• Txastopher
    76
    this is the only post I will ever write on this threadUber

    What a terrible waste of pomposity.
  • Uber
    58
    My pomposity pales in comparison to your bravado.
  • NKBJ
    224


    There's sooo many fallacies this whole "you're just a missionary" statement could fall under... suffice to say that it would be pure stubbornness on your part to look at this entire discussion and claim that the entire vegan position (even if you don't agree with it) lacks any merit whatsoever and that anyone trying to defend it is just being a missionary.
    That goes against a core principle of philosophy--the principle of charity.
  • NKBJ
    224


    I don't believe that's actually true. Let's do the math:

    There's about 100lbs of meat on the average deer. And about 715 calories per lb. That's 71,500 calories per deer.
    Soy yields on average 6 million calories per acre. There are 2.47 acres to a hectare. That's 14,820,000 calories per hectare.
    They estimate that about 15 animals are killed per hectare of crops. 14,820,000 divided by 15 is: 988,000 calories per dead animal. 988,000 divided by 71,500 is 13.8.

    Almost 14 times more animals are killed on a calorie for calorie basis when hunting deer than harvesting soy--which is not even one of the most calorie-dense crops.

    :cool:
  • Moliere
    1.1k
    There's sooo many fallacies this whole "you're just a missionary" statement could fall under... suffice to say that it would be pure stubbornness on your part to look at this entire discussion and claim that the entire vegan position (even if you don't agree with it) lacks any merit whatsoever and that anyone trying to defend it is just being a missionary.
    That goes against a core principle of philosophy--the principle of charity.
    NKBJ

    I don't think that the entire vegan position boils down to missionary work. I don't think missionary work is even a bad thing -- especially in light of a good cause. I have soap box issues myself that are near and dear to me.

    But discussing what to say to what sounds an awful lot like apologetics to me. I mostly try to avoid my soap box issues here anymore, though I'll mention what I believe, because soapboxing isn't philosophy. If you have that kind of conviction the issue stops looking like something that's really worth debating. You're persuaded. And persuasion seems to be the goal at that point.

    Does that count as philosophy, anymore? Maybe so. But it's a philosophy which is concerned with the beliefs of the listener -- a kind of medical philosophy where the practitioner is attempting to move someone from one belief to another for their betterment, be it moral or otherwise.
  • Uber
    58
    The general conclusion on the impact of veganism on the environment has been this: it would have some important benefits, in the sense that it would lower emissions, but there are pitfalls to think about as well. For example, poor countries that rely on animals for mechanical work in agricultural production, and as a source of food, could not handle the transition right away. I think veganism makes more sense for industrialized societies that can generate mechanical output through machines and vehicles. Likewise genetic engineering can play a role too; the soy protein in the Impossible Burger is not grown on land. It comes from specially engineered yeast.

    This is why I cautioned chatterbears about coming up with a universal imperative on why people shouldn't eat meat. All this aside, I think every rational person would agree that we're all better off if people on average ate less meat, even if they don't go fully vegan.
  • NKBJ
    224
    And persuasion seems to be the goal at that point.Moliere

    I don't see any difference here than people insisting on being right in other threads here. Unless you'd claim that all threads here eventually devolve into mere persuasion? But then again, the art of rhetoric is the art of persuasion, so perhaps that's a big part of what all discussions are about?

    For what it's worth, I have not for a moment thought that anyone would change their minds due to this thread. I've mainly seen it as a useful vehicle for helping me better clarify and articulate my own position.
  • Pseudonym
    789


    You're missing the point.

    1. The Forestry commission already kill the 30,000 deer for the good of the forest, so my comparison is not with an already established crop, but the cost of destroying the natural landscape currently occupied by large herbivores to make way for lentils, which I can guarantee wiil cause more than your 15/hectare deaths.

    2. Much more importantly (for a philosophy forum) we're already trading disputed figures and methods for measuring the net harm. Do you trust the Forestry commission's opinion on whether the deer need to be culled (you've already indicated you don't)? Do I trust your 'they' who've apparently measured all deaths from arable farming and come to a figure of 15/ha? No, not on face value I don't. So far from being this cut and dried ethical issue it has been painted as, it turns out its an extremely complex ecological issue with varied harm calculations depending on which metrics you use and which experts you trust.

    This is the point of avoiding making every decision on the basis of strict consequentialist ethics. Our knowledge of the consequences of our actions is always limited and open to alternative views.

    I take a default position. Do not interfere unless you have to. Carnivores eating herbivores is a natural process, I'm not about to advise playing God and re-arranging the ecosystems of the world on the reckoning of a few scientists who've done a back-of-the-envelope calculation of the total number of animals killed in either scenario. You don't take a 3.5 billion year old system and suggest we could do better after five minutes of looking at it.
  • Uber
    58
    So the capitalist food industry is suddenly a 3.5-billion year system? The rise of predation itself is about 600 million years old.

    By the way we are already rearranging global ecosystems. That's capitalism for you: consuming natural resources at will for financial profit. The major reason why an extreme position like veganism is called for is precisely because the extremes of global capitalism have brought us here, with human civilization risking collapse in this millennium.
  • Moliere
    1.1k
    I don't see any difference here than people insisting on being right in other threads here. Unless you'd claim that all threads here eventually devolve into mere persuasion? But then again, the art of rhetoric is the art of persuasion, so perhaps that's a big part of what all discussions are about?NKBJ

    I don't wish to say that everything devolves into persuasion. I don't even wish to say this thread devolved, even. At most I was giving @chatterbears a light ribbing for simultaneously claiming reason and science while obviously being motivated by a deep passion, and being unable to admit to that. It's the sort of thing that you see Sam Harris do too -- thinking that there really could only be one position that anyone could reasonably hold.


    It's not just the act of persuasion. I mean, sure, we frame our arguments in that way. But at the point of discussing rhetorical tactics to persuade? That's what really set my mind off with respect to missionary work, because those sorts of apologetics are exactly the kind of thing discussed in groups dedicated to persuading others. The same happens in politics too, for what it's worth. "if they believe X, then respond Y" There's a kind of lack of ability to listen to others that comes with that level of planning out your conversation.



    For what it's worth, I have not for a moment thought that anyone would change their minds due to this thread. I've mainly seen it as a useful vehicle for helping me better clarify and articulate my own position.

    Sure, I feel the same there.

    I think veganism can be defended, it's mostly the manner in which chatterbears did it that I was responding to. I wouldn't even mind if vegans won their political goals. There would be some good from it.
  • NKBJ
    224
    You're missing the point.Pseudonym

    This is what I was responding to:

    The use of wild or grass fed animals to supply protein kills just one animal, to grow the equivalent quantity of legumes requires the deaths of hundreds, not to mention the destruction of the habitat of thousands more.Pseudonym

    I very directly addressed and refuted your point. Sorry, not sorry :kiss:

    1. The Forestry commission already kill the 30,000 deer for the good of the forest, so my comparison is not with an already established crop, but the cost of destroying the natural landscape currently occupied by large herbivores to make way for lentils, which I can guarantee wiil cause more than your 15/hectare deaths.Pseudonym

    The fields already exist because we use 70% of crops to feed our livestock. No need to make more, and actually we can reforest a huge percentage thereof, since not as many acres are needed to directly feed humans than are needed to feed the animals we then eat.

    Do I trust your 'they' who've apparently measured all deaths from arable farming and come to a figure of 15/ha?Pseudonym

    If you wanted a source, you could have just asked nicely: http://www.animalvisuals.org/projects/data/1mc/

    Carnivores eating herbivores is a natural process, I'm not about to advise playing God and re-arranging the ecosystems of the world on the reckoning of a few scientists who've done a back-of-the-envelope calculation of the total number of animals killed in either scenario.Pseudonym

    The idea that what humans do is any longer a natural and integral part of the ecosystem is just laughable. That boat sailed when we invented agriculture and it entered a whole new universe when we entered the industrial period.
  • NKBJ
    224
    At most I was giving chatterbears a light ribbingMoliere

    Okay. I misinterpreted you then :sweat:

    I wouldn't even mind if vegans won their political goals. There would be some good from it.Moliere

    :smile:
  • Pseudonym
    789
    This is what I was responding to:

    The use of wild or grass fed animals to supply protein kills just one animal, to grow the equivalent quantity of legumes requires the deaths of hundreds, not to mention the destruction of the habitat of thousands more. — Pseudonym


    I very directly addressed and refuted your point. Sorry, not sorry
    NKBJ

    Yes, and I explained that the point is that far from being a cut and dried ethical issue, it is a complex issue requiring agreement on many technical points;

    1. How do we count an animal that was 'killed' because of growing vegetable protein? Just the ones the farmer actually kills? The ones who die of starvation and disease due to direct habitat loss? The ones who die from starvation and disease due to indirect habitat loss (such as eutrophication)? The ones who die as a result of prey species loss from pesticides and pest control? The ones who die as a result of the actual production of the mechanised and chemical means of modern arable farming?

    The source you give is clearly a biased, single, source. anyone with even a modicum of understanding about how to assess evidence would know that you do not reach unequivocal conclusions based on a single biased source. The article isn't even a piece of original research, it's a critique of another scientist's original research which he claims (and still claims) proves the exact opposite. As I said in my previous post, the point is not to argue that I'm right (or that Davis is right) it's to point out that it's obviously complicated.

    Can you not conceive of the idea that in a few month's time an article might be published showing how Middleton has actually made an error in his calculations and in fact the total number of deaths turns out to be higher in arable afterall? Then another article showing how that critique missed a key point and Middleton was right afterall, and so on ...

    Articles are not regularly produced showing how gravity actually doesn't exist afterall, or how electricity is actually magic like we first thought. Some things are so widely agreed upon as to be reasonably taken as absolute fact, other things are contested and we have to accept it is reasonable for rational people to base their ethical behaviour on any of the currently supported conclusions.

    Notwithstanding the complications in how to count animal deaths, there are other ethical issues the simple death count does not address ...

    2. What value (in terms of harm) do we give to habitat loss compared to actual deaths, are we to ignore completely the loss of biodiversity simply because those animals never lived rather than were actually killed?

    3. Are we to give any value at all to the 'naturalness' of a landscape as an intrinsic value of it's own?

    4. Are we to give any value at all to the 'naturalness' of human interaction with that landscape - Hunting/gathering vs. mechanised farming?

    I'm not arguing against Veganism, I think it's a perfectly reasonable response to the situation we find ourselves in and a perfectly ethical position. What I'm arguing against (and I think I can say this for everyone who's contributed to this thread) is this overly simplistic notion that it is the only ethical position.
  • TheMadFool
    2.2k
    I don't even understand what this means. I should care to not kill the plant because it has a life, just as I have a life? I specifically stated that we should take more consideration for sentient life, because sentient life can experience pain and suffering, while plants cannot.chatterbears

    Don't we feel for those who are intellectually challenged. We don't go around mistreating people with disabilities do we? We do call severely brain damaged people ''vegetables'', right? Yet we extend our compassion to them. So, how far are ''vegetable'' humans from actual vegetables?
  • NKBJ
    224


    I used Davis' study because it is the one which counts animal deaths the highest and which is most often cited by pro-meat eaters. All other studies I have come across say he highly overestimated the numbers.... So I was actually just being conservative in your favor.

    But since you're the one who falsely claimed both that you would need whole hectares of food to equal one deer, and that there are hundreds of deaths per hectare.... Do you have any research to back it up that you can show us here? Or is ot just wishful thinking on your part?

    Based on the sum of research, we not only have fewer deaths total with veganism, but those deaths also are unintentional. Both aspects speak in favor of veganism. I should think it goes without saying that it's more wrong to intentionally kill someone.

    Re:2-4, as previously stated, veganism requires less land to be used for agriculture; we already have permanently changed the landscape so the best we can do is reforest a few areas; it is not possible to feed the entire human population based on some hunter-gatherer ideal anymore.
  • NKBJ
    224
    Can you not conceive of the idea that in a few month's time an article might be published showing how Middleton has actually made an error in his calculations and in fact the total number of deaths turns out to be higher in arable afterall? Then another article showing how that critique missed a key point and Middleton was right afterall, and so on ...Pseudonym

    Sure. It's possible anything we think we know is false. It's also possible that we will someday find out smoking actually cures cancer. But I'm going to base my actions on our best current knowledge and not what could possibly some day maybe be shown to be the case.
  • Uber
    58
    Pseudonym has little scientific ground to stand on here. Here are some of the major studies evaluating the impact of diet on the environment.

    1) Lucas Reijnders and Sam Soret (2003). "Quantification of the environmental impact of different dietary protein choices" in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Note: this paper became one of the classic studies on the subject and has been cited hundreds of times in the literature)

    Their major conclusion:

    Assessment suggests that on average the complete life cycle environmental impact of nonvegetarian meals may be roughly a factor 1.5–2 higher than the effect of vegetarian meals in which meat has been replaced by vegetable protein. Although on average vegetarian diets may well have an environmental advantage, exceptions may also occur. Long-distance air transport, deep-freezing, and some horticultural practices may lead to environmental burdens for vegetarian foods exceeding those for locally produced organic meat.

    2) Baroni et al. (2006). "Evaluating the environmental impact of various dietary patterns combined with different food production systems" in European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Note: this is also a landmark paper in the literature)

    Their major conclusion:

    As a consequence, independently from the perspective
    selected, the ‘normal’ diet based on products from chemical–
    conventional agriculture and conventional farming (NORMINT)
    turns out to have the greatest environmental impact,
    whereas the vegan diet based on organic products (VEGANBIO)
    turns out to have the smallest environmental impact.

    3) Rosi et al. (2017). "Environmental impact of omnivorous, ovo-lacto-vegetarian, and vegan diet" in Nature (Note: I personally think this is the most important study here for the simple reason that it actually uses the individual diets of real people in Italy, instead of fancy mathematical assumptions about what different diets should look like)

    Their major conclusion:

    The omnivorous choice generated worse carbon, water and ecological footprints than other diets. No differences were found for the environmental impacts of ovo-lacto-vegetarians and vegans, which also had diets more adherent to the Mediterranean pattern. A high inter-individual variability was observed through principal component analysis, showing that some vegetarians and vegans have higher environmental impacts than those of some omnivores. Thus, regardless of the environmental benefits of plant-based diets, there is a need for thinking in terms of individual dietary habits.

    4) Robin White and Mary Hall (2017). "Nutritional and greenhouse gas impacts of removing animals from US agriculture" in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (Note: this paper was one of the more critical ones to look at a mass transition to veganism, but still found reductions in emissions)

    Their major conclusion:

    US agriculture was modeled to determine impacts of removing farmed animals on food supply adequacy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The modeled system without animals increased total food production (23%), altered foods available for domestic consumption, and decreased agricultural US GHGs (28%), but only reduced total US GHG by 2.6 percentage units.

    Obviously not all ethical and scientific conclusions are perfectly "cut and dried," as Pseudonym puts it. But at this point it's full-on pseudoscience to suggest that veganism is not a better choice for the environment than other diets. It may have some drawbacks in certain contexts, which I have detailed in this thread and which some of the papers above also mention, but on the whole it's the far superior dietary choice, if you care about the long-term viability of global civilization and if you can manage to make the transition (also if you care about improving, you know, this thing called your health).

    I do, however, applaud Pseudonym for stating the following:

    I'm not arguing against Veganism, I think it's a perfectly reasonable response to the situation we find ourselves in and a perfectly ethical position. What I'm arguing against (and I think I can say this for everyone who's contributed to this thread) is this overly simplistic notion that it is the only ethical position.

    This is very much a sensible position, hardly much different than the one I hold as a vegan myself.
  • Pseudonym
    789
    All other studies I have come across say he highly overestimated the numbers.... So I was actually just being conservative in your favor.NKBJ

    No, because you are a vegan. The "all other studies" are going to be studies trying to prove veganism, just like Davis's was trying to prove meat eating. Its confirmation bias, we all have it. All we can say without bias is that there are arguments for either case presented by intelligent, well-informed experts. Therefore, no case is unequivocally correct from an ethical pont of view.

    But since you're the one who falsely claimed both that you would need whole hectares of food to equal one deer, and that there are hundreds of deaths per hectare.... Do you have any research to back it up that you can show us here?NKBJ

    Yes, Davis's study. The mere existence of counter arguments does not render a study no longer evidence. As I've said dozens of times already, it depends how you measure harm and what harms you're prepared to accept as consequenses of a particular land use. If you can find me the article in which Davis and other ecologists making the same argument (like Farleigh), all put their hands up and say "fair cop, we were wrong" then I maintain that there exist a range of arguments in this matter.

    Re:2-4, as previously stated, veganism requires less land to be used for agriculture; we already have permanently changed the landscape so the best we can do is reforest a few areas;NKBJ

    Again, we can't "reforest a few areas" unless we manage deer numbers, and I'm not, nor ever have been, talking about land that could be used for arable. I think the use of good arable land to grow corn to feed cows is both deplorable and stupid. I'm talking about meat from Woodlands (both natural and timber-growing) and uplands (all lamb production in England, for example), animals which undergraze (chickens and cattle in agroforestry systems), and animals which are scrap-fed (our pigs). None of these systems use land which could be used for growing arable crops, so if you don't eat these forms of meat you are directly requiring a greater quantity of land to be taken up with agriculture.
  • Uber
    58
    Enough with the deer in Scotland or some other random corner of Europe. Enough with one study here or there. I have just posted some of the most authoritative studies on the subject, and they all contradict you.
  • Pseudonym
    789
    I have just posted some of the most authoritative studies on the subject, and they all contradict you.Uber

    Really? Which one of them compares a chemical assisted vegan diet to a fully organic omnivorous diet which includes only wild, agroforesty, upland, or scrap-fed meat?
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