Sep 19 2010

Excerpts from Eating Animals

by Edward

Just how destructive does a culinary preference have to be before we decide to eat something else?
If contributing to the suffering of billions of animals that live miserable lives and (quite often) die in horrific ways isn’t motivating, what would be?
If being the number one contributor to the most serious thread facing the planet (global warming) isn’t enough, what is?
If increased rate of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other ills doesn’t scare you, then what does?
And if you are tempted to put off these questions of conscience, to say, not now, then when?

And why is taste, the crudest of our senses, exempted from the ethical rules that govern our other senses? If you stop and think about it, it’s crazy. How would you judge an artist who mutilated animals in a gallery because it was visually interesting? How beautiful would the sound of a tortured animal need to be to make you want to hear it that badly? Try to imagine any end other than taste for which it would be justifiable to do what we do to animals.

It’s easy to make oneself feel better about it by buying “humane” meat. Unfortunately however there’s no legal definition of humane – it’s simply a label that you have no control over. The margins are low, they can’t afford not to mass produce these animals as through they are objects. In the end they are all killed in the same slaughterhouse as all the others. The stun guns only work 80% of the time. Every day animals get skinned alive in the factory process.

These things happen whether in humane farming or factory farming.

And many people seem to be tempted to continue supporting factory farms while also buying meat outside that system when it is available. That’s nice. But if it is as far as our moral imaginations can stretch, then it’s hard to be optimistic about the future. Any plan that involves funneling money to the factory farm won’t end factory farming. How effective would the Montgomery bus boycott have been if protesters had used the bus when it became inconvenient not to? How effective would a strike be if workers announced they would go back to work as soon as it became difficult to strike?

Before child labor laws, there were businesses that treated their ten-year-old employees well. Society didn’t ban child labor because it’s impossible to imagine children working in a good environment, but because when you give that much power to business over powerless individuals, it’s corrupting. When we talk around thinking we have a greater right to eat an animal than the animal has a right to live without suffering, it’s corrupting.

If we are at all serious about ending factory farming, then the absolute least we can do is stop sending checks to the absolute worst abusers. For some, the decision to eschew factory-farmed products is easy. For others the decision is hard. To those for whom it sounds like a hard decision, the ultimate question is whether it is worth the inconvenience. We know, at least, that this decision will prevent deforestation, curb global warming, reduce pollution, save oil reserves, lessen the burden on rural areas, decrease human rights abuses, improve public health, and help eliminate the most systematic animal abuse in world history. What we don’t know, though, may be just as important. How would making such a decision change us?

Setting aside the direct material changes initiated by opting out of the factory farm system, the decision to eat with such deliberateness would itself be a force with enormous potential. What kind of world would we create if three times a day we activated our compassion and reason as we saw down to eat, if we had the moral imagination and the pragmatic will to change our most fundamental act of consumption?

Compassion is a muscle that gets stronger with use, and the regular exercise of choosing kindness over cruelty would change us.

It might sound naive to suggest that whether you order a chicken patty or a veggie burger is a profoundly important decision. Then again, it certainly would have sounded fantastic if in the 1950s you were told that where you saw in a restaurant or on a bus could begin to uproot racism. It would have sounded equally fantastic if you were told in the early 1970s, before Cesar Chavez’s workers’ rights campaigns, that refusing to eat grapes could begin to free farmworkers from slave-like conditions. It might sound fantastic, but when we bother to look, it’s hard to deny that our day-to-day choices shape the world.

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Aug 27 2010

Benefit vs harm

by Edward

I wanted to create an alphabetical list of actions that cause pleasure or benefit to one party and suffering to the other. Some of these are looked down and illegal in our society, but some are still perfectly legal. But they all cause unnecessary suffering to somebody so I believe those should be reconsidered.

  • Animal testing
  • Bullfighting
  • Child molestation
  • Circuses with animals (including aquatic animals)
  • Dairy and eggs (in most cases)
  • Eating meat
  • Hunting / fishing
  • Kidnapping
  • Buying leather / fur
  • Murder / serial killing (depending on the killer and reason)
  • Pesticides / “pest” control
  • Racial cleansing
  • Rape
  • Slavery / low paid workers
  • Theft
  • Torture
  • Zoos (in some cases)
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Jun 3 2010

How are you better than them?

by Edward

Let me ask you some questions to help us come to a conclusion.

Were the Nazis bad because:

  1. They tortured/killed human beings en mass?
  2. They tortured/killed beings that were able to suffer?

Meaning, if they had tortured/killed brain dead humans (who were not able to feel pain/fear) would it have been just as bad or would it have been forgotten by today?

And if they had tortured/killed millions of monkeys who were able to feel the same amount of pain as the Jews, would it still be remembered today?

If humans are animals, and if human intelligence is unrelated to the ability to feel pain, which is shared equally amongst most animals, then why is it so shocking to torture a human but not an animal?

How is it that our intelligence grants us the right not to suffer? Isn’t that like saying that our sight grants us the right not to be shouted at? Are these qualities connected in any way? Can a person with high IQ suffer more than one with a low IQ? In fact, can’t children, who are unable to rationalise their pain, seemingly feel more pain than adults?

Why has the holocaust stuck in our minds for so long because of a few million tortured Jews but the hundreds of billions of animals who were since equally tortured for food are not remembered?

And would the holocaust have been any less shocking if the Nazis didn’t kill Jews because of hatred, but simply because they enjoyed the taste of Jewish meat and killed them to feed their families? Equally, would it have been just as shocking to you if the Nazis had tortured and killed millions of cows because they hated cows? If not, why not?

Is it the reason for unneeded torture (hatred, taste, convenience) that makes it horrific or is it simply the torture itself?

So why is it that we grant rights to some but not others?

Was it relevant to the Nazis that Jews were humans? How about the slave masters and the blacks, did they care about their species or was race only deciding factor to them?

You, I assume, care about all humans regardless of anything, so long as they are human. But why do you stop there? Why do you not care about all animals regardless of species?

One is black, the other white, one has fur the other not, one can write poems the other cannot. But are those attributes relevant to the right not to suffer? If so, should a severely retarded human be stripped of their rights?

And under what logic should the right not to suffer be based on color, gender, race, height, religion, sexuality or species? Would it not make more sense if the right not to suffer was based on the mere ability to suffer?

I would appreciate it if you could share your logic on the subject and explain why you believe you are better than the Nazis/slave masters and deserve not to be compared to them.

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May 23 2010

A choice

by Edward

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May 14 2010

Justifying the unjustifiable

by Edward

Taking the usual meat eater’s justification for continuing their practice, it’s easy to put things into perspective and see how others have justified their actions, however atrocious they seem to the ones who don’t agree with them.

Animals taste good and since I am more powerful I feel I have the right to eat them. Animals are inferior beings, they don’t have our level of intellect so I don’t see anything wrong with eating them. They were bred for this purpose so their suffering is non-important as long as I get meat on my plate. Our society has eaten animals for hundreds of years, it’s a part of our culture and I’m not the one who’ll change that.

Slaves are useful and since I am more powerful I feel I have the right to own them. Blacks are inferior beings, they don’t have our level of intellect so I don’t see anything wrong with using them. They were bred for this purpose so their suffering is non-important as long as the job gets done. Our society has enslaved other races for hundreds of years, it’s a part of our culture and I’m not the one who’ll change that.

Women bring me pleasure and since I am more powerful I feel I have the right to rape them. Women are inferior beings, they don’t have our level of intellect so I don’t see anything wrong with raping them. They were born for this purpose so their suffering is non-important as long as I get pleasure. Our society has raped women for hundreds of years, it’s a part of our culture and I’m not the one who’ll change that.

Jews are not a pure race and since I am more powerful I feel I have the right to kill them. Jews are inferior beings, they don’t have our level of intellect so I don’t see anything wrong with killing them. They are bred for this purpose so their suffering is non-important as long as Germany is free from them. Our society has killed inferior tribes for hundreds of years, it’s a part of our culture and I’m not the one who’ll change that.

If the above comparisons sound far fetched to you, it’s worth remembering that your current views would sound equally far fetched to those people. I think the time has come to extend our morals to respect all creatures capable of suffering, regardless of color, race, gender or species.

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Apr 13 2010


by Edward

I just created a new collection of wallpapers with a message.

Use them at work and spread the message!

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Dec 18 2009

We are largely the same

by Edward


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Oct 6 2009

Letter to thousands of nonhuman animals

by Leafy

Yesterday I came across a beautiful letter of apology that was written to the thousands of nonhuman animals who had suffered and died to satisfy one man’s appetite for animal foods.

Dear thousands of cows, chickens, fish, shrimp, pigs and insects,

I paid someone to hold you captive in tight quarters. To remove your genitals, your beaks, your tails and to brand you, all while wide awake and without anesthesia. To forcibly impregnate you and keep you that way all your life. I paid them to remove you from your children and from your parents at birth. And finally to kill you. I paid them to treat you as a commodity, a slave, as an object that existed only for my benefit. As if you could not suffer, or as if it didn’t matter if you could or not. All of this when it was unnecessary to do so. I did this solely for my own pleasures. A tasty meal, a full belly. You gave me comfort, you gave me a way to fit in with others and with the crowd. You gave me a center piece around which I and my family could celebrate. You were there to fill an empty space when I had a longing that I didn’t know how to fix. You made me feel safe. I know you can’t answer me directly, but I want to make this right. I feel I do not yet understand how to do this fully. Until then I will do what I can.

I love you,

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Sep 9 2009

Why vegan? In 30 seconds or less

by gunnard

So, I recently started a new job at a church and through the normal ‘getting to know  you’ type stuff, the topic of “why are you a vegan?” obviously comes up a lot.  Usually during meals.  This made me really focus on my “vegan elevator speech” or whatever you want to call it. Basically, a one or two sentence statement that qualifies or explains the reasons why you do what you do.  Mine goes something like this:

God gave man dominion over the animals.  Animals are one of God’s creatures that we are to love and respect.  I do not want to support an industry that tortures and mistreats animals.

There, that’s pretty much a light summary of what I believe.  Of course this is usually followed up by one or two notorious questions:

“So if you don’t eat meat, how do you get protein?”


“So I can understand not wanting to kill an animal, but what about cheese and eggs? Nothing dies for those.”

This is good reinforcement for you as to why you believe in being vegan and also can be used as a chance to spark conversation with people who would never think to consider where their food comes from. Also, for new vegans, this might serve as something to hold on to so that when confronted, you have something to say that will, hopefully, knock their socks off.

So here is my question for you guys:

What is /your/ vegan elevator speech? and what are the most common follow up questions?

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Aug 5 2009

Animals Can’t Think So It’s OK To Eat Them

by Lindsey

I just received a comment on another post that expressed this view. I’ve found that many people hold onto this idea and use it to justify continuing to consume animal products. Here is how I responded.

First of all, there’s absolutely no way to know that animals don’t think. Just because they don’t communicate in any verbal human languages does not mean they don’t think. For all we know, cows are smarter than Einstein, but they choose to never talk and to instead eat grass all day. Anyhow, there is actually plenty of scientific evidence that animals do think. Pigs can play video games for a food reward. Rats can solve mazes. Gorillas can communicate with humans using sign language. And even if we could prove that animals couldn’t think, the important thing is that they certainly do feel. Babies and mentally handicapped people don’t think anything like human adults can. Should we kill and eat them too? The ability to think like a human should not be the grounds for moral consideration. What shapes most moral codes? Usually, they are tied in with feelings. They often have an ultimate goal of maximizing happiness and/or minimizing pain and suffering – both which deal with emotional or physical feelings. Let’s say there is someone who can only think and not feel at all (kind of like an android or complex computer) – no pain, no emotions, no desires – murdering this “person” wouldn’t be so bad (as long as they had no family who could feel emotions and grieve) precisely because there could be no fear, disappointment, or pain, but switch that hypothetical situation around – if someone could not think at the level of a human being but could feel 100%, death would still be a terrifying, painful experience. And that is why we base morals on feelings.
It is obvious that animals feel pain and emotions. This requires far less proof than the claim that animals can think. Anyone who has ever lived with a cat or dog knows that animals have emotions and can feel pain. Animals also have families and care for their offspring, just like humans do. They also show great distress when they or their offspring are in danger, just like humans do. There is even an account of a cat who kept returning into a burning building to carry each of her kittens to safety, even though she was already badly burned.
The thing is we don’t need meat to live. The only reason we kill is for taste. Is it truly worth putting a sentient being through hell (and I do mean hell – just to have a few minutes of pleasure?

Here is an excellent post that elaborates on the issue of the value of human vs. nonhuman life –

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