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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone. I am a recently-converted vegetarian, hoping to muster up the will power to go vegan sometime relatively soon. I have a question that I was wondering if any of you could provide some insight on. I've done quite a bit of research but haven't found any answers that I found really made sense or totally answered the question, and it's been bugging me.

The question is: What's wrong with eating humanely raised and slaughtered meat, or animal products from said animals?

I will just say right now that I am not an abolitionist... I am a vegetarian because I don't want to support the cruelty that the US animal agriculture industry creates. If I knew that all meat I was eating came from animals who had good, reasonably-long lives, and were killed without inflicting suffering, I would have no problem with eating meat.

This is why I don't find to be satisfactory one of the most common answers to this question: because "humane slaughter" is a contradiction in terms, and it is inherently wrong to keep animals for food.
I am not capable of buying into this idea, and most of the world won't be either, at least in the foreseeable future.

Another common answer is that it is impossible for truly humane methods of raising and slaughtering animals to supply for the current demand for meat. People who use this argument claim that it is unrealistic to go down the "conscious carnivore" path because it is simply an unrealistic expectation.
And while it is true that we couldn't currently provide for it, I think hoping for a world where people buy meat both from humane sources AND eat far less of it than they currently do, is actually much more realistic than hoping for a world where no one eats any animal products.

Sorry for the super-long tiresome post. I really hope that someone can bring light to this situation for me! Thanks for reading.
 

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a few points

no matter how humanely a lamb is treated on a farm and how humanely it is slaughtered you are still killing an animal in its infancy which is not right.

the cruelty inherent in modern farming of animals stems from being able to sell it cheaply to the masses, humane methods will never be widespread due to the costs involved. ie consumers unable to pay for the the end product.

people don't care, we have a system where poor countries who struggle to feed themselves make money by selling grain they should use to feed people in their own country to richer countries to feed animals as the richer countries believe in their right to eat meat comes above all else. if people don't care that the meat industry is causing harm to other humans how do ever hope they will care about humanely treating animals.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
ohh yeah. i would say that "humane meat" inherently excludes things like lamb, veal, fois gras... things that meat-eaters could quite easily do without.

to your 2nd point: i realize that with the CURRENT demand for meat, they will never be widespread due to the costs involved. i'm saying that it's much more realistic to expect that someday people might eat less meat (we actually are eating historically high amounts of meat per person right now) than it is to expect people to stop eating meat altogether - ie, flexitarianism, all that stuff. and if everyone decides to eat meat only from humane sources AND to eat only, say 1/2 as much meat as they do now (i just made that up, no idea if that's the right amount), then meat producers might actually be able to provide for this lowered demand humanely and without raising prices.

3rd point: i've never found that convincing... people do care. the market trends towards "free-range," "organic," and all that nonsense, even if they are just mass manipulation, show that there is a public will, even if it's half-assed, and businesses are receptive to it. and, if people don't care enough to buy less meat, and to buy it from humane sources, then surely they won't care to go vegetarian or vegan! excuse me if i'm sounding overly-pragmatic.
 

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yes some do care but not that many, sales of organic produce is on the decline here, even when it was in vogue organic meat wasn't high on the sales lists.

don't really see the distinction you make on lamb and veal not being humane, do you see mutton and beef as more humane? the fact that beef cattle here are generally slaughtered under 30 months old means the cow is still in its infancy in my eyes.

dont't understand your argument that if demand was lower farmers will be able to produce the meat without raising the price. it cost more to produce the meat more humanely (or less cruely) so they will have to get a bigger price for it, if the demand is lower and they will be selling less the price would have to be even higher again.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by senbdib View Post

This is why I don't find to be satisfactory one of the most common answers to this question: because "humane slaughter" is a contradiction in terms, and it is inherently wrong to keep animals for food.
I am not capable of buying into this idea, and most of the world won't be either, at least in the foreseeable future.
Why are you not "capable" of buying into this idea? Humans don't have any need to farm animals for food, it's not only cruel it's also wasteful and damaging to our health and the environment.
 

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To boil it down to a few sentences here:

No matter how 'humane' the animal is treated you have to consider the deforestation that occurs for pastureland, the fuel and emissions produced transporting animals and 'meat' and the simple fact that we can survive without meat, healthfully, and if the planet did so you would see more plants that help the environment. No matter how 'humane' a cow is raised, it's young is still stolen and if it is male it will be veal. If it is female it will still be violated and continually have it's milk stolen. Oh yeah, but they may get 'better feed' and a bit more room. Big deal.

If I kidnapped someone, and kept them in a small room to sew items for my own profit, do you think a judge would be okay with it if I gave them a decent dinner and it was a large room? No. I stole someone's freedom for my own gain. That's what happens with animals. Pure exploitation.

Furthermore, it is murder. We do not have the right to play god. We are not carnivores. Thus, we are going against nature for the sake of our own tastes and traditions.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by senbdib View Post

Hey everyone. I am a recently-converted vegetarian, hoping to muster up the will power to go vegan sometime relatively soon. I have a question that I was wondering if any of you could provide some insight on. I've done quite a bit of research but haven't found any answers that I found really made sense or totally answered the question, and it's been bugging me.
Welcome to VB.


Interesting first post. Great you're vegetarian! Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?

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Originally Posted by senbdib View Post

The question is: What's wrong with eating humanely raised and slaughtered meat, or animal products from said animals?

I will just say right now that I am not an abolitionist... I am a vegetarian because I don't want to support the cruelty that the US animal agriculture industry creates. If I knew that all meat I was eating came from animals who had good, reasonably-long lives, and were killed without inflicting suffering, I would have no problem with eating meat.
What does it mean to eat 'humanely raised and slaughtered' animals? You state if the animals had 'good, reasonably-long lives, and were killed without inflicting suffering' you'd have no problem. What does it mean to you for an animal to have a 'good' life? Same with 'reasonably-long li[f]e' (most animals are killed young)? Same with 'killed without inflicting suffering'? All these phrases are entirely subjective and will depend on the person viewing it, from some people viewing the factory farming system as 'humane' to some wanting a little extra room, to possibly whatever you mean, to what I feel those terms mean.

Do you want animals to live freely and be killed in old or middle age? (The costs to keep those animals alive that long, the meat will no longer have the texture people want or are used to, the land use to keep that many animals alive for so long will have a huge impact, etc all will drive the price up quite a bit). Who would buy that? Only the concerned wealthy individuals?

How do you kill a large quantity of animals, to satiate current demand 'without inflicting suffering'?

The problem with 'humane' is that the term is ultimately meaningless, it's so subjective people can't even agree on what it means to be humane other than vague phrases, some that have caveats such as 'reasonably.'

Quote:
Originally Posted by senbdib View Post

This is why I don't find to be satisfactory one of the most common answers to this question: because "humane slaughter" is a contradiction in terms, and it is inherently wrong to keep animals for food.
I am not capable of buying into this idea, and most of the world won't be either, at least in the foreseeable future.
So, what does it matter if you can't buy into the idea or that you think most of the world can't in the foreseeable future?

Given the state of the world today, most people won't be willing to even give 'humane slaughter' much of a thought even in the foreseeable future. So is that an argument against 'humane slaughter' just like you seem to be using it against vegetarianism?
 

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If an animal still ends up dying, to me it's wrong.

Even still, in most 'humane' farms where a byproduct is being harvested a male calf or male chicks will die.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
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Originally Posted by scotty mathieson View Post

yes some do care but not that many, sales of organic produce is on the decline here, even when it was in vogue organic meat wasn't high on the sales lists.
i think the fact that there is even enough market force to create things like "free-range" hens is telling. but that isn't really my point. people are eating more meat than ever before, but surely you don't take that to mean that it's naive to encourage others to become vegetarian?

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don't really see the distinction you make on lamb and veal not being humane, do you see mutton and beef as more humane? the fact that beef cattle here are generally slaughtered under 30 months old means the cow is still in its infancy in my eyes.
i wasn't aware of that. is that true for all beef cattle, ie even the most "humanely" raised beef cattle that one can purchase? i would agree that it's not right to kill them so young.

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dont't understand your argument that if demand was lower farmers will be able to produce the meat without raising the price. it cost more to produce the meat more humanely (or less cruely) so they will have to get a bigger price for it, if the demand is lower and they will be selling less the price would have to be even higher again.
just drawing on the law of supply and demand. if demand drops, price and quantity supplied will both drop accordingly.

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Originally Posted by Werewolf Girl View Post

Why are you not "capable" of buying into this idea? Humans don't have any need to farm animals for food, it's not only cruel it's also wasteful and damaging to our health and the environment.
i didn't really mean to get into a conversation about whether it's inherently wrong to eat meat... i'm sure i'm not eloquent enough to be able to convince anyone that it isn't! i am asking, if anything, from a utilitarian perspective - as in, what actions are most likely to decrease the suffering in the world by the greatest quantity?

i've read the nil zacharias article before, and i didn't find it convincing at all. that is actually what prompted me to post this thread.

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Originally Posted by Alicia Avocado View Post

To boil it down to a few sentences here:

No matter how 'humane' the animal is treated you have to consider the deforestation that occurs for pastureland, the fuel and emissions produced transporting animals and 'meat' and the simple fact that we can survive without meat, healthfully, and if the planet did so you would see more plants that help the environment.
it's a given that our present system is environmentally destructive to the highest degree, but i do think it is possible to have an environmentally responsible, sustainable farm in which animals are used as one part of an integral, holistic system that mirrors natural processes. animals aren't bad for the environment!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
hey nogardsram! thanks for the welcome

Quote:
What does it mean to eat 'humanely raised and slaughtered' animals? You state if the animals had 'good, reasonably-long lives, and were killed without inflicting suffering' you'd have no problem. What does it mean to you for an animal to have a 'good' life? Same with 'reasonably-long li[f]e' (most animals are killed young)? Same with 'killed without inflicting suffering'? All these phrases are entirely subjective and will depend on the person viewing it, from some people viewing the factory farming system as 'humane' to some wanting a little extra room, to possibly whatever you mean, to what I feel those terms mean.
The problem with 'humane' is that the term is ultimately meaningless, it's so subjective people can't even agree on what it means to be humane other than vague phrases, some that have caveats such as 'reasonably.'
it is subjective to a certain limit. we can't be sure that anything we purchase wasn't produced in some way that led to suffering - you are reasonably certain that your bananas weren't grown by plantation-workers in slave-like conditions, and that your t-shirt wasn't made in a sweat-shop. consumers in the developed world are more cut off than anyone ever has been before from actually seeing the origins of the products they consume. that doesn't mean we shouldn't consume anything. it is possible to be reasonably certain about the things that we purchase. there are trusted organizations whose sole purpose is animal welfare that are currently attempting to aid in the institution of a system of certification and labeling that will allow people to know how and where their meat was made. the problem is that the wrong parts of the food industry are currently massively powerful, and the parts that we should support are not.

so, in short, just because it's difficult to define "humane" doesn't mean we can't try.

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Do you want animals to live freely and be killed in old or middle age? (The costs to keep those animals alive that long, the meat will no longer have the texture people want or are used to, the land use to keep that many animals alive for so long will have a huge impact, etc all will drive the price up quite a bit). Who would buy that? Only the concerned wealthy individuals?
current systems of meat production are actually extremely inefficient. the meat industry has to funnel huge amounts of calories from the heavily-subsidized corn and soy providers to feed its animals. add to that the costs of transporting animals all over the nation in their short life-spans, and factory farming is wayyy less efficient than keeping animals on a small-scale holistic farm. i'm not sure how i feel about the lifespan thing! i hadn't really thought of it before, beyond just "veal is bad!". i am trying to find out if there are any operations that allow beef cattle to live longer than just a couple years, but i am not finding any information on the topic.

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How do you kill a large quantity of animals, to satiate current demand 'without inflicting suffering'?
you can't! not with current demand. that's why people should eat less meat.

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So, what does it matter if you can't buy into the idea or that you think most of the world can't in the foreseeable future?

Given the state of the world today, most people won't be willing to even give 'humane slaughter' much of a thought even in the foreseeable future. So is that an argument against 'humane slaughter' just like you seem to be using it against vegetarianism?
i don't think that's true at all. people are finding out more about what goes on behind the scenes of their meat production, and a lot of people are really grossed/freaked out by it. i couldn't say that a lot of people are undergoing spiritual revolutions and realizing that it is immoral to eat meat in any circumstances.
 

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I think I see where you are coming from, as for myself (as a consumer of free range milk/eggs etc with no plans to change that) I can't use (and to many extents dont buy into the underlying issues behind) all the arguments about it being "unfair" to farm animals at all, impossible to serve the entire population of the world in a humane manner, or arguments around supplies of water/grain/farmland etc.

For me, the issue essentially boiled down to the fact that I *couldn't* convince myself that it was ok to kill animals for food. I don't believe in any kind of deity, and don't really consider myself a very spiritual person, but equally I have spent enough time around animals to know that they each have their own "personality" just the same way as all the people I know have their own personalities, and to be the cause of the end of that unique life is something I could never justify to myself.

I also don't believe it is possible to "humanely" cause the death of an animal, regardless of how nicely it was reared. The life will end with the animal in pain from whatever the chosen mechanism of death is (electricution, bolt-gun,throat-slitting, neck-wringing, I cant imagine any of it is painess), writhing and struggling for its last breath. It is hard enough imagining what happens to a pet when you know you have euthanized to end further suffering in life; I can't imagine wanting to be the cause of all that just to satisfy my own stomach.

IMHO we would all behave in a more ethical manner (or in the absence of a unified code fo ethics, then at least more in line with our own system of morality) if we treated other people the same way we treat our friends/family, and in my mind there is no reason that principle shouldnt be extended to treating other animals in the same way as we treat our pets.

(On your question about the age at which animals are killed, the meat is more tender when they are younger, and once a meat animal has reached its full size, there is no incentive to keep it alive any longer from a business perspective. Doesnt make sense to pay the costs of keeping a cow for 6 years when it's value will not increase any further during that period.)
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by senbdib View Post

there are trusted organizations whose sole purpose is animal welfare that are currently attempting to aid in the institution of a system of certification and labeling that will allow people to know how and where their meat was made.
Really? What are these organizations and what are their claims in terms of 'humanely raised' animals?

Quote:
Originally Posted by senbdib View Post

the problem is that the wrong parts of the food industry are currently massively powerful, and the parts that we should support are not.
Ultimately the dollars people spend are what dictates who is 'powerful.' People are buying, predominately (the majority, by far) from factory farming.

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Originally Posted by senbdib View Post

so, in short, just because it's difficult to define "humane" doesn't mean we can't try.
I didn't mean you can't try. My whole point was trying to make it clear that 'humane' (even as you defined it) was entirely unclear.

I think that it's a 'feel good' word, nothing more. It assuages guilt. Sure 'humane' and welfare systems make animal lives a little better, but ultimately we, as humans, are dictating how and when other animals should die, simply for taste buds. We displace and kill off 'native' animals, to gain more and more space to run the animals humans prefer to eat (especially in the scenario where we don't use factory farms, yet still want to consume flesh).

Quote:
Originally Posted by senbdib View Post

current systems of meat production are actually extremely inefficient. the meat industry has to funnel huge amounts of calories from the heavily-subsidized corn and soy providers to feed its animals. add to that the costs of transporting animals all over the nation in their short life-spans, and factory farming is wayyy less efficient than keeping animals on a small-scale holistic farm. i'm not sure how i feel about the lifespan thing! i hadn't really thought of it before, beyond just "veal is bad!". i am trying to find out if there are any operations that allow beef cattle to live longer than just a couple years, but i am not finding any information on the topic.
I'm not sure how that relates to what I asked or stated, but I'm not arguing anything about the inefficiencies of factory farming and I think that argument is irrelevant. However, just in terms of efficiency in producing anything, it's more efficient to grow, harvest, manufacture large quantities in one location than it is to do the same with them spread out over large areas. The same is true for animals. In terms of efficiency, it's better to cram humans into a small space (like a dense city) than it is to spread them out over large areas.

If we have a small-scale 'holistic' (whatever that means) farm with a few animals used for food, it's more efficient to add a couple more than it is to set up a whole other farm. Still it's more efficient to add a couple more, and so on.

Although it makes me feel a bit sick, if the only concern for other animals is how efficient it is to turn them into a consumable product.

Quote:
Originally Posted by senbdib View Post

you can't! not with current demand. that's why people should eat less meat.
It's even easier without eating meat.

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Originally Posted by senbdib View Post

i don't think that's true at all. people are finding out more about what goes on behind the scenes of their meat production, and a lot of people are really grossed/freaked out by it. i couldn't say that a lot of people are undergoing spiritual revolutions and realizing that it is immoral to eat meat in any circumstances.
That didn't really answer my questions.


The vast majority of animals killed and consumed are done so through factory farming, although I would say many people, much more than the remaining percentage, are aware of factory farming practices.

People want to feel good but not have to change practices or habits (including how much is spent or quantities consumed). If we want real change, the system of viewing other animals as 'food,' objectifying animals, needs to stop.
 

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Although ultimately, I think moral consideration, specifically the right to one's own life, should depend on the ability to have a subjective experience, and not on which species one belongs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
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Originally Posted by nogardsram View Post

Really? What are these organizations and what are their claims in terms of 'humanely raised' animals?
whole foods is partnered with the global animal partnership in creating their "5-step animal welfare rating." the american humane association is trying to institute a system of labeling meats that pass their standards as "humane certified."

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Ultimately the dollars people spend are what dictates who is 'powerful.' People are buying, predominately (the majority, by far) from factory farming.
well i know that! that's why it would be helpful for people to buy less meat and to buy it from alternative sources.

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I didn't mean you can't try. My whole point was trying to make it clear that 'humane' (even as you defined it) was entirely unclear.

I think that it's a 'feel good' word, nothing more. It assuages guilt. Sure 'humane' and welfare systems make animal lives a little better, but ultimately we, as humans, are dictating how and when other animals should die, simply for taste buds. We displace and kill off 'native' animals, to gain more and more space to run the animals humans prefer to eat (especially in the scenario where we don't use factory farms, yet still want to consume flesh).
this is just rhetoric. "humane" isn't necessarily a feel-good word, it's just been hijacked by people who want to make a buck off of liberal guilt. as long as there are actual standards in place, then i don't see what's wrong with using the word.

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I'm not sure how that relates to what I asked or stated, but I'm not arguing anything about the inefficiencies of factory farming and I think that argument is irrelevant. However, just in terms of efficiency in producing anything, it's more efficient to grow, harvest, manufacture large quantities in one location than it is to do the same with them spread out over large areas. The same is true for animals. In terms of efficiency, it's better to cram humans into a small space (like a dense city) than it is to spread them out over large areas.

If we have a small-scale 'holistic' (whatever that means) farm with a few animals used for food, it's more efficient to add a couple more than it is to set up a whole other farm. Still it's more efficient to add a couple more, and so on.
i'm not sure what you are suggesting. that all farmers will inevitably turn corrupt and evil and view their animals as commodities? i think, where there's a will and a dollar, there's a way. if factory farming becomes considered flat-out socially unacceptable to have huge amounts of animals suffering to satisfy our cravings, then MAYBE people would consistently vote with their dollar to buy a more ethical product. maybe i am being naive. but if so, it is certainly naive to expect people to do vote with their dollar by never purchasing any animal products at all.

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It's even easier without eating meat.
it's even easier to supply enough meat to match its demand if there is no demand for meat? well... yeah.

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That didn't really answer my questions.


The vast majority of animals killed and consumed are done so through factory farming, although I would say many people, much more than the remaining percentage, are aware of factory farming practices.

People want to feel good but not have to change practices or habits (including how much is spent or quantities consumed). If we want real change, the system of viewing other animals as 'food,' objectifying animals, needs to stop.
exactly! people want to feel good but not have to change practices or habits. and you are hoping that people will stop eating animals? i know it is hard and not at all certain that people will decide to buy meat ethically, but the chance that people will decide to stop buying meat is negligible.

and the likelihood that people will buy meat "ethically" is higher if the proper framework (reliable, enforced certifications & labeling is set up). but absolutist vegans/vegetarians are opposed to even setting up this framework.
 

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Simplest argument against anything labeled 'humane':

'Humane' only relieves the mind of the perpretator, not the victim.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
that's actually kind of how i feel about people being opposed to animal farming in principle. if you would find it upsetting even if an animal was given a good life and killed painlessly, you are only protecting your own sensibilities. animals aren't appalled on a philosophical level at their commodification, because they have no idea what that means.

also, an animal that doesn't suffer most definitely is better off than one that does. i'm not really sure what you are getting at, i guess.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by senbdib View Post

that's actually kind of how i feel about people being opposed to animal farming in principle. if you would find it upsetting even if an animal was given a good life and killed painlessly, you are only protecting your own sensibilities. animals aren't appalled on a philosophical level at their commodification, because they have no idea what that means.

also, an animal that doesn't suffer most definitely is better off than one that does. i'm not really sure what you are getting at, i guess.
An animal that doesn't die by being killed for human consumption, is better off than one that does.

I'm not really sure why you're advocating animals dying on here...
 

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Well, I'm not interested in supporting meat consuming habits so I guess I'm done here (and I believe it's not really allowed by the TOS: http://www.veggieboards.com/newvb/sh...ior-to-posting! "Pro-meat/hunting/etc debate (will result in an immediate ban).").

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Originally Posted by senbdib View Post

i know it is hard and not at all certain that people will decide to buy meat ethically, but the chance that people will decide to stop buying meat is negligible.
Well, this is just speculation. The fact is that at least some people have opted out of buying meat. In terms of society as a whole stopping to buy meat, perhaps you have a detailed analysis to support your notion of 'negligible.' I doubt it.


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Originally Posted by senbdib View Post

but absolutist vegans/vegetarians are opposed to even setting up this framework.
Well that makes sense. They oppose that ideology. You oppose abolition, so you won't even attempt to work within that framework.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by River View Post

An animal that doesn't die by being killed for human consumption, is better off than one that does.

I'm not really sure why you're advocating animals dying on here...
woah! remember i am actually a vegetarian and very likely want the same thing that you do. what is with all this divisiveness in the veg(etari)an community?

in serious response to "An animal that doesn't die by being killed for human consumption, is better off than one that does"... how do you know? there is a lot of suffering in nature.

a nice quote from richard dawkins: "The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive; others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear; others are being slowly devoured from within by rasping parasites; thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst and disease."

and all animals, invariably, will die. a fact which i support wholeheartedly.
 
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