Lost, confused and racing thoughts (feeling inconsistent) - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 08-18-2015, 09:43 AM
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Question Lost, confused and racing thoughts (feeling inconsistent)

Hello there,

I am a portuguese guy, 24 yo, and a vegetarian (no meat, no fish, no seafood; some dairy and eggs) for the past 3 years, currently transitioning into a more vegan lifestyle.

My reasoning behind being a vegetarian is mostly focused on ethics (I am extremely keen on not eating beings capable of pain) and health. Since I admit that it is completely inconsistent of me to eat dairy and eggs, I am currently eliminating them from my diet.

However, after having a long discussion with a biologist friend of mine about vegetarianism, I was at a loss for words about mussels, clams, scallops, pen shells and oysters as they, supposedly, do not feel pain.

As I researched further, I have noticed that there are very few studies focusing on these matters.

We know that fish feel pain. It is highly likely that octopuses, lobsters, squids, crabs and shrimps do too. Heck, according to my research, even clams and scallops have some odds of feeling pain.

What about mussels and oysters? Even PETA dances around that question, giving off arguments better suited for guilt-tripping vegetarians by omnivores.

Now, I am not asking if they are vegan, like in previous posts (simply put, they cannot be vegan if they are animals, IMHO).

I am simply wishing to discuss the following questions:
  1. What causes less suffering: being a ovo-lacto-vegetarian or being a person who does not consume any animal products except for mussels and osysters?
  2. Do you think bivalves will turn out to be like fish?
  3. Or will plants be more similar to bivalves than we initially thought?
I just hate being inconsistent and I would really hope that someone more well informed would help me find some reasoning for me to deal with this "existential crisis".

Thank you for your help !

Last edited by Salmicas64; 08-18-2015 at 09:46 AM.
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#2 Old 08-18-2015, 01:30 PM
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If your friend is not vegan, he just wants you to stop making him feel guilty for eating animals.

1.Both cause suffering and environmental problems
2.yes. They are not plants.
3. No.
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#3 Old 08-18-2015, 02:09 PM
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1. The path to cause the least amount of suffering would be a vegan. Someone who eats bivalves is neither vegetarian nor vegan as they are animals. For the individual, the path to least suffering is the path you can stick to long-term, whether that be ova-lacto vegetarian or vegan. Doing SOMETHING is always better than doing nothing.

2. Bivalves are not at all similar to fish. Fish have brains, and highly sensitive sensory systems. However, bivalves do have primitive nervous systems, do respond to very basic stimuli and therefore can experience pain on some level.

3. Unlike bivalves, plants have no nervous system of any kind and to date, there is absolutely no evidence to support plants have the ability to experience pain, fear or suffering (and to be perfectly honest, I doubt very seriously anyone will EVER prove otherwise).

Hope this helps.
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#4 Old 08-18-2015, 02:52 PM
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Honestly, it's just so much easier to just not eat animals of any kind, even if you're not entirely sure about their ability to feel pain. We certainly don't need to eat bivalves, so why even do it?
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#5 Old 08-19-2015, 07:57 AM
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Hello again,

Thank you so much for your replies!

I am not considering going back to eating bivalves because that would be the beginning to an end on my quasi-vegan lifestyle but it certainly made me think about animal suffering and my critical reasoning behind being a vegetarian. And, in all honesty, it rocked my very steady boat for the past 3 years.

I am going to try to research this issue further because the more information I know, the best I can talk to different people on this issue.
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#6 Old 08-19-2015, 08:26 AM
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I guess I don't understand why the possibility that bivalves might not feel pain "rocks the boat," as you say. Cows, pigs, sheep, chickens, turkeys, and fish certainly feel pain even if bivalves don't, so what's the issue? Personally, I err on the side of caution when it comes to eating potentially sentient creatures. (It helps that the idea of eating ANY animal strikes me as really, really disgusting!)
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#7 Old 08-19-2015, 09:39 AM
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What does pain have to do with it? If you could kill a cow instantly, so it felt no pain, would that make it okay to kill the cow? No. It's not about pain. It's about life, and liberty, the same things we value for ourselves.
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#8 Old 08-19-2015, 10:54 AM
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Oysters and Clams are not vegetarian or vegan.
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#9 Old 08-19-2015, 11:30 AM
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I think because there's a lot of focus on not causing suffering (or pain) to animals the argument is that it's ok to consume bi-valves because they might not experience pain. This is not the first time I've seen this argument and it's fairly commonly trotted out as an 'alternative' to meat

Yes, bi valves are different to fish - their nervous system is not as well developed. But they do react to external stimuli and some (oysters) will envelop debris in layers of nacre to avoid discomfort (producing pearls) - so I'd say there's a liklihood that they can experience pain. So if not causing suffering is your aim then not eating them is a better bet.

Bi-valves are also trotted out as an 'environmentally friendly meat option' because the intensive farming of them is easy and low impact (in fact creating oyster and mussel beds could be beneficial - though maybe we should just create the beds and leave them alone). This argument is used to counter the environmental argument for veg*ism. However the beds appear to be made of a sort of plastic matting ... and plastic has it's own problems. The harvesting of some types of mussels is achieved by dredging (for cockles I think) - which is not great for the environment.

Bi-valves are also bottom feeders ... and can be a host to all sort of contaminants. So they're not always safe to eat ... and a bit ickily - in any month that doesn't have an 'r' in it and they taste a bit grainy... well that's apparently sperm.

Bivalves - an interesting discussion point but still not convincing as an argument against vegetarianism.
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#10 Old 08-20-2015, 11:31 AM
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Also eating bivales just gives into the stereotype that vegetarians eat fish. And if we started eating Bivales, people would say thing like "Well what about shrimp?" or other animals/fish. Someone could even make the argument that we could eat insects too because insects might not feel pain. An ant may not feel pain but it still doesn't make it vegan.
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