not convinced about wool.... maybe controversial.... - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 03-21-2015, 02:33 AM
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not convinced about wool.... maybe controversial....

me again! sorry!
I'm a new vegan so I have loadsa questions....this one I've had a look at previous posts but I'm still not convinced.

Wool - OK, I get that the sheep are bred specifically for wool but why is that a problem? The sheep itself doesn't have a clue about its own genes. As long as it is sheared then its wool isn't causing it suffering. And I don't believe that all sheep shearing is nasty and brutal. Sorry but I think some vegans are cherry picking their evidence. I'd like to see LOTS of different shearing before I decide whether the MAJORITY is barbaric or not. I do honestly believe that farmers are not all monsters and at least some of them have some compassion towards their animals and don't try to hack them to pieces for fun.

And what's the alternative to natural fibres? Do I wear acrylic or polyester - plastic, basically -which has been cooked up in a lab and no doubt the manufacturing of it involves a fair few chemicals along the way? I feel very strongly about pollution as well as about animals and sometimes I wonder whether 100% vegan doesn't quite strike the right balance.

Sometimes I feel a little uncomfortable with the idea of 'vegan' being a blanket word to dictate 'avoid all animal products regardless' without thinking hard enough about WHY. Or about whether that's just a little naive and unrealistic....

Truthfully, animal products are in so much and you're probably not vaguely aware of it. Is there wallpaper on the walls? Is it held up with wallpaper paste that includes gelatine? what are you going to do, move house?

Sorry I'm going completely off topic here but what I mean is - where do you draw the line?

I'm not sure yet whether avoiding wool is taking it too far. I'm having enough trouble trying to find non-leather shoes which I can actually afford!!

I don't think being vegan has to be all-or-nothing...but then I don't want to be a hypocrite...
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#2 Old 03-21-2015, 07:42 AM
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I'm not particularly knowledgeable about wool, but I will say that if you can afford leather shoes, you can definitely afford non-leather shoes! The cheapest shoes around are canvas or faux leather. I bought a pair of cute canvas sneakers at Wal-Mart yesterday for $12:



If you browse the shoe section of any online clothing store (Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, ModCloth, Asos) and sort by price, the cheapest shoes are generally vegan. They list the ingredients for each, so you can double check. Same goes for coats, sweaters, etc. If you want to spend more money on something that's better made, you can buy specially crafted vegan "leather" shoes, but personally I can't afford it and don't mind the cheap stuff.
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#3 Old 03-21-2015, 09:38 AM
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The point of being vegan for me is that you avoid all animal products regardless. I (and most vegans) are against animal use all together because we don't think it'd right to USE animals for our benefit.
I see animals as equals to humans. Human slavery is wrong, even if the slaves are treated kindly they are still slaves. I see animal use in the same way.
As for wool some is cruel some is less cruel. However we are manipulating another creatures genes to make them of use of them to us- you wouldn't do that to a person. That is why I avoid wool. Instead I buy organic cotton, hemp, flax, etc. or second hand (animal free) clothes.
As for the whole wall paper thing some things are unavoidable without a global change in attitude. So avoid what you can and keep campaigning for change!
no whey jose seems to have answered your shoe question. I just buy second hand shoes so I don't feel too guilty about the chemicals or possible use of animal glues because the money isn't going to whoever made the shoes.


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#4 Old 03-21-2015, 09:40 AM
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One last thing: being vegan is about doing ALL you can to avoid animal exploitation. Although I don't personally agree with it and I don't think it's best for the animals or planet you always have the option of being vegetarian and just avoiding particularly cruel practices.


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#5 Old 03-21-2015, 11:27 AM
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Thanks for your replies guys.

Nowhey, I love your shoes! But I have my doubts about Wal-Mart and anyway I'm in the UK so I don't have that option.... but good advice! Only problem is I couldn't wear them round the office :-)

Luxray - I get your point. I don't like the idea of exploitation. The difference between human and animal slavery arguably is that it anthropomorphises the animals. I have the greatest respect for animals but they are not self conscious in the same way that humans are. They do not know they are being exploited - they don't know anything different and as long as they do not SUFFER then I don't see that it's necessarily a problem. That's if you take the Bentham/Singer viewpoint.

However, perhaps having respect for the animals is enough. Just to leave them ALONE. That raises two questions for me: firstly, the sheep wouldn't be here in the first place if it were not for us.We are responsible for their existence - would you rather that sheep didn't exist at all? I don't know if domesticated breeds would cope if suddenly just abandoned. Surely they wouldn't know how to be wild animals? Secondly - if you apply this logic (just respectfully leave them alone) to all animal use, what about assistance animals? what about service animals - police dogs for instance? what about pets? what about medical research?

Personally I am most upset by animals kept in confinement or in straps - rabbits in hutches, horses in harnesses, i don't even feel right seeing dogs on leads. Lack of freedom is painful. I think shearing a sheep every few weeks, if it is unharmed and left to roam around and graze the rest of the time, is less offensive than keeping a pet budgie in a cage, for example.

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#6 Old 03-21-2015, 11:39 AM
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As I said I believe animals and humans are equal, I don't know what the betham/singer veiw point is but from what you say I disagree with it. I think you are right in saying that we should respect animals and leave them alone though
Personally I don't see them problem with sheep not being here without us breeding them, as far as I am aware that would be much better for the planet- the sheep use resources such as water, land, etc.
As a vegan I am against all animal use so I disagree with pets, service animals, and medical research.
Pets are unsustainable considering the environmental cost of providing them with food. I see service animals as slaves. Medical research on animals now is very unnecessary and in some cases harmful- I suggest you research it.
If you have an issue with confinement you must have an issue with service animals and research as they are confined?
I do very much see your point about the sheep. The reasons vegans don't wear wool though is because the sheep are bred for human use (which we think is wrong).


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#7 Old 03-21-2015, 11:51 AM
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hey Luxray :-)

Looks like we agree! :-)

The Bentham/Singer thing is basically asking 'do they suffer?' regardless of whether they are intellectual/self conscious etc. I think Peter Singer is vegan.

I don't know about NO animal use. Most of what we benefit from today would not be here had animals not been used in the past. Luckily in most cases we don't need to use them any more. But they helped us to get here.

As for medical research - well, researching medical research is what I do for a living! - seriously - I can promise you that not all of it is unnecessary. Yes, a lot of it does seem to me to be unnecessary. However without animal use a lot of treatments would just simply never get off the ground, given that to try them out in humans is very, very difficult ethically. Scientists are human beings too you know and they are not all evil monsters in white coats who don't care about the animals. Regulations at least in the UK are extremely strict. One of my friends once told me she worked in a building here the top floor housed the animals used for research. When there was a problem with the heating, the animals had priority - the top floor was cosy while everyone else froze to death!

Thanks for making me think about this :-)
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#8 Old 03-21-2015, 12:04 PM
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.... by the way, yes I often see service animals and feel unhappy with it. However, they do provide company and invaluable comfort to their often very vulnerable and lonely owners. Their owners adore them and treat them excellently in most cases.

So it's a trade-off. If you see animals and humans as equal, you don't see animal freedom as more important than any other consideration for either animals or humans. In the case of service animals, the animal is not strictly 'free' (although the animal doesn't understand the concept of freedom, being a domesticated breed that knows no different) and in return gets guaranteed warmth, shelter, food, a loving owner. The owner gets a friend, companion, helper, etc.

Yes, it still feels wrong, seeing a dog all strapped up, but I wonder to what extent we are anthropomorphising. i mean giving the animal human attributes of self consciousness, etc. If the animal does not SUFFER, then maybe it's not so bad.
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#9 Old 03-21-2015, 12:38 PM
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Well if it makes you feel better thinking that sheep are all happy and stupid and don't mind being sheared, go ahead and buy wool products. I disagree with your POV completely though.

Leather, though, wearing the skin of a dead animal? Eww. And animal testing, do you really think they kept the heat on for the animals to be nice? Don't fool yourself: it was so they didn't waste the money and time already spent on the experiment. They will kill them all anyway after their sick-ass experiments are completed.
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#10 Old 03-21-2015, 12:57 PM
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MOD POST- To avoid confusion, this thread is being moved from the Vegan Support forum to the Compost Heap, our venue for friendly debate. Please carry on.

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#11 Old 03-21-2015, 02:03 PM
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Sorry, Capstan, I thought it was in compost or would have worded my response differently...
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#12 Old 03-21-2015, 03:10 PM
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Cows --watch this 5 minute video.

http://www.opposingviews.com/i/socie...your-heart-vid
-----
And sheep are mammals too...

-----
"Weaning age varies greatly in the sheep industry and depends upon many factors including availability of pasture and other feed supplies and target market. Lambs have been weaned successfully as early as 14 days, while some lambs are allowed to wean naturally, staying with their dams for six months or more. In fact, some lambs are sent to market at the same time they are weaned.
~SNIP~
"Early Weaning

Early weaning is a relative term, but implies weaning at any time after 14 days of age, but usually before 90 days. Sixty (60) days is a common weaning age in intensively managed sheep operations. It is common to wean lambs in a dairy sheep operation when they are 30 to 35 days of age.
~Snip~
Early weaning offers many advantages. Weaned lambs are very efficient converters of feed to lean tissue. It is usually more efficient to feed grain to lambs than ewes because lambs will convert feed to gain more efficiently than the ewes can convert the feed to milk to lamb gain. Early weaning eases the lactation stress of high-producing ewes. It allows ewes to return to breeding condition earlier, which is essential for accelerated lambing programs.

Weaning lambs early and placing them in a feed lot for finishing saves pasture and enables the producer to maintain more ewes on a given amount of pasture. In drought years, it is common to wean lambs early (60-90 days).

With early weaning, cull ewes can be sold earlier, sometimes for higher prices. Lambs are usually marketed earlier in the year, when prices may be higher. However, early weaning is more stressful to both the ewe and lambs. Ewes are more prone to mastitis because they are still producing milk when their lambs are removed." http://www.sheep101.info/201/weaning.html

Also--

"Sheep

In the United States, most sheep and lambs are meat-type animals kept primarily for the production of lambs for meat or dual-purpose breeds kept for both meat and wool production. Meat production is also a significant profit center in sheep dairying.

Meat sheep producers sell either slaughter lambs or feeder lambs. Slaughter lambs are usually purchased for immediate slaughter. In the United States, the average slaughter weight for a lamb processed in a federally-inspected plant is about 136 lbs. Lambs sold into ethnic markets tend to be much lighter, usually less than 100 lbs. Increasingly, there is a market for slaughter lambs of any weight."
~snip~
Wool Production

Wool was the first commodity to be traded internationally and is the product the public most commonly associates with sheep. However, the importance of wool (as a product) relative to meat has declined dramatically. In the early 1900's, the majority of income from a sheep operation was from the sale of wool. Today, it is the other way around. While wool is still important on many sheep farms, lambs almost always contribute the majority of income to the farm.
http://www.sheep101.info/201/meatwoolmilk.html#
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#13 Old 03-22-2015, 12:51 AM
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You are right in saying animal use may have got us to where we are, however we don't need to use animals anymore- if there are cases where we supposedly still need them then I think we should just make do without.
Animal testing is awful though, I don't value human lives over animal lives so even if it does saves humans I would disagree with it. As for the heating thing that is because they need to keep the animals alive and in controlled conditions to study them, NOT out of kindness.
I personally don't think it's okay to breed animals for human use so that's the issue I have with service animals.
I don't know where your getting the whole animals have no conscience thing from? Consciousness isn't specifically a human attribute. Animals may not realise they are slaves but neither would a human that has been raised that way?


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#14 Old 03-22-2015, 04:07 AM
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Quote:
And what's the alternative to natural fibres? Do I wear acrylic or polyester - plastic, basically -which has been cooked up in a lab and no doubt the manufacturing of it involves a fair few chemicals along the way? I feel very strongly about pollution as well as about animals and sometimes I wonder whether 100% vegan doesn't quite strike the right balance.
So many of your points have been touched on, but I just wanted to focus on this one. There are natural alternatives to wool. I live in NE Minnesota by Lake Superior and it gets pretty cold here for a long period of time. I absolutely need warm clothing that also wicks moisture and so on. Four years ago I ordered some organic hemp socks online and I still have them today. They are the plant based alternative to wool. Hemp is like a miracle plant that grows well in many climates. It also wicks moisture and is very warm. Check out this article about hemp (http://www.madehow.com/Volume-6/Industrial-Hemp.html). I have worn these socks when snowshoeing in subzero temps. Another is organic heavy cotton work socks. Those too have kept me warm and lasted a long time. I have all synthetic coats, mittens, and hiking boots that have lasted me for years and are still going strong. Some of the materials I have bought are recycled materials that can be recycled again and not added to a landfill.

Also keep in mind, as far as the environment and pollution, that animals raised for their wool must be fed, housed, and cared for. They require a lot of time and energy to care for so there is labor cost to consider and they require a lot of space/land and water (think of soil erosion here, and inefficient use of land space, and driving away wild animals). Think of all of the hungry people and other animals (wild, rescued etc) that could be fed with all that food used to feed an animal that is going to be bred and used simply for their wool. The wool industry is not immune to pollution and waste and inefficiency.

I also agree that we can't ignore that animal testing and use in the past has given us life saving medicines and knowledge. But we have become so technologically advanced that surely we can now come up with alternatives that are less cruel. Check out this article about alternatives to animal testing on the rise in medical research: http://www.neavs.org/alternatives/in-research

There are many scientists and medical researchers already dedicated to finding alternatives to animal testing and use in medicine, research etc. There is hope for the future in this area. In the meantime, if someone needs to take a medicine or have a surgery that involves animal testing/use, then so be it. As vegans, we practice our ethical beliefs to the best of our ability under our circumstances, as far as practical and possible given that we still live in a largely omnivore world that widely uses animals. While we may not be able to be 100% pure vegan right now in some areas, we can be activists and support finding alternatives and support organizations such as the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

On a personal level, I had to take two semesters of Anatomy and Physiology in college. For my second class (I was an online student), I had to order a kit that was mailed to me that would be used for the lab portion of the class. I was not informed ahead what was in that kit and it turned out to be a cow brain and eye of some other unfortunate animal. I immediately contacted the instructor and explained about being vegan and not being comfortable working with this material. She did admit that the animal parts were byproducts of animal farming, and in fact I was able to trace where they came from through the company that provided them. Which made it even more disturbing. She was not willing to work with me so I could find an alternative project, so I dropped the class and found another online Anatomy and Physiology lab class that did not involve the use of animals. That lab provided online simulations of "animal experimentation" but at least no real animals. However, the attitude of that teacher was not too nice either. He was kind enough to allow me into his class at the last minute, but mentioned that in his real classes he used cats and dogs and he laughed about it. I have found that this is a common attitude among those who work with animals in research. I also work in a major medical establishment and have seen that attitude there as well. The welfare of these animals is hardly top priority aside from preserving the animal for expensive experiments. BTW, I aced both semesters of that class and was the top student in the second class I took (the instructor informed me and my test grades were always the highest)...just to prove to the instructor that I wasn't trying to get out of working hard. There is a local private college in my city that uses human cadavers instead of animals for their A&P majors and I would not have minded this because those people made the choice to be cadavers before they died. I have also considered allowing my body to be used for science when I pass on and I think more people should do this.

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#15 Old 03-22-2015, 07:29 AM
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not convinced about wool.... maybe controversial....

I'll try to answer one by one.

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Originally Posted by Lima View Post
Wool - OK, I get that the sheep are bred specifically for wool but why is that a problem? The sheep itself doesn't have a clue about its own genes. As long as it is sheared then its wool isn't causing it suffering. And I don't believe that all sheep shearing is nasty and brutal. Sorry but I think some vegans are cherry picking their evidence. I'd like to see LOTS of different shearing before I decide whether the MAJORITY is barbaric or not.
Sure, all sheep may not be treated very bad. But I would guarantee you most are treated like commodities. And bigger the company gets, the worse the animals are treated. Type and see 'how sheep are treated' on Google, avoid the pets links if you think Vegans are cherry picking.

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I do honestly believe that farmers are not all monsters and at least some of them have some compassion towards their animals and don't try to hack them to pieces for fun.
In the end, can you know if the sheep were treated well or beaten for the wool you are trying to buy? Chances are the sheep were abused.

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Originally Posted by Lima View Post
And what's the alternative to natural fibres? Do I wear acrylic or polyester - plastic, basically -which has been cooked up in a lab and no doubt the manufacturing of it involves a fair few chemicals along the way? I feel very strongly about pollution as well as about animals and sometimes I wonder whether 100% vegan doesn't quite strike the right balance.
Even sheep wool are dyed and chemically treated maybe less so than wool. But obviously for sheep farming they would clear forests, need to feed sheep etc. So the environment issues are there anyway.


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Originally Posted by Lima View Post
Sometimes I feel a little uncomfortable with the idea of 'vegan' being a blanket word to dictate 'avoid all animal products regardless' without thinking hard enough about WHY. Or about whether that's just a little naive and unrealistic....
Of course there is a why, the why almost always leads to animals being abused for animal products. The more industrialized the manufacturing the more inhumane.

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Truthfully, animal products are in so much and you're probably not vaguely aware of it. Is there wallpaper on the walls? Is it held up with wallpaper paste that includes gelatine? what are you going to do, move house?
No, we do what we can. If the thing already includes gelatin there's no point moving out. We would try to make sure the next set of wallpaper doesn't. But even that, if not practical, we'd still use one with the gelatins. Because we do as much as possible, it's not all or nothing.

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Sorry I'm going completely off topic here but what I mean is - where do you draw the line?
The line is wherever individual draws it. But I think avoiding all meat, fish, eggs and milk should be the minimum criteria to identify yourself as vegan.

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Originally Posted by Lima View Post
I'm not sure yet whether avoiding wool is taking it too far. I'm having enough trouble trying to find non-leather shoes which I can actually afford!!
there's plenty of faux leather shoes (business or casual) where I live which are less expensive than leather. But if this is something you can't find. Sure buy leather. But make sure you aren't just making up excuses for yourself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lima View Post
I don't think being vegan has to be all-or-nothing...but then I don't want to be a hypocrite...
No worries. All of us are hypocrites to certain extents. But if you think you aren't doing enough to identify yourself as a vegan, call yourself a vegetarian who doesn't eat eggs or milk. Or something on those lines. There are no rules to this thing.
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#16 Old 03-22-2015, 07:41 AM
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" A significant proportion of British wool is from slaughtered sheep, this is referred to as 'skin wool'." Source - https://www.vegsoc.org/Page.aspx?pid=545
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#17 Old 03-22-2015, 08:31 AM
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I would like to add onto what rasitha said about the "why." Vegans have a valid reason for avoiding animal products: we believe that the exploitation of non-consenting living creatures for profit and convenience is immoral. It's not an arbitrary decision. Of course, like you said, there are many instances where it's either impossible or extremely difficult to avoid animal products. Each individual needs to draw her own line. When considering where to draw it, I always ask myself "how necessary is this, really?" I don't feel that leather boots or wool sweaters are necessary for me, since I can easily order vegan alternatives from any store for very little money. If you are in a position where it's either wear wool or freeze, then obviously your answer would be quite different!
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#18 Old 03-22-2015, 08:31 AM
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Thanks for your replies guys.
However, perhaps having respect for the animals is enough. Just to leave them ALONE. That raises two questions for me: firstly, the sheep wouldn't be here in the first place if it were not for us.We are responsible for their existence - would you rather that sheep didn't exist at all? I don't know if domesticated breeds would cope if suddenly just abandoned. Surely they wouldn't know how to be wild animals?
xxxx
Yes, I personally would rather they didn't exist at all. This is a common argument meat eaters bring.

It's better to not have lived at all rather than live a life of slavery and suffering. Just imagine yourself as one the factory farmed cow. Would you rather be born for that life or not be born at all?

Also, the world isn't suddenly going to turn vegan tomorrow. The animal numbers will go down little by little as more people start eating less meat.

If you want the absurd scenario where everybody suddenly grew a conscience, even euthanizing all those animals once and for all is better than the current practice where the cycle of suffering perpetuates forever.

Anyway don't lie to yourself and say that you are eating meat, drinking milk or buying wool for the animals sake. At least be true to yourself. (you doesn't mean you Lima, apologies, I'm talking generally)
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#19 Old 03-22-2015, 09:22 AM
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Nonhuman animals certainly are conscious and sentient. They also have consciences. Assessing them by human standards is just preposterous and wrong-headed to the point of ignorance. (But then, of course, ignorance is bliss.)
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#20 Old 03-22-2015, 02:33 PM
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well, here's what I think.

I think it's arrogant and presumptious for humans to claim they know what goes on in the head of another species. Humans don't even know what goes on inside the head of other humans. How can we possibly begin to understand the inner workings of another species? Humans make best guess conclusions based on observed behaviour, which is pretty poor when you think about it.

It's funny cos I was thinking about the wool dilemma then when I was out shopping I saw a man in the town with a sheep. The sheep was clearly a prop to draw attention as he was collecting for charity. the sheep had some sort of silly hat attached to it. The sheep seemed OK. Just standing there. A security guard came along to ask the chap some questions and his instinctive, spontaneous action was to pat the sheep. The sheep nuzzled him. Sweet, I thought. Then I thought well no - that animal is being made fun of. That's a wild animal. Treating it like a circus clown is disrespectful. But then does the sheep actually know or care? I don't know. But that's enough - I DON'T know. So better to give the creature some respect. In fact better to give it some respect even if in truth it is the dumbest animal on the earth. Even then, give it respect.

So I though - funny how that man patted the sheep - didn't instinctively start eyeing it up for sunday lunch. does a human really want to eat a sheep?

When I got home, my flatmate has cooked herself lamb chop for lunch. I don't like the open packet of raw lamb meat in our fridge. :-(
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#21 Old 03-22-2015, 10:12 PM
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It's true that we don't know what goes on in the minds of other species. We do have SOME idea-- that is, we understand in basic terms how the human brain works, which bits light up when we feel pain or sadness or love, or when we solve a math problem or contemplate a philosophical dilemma. From this we can extrapolate to non-human animals with similar brain structures and operations. I think it's fair to say that the non-human animals with brains most similar to ours experience life and "self" in much the same way that we do. Things get difficult as we move farther away from ourselves, and I agree that it's overwhelming to contemplate the inner life of a fish, or an ant-- difficult even to determine if an inner life even indeed exists-- but, as you said, it's best to err on the side of compassion. I would rather discover that the animals I haven't been eating or wearing are incapable of suffering than the opposite!
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