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Wertbag

Veganism

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We've hit almost every major subject on these forums but I can't remember seeing a discussion on veganism. Cosmik Sceptic turned vegan a few months ago and the subject has come up in a few of his recent YouTube videos, most notably the latest podcast where he interviewed Earthling Ed, a vegan activist. 

My  own contact with vegans had been either from religious types (we have a few hari krishnas working for us and veganism is part of their beliefs) or for diet (allergies or digestive issues) but the idea of vegan for purely moral reasons never really occured to me before. 

The first advocates I came across were the over the top SJW types, who abused meat eaters, called everyone immoral monsters and appeared to have a real superiority complex. Of course those offensive tactics make people dislike you, turn defensive and not want to engage. So seeing well spoken and deep thinkers like cosmik sceptic and Ed lay out the case without recriminations was quite refreshing. 

 

I do find it hard to find what the truth from a health and nutrition standpoint is. Vegans will say you don't need meat and can live fine without it, but then half of them are on vitamin supplements to fill in the gaps, especially regarding iron and B12. Sure you can get iron from spinach but you need a bucket full to equal one steak. 

I also hear without the meat industry there wouldn't be enough food to go around. It is the industrial scale that allows dense populations like we have to get enough food. 

I also struggle to see why vegan verse vegetarian. There isn't the same harm when collecting eggs, honey or milk. 

 

They do have quite a compelling argument that animal harm is immoral and as both an animal lover and omnivore I can see the cross over. 

Where do you stand on this? And has your views changed? 

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I'm not Vegan (wouldn't that mean someone from Vega?), quite the BBQ cook actually. But I've had several Vegan meals that were outstanding. There was a burrito shop in the town where I grew up that was vegan, but I didn't even realize until someone said so because it was so damn good. I've also been to some Indian places that had really tasty stuff. Surprisingly, our friends from Calcutta tell us that their region is distinct in not being vegetarian. They have a great appreciation for good meat, and doubly so after working in Iowa for years (lots of excellent BBQ). 

 

As far as a philosophy, I haven't seen anything compelling for humans. We have canine teeth, and so far as history shows we've always been omnivores. I know some that couldn't bear the thought of an animal suffering for their food. But nature is replete with examples of animals from birds to lions killing and eating other living creatures. Some don't even bother to kill their prey, they just catch it, start eating, and the prey eventually dies. Lots of things eat humans also, since we are often easy to catch. Life eats life, always has. That's one explanation I've heard for "why aren't more life forms evolving from dirt?" The answer is that there may actually be such things, but they are quickly eaten by other existing bugs and bacteria. Humans can get a single amoeba up a nostril, and it eats through to the brain and multiplies until the person is dead. No malice, the person is simply food and can't fight off the attack. 

 

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It is said that vegetarian is an old Indian word. Means "poor hunter." 

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     I have Tourette's Syndrome.  My wife had me take B12 supplements a long time ago because she heard it helped with sleep problems (I had undiagnosed sleep issues at the time).  It made my tics really bad.  One night I was in our apartment making a glass of chocolate milk before bed using the Hershey's syrup in the squeeze bottle but I tic'd and it went all over the counter, floor, carpet, walls and ceiling of the kitchen and entryway.  Just everywhere and everything.  I wound up staying awake for a couple hours cleaning.  I stopped taking the B12.

 

          mwc

 

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How can you tell a vegan?

You don’t have to; they'll tell you.  Over and over.

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An interesting topic, and one I've been following for some time. I have listened to several discussions from Cosmic Skeptic and Rationality Rules as well as others. These are the voices who provide sound reasoning if one was to take up the philosophy. As you say, people like those currently picket lining our supermarkets to protest eating meat just turn people off and make reasonable conversation much harder. 

 

Many also bring a global warming perspective to it, and this I think is a poor reason for giving up meat. Yes I think the meat industry contributes heavily to current pollution and CO2 output, but we don't have to stop eating meat. We merely need to reduce portions. I see some people down the street and I'm like, do you really need both those big macs? I'm sure a wee hamburger would be too much at this stage!

 

On 9/17/2019 at 5:40 PM, Wertbag said:

I do find it hard to find what the truth from a health and nutrition standpoint is. Vegans will say you don't need meat and can live fine without it, but then half of them are on vitamin supplements to fill in the gaps, especially regarding iron and B12. Sure you can get iron from spinach but you need a bucket full to equal one steak.

 

This is my primary concern. I'd be vegan already based purely on the ethical argument, however despite much conflicting information, I believe it weighs heavily on the side that having some  meat, or at least the nutrients meat provides, is very important for overall health. You are quite right about B12, as well as a number of other nutrients - see this article that one has to be aware of if one wishes to take up a vegan diet: https://www.symptomfind.com/nutrition-supplements/vegan-health-problems/

 

On 9/17/2019 at 5:40 PM, Wertbag said:

I also hear without the meat industry there wouldn't be enough food to go around. It is the industrial scale that allows dense populations like we have to get enough food.

 

I call bollocks! Have you seen the size of the average kiwi or American? Not only are we not fading away, we are killing ourselves by eating too much. Sounds like meat industry propaganda if I put my cynical hat on.

 

On 9/17/2019 at 5:40 PM, Wertbag said:

I also struggle to see why vegan verse vegetarian. There isn't the same harm when collecting eggs, honey or milk.

 

I think Earthing Ed went into this. Eggs are usually collected from battery raised hens - stuck in cages barely big enough for them to fit in. Even 'free range' chickens are only required to have something like 2 1/2 square feet of space per bird. Better sure, but still damn cramped. Milk is produced by either artificially inseminating cows or mating them, then they have calves which are taken away after 4 days causing great distress to the cows (Anyone ever seen what happens to any animal when it loses its young - not too dissimilar to a human mother.) The by product (calves) are then either put in tiny cages and feed for a few weeks before being killed to make veal, or are sold to beef farmers. Some of their lives are short and brutal.

 

On 9/17/2019 at 5:40 PM, Wertbag said:

They do have quite a compelling argument that animal harm is immoral and as both an animal lover and omnivore I can see the cross over. 

Where do you stand on this? And has your views changed? 

 

The more science discovers about animals, the more we realize that man is not made in God's image. Take pigs for example - that creature so frowned upon by Judaic and Islamic religions. However the truth is Pigs exhibit higher intelligence than dogs - often at the level of a 3yr old human. Under what circumstances do you think it moral to kill a human 3yr old for its 'bacon' simply because you like the bacon? I wager to say that all of us here would say there is no situation where it is moral. I'm not even sure if you were starving and lost in the wilderness could it be considered moral. Survival maybe. Why then is it ok to do it to pigs? This is the question I grapple with. Pigs are also highly social, have body parts that are transferable to humans, take great care of their young and show immense distress when piglets are taken away. They have even been shown to comfort their piglets with vocal noises - we probably call it singing or humming. And that's just pigs.

 

The one animal I find easiest to accept is fish because of their lesser intelligence and awareness, even though they do still feel pain.

 

I don't find Fuego's argument about nature compelling in the slightest. If we were to just follow nature, the straight males among us would be simply going around mating with any female we could. (Well some probably do.. that aside :D ) Human's have the ability to form and understand ethical and behavioral concepts. Our primate cousins do too - but to a lesser extent. Thus killing another chimp is a sign of strength - there is no punishment for doing this. However we wouldn't want a human society where the strongest can kill others without repercussions. We understand actions and consequences.

 

So to wrap up. I pretty much agree with the philosophical argument and I think we should do all that we can to have an ethical meat industry, not one hell bent on making the most dollar for the lowest cost. This is where I think the capitalist model fails - similar to drug companies who punch out expensive medicine, sometimes using underhanded tactics to justify high drug prices. Somethings shouldn't just be about the dollar you can make.

 

However, I also agree that we have evolved as omnivores. Where a cow can eat an entire plant based diet with no supplements and be healthy, humans can't. B12 at the least is needed and Vegans know this. Therefore I am in favour of, and personally attempt to have, a plant based diet with the minimum amount of meat required to keep me healthy. I think this is a reasonable balanced approach and solves the many conflicting factors as discussed. By not eating as much meat as I might like I am helping reduce the meat industry carbon foot print, and thus to less suffering of animals. I also try and source meat from place I know that have best practice standards for animal welfare in place. I'm also helping my own health in two ways - 1st it's shown that too much meat leads to an increase in risk for all the major health issues - heart, blood pressure, cancer etc. So by reducing meat by 70+% I help my health. I also help my health by eating enough meat for required dietary intake - this is about 70g a day. (Some days I go meat free, and have a decent steak the next night)

 

I consider this a reasonable, balanced approach that satisfactorily deals with many of the issues raised. (I should reduce milk consumption however... working on it.)

 

Thoughts?

 

 

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Stolen from my local humanist group's newsletter:  "Turning vegan would be a big missed steak."

 

Some of the principles are compelling though difficult to independently assess.  Actually making principled choices is hard when it affects something that's so ingrained into lifestyle and day-to-day experience.  I've had that experience (years back for weight loss), but there was a gun to my head in terms of health.  It's easy to look around at all the other ambiguities and ills in our supply chains and lose a sense of urgency about it.  We have to compartmentalize to live.

 

This is an area where we really need leadership from our agencies to do the hard work about the science and sustainability and put forth suggestions that are realistic on a societal scale.  And sadly, corporate interests along with a fingers-in-ears mentality from the populous all but guarantees that won't happen.

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On ‎10‎/‎2‎/‎2019 at 10:11 PM, LogicalFallacy said:
Quote

I also hear without the meat industry there wouldn't be enough food to go around. It is the industrial scale that allows dense populations like we have to get enough food.

 

I call bollocks! Have you seen the size of the average kiwi or American? Not only are we not fading away, we are killing ourselves by eating too much. Sounds like meat industry propaganda if I put my cynical hat on.

Thinking about it the claim might have been that if a extreme vegan took power and banned the killing of animals there wouldn't be enough food to go around.  We could increase the farming to eventually produce more crops, but the size of the undertaking is no small feat.  With no fish, meat or eggs a massive chunk of the available food stuffs would disappear, and that would not be easily replaced.  Imagine a city like New York suddenly banning meat, so you have 6 million people needing to switch their diets.

 

There have been several anecdotal stories of people becoming very sick when they switched to a vegan diet.  Vegans will say "they just didn't do it right", but I do get the feeling that unless you are tracking your nutrient intake to quite a fine degree it is very easy to have things get out of whack.  One report claimed something like 60% of vegans were anaemic and several sources pointed out that with milk and egg substitutes you could have a vegan diet that was heavily cake based.  Someone even pointed out that Oreo cookies are vegan friendly, so it is quite possible to have a terrible diet and be vegan.

 

On ‎10‎/‎2‎/‎2019 at 10:11 PM, LogicalFallacy said:

Eggs are usually collected from battery raised hens - stuck in cages barely big enough for them to fit in. Even 'free range' chickens are only required to have something like 2 1/2 square feet of space per bird.

That sounds more like a requirement of legislation to clarify what "free range" needs to be.  I know Australia was famous for having done this poorly, with a thousand birds crammed into a warehouse but they could claim "free range" simply because they weren't caged.  New Zealand is banning cage eggs, so I really hope the term is better defined here.  We also have to be careful to not punish the small farms and life style blocks who run chickens in a much better manner, giving wide open spaces and limited numbers of animals.  In those cases collecting the eggs from actually free range animals doesn't have any harm to the chickens.

 

The other one that Earthling Ed mentioned was bees, but I thought his argument there was a lot less solid.  He mentioned they pull the wings off the queen to stop her from leaving the hive, but other than that harm the hive seems to be quite happy and pretty much free to do what they please.  If we were to ban bee keeping that could seriously damage the already declining numbers of hives out there.  Currently they are monitored, given medicine, keep protected from predators, made sure they have adequate food and water, and kept safe from weather extremes.  In the wild they have a more challenging survival.  It really seems the amount of harm is very minor compared to the potential good done to the environment.

 

I also thought it was interesting to hear that the Western worlds demand for food meant large amounts of crops were imported from poorer nations.  So while we could be perfectly vegan, the avocado farmers in Mexico might have some truly terrible farming techniques with tons of pesticides, lots of surface erosion, no crop rotation and child/slave labour used.  The vegans can then sit on their moral high ground saying "we didn't hurt the animals" all the while causing ecological damage and harm to the poor people having to work in poor conditions to provide the veges.  There was a claim that herd animals fertilized the ground, air-rated it and caused regrowth, while pure agriculture stripped the nutrients from the soil and in some extreme cases destroyed the land. 

 

I think we are headed to a more middle ground, with bans to factory farming, cage farming and animal harm.  I don't see us moving to a complete vegan style any time soon, but with the discussions about it I'm sure more and more people will try it.

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