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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was surprised to see that on Wikipedia's page on veganism includes a passage about Peter Singer's "Paris exemption".<br><br>
The following is copied from Wikipedia's page at<br><a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vegan#Debate_about_the_.22Paris_exemption.22" target="_blank">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vegan#D...s_exemption.22</a><br><br><br>
///////////////////////////////////////////<br><br><span style="color:#800080;">Singer's support for the "Paris exemption"—the acceptance of flexibility on special occasions, or when vegan food is hard to find—is part of a debate within the animal rights movement about the extent to which it ought to promote strict veganism without exception. The positions are reflected by the divide between the animal protectionist side—represented by Singer and PETA's consequentialist approach—which argues that incremental change can achieve real reform, and the abolitionist—represented by Francione's emphasis on rights—which argues that apparent welfare reform serves only to persuade the public that animal use is morally unproblematic. Singer said in 2006 that the movement should be more tolerant of people who choose to use animal products if they are careful about making sure the animals had a decent life.[67] Bruce Friedrich of PETA argued in the same year that a strict adherence to veganism can become an obsession. Veganism should not be dogma, he wrote:</span><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block"><span style="color:#800080;">[W]e all know people whose reason for not going vegan is that they "can't" give up cheese or ice cream. ... Instead of encouraging them to stop eating all other animal products besides cheese or ice cream, we preach to them about the oppression of dairy cows. Then we go on about how we don’t eat sugar or a veggie burger because of the bun, even though a tiny bit of butter flavor in a bun contributes to significantly less suffering than any non-organic fruit or vegetable does or a plastic bottle or about 100 other things that most of us use. Our fanatical obsession with ingredients not only obscures the animals’ suffering—which was virtually non-existent for that tiny modicum of ingredient—but also nearly guarantees that those around us are not going to make any change at all. So, we’ve preserved our personal purity, but we’ve hurt animals—and that’s anti-vegan.[68]</span></div>
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<br><span style="color:#800080;">Francione writes that this position is similar to arguing that, because human rights abuses can never be eliminated entirely, we should not safeguard human rights in situations we control. By failing to ask a server whether something contains animal products, in the interest of avoiding a fuss, he argues that we reinforce the idea that the moral rights of animals are a matter of convenience. He concludes from this that the PETA/Singer position fails even on its own consequentialist terms</span><br><br>
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I can sorta see the argument from both sides, really. I find Singer hard to stomach as a person since he apparently sometimes eats <i>steak</i> as a matter of "convenience" and apparently condones animal/human sex, but as far as the points Friedrich makes about <i>advocating</i> for animals there's a good point there too. Maybe not when it comes to ice cream but you can easily make the argument that things like processed sugar or film might not be worth arguing against too strongly since the sales of those items could never directly support or justify the slaughter industry.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Josh James xVx</strong> <a href="/forum/post/2926468"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
since he apparently sometimes eats <i>steak</i> as a matter of "convenience"</div>
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Do you have a source for this other than a claim made in another VB thread?
 

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I was recently reading this article on Peter Singer <a href="http://www.upc-online.org/thinking/peter_singer.html" target="_blank">http://www.upc-online.org/thinking/peter_singer.html</a><br><br>
My AR book club just read Animal Liberation and I read it a couple years ago right after going vegetarian. Rereading it now has been interesting. I find him too utilitarian and his arguments about beastiality really come off as condoning it in a way. I'm too tired to really go into more detail. But suffice to say I'm really not much of a Peter Singer fan.
 

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Singer aside, the consequentialist versus abolitionist debate, in wider terms, rages far and wide in radical political theory, not just among vegans. For example, when does a somewhat radical political movement like the Greens in Europe and elsewhere 'dampen down' policy in order to get more votes and thereby have more influence and real power to change the many things they stand for. The alternative is to be absolutely pure, receive fewer votes and wield less absolute power.<br><br>
Similarly, I don't like seeing veganism becoming a 'religion', or worse, a cult, with all that implies for tolerance and growth. Having said that, we should be trying 'very hard' to stick to principles, even with some failings across the board. That perception will be different for individuals. Pragmatism sits too much in no-persons land, but I don't like absolutes -- in truth or life.
 

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I think calling it a "Paris Exemption" is rather funny since <a href="http://www.vegguide.org/region/56" target="_blank">Paris has vegetarian and vegan restaurants</a>. If "real" Parisians can eat veg*n, then why can't tourists?<br><br>
LeeRogers is correct that "the consequentialist versus abolitionist debate, in wider terms, rages far and wide in radical political theory, not just among vegans." I remember a debate we had when I was a volunteer for the Nevada Women's Lobby about the death penalty. The issue was whether or not we should support death penalty reforms (for example, raising the age so that minors could not be punished with capital punishment or setting a minimum IQ so that persons with intellectual disabilities could not be punished with the death penalty). The argument was that if we support reforms, we might delay abolition. Who knows if that is true? It's so hard to tell these things. But doesn't it just seem wrong to make existing people (or animals) suffer in hopes of more radical social change in the future? To me it doesn't seem right to save justice for later.<br><br>
Anyway, back to the point of the "Paris Exemption." I do think that it makes sense to advocate for animals in a way that is appealing to the people who are causing animals the most harm currently. I do think that telling people that they can become "almost vegan" and still eat a little cheese now and then is OK. I think that's helpful for some people to realize that things don't have to be black or white, all or nothing, they can make small changes now and build up to something that becomes more meaninful and consistent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I think that this debate is a false dichotomy.<br><br>
I think Bruce Friedrich's claim is simply false. We do not turn anyone away from veganism by refusing to eat items which have trace amounts of animal products, or by promoting pure veganism as the ideal.<br><br>
What does turn people away is to be told that if they are not 100% vegan, then nothing they do matters.<br><br>
Paradoxically, the position advocated by Bruce Friedrich in this article actually has the same problem. Although he is criticizing people for being "too vegan" instead of "not vegan enough", the effect is the same.<br><br>
In both cases, this is telling people that if their level of veganism doesn't meet some arbitrary standard of approval, then they are hurting animals even more than if they just went back to eating meat. So if people believe that this is the case, then many will do precisely that.<br><br>
-Eugene
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Eugene</strong> <a href="/forum/post/2927150"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I think that this debate is a false dichotomy.<br><br>
I think Bruce Friedrich's claim is simply false. We do not turn anyone away from veganism by refusing to eat items which have trace amounts of animal products, or by promoting pure veganism as the ideal.<br><br>
What does turn people away is to be told that if they are not 100% vegan, then nothing they do matters.<br><br>
Paradoxically, the position advocated by Bruce Friedrich in this article actually has the same problem. Although he is criticizing people for being "too vegan" instead of "not vegan enough", the effect is the same.<br><br>
In both cases, this is telling people that if their level of veganism doesn't meet some arbitrary standard of approval, then they are hurting animals even more than if they just want back to eating meat. So if people believe that this is the case, then many will do precisely that.<br><br>
-Eugene</div>
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We are in exact agreement here, Eugene!<br><br>
Sometimes I wonder though if the audience that Friedrich is trying to reach isn't the audience he appears to be speaking to. He may well know that strict vegans will just tune him out and that there's no risk of them reverting back to nonveganism. I think it's possible that this is just a clever way of reaching out to nonvegans and encouraging them to make more plant-based food and clothing choices. But I could just be overthinking it all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
No, it's not that. Bruce Friedrich is a walking parody of someone who turns people away from veganism with every utterance that he makes. And Peter Singer's views on infanticide are far more likely to alienate people than are any concerns over trace ingredients.<br><br>
The issue at hand is that humans are not so much a rational animal as they are a rationalizing animal. If Bruce or Peter want to consume products with animal ingredients in them, then they are going to be able to convince themselves that they are helping animals in the process.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">I was surprised to see that on Wikipedia's page on veganism includes a passage about Peter Singer's "Paris exemption".</div>
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Remember WikiPedia is user generated content. This works out quite well most of the time. But you do see occasional attempts to use the Wiki to advocate for a position under the guise of a descriptive entry. The "Paris exemption" doesn't reach the importance threshold to devote a sentence to it, let alone a full paragraph. Maybe in the entry for Singer, but not in the entry for veganism. Do you learn anything about veganism from the paragraph?
 

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My first year vegetarian, I turned down going on a family trip to Paris. For one thing, I didn't want to sleep in extremely close quarters in a tiny apartment with way too many relatives. But also I thought if I went I would eat meat over there. Not that I didn't know there were vegetarian restaurants there, but the available meat would have been really tempting at the time. And my family would not have been eating in vegetarian restaurants. When you're part of a group, you eat where the group wants to eat, and I thought it would have been a struggle. A sister of mine, "almost vegetarian" at the time, ate meat frequently on that trip and continued as an omnivore once she got back. I think Peter Singer's idea is that if making an occasional exception -- Paris, Thanksgiving, Grandma's house -- makes it easier to sustain a meatless default mode, then that makes sense for that person. And of course, fewer animals get consumed by that person in the long run. I run into people that this works for: eating meat only on specific, rare occasions that usually have to do with family and with traditional holiday dishes. When these people call themselves vegetarians, I now let that pass without comment.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Joan Kennedy</strong> <a href="/forum/post/2927616"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
A sister of mine, "almost vegetarian" at the time, ate meat frequently on that trip and continued as an omnivore once she got back. I think Peter Singer's idea is that if making an occasional exception -- Paris, Thanksgiving, Grandma's house -- makes it easier to sustain a meatless default mode, then that makes sense for that person.</div>
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<br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>delicioso</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I heard Singer say that he did occasionally eat as a vegetarian, but never eats meat.</div>
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I can easily see veg*ns not hassling over trace or even unseen ingredients if they're on a trip and there aren't many options, but I don't get anyone who is veg*n full out eating meat. In that case, they're just not, or they ought to acknowledge to themselves that they're an omni who likes to eat veg*n or whatever.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">I think that this debate is a false dichotomy.</div>
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I'd go even further. A debate between abolitionism and reformism would be possible. A debate between consequentialist approaches and deontological approaches would be possible. A debate between abolitionism and consequentialist approaches is nonsensical.<br><br>
The problem is confusion between Francione's particular take on deontology and the idea of abolition. Conceivably a consequentialist approach could also be abolitionist. I long ago decided consequentialist approaches were fundamentally flawed and stopped paying much attention to them, so I'm definitely not someone who could make that argument, but I don't see any reason it couldn't be made. I can say for certain deontological approaches do not necessarily lead to abolitionist conclusions. (See for example Francione's critique of Regan's ideas)
 

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I am not sure about the whole travelling thing. But in france there would be plenty of french sticks to eat, and they like salad. I would imagine it would be easy to find veg*n food there.
 

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True, if you're not looking for mock meat and you're not eating at a restaurant. But farmers markets are indeed great!
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Irizary</strong> <a href="/forum/post/2927766"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
I can easily see veg*ns not hassling over trace or even unseen ingredients if they're on a trip and there aren't many options, but I don't get anyone who is veg*n full out eating meat. In that case, they're just not, or they ought to acknowledge to themselves that they're an omni who likes to eat veg*n or whatever.</div>
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I agree; I like it much better when people use accurate terms to describe themselves. In the post of mine you quoted, my sister never was completely vegetarian, but for more than a year she had been eating vegetarian about 95 percent of the time, and believed herself to be transitioning to full-time. The reason I wrote about her literal Paris Exemption experience (besides how relevant it was to this thread) is that once she gave herself over to eating meat on vacation in Paris, she reverted to full-on omnivore and has been ever since. That for me is the pitfall of the Paris Exemption: Paris is the foodie capital of the world, and the cuisine is particularly apt to remind anyone who misses the taste of meat just how much they liked it, and how prominently meat factors into what the world considers fine dining.
 
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