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Ok... I haven't eaten any animal products now for 10 days, and its going well so far, but today I've been having quite the moral debate in my head, and I'd love some input...<br><br><br><br>
Last night for some reason I dreamed about someone offering me oysters, and I couldn't think of a good reason not to eat them. Ridiculous as it is, I guess I'm beginning to understand that venus flytrap question, because I'm starting to wonder how far down the food chain I have to go. I wouldn't eat fish, since I've watched people fish and I find it disturbing. I also have never been one to kill spiders/bugs. I just wonder if I would find killing an oyster any more disturbing than killing a plant. I wouldn't kill a plant for no reason, but I'd kill a plant to eat it, and I wouldn't feel bad. An oyster doesn't have a brain or anything... does it feel pain? Does it want to live more than say a plant or bacteria?<br><br><br><br>
I don't really care if I can't call myself a veg*n anymore if I eat them, as I have no plans of eating one anytime soon. I just wonder how you make the distinction as to at what point (if ever) killing becomes ok to you? at viruses? bacteria? plants? insects? embryos? and please explain why.
 

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Oysters are not vegetarian, here is an explanation I've copied and pasted from the VFF's FAQ glossary..(<a href="http://www.vegetarian.org.uk/factsheets/hiddennasties.html" target="_blank">http://www.vegetarian.org.uk/factshe...ennasties.html</a>)<br><br><br><br><b>oysters - oysters are shellfish which live on sea beds. They are now increasingly intensively farmed. There are two types of oyster farming: suspension culture farming - in which oysters are grown off the sea bottom in floating trays (this method is labour intensive) and bottom culture farming, in which an area of the sea floor, that provides natural food and environment for the oysters, is selected. Oysters are then stocked in the selected area and left to grow and then harvested using a bottom drag from boats. Intensive farming of oysters means that these animals are kept in crowded and unnatural conditions. Fresh oysters are bought alive and often eaten living, although some people choose to cook the living creatures. To open live oyster shells a knife is used to cut internal muscles – this is extremely painful and distressing for the oyster. Depending on the oyster breed they will live for a few days to two weeks out of water. The French squeeze lemon on the opened oyster to assure themselves that it is still alive by watching the muscular reaction to the acidic lemon. For humans there is a high risk of food poisoning through eating raw/live oysters. As oysters live in the sea they also contain harmful toxins such as dioxins and PCB’s.</b><br><br><br><br><br><br>
Personally I don't eat them for those reasons, ie they are sentient beings, however I do eat bacterium(ie marmite, vegemite) which is considered to be vegan because bacteriums are not sentient life forms.
 

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First off, kudos for your new lifestyle change! The compassionate path can be daunting but is ultimately a joyous one. As to your post - I think all life is worthy of respect. In order to respect life , you must respect your own life first and foremost. Sometimes this means the elimination of illness-causing viruses or bacteria. Without human intervention, life on this planet has its own cycle of birth and death and regeneration that we can learn from. To me as a vegan, anything with a nervous system and the POSSIBILITY of experiencing pain needs very careful consideration before its life is ended, and it should be with good reason (i.e. certainly not tastebuds). Just because something can't say "OUCH!", it doesn't mean it's not in pain. There is debate about the experience of pain (called nociception) among different vertebrates, and especially among invertebrates (like an oyster). But would you really want to eat anything that tries to hide from you? Let your conscience be your guide.<br><br><br><br>
On a side note - the whole 'what if plants feel pain' thing is something I've only ever heard brought up by meat eaters, usually as a way to write off vegetarianism as a 'slippery slope' that's "just too hard". Yes, plants react to stimuli, but they do not have the neurons which are necessary for processing pain messages. And yet we can still can be grateful to them that their lives nourish our life.
 

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Hiya lefty. Congrats on such a bold move!<br><br><br><br>
A lot of people focus on "not inflicting pain" rather than "not killing". I think this is why most people wouldn't think twice about gnashing a plant to shreds--because plants don't feel. At least not in the classic neurological way that biologists define "feeling".<br><br><br><br>
But if your question is about simply destroying life (life = any organism that thrives), then I say the answer is that it's never excusable, and we should continually look for alternatives. If you want to go this route, check into fruitarianism which is the practice of eating only the inert reproductive offshoots of plants. I can see no moral reason against eating nuts, apples, tomatoes, and other lifeless botanical parts that fall off naturally. There have been a few of us fruities on VB. Atm I think I'm the only one actively posting, so feel free to pm me with any questions.<br><br><br><br>
As for microscopic organisms, yes, I think about them too. I currently don't have a strong opinion on the matter, but for what it's worth, I stopped eating yeast products, and I plan to be 100% raw by the end of the year. (Raw = no killing bacteria by fire). It's really great that you're thinking about such topics. Drop by Medesha's "value of life" thread in the Compost Heap some time!
 

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I agree with you that it's a tricky issue -- I'm not convinced that oysters have sufficiently evolved nervous systems to feel pain. That said, I haven't eaten them in the 7 months since I became vegetarian. That's not to say I never will -- I haven't decided yet.<br><br><br><br>
I suggest reading The Way We Eat by Peter Singer et al. He discusses the issue and, while he doesn't come to any clear conclusions, I found his discussion more engaging than most. (For example, the quote above "this is extremely painful and distressing for the oyster" completely loses me -- it's not clear to me that oysters feel pain, and I'm certain they don't feel any 'distress' which is an emotion.)
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>lefty2026</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I just wonder how you make the distinction as to at what point (if ever) killing becomes ok to you? at viruses? bacteria? plants? insects? embryos? and please explain why.</div>
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Lefty,<br><br><br><br>
Hiya! I'm new here as well so welcome to both of us. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"> As far as at what point killing becomes okay to me - I certainly understand the dilemma; it has actually kept me from making the leap for some time. For me, I've simply decided to let someone I trusted make that determination for me (perhaps for the first time in my life - not my m.o.) While I am in no way trying to preach - really, but the Culama-lunkya sutta from Buddhism is a poignant story (for me):<br><br><br><br>
Basically it tells the story of a guy shot with a poison arrow - but before he allows the doctor to work on him and save his life he insists on knowing what direction the arrow came from, what type of wood the shaft is made of, what kind of bird the fletching came from etc. I was this way with vegetarianism. Questions I couldn't answer yet, conflicting opinions etc. Researching everything is a lifelong pursuit and I wasn't done yet. Eventually I decided to trust in a particular spiritual teaching on the right place to draw the line. Are they right? There is no way for me to know at this point whether the line should be an inch more to the left or right but I am satisfied that this gets the proverbial ball rolling in a positive way.<br><br><br><br>
Angel
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>DeflatorMouse</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
At least not in the classic neurological way that biologists define "feeling".</div>
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What are the other ways? Do they involve subjective experience?<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">But if your question is about simply destroying life (life = any organism that thrives), then I say the answer is that it's never excusable, and we should continually look for alternatives.</div>
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why?<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">I can see no moral reason against eating nuts, apples, tomatoes, and other lifeless botanical parts that fall off naturally.</div>
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Lifeless? So when a peach is attached it's alive, once it drops it's lifeless? Aren't these things alive? Or do we have to wait until each cell is dead? How do you define alive vs. dead?
 

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Sentience is the relevant factor for me, because sentience means that some treatment matters to the sentient being her/him/itself. When you have a negative experience, that means that you do not <i>like</i> that experience, you have a preference against it, a preference which we can respect.<br><br><br><br>
Something without sentience, however, like a plant, doesn't have any preferences about the way it should be treated. We cannot say that killing a plant harms it, in the true sense, because we cannot say that the plant cares whether it be killed or not. For the plant, it doesn't matter whether we kill it or not - because the expression "for the plant" is already mistaken, as the plant has no viewpoint or subjective take on the world. Yes, it prevents the plant from growing and living, but that growing and living is nothing but existence in space-time for me.<br><br><br><br>
So sentience is the baseline for me. If I'm not sure whether something is sentient, I want to give it the benefit of a doubt.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Sevenseas</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
For the plant, it doesn't matter whether we kill it or not - because the expression "for the plant" is already mistaken, as the plant has no viewpoint or subjective take on the world.</div>
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I don't see how that can be determined. We don't know what a plant's experience is like; we can only observe them and imagine what it is like to be a plant.
 

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This gets close to my own inability to follow Veg ethics;<br><br><br><br>
As far as I can see, there's only one "sentience", and everything shares it to a different degree.<br><br><br><br>
I mean, I'm appalled by "certain contemporary farming practices" to the point where I won't eat THAT food; but I can't see carrying that to the point of parrticipating in the complex game of Veg'ism.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Thalia</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>DeflatorMouse</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
At least not in the classic neurological way that biologists define "feeling".</div>
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What are the other ways?</div>
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Many people define "feeling" in a spiritual sense.<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Thalia</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>DeflatorMouse</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
But if your question is about simply destroying life (life = any organism that thrives), then I say the answer is that it's never excusable, and we should continually look for alternatives.</div>
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why?</div>
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Check out Medesha's "Value of Life" thread in the Compost Heap. (I'm not being evasive. I just don't want to clutter lefty's thread with long philosophical rambles.)<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Thalia</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>DeflatorMouse</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I can see no moral reason against eating nuts, apples, tomatoes, and other lifeless botanical parts that fall off naturally.</div>
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Lifeless? So when a peach is attached it's alive, once it drops it's lifeless?</div>
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Bingo. If you define life as I defined it ("any organism which thrives"), then a rotting peach is not alive, nor is a fallen leaf or a pile of toenails. Not alive. Are you saying that you <i>do</i> have a moral hangup with eating nuts? If so, why, and what's your solution?
 

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For me, unless someone can come up with an example that I am not thinking of, it's pretty much if it's living, and not a plant or bacteria/probiotic, I won't eat it.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>DeflatorMouse</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
Are you saying that you <i>do</i> have a moral hangup with eating nuts? If so, why, and what's your solution?</div>
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Yes. I have a hang up with it. Nuts and seeds are baby plants. The "flesh" of fruits are food for baby fruits. I have a solution. We invest in research into human autotrophism. We genetically engineer ourselves to photosynthesize and absorb from the ground. Until that happens, I only eat leaves which fall from the plant which cannot grow once on the ground. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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Sorry to be crass, but my friend and I were just having this conversation. Why do people eat oysters anyway? I've always been willing to try anything once (but now I'm a vegan), and when being shown how to eat the oyster I was directed to basically just "shoot it." Meaning to just swallow, not chew.<br><br><br><br>
So, how does this bring enjoyment to one's palate? And to me, and of course everyone has different tastes and that's great, but it just plain reminds me of phlegm.<br><br><br><br>
So it boggles my mind that people pay extra, to not taste, but just swallow, boogers.<br><br><br><br><br><br>
I just grossed myself out.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Seusomon</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I don't see how that can be determined. We don't know what a plant's experience is like; we can only observe them and imagine what it is like to be a plant.</div>
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I have come full circle, as my first post on VB ever was a response to your comments about plants and sentience.<br><br><br><br>
I think it's pointless to frame this in terms of what we don't <i>know</i>. That line of thinking can be used to question the sentience of non-humans - "sure, they appear to be sentient, but do we <i>know</i> that"? It is quite fitting that this line of thinking is very Cartesian, and that Descartes used to think that animals feel nothing and so can be vivisected in most atrocious ways.<br><br><br><br>
And if we claim that only absolute first-person knowledge (like of our own mental states) is to count as true knowledge, then we don't know whether headphones or pencils or rocks feel pain either. This reduces the original argument for (the possibility) of plant sentience into a triviality.<br><br><br><br>
No, we should frame knowledge as justified belief, belief grounded in some kind of rational grounds or reasons. What reasons do we have for assuming that a plant has experiences? As many point out, pain would serve only a limited purpose for survival, as plants cannot move. Plants don't have much of "pain behaviour", except for maybe some avoidance and some "healing". Most importantly however, they do not have even the rudimentary physical features that we associate with sentience in ourselves and in other animals. We lack any coherent, rationally tenable reasons to assume they are, or might be, sentient.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Wow - thanks for all the responses...<br><br><br><br>
It seems to me that there are three basic answers to this question,<br><br>
1)Killing everyone but humans is ok (most omnivores)<br><br>
2)Killing anything not sentient is ok (veg*ns)<br><br>
3)Killing is never ok (fruitarians)<br><br><br><br>
While the fruitarians may be right, I personally am not ready for that much commitment. So I guess I just have to decide where sentience begins.<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>cookingVeg</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
(For example, the quote above "this is extremely painful and distressing for the oyster" completely loses me -- it's not clear to me that oysters feel pain, and I'm certain they don't feel any 'distress' which is an emotion.)</div>
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I agree - I don't believe an oyster is capable of emotion.<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Lummo</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I mean, I'm appalled by "certain contemporary farming practices" to the point where I won't eat THAT food; but I can't see carrying that to the point of parrticipating in the complex game of Veg'ism.</div>
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I can see where people may get frustrated... If I was to go through all the trouble of cutting out all fish/meat/eggs/dairy/other animal products, because I disagree with the treatment of those animals, and I did happen to decide to eat an oyster, then all of a sudden I'm not even in the veggie club. Oh well - we all do what we can.<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>wheesaidshe</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
Sorry to be crass, but my friend and I were just having this conversation. Why do people eat oysters anyway?</div>
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Umm cause they're delicious. Fried oysters are unbelievable, and raw, they're like wine, everyone is a little different. I love them, but then I love just about every type of food, even the wierd stuff. Of course I agree that a creature shouldn't die just for the satisfaction of my tastebuds.<br><br><br><br>
Anyway...I suppose I do believe that killing the oyster would be wrong, but is it as wrong as killing say a cow? Do you have gradiented morality on this topic... Do you think its as wrong to kill a cow as to kill a human?
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>lefty2026</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
Wow - thanks for all the responses...<br><br><br><br>
It seems to me that there are three basic answers to this question,<br><br>
1)Killing everyone but humans is ok (most omnivores)<br><br>
2)Killing anything not sentient is ok (veg*ns)<br><br>
3)Killing is never ok (fruitarians)</div>
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Although my last post was in jest, part of it was serious. I am not convinced that eating fruit is not killing. Seeds are baby plants which will "thrive" if left alone, and often the flesh of fruits nourishes the seed. I have yet to see a definition of "thrive" "alive" or "lifeless" that is meaningful in this moral context. Also, the reason killing is bad is being ignored. It's being assumed as always true.<br><br><br><br>
Once again, the solution is autotrophism. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>lefty2026</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I agree - I don't believe an oyster is capable of emotion.<br></div>
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It's not a question of emotion so much as a question of pain. Whether an oyster can feel 'love' or 'sadness' is debatable. But bivalves do have a nervous system. They have hearts, stomachs, mouths, internal organs, tentacles...even a butt!<br><br><br><br>
The word "distress" doesn't necessarily mean the oyster is shocked and upset. It means the oyster registers pain/danger and enters a state of reaction where it wants to get away. But it can't, because you're holding it, and then you're ripping it it half and deep-frying it and then eating it.<br><br><br><br>
If that's cool with you, it's cool. You asked where to draw the line and it's entirely up to you. Good luck with everything, feel free to ask if you have more questions!
 

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When I first went vegetarian I had a dream about someone offerring me a chicken breast and I slammed it against the wall ;-)<br><br>
Killing is ok as long as its not yet alive, like embryos =)!!
 
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