Meat

I eat a lot of meat. I hate to do it, but I hate even more being scrawny. So I need the protein, and this is how to get it where I live.

I'd use more soy, but I haven't yet quite decided to start a food importing business. Also, I'd feel stupid inconveniencing myself, when everyone else is jolly killing and eating.

I have, however, long felt that humanity ought to outlaw meat eating altogether. If no one could eat or buy meat, entrepreneurs would find other sources to supply us with all the nutrients we need. Only the most savage would miss it.

I once posted a poll on this topic some place, and was dispirited to find that 90% of respondents - hundreds of them - were against outlawing flesh eating. Even 50% of self-proclaimed vegetarians weren't in favor of outlawing it.

In this clip, Pamela Anderson takes you to the world of Kentucky Fried Cruelty.

After seeing that video, I am beginning to think that everyone who isn't ready to outlaw meat eating should themselves be boiled and eaten. I'd even volunteer as the cook.

After all, fair is fair. If you've been doing something to others, be ready to accept it when it's done to you.

Comments

verbatim said…
You are basically saying that plants aren't living creatures. So it is ok to kill a plant but not an animal?

Just please don't start with how plants can't "feel". When you cut a tree it starts "bleeding", plants are responding to environment around them, they reproduce etc.
verbatim said…
If you've been doing something to others, be ready to accept it when it's done to you.

Do you never kill insects which come into your appartement?
denis bider said…
Ah, the usual meat-eaters' rationalizations.

The next argument you're gonna use is: people need vitamin B12, and the way to get it is either from meat or from vitamin supplements. But the B12 in vitamin supplements comes from bacteria. And bacteria are living! Hah! So there!

Yeah, right.

The guideline here is capacity for suffering, and how much of it we inflict.

I would be in favor of eating meat, for example, if it came from a cow that lived freely, enjoyed the natural environment and the company of other cows, and was eventually shot in its natural environment, without even seeing the shot coming.

That kind of respect for the animal whose flesh you are consuming, I can subscribe to.

The gross amount of disrespect as evidenced in the KFC video, I cannot subscribe to.

Such conditions are just horrendous and it is tantamount to genocide that we are letting that go on.
denis bider said…
Let me clarify that.

What I can respect is giving life to an animal; giving it food; giving it shelter; giving it an environment where it can enjoy living; even if the purpose is to eventually end its life in a non-traumatic manner so its meat can be used for food. If that were the treatment animals were given, I could understand that the eventual act of killing it is justified by the fact that, beforehand, it was given the privilege an enjoyable life, for this purpose, in the first place.

Even so, the practice is still questionable. Would you condone doing the same to human beings? Raising some humans on a farm, providing them with a comfortable life that pleases their senses, in order to eventually eat them?

Suppose these humans have no grand intellectual aspirations, i.e. are like normal human beings. Suppose you give them some religion, too, to justify what's happening to them, so all-around they're content with the situation and are happy.

If you think it's okay to do that to humans, then I guess it's okay to do that to cows and pigs as well.

On the other hand, just walking into a forest and shooting a deer whom (a) you didn't give life to, (b) haven't provided food to, (c) haven't provided shelter for, (d) did not provide any care for,

is, in my mind, just like going to Kenya and shooting some native guy who lives there.

There is no difference.
Daniel said…
Well there actually is a difference between plants and animals- the latter are sentients(tough not all of the animals belong in this group).

Here is an excerpt from one of Slovenian forums in which a bio-tech graduate explains this a little further:

->WTF je sentient? V SSKJ ni te besede.

Gre za koncept, ki pravi, da se sentienti ali čuteča bitja zavedajo bolečine. Gre torej za ZAVEST oz zavedanje bolečine in užitka.
In ni tako preprosto, da če žival cvili, da je sentient. (bolj razvita je žival, večje možnosti ima, da je sentient)

Bolečina je evolucijska zapuščina, ki je ogromno koristila pri varnosti in preživetju organizmov. Pojavila se je mnogo prej kot pa zavest.
Danes še ne vemo kje je meja med sentienti in pač ostalimi živimi bitji.
Vemo, da človek je sentient. Najbrž so tudi primati sentienti (čimpi, gorile). Najbrž.

Predpostavimo, da kokoš ni sentient. Če jo boš brcnil se bo takoj odzvala na bolečino, vendar to še ne pomeni, da se dejansko zaveda občutka bolečine. Gre za avtomatski odziv na dražljaj. Evolucija. Boli je pa v tem primeru ne, odziva na živčni dražljaj, ki ga ima označujemo kot bolečina pa se.

Upam, da je malo bolj jasno sedaj.
denis bider said…
It's interesting that this explanation uses the English adjective "sentient" as a noun. :)

Yes, we can't know for sure what animals are sentient and which ones aren't.

Worse, it may very well be that the "degree" of sentience varies in a way that doesn't help with categorization, so we have to decide on an artificial dividing line of our own.

Currently, this artificial dividing line is generally considered to be drawn between humans and everything else. My view is that this is a mighty convenient conceit that is not backed by evidence.

I would not be so quick to discount chickens as non-sentient either. It's a comforting thought to discount them as non-sentient while munching a thigh. But correct decisions aren't made based on comforting thoughts.
boris_kolar said…
Soybeans, lentils, beans, are all good vegan sources of protein (not as good as meat, but you can eat more of that because it's generally healthier). Eggs are excellent source of protein for vegetarians (and contrary to popular belief, they won't give you heart attack).

Eating meat because of proteins is stupid. Do your research about correlation between meat and cancer and other dreadful diseases. A very recent article is just one example. Here you will find protein percentage in various foods (I deliberately choose a source that is not vegetarian biased).

Being vegetarian is not inconvenient, even when you eat at restaurants. It was easy for me to eat vegetarian in Slovenia as well as in Costa Rica.
boris_kolar said…
I would not be so quick to discount chickens as non-sentient either.

Exactly! A legendary Alex showed us how amazing avian intelligence can be. I don't know to which extend does this apply to chickens.
denis bider said…
Boris: I have found that I can very well use about 2 grams of protein per kilogram of my weight, or about 150 grams per day, while keeping my calorie intake below 2,300. I could get that on a vegetarian diet if I had access to the sort of soy-based protein shakes that you can find in most U.S. malls or even corner stores.

But they don't have that here. This is not Costa Rica; it is an island. They have protein powders, of which I've tried many. The ones I like, they don't stock any more. Some of the others taste awful, while yet another kind must contain an awful amount of caffeine or something else that makes my heart race.

Even with meat and animal products, I find it challenging to maintain a diverse diet while still getting 150 grams of protein per day and keeping my calorie count under 2,300.
verbatim said…
At the end, it's all about protection of the cutest animals. No one cares about bugs, lizzards, fish... Even a die hard animal rights activists don't care if you kill an insect but they go mad if you kill koala bear.

For example, producing soya also isn't animal friendly. They have to remove a huge area of forest cover to gain place to plant soya. They wipe out 1000s km^2 of pristine forests in Brazil every year just to grow up soya. How is that helping animals?

Being avid soya user (or meat eater) and animal activist equals hypocrite.
denis bider said…
verbatim: No one cares about bugs, lizzards, fish...

Umm, I care about lizards and fish. I think fishing is awful.

Bugs, let them live, as long as they don't enter my apartment.

I do not see bugs as likely very sentient, whereas lizards are.

With fish, it depends on what fish you mean.

A wild caught tuna, which itself feeds on other fish, kind of deserves to be eaten, by virtue of how it makes a living. Still, I think it's kind of crude that we stoop down to eating it.


verbatim: They wipe out 1000s km^2 of pristine forests in Brazil every year just to grow up soya. How is that helping animals?

If we all stopped eating meat, a huge amount of land currently used to feed farm animals would be freed up. A vegetarian diet is way more space-efficient.


verbatim: Being avid soya user (or meat eater) and animal activist equals hypocrite.

Emm... no. I'm not trying to convince any individual to stop eating meat. That makes no difference overall. If everyone else engages in a flesh feast, it also doesn't make much difference whether I do it or not.

What I'm calling for is a worldwide ban on eating meat, the reasons being:

(1) we don't need it,
(2) it's cruel,
(3) it's wasteful,
(4) it's savage.

If we all stop eating meat, then an industry to support our dietary requirements without it will develop.

But as long as everyone relies on butchery to get their nutrients, it makes no difference whatsoever whether one more person avoids it or not.
denis bider said…
Actually, maybe to prove my point, I'll find an island country that will go for it, and farm humans. Special humans, isolated farm genetic strain, unrelated to wild ones. All organic.

I wonder how long the international community will put up with it. :)
tim said…
going back to an argument you made months ago about helping others, you said it does not make sense unless the act benefits you(the helper). In other words self interest reigns supreme. so to respond to your four reasons for the worldwide ban. 1) we don't need it.-but you derive benefit from the meat so it is good for you
2) and 4) its cruel and savage-the cruelty and savagery is not inflicted upon you, so no detriment to you personally. so what do you care?
3)its wasteful-this one you MIGHT have a point on, but a long argument could be had concerning the proper use of resources etc., which I'm not particularly interested in getting into.

I would also add that carnivores are a necessary part of our ecosystem, and banning humans from partaking will undoubtedly have unforeseen consequences.

Of course your reasons seem to indicate the presence of compassion and care for other things despite not benefitting from such care, and in fact causing you inconvenience--directly contradicting your theories on self interest. perhaps there is hope for you yet! ;)
denis bider said…
Hey Tim,

yeah, compassion sucks, doesn't it?

I was thinking I need to write an article about that. :)

Perhaps this could be a plausible explanation:

When I contemplate the world from a macro perspective, I leave myself out of the picture. Having done so, the most sensible question that remains is, what's best for everyone? And who is everyone? There is no way one can even approach these questions without compassion.

My answer in this case is that "everyone" includes sentient animals, and "what's good for everyone" definitely doesn't include industrialized meat farming. I may concede to limited meat eating because lions do so too, but I don't concede a compassion boundary to be drawn arbitrarily between humans and everything else. That's as bad as racism, as far as I can see.

When it comes to my individual decisions, such as whether I should eat meat given that most people do and there's gruesome industry to support that, I don't take the macro view, I take the micro view. I do what's good for me and for people and creatures I care about, within the realm of what's generally considered acceptable.

The primary reason I eat meat is to compete in fitness and attractiveness with others who do. It's an arms race. (Well, biceps.)

I want the rules changed so that no one can eat it. The arms race will continue on vegetarian territory, but at least then millions of animals won't have to suffer for it.
Daniel said…
Well sometimes animals get their share of justice. :)
boris_kolar said…
Vegetarian sources of protein are quite common. There are several elite bodybuilders who eat exclusively vegan food. If you plan to compete in bodybuilding, you will have to import food anyway. Otherwise, you can do just fine with vegetarian diet. What are your goals in bodybuilding? To me, 150g of protein per day seems extreme, it amounts of 32 egg whites per day (and egg whites are probably the best source of protein).

I strongly believe that meat diet is both unethical and unhealthy. The health aspect alone should be enough to convince you to go vegetarian.
denis bider said…
boris:

My goal is not to compete in bodybuilding, just to keep muscle mass, after having gained it by working out, without having to continue exercising a lot.

I have found that consuming much of my daily calorie allowance as protein helps serve that goal very well.

With regard to ethics: suppose that Nazis are in power and are operating farms of humans (of non-German origin) in order to convert them into soap. I agree that the farming is ghastly and would much prefer it to stop. But because this process is in place, stores are stocked primarily with this human soap, and there are no real alternatives. In this situation, is it unethical for an individual German to buy soap?

Me refusing to eat chicken because I think it unethical is a little bit like a cell in my body refusing to accept nutrients because they came from eating chicken. The problem isn't me, it's the system. Resolution of this problem requires collective action, not individual. Taking individual action (avoiding meat) while not working for a collective solution (a ban on eating meat) is largely the same as doing nothing.

If you want to end torture of animals in farms, then work to persuade people that we need to ban meat eating worldwide.

Health: I have seen no proof that eating meat in general is bad for your health. Red meat, maybe. Mercury-infested tuna, yes. Anecdotal evidence from people whose bodies happen to prefer veggies, yes. But then again, there's anecdotal evidence from people whose bodies happen to do better with meat. I am aware of no general proof.
boris_kolar said…
There are plenty of studies proving harmfulness of meat, just Google them up. One summary in Slovenian language:
http://www.osvoboditev-zivali.org/index.php?pnm=03694

I agree with you that individually, eating meat or not does not make any difference. And I mean zero, not a fraction of difference. Not even one animal would likely be saved.

Collectively, vegetarians do make a lot of difference. If 5% of people are vegetarian, meat industry rewards are 5% smaller. Also, being vegetarian is a political statement about how you feel about meat industry - a good example for others (I know my vegetarianism influenced some other people to think about the issue).

The argument about dismissing individual guilt because of group behavior does not hold water. What if a hundred people stab someone to death but no single stab was fatal? Is individual doing the stabbing not guilty of murder? Or how about voting for a president you know will kill a lot of people? Doesn't that make you guilty even if your vote alone had negligible effect on elections? Or a modified soap example where there is alternative soap made from vegetables but slightly more expensive?

Or course, eating meat would not be wrong if there was no alternative. But there is. Worldwide ban on meat is unrealistic in short term, but in some countries we could reduce consumption of meat and gradually give meat similar status to cigarettes (warning labels, extra taxes making meat eaters pay for their own problems resulting from meat consumption). Eventually, I believe, world wide ban on meat will happen.
denis bider said…
As for vegetarians collectively reducing the size of the meat industry by a paltry 5%, I just consider that a failure. A reduction of the meat industry by 5% does not change the nature of the world we live in. To effect a change, we need to reduce the meat industry by 99%.

With regard to the health impact of eating meat, I have found that it is hard to Google up reliable information on health risks. Certainly the list you linked to is not what I would consider reliable information. First, it's an ideological site, which means that they are virtually guaranteed to cherry-pick evidence. (The fact that I happen to agree with their ideology has no bearing to me on the value of their evidence.) Second, the information they summarize has virtually no detailed content. If some "meat" is in fact shown to be harmful, then this most likely does not apply to all meat, and it most likely applies to some specific chemical found in some specific meat or treatment, which can be avoided. So such arguments are not in fact arguments in favor of avoiding meat, they are arguments in favor of discovering the cause, and then avoiding a specific type of meat, or a specific type of treatment.

Here's an actual summary of a meat intake and mortality study that involved over half a million people. Scroll down to their results. Red meat intake: associated with increased death rate. White meat intake: inversely associated.

What do you make of that?

Even this is crude at best. Suppose it turns out that a specific type of ham, because it's treated in a certain way, causes cancer in 100% of people who eat it, but all other types of red meat have no effect. Then a study such as this is going to show increased risk from red meat, but it's not going to point out the specific ham that's actually harmful, and is going to implicate a bunch of other meats that aren't.

Yes, there may be harm in eating some meat products, but this is not an argument in favor of banning meat. People are supposed to be able to take risks that may harm them.

The argument in favor of banning meat is that, if it is wrong to be farming humans in order to slaughter and eat them, then it's wrong to do that to animals, as well.
dare said…
is this debate for real? at first I thought it was an early april's fools joke and/or an exercise in debating in favor of an argument you don't believe in.

isn't a "worldwide ban" of almost anything totally contrary to your prominent libertarianism? after all people were free to eat animals since the beginning of humanity. and well, the reasoning for ban is not exactly rock-solid, being based on a concept as vague as sentience...
Anonymous said…
I rather like your proposed solution of cooking other humans. As an assisted suicide system, it would help reduce the general population, the dead would serve a purpose in the greater scheme of things, and most of all, human being would understand their place in the universe, to eat and to be eaten.
Anonymous said…
Er, sorry, plural beings.
denis bider said…
dare: As far as I'm concerned, the debate is for real.

The fact that you're having a hard time perceiving it as real says something about the extent to which the Matrix has you™.

About human beings having been free to eat animals since the dawn of time, and presenting that as an argument about how this makes a ban on meat un-libertarian...

... well.

Human beings have been free to enslave each other since the dawn of time, as well.

I guess then that a ban on slavery would also be un-libertarian?

And sentience is vague, you say?

You are correct. I have absolutely no proof whatsoever that you are sentient. Therefore it is okay for me to enslave you, eat you, kill you.

Why let vague, unproven concepts such as sentience stop us? :)

Any framework upon which society might operate should be based on principles. Respect for sentient experience is a principle that such a framework should contain. If we have no principle-based framework, then it's all a power grab and all principles are a sham. And if we don't respect non-human sentient creatures, then we're no better than our ancestors who tolerated slavery.

Which - slavery - yes, continues to persist today. But at least it is condemned, and is not practiced by civilized nations.
boris_kolar said…
Denis, thanks for the link to an interesting study. Conclusion that white meat intake is preferable to vegetarian diet does not follow from the results of the study - the lowest red meat intake group was also the group with the highest white meat intake. There were other odd results in the study which can not easily be explained, as authors have noted.
boris_kolar said…
One of the arguments opponents to meat ban have is that people "supposedly" have a right to choose what they eat. In fact, there is no country in the world where such right exists, which is easily verifiable by noting that eating humans, killing endangered species for food, and even possessing substances like heroine or cocaine is illegal practically everywhere. From libertarian stand point meat is more objectionable than heroine.
denis bider said…
Aye - definitely. Agreed.

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