Being vegan for ethical reasons.

• 11
Recently I've been watching Csmic Skepyic's aka Alex O'Connor's YouTube channel often over the last 2'years. Is studying philosophy at Oxford University in the UK. Most of his videos are about the philosophy behind why religion/god doesn't exist.

Recently he has made the switch to being vegan, mainly for ethical reasons. from as far back as 2007 he made the comment that he would like to be vegan in the future. Recently in this video, he said:

https://youtu.be/C1vW9iSpLLk

"I would love to eat meat but cannot fool myself"

He wants to challenge peoples perception of eating meat, as he cannot defend it ethically - therefore either somebody pointed out why his arguments are flawed or he would have to turn vegan - which he has since done.

1 "name the trait"

If it's really lacking intelligence, that is the reason why we can kill and eat animals (this is the most popular trait used). We have to justified both "killing and eating animals who lack intelligence" and "killing humans because they lack intelligence" .. if you can't justify both, there is - as Alex points out: "a philosophical inconsistency"

His reasoning is, just because something is less intelligent, does that mean that we want with it? Is it possible animals feel pain, more than we do? After all a shark sense of smell is way, way, way more accurate than a human's, for example.

3. "a pig is not equal to a human"

A black person was not seen as equal to a white person? Was slavery legal before? And does it really matter whether a pig is not equal to a human?

4. "the circle of life"

Human beings are no longer a part of "the circle of life", maybe before when we lived off the land and were one with nature but that is no longer the case.

Can you ethically justify eating meat?
• 13.9k
Can you ethically justify eating meat?

Causing pain, therefore killing, is immoral. In a very simplistic sense how would you feel if your throat was cut, dying slowly from blood loss, feeling pain up until the end, then cut up into tiny morsels, cooked, served over dinner on a table where the people who're eating you don't even give a second thought about what you were, all the while conversing, cracking jokes, yes jokes, discussing how great you tasted or even that you weren't prepared to someone's liking?

Sometimes I get scared of my closest friends and family at how they can eat meat and still say ''I love you''. The cognitive dissonance is disturbing to say the least.

That said we also have science telling us that a diverse diet, suggesting we eat meat, is healthier than a restricted diet like veganism. A good response to this is that such a recommendation stems from ignorance rather than knowledge. We don't know what a good/balanced diet is, nor do we know which foods can provide it and so we suggest a shotgun strategy instead of specific recommendations. However, if my biology is correct, we're designed to eat meat in addition to plants.

Then there's the issue of practicality. Buddhism values all life and yet the Buddha didn't recommend veganism because during his time Buddhist monks had to beg for food and weren't in a position to refuse what was given which may have sometimes included meat.

Perhaps there's hope in the future. Synthetic meat could become a reality and then we could stop killing animals for food.
• 5.3k
I can never think of a good answer to this question:

What is true of animals but not true of humans that allows us to kill and eat one but not the other?

But I still eat meat and buy unethical products like caged hen eggs. I guess if I'm happy with animal genocide I can be happy with causing them more suffering before they die.
• 11
Causing pain, therefore killing, is immoral. In a very simplistic sense how would you feel if your throat was cut, dying slowly from blood loss, feeling pain up until the end, then cut up into tiny morsels, cooked, served over dinner on a table where the people who're eating you don't even give a second thought about what you were, all the while conversing, cracking jokes, yes jokes, discussing how great you tasted or even that you weren't prepared to someone's liking?

Not for me that.

We don't know what a good/balanced diet is, nor do we know which foods can provide it and so we suggest a shotgun strategy instead of specific recommendations. However, if my biology is correct, we're designed to eat meat in addition to plants.

You're right we don't know what a balance diet is but we know what is not healthy and what is.. eating meat is not going to kill you but neither is smoking 2 cigarettes a day.... it's a tricky one, you have to be in a position to reject eating certain foods tho but it's cheaper than eating meat, regardless of what you hear on the news.

What is true of animals but not true of humans that allows us to kill and eat one but not the other?

I get what you mean but I suppose it's just a case of trying to justify ones behaviour by the behaviour of animals.. why don't we sniff each other's bums like dogs do when we meet each other or eat our own babies like hippopotamuses do.. there are lots of examples of this, it's called the nature fallacy and is used regularly to justify things, well in this case eating meat.
• 11
Synthetic meats aka lab meat, is the future but I would not be surprised if plant based meat products got more and more popular.. things like beyond meat... but yeh imho there needs to be a meat tax, similar to the heavy tax we put on cigarettes and then subsidize fruit and vegetables... beans etc etc... get buying soy milk and almond milk, instead of cow's milk etc.. that needs to happen.
• 837
First, I am sympathetic to this view. If we have a philosophical goal of "cause no harm", then these ideas need to be considered. But I do see logical problems (but perhaps this is just me defending my meat-eating, so feel free to call me out):

If it's really lacking intelligence, that is the reason why we can kill and eat animals (this is the most popular trait used). We have to justified both "killing and eating animals who lack intelligence" and "killing humans because they lack intelligence" .. if you can't justify both, there is - as Alex points out: "a philosophical inconsistency"

His reasoning is, just because something is less intelligent, does that mean that we want with it?

All of this logic applies to all life, including plants and single celled organisms. I am not saying the whole idea is wrong, but this single point does not say much.

Is it possible animals feel pain, more than we do?

Certainly seems possible. Also, once we introduce the idea of "pain", it seems far less likely that plants and single celled organism experience pain, but can we know for sure that they do not? (I honestly don't know enough about biology, is there already an answer to this question? but logically, what is pain other than a signal that your body has been damaged? so it seems plants may have that in some way?)

It seems that killing a plant can be viewed as equally bad to killing an animal (logically anyway), but we need to know more about how pain is experienced to make comparisons of suffering across species.

3. "a pig is not equal to a human"

A black person was not seen as equal to a white person? Was slavery legal before? And does it really matter whether a pig is not equal to a human?

I think this still has the same problem as above. When he (or she - Alex?) argues that a pig is not inferior to a human, what makes a plant or bacteria inferior to a pig?

4. "the circle of life"

Human beings are no longer a part of "the circle of life", maybe before when we lived off the land and were one with nature but that is no longer the case.

Again, this seems a weak argument. How many people were vegans back when humans lived off the land and were part of the "circle of life"? (IIRC people today, especially Americans, eat a lot MORE meat than our ancestors...but I don't think our ancestors would be good evidence for the need of veganism).

In a very simplistic sense how would you feel if your throat was cut, dying slowly from blood loss, feeling pain up until the end,

I wouldn't like that. But if I was just happily chewing grass and then, fade to black. Where is the harm? Particularly if we are talking something like cows or chickens where 99% of them NEVER would have existed without the human desire for meat.

then cut up into tiny morsels, cooked, served over dinner on a table where the people who're eating you don't even give a second thought about what you were, all the while conversing, cracking jokes, yes jokes, discussing how great you tasted or even that you weren't prepared to someone's liking?

A well painted picture :grin: Don't forget complaining about how I exercised too much or too little. But that all seems fine to me, as I would be unaware of the whole event taking place (and even if I knew before I died, no huge objections, because I won't be there to "feel" bad about the whole thing). Heck, people are always being poetic about immortality anyway, maybe being consumed by another person means one lives forever in them (bullshit, but not much worse than much of the mystical/poetic crap that is flung around).

Sometimes I get scared of my closest friends and family at how they can eat meat and still say ''I love you''. The cognitive dissonance is disturbing to say the least.

I don't understand this part. Do they tell cows "I love you"? Why is it cognitive dissonance? Oh! Are you saying there is cognitive dissonance when they directly address you and say "I love you"? That makes more sense as cognitive dissonance, as they know you view eating meat as a terrible thing and yet they are happy to do it right in your face and even say "I love you " during the meal. Am I even close?

I think the stance you both hold is likely the superior moral position that will eventually win out, but the argument needs work. It may have to wait until science can explain the experience of pain more completely, once we know which organisms experience pain to what degree and how the pain can be increased or reduced, then we can begin to make a more solid argument. in the mean time, rhetoric is likely the best approach (I don't mean that negatively, just pointing out that until the evidence is known, an appeal to emotion, like TheMadFool's description of a person being eaten, is probably the best bet).
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The cognitive dissonance lies in expressing love which I take to be a caring attitude towards life, at the same time killing and consuming animals which is obviously the contradiction of love.
• 4k
Eating imported foods is worse. There is enough food to feed everyone already. Advances in agriculture will no doubt expand our efficiency - as it is doing already.

I’d prefer to kill the animals I eat personally. I do find it perverse that many want to distance themselves from the thought of eating animals that have been killed. If your moral disposition toward killing animals to eat repulses you, yet you’re perfectly willing to eat meat sold in the market I’d say you’re a bit of a hypocrite.

Ideally we should all raise and care for the animals we eat. That would be nice. If you don’t want to eat meat fine by me. If you force your children not to eat meat I find that irresponsible. Not to mention we cannot simply switch to full veg because there isn’t current enough viable land to grow on and it would inevitably lead to chopping down forests (and, yes, I’m perfectly aware that this happens already for the demands on meat - a good reason to keep the research going and drop the stigma about GM foods; including livestock).
• 11
All of this logic applies to all life, including plants and single celled organisms. I am not saying the whole idea is wrong, but this single point does not say much.

I suppose I draw the line at an animal being alive and conscious, you cannot reasonably believed that a plant is conscious even if it felt pain, the plant it's not fundamentally conscious... dairy cows and egg laying chickens, about lives shortened dramatically...

Ohhhh half of the beef mince you get at McDonald's, is from dairy cows.. so it using animals, whether that be from milk or eggs - can do more harm than you think.

It seems that killing a plant can be viewed as equally bad to killing an animal (logically anyway), but we need to know more about how pain is experienced to make comparisons of suffering across species.

You do have a point but animals eat plants themselves, why not just directly eat the plants.. I mean we know that animals feel pain... a line needs to be drawn, killing a pig so you have something to eat, it's not the same as killing an insect... fundamentally it's the same, a life is a life is the life..

It's not practical to not kill any animals, as I said a line has to be drawn.. some vegans eat oysters, their justification is that they don't feel pain.. I don't myself but I can see the thinking behind it..

The cognitive dissonance lies in expressing love which I take to be a caring attitude towards life, at the same time killing and consuming animals which is obviously the contradiction of love.

Correct.

I’d prefer to kill the animals I eat personally. I do find it perverse that many want to distance themselves from the thought of eating animals that have been killed. If your moral disposition toward killing animals to eat repulses you, yet you’re perfectly willing to eat meat sold in the market I’d say you’re a bit of a hypocrite

This I agree with, 100% but unfortunately most people do not want to admit this.. I don't really agree with hunting - securing your own meat but it is the lesser of two evils imho... the eating of meat it's not the problem, just the way we go about making sure it's on the shelf in the supermarket.
• 11
In terms of change, what I think we needs to be done (regardless of whether agricultural processes get more efficient over time etc etc..) is have a meat tax and subsidise fruit 'n' vegetable.. now I understand that some people won't like that but if it reduces the amount of meat people eat and increases the amount of fruit and veg people consume on a day-to-day basis..

Not to mention that hungry Jack's and McDonald's will have to charge more money ... people will eat less meat, buy less fast food and consume more fruit 'n' veg... people will cook at home more and for any ethical vegans out there.. less animals will be killed, a lot less .... Imho that needs to be done!

EDIT: anyways the US government subsidizes meat and dairy, yearly they spend $38 billion each year to subsidize meat and dairy... farmer growing fruit and vegetables get nothing in comparison • 2.2k Eating meat is no worse than eating vegetables. One is eating living, growing things and, sadly, that is a requirement for survival. Only by prejudice do we value animal life over plant life. There's absolutely no merit to the idea that vegetarianism or veganism is in any way "better". • 11 Eating meat is no worse than eating vegetables. One is eating living, growing things and, sadly, that is a requirement for survival. Only by prejudice do we value animal life over plant life. There's absolutely no merit to the idea that vegetarianism or veganism is in any way "better". The animals that are eaten, are fed plants and lots of them.. half the world's plant crops are eaten by the animals that are fattened up to eat.. anyways we gotta eat something... whether that is meat or vegetables. • 2.2k Eating meat is no worse than eating vegetables. One is eating living, growing things and, sadly, that is a requirement for survival. Only by prejudice do we value animal life over plant life. There's absolutely no merit to the idea that vegetarianism or veganism is in any way "better". It's worse in any number of ways. In terms of resource usage, energy efficiency, climate impact, general ecological impact. Health is debatable, but at least eating lots of meat is generally considered less healthy. The nervous systems of plants and animals, especially common Lifestock animals, is very different. Whether or not any of this amounts to an ethical consideration is debatable, but claiming there is no difference to base ethical considerations on is ludicrous. • 2.2k I believe most people's gripe is with the meat industry, rather than the act of eating meat. • 2.2k I believe most people's gripe is with the meat industry, rather than the act of eating meat. But the meat industry is how most people eat meat, so you cannot separate the two that easily • 11 I believe most people's gripe is with the meat industry, rather than the act of eating meat. I agree with you.. but it's like any business- it's supply vs demand.. I mean obviously the meat industry is here to make money, if there was no demand for meat - there would be no meat industry. • 5.3k I get what you mean but I suppose it's just a case of trying to justify ones behaviour by the behaviour of animals.. why don't we sniff each other's bums like dogs do when we meet each other or eat our own babies like hippopotamuses do.. there are lots of examples of this, it's called the nature fallacy and is used regularly to justify things, well in this case eating meat. I think you misinterpreted the question. It's actually designed to be in favour of animal rights arguments. The idea behind it is to burden a meat eater with a task to find something true of animals that's not true for humans that makes the distinction between killable/non-killable make sense. It rules out things like pain, suffering, rudimentary self awareness, tool use etc. when applied to all animals. So the meat eater has to go on a case by case basis, which already plays into the animal rights activist's hands. • 11 I think you misinterpreted the question. It's actually designed to be in favour of animal rights arguments. The idea behind it is to burden a meat eater with a task to find something true of animals that's not true for humans that makes the distinction between killable/non-killable make sense. It rules out things like pain, suffering, rudimentary self awareness, tool use etc. when applied to all animals. So the meat eater has to go on a case by case basis, which already plays into the animal rights activist's hands. Yep I think I might of misunderstood what you said :) • 11 Who here would be more than willing to have a meat and dairy tax and have that "tax" money re-invested into subsizing fruits, vegetables and products like plant-based milks etc etc? IMHO it would mean less meat being purchased, plant based milks over cow's milk and people more willing to try tofu over say pork lol...... not to mention more fruit and veg bought... I'm just curious if the meat eaters on here, would complain or veiw it as a positive move? EDIT: don't forget the US government subsidizes meat and dairy atm.... they spend$38 billion each year to subsidize meat and dairy... farmer growing fruit and vegetables get nothing in comparison.
• 18
The act of eating meat, or other animal products is not, in my opinion, a question of ethics.
If it were fundamentally wrong then we would not be able to do it. If it were fundamentally right then we would not be able to explore an alternative choice. We as humans are living creatures just like animals, and indeed plants. All have a life, all have a death, all must experience suffering, be it pain in the case of animals or stresses when it comes to plants. This is a condition of life. Regardless of intensity, pain ceases at death alongside all other experience.
However, the way in which we treat our living neighbors is really the only point where ethics matters.
So long as true loving kindness is shown to all living things in life, then what is done after death is irrelevant.
The act of killing an another for sustenance is natural throughout the natural kingdom, including in the plant kingdom, and therefore does not fall into the realm of ethics. To say that as humans we have evolved beyond the necessity to consume animals is to say the as humans we evolved beyond nature. The way in which we have industrialised animals, however, is ethically questionable.
• 2k
If it were fundamentally wrong then we would not be able to do it

It would logically follow that nothing humans ever do is wrong, since then we couldn't do it. So murder, rape, theft, etc are all a-okay now. Got it.

The act of killing an another for sustenance is natural throughout the natural kingdom, including in the plant kingdom, and therefore does not fall into the realm of ethics.

Rape occurs througout the animal kingdom, and thus is natural. Do you condone it?

Can you ethically justify eating meat?

Nope. And so I don't. I really don't get why people have such a hard time with this whole issue.
• 2.3k
Can you ethically justify eating meat?

You can ethically justify anything. For every ethical thought/belief, there is an equal and opposite one. Is one more true than the other? It depends on our criteria for ethical truth. Is one better than the other? It depends on its consequence (that things end up better than worse).
• 11
Look I've got no problem with the act of eating meat nor do I have an issue with anybody who DOESN'T know what actually goes on behind closed doors, whether that be the factory farm it came from or the slaughter house it was killed at...

Look there are and will be more alternatives to traditional meats - whether that be plant based pork, chicken, beef or tuna/fish.. give it 10 years and the general public will be eating them, more and more..
• 8
Hey I agree with you that there are so many vegan options nowadays (and will continue to be more over the coming years) does it even justtiy to continue to eat meat?
• 2
I am vegan for ethical reasons and here's how I think of it:

1. Killing is an inherently immoral act. In order to eat the flesh and consume the bi-products of an animal, killing that animal is in order. When you purchase and consume animal products, you create a demand for them which results in the production of more of that product. By purchasing and consuming animal products, you are personally guaranteeing and advocating for the killing of more creatures. Also, it is worth mentioning that the animals the omnis eat traditionally have predators which are often killed by farmers much less humanely than the animals meant for slaughter. When you're eating chicken, it is likely that a wolf also had to die for you to eat that chicken. If this isn't enough of an ethical argument for you, read on.

2. I can get all of the nutrients I need to survive and thrive from plants and so can you, most likely. When you learn this, eating meat, or anything really, becomes less about nutrition and more about satisfying your taste buds. Lots of people could never imagine giving up bacon or hamburgers or whatever because, "tHeY'rE sO tAsTy." At this point, you should ask yourself, "Is this fleeting moment of happiness that I experience from eating this meat more important than the life of the animal that made it possible?" In other words, "Does my momentary mouth pleasure take precedence over the life of this creature?" If you say yes, stay away from me. If you say no, you might like to look into living a more plant-based lifestyle. Food is meant to nourish our bodies and give us fuel to accomplish tasks. We're clever so we made it into an art form, a center of community and a tradition among other things, which is why it can be impossible for people to understand that eating meat is bad for us, the animals and the environment. We're still clever and we can make new, delicious traditions without all the death

3. Meat and dairy farms have proven to adversely impact the environment. Considering that the Earth is one of the only things that we ALL have to share, I want to make as little impact on it as possible so that it is still as beautiful for the veg*ns and the omnis that inhabit it in the future.

Now don't get me wrong, veganism isn't the answer for everyone. Some people would like to argue that any kind of vegism is not financially realistic for many communities. I would counter that by saying that the cheapest foods in the world are rice, oats, beans, lentils and potatoes (aka what they feed your meat) and while nutritious veg is more expensive than the foods I just mentioned, nutritious veg will still be less per pound than meat in *most* parts of the world. In reality, if we weren't shoveling our cheapest crops into the mouths of animals for slaughter and consumption, there would be more of those crops for the poorer parts of the world.

What I really want to talk about is the general ignorance around the dairy industry. You all know where milk comes from, right? If you said, "COWS!" you're only partially correct. Milk comes from mammals when they're lactating. Mammals only produce milk when they're pregnant or right after pregnancy. This means that dairy farms are forcibly impregnating cows over and over again, taking their milk and doing what with the calves? Leaving dairy cows dried up and childless before slaughtering or selling them to milk them (pun intended-- there is a reason the phrase "milking it" has negative connotations) for the last bit of profit they can possibly garner. Our consumer-driven culture is desensitized to and ignorant of the processes that are required to produce the things we love most. It's time we start asking questions about where it all comes from and how it is made.
• 11k
Can you ethically justify eating meat? — Kaz1983

Why bother? Besides, it's the wrong question.

Plants are nourished by photosynthesis; animals, however, survive by devouring plants or devouring other animals or even by cannibalizing their own kind. So, except plants, the living devour the dead - carcasses (& organic detritus), raw or cooked - which belongs to the background, or embodiment, of all ethical concern and therefore itself cannot be an ethical concern; thus, how (or whom!), rather than what, we eat is a matter of ethics (e g. the industrialized meat & dairy industry and, thereby, its meat & dairy products).

Eventually, vat-grown meat (not just 'plant-based meat' substitutes) will moot the question because its process (A) will not torture and kill any animals and (b) will not degrade the environment remotely on the scale of animal (over)farming. (Also, plant-based diary and @home DIY hydro- & aqua- ponics kits are becoming more widely available ...)

Until then, however, my industrial meat products diet will remain "unjustified" because veganism, etc I find undernourishing and makes me miserable. Life's a grind enough and way too short to be withered away by any arbitrary ascesis ... :death: :flower:
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Until then, however, my industrial meat products diet will remain unjustified because veganism, etc I find undernourishing and makes me miserable.

Which is weird considering all the negative health effects of eating meat, which reduces recuperation time from injury and training, reduces erectile function, increases the likelihood of coronary disease etc. Etc.

I stopped eating meat recently due to the insane footprint it requires. I still allow myself meat when going out for dinner, which is about once a month.
• 11k
Eventually, vat-grown meat (not just 'plant-based meat' substitutes) will moot the question because its process (A) will not torture and kill any animals and (b) will not degrade the environment remotely on the scale of animal (over)farming.
Bring it on – guilt-free carnivorous delights. :yum:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/dec/08/worlds-largest-lab-grown-steak-unveiled-by-israeli-firm

:wink:
• 4.9k
Can you ethically justify eating meat?
From
William James, Is life worth living?

When you and I, for instance, realize how many innocent beasts have had to suffer in cattle-cars and slaughter-pens and lay down their lives that we might grow up, all fattened and clad, to sit together here in comfort and carry on this discourse, it does, indeed, put our relation to the universe in a more solemn light. "Does not," as a young Amherst philosopher (Xenos Clark, now dead) once wrote, "the acceptance of a happy life upon such terms involve a point of honor?" Are we not bound to take some suffering upon ourselves, to do some self-denying service with our lives, in return for all those lives upon which ours are built? To hear this question is to answer it in but one possible way, if one have a normally constituted heart.

Meat eating can be justified ethically, provided that one lives honorably and does something worthwhile with one's life.

It's the living merely for the sake of living that is problematic.
• 489
Meat eating can be justified ethically, provided that one lives honorably and does something worthwhile with one's life.

Can stealing be justified ethically if in all other aspects of one's life, one lives honorably and does something worthwhile? Of course not, if one wants to live a more ethical life, one way to do it is simply to stop financing cruelty to animals by not purchasing the products of their exploitation. Being good in one aspect of life is not a good excuse to be bad at another, in fact we should try to be as moral as we can in all aspects.
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