Why I’m Not a Vegan (by Mark Bittman) - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 05-23-2013, 07:25 AM
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Due to Bittman's recent 'Vegan Before 6' launch and tour, he's got some commentary up about "why he's not vegan." He doesn't much answer the question though in my opinion. He says:

 

 

 

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I can see three scenarios that might lead to universal, full-time veganism: An indisputable series of research results proving that consuming animal products is unquestionably “bad” for us; the emerging dominance of a morality that asserts that we have no right to “exploit” our fellow animals for our own benefit; or an environmental catastrophe that makes agriculture as we know it untenable. All seem unlikely.

 

I don't get his "it's unlikely" issue. BUT that's about all he says. I'm surprised he has no reasoning behind his diet other than the above. What do you think? 

 

Oh, here's the whole article: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/21/why-im-not-a-vegan/

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#2 Old 05-23-2013, 07:54 AM
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I read this today too. I don't think he answers the question either.  Also, the article mostly talked about health, seems like he doesn't care about the animals anyway.

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#3 Old 05-23-2013, 07:54 AM
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He's an idiot.

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#4 Old 05-23-2013, 08:19 AM
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What do you guys make of his "It's unlikely" comment?! 

 

On the vegan after 6 thread some people felt like it was a good idea - because it is indeed encouraging people to eat vegan more often, but I think his whole "This stuff is unlikely" comment makes him sound extremely uninformed, which I worry will make people think, "Hey, there's no real reason to go vegan."

 

I just felt like the whole article was very weird. 


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#5 Old 05-23-2013, 09:08 AM
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What do you guys make of his "It's unlikely" comment?! 

On the vegan after 6 thread some people felt like it was a good idea - because it is indeed encouraging people to eat vegan more often, but I think his whole "This stuff is unlikely" comment makes him sound extremely uninformed, which I worry will make people think, "Hey, there's no real reason to go vegan."

I just felt like the whole article was very weird. 

That's it exactly. If there was any redeeming quality about his "Vegan before 6'" article, it was that it would show people how easy it actually is to be vegan, but this seems like yet another uninformed omni making excuses so he doesn't have to own up to the facts that it is extremely unhealthy, extremely unethical, and extremely environmentally unfriendly to be an omni.


The only problem with this uninformed omni is that he has a large readership where other uninformed omnis can read it and be all "SEE I KNEW IT WASN'T NECESSARY!"

(It's nice to be able to post on my computer rather than my phone and my reply can be more than one sentence in a thread finally grin.gif )
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#6 Old 05-23-2013, 09:36 AM
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"I’ve been semi-vegan for six years" Mark Bittman.

 

No you haven't you plonker. You've been a total plant-food eater part of the time and an omnivore part of the time (all in the same day). Trying to bring veganism into your equation is you pissing into the wind and expecting vegans to give you a round of applause. 

 

 

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#7 Old 05-23-2013, 10:20 AM
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I don't get his "it's unlikely" issue. BUT that's about all he says. I'm surprised he has no reasoning behind his diet other than the above. What do you think? 

Remember, he's writing for an overwhelmingly omnivore readership here. No need to share his reasoning with people who are inclined to already agree with him. In fact, most of the commenters who disagree are taking issue with his central thesis. They disagree that we'd all be better off eating far less animal product.

 

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I can see three scenarios that might lead to universal, full-time veganism: An indisputable series of research results proving that consuming animal products is unquestionably “bad” for us; the emerging dominance of a morality that asserts that we have no right to “exploit” our fellow animals for our own benefit; or an environmental catastrophe that makes agriculture as we know it untenable. All seem unlikely.

If he were addressing vegans, he'd probably defend his first "unlikely" by pointing out that there is virtually nothing in nutrition science that's considered indisputable. Prevailing nutritional beliefs are in a constant state of flux. Moreover, every food lobby has its own hired guns who will  tell you with a straight face why you should be eating more, not less, of whatever their particular lobby pushes. There's always a nutritionist for the dairy lobby or the beef lobby, etc., who will dispute anything the T. Colin Campbell foundation ever puts out. When that's your job, that's what you do.

 

He'd probably defend his second "unlikely" by saying there have been vegetarian religions for longer than there have been Christians, and that if the idea had the traction to go universal, it probably would have by now.

 

The third point, that an environmental catastrophe is unlikely, that's probably wishful thinking. Or he might argue that if it really comes down to that, we'll be on the way out as a species anyway.

 

Anyway, vegans think he's an idiot because he basically touts a flexitarian diet. Carnists think he's an idiot because he's telling them they should cut way down on their animal products. It's a wonder he has any friends at all.

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#8 Old 05-23-2013, 12:25 PM
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If he feels the scenerios for veganism are unlikely, why does he continually mention that he is semi vegan and push for more plant based meals and experiment with vegetarian recipes?  Why does he have such a fascination with it?  Is it because there is some truth to it afterall? 


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#9 Old 05-23-2013, 02:05 PM
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If he feels the scenerios for veganism are unlikely, why does he continually mention that he is semi vegan and push for more plant based meals and experiment with vegetarian recipes?  Why does he have such a fascination with it?  Is it because there is some truth to it afterall? 

That's what I wonder about. What's the deal if there's zero point to it all (according to him). 


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#10 Old 05-23-2013, 02:07 PM
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Remember, he's writing for an overwhelmingly omnivore readership here. No need to share his reasoning with people who are inclined to already agree with him. In fact, most of the commenters who disagree are taking issue with his central thesis. They disagree that we'd all be better off eating far less animal product.

 

If he were addressing vegans, he'd probably defend his first "unlikely" by pointing out that there is virtually nothing in nutrition science that's considered indisputable. Prevailing nutritional beliefs are in a constant state of flux. Moreover, every food lobby has its own hired guns who will  tell you with a straight face why you should be eating more, not less, of whatever their particular lobby pushes. There's always a nutritionist for the dairy lobby or the beef lobby, etc., who will dispute anything the T. Colin Campbell foundation ever puts out. When that's your job, that's what you do.

 

He'd probably defend his second "unlikely" by saying there have been vegetarian religions for longer than there have been Christians, and that if the idea had the traction to go universal, it probably would have by now.

 

The third point, that an environmental catastrophe is unlikely, that's probably wishful thinking. Or he might argue that if it really comes down to that, we'll be on the way out as a species anyway.

 

Anyway, vegans think he's an idiot because he basically touts a flexitarian diet. Carnists think he's an idiot because he's telling them they should cut way down on their animal products. It's a wonder he has any friends at all.

 

He should have said a bunch of what you just said. I mean, if you're going to say, "Here's why FT vegan isn't valuable" at least back it up with stuff like this. Don't just leave it hanging. Though I get your point that he's writing for omnis. 


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#11 Old 05-23-2013, 02:14 PM
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A better question would be "why be an omnivore?"

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#12 Old 05-23-2013, 03:40 PM
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For one thing,  he doesn't seem to know, or want to admit to knowing, what being vegan means.

The whole "It's unlikely..." is the very rationale that makes it unlikely!

 

Just another "I couldn't give up meat and cheese"

Funny thing is, if it's health that concerning you, a vegan diet trumps all the "healthier" animal product meals in taste.

Ever hear people complaining how pork is so dry and tasteless now that it's lean?

Kind of counterdicks his argument.

 

To be far, I believe he has helped cut back on meat consumption. I'd seen change after his book


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#13 Old 05-23-2013, 03:41 PM
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When an omnivore makes the case other omnivores should eat much less meat than they do, I'd frankly expect vegans not to deride the effort. If the heartburn is with the title of the article, that seems trivial to me. Plus Bittman himself probably didn't write the headline -- that usually falls to a member of the editorial staff.

He's not arguing there's anything wrong with being full-time vegan; he just wrote that he didn't think it likely the human race would embrace it in a universal way. It was a side point to his main point, and it surprised me to see it barked down here. I'd think any incidental reduction in animal suffering would be encouraged even coming from outside veganism. At no point does he say he thinks vegans have it wrong. Is there really an argument to make with this guy?
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#14 Old 05-23-2013, 04:00 PM
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I've read The Omnivore's Dilemma and he just seems like he understands the reasoning behind veganism but isn't willing to commit to it or "make sacrifices" in any way. His attitude seems to be that since the whole world won't go vegan in his lifetime why should he bother giving up having a steak now and then or some milk in his tea.

As someone who is vegan for ethical reasons I totally disagree with that stance, but if enough omni's cut down on their animal product consumption it would make a difference for the animals and the environment so I hope he convinces some people to eat more plant based foods at least.

Maybe people like him and other flexitarians or whatever you want to call them can be useful because they can show people veggie food isn't scary and get them to take their first baby steps. I imagine a hardcore meat lover would probably be more willing to listen to someone suggesting they reduce their consumption than someone telling them to stop completely right now because it's immoral.

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#15 Old 05-23-2013, 04:17 PM
 
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The line that I have the biggest issue with is the need for “the emerging dominance of a morality that asserts that we have no right to ‘exploit’ our fellow animals for our own benefit…”

 

Bittman is essentially saying he would not consider going vegan unless there was a serious moral shift resulting in veganism becoming the dominant philosophical view. This is a cowardly point of view.

 

For one, new moral paradigms don’t just arise out of the blue. They come into being because individuals are willing to challenge the existing morality. These pathfinders accept the fact that they are in the minority, but without them, the views of the majority would never change. Bittman has no desire to be one of the pathfinders, but if the majority view does change, he’ll consider going along with it. Not exactly a brave position.

 

What I truly consider cowardly is refusing to take responsibility for your own morality; instead relying on whatever the dominant morality of the time happens to be. It takes no courage to go along with the prevailing beliefs simply because they are the prevailing beliefs. Really, many of the worse atrocities in history are from people going along with the prevailing beliefs.

 

I wonder… If he were living in the Southern U.S. in the early 1800s, would Bittman hold off on supporting the end of slavery until “the emerging dominance of a morality that asserts that we have no right to ‘exploit’ our fellow humans for our own benefit”?

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#16 Old 05-23-2013, 05:34 PM
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The line that I have the biggest issue with is the need for “the emerging dominance of a morality that asserts that we have no right to ‘exploit’ our fellow animals for our own benefit…”

 

Bittman is essentially saying he would not consider going vegan unless there was a serious moral shift resulting in veganism becoming the dominant philosophical view. This is a cowardly point of view.

 

For one, new moral paradigms don’t just arise out of the blue. They come into being because individuals are willing to challenge the existing morality. These pathfinders accept the fact that they are in the minority, but without them, the views of the majority would never change. Bittman has no desire to be one of the pathfinders, but if the majority view does change, he’ll consider going along with it. Not exactly a brave position.

 

What I truly consider cowardly is refusing to take responsibility for your own morality; instead relying on whatever the dominant morality of the time happens to be. It takes no courage to go along with the prevailing beliefs simply because they are the prevailing beliefs. Really, many of the worse atrocities in history are from people going along with the prevailing beliefs.

 

I wonder… If he were living in the Southern U.S. in the early 1800s, would Bittman hold off on supporting the end of slavery until “the emerging dominance of a morality that asserts that we have no right to ‘exploit’ our fellow humans for our own benefit”?

Nothing in the article argues that vegans should eat meat. It does argue that for most people who can afford all the meat they want, they eat way too much and should eat less of it, and that for them, reduction is probably a far more realistic goal than total abstention. In that passage you quote, Bittman wasn't writing about what it would take to turn him personally vegan. He was writing about what it would take to turn the human race to "universal, full time veganism." The article didn't address his own personal reasons for continuing to eat meat. One would assume he continues to eat it because he can and because he likes it, and because he believes there might possibly be some health benefit to eating at least moderate amounts of it. He has written in other articles that he eats a lot less of it now because that's what his doctor recommended. In fact, his doctor recommended that he give it over altogether, but when he balked his doctor (influenced by Esselstyn, Campbell, Ornish, etc.) recommended that he at least cut way back. It's a journey, and you never know. Maybe his follow-up book will be called "Vegan After Six Too."

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#17 Old 05-23-2013, 05:54 PM
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It's obvious why he's not vegan. A "vegan" isn't vegan before six. He just wants a cool label, while also in a comfort zone with meat eaters. Pitiful.


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#18 Old 05-26-2013, 01:38 PM
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1.) Its unlikely any research is going to show that even small amounts of animal products, or that all animal products are unhealthy.
2.) Animal exploitation goes well beyond eating animals and has been a part of human culture for a long time. Vegans focus on the use of animal products, but ignore the fact that family pets, clearing land for crops, riding horses and numerous other things are also animal exploitation. So then, given the ubiquity of animal exploitation in human society a morality that forbids it would be indeed unlikely.
3.) This should be obvious and vegan foods can be just as unsustainable as non-vegan foods.
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#19 Old 05-26-2013, 08:49 PM
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1.) Its unlikely any research is going to show that even small amounts of animal products, or that all animal products are unhealthy.
2.) Animal exploitation goes well beyond eating animals and has been a part of human culture for a long time. Vegans focus on the use of animal products, but ignore the fact that family pets, clearing land for crops, riding horses and numerous other things are also animal exploitation. So then, given the ubiquity of animal exploitation in human society a morality that forbids it would be indeed unlikely.
3.) This should be obvious and vegan foods can be just as unsustainable as non-vegan foods.

 

Just on point 2, I don't know that vegan do ignore things like family pets, clearing of land, riding horses and other things that are animal exploitation. In fact, I think looking at things like the exploitation of animals in all areas, is exactly one of those things that separates the 'plant based diet' from 'the vegan'.


The 'exploitation' of animals is a broad subject to look at. I personally don't think that using animals is always equal to exploiting them. Exploitation denotes a type of unfair trade. Obviously, there are times when the exploitation of an animal is obvious, but there are other times when it's really more of a matter of opinion. 

 

To take your example of pets-

 

Yes, okay, plenty of vegans will have a family pet (maybe more). But I would hazard a guess that the majority of vegans would opt for a rescue animal, over a store bought one. The animal would not be exploited through pet shows or pet acting/modelling. It would be considered part of the family, an equal, not owned by rather cared for the way we care for children.

Then to look at your example of horse riding (much murkier subject)-

 

A vegan might ride a horse, but not support the horse racing industry because one is about the individual connection a human and animal can have with one another, whereas the other is about the exploitation of many animals for the enjoyment of the masses who don't seem to really care about them.

Just like with how vegans treat their food (it's only as vegan as society and the processes used allow it to be), I assume they also treat issues such as the use of animals that are not for eating. As yet, we can't let cats and dogs run wild or they would hurt the environment and themselves. So the kinder (more vegan?) option is to adopt, sterilise and try and work at decreasing the harm done to those animals and by them. Yes, I fully understand that it comes with the added perk of having cuddles from puppies and kittens that obviously fill a need for us, as humans. Some perks are awesome.


I suppose, if I were to argue from the vegan perspective, I would say that while the use of animals within human society is quite entrenched it is not unreasonable to think that perhaps this exploitation of animals will cease in the future. After all, slavery and the trade of other humans has been quite entrenched within our societies for hundreds (if not thousands) of years. War, disease, famine, 'other'ism and plain just being bad, is entrenched in human society. Just because it's there makes it neither right, nor permanent. It just means it hasn't changed yet.

 

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#20 Old 05-27-2013, 02:13 AM
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Yes, okay, plenty of vegans will have a family pet (maybe more). But I would hazard a guess that the majority of vegans would opt for a rescue animal, over a store bought one. The animal would not be exploited through pet shows or pet acting/modelling. It would be considered part of the family, an equal, not owned by rather cared for the way we care for children.
Whether its a rescue animal or not doesn't change anything, its an animal that has been domesticated and is being exploited for human needs...even if you consider those needs benevolent.

Though separate, another issue with pets is that most vegans feed them non-vegan foods so in terms of animal suffering having a family pet increases animal suffering. As such the "vegan thing" to do would be to euthanize non-vegan domestic animals as a single dog or cat will consume numerous farm animals throughout its life. Why is the life of the dog or cat more valuable than the farm animals raised for slaughter?

Also, needless to say, if all domestic dogs and cats were sterilized then within ~20 years there'd no longer be dogs and cats. So the continuous supply of pets, rescue or otherwise, relies on breeding operations of some sort.

Lastly, even vegan food isn't free from animal exploitation. Agricultural itself exploits animals, for example insects. I'm not sure what a world without animal exploitation would look like.....

As for slavery, its still very much part of human culture, only the names have changed.
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#21 Old 05-27-2013, 06:29 AM
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1.) Its unlikely any research is going to show that even small amounts of animal products, or that all animal products are unhealthy.
2.) Animal exploitation goes well beyond eating animals and has been a part of human culture for a long time. Vegans focus on the use of animal products, but ignore the fact that family pets, clearing land for crops, riding horses and numerous other things are also animal exploitation. So then, given the ubiquity of animal exploitation in human society a morality that forbids it would be indeed unlikely.
3.) This should be obvious and vegan foods can be just as unsustainable as non-vegan foods.

1) research already shows that animal products are unhealthy.
2) vegans certainly do not ignore those forms of animal use, most of us agree that it is not ok to ride horses for example. You are missing the point of being vegan, it is doing what is "possible and practical" to avoid animal use and cruelty.
3) clearing land and growing crops specifically for use as animal feed is always more unsustainable than growing a crop for human consumption.
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#22 Old 05-27-2013, 09:45 AM
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Whether its a rescue animal or not doesn't change anything, its an animal that has been domesticated and is being exploited for human needs...even if you consider those needs benevolent.

Though separate, another issue with pets is that most vegans feed them non-vegan foods so in terms of animal suffering having a family pet increases animal suffering. As such the "vegan thing" to do would be to euthanize non-vegan domestic animals as a single dog or cat will consume numerous farm animals throughout its life. Why is the life of the dog or cat more valuable than the farm animals raised for slaughter?

Also, needless to say, if all domestic dogs and cats were sterilized then within ~20 years there'd no longer be dogs and cats. So the continuous supply of pets, rescue or otherwise, relies on breeding operations of some sort.

Lastly, even vegan food isn't free from animal exploitation. Agricultural itself exploits animals, for example insects. I'm not sure what a world without animal exploitation would look like.....

As for slavery, its still very much part of human culture, only the names have changed.



Whether it's a rescue animal or not is the difference between perpetuating the idea of an animal as a possession and an animal as a companion.


Having a family pet, especially a rescue animal, ensure that the animal is not out wreaking havoc in the wild (keeping in mind that large numbers of dogs and cats can do quite large amounts of damage to native flora and fauna). The 'vegan' thing to do, I assume, would be to not kill an animal simply because it's numbers and dietary needs are inconvenient to the humans around it. That means, not euthanising them simply because they exist, but rather looking at ways to decrease their numbers in the most humane way possible, which is why programs like catch-spay-release have a popularity within the vegan community.

If all domestic cats and dogs were sterlised, yes, they probably would die out. But given that the rates of breeding of animals for commercial sale are so high and I've yet to see any shelter say "Well, our problem is, there's just too few animals to adopt out" I doubt that the domesticated canine or feline are in danger of being extinct any time soon. I think the vegan idea, once that extinction becomes a real possibility, is to let it happen as sad as that would be for us. Maybe there's a nice middle ground for some, who think that once the numbers of cats and dogs are low enough, we won't need them as companion animals and they can go back to being wild without hurting the environment.


As for vegan food, like with anything vegan at this point in time, it's about a journey towards establishing systems that don't exploit animals.

While veganism isn't something I personally subscribe to ( as an example-I have no problem with people riding horses, I just think they should do it bareback) I recommend you read up on it, if these are truly questions you want an answer to. A lot of these questions and scenarios that you're posing have been answered by a number of prominent vegans already, who are probably much better at describing their own values system than I am.

 

(As a side note- As I'm not a vegan and don't hold the views of a vegan, so I hope I represented the 'vegan answers' to those questions properly. If not, please correct me.)

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#23 Old 05-27-2013, 11:01 AM
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Whether it's a rescue animal or not is the difference between perpetuating the idea of an animal as a possession and an animal as a companion.
Why is that? They are treated as possessions regardless. The human is considered to have dominion over the animal, they are its "owner".
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Originally Posted by Tiger Lilly View Post

Having a family pet, especially a rescue animal, ensure that the animal is not out wreaking havoc in the wild (keeping in mind that large numbers of dogs and cats can do quite large amounts of damage to native flora and fauna). The 'vegan' thing to do, I assume, would be to not kill an animal simply because it's numbers and dietary needs are inconvenient to the humans around it.
Why would this be the "vegan thing"? Aren't vegans trying to reduce animal suffering? If that is the goal, then clearly euthanizing pets is the "vegan thing" to do as this would reduce animal suffering. The wolf's dietary needs may be "inconvenient" for a vegan, but its a wild animal that plays a role an important role in its ecosystem. The same can't be said of pets, they play no role in the ecosystem and simply exist to meet human needs. As a result vegans with non-vegan pets are eating meat by extension of their pets. A vegan with a couple of cats is making the same contribution to animal suffering as someone that eats the meat directly. Its not like some vegans don't recognize this dilemma, but its typically ignored.

Regardless, given that vegans still readily exploit animals and often contribute greatly to animal suffering by owning non-vegan pets, etc....I'd say that Bittman's claim is well founded. A morality that forbids animal exploitation would be extremely unlikely, I'd suggest as well that its not even clear what such a morality would look like given how deep animal exploitation goes in human culture (indeed, in all primate culture...).


And yes, I realize that some vegans have tried to answer these questions. Some vegans recognize the dilemma of non-vegan pets, hence the interest in vegan dog food, etc. But even if you ignore the issue of whether pet ownership is animal exploitation, I've yet to hear a sound argument as to why owning non-vegan pets is consistent with veganism.
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#24 Old 05-27-2013, 11:07 AM
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1) research already shows that animal products are unhealthy.
2) vegans certainly do not ignore those forms of animal use, most of us agree that it is not ok to ride horses for example. You are missing the point of being vegan, it is doing what is "possible and practical" to avoid animal use and cruelty.
3) clearing land and growing crops specifically for use as animal feed is always more unsustainable than growing a crop for human consumption.
1.) There is no research that shows that consuming small amounts, or that all animal products, are unhealthy. Instead the research shows that diets rich in animal products are unhealthy.
2.) Euthanizing your non-vegan pet (or simply not owning one) is both possible and practical, yet few support the idea. It would seem that for most, killing animals is okay if they get a cute furry thing in their lives as a result.
3.) This has nothing to do with my point, my point was simply that agricultural involves animal exploitation. If our most basic form of subsistence relies on animal exploitation, how exactly could we develop a morality that forbids it?
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#25 Old 05-27-2013, 11:36 AM
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Passive-aggressive shifting onto vegans all burden of proof is practically cliché.

 

In fact, I agree that we vegans should be realists about strategies for progress.  This does not, however, discount our ideal or justify apathy.

 

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Originally Posted by logic View Post

The human is considered to have dominion over the animal, they are its "owner".

I think you should be a bit more careful in your own assumptions -- by adding a qualifier such as "the human is usually considered to...," "the human is legally considered to...," or "the human is considered to have dominion over the animal by society at large" this claim would become indisputable.  As a sweeping generalization, though, it's definitely debatable: you have no real way of knowing what goes on in all other minds.


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#26 Old 05-27-2013, 11:46 AM
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Passive-aggressive shifting onto vegans all burden of proof is practically cliché.
I'm not sure what you mean by this, all burden of proof for what exactly? Obviously the burden of proof is on vegans for veganism.

As for "my assumptions", I'm talking about how society conceives of pets. Its hard to see how a world free of animal exploitation is consist with a world that allows dominion over animals in the form of pets.
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#27 Old 05-27-2013, 12:19 PM
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The burden of proof is on non-vegans for non-veganism.  Obviously.

 

What I find hard to see is how prevailing social practices are consistent with common attitudes concerning animal cruelty.


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#28 Old 05-27-2013, 07:20 PM
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Logic, I don't know whether you're being wilfully dense about this whole thing or whether you just don't get it.

You seem almost determined to not comprehend the most basic concept of veganism which is to not hurt animals, so while I would love to have a discussion about the moral minefields pertaining to the vegan lifestyle, I don't think a discussion with you is actually possible at this time. You seem to have this idea in your head, that veganism is all or nothing in every aspect of the lifestyle, when it doesn't need to be.

 

As with any kind of social justice movement, the veganisation of the world would take time which means even if killing all the pets was not something that would be morally abhorrent to all vegans, it is unneeded.


Maybe I'm not reading you the right way though, maybe you're just trying to find some answers to what are quite difficult questions. In which case, I suggest you take into consideration Peter Singer, Gary L. Francione or John Waddel. Each seem to have a different take on 'how' veganism can be achieved, but worth reading if only to see their perspectives. Even as a non-vegan, I find some of their points to be compelling and an interesting guide on how people might choose to live. I hope you find them equally as interesting and thought provoking.

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#29 Old 05-27-2013, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by logic View Post

Why is that? They are treated as possessions regardless. The human is considered to have dominion over the animal, they are its "owner".
Why would this be the "vegan thing"? Aren't vegans trying to reduce animal suffering? If that is the goal, then clearly euthanizing pets is the "vegan thing" to do as this would reduce animal suffering. The wolf's dietary needs may be "inconvenient" for a vegan, but its a wild animal that plays a role an important role in its ecosystem. The same can't be said of pets, they play no role in the ecosystem and simply exist to meet human needs. As a result vegans with non-vegan pets are eating meat by extension of their pets. A vegan with a couple of cats is making the same contribution to animal suffering as someone that eats the meat directly. Its not like some vegans don't recognize this dilemma, but its typically ignored.

Regardless, given that vegans still readily exploit animals and often contribute greatly to animal suffering by owning non-vegan pets, etc....I'd say that Bittman's claim is well founded. A morality that forbids animal exploitation would be extremely unlikely, I'd suggest as well that its not even clear what such a morality would look like given how deep animal exploitation goes in human culture (indeed, in all primate culture...).


And yes, I realize that some vegans have tried to answer these questions. Some vegans recognize the dilemma of non-vegan pets, hence the interest in vegan dog food, etc. But even if you ignore the issue of whether pet ownership is animal exploitation, I've yet to hear a sound argument as to why owning non-vegan pets is consistent with veganism.

When I was lucky enough to have a dog for a best friend I fed him vegan dog food. If you think that I was exploiting him for my own needs that is your right. If you think I was being inconsistent with veganism that is fine too. I know I gave him a great life.

Vegans want to reduce animal suffering through spay and neuter programs not by killing off all cats and dogs. Vegans aren't the problem here. Breeders and irresponsible "owners" should be your target of scorn not the innocent animals that are a result of their greed and thoughtlessness.
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#30 Old 05-28-2013, 03:08 AM
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The same can't be said of pets, they play no role in the ecosystem and simply exist to meet human needs.

 

 

Should the worth of any life be judged on it's role in the greater environment?  What about a person who is profoundly ill and unable to dress or care for themselves.  Someone who is costing tax payer money and increasing healthcare costs.  Should we just put them down?  I just don't see that domesticated animals have any less right to be here than wild ones. 

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