Eating Meat or Vegetarian/Vegan?

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

  1. Crouton

    Crouton New Member

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    It’s true that plants are living things, but the difference is that with all the scientific research done on plants etc we havnen’t found if plants can actually feel any sort of pain, fear or anything. Plants live on instinct. Sure some plants have defensive mechanisms that are triggered if attacked, but when you compare a plant to a living breathing mammal, with eyes, ears, a brain, lungs etc all similar to our own as humans, then I see it very differently than eating a plant to survive. There’s also the fact that humans can live happy and healthy lives without eating animals. But if we didn’t eat plants and plant by-products then we would die. We need to eat something and our bodies react very well to eating plants. Better than they do to eating animals anyway.

    You say you try not to judge people for eating plants. Do you yourself not eat plants? If so, how are you still alive? Do you judge yourself for eating them?

    And again, when an animal is in fear, pain, agony we can see it, hear it and know what is happening. Plants have lives, but have never been proven to being sentient beings, which of course animals are. Who knows, maybe in the future science will reveal that some plants are sentient. But there has never been proof of plants feeling any type of pain or fear when face with being picked etc for human consumption. I respect your opinion of plants having feelings but I can’t really see eye to eye with you on that one unless there is ever some actual proof of that being the case.

    I know that many farms and farmers do right by their animals. And I support them. I also feel sorry for all the ones who have been run out of business by the large factory farm multi-billion dollar corporations. It’s sad, but the truth of the matter is that many of the good farmers, the ones who treat their animals with respect, the ones who slaughter them humanely just can’t afford to keep going the way they are and many were shut down. The ones who managed to keep going in this modern world are heroes. We have grown into a society of impatient people and the class difference in many Western countries mean many people just can’t afford to spend a lot more money on organic or free range meat. Not when they can go to any supermarket and find rows and rows of cheaper factory produced food. It’s a shame, but it’s the truth. In short I know that there are good farmers out there, and that it is possible to farm animals for food humanly. But that small fraction of ever dwindling good farms doesn’t make the factory farms disappear. It’s actually the opposite, as factory farming is taking over the whole food industry whether it be for meat or fruits/vegetables.

    I actually never said that 40% of livestock is wasted. I said 40% of food in the US. But that’s my fault for not being more specific. I actually meant 40% of food in supermarkets across the US. Which includes meat, fruit, vegetables etc. There has actually been studies done that prove this.

    http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2012/08/22/40-of-u-s-food-wasted-report-says/

    Do you honestly think that there are some animals that haven’t been bred past the point of surviving without human help? Do you know what wild cows used to look like? Strong bodied creatures with small, slim bodies and long strong legs. Now humans have bred cows over the years to have larger and larger bodies, with smaller and smaller legs so that there is more there for humans to eat. Many of the cows bred for meat now would be useless in the wild. They are no loner the strong fast creatures they once were.

    And chickens. They were also slim, fast on their feed, spending the days grazing through forest’s and climbing up the lower branches of trees. Now many chickens are so overfed that their legs literally break underneath the weight of their bodies and they are no longer able to even walk on their own.

    And that’s only two examples. Don’t even get me start on other animals humans have mutated beyond belief.

    You think some animal activists are woefully ignorant for not seeing humans as always the good ones, and seeing the truth of what we have actually done throughout history to those we share this planet with. If you think that’s ignorant then I can’t help but wonder who the ignorant one actually is.

    This is true, it’s just such a shame that it’s not as easy to know where the food you eat actually comes from these days as it used to be. It’s almost impossible sometimes.
     
  2. Anrisa Ryn

    Anrisa Ryn Author, artist, gamer

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    Actually, Mythbusters did a show on this one. Turns out plants CAN feel pain. So there is no justification of not eating animals simply b/c they feel pain, because plants feel pain as well.
     
  3. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    I think your first point Crouton just proves the egocentric point of view of humans. If a life-form exists in a different state than we do, it must not be worthy of consideration because we can't relate to it. Science hasn't proven that plants can experience an unpleasant situation when they're bodies are damaged but it also hasn't proven that they can't either. I have no issue with anyone who chooses to be a vegetarian because it bothers them to eat animals... to each his own. I do take exception to people who judge others for eating animals because I feel they have no moral ground to stand on. (That comment is a personally held belief that others may not share and is not directed at anyone in particular... so there is no need to get defensive about it ;))

    I actually did not say that I don't judge people for eating plants. I don't judge people (including myself) for their dietary convictions one way or the other. By that I meant that I wouldn't use someone's dietary preferences as grounds for passing moral judgements on them. Truthfully, I try not to make moral judgements on anyone because I am certainly not the most perfect person in the world.

    I honestly think that domestic house-cats could survive as a species without human help. Beef cows... maybe, pigs.... probably, dairy cows and chickens....not likely, bulldogs... no way!

    I never said that humans are blameless in what we've done genetically to the plants and animals we have domesticated, I only said that animal rights activists are often ignorant of certain truths. All of that comes back to my point of being careful what you buy as a consumer. If you want to make a difference to the lives of animals (or plants for that matter!)... take the time and effort to educate yourself on what you're getting and choose wisely. The world is unfortunately driven by its economy... show big business what matters to you and they will be forced to make a change.
     
  4. Anrisa Ryn

    Anrisa Ryn Author, artist, gamer

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    Quoted for truth.
     
  5. Crouton

    Crouton New Member

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    I honestly can’t tell if you are being serious or not with this whole plant thing. Plants don’t have brains, they don’t have lungs, eyes, thought processes, nerve endings etc. Do you really think that killing plants is in the same level as killing animals? Plants run entirely on instinct. Any type of thing they feel that could be considered as pain would just be an instinctual way of setting off a defense mechanism if they have one. It’s like a serious of commands going off. It doesn’t mean it actually feels pain…. It’s a plant!

    So… you DO eat plants? I couldn’t tell. You seemed to be so set on plant rights that I wasn’t sure if you did eat them or not. Since you do seem to care so much about the pain that plants apparently feel I would like you suggest another food source, that isn’t plant matter or animal matter for humans to live on.

    So you agree then. Humans have screwed up some species of animal beyond belief, to the point where they can no longer live on their own due to years of genetic mutations.

    Certain truths like what? Like plants feeling any type of sentient pain? That’s not a truth. That’s crazy.
    As I said before, it’s all well and good to say go out and buy the expensive good products, but in the end doing that doesn’t eliminate factory farms. They still exist no matter how much free range or organic chicken, whatever they hell they are calling it now that you buy. Either way the world is a terrible place no matter what you do.
     
  6. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    To clarify for you since there seems to be mass confusion:
    1. I don't blame myself or anyone else for taking lives to survive. We have no choice in the matter because we have to eat.
    2. In my opinion there is no moral difference between taking the life of a plant or taking the life of an animal when I must eat.
    3. There are ethical issues with modern day agriculture - these issues exist when raising livestock OR crops. Therefore, I cannot consider either type of agriculture as being morally superior to the other.
    4. Since I believe points 2 and 3, it follows then that I have no reason to judge anyone for what they eat. I can't say that it is morally right to be an omnivore. I can't say that it is morally right to be a vegetarian. Either lifestyle is equally acceptable to me so I get offended when I'm told that my choice is morally wrong.
    5. I believe in the welfare of the organisms I must consume. It is not the length of their life that concerns me, it is the quality of their life that concerns me.
    6. I cannot be responsible for anyone's actions but my own. Since the world is run by the almighty dollar, the only way that I as an individual can affect the quality of life of my food is by making wise decisions as a consumer. Business is a supply and demand phenomenon. If there is no demand for factory farmed meat and crops, then grocers will be forced to stock the kind of products people are comfortable buying. I can choose not to create demand for factory farmed meat and crops if I want to.

    Crouton, this has been fun! I like these debates because no matter what points of view or opinions are presented, awareness is raised about issues that people might not otherwise consider. After reading this thread, I dare to hope that people might actually think about what they're eating and about the consequences of eating it.

    I'm honestly sorry to read that you think the world is a terrible place no matter what you do. Reality isn't always nice but it isn't always awful either and individuals can make a difference in it. By choosing to become vegetarian for example, you have failed to create demand in the marketplace for many, many animals and I suspect that is something you would find very worthwhile. :)
     
  7. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

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    That's utterly ridiculous.

    A plant can respond to stimuli, they cannot *feel* anything because they lack a nervous system and a brain. If you pick an apple from a tree and eat it, neither the tree or the apple are in pain.
     
  8. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    Since I've decided to play devil's advocate with an extreme point of view anyway... :D

    You might be right Sparrow but just because plants are incapable of feeling the same sensations in the same way that we are doesn't mean that they're incapable of recognizing when they're being damaged. Since we don't perceive things like they do, how would we have any idea if the perception of that damage is unpleasant or not?
    It makes sense to me that any organism would have to be aware of damage to itself. I can't think of a reason why that perception would be neutral or pleasant because it would then be counter-adaptive to survival. Plants have strategies for discouraging damage to themselves (ie defenses). For example: thorns, oxalic acid crystals in their leaves that cause oral pain to animals when they eat them (eg. philodendron) and fruit might even be considered a defense: eat this sacrificial offering and leave the rest of me alone and BTW... spread those seeds for me while you're at it!
    Everyone seems to worry about sentience and I don't understand that. Who cares if something is sentient? If it can perceive the damage you are causing to it and that damage is unpleasant to it, then you are in essence "hurting" it for lack of a better word. A fly isn't sentient but we generally consider that pulling the wings off it is cruel and unnecessary because we assume it can feel the damage and that it doesn't like that. Ironically, this is an argument that I've seen animal rights activists use to make moral judgements on people who eat meat. "They're not just animals... they experience pain and suffering too and they deserve respect." I believe that, but then by the same argument, I don't feel that they can judge anyone who eats meat either since a vegetarian damages plants to survive like any meat-eater damages animals.
     
  9. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

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    A plant has no sense of 'self', there is no central nervous system, no brain in which to register pain/pleasure/well being/loss/longing or anything else for that matter. A plant has no idea where it is in time and space yet many trees will drop their leaves in preparation for winter... they don't need a brain to register the change of seasons and the oncoming frost. They no more feel the cold than are they capable of feeling pain. Even some organic life hasn't even the capacity to feel pain... the organism has simply evolved to react to certain stimulus in ways that allow it to survive long enough to reproduce. You cannot compare a fly, or any living thing that has a nervous system and brain to a plant.

    The reason you and I feel pain is because our nervous system is wired together with a brain and that brain and nervous system work in tandem to create a sensation we call "pain". Rare individuals who have abnormal brains and a condition known as, Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis (CIPA) also called hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy type IV... these people cannot feel pain. There is no pain without a brain.
     
  10. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    I'd just like to point out that - until pretty recent times - many views on all animal life (barring that of humans, who were also not really considered "Animals") held that animals were purely instinctive - akin to how many of you are now describing plants.

    It is - to say - that our understanding of another living things viewpoint on life and existence is, essentially, quite childish and underdeveloped. We are only now starting to really comprehend other mammals and to start to unravel such mysteries as their language and communication methods.

    So to suggest that a plant might be driven by more than instinct isn't, to my mind, totally far fetched. I think, however, its a difficult point for us to firmly decide upon where we draw the line between something we consider alive and something that is alive and aware.

    Plus - in the end - its all theoretical until such time as we can replace the plant in the human food cycle - that is to be able to derive nutrients direct from the mineral and solar sources.
     
  11. Anrisa Ryn

    Anrisa Ryn Author, artist, gamer

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    I want to be able to make my own food like plants. I could just sit in the sun all day. xD
     
  12. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    And that is exactly my point... :)
    Plants don't have a central nervous system like we do, so they may not feel "pain" like we do. However, just because we have no basis for understanding what they comprehend and what they don't, doesn't mean we can assume they don't experience SOME kind of unpleasant sensation when their bodies are being damaged.
    My point in making that argument is to illustrate that there is (to me) no moral difference between killing an animal for food and killing a plant... both probably suffer in some respect in the process (albeit differently!). My point in making that argument is to illustrate that I don't feel guilty for killing either to survive and certainly don't think it is rational to judge another person for their dietary preferences.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2012
  13. Crouton

    Crouton New Member

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    We thought animals were all running on instinct when? Back when we still thought weighing a woman against a loaf of bread could prove she was a witch? Humans have believed lots of idiotic things in the past. If you all believe that plants can feel any type of real pain or fear the same way animals can without brains and nervous systems then I'd REALLY like to see some proof. There isn't any.... because it's not true. There's just no possible way that a plant, made of the type of organic nature it is can feel pain, fear, stress, loneliness etc. It doesn't contain the type of bodily parts of brain functions it would require to feel such things.
     
  14. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    Food for thought (pardon the pun in this thread... I couldn't resist!): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_perception_(physiology)

    Animals developed a nervous system and a brain in order to make their survival more likely. Pain is only the brain's interpretation of bodily damage. It's an unpleasant experience for a reason: because avoiding and preventing bodily damage is adaptive for survival. The sensation of pain provides motivation for avoiding bodily damage.

    I believe plants can sense whether their bodies are being damaged or not because they have developed defenses to protect themselves. Why would they have done that if they were "unaware" of damage? They'd have no need to protect themselves if they weren't aware they were facing threats to their survival. Most of the arguments in this thread centre around whether or not plants perceive damage to themselves as an aversive stimulus or not. It makes no logical sense to think that any organism's perception of bodily damage would be a positive or a neutral experience. Only an aversive experience would provide the motivation to avoid that damage, ESPECIALLY in a non-sentient organism as everyone keeps insisting that plants must be.

    Plants may not have developed a central nervous system like animals did, but they developed other body systems that serve the same functions for survival that pain does for us. Therefore plants feel their own equivalent of pain.
     
  15. Crouton

    Crouton New Member

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    Yeah, I read through that wikipedia page and it basically said what I've been trying to say. Plants react on instinct, they don't think about it, they don't have brains or neuronal networks, they just have a serious of functions triggered by various things happening around them. That doesn't make them the same as a living animal that can feel pain, fear, loneliness etc... they are two completely different things.

    It's fine if you think plants are sentient beings. That's cool. To me it's fantasy and until there is actual scientific evidence that proves that then I won't believe it. I know plants are living things and they should be treated with respect. But there is no level to even say killing a carrot is anywhere near the same as killing a chicken or a cow. This conversation is reminding me of the Ents in Lord of the Rings. I guess this is a fantasy forum after all.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2012
  16. Lord Yuan

    Lord Yuan Death-Thousand+

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    I take a rouge stance on the more popular side of the argument. Just to use the example, if there were aliens that were far beyond more intelligent than we are I'd be damn proud to be eaten by them so they could discover more about the universe than we ever could.

    Factory farming is a bit more of a different issue though, making creatures live in poor conditions doesn't seem humane, it would be decent if they at least doped the animals to some degree, or had some way of stimulating pleasure in them at least just so their lives wouldn't be full of abnormal amounts of suffering.

    But I noticed above that there was a statistic about food wasting, I too waste food and I blame portion sizing. Restaurants serve ungainly large amounts of food and meats often, it just seems to be a negative part of the culture in the US to boost serving sizes, but I'd rather get smaller portions of higher quality and variance than mass produced fatty heaps. But brains do love the taste of fatty heaps and the so market thrives.
     
  17. Crouton

    Crouton New Member

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    That's an interesting idea. Although I don't see how aliens eating us would aide them in discovering more about the Universe, unless they were just trying to expand their taste palette.

    The word humane should never even be seen in the same sentence as Factory Farming. There is NOTHING humane about it. I find it kind of ironic that the word human is in the word humane at all. Humans are usually the case of all the worst inhumane things in the world.

    It's true about portion sizes. I've heard that sizes in America are much larger than some other countries. I've personally seen one slice of pizza in America that would be the equivalent of half a medium sized pizza here. It was crazy! Although some places here do serve large portions as well. There is a lot of waste in all Western countries unfortunately. Especially with meat, vegetables and other fresh food. It's almost impossible for supermarkets to gauge just how much will be sold on any particular day. But if food is left out too long and no one buys it they can't legally keep it out and have to throw it away. It's a shame they can't reuse it or give it to someone else instead.
     
  18. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    My point is that plants and animals are NOT the same Crouton. Plants and animals both adapted and evolved over time into forms that could avoid the unpleasant experience of bodily damage.... two methods for achieving the same end result. If there is a flaw in either of my logical arguments that plants are 1. aware of bodily damage or 2. must experience bodily damage as an aversive event, I would like you to please point out how my argument is flawed and I will happily concede the point. :)

    Before you answer that: I can't accept that a lack of a central nervous system is a valid argument to justify your position that plants don't feel pain. It makes no logical sense. Plants must have methods (other than using a central nervous system) of perceiving and reacting to their environment since we see evidence that they do perceive and react to the world. Another reason that a lack of a nervous system doesn't make sense to your argument is because as animals, we would die without a central nervous system (CNS). As you and Sparrow have so rightly pointed out, plants do not have a central nervous system. In spite of that, they ain't dead so something must replace the function of the CNS in a plant body. Just because we haven't figured out what that is yet is not a valid reason to assume plants can't perceive stimuli as aversive. Overread's point is well made.

    Sentience/self awareness of plants is a whole separate issue (and I never claimed that plants were sentient). I would never use sentience as a criteria to judge whether another living being deserves my compassion. In my mind pain is uncomfortable, whether you are smart enough to know you are self-aware or not. I can't accept that it is OK to "hurt" something just because it isn't self aware, thus making it morally better to eat plants rather than animals. The issue at hand is whether or not plants perceive damage as an aversive stimulus or not. Sentience is irrelevant to that.
     
  19. Crouton

    Crouton New Member

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    Just out of curiosity. Are you a vegetarian or vegan yourself?

    Also my mistake, I see that you weren't trying to compare the two though.

    I never said outright that plants don't feel pain. I said that they can be reactive to damage which can trigger self defence within them, which is once again all just instinct being triggered within the plants. To me that's different to actually feeling pain which can cause fear and stress within a creature. Pain doesn't cause anything within a plant since it doesn't have a brain and thought processes and can't physically or mentally FEEL things like fear and pain. That's why I don't feel guilty eating a plant but cannot eat an animal because I don't want to have any part with causing pain to a conscious being.

    Do you eat plants? If you don't... what do you live on?

    Do you honestly think that we shouldn't eat plants just because they have some instincts that trigger certain biological reactions within them. Reactions which do not cause the plant pain, fear, discomfort, stress etc. A plant cannot feels those things. I think plants should be respected because we need them on this earth, they are beautiful and so important. But they can't really feel or think anything. They are basically natures biggest food source for everything on the planet. They are alive but they aren't thinking and feeling like animals are. How can it be wrong to eat something that can't feel and won't ever understand what is happening to it?
     
  20. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

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    I am not a vegetarian or a vegan. I do not think it is wrong to eat plants OR animals. We are bound by our biology and we have no choice in the matter: therefore we cannot be held morally accountable for eating either. I do eat both myself and without guilt for eating either. I do think it is wrong for vegetarians to morally condemn other people for eating animals. I chose to debate such an extreme view to encourage a little understanding and tolerance for the views of others since this is often a contentious issue. Debate about my sanity for presenting such an extreme viewpoint is fodder for another thread ... lol :) Whatever everybody else gets out of it or chooses to believe, maybe they'll think a little harder about what they eat and consider alternatives they might not have otherwise considered.