Eating Meat or Vegetarian/Vegan?

Discussion in 'Every Day Debating' started by Mububban, Apr 19, 2011.

  1. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2007
    Messages:
    6,537
    Likes Received:
    232
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    UK
    Ratings:
    +341 / 1 / -0
    +1 - heck a human hunter hunting with the most modern setup is capable of executing a kill in a far more humane way than almost any other predator. One shot and the animal might just hear the gun fire milliseconds before the bullet hits. A good, well trained hunter going for a kill and not a skin (those that shoot for skins tend to shoot, as far as I know, a bit less effectivly to preserve the best possible skin condition) should be able to fell a deer (as an example) with a single shot.
     
  2. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2004
    Messages:
    7,784
    Likes Received:
    162
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Not in Amsterdam :)
    Ratings:
    +189 / 0 / -0
    I would say that an interesting question is raised here.

    What exactly does humane mean when dealing with animals? And what value does that have?
     
  3. Running Wolf

    Running Wolf Join the Madness

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2006
    Messages:
    6,485
    Likes Received:
    200
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Bittersweet Hell
    Ratings:
    +231 / 0 / -0
    I'm no expert when it comes to farming. But my uncle had a farm (he had to give it up because it was too small and the competition was too hard) and I know that the pigs and cattle he had lived 'well' -compared to the other farms pigs and cattle. And even there they by far had not enough space to 'live'. They simply existed until they were fat enough to be killed (no rosy words here).
    Pigs kill each other when under stress and when there's no room, and pigs eat each other too, I'm sure every one knows that by now. And I would define a situation that causes pigs to do exactly that as 'not humane'.
    They deserve a life, in my opinion, and because we want to eat them in the end, how about me give them a good life first? (Yes, I am well aware that meat prices will then at least double, but since I eat meat once a week (or less) I wouldn't mind).

    The condition chickens live under are about the same: Overcrowded, gross, inhumane. In Germany (or was it the EU?) politicians made the first step and only allow free-run anymore. That's a bit better, but still far from good.
    IMO if the animals we want to eat later on, have more space, get better food, have a stress-free life, get enough exercise, farmers wouldn't need to stuff all the antibiotics in them they do nowadays => so the meat would taste better and we would absorb less antibiotics through the meat too. The only downside it has (but which weighs more than any other reasonable argument in capitalism) is that the meat in the end would cost more. God help us all.

    btw, the Indians were wrong: I'm pretty sure that the day when people realize that they can't eat money, will never come.
     
  4. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2004
    Messages:
    7,784
    Likes Received:
    162
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Not in Amsterdam :)
    Ratings:
    +189 / 0 / -0
    My point is that humane is a way of expressing compassion or empathy. Specifically, it applies to people (humans) and inter-human relationships.

    The question is whether the concept of humanity can be transferred to animals and, if so, which animals.

    Of course there are other reasons to abstain from mean. The antibiotics, the greenhouse effect, the phosphorous displacement problem and general food crisis are some others. But in my experience people mostly become vegetarian out of empathy with the animals. Although that concept might also be very valid, I think it's worth investigating :)
     
  5. Julie

    Julie Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,293
    Likes Received:
    31
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Belgium
    Ratings:
    +41 / 0 / -0
    Cattle-rearing generates more global warming greenhouse gases, as measured in CO2 equivalent, than transportation, and smarter production methods, including improved animal diets to reduce enteric fermentation and consequent methane emissions, are urgently needed, according to a new United Nations report released today.

    “Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems,” senior UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) official Henning Steinfeld said. “Urgent action is required to remedy the situation.”

    Cattle-rearing is also a major source of land and water degradation, according to the FAO report, Livestock’s Long Shadow–Environmental Issues and Options, of which Mr. Steinfeld is the senior author.

    “The environmental costs per unit of livestock production must be cut by one half, just to avoid the level of damage worsening beyond its present level,” it warns.

    When emissions from land use and land use change are included, the livestock sector accounts for 9 per cent of CO2 deriving from human-related activities, but produces a much larger share of even more harmful greenhouse gases. It generates 65 per cent of human-related nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CO2. Most of this comes from manure."

    http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?newsID=20772&CR1=warning

    "Drew Shindell, at NASA's Goddard Institute in New York, says, "It's gone up by 150 percent since the pre-industrial period. So that's an enormous increase. CO2, by contrast, has gone up by something like 30 percent."

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122638800

    "IN the past few years, many workers have noted that the combined effect on climate of increases in the concentrations of a large number of trace gases could rival or even exceed that of the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide1–3. These trace gases, principally methane, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons, are present at concentrations that are two to six orders of magnitude lower than that of carbon dioxide, but are important because, per molecule, they absorb infrared radiation much more strongly than carbon dioxide. Indeed a recent study4 shows that trace gases are responsible for 43% of the increase in radiative forcing from 1980 to 1990."
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v344/n6266/abs/344529a0.html

    Here you go OR. It might not contribute as much to global warming as carbon dioxide, but still, I dont get why they don't pay more attention to this. Maybe because it's kind of.. there's little solution to this problem except for producing less meat, and that wouldn't be very popular among the population


    I'll keep you informed!

    Also, what you said about inhumane farming: I agree. The way they are treated is cruel. The way they are killed, apparently, isn't that bad most of the times. They go with an iron pin through their brains. If everything goes right, they're like a plant right away, but it still takes a while before they bleed to death. I don't think hunting is as bad because at least those animals hàd a life. They weren't kept in little spaces just waiting until it's their time to go.

    Yeah I was thinking the same thing; Quite ironic that words like "beastly" and "animalistic" have such a bad connotation while "humane" has a good one while we're the only kind of animals that, one the one hand, systematically kill other animals, and on the other hand, on a huge scale kill each other as well.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2011
  6. Running Wolf

    Running Wolf Join the Madness

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2006
    Messages:
    6,485
    Likes Received:
    200
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Bittersweet Hell
    Ratings:
    +231 / 0 / -0
    I have empathy with the animals as well. Sucks to live only to be eaten. Sucks even more if the life then isn't even a life but a stressed existance only.
    But just because I have empathy with them, I don't refuse to see that my body needs meat and its contents. And I doubt that replacing the proteins and other stuff) with artificially produced medication is actually healthier than just eating the meat.

    And I think yes the concept of humanity can be transferred to animals too. The relationship between us and the animals should be humane.
    (The word humane is in itself a contradiction, IMO, because no animal acts less humane than humans actually do, well... anyways)
     
  7. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2004
    Messages:
    7,784
    Likes Received:
    162
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Not in Amsterdam :)
    Ratings:
    +189 / 0 / -0
    Earlier, I established a relationship between humane and empathy or compassion.

    Empathy could be defined as feelings by proxy. You see your coworker hit his thumb with a big hammer - and you feel his pain. Empathy, by the way, means co-sickness. Compassion means suffering together.

    Humans can go at great lengths to feel empathy for people in their surroundings. We feel dreadful when we hear someone is fatally ill, or lost a brother. This is a very important attribute of human social skills, a skill that is hard wired to our brains.

    By extension, we have also learned to feel compassion for or empathy towards animals. And this a very strange concept. You state that you feel for those animals destined to die for consumption. I fear the notion is lost on the animal itself. Of course, it isn't told so much. But even if we could, the number of animals that could actually grasp that concept of wrongness can be counted on one hand. And none of them are regularly eaten. Yet, people manage to feel for them. A virtual pain that only exsist by proxy. I won't say that this pain isn't real though.
     
  8. Julie

    Julie Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,293
    Likes Received:
    31
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Belgium
    Ratings:
    +41 / 0 / -0
    He/she might not be aware of the wrong that is done to him/her, but animals do suffer.
     
  9. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2004
    Messages:
    7,784
    Likes Received:
    162
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Not in Amsterdam :)
    Ratings:
    +189 / 0 / -0
    This is an interesting philosophical question.

    How can you suffer when you are not aware?

    In all, I think the animals can feel pain and stress and probably a few other emotions. But suffering is more the notion of pain or other untowards feelings. I sincerely doubt most animals are capable of suffering.
     
  10. Julie

    Julie Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,293
    Likes Received:
    31
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Belgium
    Ratings:
    +41 / 0 / -0
    I've read that animals can get depressed, so they must have a more sophisticated kind of awareness than you think.
     
  11. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2004
    Messages:
    7,784
    Likes Received:
    162
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Not in Amsterdam :)
    Ratings:
    +189 / 0 / -0
    Hm. I am unfamiliar with that.

    That's pretty hard though to determin. Depression is a subset of psychological characteristics, which is usually diagnosticised by questions and questionaires. Questions that can't be asked to most animals.

    In the past I did an internship with a professor in psychopharmacology. He was specialised in animal models for psychological disorders. What I learned in that period is that especially the correlation between animal behaviour and human psychological disorders is always a matter of debate. And, according to him, shaky at best. Between making a parallel observation and the actual conclusion that the underlying mechanisms or, even, experience is the same is a long and treacherous road. Of course the evaluation must be on a case-by-case level. Still, I am not aware of a model that accurately mimics depression in laboratory condition.

    That isn't to say that animals can't get depressed. More complex animals might be able to. Maybe simpler animals might be able to as well, whether or not it presents itself with the same subset of symptoms.
     
  12. Julie

    Julie Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,293
    Likes Received:
    31
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Belgium
    Ratings:
    +41 / 0 / -0
    An internship with a professor in psychopharmacology? Are you a pharmacist?

    Well yeah that's true they can't answer questionaires, but I think psychology is even more about behaviour than about what people say. I found this (on google) when animals get depressed they will....:
    lose interest in their surroundings
    appear to be withdrawn or far away
    lose their appetite
    become lethargic
    and sometimes ill tempered or aggressive

    They probably won't have a I don't know, an existential crisis, but I do think they have emotions like us, and awareness. Why wouldn't they? What makes us so special?

    And where do you draw the line? How aware exactly do you need to be before you can suffer?

    O yeah, Flipper committed suicide, by the way!
     
  13. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2004
    Messages:
    7,784
    Likes Received:
    162
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Not in Amsterdam :)
    Ratings:
    +189 / 0 / -0
    It's hard to say what I am. The papers say biotechnologist. But I'm not sure I really am :)

    The problem is with the correlation of these parallel symptoms. I suppose a hibernating bear could fit above criteria.

    There is a famous story about the discovery of lithium as being a psychoactive drug. It's mostly used to treat manic depression. A scientist noted that, when administered to hyperactive gunea pigs, they would go very calm very rapidly and advised doctors on the use of lithium of hyperactive and manic patients. The medication worked. Especially manic patients may benefit greatly from lithium administration. It's still used to this day.

    Not so the gunea pigs. Later, it was discovered that an important part of the brain, I think it was the frontal lobe, simply died off. This is what made the gunea pigs extremely calm. As it turned out, lithium is extremely toxic to gunea pigs. What is more, the hyperactivity in the gunea pigs has no causal relationship to mania in humans.

    What makes the story so great is that lithium is the only medicine of which we don't have a clue on how it works. Not a single clue. Modern science wouldn't have come up with it. And doctors wouldn't have administered it to patients, since it's highly toxic to certain animals.

    I suppose I maintain that self-awareness is a prerequisite to suffering. As such, the classic self-awareness test (self-recognition in a mirror) might very well be defined as that line. I believe there's about a dozen animals which qualify, including all apes (though with the help of a camera in the case of the gorilla), dolpins, elephants, crows - and humans of course. However, there is no real knowing. Of course, some margin should be taken. But chicken and cattle seem way out.

    Alledgedly. I am not entirely sure about this, though. I think it's the only case in which a dolphin is credited for understanding the concept of death, which must be prerequisite to the conscious suicide it is made out to be. It is very hard to make anything of it, since, if I remember correctly, there was only one witness.
     
  14. Running Wolf

    Running Wolf Join the Madness

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2006
    Messages:
    6,485
    Likes Received:
    200
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Bittersweet Hell
    Ratings:
    +231 / 0 / -0
    I disagree.
    I think if an animal is constantly surrounded by stress, constantly feels pain and is never able to 'relax' and do what its genes tells it to do - I think we can safely call it suffering.
    It might not know that it will be transported to a killing station when it gets shoved into the transporter - but it can smell the stress and the fear its predecessors 'sweated' out. I'm pretty sure that animals have a better feeling for coming doom than humans have. They probably don't know that we will eat their meat later on, but that doesn't keep them from experiencing pain and fear/panic in the overcrowded, stinky transporters. (And you can taste that in the meat too btw.)

    A life in pain and stress qualifies as 'suffering' in my opinion.

    Yes, animals can get depressed. I don't know if everyone here is aware of the concept of 'learned helplessness' - Seligman found it in dogs first (and then applied it on humans. I'm no big fan of him btw) and the dogs become depressive. And dogs are not so very highly evolved are they?
    The symptoms are those Julie listed below. Ultimately they become passiv and - when we follow the concept to its end - the dog may actually starve to death.

    If that has to do with awareness though... I don't know, maybe not. After all, it's learned helplessness. The dog is trained to be helpless and it's not aware of that. But neither are the humans that are trained to be helpless.

    That Dolphins are aware of many things that I do believe. And I think that they are pretty darn smart guys. Probably smarter and more aware than we are.
    I'm pretty sure Dolphins can suffer.


    All this is almost worth a very own thread. It's getting philosophical here.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Julie

    Julie Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,293
    Likes Received:
    31
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Belgium
    Ratings:
    +41 / 0 / -0
    I agree with Running's reasoning. +1

    I had to look up what that was:D
    Seems interesting and difficult..
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2011
  16. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2007
    Messages:
    6,537
    Likes Received:
    232
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    UK
    Ratings:
    +341 / 1 / -0
    Personally I think our understanding of the reletive differences between animal and human mental capacity and emotional range is greatly flawed and limited. I think that the biggest setback was that so much of our modern work in this area began and is based on the old Victorian studies who really began a greater part of the naturalist study of the world. However they were not great naturalists in many respects with many even driving small species to extinction in order to get the most samples. In addition they had a great belief in God and in humanities divine superiority over the lesser creatures of the earth and this slipped strongly into their science.


    Myself I think that modern day science is breaking these old conventions (conventions that I think many who grow up and live working with animals and who posses a normal ability to consider the emotional response of others - already didn't really believe where true).
    There is also all this great stock on the fact that "animals can't speak" or more commonly phrased as "animals can't say yes or no". A line that I think always stinks of being said by someone who's not really had all that much experience working and living with animals.

    In the end I don't see why one needs to be able to do long complicated maths in their head or on a blackboard or build a lump of metal with a bomb under it and get it all the way to the moon and back in order to be able to have an emotional understanding of the world.
     
  17. Running Wolf

    Running Wolf Join the Madness

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2006
    Messages:
    6,485
    Likes Received:
    200
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Bittersweet Hell
    Ratings:
    +231 / 0 / -0
    ^ agreed.
     
  18. Aphelion

    Aphelion The Mighty One

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2007
    Messages:
    463
    Likes Received:
    16
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    No Man's Land
    Ratings:
    +16 / 0 / -0
    I think that meat is a necessary product for humans, I haven't done much research but I'm not entirely sure that vegeterian food can replace everything that meat can provide. Also yeah, meat is great - you can make so many tasty things out of it!
    About the animals, it is sad.. and somewhat painful but it's nature's way. I strongly uphold that the killing itself must be swift and as much painless as possible for the animal (I think its humane, especially with today's knowledge and technologies).
     
  19. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2004
    Messages:
    7,784
    Likes Received:
    162
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Not in Amsterdam :)
    Ratings:
    +189 / 0 / -0
    I think we can't safe about that, since I made a statement opposite to your claim :)

    To be honest, I think you push human traits too easily on animals. Basically, most animal brains are wired like small circuitry. Pain is a small light that starts burning in the right half of the brain stem. Hunger's a small buzzer slightly to the left. In that sense, it's not impossible to emulate a mouse brain, for instance. Question is: would that emulation suffer?

    I am slightly heavy on you, of course. And there's a lot of arguing about when this stops being the case. Of course, we could bestow human traits to animals. But I think we then also need to consider the possibility that this notion is false. Or, at least, false in a lot of ways. Or false in the case of a lot of animals.

    To reaffirm this argument, I think empathy sometimes goes a longer way at explaining these recognised human traits than the animals themselves. We are hardwired to recognise a person, a personality in the person in front of us. And a lot of that projects on animals. Before we could start discussing any of this, I think we should try to seperate empathy from animal. "Safely calling it suffering", in my mind, came somewhat short of this attempted seperation.

    To clarify: You are in pain, therefore you suffer. However, to extrapolate this suffering to pain in animals based on that statement alone is pure guesswork. In my opinion :)

    Clear. But what makes it depression?

    Learned helplessness is another mechanism that, by the way, also exsists in people. When you lock up an animal, it will first try to fight its way free. After some time, it will realise that it can't escape (supposing it fails to escape) and goes calm. The energy invested is simply not worth it. That doesn't mean it experiences stress because of this. It simply went to a different state of mind. Most animals can also learn to endure a situation simply because they know that fighting it doesn't hav any effect (even though, in reality, it might have after the training period is over).

    Lock up a person and see what happens. A great example of learned helplessness are the Jews and various other ethnicities in WWII. Jews never rose against the germans. They were simply made understood that it would make no difference whatsoever. Were they depressed?... research suggests that depression is remarkably low in these sorts of populations...

    Mostly interesting :)


    Interesting.

    Soo... where did science go wrong? How do you suggest these matters go about? Where did Descartes go wrong come to that :p
     
  20. Running Wolf

    Running Wolf Join the Madness

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2006
    Messages:
    6,485
    Likes Received:
    200
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Bittersweet Hell
    Ratings:
    +231 / 0 / -0
    I'm not that far in my Psych studies that I could explain what makes it depression, it's just a thing that is written in every handbook we have: Learned helplessness makes dogs depressive.

    And the concept of learned helplessness was discovered after the Jews, wasn't it? So it might be that some Jews suffered from learned helplessness, but since the Nazis mostly had a structure behind their torture, victims of learned helplessness cannot find a structure because there is none.
    Dr. Seligman discovered the concept of learned helplessness and basically "sold it" to the US Army. The biggest laboratory where 'we' nowadays test learned helplessness on human beings is called "Guantanamo" and is currently being cleared out. And all prisoners of Guantanamo I know of really do suffer from the consequences of learned helplessness as Seligman described them. (Good Job, Doc, really, -.-)

    Remind me of answering to the rest of your reply, gotta go, sorry sorry :)