," the man wins out - considering the blanket notion they'll live a productive life. A difference lies in the basis of what is valued as productive seeing as it's relative term with human connotations. As in, what's productive to a pig in its community is likely different to us. I get the thought this is splitting hairs, though.

    Is it fair for vegans to decry the animal food industry on environmental grounds and then turn around and criticize the development of GMOs? The very development of GMOs will allow us to yield more food per acre and per gallon of water, allowing us to potentially reduce the amount of farm land used, giving us the chance to put that land to better use, up to and including letting it return to its natural state.

The GMO point, in truth, was more a side. This is the stance I take when wrestling with my eldest brother, the one who nudged me in this direction in the first place. I can't say I'm an expert in the field, so I'll abstain from making myself read as foolish. :)

    Knowing that to exist is to consume and to consume is to destroy, do you think that you as an individual will eventually find peace both with yourself as well as the world around you by embracing vegan philosophy? There is a great difference between constantly trying to better yourself and burdening yourself with a sense of guilt, inadequacy, and powerlessness. Are you motivating yourself for the right reasons?

Ha. I just got through the One-is-All, All-is-One episode of FMA. (cough nerd moment, apologies) This, again, is something that I've fallen in line with reasoning - hence the silliness of my raising my own farm sentence. Frankly, a basis with which I'm thinking veganism in general is a bit silly compounded with our current theory of evolution. Which, mind you, I'm fully aware in this context nearly contradicts my comments above if taken at face value.

I do like how you point that idea out of what I'd be going through carrying mental weight. I've sustained the "eat less meat" initiative, witnessed by my grocery receipt, in part a remnant of the "down with the man" mentality against food industry. But, now if I'm out of my normal environment: back home with family, at an event with friends, going out to eat, then I don't limit myself so much, if at all. Of late, my mentality has shifted away from the previous ideal towards enabling myself to eat a proper diet. I've gone back to eating other animal products like eggs and yogurt, and I've drastically increased the amount of fruits and nuts I buy. Funny how it feels like going from one extreme forces me to temper myself to a mid-point between where I was and what I sought to achieve.

    Personally, while I do not think I could live a vegetarian let alone a vegan life, I have high respect for people that do. Also, while I've known few vegans in person, the ones I do know are intelligent, articulate, and respectable, just like you are. That said, I have seen people online take veganism to unhealthy logical and philisophical extremes and I think maybe they would have done well if early in their attempts if people told them, "Do your best, but don't become obsessive."

Wowzers. I really do appreciate that. This rant (slash thoughts I've been having for a while) feels to be a bit its own counterweight. As my ol' Colonel always said "Everything in moderation". I'm coming to find its one hell of a catch-all motto.




user-inactivated  ·  871 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Alright. So I’m gonna want you to bear with me here, because I don’t think you’re gonna necessarily like everything I have to say in my first few paragraphs. Bear with me though, because I’m going somewhere with this that I’m hoping might help a little bit here.

So first I want to start with the desire to refer to the meat industry as a “holocaust” or “genocide.” Genocide is a very strong, very serious term with a lot of emotional, political, and historical baggage. It is so loaded that different people view the term in different ways though there are some underlying similarities between them all. With that in mind, let’s just look at Wikipedia’s opening definiton of the term. “Genocide is the intentional action to systematically eliminate an ethnic, national, racial, or religious group.” The meat industry is none of those things. These animals have no religion or nationality that we are trying to crush and we are not trying to drive these animals to extinction. When people refer to the meat industry as a genocide they’ve suddenly made their positions seem unrealistic to the people they’re trying to persuade and at the same time, they’re cheapening a very serious word. In all seriousness, they are not the victims of genocide, they are a commodity. But, that is not to say that means they’re not victims of mistreatment and that the meat industry does not have its issues.

You have some very real concerns about consuming animals as meat and consuming animal products. Saying that you object to the meat industry because it’s like a “genocide” is being lazy. You need to think about why you object to the meat industry and what about it concerns you. Are you concerned about how the over use of antibiotics are causing medicine resistant bacteria? Are you concerned about the fact that raising beef cattle uses up an alarming amount of resources, from water to land, that could be put to better use? What about over fishing? The inhumane practices of factory farming in general? You need to think long and hard about these things, and trust me when I say it’s not pleasant to do so, and think about why you find them objectionable. By doing so you’ll have a better foundation for the arguments you want to make. Saying “I object to the meat industry because it’s genocide” isn’t going to get you very far with people. Saying “I do not eat meat because I have concerns about X, Y, and Z” will get people to take much more seriously.

If there is one more thing I would say, it is to take it one step further and think about why others might support the meat industry and the various practices in it. As a whole, it creates jobs and drives our economy while at the same time allowing us to afford meat at a crazy cheap price these days. People argue that using antibiotics and growth hormones allow for a consistently better, cheaper final product. Factory farming is an efficient use of both physical space as well as resources. On and on. By understanding other people’s positions, you can more easily talk to them in an open and respectful manner and hopefully they’ll do the same towards you. At the same time, while you’ll more than likely be unable to convince others to give up meat altogether, maybe you can influence them to be a little more thoughtful in their consumption, say for example, reducing the amount of wild fish they eat.

Think about that for a bit. Then let’s look at the pig and the man.

    Boiling it down for what a pig can do for our man-made country sounds more of a moot point. In the realm of "What you do defines you," the man wins out - considering the blanket notion they'll live a productive life. A difference lies in the basis of what is valued as productive seeing as it's relative term with human connotations. As in, what's productive to a pig in its community is likely different to us. I get the thought this is splitting hairs, though.

From my perspective, and I cannot stress that enough when I say from my perspective, no amount of hair splitting is going to change the fact the value of a pig and the value of a man are incomparable. Additionally, we need to look at this value in terms of human connotations because humans are the driving factor in animal consumption, it’s humans you’ll be having these conversations with, and ultimately, you’re trying to navigate in a world dominated by man who dictate what is and isn’t socially acceptable.

So with that, let’s look at a pig. A pig is a pig and if you go to the grocery store you can get a pound of pork product for about five or six bucks. That’s raised, slaughtered, shipped, cut, and ready to cook. That’s disgustingly cheap. That’s so cheap that most people won’t second guess whether or not they can afford to eat pork chops that night. That’s so cheap that almost no one appreciates the fact that they’re eating an animal with an intelligence that’s considered to be greater than that of their own pet dog. That’s so cheap that it almost seems to make pork valueless.

Except that pork has immense value. Someone raised it, someone slaughtered it, someone shipped it to the stores, and someone sold it to your neighbor. That is money in the pockets of each of those people so they can go on living their lives, supporting their family, and enjoying this beautiful world of ours. Similarly, that pork is enjoyed not just by your neighbor, but most likely his friends and family, giving them the nutrition they need to go about their lives, enjoying this world and equally giving back to it.

Now let’s look at a man. Compared to a pig, his value is potentially infinite. A pig can only consume and be consumed. However a man can consume and create. He has the capacity to be an artist or a scientist, a philosopher or a community leader, a factory worker or a teacher. That pig, by giving up his life gives sustenance to men. A man though, by living, gives sustenance to all of humanity through culture, knowledge, and compassion.

Think about that for a minute. Now think back to the term “genocide.” A genocide is more than the destruction of a group of people, it is the destruction of their culture, their values, and their potential to make the world a better place in their own ways. Pigs do not have culture, men do. Pigs do have value, but men infinitely more. That said, I don't think it takes any stretch of the imagination to say that even as food, pigs deserve as much humane treatment as possible. It's the least we can do for them, seeing as how they're here to support us.

Now, I want to take you on a bit of a detour here, about something I touched in my earlier response. Namely this sentence . . .

    Knowing that to exist is to consume and to consume is to destroy, do you think that you as an individual will eventually find peace both with yourself as well as the world around you by embracing vegan philosophy?

Veganism is a very noble mindset, but it isn’t a complete solution. Just by existing, we change the world around us. If you were to switch to an all vegetable diet and lifestyle, your consumption will still cause harm. Pesticides known as neonicotiniods are suspected to be responsible for the collapse of bee colonies all over the planet. Fertilizer runoff from farmland is one of the main causes of harmful algae blooms. Your use of electronics is a direct cause for the exploitation of cheap labor overseas. If you’re an American, the amount of waste you create on a yearly basis is absolutely mind blowing. On and on I can go, but I don’t mean to depress you. In fact, I want to encourage you. You yourself said . . .

    Frankly, a basis with which I'm thinking veganism in general is a bit silly compounded with our current theory of evolution. Which, mind you, I'm fully aware in this context nearly contradicts my comments above if taken at face value.

    I do like how you point that idea out of what I'd be going through carrying mental weight. I've sustained the "eat less meat" initiative, witnessed by my grocery receipt, in part a remnant of the "down with the man" mentality against food industry. But, now if I'm out of my normal environment: back home with family, at an event with friends, going out to eat, then I don't limit myself so much, if at all. Of late, my mentality has shifted away from the previous ideal towards enabling myself to eat a proper diet. I've gone back to eating other animal products like eggs and yogurt, and I've drastically increased the amount of fruits and nuts I buy. Funny how it feels like going from one extreme forces me to temper myself to a mid-point between where I was and what I sought to achieve.

What you’re describing here is mindfulness. Your entire original post in fact is about how you’re trying to reconcile how you view the world and how you want to interact with it. Where you are mentally right now is a very important place to be. You’re paying attention to your actions with a desire to not just do less harm, but do more good, not just for the world around you, but yourself as well. Embrace this mentality every time you can. You don’t have to turn your whole world upside down though. Small changes and careful actions can be enough to start making a difference without driving yourself crazy. Me? I’ve cut my beef consumption literally in half and I can’t remember the last time I had a fish dinner. All because of a few articles I read and an evening of introspection.

Even better though, is that you’ll soon find that your mentality really will rub off on other people, as long as you stay positive and respectful. Sometimes just saying “Hey, this factory farming concerns me and here’s why” is enough to not only cause yourself to behave more responsibly, but it’s enough to get others to think about how they’re behaving as well. Today you’re talking about meat consumption. Tomorrow you’ll be talking about protecting biodiversity. Next year, sustainable energy, addressing the very legitimate criticisms of fair trade and God only knows what else. The world is getting smaller every year, with more and more human connections being made on a daily basis. Keep them positive and you’ll be helping to change the world for the better.

Just remember. Slow down a bit. Do your best, but don't become obsessive.

KurtAlder  ·  871 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I've read this entire thread and I just wanted to thank you for this great write-up.

arguewithatree  ·  870 days ago  ·  link  ·  

same. nothing new to add but just wanted to put extra emphasis on the "don't compare eating meat to genocide/rape/slavery/etc" point. don't do it.

kantos  ·  867 days ago  ·  link  ·  

This has taken me longer to write a reply than I would have liked, especially given the amount of time I've spent reading it, contemplating it in comparison to previous opinions, and more outside reading(s). Can't quite put into words other than "thank you" for taking the time and patience to spell out and stick to what you meant. So from what I'm gathering, the notion of looking at the industry in terms of a "Holocaust," (in your words genocide) is flawed in terms of the intent of the industry: not to wipe out or exterminate whereas the former hinges on. Thus, looking at systematic slaughter of such an industry in that light would be close-minded and looking at only a snapshot of the process, applying a vastly different connotation. More or less along those lines? Pardon if that seems repetitive/parroting, it's more for my digestion, if anything.

The framing of the pig argument makes sense. I understand my position was the intrinsic value of life in such a sense would be equal. Again. Can't say much based on your response.

Honestly, I can't help but be amazed at the logical and compassionate approach you took throughout the discussion. I appreciate the time you put into it, I'm like to circle around to this later. And to do some more readings of my own... Thank you.

user-inactivated  ·  866 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Yeah. I think you pretty much understand why I and many other people object to referring the meat industry as a "holocaust" or "genocide" isn't really appropriate. While there might be some similar elements, depending on how you look at them, the actual end goal is something completely different. At its core, the goal is to feed people and make money. You're also absolutely right that connotations play a role in the discussion. By addressing the conversation realistically and accurately, you'll more easily come to understanding the actual issues and have a better chance at trying to address what are some very legitimate concerns.

As for the pig/man comparison, I think we both understand and appreciate where the other person is coming from. I'm actually a huge advocate for conservationism and biodiversity and I do have some very real reservations about the meat industry as well. I think we're really finally starting to see a turning point as a society in truly appreciating how important this fragile planet is to all of us, as evidence from our efforts to support green energy, control harmful emissions, promote renewable forestry, animal conservation, and on and on. I have high hopes that in my lifetime we can really turn this ship around.

I highly encourage you to read away and try to understand a lot of the issues involved. I think the more you read, the less black and white they'll seem, and you'll sway a bit here and there. That's totally okay because there's a lot of ways to look at things. What's right and wrong for the animals. What's right and wrong for us. What is beneficial, what is harmful, what is safe, what is dangerous. There are short term problems and long term problems. There are short term solutions and long term solutions. A lot of these angles conflict with each other and the more information you get, the more difficult the answers seem to come by. It's not always fun to think about and it's definitely not easy, but it's how the world is.

If I were to say one more thing, if you really look into this stuff, there are a lot of alarming videos and pictures out there. Don't look at them. You'll just upset yourself and there's no point. You and I both know already that animals out there are being hurt and that more often than not it is unnecessary and things need to change. You and I both know that we would like to see that change sooner rather than later. Those videos though? Those pictures? They will make you feel angry, they will make you feel powerless, and they while those feelings are absolutely rational and completely justified, they're not really going to do much to help you. To put it succinctly, seeing is believing, but you already believe it, so you don't need to see it.

user-inactivated  ·  866 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Let me get back at you later tonight, when I can get in front of my computer and write out a thoughtful response. :)

kantos  ·  867 days ago  ·  link  ·  
This comment has been deleted.