Need help with farm animal question... - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 07-06-2013, 09:04 PM
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Mods I'm sorry if this is in the wrong place - please move it. Here's my problem...I'm a new vegan trying to learn as much as I can and be able to eloquently and accurately discuss my stance on not eating meat or dairy. Tonight I got into a lively/heated discussion with my best friend about my new lifestyle as I wanted to hear her thoughts. She is an omnivore that was raised on a dairy farm. I asked her, since she always talks about how she could NEVER go vegan because of her love for dairy, what she thought of the fact that humans are the only mammals that drink/use the milk of another mammal....? I always refer to my favorite Forks Over Knives documentary and thought I was able to hold my own in a discussion like this.

She didn't really answer my question directly, but rather countered with "Well if we stop using cows for their milk or as meat, then what good are they? What will become of them? They will be made useless to society!" I said something along the lines of " I guess they'll live out their lives in peace as the kind and amazing creatures they are and she said no one could afford to keep cattle if they served no purpose. That we would not be able to feed them all and they would starve,etc. etc. I tried to point out that if we stopped constantly breeding them their numbers would be manageable and they could live in peace. She just kept saying my argument was irrational and that cows only purpose is to serve man - I was not able to articulate an argument and it is driving me crazy. Her attitude was the same in regards to pigs, sheep, goats and the like.

Please let me hear your thoughts and help me build a better argument for next time!
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#2 Old 07-06-2013, 09:58 PM
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She's of the mindset that anything that doesn't benefit humans doesn't deserve to be around. I hate the type of mentality. Expect a lot of irrationality from her side.


Is she religious? I usually hear the "They were made for meat/dairy" argument from christians and such. So if she is, you can guide her to the Christian Vegetarian Association website, show her a pamphlet from them or guide her to their faq on god's creatures.


If not, it'll be a bit tougher. Likely, she won't listen to you. That's just how these things go. The more you make her uncomfortable and talk about it, the more firm in her views she will become. I think she may need to here it from someone she admires, whom she looks up to before she'll hear about it. That's like the lot of people. My friends here all about factory farming and animal rights from me, but none of them has turned vegan. Psychology points out that a lot of people consider a point once the presenter has "left the room." In such, when the presenter of information is there, they don't want to make the person feel like they won over on them or that they were able to be swayed. People DEFINITELY like to think they come to these types of conclusions on their own, and they can really only feel like that happens once the presenter leaves the room and they have time to muddle things over on their own time. 


It helps to kind of not try and prove people wrong on these types of things. Instead, agree with them on things!! If you can get them to agree with you on certain things, they are more likely to agree with you on other things. Things like "Well, I know we both care about animals and don't to see them hurt..." Talk about how she may love dogs and cats and how you love them too, but that there is nothing about cows, pigs, or sheep that makes them less important than a dog or a cat. Society is the one that makes them seem that way.  Make her feel like she isn't being targeted and singled out. Something else, there is something called "the socratic method" is amazing in that it gets people to realize their own inconsistencies by showing people that they already agree with what is being talked about. If you are going to talk to people, I recommend using this type of method. This video touches on it, so it might be good to watch it and see what you think


All in all, show people that you want what they want, guide them on the right path without making them feel targeted. I assume if she works on a dairy farm so she knows the practices? If not, or even if she does, movies like Earthlings or The Best Speech You Will Ever Hear by Gary Yourofsky are really powerful. I have showed them to my friends, and while it didn't change them, it made them think. 


I wish I honestly could be of more help, I hate to get into these types of arguments cuz I I'm not the best at talking. Online, I can do fine because I can edit what I say and take as much time as I need, but real time it's different. I usually just hand people Vegan Outreach pamphlets if I don't want to deal with talking to them.Too much arguing just keeps people rooted in their views anyway. Keep things simple and consice but to the point.


Also, if you want to learn psychologically how to make people listen to you, check out the book "Change of Heart: The Psychology of Spreading Social Change" it's freaking amazing, and I'm so sad that I didn't bring it with me on a two week trip @[email protected] I want to finish it so bad. This book will seriously help you if you take notes of the things in it! I seriously have this book marked all over. The psychology studies are incredible. 


Good luck to you <3

"Why should man expect his prayer for mercy to be heard by What is above him when he shows no mercy to what is under him?" ~Pierre Troubetzkoy
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#3 Old 07-07-2013, 12:36 AM
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Originally Posted by LovingGrl72 View Post
 That we would not be able to feed them all and they would starve,etc. etc. 

I'm the worst at arguments like this, because I get very passionate and angry about things like this. You know veg*nism isn't for everyone, I get that but don't be so pig headed and ignorant! Has she ever heard of grass? Cows eat grass, not grain. Last time I checked, that tends to grow pretty freely. I've had this argument used against me several times and I never understand it? Do people actually think that in the wild a cow would be looking for grain and bovine growth hormone?!

"The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man." - Charles Darwin
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#4 Old 07-07-2013, 11:02 AM
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"Well if we stop using cows for their milk or as meat, then what good are they? What will become of them? They will be made useless to society!"

it's almost as if cows have enslaved mankind in a bid to survive.....cows are evil.

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#5 Old 07-07-2013, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by LovingGrl72 View Post

She just kept saying my argument was irrational and that cows only purpose is to serve man - I was not able to articulate an argument and it is driving me crazy. Her attitude was the same in regards to pigs, sheep, goats and the like.
She is largely correct, cows, pigs, etc have been breed to met human needs and without humans these domestic animals can't really survive well. But from this, it doesn't follow that we have the right to enslave these animals and continue to use them in this fashion.

This is why I don't think people should take in terms of "saving animals", it will elicit this sort of response. On the other hand, if you talk about animal suffering it will not. These animals suffer greatly in factory farms, etc regardless of whether they have been domesticated to rely on humans or not. If people stopped consuming dairy, ultimately the dairy cows wouldn't exist anymore, but that shouldn't be seen as a bad thing.
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#6 Old 07-07-2013, 12:24 PM
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I caught part of a documentary that showed some of a handful of the original cows in Isreal. The cows that our modern milk machines were bred from weren't much bigger than sheep. They provided not much more milk than what their babies would drink, as do all mammals.

It's stupid to envision a scenerio where everyone went vegan overnight! The most we hope for is a steady decline of production. Then the smaller dairies would phase out breeding, and cows as we know them, would be headed for extinction.

They really have been bred as milk machinery. The argument of "needing to be milked" does apply to the modern cows.

The shame is what we have done to natures cow. Blame the dairy industry for that.

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#7 Old 07-07-2013, 12:58 PM
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Personally, I try not to change other people's entire worldview. That's just too much all at once. I try to fit a vegan diet into their paradigm. So, for example...

I'd let her continue to believe her wacky ideas to a point. I'd grant, for the sake of argument, that humans are in control of everything and that farmed animals will only continue to survive if they have a "purpose" in making human lives better. I'd remind her that dogs have been bred for many purposes (to hunt, for humans to eat, as guard dogs, etc.) but that even if we stop using them for those things they haven't gone extinct.

So then I'd ask if there are other things cows are good at? For example, could they be "employed" to mow lawns and fertilize farmland? Might people enjoy petting them at a petting zoo. Could they be pretty in pictures? Then I'd add "Do you really, truly believe that there's only one way to prevent cows from going extinct? REALLY?" with a head tilt and eyes that say "you're smarter than that."

Finally, I might finish with: "Humans are excellent problem-solvers. We are extremely intelligent and creative creatures who can envision a future world that's better than this world. We have a current problem - our consumption of animal products is unsustainable, cruel, and bad for our health. Let's think creatively about how to solve it."

The idea would be to get her thinking instead of stalling. She needs to stop making excuses for the status-quo and she needs to start actually engaging her brain.
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#8 Old 07-08-2013, 10:53 AM
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What a wealth of information here - thanks everyone! I'm really beginning to enjoy these boards and find it so helpful and comforting to have a place to come and vent about this stuff.
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