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Monday, January 17, 2011

Opinions on Vegetarianism -- Part 5

Continuation of Topic, see part 1 for introduction

Ideoform Msg. 387
(addressing post by mfreemo)

In my opinion the original question was not about cannibalism.

Re-quoting original question:
"If you were stranded on a desert island, that had nothing but water supply, inedible trees and nothing to to eat but fish and seals, would you eat the animals or
strave to death. "

The part about eating another human was added for clarification:

Quoting previous post:
"From what I can understand it is based on the assertion that animals have the same inherent rights as humans, and therefore it is immoral to eat or exploit them just as it would be to do the same to a human. If I were in a situation where the only option for survival was to eat another human, I wouldnt do it. "

The question of morality came up in this part. ^^^ But not religion per say.

The controversial concept of "animals having rights" is the OP's conjecture about how the vegetarians and PETAns decide how to answer such questions.

As for thread deletion, I have seen many good (or at least very interesting) threads deleted when the posters started getting into personal attacks on each other more than addressing the original question. The moderators don't usually have the time to go through an entire thread to delete individual posts and so often simply delete the entire thread.

There are several things that we got close to here, such as one poster "baiting" another to kind of push their buttons. Others got a bit rude with some comments insulting Christianity, and we have some where the posts seem to go in circles over and over the same thing, repeating what has already been said more than once before. Repeating is fine for clarification.

Taking the thread way off-topic is another no-no. Sometimes dragging a thread to some other topic in order to gain attention or for other reasons, will get a thread deleted. If threads wander a bit to explore a side topic more thoroughly that is ok.

The tendency is for threads like this to go wholesale into religious or political arguments that end up going nowhere and just causing hard feelings rather than an exploration of a topic. Preaching, selling something, promoting an extreme or hostile agenda are all discouraged.

If this thread leads to interesting side-topics, starting new threads to discuss them is a good option.

Ideoform Msg. 394

Animals and their ability to have empathy, morality, emotions, fairness and how that promotes species survival:

"Recent overviews of research by Stephanie Preston and Frans de Waal from the Yerkes Primate Center in Atlanta and Stanley Kuczaj's group at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg show that empathy is more widespread among animals than science has so far been willing to recognise. They point to research that suggests non-human primates, dolphins, whales, elephants and hippopotamuses, and even some rodents, behave in ways that support the claim that empathy has deep evolutionary roots."

"Decades spent watching wild and captive animals have persuaded me that species living in groups often have a sense of fair play built on moral codes of conduct that help cement their social relationships. Nature isn't always ruthlessly and selfishly competitive."

..."watching animals in action has convinced many researchers, myself included, that they possess the emotions upon which a moral sense is built. "

"...a sense of fairness is common to many animals, because there could be no social play without it, and without social play individual animals and entire groups would be at a disadvantage. ... morality evolved because it is adaptive. It helps many animals, including humans, to survive and flourish in their particular social environment. "

"...a moral sense may benefit groups as a whole. That's because group members learn rules of engagement during social play that influence their decisions about what is acceptable behaviour when dealing with each other. Recent research by Kyoko Okamoto and Shuichi Matsumura at Kyoto University suggests that we are not the only primates to use punishment and apology to help reinforce the rules of social engagement. And sticking to the rules is essential if individuals are to work in harmony to create a successful group that can outcompete other groups."

"What does all this tell us about human morality? First, we didn't invent virtue- its origins are much more ancient than our own. Secondly, we should stop seeing ourselves as morally superior to other animals. True, our big brains endow us with a highly sophisticated sense of what's right and wrong, but they also give us much greater scope for manipulating others-to cheat and deceive and try to benefit from immoral behaviour. In that sense, animal morality might be "purer" than our own.

We should accept our moral responsibility towards other animals, and that means developing and enforcing more restrictive regulations governing animal use. There is growing evidence that while animal minds vary from one species to another, they are not so different from our own, and only when we accept this can we be truly moral in our relations with other creatures and with nature as a whole."

~13 July 2002 New Scientist Magazine issue 2351, by Marc Bekoff
Marc Bekoff teaches biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He and Jane Goodall recently founded Ethologistsfor the Ethical Treatment of Animals

You can read the entire article here with the research references and examples:

Ideoform Msg. 453

"One farmer says to me, "You cannot live on vegetable food solely, for it furnishes nothing to make the bones with;"

and so he religiously devotes a part of his day to supplying himself with the raw material of bones; walking all the while he talks behind his oxen, which, with vegetable-made bones, jerk him and his lumbering plow along in spite of every obstacle."

~Henry David Thoreau

Ideoform Msg. 521


Quoting previous post:
"I have to have meat in my diet otherwise my iron levels will drop really low and I will start having muscle spasms. Is it still immoral to eat meat if your health is on the line?"

Iron can be obtained easily from switching to using cast iron pots and pans for cooking. These are economical to purchase, easy to clean and maintain, and will last longer than you do. I also recommend drinking well water that has been tested first for contaminants.

Well water has many dissolved minerals in it that our current diet can be lacking in, particularly as farmed soils get depleted over years of farming and the use of chemicals to grow the food rather than the natural earth nutrients. For instance, some foodies recommend apples that have not had the "ideal" growing conditions, because too much irrigation and nutrients changes and dilutes the flavor of the apples.

As for the morality; when you know better, you do better. We all do the best we can given our upbringing, the nature of the culture we are immersed in, our current knowledge and awareness, and the availability of options.

I eat meat myself, but I find that eating organic, free-range meats and wild game and fish to be more to my liking, and I don't eat the large amounts most people eat. The recommended amount of meat per day is the size of a deck of cards. You can use small amounts of meats to flavor other foods, not as the main course.

My feeling about it is that we all die. Plants, animals, humans. I can choose to fund the kind of lifestyle I think an animal would prefer (certainly this is anthropomorphic--whoever said THAT was a sin?) I decide by imagining if I were an animal what kind of lifestyle would I want. I would most of all want freedom, sunshine, the ability to reproduce, the ability to eat what my digestive system was designed to eat, and to have some choices about what to eat. I would want to live long enough to experience life beyond childhood. I wouldn't want to be exposed to pesticides and toxins. I would want to have a humane death, quick, simple and without undue suffering or torture.

I can pay slightly more for this type of animal food. Sure, its a luxury. But morality is often seen to be a luxury...

But what price is peace of mind? What price is emotional and intellectual integrity? When I was innocent of the differences among various foods, I was just as peaceful as I am now. I just know more now...and when you know better, you do better...but nobody is forcing me to. Its always my choice.

And freedom to choose a luxury--even if it is based on a non-human's well-being, is true freedom.

Do I have to always and only choose to do what society thinks is the best thing for me? Many people smoke even though it is expensive and unhealthy. Why would it be worse for me to make choices that went beyond my own utility?

If people can dress their dogs in human clothes, then why is it bad to choose my dinner based on how it was treated before I bought it?

I also prefer to buy vegetables a certain way. I prefer vegetables that are often "heirloom" varieties, to ensure the biodiversity of our vegetable population in case we have changes in our environment where our existing monocultures won't survive as well.

I think buying things that are locally grown and in season are also a good choice, since you don't transport them as far and they are less likely to need preservatives or a long period of refrigeration. This saves energy, but limits my choices...making me have to be more creative in my cooking, just like my ancestors did.

I prefer purchasing coffee from fair trade organizations. Coffee doesn't grow where I live, so it has to be transported. So I might as well support the local farmers better with my choices.

I read this blog the other day called The Ethicurian. Its all about applying ethics to food production, preparation and enjoyment. We apply ethics to almost everything else, why not food? We spend almost 30% of our budgets on food and kitchen appliances, and 30% of our time eating it, sharing it and using it to connect with each other in gatherings and celebrations. Almost every human interaction involves food in some way.

What is curious to me, is that Americans have these HUGE kitchens, and yet so few of us cook in them more than to heat things up, order take-out, and eat pre-prepared foods. Most of us are on diets...trying NOT to eat. But perhaps we are just not satisfied with the way we eat??

Perhaps we are not satisfied with the way we define food's meaning in our lives anymore.

Remember giving thanks? I still do that. Thank you for the abundance, for the over-abundance of food.

And thank you for my re-discovery of the meaning of nourishment.

Ideoform Msg. 539

"If a group of beings from another planet were to land on Earth -- beings who considered themselves as superior to you as you feel yourself to be to other animals -- would you concede them the rights over you that you assume over other animals?"

~George Bernard Shaw, playwright, Nobel Prize 1925


Ideoform Msg. 540

"I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights.
That is the way of a whole human being."

~Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President


"A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food;
therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite.
And to act so is immoral."

~Leo Tolstoy


"Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds them. We live by the death of others. We are burial places."

~Leonardo Da Vinci


"In their behavior toward creatures, all men are Nazis.
Human beings see oppression vividly when they're the victims.
Otherwise they victimize blindly and without a thought."

~Isaac Bashevis Singer, author, Nobel Prize 1978


"Reality cannot be found except in One single source,
because of the interconnection of all things with one another."

~Leibniz, 1670

"We are a part of Nature as a whole whose order we follow."

~Spinoza, Ethics, 1673


"Our task must be to free ourselves . . . by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty."

"Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet."

~Albert Einstein, physicist, Nobel Prize 1921


"Whenever people say 'We mustn't be sentimental,' you can take it they are about to do something cruel. And if they add 'We must be realistic,' they mean they are going to make money out of it."

~Brigid Brophy


"At the moment our human world is based on the suffering and destruction of millions of non-humans.

To perceive this and to do something to change it in personal and public ways is to undergo a change of perception akin to a religious conversion.

Nothing can ever be seen in quite the same way again because once you have admitted the terror and pain of other species you will, unless you resist conversion, be always aware of the endless permutations of suffering that support our society."

~Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle, English physician, author, Sherlock Holmes


"Christians whose eyes are fixed on the awfulness of crucifixion are in a special position to understand the awfulness of innocent suffering. The Cross of Christ is God's absolute identification with the weak, the powerless, and the vulnerable, but most of all with unprotected, undefended, innocent suffering."

~Rev. Dr. Andrew Linzey, Anglican Priest & Senior Research Fellow in Theology, Oxford

"...there is something so very dreadful, so satanic in tormenting those who have never harmed us, and who cannot defend themselves, who are utterly in our power, who have weapons neither of offence nor defense, that none but very hardened persons can endure the thought of it."

~Cardinal John Henry Newman, leader of the Anglican Oxford Movement, "Father of Vatican II"

"...[I]t is a terrible thing that religious people today can be so indifferent to the cruelty of the farms, shrugging it off as so much secular, animal rights foolishness. They above all should hear the call to mercy. They above all should have some kindness to spare. They above all should be mindful of the little things, seeing, in the suffering of these creatures, the same hand that has chosen all the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things to confound the things which are strong. 'Who so poor,' asked Anna Kingsford more than a century ago, 'so oppressed, so helpless, so mute and uncared for, as the dumb creatures who serve us -- they who, but for us, must starve, and who have no friend on earth if man be their enemy?
"Man must never hurt animals, must never ill-treat them nor torture them physically because they are sensitive creatures."

~ Matthew Scully, speechwriter for US Pres. G.W. Bush, from Dominion

"It is forbidden, according to the law of the Torah, to inflict pain upon any living creature. On the contrary, it is our duty to relieve the pain of any creature, even if it is ownerless or belongs to a non-Jew."

~The Code of Jewish Law, Sephardic compilation 1560

"Here you are faced with G-d's teaching, which obliges you not only to refrain from inflicting unnecessary pain on any animal, but to help and, when you can, to lessen the pain whenever you see an animal suffering, even through no fault of yours. … As G-d is merciful, so you also be merciful. As he loves and cares for all His creatures and His children and are related to Him, because He is their Father, so you also love all His creatures as your brethren. Let their joys be your joys, and their sorrows yours. Love them and with every power which G-d gives you, work for their welfare and benefit, because they are the children of your G-d, because they are your brothers and sisters."

~Hirsch, Rabbi Samson Rafael, father of German Jewish orthodoxy, Chief Rabbi of Austria, 1808

"A good deed done to an animal is as meritorious as a good deed done to a human being, while an act of cruelty to an animal is as bad as an act of cruelty to a human being."

~Mohammed, The Prophet

"I know, in my soul, that to eat a creature who is raised to be eaten, and who never has a chance to be a real being, is unhealthy. It's're just eating misery. You're eating a bitter life."

"As we talked of freedom and justice one day for all, we sat down to steaks. 'I am eating misery,' I thought, as I took the first bite. And spit it out."

~Alice Walker, author, The Color Purple

"We consume the carcasses of creatures of like appetites, passions and organs with our own, and fill the slaughterhouses daily with screams of fear and pain."

~Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish author, Treasure Island, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

"We manage to swallow flesh only because we do not think of the cruel and sinful thing that we do. Cruelty... is a fundamental sin, and admits of no arguments or nice distinctions.

If only we do not allow our heart to grow callous, it protests against cruelty, is always clearly heard; and yet we go on perpetrating cruelties easily, merrily, all of us - in fact, anyone who does not join in is dubbed a crank."

~Rabindranath Tagore, Bengali educator, poet, Nobel Prize winner 1913

"The thinking man must oppose all cruel customs no matter how deeply rooted in tradition and surrounded by a halo. When we have a choice, we must avoid bringing torment and injury into the life of another, even the lowliest creature; to do so is to renounce our manhood and shoulder a guilt which nothing justifies."

~Rev. Dr. Albert Schweitzer, German physician, author, Nobel Peace Prize 1952

"Some folks insist that believing in animal rights is like a religion. But religion asks followers to believe in things nobody can see, while animal rights advocates ask followers to see things nobody can believe."

~Craig Burton, US novelist, "A Hatful of Pain"

"Recognize meat for what it really is: the antibiotic- and pesticide-laden corpse of a tortured animal."

~Newkirk, Ingrid

"To be a vegetarian is to disagree -- to disagree with the course of things today. Starvation, world hunger, cruelty, waste, wars -- we must make a statement against these things. Vegetarianism is my statement. And I think it's a strong one."

~ Isaac Bashevis Singer, Polish author, Nobel prize, 1978

"How pitiful, and what poverty of mind, to have said that the animals are machines deprived of understanding and feeling . . . has Nature arranged all the springs of feeling in this animal to the end that he might not feel? Has he nerves that he may he incapable of suffering?

People must have renounced, it seems to me, all natural intelligence to dare to advance that animals are but animated machines . . . It appears to me, besides, that [such people] can never have observed with attention the character of animals, not to have distinguished among them the different Voices of need, of suffering, of joy, of pain, of love, of anger, and of all their affections.

It would be very strange that they should express so well what they could not feel. . . . They are endowed with life as we are, because they have the same principles of life, the same feelings, the same ideas, memory, industry—as we."

~Voltaire, French author, quote from Trate sur la tolerance

"Humans - who enslave, castrate, experiment on, and fillet other animals - have had an understandable penchant for pretending animals do not feel pain. A sharp distinction between humans and "animals" is essential if we are to bend them to our will, make them work for us, wear them, eat them - without any disquieting tinges of guilt or regret. It is unseemly of us, who often behave so unfeelingly toward other animals, to contend that only humans can suffer. The behavior of other animals renders such pretensions specious. They are just too much like us."

~Dr. Carl Sagan


Ideoform Msg. 609

Quoting previous post:
" any original thoughts in that head of yours ---or only those of others ?"

I have posted my original thoughts on this thread first. My thoughts have been influenced by this thread. I don't repeat the original ones because they were formulated after much thought and personal experience to begin with.

Many of my original posts refer to the discussion that is currently happening and I like to only put things/ideas that haven't been already posted.

I think some of the quotes are more elegantly put than I could ever do. That's why I like quotes. I collect quotes. It's an interest of mine.

Here is a personal opinion; I think that there is not much in this world that is totally new in terms of thoughts and ideas. What we each add to the zeitgeist is our personal experience, our unique identities, and we sometimes try new things in new combinations...and even this opinion is not entirely new...and neither are many of those other's have posted here.

We are all using either science, religion, ethics or personal preferences to refer to in our postings. We use the leverage of the sources to leverage our arguments. If the source is trusted and respected that is "good" but if the source is a reformer that is making waves then that is "bad." Yet you are asking me for my own opinion, and who am I? I am a nobody. I am a housewife. I have no leverage. My opinion counts as one person's opinion. I get one vote. I am not as eloquent as these others, or have as many credentials. Why is it you want my opinion at all? It is only my own personal experience and thoughts...I throw my hat in with vegetarians...yet I am not a vegetarian at this time...

Original opinions are just that...opinions. Every one of us has a right to our opinion. Creating a proof about an opinion doesn't make it any less of an opinion. And I have learned that you can't create any proof that is strong enough to change someone's strongly held opinion. Particuarly if they formulated that opinion very young in life and stayed with it for many years.

What you have when you have a list of evidence is a guide map to someone's agenda. The agenda can be completely emotional, irrational and illogical. But you can use logic to layer it with to package your agenda.

I have presented my agenda already. You don't need any more layers of things to cover it up, pretty it up, make it seem more logical, more factual, more realistic, more practical, healthier, more commanding, convincing, more ethical, or more proof-like.

I think that all that is left is inspiration.

Everyone has to come to their own conclusions based on their own experience. That is freedom. If you make a mistake the others will not save you from it by creating laws about it...yet.

Quoting previous post:
"...who IS Ingrid Newkirk? ... she is the co-founder and president of PeTA.
... whom you placed on equal footing as novelists, prophets, and noble peace prize winners"

Well, at least she is doing something about what she believes in. I admire that. Plus, the particular quote of hers is something I have come to believe myself. I consider this quote quite succinct. I am not concise at all, myself.

Carl Sagan is pretty recognizable. So is Ingrid Newkirk to most people on this thread. I think that there isn't a single member of PeTA on this thread. Yet we are discussing them. I really don't think that it is a fair discussion for that reason, since the original poster was asking for members of vegetarian groups to respond.

All the quotes are ones that strike me as true, and that I believe. There are hundreds more quotes by these same people and by others that I found...but these I selected because I like them and thought they were appropriate.

Quoting previous post:
"My, that sounds like a well balanced person whose opinion I should trust and cherish their thoughts."

Sometimes reformers are considered crazy. Jesus was such a reformer of the Jewish faith. The religion I was raised in, Lutheran, had a reformer, Martin Luther, who was considered crazy and unbalanced. Martin Luther King was named after him and he was killed. I think that any new idea, is first seen with fear because it causes change and might disrupt the way things are. Anybody who defends the weak and powerless, the children, the elderly, the disabled, is sometimes seen as weak themselves. Yet this requires great courage.

Ideoform Msg. 611

Quoting previous post:

"...Yea, they're brave- spending their money to keep arsonists on the streets, rather than spending it for the welfare and survival of abused and mistreated animals. What a bold stance."

I quote people not to strong-arm the debate but to provide inspiration for one side of it. I don't think my quotes are any more strong-arm in nature than those of the other's on here.

I don't have evidence of the people I quoted having been vegetarians.
I chose the particular quotes because of what they say, primarily. Secondarily is the person who was being quoted.

Status counts with most people. Some people will read the quotes and listen to the content of what is said, regardless of who is saying it. Some people will skip right to the name of the author to see "who it is" before reading the quote so they can decide whether or not to listen to what it says. That is why I tried to provide quotes by widely differing authors, from religious people to scientific people to politicians. Some people will only listen to the scientists. Some will only listen to religious. Some will take a political/power side only.

If you put the particular authors in a room together they would probably not-- as a group-- agree about much else, except that particular opinion I quoted. But that does not take away from the power of their stated opinions, (in my opinion.) :) Why would they all have to agree on everything in order for their opinion on this matter to be valid?

Perhaps they were taken out of some sort of context that would have changed somewhat the direction of their meaning. You could research that, and it might be a good topic for another thread--people not living up to their stated beliefs--making them hypocrites in the name of animal suffering.

As for Ingrid Newkirk, she is now "outed" on this thread, not by me, but by you. I didn't want the quote to be about Peta as much as about what the quote itself said. If it was a quote to defend Peta's actions, I would have put her job title on there. But I think the quote stands on its own.

I think it is nice that you put some of her other quotes on here. This provides the part of the discussion I thought was missing, but I wasn't going to promote Peta myself, since I don't approve of some of their actions. But I do approve of taking action about what you believe in and that is something I do myself and have done many times in the past.

Including her quote in with the others was not intended in any way to equate her with the other author's quoted.

You have done that comparison. I think you are reading into my posting more than what was intended. If you want to imagine conspiracies and hidden agendas and lots of intrigue, go ahead, but I prefer to keep pretty academic about things. Drama creates unnecessary exaggeration when the truth is usually not that dramatic.

I am not here to create guilt in anyone. I think that is what many people object to. It is not about making people wrong. It is about looking for light. What is good?

Good for me is not always going to be good for you. I can show you my way, and you can join me on my path, or not.
Ideoform Msg. 613

Quoting previous post:
"Ideoform: I think that any new idea, is first seen with fear because it causes change and might disrupt the way things are. Anybody who defends the weak and powerless, the children, the elderly, the disabled, is sometimes seen as weak themselves. Yet this requires great courage."
Jiperly: Yea, they're brave- spending their money to keep arsonists on the streets, rather than spending it for the welfare and survival of abused and mistreated animals. What a bold stance."

Put it another way, then,

It takes no true courage to defend the powerful.

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