# Vegetarian's guide to talking to carnivores

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by James R, Aug 29, 2011.

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1. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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And only true for vegetarians if they eat factory-farmed vegetables.

3. ### TrippyALEA IACTA ESTStaff Member

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Which, Ironically, is kind of the point that I am trying to make.

The only person who can come close to claiming the moral highground - at least in terms of environmentalism is a vegan on a dairy free diet that eats only organically produced, locally grown produce.

Anybody else, including James, is nothing but a hypocrite.

5. ### quadraphonicsBloodthirsty BarbarianValued Senior Member

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You're glossing over the fact that my entire point in that post was that your definition of "speciesism" is ill-defined, and clearly constructed as a rhetorical cudgel. It was designed that way, coined as it was by animal rights activists given to such modes of argumentation (clearly, men after your own heart, to judge by your ongoing enthusiasm in regurgitating their rhetoric and positions here). Not all definitions are equal, so here we go:

Unlike "speciesism," whose definition still struggles under the troll legacy that people like Ryder and Singer built into it, I don't find much basis for that assertion in the definitions of "racism" that I've seen. They usually don't say anything about how the position is arrived at or justified. They mostly state that racism is "the belief that one or more races are inherently superior to one or more other races" or something like "the belief that inherent differences between the races determine relative levels of individual and cultural achievement."

To see why the inclusion of "prejudice" is ill-posed: under that definition of racism, the moment anybody gives any kind of reasoned justification for their position (even one you disagree with), you can no longer call them a "racist." Even if they emphatically hold that one or more races are inherently superior to others. That's nonsense - one is (or is not) a racist on the basis of what one believes about the inherent differences between races, and the role that race plays in determining achievement. How such a position was arrived at is immaterial to the question of whether the position is racist or not. And let's note that pretty much any famously racist ideologue in history would have to be discounted from the category "racist," since they all produced (sometimes baroque) justifications for their positions. You'd have to exclude Adolph Hitler from "racism" under that definition, to go right for the Godwin on this example.

To shoehorn such a qualifier into the definition of "racism," then, is a cheap rhetorical tactic - a sneaky way of pretending to know the minds of your opponents, asserting your superiority to such, and rejecting all of their arguments out-of-hand on that basis.

And the guy who looks around at, say, the standards of living in different parts of the world, notes that "white" people seem to be doing better in those terms than "black" people, and concludes that black people are inferior to white people, is making a reasoned assertion of superiority. I wouldn't agree with his reasoning, but are we supposed to disqualify him from the category "racist" just because he came up with some reasoning?

If not, then how is it that we're supposed exclude you from the category of "speciesism?" And if you're going to continue to use the term to mean "prejudice" and apply it to those who disagree with you, then how can anyone have a reasoned conversation with you? You're going to reject any reasoning they present and insist that they're speaking from a position of uncritical prejudice, unless they agree with you. This is just another iteration of the standard "you're all sheeple, I'm a special snowflake" troll premise we see so frequently around here. It depends on the conceit that one can know the minds of others better than they do themselves, and so it is unerringly inflammatory and distracting. If you want to discuss the issues, then this is the last thing you want in your thread.

Now, there is something to the observation that many people in a given society will fall in with the prevailing cultural attitudes without giving them much critical thought. But the thetorical tactic of equating the basic attitudes with the uncritical acceptance is a bridge too far - it is not the case that one ceases to be a speciesist the moment one gives some argument to justify one's position, any more than one ceases to be a racist the moment one gives some argument in justification of that. So we can see why that approach backfires: the first thing people do when confronted with such accusations, is to cook up some supporting arguments - which under your definition absolves them of speciesism even if they do not change their position in the slightest. Meanwhile, people are (rightly) apt to take offense at the spectacle of someone who does not believe in equality calling them an <whatever>ist, and pretending to know what led others to their positions (and, further, that such was uncritical chauvinism).

That "like as like" qualifier there - it leads to some vexatious aesthetic concerns, if you actually start digging under it.

To put it another way: it's exactly the same principle that everyone starts with. You add in the obvious dissimilarities between humans and various other animals, and you quickly notice that the usual hierarchy of species values expressed by humans tracks them: killing humans is a huge no-no, killing great apes is really bad, killing monkeys is still bad, chickens and cows can be killed but not mistreated, plants and insects can be systematically wiped out for reasons of simple momentary convenience, bacteria and algae don't even merit thinking about, etc.

Which is to say that you're down to a quibble, in the larger scheme of things - you want to move a small set of species a small jump up the hierarchy. This is one reason why going around calling everyone who disagrees a "speciesist" is hysterical and counterproductive. The other is that you're having to shoehorn "ignorant/uncritical/prejudiced" into the definition to justify such, and thereby using it as a term of art for insulting the intelligence and insight of anyone who disagrees with you.

If you want to have a mature, adult discussion about this, then the very first thing you need to do is to drop the whole "speciesist" label and just deal with the actual abstract moral issues you claim to want to. "Speciesism" is a polemic element, so unless you're advancing a polemic you should avoid it studiously.

Sure - but it's still speciesism, because it explicitly holds certain species to be inherently superior to others. A reasoned assertion of superiority is still an assertion of superiority, and the only sensible definitions of "<whatever>ism" feature said relations of superiority as primary elements. Unreason is unreason, and should be criticized on its own, not bound up with assertion of superiority in order to fashion a blunt object for rhetorical muggings. Unless one is a rhetorical mugger, of course.

You're confusing the question of something being obvious or self-evident, with it being mere prejudice. I.e., the exact reason that your example of restrictions on childrens rights is rhetorically attractive, is precisely that such differences are just obvious. They don't require any substantive reasoning, only cursory observation.

All of which gets to why these overblown generalizations are a distraction: everybody here is a speciesist - nobody is taking the position of species equality. The differences are only over exactly how superior humans are, and what that amounts to when it comes to food production. And the basis for the general agreement, is exactly the same as in the case of children - it's just plain obvious from observing, say, chickens and humans that the two species are not equal in the relevant sense. We'd never let a chicken drive a car, or own property, or vote in an election, and nobody (including yourself) seems to feel any need to provide any detailed reasoning to support that - which I guess makes everyone here (including yourself) a speciesist even in your prejudicial sense.

That you don't like the arguments, or that you have managed to troll participants here into arguing such poorly, doesn't mean that the arguments don't exist out there. I'll leave anyone interested to spend 30 seconds on Google, and content myself with a quote from Benjamin Franklin on why he gave up on vegetarianism (and which I find manifoldly applicable in this particular context):

"So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do."

I.e., how are we to know that you didn't come by your own position through uncritical prejudice, and then later marshall some justifications in defense of that? Certainly, that would be the usual way that vegetarians (and people in general) operate. And it would make your charges of speciesism as applicable to you as to anyone.

So you agree that anyone who can provide a reason for their belief in racial inequality, is not a racist?

Note that, as Benjamin Franklin makes clear, that would mean that there is no such thing as a racist. Or a speciesist. Those two terms would just by straw men used for cheap rhetorical purposes; ways of calling those who disagree with you uncritical fools.

The only way you can make all this stuff work consistently, is to use the obvious definitions of the words. There's no need to shoehorn a "prejudice" qualifier into them. We already have a word for prejudice, of any kind: it's "prejudice."

Nobody is fudging anything there - the relevant sense of "equality" was obvious throughout. You're just injecting a canned talking point in some kind of cheap blogsmanship maneuver. I'll thank you to drop this line of distraction, and also delete your subsequent accusations of mistakes on my part, which you addressed to others. That sort of thing being a petty, personal attack, and an exceedingly cheap and childish one at that.

I'm curious, then - what is the unequivocable, doubt-annihilating information that has made it morally acceptable to treat plants as inferior to animals, and all the other inequality relations in your hierarchy of species rights and values?

What is the level of "doubt" at which this maxim kicks in?

You've given reasons why you don't think people should kill animals for food. But I haven't heard any justifications for the manifold moral inequality relations in your species hierarchy - and given that you've been emphatic that "it's obvious" is insufficient, that would seem to make you a prejudiced, uncritical speciesist.

That's pretty rich, coming from someone who has contributed entire posts in this very thread that were nothing more than overt, petty personal attacks on myself. And who went on to bad-mouth me to other participants in this thread on the basis of some cooked-up accusation that I hadn't even had time to refute. How about you do the mature thing, and spare us all this silly charade of superiority and elevation?

7. ### chimpkinC'mon, get happy!Registered Senior Member

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@ Gustav...

I already eat, and like, nutritional yeast.
Bacterial-culture not garnered directly from unpurified sewage, turned pseudomeat, yeah I would eat that...

But there's no way I'm eating an aburger.

uke:

This can be said to be true, at least in upper New York State: allowing ruminants to use marginal lands may actually be more efficient than a pure vegetarian diet...

http://www.enn.com/top_stories/article/23653

It's just that where I live, things are so far away from this ideal it's not even funny. Where I live there's lots of least decent farmland that has irrigation networks set up and could be providing a handy city of 4 million people fresh, cheap produce...and we grow slabs of saint augustine grass for turfing backyards.
This is coastal prarie-not the best soil, but not bad, and can be worked with. The weather can support a pretty much year-round growing season.

And all the freaking produce comes from California...

even the big local farmer's market sells a majority of nonlocal produce...and it is trucked here from California!
It's nuts!

11. ### chimpkinC'mon, get happy!Registered Senior Member

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Between my depression and the 105 F drought, the garden ate it this summer...but there's winter veg to plant soon...

12. ### TrippyALEA IACTA ESTStaff Member

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Which ties back into a point that myself, and others have made several times now.

13. ### billvonValued Senior Member

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"Sterilized" is the key word there.

We all live in a world covered with a thin layer of feces. The trick is just not getting too high a concentration of the really bad pathogens.

14. ### AsguardKiss my dark sideValued Senior Member

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i agree, my point was with Gustav's vacume packed shit. It would be highly sterilised to the point it would have ALOT less pathogens on it than your average letus

15. ### TrippyALEA IACTA ESTStaff Member

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Pre packaged salads are one of the leading causes of E. coli poisoning.

16. ### chimpkinC'mon, get happy!Registered Senior Member

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Those are expensive, trippy.

The marginal lands could be used for grazing. Or other things?

I hope at some point we'll have our population down to where we have wildland space...or more than now...as I think some land dedicated to wild ecosystems is desirable.

I mentioned earlier the case for wild-caught meat, and that is it: you have to leave the entire ecosystem at least somewhat intact for wild-catch to happen.

Does using marginal lands cause deterioration of said marginal lands and erosion? Or is there a way to rotate the animals with green manure covers, so as to make the pasturage sustainable?

And none of this is being done in the US. I've read here we put in up to ten calories of fossil fuel to make one calorie of food.

That's kind of alarming...

Last edited: Sep 13, 2011
17. ### TrippyALEA IACTA ESTStaff Member

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Among other things.

When most people think of New Zealand, they think of this:

What they don't realize is that there are significant portions of New Zealand that look more like this:

Or this:
http://www.odt.co.nz/files/story/20...s_look_set_for_a_good_year_fin_4d51112ca7.JPG

Which is generaly too dry for anything other than sheep and beef, so to suggest that sheep and beef requires large tracts of prime land is somewhat misleading.

18. ### keith1Guest

Good Vegan fare has yet made the essential cross-over to franchise drive-up restaurant.
One doesn't attack a culinary taste routine. One gives easy access to what is a publicly unknown flavor experience.

19. ### chimpkinC'mon, get happy!Registered Senior Member

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True that.
Usually there's something on any given menu for us though... Limited, but usually something.

I've gone to restaurants though and been stuck eating a salad and fries...

Chinese food makes the jump best.

Last edited: Sep 13, 2011
20. ### chimpkinC'mon, get happy!Registered Senior Member

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http://www.thecattlesite.com/articles/731/grazing-studies-what-weve-learned

And it actually seems that low density with continuous graze is generally the best practice for both profit and sustainable harvest, but the tendency is to overstock the land, even though there's less profits to be had.

Long-term, overstock is going to ruin the pasturage.

Wonder if it would be too cold for this fruiting cactus in NZ:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cereus_repandus

(Glad I looked that up, I think I shall try to grow it...OTOH, Prickly Pears are native...)

Last edited: Sep 13, 2011
21. ### TrippyALEA IACTA ESTStaff Member

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There's a rotating system that I've come accross, the guts of it is that you graze (for example) the cattle in a field, move them onto the next field, and then you get chickens in, because as the chickens get at the bugs in and under the cow-pats, they spread them accross the field, making them more effective as fertilizer, so off the same pasture, you get grass fed beef, free range chickens, and free range eggs.

22. ### quadraphonicsBloodthirsty BarbarianValued Senior Member

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The intensive part (in land-use, resource consumption, energy usage, etc.) is the industrial aspect of meat production. Stuff like warehouses full of chickens or, in the case of beef, the corn-fattening stage at the end. The cattle industry in my neck of the woods is split into two levels: ranchers, and huge feeding/slaughter/processing/distribution companies. Most of the cattle's lives are spent grazing in desolate backwoods ranches like you picture there, and then once they're mature they're sold off to mega-corporations that truck them thousands of miles away to feedlots, pump them full of corn feed (grown on irrigated, agricultural lands - obviously - and with fossil-fuel derived fertilizers), ship them off to slaughter, then a bunch of refrigerated and frozen shipping all over the continent, etc.

Suffice it to say that all that transport, corn, antibiotics, processing, etc. that accounts for the lion's share of the environmental impact. The upshot is that eating local, grass-fed beef puts said impact into the same ballpark as eating produce (particularly, industrially-produced produce). This is less of an issue in countries that don't have huge industrial corn-growing regions and giant far-flung populations to feed, but do have lots of good pasture-land for cattle. I'd be interested in reading a comparison of the environmental impact of industrial US beef vs. that in New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, etc., if anybody knows of any references. Another issue to consider is the carbon footprint of imported meats.

It seems like the same should go for chicken - industrial warehouses full of corn-fed, antibiotic-pumped flocks vs. backyard coops of chickens wandering around eating worms and scraps. Likewise, industrial fishing/fish farms vs. pulling a fish out of the water yourself and tossing it on the barbeque). The differences between eating industrial meat vs. local meat (and likewise, veggies) are so huge that it seems stilted to present it as a question of meat vs. veggies, rather than industrial vs. not. I.e., I'd hazard that someone eating only local foods (veggies, meat, dairy, whatever) would exhibit a much lower environmental impact than someone eating a vegetarian diet without concern for locality.

23. ### TiassaLet us not launch the boat ...Staff Member

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Economics, Food Production, and Environment

Source: The New York Times
Title: "The Carnivore's Dilemma", by Nicolette Hahn Niman
Date: October 30, 2009

A rancher from California wrote, in 2009:

It's true that food production is an important contributor to climate change. And the claim that meat (especially beef) is closely linked to global warming has received some credible backing, including by the United Nations and University of Chicago. Both institutions have issued reports that have been widely summarized as condemning meat-eating.

But that's an overly simplistic conclusion to draw from the research. To a rancher like me, who raises cattle, goats and turkeys the traditional way (on grass), the studies show only that the prevailing methods of producing meat — that is, crowding animals together in factory farms, storing their waste in giant lagoons and cutting down forests to grow crops to feed them — cause substantial greenhouse gases. It could be, in fact, that a conscientious meat eater may have a more environmentally friendly diet than your average vegetarian ....

.... In contrast to traditional farms, industrial livestock and poultry facilities keep animals in buildings with mechanized systems for feeding, lighting, sewage flushing, ventilation, heating and cooling, all of which generate emissions. These factory farms are also soy guzzlers and acquire much of their feed overseas. You can reduce your contribution to carbon dioxide emissions by avoiding industrially produced meat and dairy products.

Unfortunately for vegetarians who rely on it for protein, avoiding soy from deforested croplands may be more difficult: as the Organic Consumers Association notes, Brazilian soy is common (and unlabeled) in tofu and soymilk sold in American supermarkets.

Methane is agriculture's second-largest greenhouse gas. Wetland rice fields alone account for as much 29 percent of the world's human-generated methane. In animal farming, much of the methane comes from lagoons of liquefied manure at industrial facilities, which are as nauseating as they sound.

It's an interesting article, considering CO[sub]2[/sub] ("In American farming, most carbon dioxide emissions come from fuel burned to operate vehicles and equipment"), N[sub]2[/sub]O ("More than three-quarters of farming's nitrous oxide emissions result from manmade fertilizers ... you can reduce nitrous oxide emissions by buying meat and dairy products from animals that were not fed fertilized crops—in other words, from animals raised on grass or raised organically"), and CH[sub]4[/sub] ("You can reduce your methane emissions by seeking out meat from animals raised outdoors on traditional farms").

Indeed, on that last, Argentinean efforts to reduce the methane emissions of cattle found that switching cattle from grain to clover and alfalfa would reduce the CH[sub]4[/sub] output by twenty-five percent, which equaled at the time about seven and a half percent of the nation's total greenhouse emissions. As I wrote then:

We might not be able to stop having more children than we can afford, or driving single-occupancy cars and SUVs everywhere (unless, of course, gasoline gets too expensive), but by gum, we're going to take cow farts seriously.​

In the end, the great questions of diet are matters of the marketplace. It occurs to me to wonder, if a socialist counterpart was correct once upon a time that the planet could support fifty billion people, what our moral obligations would be then. I mean, at some point, I suppose it's possible that our flatulence could become an environmental threat. Textured vegetable protein and Bean-o for everyone.

But more realistically, any approach to recrafting the species in the name of morality is going to have to address economic questions.