What am I? Vegan? Quasi-vegan? Vegan with an asterisk? Or not vegan at all? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 01-27-2014, 03:20 PM
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I don't think I'm a "vegan", but maybe I am, I'm not really sure. I firmly believe that a plant-based diet is by far the healthiest way to go, for me, for the environment, and for the animals. And especially when it comes to animals, I'm staunchly opposed to anything that is remotely close to factory farming, and I absolutely will not consider eating it. Regardless of the source, I don't really have much interest in eating animal-based foods in general just because I've become accustomed to not eating them, and it's just not that appealing. However, I don't my beliefs aren't fully in line with veganism, so I hesitate to call myself a vegan. I believe that the mass commodification and consumption of animals is wrong, but I definitely do not believe that it's inherently wrong or immoral to use animals, be it for work, companionship, food, medicine, clothing, or shelter, as long as it's done respectfully and sparingly. I respect people who think it's always wrong to use of kill animals, but it's just not what I believe. All of my other beliefs, however, are in line with veganism, and I probably lie somewhere in the middle of being a vegan and being an "ethical omnivore". Does veganism necessarily imply not ever eating or using anything animal-derived, or does it have less to do with eating it and more to do with the intention? Is there a case to be made for considering people like myself to be vegan? 

 

While I don't currently eat animal foods, and will not incorporate them as a regular part of my diet, I can certainly think of certain circumstances where I would potentially eat them, for various reasons. I would make sure that it is not remotely connected to factory farming or industrial fishing, and only eat it on rare occasions. Yet even if I do eat it, I'd have the same beliefs I do now, so it wouldn't make sense to call myself an ex-vegan. And if that's the case, then I probably shouldn't call myself a vegan at all right now. "Mostly vegan" or "Quasi vegan" doesn't really make a lot of sense either, because those are qualifying words that basically say I don't buy into the philosophy of veganism, and they also imply flexibility. I would only be flexible on very rare occasions, with meat or fish or eggs (can't' eat dairy anyway) that I feel 100% comfortable were raised and slaughtered or caught in a respectful and sustainable manner-- not one of those "ethical omnivores" who are really just fooling themselves. I'd basically be just as strict about my diet as any other vegan. But if I find myself in Alaska, I'd be absolutely fine eating an occasional piece of wild Alaskan salmon. The key for me would be to eat it only occasionally and to eat as close to the bottom of the food chain as possible. 

 

"Plant-based" conveys the impression that my reasons for it are all health-related, and it's also not easily understood. I also think it would be kind of confusing if I told someone I was vegan, and then ate a piece of fish, although that's maybe a good conversation starter. I definitely do care about my health, but also deeply care about the welfare of the animals and the environment. I really don't think there's a single word to convey what my diet is, and how it corresponds with my ethics. So far, it seems no label at all is the way to go, and if anyone ever asks me about my diet, I'll just tell them I'd need 10 minutes or so to explain it.

 

Is there anyone else who has similar beliefs as I have, and has any thoughts?

 

 

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#2 Old 01-27-2014, 04:04 PM
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But if I find myself in Alaska, I'd be absolutely fine eating an occasional piece of wild Alaskan salmon. The key for me would be to eat it only occasionally and to eat as close to the bottom of the food chain as possible. 

 

 

Not sure I understand what you are meaning. Why would you be eating wild Alaskan salmon if you visited Alaska? If you visited Denmark, would you feel ok about eating Danish bacon? 

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#3 Old 01-27-2014, 04:14 PM
 
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If you would eat meat when it's not necessary to do so, then you aren't vegan.

 

If you were in Alaska, and starving, and there was nothing else to eat and you at it- then you would still be vegan (given that you didn't have any options).

 

It depends on what kinds of choices you are committed to making.

 

 

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but I definitely do not believe that it's inherently wrong or immoral to use animals, be it for work, companionship, food, medicine, clothing, or shelter, as long as it's done respectfully and sparingly.

 

Vegans do not believe it's inherently wrong to use animals for work, or companionship as long as it's done kindly (there are many working dogs, for example- this is not inherently un-vegan).

 

Vegans don't believe it's wrong to use animals for ANY reason, unless that use is unnecessary.  When we're talking about illness/medicine, or threat of freezing or starvation, most vegans agree that human life comes first.  There are exceptions to this, but that's unconventional and not part of the definition of veganism.

 

In the modern day, it is not necessary (or healthful) to kill animals for food.  It's also not necessary, either, to kill them for clothing or shelter (there are superior and more sustainable materials for these purposes).

 

Do you think it's possible to kill somebody respectfully when you didn't need to kill them?

When you're making a choice to kill somebody, instead of doing it out of vital necessity, it's inherently disrespectful to their desire to live.

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#4 Old 01-27-2014, 04:57 PM
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Flexitarian is the closest word I know of to use if you want to call yourself something at all. Or you could say "I mostly adhere to a strict vegetarian diet." Strict vegetarians don't eat any animals or their secretions, which sounds like what you do most days of the year. That statement also gives you the flexibility to eat what you want and not confuse people.
Many omnivores care about animals and the environment. If you want people to know this about you, you can always start a conversation about it and then maybe you'll get them thinking about it too, which is a great thing.
As an aside you might find more likeminded people in the vegetarian section of veggieboards and might have better luck reposting this there. Although vegetarians don't eat fish or meat, I see much more flexible posts there than in the vegan section, as we are a pretty set lot when it comes eating animals. Good luck figuring out how to label your diet. smiley.gif
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#5 Old 01-27-2014, 08:11 PM
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I'm a bit similar, in that, most of what I think is consis
If I understand you correctly, yes, I'm a bit similar. As a practical matter, that is in my daily life, my thoughts on matters result in the same sorts of behaviors as a vegan. But my underlying thinking is usually pretty different and results in different conclusions on some some of the "fringe issues". For example, I don't have any issue with someone consuming the eggs of their backyard chickens, but I personally don't have access to such eggs so don't eat them. I routinely kill ants, spiders, etc in my home...which apparently is perfectly vegan but if I happened to put one my mouth its not vegan. That doesn't make much sense to me, but I don't have any desire to put them in my mouth so once again I'm accidentally vegan. And so on.

Personally, I don't want anything to do with veganism as I find its based on arbitrary rules rather than any serious ethical considerations and will use the term plant-based and, if I don't want to talk to the person, I'll just say "vegetarian". But I don't think most vegans would consider me vegan.

In any case, I would avoid the word "vegan" entirely. Honestly, at least in my life, if ethical of health issues related to animal products come up its because I'm I've made some comment....so how I label myself doesn't matter. Friends and family know I'm not interested in their food so we have an understanding there, they also know that I don't cook with any meat, dairy, etc.
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#6 Old 01-27-2014, 09:10 PM
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I routinely kill ants, spiders, etc in my home...which apparently is perfectly vegan but if I happened to put one my mouth its not vegan. That doesn't make much sense to me

Never heard anything close to that from someone who call him/herself vegan. I certainly don't think any such think myself. Suspect that's a strawman.

 

While I'm somewhat agnostic on whether or not invertebrates are sentient in the same sense that we are ourselves due to the important difference in the "designs" of their nervous systems, I do not think that voluntarily killing a bug without eating it is more vegan than to voluntarily kill it and eat it. Nor do I find any problem with eating the eggs of your pet chicken as long as you are treating it well (similar scenarios are harder to consider with milk due to the need of a cow getting pregnant).

 

I think your whole argument fundamentally implies that vegans have a perfectly homogeneous view of what's permissible and what's not about how to treat animals. With the debates you have seen on this site, you should know better.

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#7 Old 01-27-2014, 09:13 PM
 
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For example, I don't have any issue with someone consuming the eggs of their backyard chickens, but I personally don't have access to such eggs so don't eat them. I routinely kill ants, spiders, etc in my home...which apparently is perfectly vegan but if I happened to put one my mouth its not vegan. That doesn't make much sense to me, but I don't have any desire to put them in my mouth so once again I'm accidentally vegan. And so on.
 

 

I think that kind of sentiment is overwhelmingly common.  Of course, theory and practice can be pretty different.

 

In theory there's no problem eating the bugs you smash if you already smashed them for valid reasons- but the reality of human psychology and behavior is rarely that simple.  

 

If you enjoyed eating them, you might rationalize smashing more bugs in order that you might eat them, or even put yourself in a situation to increase the number of bugs you'd be able to smash.  It is a legitimately slippery slope.  Anybody who insists that they're rational enough to be immune from such unconscious biases probably just doesn't understand psychology or why the scientific method exists as it does (like the pseudoscientist who doesn't understand how controls or blinded methodology works).

 

The only solutions to these inherent concerns are an elaborate system of peer review for every moral decision, which is just impractical, or practical rules such as avoiding the whole issue entirely by not eating the bugs we smash.

 

Sometimes rule based systems are so much simpler than the complexity of trying to follow nuanced moral considerations in every action that they're the only thing that is practical for the average person who doesn't have the slightest understanding of how bias, rationalization, or human psychology work at all.

 

The reason that we can keep, or even use companion animals for work, and it's perfectly vegan is that we love them, and by virtue of only that we're less likely to do anything that would hurt them.  Also, we DO have an elaborate peer review system for those behaviors, along with punishment for violation, called the justice system- because we love these animals and it's socially unacceptable to abuse them.  And even short of legal punishment, the amount of social shunning for animal abuse (of beloved dogs and cats anyway) it neigh unto that of sex offenders.  That's something that just doesn't apply to bugs or farmed animals (yet).

 

Of course there are inconsistencies in veganism, as a rule based system (all of them ultimately have some minor inconsistencies- the question is one of overall utility).  

 

One of the most common fixes is freeganism (or meeganism).  But that practice is also riddled with even more abuses and rationalizations for otherwise morally unacceptable behavior than veganism is- which kind of proves the point that the restrictions in veganism are the best system we have to date to approximate overall moral consistency.

 

 

Often considered the subject of the most inane laws, Jay walking isn't a problem if a person is perfectly rational and aware of the traffic situation- able to carefully evaluate when it's safe to cross and there are no cars.  But most people are not paying that much attention, and even for the people who are it's inevitable that they'll slip up- which is why jaywalking is illegal.

 

Rule based systems are the only things that really work and maintain stability on the scale of large populations- the subjects of those rules all too often fail to grasp the big picture, but the lack of consideration for why those rules exist and how they have worked thus far doesn't invalidate their utility.  It's just that simple.

 

 


Personally, I don't want anything to do with veganism as I find its based on arbitrary rules rather than any serious ethical considerations and will use the term plant-based and, if I don't want to talk to the person, I'll just say "vegetarian". But I don't think most vegans would consider me vegan.
 

This isn't just abstract moral theory we're talking about- this is practice.  And practice is nothing if not messy- rule systems like veganism are far from simply arbitrary.

 

Are there better systems possible?  Yes, I think so.

But we don't seem to have any available yet- and certainly none with the weight and social currency of veganism.

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#8 Old 01-27-2014, 09:28 PM
 
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I think your whole argument fundamentally implies that vegans have a perfectly homogeneous view of what's permissible and what's not about how to treat animals. With the debates you have seen on this site, you should know better.

 

To be fair, vegan does have a pretty strict formal definition.  It wasn't coined all that long ago; and while the community as a whole may take ownership of it to some degree and the term may have varied application, the more appropriate approach to variation in a rule based system like veganism (the rule that we should not use animal products, which is the essence of the definition) it to coin new words to describe those variations.

 

E.g. as I mentioned, 'freeganism'

 

I have to say logic is technically right on that point.

 

 

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Never heard anything close to that from someone who call him/herself vegan. I certainly don't think any such think myself. Suspect that's a strawman.

 

 

Technically it is true, but it's not a big debate because the people who want to eat smashed bugs and spiders are pretty uncommon :)

 

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Nor do I find any problem with eating the eggs of your pet chicken as long as you are treating it well (similar scenarios are harder to consider with milk due to the need of a cow getting pregnant).

 

The issue over backyard eggs is much more heated a point of contention- venomously heated at times.  It isn't vegan to do so- but in some cases it may not be immoral to do so.  Veganism is rules based, and does have some limitations.

 

This is where it's appropriate to call somebody a Freegan rather than vegan (freeganism is more morally consistent in theory, but fails utterly in practice).  Although many people reject the label, because Freeganism contains a lot of negative connotations due to a history of being practiced as an excuse for eating meat at a whim with thin rationalizations.

 

This is kind of the root of all of the venom over the issue.

 

 

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While I'm somewhat agnostic on whether or not invertebrates are sentient in the same sense that we are ourselves due to the important difference in the "designs" of their nervous systems, I do not think that voluntarily killing a bug without eating it is more vegan than to voluntarily kill it and eat it.

 

 

Well, sentience is a matter of function, not form- so the details of their nervous systems aren't relevant.

 

But that said, based on the simple definition of veganism being avoiding to the extent possible animal products and unnecessary animal cruelty (with killing bugs defensible under self defense), logic is correct on that point.

I know it sounds totally weird, and it is... but that's what you get in rules based ethics systems.

 

That doesn't mean that the rules based system isn't the best one we currently have, though, or that rules based systems should be abandoned- they serve very important sociological purposes- it would be easy to write a book on it.

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#9 Old 01-27-2014, 09:48 PM
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I don't know. Maybe I'd be fine eating Danish bacon depending on how comfortable I felt about how it was raised and slaughtered. In theory, I don't suppose I'd have any problem with it. At least there wouldn't be a rational reason why I'd have a problem with it. It's just not something I'd incorporate in my normal diet, and I don't really feel any need to do it. I would have to weigh how much pleasure and benefit I'd get from eating it, and if I felt the experience of eating it would be worth the slaughter of the pig, and all the pig had to go through. If I knew for a fact that the pig was out frolicking its entire life, and had a relatively quick and painless death, then theoretically I wouldn't be opposed to eating it on a rare occasion. I've never had any desire to eat pork though-- a more likely scenario would be a cow or a goat or a chicken under similar circumstances, and I'm not clamoring to eat any of that either.

 

My point is, I don't think it's inherently wrong or immoral to exploit and kill an animal for food, clothing, shelter, medicine, etc., if it's done sparingly and respectfully. As a practical matter, so little of the animal foods we have access to for those uses are readily available. A line-caught fish is just one example where I would know for sure how it lived and died, because I could actually see it come out of the water, and I know it had been swimming around free in a river. Smaller fish have shorter lives, and I know that either way, it's not going to have a pleasant death (in the mouth of a bear or dying on the bank of a river), and it's not like my occasionally taking a single fish out of the water is going to have any impact on the ecosystem-- and it could be argued that because of certain types of sustainable fishing, that motivates people to keep the water clean, because it's more in their self-interest to do so, if they like eating fish (but that's another discussion). I don't fault vegans for not wanting to harm sentient beings at all, I'm just saying that's not what my beliefs are, and my point is, that because I don't believe in that tenet of veganism-- perhaps a central tenet-- that probably means I'm not a vegan, and I don't believe in veganism, even if I never eat a morsel of animal food for the rest of my life. Or maybe I'm wrong, and being vegan doesn't necessarily mean believing it's inherently wrong to exploit an animal in any way at any time. I would never kill an animal for no reason, or for fun. But I personally see absolutely nothing wrong with someone raising hens and roosters, and eating eggs and roosters. I'm not arguing at all, and I do understand that plenty of people believe it's wrong to kill or exploit sentient beings. I'm just not one of those people, and correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that means that I should not be considered a vegan, even if my diet is effectively vegan. 

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#10 Old 01-27-2014, 10:05 PM
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I think that's the distinction-- I certainly can respect an animal, and still feel fine about raising it and slaughtering it or catching it and eating it. But I don't view that animal as "somebody." No argument if that's what you believe, I've just gone through it a million times, and it's simply not how I view the world. Yet I have a diet that mirrors the diet of a vegan, both for health reasons (it's healthier to have a diet based on plants) and for ethical or moral reasons-- factory farming or anything close to it makes me sick to my stomach, and even if there weren't factory farming, I would still eat animal foods very rarely or not at all. So I think it's pretty well settled, unless there is an alternative definition or interpretation of veganism-- because I would be ok with the idea of someone raising or catching, and killing an animal for food, under conditions as far from factory farming as imaginable, even if they didn't absolutely need it for survival, then I'm not a vegan, even though I don't actually eat it myself. What if I was ok with the concept of other people raising and killing animals for food, but would never consider eating it myself? As far as I can tell, that means I'm still not a vegan. Which is why, it seems to me, there are so few vegans in the world-- because most people in the world don't share that world that it's always wrong to kill an animal for food, even if it's not absolutely necessary. Again no judgements here, I was only trying to figure out what people think is the "true" definition of veganism. 

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#11 Old 01-27-2014, 10:07 PM
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I think that's the distinction-- I certainly can respect an animal, and still feel fine about raising it and slaughtering it or catching it and eating it. But I don't view that animal as "somebody." No argument if that's what you believe, I've just gone through it a million times, and it's simply not how I view the world. Yet I have a diet that mirrors the diet of a vegan, both for health reasons (it's healthier to have a diet based on plants) and for ethical or moral reasons-- factory farming or anything close to it makes me sick to my stomach, and even if there weren't factory farming, I would still eat animal foods very rarely or not at all. So I think it's pretty well settled, unless there is an alternative definition or interpretation of veganism-- because I would be ok with the idea of someone raising or catching, and killing an animal for food, under conditions as far from factory farming as imaginable, even if they didn't absolutely need it for survival, then I'm not a vegan, even though I don't actually eat it myself. What if I was ok with the concept of other people raising and killing animals for food, but would never consider eating it myself? As far as I can tell, that means I'm still not a vegan. Which is why, it seems to me, there are so few vegans in the world-- because most people in the world don't share that world that it's always wrong to kill an animal for food, even if it's not absolutely necessary. Again no judgements here, I was only trying to figure out what people think is the "true" definition of veganism. 

That was in response to this quote (sorry I didn't understand the quote/reply thing)

 

"Do you think it's possible to kill somebody respectfully when you didn't need to kill them?

When you're making a choice to kill somebody, instead of doing it out of vital necessity, it's inherently disrespectful to their desire to live."

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#12 Old 01-27-2014, 10:08 PM
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I don't know. Maybe I'd be fine eating Danish bacon depending on how comfortable I felt about how it was raised and slaughtered. In theory, I don't suppose I'd have any problem with it. At least there wouldn't be a rational reason why I'd have a problem with it. It's just not something I'd incorporate in my normal diet, and I don't really feel any need to do it. I would have to weigh how much pleasure and benefit I'd get from eating it, and if I felt the experience of eating it would be worth the slaughter of the pig, and all the pig had to go through. If I knew for a fact that the pig was out frolicking its entire life, and had a relatively quick and painless death, then theoretically I wouldn't be opposed to eating it on a rare occasion. I've never had any desire to eat pork though-- a more likely scenario would be a cow or a goat or a chicken under similar circumstances, and I'm not clamoring to eat any of that either.

 

My point is, I don't think it's inherently wrong or immoral to exploit and kill an animal for food, clothing, shelter, medicine, etc., if it's done sparingly and respectfully. As a practical matter, so little of the animal foods we have access to for those uses are readily available. A line-caught fish is just one example where I would know for sure how it lived and died, because I could actually see it come out of the water, and I know it had been swimming around free in a river. Smaller fish have shorter lives, and I know that either way, it's not going to have a pleasant death (in the mouth of a bear or dying on the bank of a river), and it's not like my occasionally taking a single fish out of the water is going to have any impact on the ecosystem-- and it could be argued that because of certain types of sustainable fishing, that motivates people to keep the water clean, because it's more in their self-interest to do so, if they like eating fish (but that's another discussion). I don't fault vegans for not wanting to harm sentient beings at all, I'm just saying that's not what my beliefs are, and my point is, that because I don't believe in that tenet of veganism-- perhaps a central tenet-- that probably means I'm not a vegan, and I don't believe in veganism, even if I never eat a morsel of animal food for the rest of my life. Or maybe I'm wrong, and being vegan doesn't necessarily mean believing it's inherently wrong to exploit an animal in any way at any time. I would never kill an animal for no reason, or for fun. But I personally see absolutely nothing wrong with someone raising hens and roosters, and eating eggs and roosters. I'm not arguing at all, and I do understand that plenty of people believe it's wrong to kill or exploit sentient beings. I'm just not one of those people, and correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that means that I should not be considered a vegan, even if my diet is effectively vegan. 

This was in response to this comment (sorry again, I messed up the quote/reply function)

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But if I find myself in Alaska, I'd be absolutely fine eating an occasional piece of wild Alaskan salmon. The key for me would be to eat it only occasionally and to eat as close to the bottom of the food chain as possible. 

 

 

Not sure I understand what you are meaning. Why would you be eating wild Alaskan salmon if you visited Alaska? If you visited Denmark, would you feel ok about eating Danish bacon? 

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#13 Old 01-27-2014, 10:45 PM
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Never heard anything close to that from someone who call him/herself vegan. I certainly don't think any such think myself. Suspect that's a strawman.
I'm not sure I follow you here, are you suggesting that vegans don't kill insects in their home? My point was that, while most vegans will kill insects for their personal convenience, they wouldn't consider someone "vegan" if they ate them.
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I think your whole argument fundamentally implies that vegans have a perfectly homogeneous view of what's permissible and what's not about how to treat animals. With the debates you have seen on this site, you should know better.
My argument was meant to imply something about vegan doctrine, not so much individual vegans, as is typically the case people are more reasonable one-on-one than they are in part of a group. A quirk of human psychology.
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#14 Old 01-27-2014, 10:56 PM
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Technically it is true, but it's not a big debate because the people who want to eat smashed bugs and spiders are pretty uncommon smiley.gif
People in the west don't eat insects, but its a common practice in may parts of the world. Veganism is very western-centric, and no surprise there, and that is the source of some of its inconsistencies. I reckon that, being uneducated, Mr Watson wasn't very familiar with the dietary practices outside his particular environment so while his thoughts made a lot of sense in his environment, they are problematic when extended beyond that.
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#15 Old 01-27-2014, 11:48 PM
 
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What if I was ok with the concept of other people raising and killing animals for food, but would never consider eating it myself? As far as I can tell, that means I'm still not a vegan. 

 

No, that would make you vegan.  A vegan doesn't have to believe that other people shouldn't kill animals for pleasure or convenience- just that they should abstain from it for personal moral reasons (which don't need to apply to anybody else).

 

Some, but not all, additionally believe it is unethical for others to do it as well as themselves.

 

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I would have to weigh how much pleasure and benefit I'd get from eating it, and if I felt the experience of eating it would be worth the slaughter of the pig, and all the pig had to go through.

 

In other words, if the pleasure you get from eating the pig because of the taste exceeds the pain the pig experienced, then it's all OK?

 

This sounds like one of the older and more problematic forms of utilitarianism.

 

Let me ask:  Would you judge a pedophile negatively, if the pleasure he got from sexually molesting children exceeded the pain the children felt from the act?  What if he anesthetized them first so they didn't know it happened?

 

These are important questions to understand the answers to in developing a legitimately consistent moral system.  I suspect you will find your own answers either logically inconsistent, or objectionable, when you apply them to other logically equivalent matters.

 

 

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My point is, I don't think it's inherently wrong or immoral to exploit and kill an animal for food, clothing, shelter, medicine, etc., if it's done sparingly and respectfully.

 

And my point still stands.  How can you violate the will of another respectfully when you're doing it for your own pleasure, and it was not necessary to do it?

 

 

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Or maybe I'm wrong, and being vegan doesn't necessarily mean believing it's inherently wrong to exploit an animal in any way at any time.

 

Being vegan doesn't necessarily mean believing that it's inherently wrong to exploit an animal in any way at any time- there are any number of known exceptions, and a number of ones that are subjective and depend on the person.  

 

Also, veganism doesn't have to be something you impose- for many people it's very personal, and they never judge others as immoral, but just stick to their own personal moral systems.

 

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I would never kill an animal for no reason, or for fun.

 

If this were true, then you would be vegan by definition.  You just said you would, though, earlier.

 

Let's recap:

 

I would have to weigh how much pleasure and benefit I'd get from eating it, and if I felt the experience of eating it would be worth the slaughter of the pig, and all the pig had to go through.

 

 

What is fun?  It's personal pleasure, amusement, enjoyment or diversion without another essential purpose.  Eating a pig would be a culinary diversion for you- unless you happened to be starving to death and needed food, and there was no other option.

 

People eat meat for fun.  It wasn't so hundreds of years ago when they needed to eat it.  But today, people eat meat for fun- because they enjoy it.

A vegetable based diet is healthier, and there's no reason today to eat any meat- but people still eat it.  Why?  For fun.  For no good reason at all beyond that they just enjoy it.

 

 

Quote:
But I personally see absolutely nothing wrong with someone raising hens and roosters, and eating eggs and roosters.

 

If you see nothing wrong with other people doing it, then you might still be vegan.

 

If you see nothing wrong with YOU doing it, personally, and you might consider doing it in the future (with the exception of for survival), then you're not vegan.

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#16 Old 01-28-2014, 01:43 AM
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Originally Posted by pandiculationco View Post
 

 

No, that would make you vegan.  A vegan doesn't have to believe that other people shouldn't kill animals for pleasure or convenience- just that they should abstain from it for personal moral reasons (which don't need to apply to anybody else).

 

Some, but not all, additionally believe it is unethical for others to do it as well as themselves.

 

 

In other words, if the pleasure you get from eating the pig because of the taste exceeds the pain the pig experienced, then it's all OK?

 

This sounds like one of the older and more problematic forms of utilitarianism.

 

Let me ask:  Would you judge a pedophile negatively, if the pleasure he got from sexually molesting children exceeded the pain the children felt from the act?  What if he anesthetized them first so they didn't know it happened?

 

These are important questions to understand the answers to in developing a legitimately consistent moral system.  I suspect you will find your own answers either logically inconsistent, or objectionable, when you apply them to other logically equivalent matters.

 

 

 

And my point still stands.  How can you violate the will of another respectfully when you're doing it for your own pleasure, and it was not necessary to do it?

 

 

 

Being vegan doesn't necessarily mean believing that it's inherently wrong to exploit an animal in any way at any time- there are any number of known exceptions, and a number of ones that are subjective and depend on the person.  

 

Also, veganism doesn't have to be something you impose- for many people it's very personal, and they never judge others as immoral, but just stick to their own personal moral systems.

 

 

If this were true, then you would be vegan by definition.  You just said you would, though, earlier.

 

Let's recap:

 

 

What is fun?  It's personal pleasure, amusement, enjoyment or diversion without another essential purpose.  Eating a pig would be a culinary diversion for you- unless you happened to be starving to death and needed food, and there was no other option.

 

People eat meat for fun.  It wasn't so hundreds of years ago when they needed to eat it.  But today, people eat meat for fun- because they enjoy it.

A vegetable based diet is healthier, and there's no reason today to eat any meat- but people still eat it.  Why?  For fun.  For no good reason at all beyond that they just enjoy it.

 

 

 

If you see nothing wrong with other people doing it, then you might still be vegan.

 

If you see nothing wrong with YOU doing it, personally, and you might consider doing it in the future (with the exception of for survival), then you're not vegan.

 

pandiculationco:  Sorry I really can't figure out the quote feature of this forum. I wasn't really looking for a debate, but ok, so then what would you like to call me if not vegan? You tell me. There is a whole lot of vegan propaganda out there about the horrors of factory farming, trying to convince people to "go vegan." Well, ok, I listened. At first I got into it for health reasons, then as I looked into it more and more, I couldn't stomach it. And now that I've finally adopted a vegan diet, I'm told, well, that's nice, but you're not really vegan. Alright, whatever, I don't really care whether or not I'm identified as vegan. I guess my diet is vegan by accident. I can understand why someone might have an issue with their identity being misappropriated. So how would you, as a "true" vegan, like to refer to my way of eating and outlook on life, just so we can all be on the same page, and I don't misrepresent vegan beliefs? If I were to call myself "mostly vegan", then some might retort something like, "you can't be mostly pregnant." It doesn't ever seem to be good enough. 
 
A lot of vegan people seem to want it both ways a lot of the time-- they want everyone to be vegan, yet are unwilling to accept people as vegan if they aren't vegan for the right reasons. If I'm willing to eat an animal foods, even if I don't actually eat them, or if I might eat them on a very rare occasion, under very strict criteria, then I'm not vegan... but it seems that it's less because I actually eat it, and more because I don't hold a particular belief that utilizing or eating an animal food is inherently wrong, even if done in a highly respectful manner and infrequently, which are my criteria for ethical eating-- mostly or entirely plants, and if it includes animal foods, then sparingly and under extremely high standards, at all stages of the animal's life from beginning to end. There's just not a word for that philosophy or way of eating that I know of. 
 
As far as "killing animals for fun", I was obviously referring to the act of killing an animal, for example sport hunters who go out and kill some ducks just for fun, or some sick person who tortures and kills a cat. I can think of a circumstance, though, under which I would eat and enjoy an animal food, and I wouldn't have any remorse or guilt. Extreme gratitude, but not remorse. It's not just for fun. Yes, I might enjoy it, and wouldn't eat it if I didn't think I'd enjoy it. But in addition to pleasure, it would also offer me nutrients and sustenance. Is that utilitarian? Maybe. But it's in line with my moral compass, if the animal had excellent living conditions. I have a dog and I exploit him, I suppose you could say, for his love and affection, as well as his bark to keep out intruders. He exploits me for the food and shelter I give him. Yes, I love him, but he serves a purpose, it's just that his purpose does not involve providing me food. And the purpose that I serve for him is to take care of him.
 
I would not keep a cow in my house, because I would not benefit from the cow's company. (I'm changing the animal in question to a cow, because I think it's very unlikely I'd ever eat pork.) The cow would get the benefit of me taking care of it, but what would I get in return? The only reason I would have a cow, if I chose to, would be for milk or meat, a pleasure that for me, in general, wouldn't be worth it. It also wouldn't typically be worth it for me to shell out a crazy amount of money for the highest quality grass-finished beef available, as difficult as it is to find in the first place. I agree that milking a cow is inherently cruel, because I would constantly force the cow to get pregnant and take away her calves over and over again... and I wouldn't eat or drink it. But I'm ok with the idea, in theory, of raising a cow with the same quality of care that I give my dog, letting it eat grass to its heart's content, and one day slaughter it for food, just not as an everyday occurrence to the point that it becomes anywhere close to a staple of my diet. And you ask, why wouldn't I eat my dog, if I'd eat my cow? Because one, I could never love a cow the way I do my dog. That doesn't mean I don't think a cow feels pleasure or pain-- of course it does. That's why I would never torture it and pump it full of hormones, and start butchering it before it's dead, nor would I support an industry that does that. I recognize it's a living, breathing animal, but I also recognize that it's an animal, which although has an instinct to stay alive, doesn't have the self-awareness to care, as humans do about themselves, whether it's still going to be alive for another year, or another day. That's what I believe, and there's no getting around it.
 
You might ask (in response to your comment about the hypothetical pedophile), why wouldn't I then eat a person who I don't love, or someone with a cognitive disability who might not have a sense of a tomorrow? Well, because I would never equate the worth of a human being with the worth of any animal. We can go in circles all you want, it just won't change the fact that I don't see the world the same way you do. I generally don't eat beef for a variety of reasons, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility. Either way, I do not believe it's immoral to do so, and you just can't convince me otherwise. If you can't convince me, someone who already doesn't eat animal foods, that it's immoral to kill an animal for food, even if you don't necessarily need them, then I think it would be very difficult to convince anyone who routinely eats them. That's why so many people, I think, view veganism as extreme. I don't see it as extreme necessarily, but I also wouldn't expect more than a small percentage of people to subscribe to this point of view. As for a vegan or near-vegan diet, it makes a whole lot of sense for personal health, the environment, and animal welfare, and I just think the movement might have more success if it stressed the importance of eating little to no animal foods, and none from factory farms, because of welfare reasons, rather than absolutist dogma about the inherent immorality of eating animals.
 
You're telling me I'm not vegan. Ok, no problem, that's fine. I'm not vegan. I get it. But I'm just pointing out that this is a potential flaw in the philosophy of veganism, and might explain why it's so difficult to get more people to adopt a vegan diet, given how many conditions there are for being deemed "vegan". Vegans often get upset when people call themselves vegan, but aren't "really" vegan, and that seems self-defeating. Wouldn't it be much better to have billions of people who aren't "really" vegan, but who, even though they don't believe it would be wrong to occasionally eat animals raised and slaughtered only under the strictest, least cruel conditions, than one percent of the population who are "real" vegans? I'm not judging people who think it's always wrong to kill animals, it's just that a very small portion of the world's population share the view that it's always wrong to exploit animals, period, no matter how well they are treated. To me, it's the treatment of the animals, throughout their whole lives, and eating or using them rarely or not at all, that matters most. 
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#17 Old 01-28-2014, 01:47 AM
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#18 Old 01-28-2014, 06:54 AM
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The term strict vegetarian, as I understand it, means eating a plant based diet while not 100% sharing vegan philosophy - it sounds as if that could apply to you? 

 

I only came across the phrase when I started reading this board and I can't say I really like or identify with the name but, for me and at this point in time, it does seem to be my closest definition.

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#19 Old 01-28-2014, 07:29 AM
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While wanting to treat animals well is admirable, eating them, even rarely and as low on the food chain as possible, makes you an omnivore and not a vegetarian or a vegan. And while it may not be possible to be a perfect vegan 100% of the time, most of us don't sit around thinking about what exceptions we would make under very unusual circumstances.
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#20 Old 01-28-2014, 08:22 AM
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The one thing I have learned, over the years, is that sometimes it's best to not label yourself at all. That way, you can eat/live however you feel comfortable without all the stress of rules or judgement. Vegan, vegetarian, ethical omnivore, etc - it really doesn't matter - as long as you're healthy and you do, what you feel, is right for you.

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#21 Old 01-28-2014, 09:27 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elninodaniel View Post
 
Sorry I really can't figure out the quote feature of this forum.
 
No worries.  It's actually very non-standard in function, and seems to be buggy.  It took me a while to figure it out.  I just copy and paste the whole message, and turn the bits into quotes after using the little button in the compose form which is a quote mark "   You just have to select the text and then press it.  You can also just not use it at all if you choose by copying my text into notepad to remove formatting, then copying it back over and quoting it the old fashioned way if you want, if that's easier :)
 
Quote:
I wasn't really looking for a debate, but ok, so then what would you like to call me if not vegan? You tell me.

 

You're vegetarian.

This term is much more flexible, and could even just mean a temporary practice, like "I'm vegetarian this month because I'm honoring my grandparent's death" or something, as a Buddhist might do.

 

It means you're not eating animal products at the moment for some reason.

 

I appreciate that you are vegetarian, but you're making a number of serious mistakes in your reasoning.

 

 

Quote:

So how would you, as a "true" vegan, like to refer to my way of eating and outlook on life, just so we can all be on the same page, and I don't misrepresent vegan beliefs? If I were to call myself "mostly vegan", then some might retort something like, "you can't be mostly pregnant." It doesn't ever seem to be good enough. 

 

 

Your consideration is very respectful; though I don't even know if I'd call myself a "true" vegan;

 

I'm vegan with regards to a lot of animal products because, like you, I have moral concerns with the way they are produced.  And I think that's the case for almost all vegans- although my moral concerns may run a bit deeper, that's aside from the point.

Some vegans think it's impossible to produce animal products morally, but that position isn't really consistent (it's just very difficult and impractical), and I think it represents a very vocal minority view.

I'm vegan in practice because it's been so long that I have no desire to eat these things even if those moral concerns are alleviated, and I find them "icky", so even if raised perfectly and not killed, for example, I have no interest in eating eggs ever, because it's not necessary.

If I had a desire to eat eggs and dairy produced by animals, I would be a vegetarian who's waiting for the egg and dairy industry to clean up its act so I can have at it ;)

 

If I was starving, I would.

If there was some moral benefit, sure.

But I'm not clamoring at the gate; I wouldn't want to eat these things- I would have to be given a very good practical reason to do so.

 

 

Quote:
A lot of vegan people seem to want it both ways a lot of the time-- they want everyone to be vegan, yet are unwilling to accept people as vegan if they aren't vegan for the right reasons.

 

They probably want everybody to be good people.  Though I don't usually tell people they should go vegan- rather that they should go vegetarian, and not eat animal products such as dairy and egg.

 

Quote:
If I'm willing to eat an animal foods, even if I don't actually eat them, or if I might eat them on a very rare occasion, under very strict criteria, then I'm not vegan...

 

Correct.  Unless those criteria are based on actual necessity, and not personal pleasure.

 

Quote:
 but it seems that it's less because I actually eat it, and more because I don't hold a particular belief that utilizing or eating an animal food is inherently wrong,

 

Incorrect.  You just have to not be willing to do it for your own pleasure- again, in situations where you're starving or there is otherwise a strong moral impetus to do it, that doesn't apply.

 

 

Quote:
As far as "killing animals for fun", I was obviously referring to the act of killing an animal, for example sport hunters who go out and kill some ducks just for fun, or some sick person who tortures and kills a cat.

 

From the animal's perspective, there is no difference.  From a moral perspective, you're injuring another being for your own pleasure- whether that is the diversion of culinary experience, or the diversion of sport and game.

 

I don't look at sport hunters any differently than I do at sport eaters.  It's a trade between personal enjoyment, indulging in something inherently unnecessary, and the harm to an animal.

 

The only difference that ever matters is if you don't have something else to eat which will keep you healthy and you have no choice in the matter.

If somebody didn't want to eat it but was forced to under circumstance (the same thing that forces people into cannibalism too) then they are still vegan after the fact.

 

Quote:

It's not just for fun. Yes, I might enjoy it, and wouldn't eat it if I didn't think I'd enjoy it.

 

 

If you wouldn't eat it if you didn't enjoy it, then it IS just for fun.  Clearly you had other things to eat to satisfy your nutritional needs.  You can't claim that nutritional satisfaction validates an action when you had other options.

 

Do you understand why that is?

 

Quote:
But in addition to pleasure, it would also offer me nutrients and sustenance.

 

In addition to pleasure, sport hunting offers healthy exercise, therefore it's OK to hunt for sport because it's not just for fun.  Cadiovascular fitness is essential to health.

 

Unless... what if there was another exercise that could meet the same ends without harming animals?

Good news- there is.

 

Also, there are other foods besides meat that are even more healthy.

 

Why do you understand this concept in regards to sport hunting, but make special rationalized exceptions for meat?

 

 

I understand what you're trying to say here- you're trying to make a distinction between the two.  Between something you find ethically repulsive and something you find acceptable.  The problem is that there is no sound logical distinction to make there.  You're inventing reasons that don't follow from reason.

 

These things are not inherently different.

 

In each case it is the act of harming an animal for personal pleasure, in addition to possibly fulfilling other superfluous needs which could be fulfilled by other means that don't include harming an animal.

 

If you accept one without accepting the other, then you're a hypocrite indulging in arbitrary and inconsistent ethics.  It is my belief that we should seek to avoid hypocrisy in ethics as one of the most important aspects of its practice.

 

Not all people care about hypocrisy; I've met people who insist that everybody is a hypocrite and therefore it doesn't matter if their ethics are arbitrary and inconsistent.  I personally find that view repulsive, beyond being flat out incorrect (there are internally consistent moral systems).

 

 

It's ultimately your choice whether you decide that eating meat for pleasure is as unacceptable as sport hunting for pleasure, or if you decide that sport hunting (and torturing cats or whatever) for pleasure is acceptable, or if you decide that it's not necessary for ethics to be consistent and that hypocrisy is A-OK.

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#22 Old 01-28-2014, 09:58 AM
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I'm not sure I follow you here, are you suggesting that vegans don't kill insects in their home? My point was that, while most vegans will kill insects for their personal convenience, they wouldn't consider someone "vegan" if they ate them.

Well it depends. If insects are sentient beings(to which I'm agnostic) then we shouldn't hurt them when it is not necessary. Whether or not it's necessary to kill them when they are "invading" your home is subject to interpretation. A lot of it is should be interpreted case by case. I think it's obvious that if you have roaches at home, you are gonna have to call the exterminator since I don't see any other way to protect your hygiene and that of your neighbors. On another hand, if you see a spider, there is also the possibility to catch it and throw in by the window rather than to kill it. I don't think "never kill insect" and "killing insects is a-okay" are the only position we can have on the matter. I think we can be a bit more nuanced about it.

 

If you do indeed decide that the best way to deal with the situation is to kill them, I don't think it makes a difference whether you then eat them or not. Whatever floats your boat.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by logic View Post
My argument was meant to imply something about vegan doctrine, not so much individual vegans, as is typically the case people are more reasonable one-on-one than they are in part of a group. A quirk of human psychology.
If you take the opinion of different people and try to aggregate it together as if it was the same person, of course you are gonna find inconsistencies. But all you have really proved is that vegans don't agree on everything. I understand if you want to avoid the vegan label for yourself so that you don't have to deal with the "vegan police" kind, but if as I understand you correctly you are sympathetic to animal welfare in general, then characterizing the movement like that is both disingenuous and counter productive.
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#23 Old 01-28-2014, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by pandiculationco View Post
 

 

To be fair, vegan does have a pretty strict formal definition.  It wasn't coined all that long ago; and while the community as a whole may take ownership of it to some degree and the term may have varied application, the more appropriate approach to variation in a rule based system like veganism (the rule that we should not use animal products, which is the essence of the definition) it to coin new words to describe those variations.

 

E.g. as I mentioned, 'freeganism'

 

I have to say logic is technically right on that point.

 

 

 

Technically it is true, but it's not a big debate because the people who want to eat smashed bugs and spiders are pretty uncommon :)

 

 

The issue over backyard eggs is much more heated a point of contention- venomously heated at times.  It isn't vegan to do so- but in some cases it may not be immoral to do so.  Veganism is rules based, and does have some limitations.

 

This is where it's appropriate to call somebody a Freegan rather than vegan (freeganism is more morally consistent in theory, but fails utterly in practice).  Although many people reject the label, because Freeganism contains a lot of negative connotations due to a history of being practiced as an excuse for eating meat at a whim with thin rationalizations.

 

This is kind of the root of all of the venom over the issue.

 

 

 

 

Well, sentience is a matter of function, not form- so the details of their nervous systems aren't relevant.

 

But that said, based on the simple definition of veganism being avoiding to the extent possible animal products and unnecessary animal cruelty (with killing bugs defensible under self defense), logic is correct on that point.

I know it sounds totally weird, and it is... but that's what you get in rules based ethics systems.

 

That doesn't mean that the rules based system isn't the best one we currently have, though, or that rules based systems should be abandoned- they serve very important sociological purposes- it would be easy to write a book on it.

Except that no, veganism isn't necessarily a rule based philosophy. The movement has always been divided between utilitarianism and deontology. Heck, the animal liberation movement was founded by Peter Signer. You don't get much more utilitarian than that. Nobody would ever even care about sentience if it wasn't for utilitarianism.

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#24 Old 01-28-2014, 10:59 AM
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I would call you someone who mostly eats a plant based diet, which is to be applauded even if you do occasionally eat animals and animal products. It's still better than what the majority of people manage. 


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#25 Old 01-28-2014, 12:00 PM
 
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This post is in two parts (the first part is a couple posts up).  Here's the rest.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by elninodaniel View Post
 

And you ask, why wouldn't I eat my dog, if I'd eat my cow? 

 

What you chose to do or not do because you just don't feel like it is your business.  I don't eat rocks off the ground, not out of moral conviction, but because I don't want to.

 

I would ask if you would judge another person immoral for killing his or her dog or cat for pleasure (whether for enjoying the taste, or just as sporting amusement).

 

 

It's chiefly your judgement of others which demonstrates hypocrisy.

 

If you have a problem with This:  http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/15/us/washington-dog-death-fireworks/

 

Then your personal actions, if you raised and killed a cow as you mentioned, would be hypocritical.  Frankly, even the belief that it would be OK for you to do that would be hypocritical (because it's inconsistency of ethical belief as applied to self vs. other that yields hypocrisy, not just action)

 

If you don't have a problem with that guy blowing up his dog for fun (or possibly because the dog was possessed, if you believe him- whatever the irrational motivation was), then you can fairly safely believe what you do without being challenged as a hypocrite.


 

Quote:

I recognize it's a living, breathing animal, but I also recognize that it's an animal, which although has an instinct to stay alive, doesn't have the self-awareness to care, as humans do about themselves, whether it's still going to be alive for another year, or another day. That's what I believe, and there's no getting around it.

 

 

Well, for starters, what you "believe" in this case is not a subjective matter- you're talking about a matter of factual question.

 

As the saying goes: You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.

 

You don't get to decide if cows are indifferent or care about the future any more than you get to decide if the Earth is flat or 'round', or if the sun goes around it or it around the sun- these are not matters of opinion, but questions of factual reality.

 

And the reality of the fact is that humans are animals, and there are no fundamental differences between us; our differences in practice are those of magnitude in most measures of cognition.

 

Most adult humans think *more* into the future, *more* often.  Likewise most have a *more* complete understanding of time- but this isn't a fundamentally unique trick on our part, and it's not consistent for all humans.

 

Both the mentally handicapped and children share the relative limitations most 'lower' animals face in the cognitive sense.  Children and the mentally hadicapped, like most animals, have little to no theory of mind, and live primarily in the present- but not entirely so.  Both children and cows do have the capacity to project into the future, both with trepidation and hope.

 

A rudimentary understanding of time and future reward and pain is essential for even the most basic problem solving tasks, which even very simple animals exhibit.  Other animals (including cows) have demonstrated even more.

 

 

Sorry, but your notions of animal cognition are frankly medieval.  You have a lot of catching up to do.

 

 

If you want to believe that humans alone are all granted souls by god which endow them with meaning and purpose that no other being has, and animals are just soulless creatures that we're free to kill for whatever reason as long as they don't suffer unduly in the process,  there's no amount of science or reason that's likely to talk you out of that.  But that view is not reflective of reality, and it's not consistent with any form of legitimate morality (whether you believe in a god and souls or not).

 

If you have any desire for a consistent moral philosophy, you can believe it's OK to harm animals for personal pleasure, but you have to apply that sentiment consistently to all animals who aren't by necessity part of the social contract- which is in effect closest Randian amoral radicalism, where proponents will fight for every man's right to torture cats and nail them to walls- but incidentally also includes children and disenfranchised minorities (Randian beliefs are inconsistent in this way).

Or you can believe it's wrong to do so, and only advocate harm to animals when there is a legitimate need that can not be practically fulfilled any other way.

 

 

I know you think there's an in-between position where it's wrong to cause them suffering during their lives but it's perfectly find to kill them for personal pleasure as long as the death is quick and painless- but that notion is inherently inconsistent, because it's based on an extremely faulty understanding of cognition.  Suffering in itself is meaningless without the desire not to suffer- it is the desire of the animal, not the fact of the matter, that makes suffering a bad thing.  That very desire to live- and the fact that animals will endure suffering to avoid death- demonstrates clearly that a respect for suffering without a complimentary respect for life itself is arbitrary and inconsistent; and moreover it's disrespectful and insulting to the actual will of the animal (imposing your own assumptions, and saying they don't actually care about living when they have made it abundantly clear by their actions that they do very much care).

 

 

Anyway, that's probably why there's no common word for that 'middle ground'- because it's a position that's inconsistent, and doesn't actually exist as a viable moral philosophy.  It's just a rationalization meat-eaters use to try to make themselves feel better about the killing.

 

 

Now, that said, I do appreciate it whenever there's less suffering- and I think it's the lesser of two evils by a great margin- but that just doesn't make it dandy to kill an animal without a legitimate reason (and personal pleasure is no such thing).

 

 

Give me a hypothetical farm where the animals live peacefully for their own sake and are not killed for profit motive, but reach the natural ends of their lives (whether being euthanized for the sole reason of compassion, or dying naturally), then there is a word for that: Freegan/meegan  (because the meat is just a free side-effect of the animal's life that would otherwise go to waste, instead of a commercial product).

If done right, that's something I could respect and wouldn't have a problem with.  Though doing that right would be quite a challenge.

 

You might want to read my prior posts on dogs, smashed bugs, and freeganism in this thread.

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#26 Old 01-28-2014, 01:07 PM
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pandiculationco: Thanks for taking the time to give me all those points to think about. I don't agree with many of your premises, but I understand why you have come to the conclusions you have. There's just no way I'm going to come around to your way of thinking, no matter how many times you try to point out that you think I'm morally obtuse. You just simply haven't convinced me with your arguments that I'm hypocritical or that I have holes in my ethics. It's just too exhausting for me to go through them point by point though. I don't think my views are in any way evil, even if I'm entitled the consolation of being the "lesser of two evils." I don't think my views are inconsistent, and I don't think that's the reason there isn't a word for someone with my views. If you want to call Wendell Berry a hypocrite, go ahead. I don't think he is though. Veganism can be veganism in the same way a religion can be a religion, and I think that's perfectly fine. It makes sense that people who believe that it's always wrong to kill an animal (except, as you point out, for reasons of starvation or compassion) to have a group to be a part of. But I think vegans should also recognize that that's not a view that the vast majority of the world shares. You do point out, though, that in your outreach, you don't encourage people to "go vegan" necessarily, you just encourage people to go vegetarian. But it complicates the message, and detracts from the ultimate goal of vegans to reduce suffering. Most of the vegan outreach, however, like Vegan Outreach, does encourage people to "go vegan". 

 

Vegetarianism, on the other hand, has come to be understood as someone who also eats dairy and eggs, and sometimes fish, without considering so many of the issues. And by the way, I don't think many so-called vegans have really examined their own beliefs in the same depth that you have, and upon examination, I have a feeling most people wouldn't come to the same conclusions you have. But who knows. I can see how the strict rules of veganism are appealing, in the same way Mormons are told they can't drink any alcohol-- it's just easier to follow the rules rather than get into exhausting debates with yourself. But back to vegetarians-- dairy is much crueler in my view than beef-- so eating dairy while eschewing beef for moral reasons does seem to me to be very hypocritical. The clear answer, therefore, is to reclaim the meaning of vegetarian so it's not automatically understood as including any animal foods-- exactly the same as vegan, but without the dogma. And then people would have to qualify what type of vegetarian, for example ovo-lacto vegetarian. In the meantime, "strict vegetarian" probably works, but that's still not commonly understood. Until vegetarian means what it should mean, when I go to a restaurant or a friend's house for dinner, I'm stuck with telling people I have a vegan diet, because most people understand that it means no meat/fish/eggs/dairy. And I'll make a point to define the food itself as vegan, but not identify myself as vegan-- "I'd like a vegan meal" rather than "I'm vegan."

 

I'll post the question on the vegetarian board. Thanks everyone for your insights.

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#27 Old 01-28-2014, 02:26 PM
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While wanting to treat animals well is admirable, eating them, even rarely and as low on the food chain as possible, makes you an omnivore and not a vegetarian or a vegan. And while it may not be possible to be a perfect vegan 100% of the time, most of us don't sit around thinking about what exceptions we would make under very unusual circumstances.

All humans are omnivores. But we usually have a choice as to whether or not we eat animal foods. Most people believe, however, that humans are best adapted to be herbivorous omnivores. I think it's important for people to sit around thinking about things like this, and really question why you believe what you believe, rather than just accept doctrine as the irrefutable truth. 

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#28 Old 01-28-2014, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by elninodaniel View Post
 

And by the way, I don't think many so-called vegans have really examined their own beliefs in the same depth that you have, and upon examination, I have a feeling most people wouldn't come to the same conclusions you have. But who knows. I can see how the strict rules of veganism are appealing, in the same way Mormons are told they can't drink any alcohol-- it's just easier to follow the rules rather than get into exhausting debates with yourself. 

Hi elninodaniel

 

Can't speak for all the other vegans but what pandiculationco says in this thread, makes sense to me, even if he's not been able to give you the " vegan absolution" that you seem to be craving.

 

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#29 Old 01-28-2014, 02:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by elninodaniel View Post
 

pandiculationco: Thanks for taking the time to give me all those points to think about. I don't agree with many of your premises, but I understand why you have come to the conclusions you have. There's just no way I'm going to come around to your way of thinking, no matter how many times you try to point out that you think I'm morally obtuse.

 

That's the thing, though; I don't think you're morally obtuse, it's just how the reasoning works out regarding the hole in your logic on that point.  

 

Show me in what way your reasoning is consistent when you say that killing is OK but causing suffering isn't, and either it will be sound logic and I will agree that it's at least as viable a position as any other of the kind, or the logic will fail on any number of points.

 

If you're not willing to demonstrate that with reasoned argument, then please don't make the implicit claim that it's a consistent view.

 

If you don't personally value a logically consistent way of incorporating moral thought and values into your life, then that's your right- you're free to just think things are good or bad for you personally - but when you impose judgement on others (such as anybody from pedophiles to people who hunt for sport), you'd better be ready to demonstrate an internally consistent system of ethics if you want to be taken seriously.

 

It might be hard for you to understand why many of us find your judgement of sport hunters so offensive because we actually agree with you on the point- but I assure you, I'm not alone there.  

It's actually a bit hard to explain, but it's the inconsistency in your views (I know you don't think they are because you can't see them, but for us they shine like a neon sign) which is like an insult to us who do see the inconsistency so clearly- it feels like deception, and disingenuity, like "how can you not see this is a problem, what, do you think we're idiots?"

It's like you're taking a position that you haven't earned the right to take, and in doing so you're insulting the people who have taken pains to develop a morally consistent framework in their own lives and earn the right to criticize the trophy hunters.

 

It is your judgement of others that is the core of the problem here.  And that's what makes the expression of your beliefs a hypocritical action, and why it can be offensive and disturbing to others.

 

 

If you just stop judging others and retreat into a default of a morally relativistic or nihilistic position on the subject- just keeping your own morality a matter of personal preference by which you never measure other people's actions- then you should be able to defend charges of hypocrisy without having to prove the consistency of your personal beliefs.

 

Quote:
You just simply haven't convinced me with your arguments that I'm hypocritical or that I have holes in my ethics.

 

Neither will somebody who believes that the Earth is a flat disc surrounded by an ice wall holding in the ocean guarded by an army appointed by the UN to kill anybody who comes near it and tries to expose the 'truth' be convinced by rational argument if they're not willing to submit their beliefs to the same standards of evidence and logic that they expect of others.

 

If you want to criticize others for their actions and beliefs, you need to be equally open to it yourself.

It's as simple as that.

 

If you refrain from criticizing others, and just say "to each his or her own" then you should be safe.

 

 

Quote:
I don't think my views are in any way evil, even if I'm entitled the consolation of being the "lesser of two evils." I don't think my views are inconsistent, and I don't think that's the reason there isn't a word for someone with my views.

 

But think about it- almost nobody with irrational beliefs thinks their beliefs are inconsistent- that's why they still hold those beliefs.

 

Few people are actually able to evaluate their own beliefs on their own- it takes peer scrutiny to do that- and it takes being open to defend them on rational grounds to prove their consistency to objective parties.

 

Of course you don't think you're evil (and mind you, there are lot of levels of evil; you're one of the least, and vegans themselves aren't blameless either).  Trophy hunters don't think themselves evil.  Pedophiles don't think themselves evil (seriously, I recommend you go and read some pedophile apologia- it gives an important insight into a mind capable of rationalizing such an evil and socially reprehensible act).  Rapists don't think themselves evil, etc.

 

Most likely nobody, not the most evil people of all history, have thought themselves evil.

 

We CAN NOT reliably evaluate our own moralities any more than we can lift ourselves up off the ground by our ears unassisted into mid air.

 

Human psychology is riddled with rationalizations and cognitive biases so pervasive that the most absurd beliefs and conspiracy theories are always considered both obvious and self evident by the people who believe them- and this is standard in a normal, functioning human brain.

 

Until you have enough skepticism over your own assumptions and preconceptions to be open to the notion that you might be wrong, you're never going to learn anything that can break you from those tightly held false beliefs.

 

You said: "There's just no way I'm going to come around to your way of thinking..."

 

No way, no matter the facts, no matter the undeniable soundness of any logical argument I make- because you've already accepted your own beliefs as true.  That acceptance means you're done learning, class is over, your critical faculties are no longer in session- it's because you have closed your mind.

 

I'm asking you to open you mind.  If you open up a little and submit your beliefs to some scrutiny- and stick around to actually consider some of it- you might be surprised what you can learn.

 

You know how to be right about everything?

 

Start out wrong about everything, and actually try to rationally substantiate your beliefs- it is hard work, particularly because it takes a lot of introspection and thinking about tough issues- and once you try to do that, other people will correct you, and then the final step is abandoning the wrong beliefs and adopting better ones.  Then rinse and repeat.

 

The reason I'm more right than you are about this is because I have been where you are- I was wrong, I was corrected (after a lot of argument), and I amended my beliefs.  That's how things should go.

 

I look forwards to being wrong in the future and as a consequence becoming even more right ;)

 

Quote:
Veganism can be veganism in the same way a religion can be a religion, and I think that's perfectly fine. It makes sense that people who believe that it's always wrong to kill an animal (except, as you point out, for reasons of starvation or compassion) to have a group to be a part of.

 

Veganism isn't a religion- while what a religion is is in itself a very complex argument, veganism doesn't qualify along any of the important metrics.

 

Vegans don't all believe that it's always wrong for other people to kill animals- some are indifferent outside their own actions- it just against the rule set of veganism to do so intentionally without proper cause.

 

When I said "Or you can believe it's wrong to do so, and only advocate harm to animals when there is a legitimate need that can not be practically fulfilled any other way."  I didn't mean to imply that was what all vegans believe.  We were kind of talking about two issues there (positions of moral consistency, and veganism as a whole).

 

Strictly speaking, veganism is only the personal abstinence from such actions- in its simplest form it's just a general rule.  It does strongly imply, but does not absolutely necessitate, an associated moral philosophy.

 

I didn't argue that a lack of a term for what you are proved it was irrational- I was just trying to give a little insight into why there's no term.

 

Anyway, the term for that kind of veganism, in a moral sense, would be something like animal rights (though it contains political connotations), or ethical/moral veganism, utilitartian veganism, or something along those lines.  That's kind of what Kamizushi mentioned above (If you're reading this I think you kind of missed my point a little there Kami, I don't disagree with you, because there is also a moral form, but it's sort of a subset of the larger which is just based on the essential rule definition).

 

 

Quote:
But I think vegans should also recognize that that's not a view that the vast majority of the world shares.

 

Well, like I mentioned, we were kind of conflating two issues in our conversation.  You can see earlier where I said that you don't have to believe it is wrong- you just have to not do it ;)

 

But that aside; the vast majority of the world doesn't think enough about ethical issues to have consistent moral views, and as you mentioned, that might also apply to the vast majority of vegans.  So, in some sense the vast majority of the world, and of vegans, have no legitimate ethical system (it's all pretty arbitrary and subjective).

 

 

Quote:
You do point out, though, that in your outreach, you don't encourage people to "go vegan" necessarily, you just encourage people to go vegetarian. But it complicates the message, and detracts from the ultimate goal of vegans to reduce suffering. Most of the vegan outreach, however, like Vegan Outreach, does encourage people to "go vegan". 

 

Yes, and that's fine, but I prefer to recommend vegetarianism, because it is more flexible based on circumstance and lends itself a little less towards what you called dogmatism.  Dogma is great for the masses sometimes, but it can also jeopardize a system when it seems to clash with a consistent moral position.

 

There have been a lot of threads about eating oysters.  I'm of a slightly different, but none the less similar mind to Peter Singer and a few other Utilitarian forum members on that point.

 

With vegetarian, you can amend new words as the case may be to grant some de facto flexibility where it's necessary.

 

Quote:
But who knows. I can see how the strict rules of veganism are appealing, in the same way Mormons are told they can't drink any alcohol-- it's just easier to follow the rules rather than get into exhausting debates with yourself.

 

Right, and overall the effects are pretty good.  It may not be technically necessary to cut out all alcohol, as small amounts aren't dangerous, but from a standpoint of safeguarding against irresponsibility it can be a smart call for a system.

Of course, it's a whole other ballpark when we start talking about legislation (prohibition is a great example, and it was more than a terrible failure).

 

 

Quote:
But back to vegetarians-- dairy is much crueler in my view than beef-- so eating dairy while eschewing beef for moral reasons does seem to me to be very hypocritical.

 

Yes, it is, depending on the amounts.

 

If somebody is eating very little dairy vs. somebody eating a large amount of beef, the larger amount of beef is likely to outpace the dairy in terms of moral wrong.  Of course, a lot of vegetarians eat SO MUCH dairy, they might as well have a cow or two to themselves.

 

Vegetarian itself doesn't mean consuming dairy, but the lacto- prefix before vegetarian does.  And I recommend against adopting this prefix and its practice of consuming dairy- both for health and moral reasons (unless there is a situation where the cows are actually kept well in a no-kill situation).

 

 

Quote:
The clear answer, therefore, is to reclaim the meaning of vegetarian so it's not automatically understood as including any animal foods-- exactly the same as vegan, but without the dogma. And then people would have to qualify what type of vegetarian, for example ovo-lacto vegetarian. In the meantime, "strict vegetarian" probably works, but that's still not commonly understood.

 

Yes.  You can also say "pure" vegetarian, but that sounds kind of sanctimonious.  Or you could try "true vegetarian", which I like because it rightly implies that other forms are false (at least, if they represent themselves as vegetarian without the prefixes- prefixes are perfectly honest as a way to do it).

 

 

Quote:

Until vegetarian means what it should mean, when I go to a restaurant or a friend's house for dinner, I'm stuck with telling people I have a vegan diet, because most people understand that it means no meat/fish/eggs/dairy. And I'll make a point to define the food itself as vegan, but not identify myself as vegan-- "I'd like a vegan meal" rather than "I'm vegan."

 

 

Good idea.

 

I usually just say I'm vegan because I have no interest or desire in eating animal products even if they were produced ethically in the future- I would just give them to other people if I came upon them.  So, for me it's technically true- though I don't think that's the only validly moral way to live.  From a moral standpoint, I have no problem with other people using legitimately ethically derived animal products- it's just an issue of the practical application of that theory.

 

In order to legitimately be morally derived, we have to deal with practice, including death and economics of the matter.

 

We're not allowed to talk about or recommend the animal products that might be or could be obtained ethically here, but suffice it to say I do understand your position and am probably much closer to it than you suppose- but I very strongly disagree with your views on the inherent acceptability of untimely death for personal pleasure.

 

Quote:
I'll post the question on the vegetarian board. Thanks everyone for your insights.

 

I can answer in more detail there, if you want, because we're allowed to talk more about animal products in that section.

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#30 Old 01-28-2014, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by elninodaniel View Post

All humans are omnivores. But we usually have a choice as to whether or not we eat animal foods. Most people believe, however, that humans are best adapted to be herbivorous omnivores. I think it's important for people to sit around thinking about things like this, and really question why you believe what you believe, rather than just accept doctrine as the irrefutable truth. 

I think most of us question what we believe every day, probably with every meal.

It is our choices that show what we truly are far more than our abilities. ~A. Dumbledore
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