Vegetarian's guide to talking to carnivores

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

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    so you think the destuction of the whole enviroment is less important than wether we eat what we were designed by nature to eat. Seriously you think a cow is more important than the whole barrier reef and the EXTINTION of every coral on earth?
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Your religion and culture have quite a lot to say about morality. They even have a lot to say specifically about eating as a moral issue.

    Isn't your position that eating is not a moral issue inconsistent with your religion? You're Muslim, aren't you? The Qur'an has quite a lot to say about the morals of eating.

    The fact that some human beings throughout history have eaten other humans doesn't mean that they did not in general distinguish humans-as-food from other food sources.

    Human communities in which eating human beings is not taboo are very rare these days. And where that does happen, there are usually all kinds of rituals and rules surrounding the practice. It is very much considered a moral issue, or more accurately a religious or spiritual one.

    If you asked them whether it would be acceptable to kill and cook up a random tribe member for the Sunday barbecue, what do you think they'd say?

    By the way, I've noticed how in this post you've conflated the eating of already-dead creatures (who died natural deaths) with the deliberate killing of creatures for food. The moral issues are somewhat different in the two cases.

    Crocodiles aren't big on moral philosophy, I have noticed. But human beings say that we are moral creatures. Go figure.

    Would you object to being killed and eaten, personally, SAM? Do you think that there should be laws in place to prevent other people from killing and eating you? (I'm sure you're aware that there are, in fact, such laws in place.)

    What about other people? Say, your friends or family. Would you object to their being killed and eaten? Or would that just be a personal choice that the killer made, and not a moral issue?
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Obviously, if the whole environment goes then what we eat becomes irrelevant. But if we all stop eating meat the whole environment won't be destroyed, so I don't think there's a need to hoist the "We're all going to die!" signs quite yet.

    Yeah. That's what I remember saying. I think. Er... yes, I must have. Sounds eminently sensible and like a position I would seriously argue. Not at all a straw man.

    Goodnight Asguard.
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    yes it IS what you implied, you might not have actually THOUGHT about it because its easier not to but it is the imlications of this

  8. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    We have an incredible amount of it now.

    There are 756 U.S. Federal Wilderness areas that take up ~110 million acres, and another ~4 million acres in State, Tribal and Private wilderness areas.

    Then there is also the National Wildlife Refuge areas (some overlap of course, but approx 120 million acres are not Wilderness)
    There is also the National Forest Service which manages 197 million acres, of which 35 million are Wilderness.
    There are also 20 National Grasslands of almost 4 million acres

    To put this amount of land in perspective (Wilderness, NWRA, Natl Forests & Grasslands), these areas are well over three times the size of California.

    I agree that is a good thing, but still we are being over-run by Deer.
    In the early 1900's there were an estimated 500,000 white-tailed deer in the United States but today there are over 20 million deer in the United States and numbers are rising.

    Which makes them by far the most dangerous animal in North America.

    Not if done correctly.

    No it's not.

    There are ~310 million of us in the US.
    At an average 2,000 calories per day, plus 30% waste, or 2,600 calories per day per person that's ~950,000 per adult per year.

    Assume we are all adults, that's ~300 Trillion Calories per year

    At 10 to get 1 ratio, that's 3,000 Trillion Calories of fossil fuel.

    Convert that to BTUs at 1 Calorie = 0.00396566683 BTU

    That's gives us 3,000 Trillion Calories = 1.2*10^13 BTUs

    A Quad of energy is 10^15 BTUs

    Or we use 0.012 of a Quad of enegy for this.

    But we use ~95 Quads of energy per year.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    My guess is we probably use more than 10 Calories to get one.

    I suspect they were using Kilocalories, or 1,000 times that (1 kcal = 3.96 BTU), but even then that's still only 1/12th of a Quad.

    In any case it's a difficult number to pin down because fuel is used to make fertilizer, run the farm equipment needed to plant, irrigate and harvest as well as light the lights and provide heat/cooling and also as fuel to transport and keep cool and retail the products, but those cross many sectors and the EIA simply doesn't break it out.

    Still, when I look at the energy use in the US, I'd be surprised if agriculture was that big of a percentage. Cars, Trucks, houses, commercial buildings and factories seem to me to be far larger users of energy then farms are.

  9. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

    None, haven't needed to.

    So I see that now you've had to give up on your point about the requirement of thinking about death, and now it's just about pain.
    But we can kill animals in ways that they don't feel pain so that is not a valid issue either.

    And thus the whole point of this TROLL exercise goes up in smoke, you think the rest of us are less moral than you, but as usual, you are wrong.


    You can't be tried for MURDER in any country in the world for killing a chicken.
    Why do I know?
    Because if there WAS a country that did so, PETA would be all over it.

    Doesn't mean all laws will eventually be found to be wrong James or that killing a chicken will ever be equal to murder.
    Got an example where a bill to make killing a food animal the same as murder James, or are you going to admit that no country's laws agree with your view of morality.

    We didn't just evolve to be able to eat meat, we evolved with meat as a required part of our diet.
    Long term Veganism is possible only because we became smart enough to figure out how to create a diet that excludes meat by including very specific high protein sources and unusual foods that contain the required trace elements, but in no way is a vegan diet natural or workable for all people.
    So this is an argument based solely on nutrition and like I said a proper human diet from things you can grow yourself requires meat.
    Or do you think we should look down on people who grow their own food as morally inferior?

    Is it immoral to be an Inuit?

    Last edited: Sep 13, 2011
  10. billvon Valued Senior Member

    ?? Several studies have shown that plants react to damage, interact with their environment, desire to survive (and move to do so) plan for the future by storing food supplies, show altruism, drop leaves before the first snow to protect their bodies etc etc.

    Tony Feather
    Environmental Graffiti
    June 21, 2008

    What is ‘sentience’? When a person or animal is injured they react by experiencing pain, marshalling the body’s defense systems to repair the damage and begin the process of recovery. The question, surely, is whether we know enough about sentience to be quite certain that plant life does not have it.

    Every ecologist out there, and even amateur gardeners, have been known to swear that plants, too, ‘feel’ things, but it is only recent research that has demonstrated just how ‘intelligent’ they really are. Plant life has a heritage far older than mankind, and in some respects, it makes we humans seem inadequate! Is it not about time to take more notice?

    It is now known that plants have, admittedly in different forms, the same innate abilities as those with which animals and humans make sense of their environment. They see, smell, taste, feel and even listen to their surroundings. Even as seeds, ready to germinate, it’s been proven that they are sensitive to as many as twenty different factors – like the season of the year and where the light is coming from – information they need to decide the right time to start growing!

    A truly remarkable ability to ‘smell’ their surroundings is vital for all plants. Even seeds can detect chemical components of smoke which prompt them to germinate – a natural way of replacing flora lost to forest fires, for example. Trees have defence mechanisms built around this ability. When one tree is attacked by pests, it emits chemical signals to nieghbouring trees, encouraging them to produce chemical deterrents to that pest, ensuring their own safety.

    Dutch scientist Marcel Dicke, of the Agricultural University in Wageningen, Holland, found evidence that all plants perform similar actions to the trees, when under threat from predators. Indeed, the level of sophistication in this process is made all the more remarkable by the fact that the these ‘signals’ encourage production of substances tailored to specific pests!

    An example of this would be the lima bean. When attacked by spider mites, the plant releases a chemical attractant for other types of mite, which prey on the attackers. Some plants help others, as in the case of cabbages, which release foul smelling isothiocyanates, discouraging aphids from attacking neighbouring plants like broad beans.

    Research has also shown that plants actually ‘time’ the release of defensive chemicals, to correspond with the hours of the day when predators are most active. US Department of Agriculture studies in Gainesville, Florida, showed that maize and cotton plants, damaged by certain pests, increased output of chemical ‘help’ signals to pest-killing wasps at the time of day when the wasps are most active.

    Do plants really know when something touches them? If you stroke the leaves of a mimosa plant, they react by closing up at once. Research has shown that in 17 different families of plant, over 1,000 varieties are very sensitive to touch – possibly an ancient inheritance from bacteria, which are known to be the ancestors of all plant life, responding to stimuli with minute electrical impulses.

    The best known ‘touch sensitive’ plants are predators, like the Venus Fly-trap, but this sensitivity is, in some respects, common to all types of plant life, albeit in slower, less immediately noticeable ways. American research, by Professor Mordecai Jaffe in North Carolina, has shown that simply touching and stroking a plant stem, for a few seconds each day, will encourage a thickening of the stem.

    The plant reacts as if it is being subjected to strong winds, and takes appropriate defensive measures. This reaction is used in Japan to ensure strong canes of sugar beet, by striking young plants with broom handles before transplanting them. Amateur gardeners can benefit, too, by stroking young seedlings before planting them out.

    It was in the early years of the last decade that two British scientists, Norman Biddington and Tony Dearman, conducted tests in Warwickshire, proving that stroking young plants with bits of paper actually helped them to combat the effects of both drought and frost, when planted in the outside environment.

    The most amazing thing about plants is their ability to ‘see’. So sensitive to light are they that even the colour of their surroundings can affect their growth and taste! A molecular biologist at Glasgow University, Gareth Jenkins, ran tests proving that proteins within plant cells – called cryptochromes and phytochromes – are extremely light sensitive. So much so, that their ‘sight’ encompasses wavelengths well beyond the range of human vision.

    The plants sense also the direction of the light source, and when the Sun comes up, enhance production of the colourless pigments – quercetin and kaempferol – which help screen them from the more harmful effects of sunlight. Remarkably, the work of Michael J Kasperbauer, US plant physiologist – he’s spent thirty years researching light sensitivity in plants – is causing a real stir among the farming communities.

    Kasperbauer found that the phytochrome protein is colour sensitive to a degree possibly far beyond that of animals and humans. So much so, that the minute variations in the wavelengths of different colours can make a big difference to plant yields.

    In more recent times, many growers plant crops atop great swathes of black plastic sheeting – to retain moisture, discourage weeds and insulate young roots. This has the beneficial effects of reducing the waxiness of plant leaves – thus helping them to retain water more easily, and encouraging the plant to develop resistance to pests.

    The professor showed that changing the colour of the sheeting really can improve both quantity and quality of yield, and even affect the flavour! The secret lies in the fact that the phytochromes in the plants are especially sensitive to the red and ‘far red’ wavelengths.

    If they detect these, they signal that the plant must grow faster and stronger – competing for space because the light makes them respond as if they are hemmed in by other plants, competing for the nutrients. To improve their own chances of dispersing seed for the next generation, they grow taller, and develop more fruit. The tests showed that yields increased by between 20 and 50% when red sheeting was used instead of black.

    Kasperbauer even showed that different coloured sheetings can actually affect the taste of the crop. Turnips were grown on blue, white and green sheeting, and testers reported that the resultant vegetables tasted ‘sharp’, ‘bland’ or ‘almost sweet’ according to the colour. It would seem that the right approach to the planting of crops, in colour terms, could be of enormous benefit to humanity.

    It is now believed that plants have an ability to ‘taste’ their surroundings. Research at the Institute of Arable Crops, in Hertfordshire, England, has revealed a particular gene in plants, which enables root systems to taste the surrounding soil – moving in the direction of the richest sources of nutrition and ammonia, which they need for ‘fixing’ nitrogen. This taste ability is also used in self defence. When a plant ‘tastes’ the secretions of a parasite, it immediately begins to produce defensive substances.

    Prince Charles, heir to the English throne, has long been an outspoken supporter of organic farming methods, and indeed studies have shown – particularly in third world countries – that far less use of pesticides leads not only to healthier and more nutritious crops, but in many cases to a large improvement in the crop yields that such farming produces. It now seems abundantly clear that, in centuries past, when farmers had no choice but the organic route, sustainable growing areas were much easier to retain over long periods

    There is no doubt that plants are far more adaptable than people might ever have believed, nor that they are well equipped to deal with the difficulties that nature might place before them. They have superb defensive mechanisms, respond positively to the right stimuli, and will, if treated properly, yield food and pleasure in great quantities. If sentience were to be measured by the ability to react to the outside world, then surely they would have to qualify?

    As professor Anthony Trewavas, of Edinburgh University, put it: ‘Plants are not as stupid as people think……in fact, in some ways their intelligence exceeds that of humans.’ Perhaps, one day, we will be able to fully comprehend the ways in which plants communicate, and even open up dialogue with them. In the meantime, it would be in our own best interests to remember that plants, like ourselves, really do have ‘feelings’, and that we should give them the respect they truly deserve.

    Again, plants clearly want to survive. They surely have as much of an interest in survival as cows do; witness the extremes they go to to survive when attacked by predators, when living in a stressful environment etc. And they may even feel pain.

    Shouldn't you take the moral high road and not kill plants for your own personal enjoyment? It is possible to chemically synthesize every calorie you need to survive. (Expensive but possible.) Why not avoid killing living beings, rather than make the speciesist decision that some are better than others just because they are different than you are?

    Arguably, so do carrots. You may make a decision that you care about cows but not carrots, but that's not an objective decision; that's a purely subjective decision based on your belief that carrots are not as "worthy" as cows.

    You absolutely are - you're just drawing the line in a different place.

    1) Better use of energy. Vegetables take about 1/10 the energy to grow than meat.

    2) Better use of resources. It takes less land and fertilizer to grow vegetables.

    2) Health reasons. Heavy consumption of meat is a health problem, and leads to cardiovascular disease (among other things.)
  11. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member


    It's a valuable by-product of the poultry industry. 244.html

    As far as a source of Methane, ALL manure handling, chickens, turkeys, pigs, cows, lamb and sheep only accounts for 7% of the US methane production, so it really IS a small amount. Our Landfills outgas twice as much.

  12. Gustav Banned Banned

    the question remains......

    you natter on about cows have an equivalent interests..... do you see plants lacking in this respect? is it solely the fact that they are unable to communicate their "will to live" in a manner that you would find satisfactory? what particular behaviors do you demand of them so they would not end up on your plate?

    would all that be applicable to the plant in general? they have none of these qualities?
  13. Gustav Banned Banned

    sci used to be known as exosci as in exobiology
    i guess we will not be sending james off planet anytime soon since it is entirely possible he might engage in genocide in order to assuage a gnawing hunger
  14. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

  15. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    Yeah, Omnivore's Dilemna has been on my list for quite some time. Probably I'll pick it up once I get through A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. Speaking of which:

    Consider the Lobster
  16. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    Any answer other than "of course not" there is, in my book, a flashing red light indicating major failure of rhetorical sense.

    Is that what you tell yourself?

    Because that's not what I see.

    Is that what you tell youself?

    Because that's not how you're coming off. If it was, you wouldn't be having to issue these self-congratulations in the first place. This is all just another troll premise, attempting to cast yourself as superior.

    It's already been suggested to you repeatedly, in this thread, by myself and numerous others, that you can all the name-calling, for exactly this reason. Instead of doing so, you respond with cheeky defenses of such (the "it generates lively discussion" canard, for one) and double-down on long-winded indictments of the prejudice and other moral and intellectual failings of those you've lumped under certain terms of derision. And, of course, the bald-faced lies describing your behavior as elevated, mature, etc. So, you're a fine one to talk about "resolving issues."

    Again, that's exactly the sort of arrogant premise that guarantees you'll never rise above cheap trolling. You aren't looking to have a conversation, you're looking to assert yourself over your presumed inferiors.

    How are we to determine what cows think about such things? We're supposed to go on what you assert that cows think?

    What would cows think about the corollary to such a decision, which would be that cattle populations would be decimated for want of land and resources? Cattle presumably have a similar interest to humans in the proliferation of their species - how are we to determine that they'd prefer being basically wiped out (but not killed for food), to being maintained in larger numbers, fed and watered, and then ultimately killed painlessly for food? How can we know that they even understand their situation (a prerequisite for possessing interests worthy of consideration, surely)? Wouldn't cattle - as conscious sentient beings - be expressing this preference by working assiduously to escape from captivity, refusing to eat in protest, etc.?

    Yeah, I'm through responding to your troll distraction lines. Taking every opportunity to shoehorn in a stilted analogy to a hot-button social issue is cheap and inflammatory. Just go ahead and leap right to the Auschwitz analogy, so we can invoke Godwin and move on with our lives.

    The questions of what age a child becomes an adult, and how the law ought to deal with the question of the transition period, have no bearing on the basic, obvious difference between children and adults. Indeed, the only reason that adolescents make an interesting boundary case, is exactly that the relevant differences between actual children and actual adults are so clear-cut to begin with.

    That's between you and them, and I'll thank you to stop using this nasty flame tactic of bad-mouthing people to third parties, particularly in the same thread. You're just beating your chest and stirring up shit here, and it's pathetic.

    See above, since you don't seem interested in my actual point.

    And again: see above.

    Jesus fucking Christ - how many paragraphs of this rosy self-congratulation are you going to subject me to? Would it kill you to actually respond substantitively? These self-serving thread narratives are an inane waste of time - it's all there in black and white for anyone to form their own opinion. Frankly, I've long since started interpretting them as concessions of defeat, from fools too proud to know when to shut up.

    There's a good reason for that. If everyone had to sit around and work out an explicit philosophical justification for every aspect of their moral existence, everyone would die long before they got far enough to even justify getting out of bed in the morning.

    You should call it moral intuition. It's the lion's share of human moral calculus, and should not be discounted or derided, generally.

    There's no correlation between intelligence and that process. Smart people and stupid people alike go generally on intuition, and then supply more reasoning when the need arises.

    The fact that you have more ammo for trolling those who disagree with you, is just that. And, indeed, it's most of the point of the above-mentioned process of reasoned justification - the need which provokes such being always and exatly a desire to defend one's views from opposing sentiments.

    Complaining about you making personal attacks on myself, and demanding you redress them, is a "petty personal attack" now? Who do you think you're fooling?

    Have you really not noticed that essentially everyone here is onto your game, and isn't buying the self-serving pretenses? That every time you do this, you're just digging your hole that much deeper?

    Well, that all was a particularly lame evasion. If you don't want to address a point, then just feel free to ignore it without trying to shoehorn in personal insults and lame posturing.
  17. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

    That's a pretty strong claim that I have not seen serious support given for.

    I reiterate my earlier speculation that eating local food (meat, plant and otherwise) would do more to lessen the environmental impact of food production than would eating a vegetarian diet without regard for locality of production.
  18. Anti-Flag Pun intended Registered Senior Member


    Too lazy to look huh? Hoist with your own petard yet again.

    That we all(including you) know how full of shit you are and nobody is buying it? Keep stretching that strawman, we could use it to feed the horses.

    How generous of you. You don't need to "take my word for it" I provided evidence, which is more than you manage to bother with for anything you've come up with.

    Burden of proof is on you, extroidinary claims etc etc.
    You know perfectly well the world hasn't been 50% vegetarian, especially if it still isn't and vegetarianism is on the increase.
    Still dishonest and not good at maths eh? How telling.

    Robots eh? Strawman yet again. As was pointed out, supposition is irrelevant - especially when selectively applied.
    And thanks, more intellectual dishonesty to report. Keep it up, hopefully we'll have you banned by next week.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2011
  19. Anti-Flag Pun intended Registered Senior Member

    It would have been more amusing if you'd said Dachau.
  20. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Witness the angry meat eaters with their personal attacks.

    None of this warrants a response. These people aren't interested in having an adult conversation. They are only interested in schoolyard bullying.

    Most of the meat-eating participants in this thread apparently want it closed. It also appears that we've covered the substantive issues. Most of the rest is repetition.

    I know I haven't responded to everybody. I would like to thank some of the participants here for useful discussions and thoughtful responses. I am sorry I haven't been able to address every argument or issue that has been brought up.

    To the angry trolls: congratulations. You've got your wish. Now you can go away from this thread and either pretend it didn't happen or imagine that you "won" the argument. Clearly these are the things that matter to you.
  21. Plazma Inferno! Ding Ding Ding Ding Administrator


    Why just not delete flaming comments and continue with discussion?
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page