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Sisyphus

Questions for vegans

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Ok, I get it, "meat is murder." But vegans generally have a strict policy against all animal products too, right? What is the ethical problem with eating, say, organic eggs from free-range chickens? Or similarly with dairy products? I mean, chickens produce eggs, and cows produce milk, no matter what conditions they're under. Also, I was wondering, what's the general consensus on honey? Are the bees being "tortured?" For that matter, what's the policy on eating insects? I'm asking because I figure IMM will have answers (both for herself and for the "vegan community," inasmuch as such a thing exists), but I'm interested in anyone's input.

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For that matter, what's the policy on eating insects?

 

While insects aren't common food in the US, marine inverts are: lobster, shrimp, crabs, clams, conch, scallop, for which the same conditions (namely having a brain that's little more than an enlarged ganglion) hold true.

 

No real contribution here beyond just putting the question in terms of more commonly eaten invertebrates.

 

Mokele

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I believe vegans view honey as an exploitation of the bees, citing how the beekeepers use smoke on the hives, and how some beekeepers kill the new queens the hive produces. Vegans don't view beekeeping as a symbiotic relationship, they view it as parasitic.

 

It is much the same for eggs and milk. Vegans cite the terrible conditions the animals are kept in, and how they are exploited. Very Marxist, it seems to me.

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Also, I was wondering, what's the general consensus on honey?

 

The vegan grocer here sells honey wheat bread (although not actual honey, at least that I've seen). I'm guess honey is "debatable" among vegans, along with the raw food issue.

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While insects aren't common food in the US, marine inverts are: lobster, shrimp, crabs, clams, conch, scallop, for which the same conditions (namely having a brain that's little more than an enlarged ganglion) hold true.

 

No real contribution here beyond just putting the question in terms of more commonly eaten invertebrates.

 

Mokele

 

it might be more relevent when you concider pesticides.

 

i.e., is it ok to eat vegtables that were sprayed with pesticides, or not?

 

I know it's not exactly eating insects, but it's still killing insects in order to feed oneself.

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...(namely having a brain that's little more than an enlarged ganglion) hold true.

 

No real contribution here beyond just putting the question in terms of more commonly eaten invertebrates.

 

 

If people can breed a seedless watermellon, then why can't they breed a brainless chicken?

 

If the moral problem stems from the consciousness of the chicken, or the ability of the chicken to experience emotions, then it's clear what we have to do, isn't it?

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Er, is it clear that chickens experience emotions? Chickens are pretty near brainless anyway. The problem is that if we created an animal, say a chicken, that was completely brainless it wouldn't know how to feed itself. As soon as we give it enough brains to peck grain, someone will say "It is doing that because it feels hunger- it must be consious".

 

 

The problem, from my point of view, is that many people anthropomorphise animal behaviour and presume that (here's a nice emotive example) because an injured dog barks and whines, it must feel pain.

A long time ago when I was at school someone made a computerised robot that trundled round the floor- it had sensors that detected when it hit something and it backed off and turned.

I also had a computer and it had a speech synthesis chip connected to it. We connected the 2 computers together- now, when it hit something it said "Ouch!" and backed away. It said ouch but did it really feel pain?

Dogs spend enough time humping their owners' legs to prove that they certainly don't know they are dogs, I question whether they have a sense of self. If a dog doesn't have an understanding that it is an individual then how can it think "I am in pain"- there isn't an "I" to think that.

OK, I realise that not everyone will agree about dogs not being self aware. There's room for experiment and debate on that question. Chimps certainly do have a sense of self; I can't see anyone saying there's room in a cockroach brain for that sort of abstract thinking.

I have no problem with eating animals that don't know they are alive and cannot understand death. As a matter of principle I think farm animals should be well cared for- not because they are sentient, but because we are, We have a choice in the matter and it demeans us not to look after our prospective dinners.

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If the moral problem stems from the consciousness of the chicken, or the ability of the chicken to experience emotions, then it's clear what we have to do, isn't it?

 

I think the best approach is growing meat without the body. This not only eliminates the moral qualms associated with eating animals, but also allows you to produce healthier meat (i.e. fat free)

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As much as I'd love to believe that would work, I just don't think that would be sufficient to stop all the empathy-based objections. Half of them would be screaming about "animals being lobotomized just so we can eat them", and the other half would be screaming that they still had some semblance of intelligence/emotion/pain/etc.

 

That would be fairly amusing if it were tried, though, just to see an example of "Rescue Terri Schiavo Syndrome" coming from the left rather than the right. The irony there would be quite... delicious. :)

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I guess if you can anthropomorphize a bee, you can anthropomorphize a brainless chicken.

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If people who eat only vegetables are called Vegans

then are people who eat only mushrooms called Fungans?

 

 

the other day I was waiting at the meat counter for my number to be called and there was another guy standing there waiting

 

and we watched the butchers going solemnly back and forth in their white priestly garb, doing their rituals of blood etc, on the other side of the counter (the sacred precinct where slaughter is performed where we lay-people don't go)

 

and I asked the guy (who had a glazed introspective look) if he didn't sometimes want to be a vegetarian, or maybe swear off eating FELLOW MAMMALS or maybe FELLOW VERTEBRATES because didn't it seems cannibalistic they are so much like us. Would it feel better to just eat lizards, or maybe mollusks?

And he said that the important thing was Did it have a LIMBIC system?

 

A Limbic system is what has emotions like fear etc. And some brains have a Limbic system and some don't. That's what he said.

He said that if he ever decided to make dietary rules for himself (he was a kind of do-it-yourself-Rabbi) that he would only eat meat from animals that didnt have a Limbic part of their brains.

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If people who eat vegetables are called Vegans

then are people who eat mushrooms called Fungans?

 

But you initial postulate is incorrect. People who don't consume animal matter are called vegans, but vegans eat funguses, as do meat-eaters and vegetarians.

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Also, is there anyone who only eats fungus? If it's a set of people with zero members, does it need a name? If so, should there be a distinction between, say, "fungitarians," who merely don't fungus, and the aforementioned "fungans," who refrain from all fungus biproducts?

 

As long as we're on the subject, does anyone else think there should be a name for a carnivore that only eats other carnivores? Being as high on the food chain as possible can be an ethos, can't it?

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Chimps certainly do have a sense of self; I can't see anyone saying there's room in a cockroach brain for that sort of abstract thinking.

Looked at politicians lately?

 

Sorry, we will have a Federal election later this year and I'm already depressed.

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Also, is there anyone who only eats fungus? If it's a set of people with zero members, does it need a name? If so, should there be a distinction between, say, "fungitarians," who merely don't fungus, and the aforementioned "fungans," who refrain from all fungus biproducts?

 

I've heard that there are people who only eat non-harvested fruit, nuts, and seeds, on the grounds that its only ok to take what nature willingly gives... anything that has to be killed or forsably removed from a lifeform (like milk/fruit that doesn't fall off of it's own accord/etc) is wrong. i believe they're called fruititarians, but i dont know much else (they're the subject of much ridicule, so 90% of what i've heard of them is probably crap)

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I think in the end it boils down to plain old compassion for other living things. Which is fine as long as your not running around trying to make meat eaters feel hideous with guilt. Some vegans are pretty hardcore, militant almost.

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"Chimps certainly do have a sense of self; I can't see anyone saying there's room in a cockroach brain for that sort of abstract thinking.

 

Looked at politicians lately?"

JohnB

I sympathise with you for having to put up with the opportunity to chose which bunch of liars get in next time, but that's no reason to insult the chimps and cockroaches.

(BTW, the set with no members is, I understand, very important in mathematics. I think the fact that all null sets are the same means there's only one "empty set" and mathematicians then use that as the definition of "1"; the rest of us know what "1" is; it's half of "2")

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and I asked the guy (who had a glazed introspective look) if he didn't sometimes want to be a vegetarian, or maybe swear off eating FELLOW MAMMALS or maybe FELLOW VERTEBRATES because didn't it seems cannibalistic they are so much like us. Would it feel better to just eat lizards, or maybe mollusks?

And he said that the important thing was Did it have a LIMBIC system?

 

A Limbic system is what has emotions like fear etc. And some brains have a Limbic system and some don't. That's what he said.He said that if he ever decided to make dietary rules for himself (he was a kind of do-it-yourself-Rabbi) that he would only eat meat from animals that didnt have a Limbic part of their brains.

 

That pretty much means fish and invertebrates. Interestingly, I just found a reference that shows that reptiles have parts of their limbic system that are unique to them.

 

Therefore, with the limbic-system-morality, reptiles are morally superior to all other life. And with Global Warming, we're going to put you fuzzballs back in your rightful place in the food chain.

 

One thing that does concern me, though, is octopi; they're clearly capable of advanced learning and problem solving, but their brain is massively different from ours. How would one even make a meaningful comparison between the two?

 

Mokele

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"One thing that does concern me, though, is octopi; they're clearly capable of advanced learning and problem solving, but their brain is massively different from ours. How would one even make a meaningful comparison between the two?"

Well, if they can tell me that then I accept I shouldn't eat them. :)

Actually, I didn't think much of squid when I tried it (a bit like eating rubber bands) so I won't bother with octopus.

Seriously, does it matter what their brains are like. It's what they can do with them that matters.

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Actually, I didn't think much of squid when I tried it (a bit like eating rubber bands) so I won't bother with octopus

 

Same here. I tried squid with curry sauce at a Korean restaurant. The sauce was great but the squid was terrible. I thought the squid was more ballon-like though.

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Seriously, does it matter what their brains are like. It's what they can do with them that matters.

 

its difficult to decide what an animals brain can do when its completely different from ours.

 

maybe they are communicating on a very high level and we cant tell because they are doing it with a part of their brain that we dont have.

 

they could be more intelligent than we realize since we dont understand how they work.

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and I asked the guy (who had a glazed introspective look) if he didn't sometimes want to be a vegetarian, or maybe swear off eating FELLOW MAMMALS or maybe FELLOW VERTEBRATES because didn't it seems cannibalistic they are so much like us.

 

I've sworn off eating fellow mammals, mostly for moral reasons (not to mention eating them is rather unhealthy). I also don't eat birds.

 

Would it feel better to just eat lizards, or maybe mollusks?

 

I'm all about the seafood... fish and various crustaceans. I love king crab and sushi. I'm also all about the lox and creamcheese bagels. Mmmm.

 

And he said that the important thing was Did it have a LIMBIC system?

 

A Limbic system is what has emotions like fear etc. And some brains have a Limbic system and some don't. That's what he said.

 

He said that if he ever decided to make dietary rules for himself (he was a kind of do-it-yourself-Rabbi) that he would only eat meat from animals that didnt have a Limbic part of their brains.

 

I feel the same way, but don't think the limbic system is a particularly relevant part of the brain. My metric is the neocortex, found in mammals, and particularly the neocortical column which to me represents the fundamental atomic unit of consciousness-stuff. I believe birds possess a brain structure with similar function, albeit implemented in a different way.

 

I see the limbic system as being a rather primitive part of the brain and having much more to do with programmatic, genetically-driven behavior than the process of modeling and self-awareness/discovery that can be manifested through the neocortex.

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"its difficult to decide what an animals brain can do when its completely different from ours.

 

maybe they are communicating on a very high level and we cant tell because they are doing it with a part of their brain that we dont have.

 

they could be more intelligent than we realize since we dont understand how they work."

Not really, we can still see if they can count or recognise themself in a mirror or remember where their food was. It doesn't matter how the brain is made.

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all the ways you would test that are based on assumptions about how their brains work. humans can count, recognize themselves and remember where their food is. that doesnt mean that other animals who can do the same things are going to act the same way.

 

you cant ask the animal if it can do those things, you just assume based on how it acts. if its brain is different in a way that makes it so when it sees itself it has a different reaction you wouldnt have any way of knowing.

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