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Why are some thoughtful people vegetarian and others not?

This forum is set aside for the BHA Humanist Vegetarian Group. All of Think Humanism's registered users are welcome to participate. If you wish to receive news and announcements from this group, please register with the HVG user group. See instructions near the top of the HVG forum.

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clayto
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Re: Why are some thoughtful people vegetarian and others not?

#21 Post by clayto » August 2nd, 2008, 3:15 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

Thanks LilacHamster, I have only just discovered Gary Francione and find the websites (see below) interesting and challenging. From a quick look I have not yet been able to establish the basis of Francione's ethical stance in the context of secularism / humanism /religion but am awaiting a reply to my enquiry.

HVG's 'official line' in so far as there is such a thing is that it is open to all forms and degrees of vegetarianism, insofar as they are not only not inconsistent with humanism but can also be reasonably argued to be for some people an expression of humanist principles in practice.


http://www.abolitionistapproach.com ------ official site

http://www.gary-francione.com ----- unofficial site

Chris
clayto

clayto
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Re: Why are some thoughtful people vegetarian and others not?

#22 Post by clayto » August 3rd, 2008, 11:34 am

Here is the reply I received from Gary Francione, with below it the question I put to him. I will wait for some comments before giving any reactions of my own although I will be saying to him that his apology is unnecessary as my uncertainty was due not to any inadequacy in his website but rather to my not yet having devoted time to study his site properly, as I wanted to get a quick 'handle' on this question.

Chris

Quote "The approach is derived from a deontological perspective; we accord to all humans a basic, pre-legal right not to be treated as chattel property because that per se represents exclusion from the moral community (non-personhood) and there is no rational reason not to accord that protection to nonhumans. I believe that is stated at various points on the site. For example, it is the central point of the video presentation entitled Theory of Animal Rights. I apologize if it was not clear to you.

To the extent I have any spiritual views, they are linked with the Jain view of Ahimsa. But acceptance of Ahimsa is not a necessary part of my theory."

CHRIS CLAYTON wrote:

> Thanks! The question is this: for you is your moral stance regarding the treatment of non-human as well as human animals derived from belief in a supernatural revelation about the will of a supreme being (god / gods) like Christian 'love your neighbour' and then interpreting this to include non-human animals as neighbours; or another approach, accepting the Buddha's call for 'compassion for all beings' or other calls for following ones Dharma ------------- OR a non-religious approach derived from reasoning that ethical behaviour has evolved as part of human experience, leading to a concepts such as utilitarianism with the greatest good being the greatest happiness for the greatest number, with this 'number' including non-human animals on the grounds that there are no satisfactory empirical / rational grounds not to include them? Putting it very basically, if we accept treating animals well is 'good' _why should we be good_?
>
> I hope this makes enough sense!
clayto

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Rami
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Re: Why are some thoughtful people vegetarian and others not?

#23 Post by Rami » August 10th, 2008, 12:00 am

tom wrote:People who are vegetarian because of ethical reasons are usually thoughtful and compassionate.

So why are other people who are also thoughtful and compassionate not vegetarian?

Vegetarianism is a subject that is common and there are many opportunities to prompt thought or concern or debate.

Why are you vegetarian and others you know not? :puzzled:
What a great question!

I am a vegan. In 2006 I read The End of Faith in which Sam Harris (who is probably not even a vegetarian) made the point that ethics is founded on the suffering and happiness of sentient beings. I remember the moment I read that line and suddenly a light went on. Around that time I found out what really went on in factory farms. Until then I had thought that the consumption of eggs, milk, wool really does not contribute to animal suffering. Why would it, right? Well, I found out. And that was it for me. I was horrified by what I found out. I could not longer contribute to animal suffering if I wanted my conscience to be clear, if I wanted to continue to think of myself as an ethical person.

I think most people simply have not been presented with this information. They have no idea how it is that meat, daily and eggs get to their plate. I sure didn't.

On the other hand, some people do know, and they simply don't care. The love the taste of meat and are not willing to give it up. And that makes me sad. I don't think there is a remedy against that. And like you said, many of them are indeed thoughtful, intelligent people. But the problem is that intelligent people are very good at coming up with great rationalizations. They are very good at justifying to themselves whatever their position is. Heck, we all do it.

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Re: Why are some thoughtful people vegetarian and others not?

#24 Post by Alan H » August 10th, 2008, 12:27 am

Rami

Did you go straight to being vegan? I get the impression that many vegans become so only after being a vegetarian for a while first, if for no other reason than it may be easier to do it in smaller steps [---][/---] eating less red meat; giving up red meat; giving up chicken, etc; giving up fish; giving up dairy, etc. For me, I went through this, but stopped before the last step!
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Re: Why are some thoughtful people vegetarian and others not?

#25 Post by Rami » August 13th, 2008, 7:40 am

Alan H wrote:Rami

Did you go straight to being vegan? I get the impression that many vegans become so only after being a vegetarian for a while first, if for no other reason than it may be easier to do it in smaller steps [---][/---] eating less red meat; giving up red meat; giving up chicken, etc; giving up fish; giving up dairy, etc. For me, I went through this, but stopped before the last step!
Hi Alan,

I became a very liberal "vegetarian" in 1999. I had read Eat Right 4 Your Type, and, being a blood type A -, I decided to try being a "vegetarian". Besides, around the same time I was doing some research on cancer and found some information about the link between meat consumption and cancer. So, I gave up chicken, turkey, pork, beef, but still consumed dairy products, eggs and fish.

In 2006 a few factors contributed to my making the decision to become a vegan. I basically did it because of the ethical implications of consuming animal products. I found out what went on in factory farms and was horrified. I had no idea we got eggs that way! And I had no idea that male chicks were often ground up alive! Then I found out how we get milk - and its derivatives. Then I read the scientific study according to which fish do feel pain. Anyway, I do not need to turn this into a bit of vegan propaganda... To answer your question, yes, my transition was gradual, even if that was not my intention. Back in 1999 I had no idea I would one day become a vegan. I suppose it was easier for me that way because all I had to give up in 2006 was dairy, eggs, honey, silk, wool and fish. I had already foresworn all other meats. But honestly, I did not feel like I was giving anything up. My diet actually got richer and more varied, and quite frankly, more flavorful. And healthier. I am very proud of my blood pressure: about 108/74. Not bad for a 39 year old man with heart disease in his family!

I hope that answers your question. Thanks for asking.

Rami

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Re: Why are some thoughtful people vegetarian and others not?

#26 Post by LilacHamster » August 13th, 2008, 5:25 pm

Here is an article about the Blood type diet, which gives a different view of it,
http://www.vegsource.com/klaper/diet.htm
I'm type A but would be vegan whatever my blood type.

Personally I don't really mind too much why someone goes vegetarian or vegan initially (even if it's for a religious reason), they are still saving animals and reducing their carbon footprint.

As you are now aware there are many better reasons for veganism than your blood type.
I was somewhat a believer in god when I first went veggie and I also believed eating animals was contrary to the Christian compassion I was being brought up with, now I just believe in the same consideration for other sentient creatures and many of the same human and humane values but without the god-belief.

Lesley

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Re: Why are some thoughtful people vegetarian and others not?

#27 Post by tom » August 14th, 2008, 11:11 am

Sorry for not being able to respond sooner.

Hi Emma
That's not at all clear to me. I can't even tell whether Tom is vegetarian. Although I had guessed that he wasn't, because of his question, "why aren't vegetarians more widely thoughtful and compassionate ...?" I hope he returns to the thread and clarifies that for us.
Yes I am a vegetarian.

Emma, I especially liked your comment
it might be worth acknowledging that there are plenty of unthinking vegetarians
Thanks for all the comments so far which are really interesting.

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Re: Why are some thoughtful people vegetarian and others not?

#28 Post by Pilch » August 14th, 2008, 4:07 pm

Ooh, I know this! Is it because they have reached differing conclusions?

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Re: Why are some thoughtful people vegetarian and others not?

#29 Post by Rami » August 16th, 2008, 4:21 am

Pilch wrote:Ooh, I know this! Is it because they have reached differing conclusions?
Perhaps. For some of them. And perhaps for some of them it is because they simply have not thought about this issue. Perhaps some of them are simply uninformed about where their food comes from. Perhaps some have been informed and simply don't care because, after all, they are just animals and we are natural predators, right? And perhaps some of them have never been a part of a discussion such as this one, a discussion to bring this issue to their attention. And yes, perhaps some of them have reached different conclusions. But in my experience that is not the majority of people.

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Re: Why are some thoughtful people vegetarian and others not?

#30 Post by gregory » August 16th, 2008, 10:33 am

If they have spent all day working at B & Q and Dobbies and Tescos they are tired enough without having to make difficult ethical decisions and living on tofu. One does acquire the taste for meat and it isn't easy to give up
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Re: Why are some thoughtful people vegetarian and others not?

#31 Post by Alan C. » August 20th, 2008, 12:26 am

For some of them. And perhaps for some of them it is because they simply have not thought about this issue.
Perhaps some of them are simply uninformed about where their food comes from.
Perhaps some have been informed and simply don't care
You make a lot of presuppositions Rami.
I have thought about vegieism, and I know exactly where my food comes from. (all of it)
because, after all, they are just animals and we are natural predators, right?
Yes, that's correct, we are all just animals, and we are all natural predators, and just as the lion, tiger, shark, crocodile, would eat you as soon as look at you, so we eat other animals, the fact that we breed them specifically for eating, is is just good management of our available resources.
Something we achieved before the rest of mamaldom (is that a word? Probably not,) did.
This is why we are at the top of the food chain.

And please don't come back and say "you can grow crops on the land currently occupied by the animals" We can't!
See other threads and numerous posts on this topic, here in the vegie section.
Then give me your views.

On a different tack altogether.
There is an absolute infestation of rabbits here just now.
What should be done about them?
They are destroying (vegetable) crops. (Including my own)
So what should we do about the rabbits?
Kill them and eat them? In place of the vegetables.
Let them carry on and import all our vegetables? or what?
All suggestions will be greatly received.


My own view is, the rabbits get some, the cabage white catterpilars get some, and we get some, and I can live with that.
Is there anybody else on this veggie thread who actually grows anything? If so I would like to speak to you about growing stuff. :smile: Swap ideas and suchlike.

The old folk here are telling me, the last time they had a summer like this, was 1947 it is hot.
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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Re: Why are some thoughtful people vegetarian and others not?

#32 Post by Hot Thought » August 20th, 2008, 9:52 pm

Alan C. wrote:
because, after all, they are just animals and we are natural predators, right?
Yes, that's correct, we are all just animals, and we are all natural predators, and just as the lion, tiger, shark, crocodile, would eat you as soon as look at you, so we eat other animals, the fact that we breed them specifically for eating, is is just good management of our available resources.
Something we achieved before the rest of mamaldom (is that a word? Probably not,) did.
This is why we are at the top of the food chain.
My view on the above para is that it looks, I say looks because it is difficult to tell whether you are offering the above as a justification or an explanation for why humans eat meat, but it looks like both given the comment about breeding them for eating is good management and hence is a poor justification for eating meat.

Every good introduction to the topic of the ethics of vegies will explain why such attempted justifcations fail.

The selective comparison of humans with predators nicely excluding the fruit and vegie eating orangutans might be one thing to note. But most important is the implicit suggestion that if the rest of the animal kingdom do something then it is okay for us to do it. Surely no one really believes this?

Also what is meant by the idea that we are all "just animals"??

Just some thoughts on the topic.

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Re: Why are some thoughtful people vegetarian and others not?

#33 Post by gregory » August 30th, 2008, 11:33 am

The orang utan will eat small mammals if the other food runs out.

As higher primates we are capable of empathy so we are animals but we a also different because of the brain power we have.

Its one of those things which cannot be resolved I suppose except to say that we are animals but a brainier type of animal which can empathise with other people and other beings. We have evolved perhaps is the right word. As evolved animals there are many dilemmas and some of us choose to take one route and some choose another both are not wrong I dont suppose but those of us who have stopped eating meat flock together some of the time.

There are some people who just do not like the taste of meat and they do not eat it and never will maybe they do not mind too much if other people eat it as long as they don't have to. Maybe they are a form of natural vegetarian.
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Re: Why are some thoughtful people vegetarian and others not?

#34 Post by Hot Thought » August 31st, 2008, 12:36 am

gregory wrote:The orang utan will eat small mammals if the other food runs out.

As higher primates we are capable of empathy so we are animals but we a also different because of the brain power we have.

Its one of those things which cannot be resolved I suppose except to say that we are animals but a brainier type of animal which can empathise with other people and other beings. We have evolved perhaps is the right word. As evolved animals there are many dilemmas and some of us choose to take one route and some choose another both are not wrong I dont suppose but those of us who have stopped eating meat flock together some of the time.

There are some people who just do not like the taste of meat and they do not eat it and never will maybe they do not mind too much if other people eat it as long as they don't have to. Maybe they are a form of natural vegetarian.
There is a sense of "natural" in which everything that happens is "natural".

But this can be true (perhaps trivially true) as well as a highly misleading way of speaking. To suggest that the orangutan is a natural predator because in unusual situations it eats other animals could easily be a highly misleading way of describing its behaviour in the same sense that saying cats are natural swimmers (and nothing about the typical behaviour of cats was mentioned) could be highly misleading. Someone who didnt know that orangutans mainly eat vegetation would be misinformed by someone saying that its natural state was to eat meat.

More importantly you have missed the part where I said this is the most important part.

The Orangutan shits on the floor and does not wash
Should meat eaters shit on the floor and have poor personal hygiene?

Of course not. And I am not suggesting that they should.
A moments reflection shows that what another animal does is not any sort of guide for what people should do.

Why do meat-eaters who make such references to the animal kingdom not engage in this moments reflection?

From a social psychologists perspective this sort of reasoning is to be expected for people typically engage in moral reasoning to seek evidence for their initial beliefs and are motivated to avoid areas that cause conflict. Kunda 1990 Psychological Bulletin : The case for motivated reasoning.

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Re: Why are some thoughtful people vegetarian and others not?

#35 Post by Pilch » September 1st, 2008, 2:17 pm

Rami wrote:
Pilch wrote:Ooh, I know this! Is it because they have reached differing conclusions?
Perhaps. For some of them. And perhaps for some of them it is because they simply have not thought about this issue. Perhaps some of them are simply uninformed about where their food comes from. Perhaps some have been informed and simply don't care because, after all, they are just animals and we are natural predators, right? And perhaps some of them have never been a part of a discussion such as this one, a discussion to bring this issue to their attention. And yes, perhaps some of them have reached different conclusions. But in my experience that is not the majority of people.
The question, though, is about 'thoughtful people'. I take this to mean the type of person who thinks things through.

Although a vegetarian myself, I would not make the assumption that only 'unthoughtful' people reach a different conclusion.

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Re: Why are some thoughtful people vegetarian and others not?

#36 Post by Hot Thought » September 2nd, 2008, 1:46 am

Pilch wrote:
Rami wrote:
Pilch wrote:Ooh, I know this! Is it because they have reached differing conclusions?
Perhaps. For some of them. And perhaps for some of them it is because they simply have not thought about this issue. Perhaps some of them are simply uninformed about where their food comes from. Perhaps some have been informed and simply don't care because, after all, they are just animals and we are natural predators, right? And perhaps some of them have never been a part of a discussion such as this one, a discussion to bring this issue to their attention. And yes, perhaps some of them have reached different conclusions. But in my experience that is not the majority of people.
The question, though, is about 'thoughtful people'. I take this to mean the type of person who thinks things through.

Although a vegetarian myself, I would not make the assumption that only 'unthoughtful' people reach a different conclusion.
Me neither, but then Rami didn't say "that only unthoughtful people reach a different conclusion."
:smile:
As Mark Twain is noted for saying "All generalisations are false including this one."

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Re: Why are some thoughtful people vegetarian and others not?

#37 Post by clayto » September 2nd, 2008, 8:24 pm

I wish I had more time to follow this thread properly as I am enjoying it and the (to me of course) convincing arguments being put by fellow veggies!

Quote "The Orangutan shits on the floor and does not wash
Should meat eaters shit on the floor and have poor personal hygiene?

Of course not. And I am not suggesting that they should.
A moments reflection shows that what another animal does is not any sort of guide for what people should do.

Why do meat-eaters who make such references to the animal kingdom not engage in this moments reflection?"

Exactly. As Dawkins keeps trying to explain, the human animal is the first (as far as we know) to have evolved the ability to consciously rise above its early origins, to consider the ethical issues involved, to make moral choices. The idea that Darwinians do not think that is what we do is one of the common misunderstandings of the concept of the selfish gene which RD has to battle against ---- mainly but not only among religionists. I have encountered more than one Humanist who has said that because we developed as meat-eaters (in truth we almost certainly developed as omnivores) therefore we should be meat-eaters now. They seem not to understand that evolution is about change, not about staying the same. If it was convincingly demonstrated that early humans were cannibals (there is recent evidence for this) and furthermore that brain development was enhanced by this, would they insist that we should be cannibals now?

Chris
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Re: Why are some thoughtful people vegetarian and others not?

#38 Post by lukanator » September 24th, 2008, 6:42 am

I'm not a vegetarian...yet. I haven't figured out how to enjoy food without partaking of meat. Plus I married into a Greek family. Vegetarianism is less common there than in the U.S. by a mile. Avoiding meat when in Athens will be tricky!

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Re: Why are some thoughtful people vegetarian and others not?

#39 Post by jaywhat » September 24th, 2008, 10:16 am

Quote (Hot thought, I think) "The Orangutan shits on the floor and does not wash
Should meat eaters shit on the floor and have poor personal hygiene?"


I would say that the wild orang utan does not shit on the floor, but on the ground. I would say that to regard 'not washing', when applied to most animals, as 'poor personal hygeine' is being guilty of speciesism.

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Re: Why are some thoughtful people vegetarian and others not?

#40 Post by Maria Mac » September 24th, 2008, 12:46 pm

lukanator wrote:I'm not a vegetarian...yet. I haven't figured out how to enjoy food without partaking of meat. Plus I married into a Greek family. Vegetarianism is less common there than in the U.S. by a mile. Avoiding meat when in Athens will be tricky!
Indeed.

Interestingly, there are quite a few traditional Greek dishes that are (or can be) vegetarian but these are getting harder to find in restaurants especially in Athens. When I was a child in Samos (where my mother hailed from) I was frequently given stuffed peppers, tomatoes, vine leaves, fasolada, avgolemano and much else and all were made without meat, which was rather poor quality and not cheap.

But the cuisine is changing and becoming more 'sophisticated' to please the tourists - I dread to think what my veggie husband will eat when we go. I did find a list of Athens restaurants that are veggie friendly:

http://www.happycow.net/europe/greece/athens/index.html

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Re: Why are some thoughtful people vegetarian and others not?

#41 Post by Paolo » September 24th, 2008, 6:10 pm

Back to the topic - apologies for the previous mini-rant.

I have a very good friend who has been vegetarian or vegan for all of his adult life and we regularly engage in conversations about eating meat (I personally enjoy eating meat), particularly when we lived together and shared a kitchen (during which time he wavered about his long-term veganism and eventually caved in to the joys of cheese, whilst I maintained an mostly vegetarian diet when at home).

He has been wavering about trying meat (organic, free range, humanely reared, etc.) but one of the big barriers he has identified with this is that he considers his vegetarianism as part of who he is (Emma, you are not alone). One big influence is that he recently married an Italian, so he is being exposed to a different social perspective on eating meat than the one he grew up with. That and the fact that he is a fantastic cook and a bit of a "foodie" and he feels he is missing out on whole spectrum of cuisine.

His original concerns about welfare and sustainability have become less important since demand by a wider section of society has moved towards making humanely reared and slaughtered meat more widely available.

My personal opinions about eating meat come down to my views on morality. I think that causing another organism to suffer is bad, but I also think that a quick death is perfectly acceptable. I think that people willing to eat meat should also be willing to rear it, slaughter it and butcher it themselves (not just buy it in a sealed plastic tray). Meat can taste wonderful. Meat is not bad for you if it isn't eaten too often and it provides a great source of amino acids that can be harder to get from a vegetarian diet. Most importantly, meat is increasingly available from humane sources, mostly due to increased demand. By only eating humanely sourced meat the power of the pound (or dollar, or Euro, or...) makes positive changes towards increasingly humane farming practices. Since the vast majority of the population still eat meat (and are unlikely to change their minds anytime soon) I think that supporting humanely farmed meat will improve the lot for farm animals more than vegetarianism can.

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