Vegetarianism

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Weeks
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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby Weeks » Mon Sep 10, 2018 5:21 pm UTC

Yeah that first post sucks.

FlatAssembler wrote:So, what do you guys here think about vegetarianism? I am a vegetarian myself.
Like I thought SB was a place to hold "serious discussions", and this is more like, "hey everyone, how are you doing, so, what about vegetarianism, huh?" Instead of properly stating a starting point for the discussion, like "Let's talk about the moral implications of eating meat."

FlatAssembler wrote:If you ask me why, I don't really know how to give a simple answer, because I don't understand the other side of the story. I don't understand how could somebody, who has thought about the issue at all, think it's moral to eat meat. I guess most of the people eat meat because they were told many times it was necessary to eat meat in order to stay healthy, and they have never bothered to do any actual research on the subject to find that exactly the opposite is true.
"so yeah, about that stuff, you know, I kind of don't get it, like why would people feel or think differently than I do." Instead of "I believe there is a misguided public consensus that eating meat is moral, because <insert citation here> and <another citation> affected public opinion in <geopolitical region> for <years>." Or something.

FlatAssembler wrote:To me, the issue of eating meat seems similar to the issue of abortion. It's hard to argue that abortion is moral, but making it illegal is likely to make things even worse. The same goes for eating meat, except that eating meat requires many more sentient beings to be killed and, at least the way it's done today, inflicts way more suffering upon them.
"I think it's like abortion, in that I think abortion is bad." Instead of cutting this paragraph entirely.

FlatAssembler wrote:Perhaps a blog-post by me about how anti-vegetarianism sounds to people like me would be a good introduction to the philosophy of vegetarianism.
"please click on my blog, I need clicks" instead of posting a summary of the blog post (without links, without three pages of introductory garbage dialogue no one cares about)

FlatAssembler failed to create a thread that inspired arguing in good faith with the author. So I just jumped in with whatever. This is hardly serious business.
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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Sep 10, 2018 9:27 pm UTC

FlatAssembler wrote:
No one is going to read your blog. At least I won't. Post it here if you want it to be taken into account for further arguments.

I don't quite see why. As I've said, the replies I get when I argue for vegetarianism on various Internet forums mostly run in cycles (as if people heard them from some common source). It would take you some ten minutes (probably less) to read the blog-post, and it takes you and me hours to respond to things on an Internet forum. In other words, in these three years I've been arguing for vegetarianism on the Internet forums, I've often found myself writing the same stuff over and over again for hours. I thought that directing people to a blog-post might be a better thing to do, so that we can have a more productive conversation.


Blog-posts are largely not a place for productive conversation. They're a place to express your point of view. Forums are a good place for conversation.

Unfortunately, the thing about blog posts is you need to attract people to them, and "let me tell you how you're immoral for eating meat" isn't a compelling pitch.

Secondly, there are people like Mikhaila Peterson who are intolerant of virtually all foods, including vegetables, but can tolerate meat.

There we go again, the "lifeboat scenarios".
Are there actually any medical conditions that require people to eat meat? Can you point me to some qualified dietician who claims that? For instance, is there a documented case of a human, for instance, having a genetic mutation that blocks the synthesis of taurine (which is why the cats die if they don't eat meat)?
Even if so, how is that different from saying that stealing is moral, because some people are so poor they need to steal to survive?


Look, stealing might not be great, but stealing food to not die is recognized as less horrible than many other forms of theft. Still undesirable, but not all undesirable things are equally bad. Degrees matter.

I also don't think "will literally die without meat" is a reasonable bar. If someone has a set of allergies, etc that make a meatless diet difficult, I think it's reasonable to take that into account.

And, as someone who *could* avoid meat either way, lacking any severe food allergies, I'm still going to eat meat.

But why do you think it's moral to have such a huge population?

How do you mean if it's moral? It's not a matter of anyone's choice.


So, you're anti-abortion, but think that a large population isn't a matter of choice? Oh, do go on. This'll be fascinating.

So, if the life of a cow raised for me to eat contains more pleasure than suffering, it's "moral" to eat it? It's that simple?

Well, no, you don't breed your children into existence with the purpose of slaughtering them.


Oh, heavens no. It's way too much effort.

And what if giving to much of your money to charity or volunteering too much of your free time isn't really ethical? Accumulation of wealth is necessary for innovation. Had Bill Gates and Steve Jobs given all their money to charity and volunteered all their free time, do you think we would have the advanced computers we have today? And how do you know the money you give to charity isn't used by some alcoholic to buy alcohol or by some narcomaniac to buy illegal drugs? You've never heard (or even tried to imagine what it would be like) the other side of the story on those issues?


Bill Gates actually does do quite a lot of charity. Steve Jobs would have a lot more free time if he ate a steak instead of fruit juices, then went to the doctor. Probably better off for everyone.

In any case, this was clearly about free time, not quitting work. Accumulation of capital is not threatened by charity work in one's free time. Certainly you can find at least one good charity if you look.

One can choose to shop for ethically harvested meat, rather than factory farmed meat. It's not even all that hard.

Friend, it's almost impossible. There are so many labels on the meat products, like "organic" or "free range", that don't really mean anything regarding how animals are treated. For instance, "free range" chickens aren't let to graze, they just aren't kept in battery cages, but on metal rods which likely hurt their legs all the time even more than cages hurt their wings.


Nothing's perfect. If you're getting stuff that has a higher standard than average, and encouraging others to do the same, you're raising the standard. That's a worthy cause even if it's not perfect.

If we stopped eating meat entirely, on the other hand, many varieties would go extinct, as they are kept only for food. Raised for food may be a bit of a bummer, but I'd pick humans being raised by aliens as a food source over humanity's extinction.

"In the United States, most grass-fed cattle are raised for beef production."

That's not really a statistic, it doesn't cite any study. The guys on cowspiracy.com claim something completely different and they do have some citations. Though my guess is that there are no reliable sources about those stuff.


Wikipedia vs cowspiracy. The name of the latter alone ensures that it is reputable and free from bias, I'm sure.

It's true that we may not be able to get explicit consent from an animal, but animals seem to share our dislike of pain pretty universally.

So, what you are basically saying is that we know what's best for the animals better than animals themselves know, therefore we have the right to kill them against their will? My friend, that was the logic used to justify slavery and dictatorships.


If you can talk to people, talk to them. Also, not all communication is verbal. Just because your cat doesn't speak the Queens' doesn't mean the fuzzy guy can't let you know of things like "it's two am, and my food dish is empty".

Yes, we can tell pretty easily if an animal is in pain. If you've spent any time about animals, it's reasonably obvious.

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Sep 10, 2018 11:39 pm UTC

FlatAssembler wrote:If you ask me why, I don't really know how to give a simple answer, because I don't understand the other side of the story. I don't understand how could somebody, who has thought about the issue at all, think it's moral to eat meat. I guess most of the people eat meat because they were told many times it was necessary to eat meat in order to stay healthy, and they have never bothered to do any actual research on the subject to find that exactly the opposite is true.


Maybe a good way to figure this out would be talking to people and figuring out what they think about things rather than just making up reasons for why you think they believe what they believe and then telling them they're wrong.

To me, the issue of eating meat seems similar to the issue of abortion. It's hard to argue that abortion is moral, but making it illegal is likely to make things even worse. The same goes for eating meat, except that eating meat requires many more sentient beings to be killed and, at least the way it's done today, inflicts way more suffering upon them.


This is wrong on so many levels. I'm not going to delve into this in any detail beyond saying that what we would consider sentience in a human baby does not occur until several months after birth. You may make of that what you will.

Perhaps a blog-post by me about how anti-vegetarianism sounds to people like me would be a good introduction to the philosophy of vegetarianism.


I started reading this. That was probably a bad idea. This post is awful.

This post is seven pages of single spaced text in one paragraph. You have pictures interspersed in the text that change the justification of the text every few lines, making it extremely visually distracting and difficult to read. I made it through about one page worth of text before I started getting a headache just from the formatting.

Here's the essence of the problem with your analysis. You're entire post consists of strawman arguments. You repeatedly start thoughts with this sort of structure: "Some people believe that eating meat is required for our health, but here's why they're wrong". You don't actually try to present these arguments in a sophisticated or charitable way; instead you just put up a statement without context, then proceeding to knock it down (and a lot of these, including this canard about people touting the health benefits of meat is a thing that I actually don't think a lot of people believe). You say you've done research, but you've obviously never done research on what the other side of the debate actually thinks or believes.

Reality is, as usual, more complex than you're giving it credit for. It is entirely possible to raise animals for food in a sustainable and ethical manner; it is also possible to raise plant products in an unsustainable and unethical manner. Never of these things reflects on whether or not it is ethical to eat meat or plants, per se, but rather that there are ways of doing things well and ways of doing things poorly. You may wish to consider this essay, the submission winner for a New York Times essay challenge on why it is ethical to eat meat, as judged by a panel of distinguished ethicists and philosophers on the subject, as a good starting point.

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby FlatAssembler » Tue Sep 11, 2018 10:43 am UTC

We are supposedly speaking about people that can think, for whom "oh, it's not me, it's an unavoidable accident" is not an excuse for choosing the action that leads to something else's suffering and death.

Once again, see my analogy with cars. Producing cars isn't immoral just because some people suffer and die in car accidents.
What meaning does the word "immoral" carry if you use it toward someone's actions without assuming some purpose in their life?

I don't understand what you mean. Do you think human life has a purpose that makes killing humans immoral?
Does being skeptical toward your own beliefs equal to "not having an opinion about anything" to you?

Being skeptical to what degree?
What makes you think so?

(I see, you chose the long road, in spite of warnings)

Because the same is true in humans. And why is that actually relevant? If animals feel emotional suffering along with physical pain, even worse for the ethics of eating meat.
Nope. One calf per year.

So, since cows bear children for 9 months, they should be able to give milk for only 3 months after birth? So, most of the time, a cow isn't able to produce milk? Do you have some reference for that?
Besides, half of the calves are bulls, and bulls don't produce milk.

But they are necessary for milk production.
Science is based on the scientific method, and the scientific method is not something that you should expect to be able to use successfully without proper training.

I am aware of that. And that's partly why the peer review is important. If methodology is unreasonable, a paper shouldn't pass a peer review.
It's like deciding to play a lottery because everyone can win.

Well, not quite, since more you study, the chances of you being right increase very fast. That's why most of the scientific discoveries are made made by people who have been studying that particular field for years, if not decades.
Unfortunately, the quality of peer-reviewed "knowledge" reflects the quality of the peers.

And what's the alternative? Besides, the "younger" fields of science logically have lower entry levels. Not many people have studied the Croatian toponyms, so it's easier for me to be aware of the current research in the field than, for instance, to be aware of the current research in the field of, let's say, morphosyntax. To make a discovery in morphosyntax, you probably need to spend decades of learning to be aware of the current research in the field. To make a discovery about the Croatian toponyms, perhaps a few years of study is enough.
What is more important, though, is that neither it is a "mainstream neuroscience consensus", nor it supports your definition of sentience.

And what do you think it says actually?
Given the number of replies is relatively low, it's very, very difficult to read this as anything but "Some of y'all have points I can't counter and so I'll be avoiding them"

Well, no, it was 10 PM when I wrote the rest of the reply and then, when I refreshed the page, I saw there were more replies.
Looks like you're behind the times and have also never gone fishing as either fish feel pain OR all fish are incredibly competent at mimery as every single one does an amazing "I can't fucking breath and this is extremely unpleasant" when out of water. It's amazing.

Those are just reflexes. Make a hole in a fish's fin and it will continue swimming as if nothing happened. That's not what we would expect if fish felt pain.
You.. uh.. haven't lurked here for very long, have you?

Well, I've been here for almost a year, however, most of the time I've been here I was discussing either computer science or linguistics.
Actually, the study you linked shows that the "well-known thing" is true, and drinking milk statistically results in slightly lower incidence of osteoporosis than not drinking milk.

It doesn't. It simply says the data is inconclusive.
Our conclusion is that in our meta-analysis of cohort studies, there was no overall association between milk intake and hip fracture risk in women but that more data are needed in men.
Forums are a good place for conversation.

Oh, you mean like the Flat Earth Society forum? Because it's incredibly easy to get misled there.
If someone has a set of allergies, etc that make a meatless diet difficult, I think it's reasonable to take that into account.

Again, point me to some qualified dietitian saying things like that. Such things are usually said by people who obviously aren't qualified to make such statements and who have an obvious incentive to make people believe that (like promoting the Paleo diet).
So, you're anti-abortion, but think that a large population isn't a matter of choice? Oh, do go on. This'll be fascinating.

Abortions don't play a significant role in the birth rate. Higher birth rates (and higher abortion rates) are associated with poverty. Poverty certainly isn't a matter of anybody's choice.
Bill Gates actually does do quite a lot of charity.

He does it now. When founding the Microsoft Corporation, he was thinking about his own gain, rather than how to improve the society.
Accumulation of capital is not threatened by charity work in one's free time.

Do you think that entrepreneurs even have free time? I am pretty sure they spend most of their "free time" thinking about their job. And that's the only way they can be innovating.
Wikipedia vs cowspiracy. The name of the latter alone ensures that it is reputable and free from bias, I'm sure.

Actually, Wikipedia later in that same article says the same thing Cowspiracy is saying:
Grazing systems supply about 9 percent of the world's production of beef
Yes, we can tell pretty easily if an animal is in pain. If you've spent any time about animals, it's reasonably obvious.

And how would you tell an animal wants to be killed?
Maybe a good way to figure this out would be talking to people and figuring out what they think about things rather than just making up reasons for why you think they believe what they believe and then telling them they're wrong.

Well, I've asked quite a few people in real life. The answers are nearly always something along the line of "We need to eat meat to get protein.".
This post is seven pages of single spaced text in one paragraph. You have pictures interspersed in the text that change the justification of the text every few lines, making it extremely visually distracting and difficult to read. I made it through about one page worth of text before I started getting a headache just from the formatting.

I am not sure what you mean. Which browser are you using? Some old version of Netfront?
You're entire post consists of strawman arguments.

It consists of the arguments I usually got in those three years I've been arguing for vegetarianism on the Internet forums. I am rather surprised nobody here brought up the "protein" argument, it's usually the first one. Perhaps that's because I didn't start a thread with "Vegetarianism is healthier, here are the studies that confirm that…", as I usually do. One "argument" that's rather common is "Hitler was a vegetarian!", but I don't think that really needs a response, that's why I didn't include it in the blog-post.
and a lot of these, including this canard about people touting the health benefits of meat is a thing that I actually don't think a lot of people believe

If people didn't believe in the health-benefits of eating meat, the movies like Earthlings would be effective at persuading people to become vegetarians, yet they aren't.
You may wish to consider this essay, the submission winner for a New York Times essay challenge on why it is ethical to eat meat, as judged by a panel of distinguished ethicists and philosophers on the subject, as a good starting point.

(If you designed the web-page, I will need to inform you that the text is completely ineligible in Safari 6.)
A well-written article, I must say. So, let's see, the core points of it are:
1. The statement of conversion.
2. That it's supposedly possible to produce meat in an ecological and ethical way, therefore it's not unethical for you to eat meat, because you didn't choose how the meat would be produced.
3. Having animals in agriculture supposedly fertilizes the soil.
4. If we stop eating meat, that would supposedly lead to the decrease in biodiversity.
5. Death is necessary as a part of nature.
So, let's see how can we respond to them:
1. People often think this gives credence to their arguments. In reality, it doesn't. It's no different than when a conspiracy theorist says "The Moon does not exist. This is no lie. Until recently, I too believed the established and traditional view of the Moon.".
2. And if you knew, for instance, that some product was produced by human slaves, would you also consider ethical to buy it? And what makes you think having billions of cows graze would be more ecological than factory farming? You realize that we already have ecological problems probably caused by over-grazing?
3. How exactly? It doesn't matter if you try to fertilize the soil with dead plants or animal waste, right? Animals don't have anything like the Rhizobium bacteria in their bowels, right?
4. Not the way it's done today. This is, I guess, the problem of the seen versus unseen, if cows (for example) go extinct, we will all see that. When countless animal species die out due to the deforestation caused by animal agriculture, we don't see that.
5. That's just nonsense cliche, nothing to respond there.
(And, no, I don't think that article represents what the anti-vegetarians on the Internet believe. The video by MrRepzion I linked to on the blog-post is a much better example.)

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby Kit. » Tue Sep 11, 2018 12:50 pm UTC

FlatAssembler wrote:
We are supposedly speaking about people that can think, for whom "oh, it's not me, it's an unavoidable accident" is not an excuse for choosing the action that leads to something else's suffering and death.

Once again, see my analogy with cars. Producing cars isn't immoral just because some people suffer and die in car accidents.

That's what I'm saying. And eating meat is not "immoral" too.

FlatAssembler wrote:
What meaning does the word "immoral" carry if you use it toward someone's actions without assuming some purpose in their life?

I don't understand what you mean. Do you think human life has a purpose that makes killing humans immoral?
Does being skeptical toward your own beliefs equal to "not having an opinion about anything" to you?

Being skeptical to what degree?

To any at all. See here, for example:

FlatAssembler wrote:
What makes you think so?

(I see, you chose the long road, in spite of warnings)

Because the same is true in humans.

The "warnings" were that it is false in humans. But it did not make your skeptical toward your beliefs that it's true. You are still claiming it as something everyone will agree to, despite the facts of the contrary: I've proactively mentioned that I won't.

FlatAssembler wrote:And why is that actually relevant? If animals feel emotional suffering along with physical pain, even worse for the ethics of eating meat.

Have you forgot that you were talking about suffering (or not suffering) of plants here?

FlatAssembler wrote:
Nope. One calf per year.

So, since cows bear children for 9 months, they should be able to give milk for only 3 months after birth?

Nope, but it's unable to give milk for 2 months before birth.

And really, why should I even need to tell that to you? How about you actually do your homework before claiming that "morality" of drinking milk is any different from "morality" of eating meat? It's not like the dairy industry is a secret.

FlatAssembler wrote:
Science is based on the scientific method, and the scientific method is not something that you should expect to be able to use successfully without proper training.

I am aware of that. And that's partly why the peer review is important. If methodology is unreasonable, a paper shouldn't pass a peer review.

As I said, that depends on the quality of peers.

FlatAssembler wrote:
It's like deciding to play a lottery because everyone can win.

Well, not quite, since more you study, the chances of you being right increase very fast. That's why most of the scientific discoveries are made made by people who have been studying that particular field for years, if not decades.

Sure. That's why the longer you try to make a perpetual motion machine, the higher are your chances to succeed, right?

FlatAssembler wrote:
What is more important, though, is that neither it is a "mainstream neuroscience consensus", nor it supports your definition of sentience.

And what do you think it says actually?

It says that consciousness, implicitly defined as ability to communicate the being's internal state, is not localized in neocortex and may require no neocortex at all (as observed in some birds).

They don't claim that all birds and all mammals possess "consciousness", as well as they don't claim that no one but birds and mammals possess it. It might as well be true that even cockroaches (which are about as social as rats) possess it.

But it's a dubious definition if you try to interpret it in the terms of "morality of suffering of sentient beings". Even a computer program that produces some debug logs possesses "consciousness" according to this definition.

FlatAssembler wrote:
Looks like you're behind the times and have also never gone fishing as either fish feel pain OR all fish are incredibly competent at mimery as every single one does an amazing "I can't fucking breath and this is extremely unpleasant" when out of water. It's amazing.

Those are just reflexes.

But it's what pain by itself actually is. "Just reflexes".

FlatAssembler wrote:
Actually, the study you linked shows that the "well-known thing" is true, and drinking milk statistically results in slightly lower incidence of osteoporosis than not drinking milk.

It doesn't. It simply says the data is inconclusive.
Our conclusion is that in our meta-analysis of cohort studies, there was no overall association between milk intake and hip fracture risk in women but that more data are needed in men.

So, you haven't actually managed to read the whole paper and then read the paper on the single outlier the study identified?

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Sep 11, 2018 1:03 pm UTC

There's a suspicious lack of "wrapping it up" going on here.

I can help.
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