I was going to write a separate post for this, but I have written enough on Reddit that I think it suffices. [Reddit Post Original]
The Following is copy pasted in response to a women who wanted to put her cat on a Vegan Diet:
A vegan using Taurine is like a vegetarian eating fish. Alright, really no one here is calling Vegan’s on their bullshit
Vegetarians who mainly stick to vegetables I’ll leave alone, because ultimately most of them will eventually admit that they’re doing it for either legitimate health concerns or for something else.
Veganism is just fucking stupid. Everything that has built up this civilization was built on the back of some kind of farm animal. From diabetes medicine, to any number of food byproducts, there was an animal or other form of life used at some point.
Seriously, I’m not even irritated with the notion of trying to forcefeed your cat a diet that will kill it, no what I’m irritated by is the inherent cognitive dissonance.
You really don’t understand the idea of veganism at all. It’s not about reaching some magical state of un-reliance upon animals. It’s about the fight against animal cruelty and doing one’s best to not support the disgusting treatment of animals as it exists currently.
There is no cognitive dissonance. It’s the same as saying “I was accidentally involved in killing someone. I better do my best to make sure no one else dies” instead of “I was accidentally involved in killing someone. I might was well just go on a killing spree.”
It’s not fucking stupid. It’s an attempt to stop animal cruelty.
Also, vegetarians that eat fish are called pescetarians, and there are a large number of them- and taurine is synthesized nowadays.
Courtesy Reddit user Viva Zapta
About stopping Animal Cruelty eh? I invite any Vegan to take a few days and step onto a farm with a dairy cow. There is a reason we milk them, and there is nothing to it about torturing the animal, in fact Cows really don’t have all that much of a problem with being milked. It just so happens that if you keep those glands active they will continue to produce milk. It’s actually pretty painful for the cow to NOT get milked in the long run.
More to the point, for every point of contention about saving animals, this can’t be done with a non-interference policy (at least not any more). The fact of the matter is that we are part of nature, we simply can’t remove ourselves from it on a scientific or philosophical level. Without getting into the arguments about who gets to define right and wrong there is the simple matter that Nature is NOT about tranquility. The natural order of things is not about a peaceful process.
And to add to this, we are NOT above that process simply because we are sapient. Realizing that you are causing pain to a creature does not suddenly require you to step back and stop being human. And from a dental perspective, from a dietary perspective, from a historical perspective we are the definition of an omnivore. Yes, I hate it when people go out of their way to murder a creature, or mount it on their wall. But you have to understand that there is more to that statement about population control of creatures like deers than we care to admit.
Our very presence has changed the way that things are conducted. Because of our tendency to build, to thrive, to advance, we inherently change the area we are in. As a result of that, we throw off food chains, disrupt the standard measures by which creatures exist. So if you truly want to stop “Animal Abuse” [and I’m talking in absolutes here], than you would remove humanity from the picture. Our very presence is disruptive to all animals (for positive or negative).
And to go on a tangent, why set an arbitrary limit at animals? Just because a plant doesn’t feel pain doesn’t mean you didn’t just kill it. Feeling pain isn’t a qualifier for making something right or wrong to destroy. I think we can all agree that deforestation is a pretty fucked up process that should be stopped if only for the preservation of those species, but people are doing it to survive.
Here’s my real point in all of this, You can not survive without killing something. We are HUMAN, as much as we do not want to be, we are still human, and until the point that every single last one of us is off this rock we’re going to be a thorn in the side of any species where our presences harms their own.
Perhaps more importantly than that, is the issue that Nature is incredibly good about creating life from death. Rats bring in the bubonic plague, we bring in cats to feed on the rats. We build massive buildings, roaches make home in our creations. We find dairy cows that produce milk and allow them to thrive.
Are there some things to be said about treating animals better? Of course there are. But to think that removing animals and their by-products from our diet and form of living is going to accomplish that is ignorant of why those byproducts are there in the first place. As we depend on nature, so too does it now depend on us. We are part of that little cycle in life.
To stop buying animals or their by-products is the ULTIMATE death sentence for those creatures. They are only in such massive quantities because we have incorporated them into what we define as culture and society. You stop buying beef on a whole, this very instant, you stop buying milk, and suddenly those cows that we’re all trying to save become an artifact and a relic. It becomes an economic downfall for the farmer to keep ANY of them alive. Rabbits, Fish, anything you can think of, if we suddenly stop using them, than they will become a viable target to everything we’ve been protecting them from.
So yes, I find it hypocritical to think that as long as it doesn’t feel pain it’s cool to kill. I find it ignorant to believe that complete detachment and lack of involvement is the best solution. For every bit of testing we’ve done we’ve produced scientific accomplishments that have saved more than just ourselves, they have saved and helped thousands of animals.
There is a case for Veganism, but we are not at the scientific or cultural level to make it. So no, I understand Veganism just find, and I find it shallow. I find it to be lacking in a critical understanding of how nature itself operates, and the tenacity to believe that we because of our sapience are simply beyond violence. I find it without for thought to think that we are any more qualified as moderators to the way things work than a non-existent sky wizard or a grain of sand on a given beach.
First off, I respect your opinion and am glad you’re sharing it.
Yep, it’s a personal choice. I’m not sure why non-vegans tend to get so riled up about this, acting as if most vegans try to force their beliefs upon others. The OP’s situation is rare, we just tend to hear about this kind of stuff on Reddit very often because, let’s face it, the hivemind is fairly anti-vegan (this is simply true, it could even be justified, but please don’t deny this is true. Every story about veganism that hits the front page is negative).
From Wikipedia page on Factory Farming:
Factory farms hold large numbers of animals, typically cows, pigs, turkeys, or chickens, often indoors, typically at high densities. The aim of the operation is to produce as much meat, eggs, or milk at the lowest possible cost. Food is supplied in place, and a wide variety of artificial methods are employed to maintain animal health and improve production, such as the use of antimicrobial agents, vitamin supplements, and growth hormones. Physical restraints are used to control movement or actions regarded as undesirable.
Again, I welcome open discourse on this, and believe it is a personal dietary choice, but I will have to disagree that there is anything justifiable about factory farming. It is unhealthy for both the animal and for us, and comprises 99% (actual statistic) of all farms in the U.S.
TL;DR: Basically, my point is that when you say “There is a case for Veganism, but we are not at the scientific or cultural level to make it,” I would argue that rather, we are not at the scientific or cultural level to make the choice to use factory farms.
I don’t think that most people are riled up by it so much as the idea that everyone has an opinion on the matter [much like politics]. But unlike politics Vegans [and as an Atheist, I do understand the kind of “Hey what’d I do”] are easy pickings in a conversation. The truth is people like to debate, but politics is off-limits [or taboo I should say], eating choice is something that we torment each other about all the time, assigning yourself to a specific branch of eating or lifestyle choice just emphasizes the opponents ideology into a possible talking point [that can be polarized].
As for the status of Vegan’s on reddit, /r/vegan seems to be doing ok for itself with a comfortable ~5k readers. In addition, calling atheism a circlejerk is pretty standard practice for post on reddit. But much like those post about atheism, those post on Veganism you will find the comments absolutely filled with people who point out the inaccuracies.
If you are against Factory Farming, than fight factory farming , but know that by taking up the Vegan lifestyle you are going to hurt the one thing in the Western world that actually stands any kind of chance of stopping that practice. Not eating meat will never EVER stop factory farming because simply not enough people will jump on that bandwagon to make it worth switching (As long as someone is buying the meat, it is more profitable than not selling meat). If you want to hurt them, than you are going to have to start supporting their competitors. Support the farms that DON’T factory farm, go out of your way to buy the bacon from the farmer who has free range pigs and the like.
BY going vegan you are effectively killing any chance that these places of businesses would ever have had in the market. Fight against the machine that is keeping these animals in such conditions, request that changes be made.
Onto the idea that factory farming is wrong. This is where I’m going to have to take a second and remind people that there is balance in all of this. Do I think it’s wrong to treat an animal in such a way? Yes, Do I think that we could learn a lot from the Native American’s when it comes to respecting those Animals? Yes. My problem is simply that our population (~7 billion give or take) will not be sustained. IT SUCKS, it really does, and I hope that one day we will develop the technology to allow us to get millions of times more crop yield / square acre of land. But right now, that simply isn’t happening.
Malthusian mathematics predict that eventually the reproductive rates among humans will reach such exponential levels that we will not be able to sustain the race as a whole. And while yourself and I may be able to bring home a dinner each night to the family, we’ve been able to keep this “Myth” of sorts that things aren’t bad by simply fucking over 3rd world countries to do it. For every plate I bring home or waste, there are literally people starving to death across the globe (Africa, South America, Sections of Asia, etc). We’ve been able to keep the whole food problem limited to areas that aren’t in sight of the western world.
This mentality simply can’t hold. We could very well be looking at a point where Factory Farming won’t be able to sustain the population of even the western worlds [assuming that the population growth models of the developing nations holds steady]. And while our ideas and principles may seem noble, when you realize that such an idea promotes the growth of limited crops over the mass production of food, I find it hard to justify death to starvation.
It is for this reason that I must argue simply out of sad reality that we need those Mass Farms as much sadness as it may bring us, they are the ones who are right now keeping us from starving. If we drop them in their entirety, drop all animal farming than the combined harvesting capabilities of the entire western world wouldn’t suffice to keep the population from starting to starve.
Like I mentioned with the issue of deforestation, look at South America. They aren’t doing that because the amazon looks better brown, they are doing that to grow crops to try to feed their people. Now admittedly it’s not the most efficient way to farm, but they are doing it just to keep the food going round.
Now yes there are cases like the ones in the Pacific where we are dumping oranges to artificially inflate prices, but for every one of those cases that could feed a village for a week, let’s think about feeding a Nation of 300,000,000 for a year [the length of time it will take those crops to grow]. Farming takes up a lot of space, crops even more so 2 bushels of corn can’t really compete with say a cow or 10 chickens when it comes to food effectiveness. More importantly than that for every inch of land we give over to feed a cow or a chicken, we need to realize that not everything can grow there.
Farm animals live fine off of grass and the like [and apparently corn], but you can’t say the same of Oranges, Apples, etc. They have limited growing seasons, greenhouses can’t make up for all of it, and you have to factor in soil conditions [changing them out, etc]. It sound nice, but in reality such practices simply aren’t maintainable in the long run. Eventually that population curve will out match our ability to grow simply plant-based products [and likely had done so a long time ago].
As such, while it leaves a foul taste in my mouth to know what keeps us alive, I also realize that it’s about the only way our species is going to make its way through. Which is why I said originally, the only way we’re not going to do harm to these creatures is to remove ourselves form the picture entirely.
Cool, thanks for the well reasoned response. I take all your points and appreciate the info, though I do think to say that ending factory farming would mean death to be a bit rash (though perhaps I’ve misunderstood you)–I’m certain there are alternatives that would leave us enough options to continue to thrive (perhaps even more so) as a society.
I just want to point out a couple more things, which is the waste produced in these operations. The guy who is the subject of this article (Cornell Professor David Pimentel) estimates that 12,000 gallons of water are required to produce every pound of beef we eat. More conservative estimates say it is closer to 2,500 gallons per pound. He also points out in the article on him that “If all the grain currently fed to livestock in the United States were consumed directly by people, the number of people who could be fed would be nearly 800 million.”
I admit, this is not the reason I am vegan; it is rather the suffering endured by the animals, and the shear fact that I am able to thrive without directly supporting that suffering (though, again, it’s not about being perfect). It’s about the intent to harbor a more compassionate way of dealing with sentient beings–beings that we know can feel pain and understand confinement. I think that’s worth any hypothetical struggle we might face in ending the suffering.
My point about the Factory Farming is that our life on earth as we understand it would cease to exist without it. We simply do not [and can not make] the crop lands that would be necessary to continue to feed the human race.
In regards to the 12k gallons of water / lb of beef study. This appears to be an ever-increasing number based off some fundamentally odd math (Cornell or not). A study conducted by a farmer in Oregon put the estimate much closer to 666 gallons of water / lb of beef . When you consider the average human male’s [avg 180lbs compared to an adult cow’s upwards of 1000lbs] consumption of 250+ gallons of water / year for survival only I honestly begin to question the significance of the study. Add to this, that the primary reason for so much water consumption by Cows is not to give them something to drink, but rather to maintain the food that they are eating [hay / grass / etc]. When you consider that against the amount of water being used to maintain crops like Soy and Corn can require even more water [enough so to drain precious resources like the Ogallala Aquifer ].
As pointed out by NontrivialPursuit most of the grain that is used to feed these animals isn’t fit to be served to humans anyway.
But to stray from this point, I want to hit at the heart of all of this. Much like in Physics with Newton’s 3rd law of motion, any action you take is ultimately going to have an equal and opposite reaction.
Let’s take something small for instance, like the placement of a crop in your backyard. It seems simple enough, dig up a bit of land, plant some crops. But you have to look at the branching side effects of that action to understand how something as inanely simple as planting a garden [or on larger scales, crops] can have a serious impact on the surrounding environment. If say for instance, you don’t want the bugs to destroy your crops you’re going to release an insect aside or an apex predator. By doing so, you are going to kill insects [without a doubt]. Or perhaps you have some voles or moles in your garden that you’ve got to deal with, with these you put down some poison or release a cat to deal with them.
And really, on the notion of Cats, our beloved companions. They are the single nastiest threat to biodiversity that you can imagine . The introduction of a pet can devastate the small amount of biodiversity where you are living.
So when you apply even that simple change, that building of a garden and you expand it to the massive amounts of damage that it can cause an ecosystem [like the plains of the United States], you have to realize that simply because you didn’t eat the animal doesn’t mean that what you are doing doesn’t result in their untimely demise. Even something so simple as the Interstate system is morphing [and killing] the wildlife around it.
Our encroachment on lands globally has done more damage in terms of animal death than any amount of farming or hunting could ever do. Which leads me back to my point that by simply being human, by simply surviving, we will [and have] killed thousands of animals.
Even if we didn’t shove the arrow-head in its throat, by having a population of well over 7 billion we have brought entire species of animals to extinction.
This is why I call veganism shallow, because it wants to attack the tiny things, the dietary causes of death for animals. But there are far more massive and tragic things which occur on our behalf. We force changes upon our environment that will result in genocide. We can’t simply rationalize that by changing our dietary requirements that we are some how absolved of the change we bring about in the environment.
As I would like to prove just how much I love kitties, I present to the viewing audience the following:
I’ll try to keep this post updated if further post are made in the Reddit thread.