Letter writer: Flawed arguments offered for animal farming

Graphic by Lori Deaton

As someone who teaches college ethics and who writes on animal rights issues, I was interested to read Lee Warren’s defense of animal agriculture in her letter to the Xpress [“Vegan Activists’ Attacks Are Misguided” online letter, Nov. 19].  Sadly, Warren is unable to offer a single good argument for animal agriculture. But she does offer several notably bad ones.

Warren, director of the Organic Growers School in Asheville, claims that advocates for animals and organic animal farmers like herself are “natural allies,” because both sides, she says, want “less violence toward animals.” But that’s untrue. Animal rights advocates oppose all forms of violence toward other animals, particularly the systemic violence entailed in animal agriculture. They don’t just want a world with “less” human intentional human violence toward animals; they want a world without any of it.

What is at issue in the recent brouhaha in Asheville over so-called “humane” slaughter, then, is not whether it’s better for a chicken to be raised outdoors rather than inside a giant warehouse, but whether we are justified in subjecting chickens and other animals to mass violence in the first place.

Incredibly, Warren denies that killing nonhuman animals is, in fact, “violence” at all.  Why? Because killing is “death,” she says, and not “violence.”  (She calls it a “humane, sane, life-giving” activity.)  By Warren’s Orwellian logic, thus, if a psychopath comes up to me on the street and slits my throat with a knife or shoots me in the head, that wouldn’t be “violence” either, because I would have died.  Yes, Warren really is saying that.

Many Xpress readers no doubt view local vegans’ emotional appeals on behalf of farmed animals with bemusement or simply with perplexity.  That’s because we’re socialized from birth to think of cows, chickens, pigs, ducks and pretty much every other animal on the planet as stupid, unclean and irrational. Animals are just so much worthless trash. So to complain about killing them is akin to finding fault with the garbage man for collecting our garbage.

But other animals aren’t trash.  The available science shows unequivocally that they share with us a wide variety of psychological, emotional and cognitive traits, capacities and experiences.  They, too, have emotions, personalities, memories, a capacity to love and be loved, to form relations with others and so on.

People who have lived with cats or dogs, who have formed loving bonds with them, know this intuitively — that other animals aren’t trash. Tragically, though, the same people often have difficulty believing that pigs or chickens could be as emotionally complex, intelligent, sensitive and curious — or as prone to suffering and trauma — as cats and dogs.

So try this thought experiment: Imagine a stranger entering your home, then stabbing to death your cat or dog.  Suppose, further, that the killer, in response to your cries of anguish at the sight, turns to you with a smile and remarks calmly:  “I’m just affirming a deep contemplation of the role of ego and projection in our collective experience of death.”  Would you accept such an “explanation” for the murder of your companion?

I doubt it.  Yet this is just the explanation Meredith Leigh, another recent letter writer published in the Xpress [“Slaughtering Class Is About Life and Awareness,” Nov. 16], has given in defense of her “Cycles of Life” workshops with Wild Abundance, during which she and others teach students to stab sheep to death. Though Leigh couches her violence as “education,” as a quasi-spiritual mode of relating to nonhuman life, her tortured excuses fail to mask what is really going on, which is her and her students’ willful brutality and shocking lack of respect for the bodily integrity of other beings.

In the view of Lee Warren, however, organized violence, like the “Cycles of Life” workshop, should be held uncontroversial, because humans have “sovereignty over other beings.”  What Warren seems to mean is that “might makes right” — that the powerful have a natural right to dominate and to dispose violently of, less powerful “inferiors.” This ugly prejudice dates back to the ancient world, to a time when humans owned slaves, women were treated as property by men, and parents could sell or even kill their own children with impunity.  Surely, however, such a “philosophy” has no place in the modern world.

Warren nonetheless clings to this discredited view, telling us that “the reason animals are born is because they will one day die and provide food. That’s their role.” Warren thus mistakes a human, cultural construct — the animal agriculture system — with a fact of nature.  Apologists for slavery made similar arguments during the antebellum period, decrying abolitionism on grounds that slaves were “bred” in order to be sold, and that it was their “role” to labor and to die on the plantations of whites.  The fact that nonhuman animals today are forced to reproduce in order that we might kill and eat them similarly tells us nothing whatsoever about the moral rightness of such a system.

Humans exterminate an estimated 150 billion land and sea animals each year to satisfy the insatiable, growing market for nonhuman flesh, ova and milk. The locavore and sustainable farming movements are mere niche markets in the context of this global killing field. And they will remain so, for purely economic reasons. It is neither ecologically sustainable nor practically possible to replace industrialized animal agriculture with smaller, organic farm operations, owing simply to the vast scales and efficiencies necessary to graze, house, feed, transport, kill, dismember and market billions of animals for 7 billion humans.

To the extent that Warren, Leigh, and other boosters of organic animal agriculture continue to apologize for the meat system, then they are essentially defending a gargantuan system of mass violence — forever. Strip away all their rhetoric of “compassion” for animals, and it becomes clear that the future they envision is no less violent, ruthless and immoral vis-à-vis other animals than the world we now inhabit. The only way to mitigate the horrific suffering our species now inflicts on the others is to abolish animal agriculture as such, once and for all.

— John Sanbonmatsu
Associate professor of philosophy
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Worcester, Mass.

Editor’s note: A shorter version of this letter appeared in the print issue of Xpress.


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69 thoughts on “Letter writer: Flawed arguments offered for animal farming

  1. Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

    What’s the difference between raising a chicken and raising a cat?

    • Lulz

      LOL, college professors should be more concerned with the criminal rackets of debt that they place on young people who will never recover. And college is now not a place of higher learning, but one of a mafia organization that extorts money and creates misery.

      • Mary Finelli

        These very basics of genuine civilization: fairness, respect and compassion, are woefully missing in our society, including in our education systems, and particularly when it comes to the treatment of our fellow sentient species. It’s to Professor Sanbonmatsu great credit that he addresses it so eloquently here. Hopefully readers will be open-minded and sensible enough to take his words to heart and heed them.

        • Lulz

          LOL, he’s an overpaid blowhard that passes judgment on others. And uses his bully pulpit of the new church of the USA, college as a way of moral superiority. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness includes such beliefs as leaving others alone. His pay of course has and will bring so much financial turmoil to the kids stupid enough to get indebted so he can sit around and write crap incapable of those pursuits.

          • Mary Finelli

            “he’s an overpaid blowhard that passes judgment on others”

            Are you so oblivious as to miss the irony of your own comment?

    • There is no morally relevant difference between a chicken and a cat. The difference in “raising” any animal is in the intention: rescue and adoption of a domesticated and otherwise homeless chicken or cat, for the animal’s wellbeing, is morally good and right. Exploiting or killing a healthy chicken or cat is morally bad and wrong.

      • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

        So as far as a vegan is concerned, nothing ethically wrong with raising chickens as pets?

        • That’s not what I wrote. Rescue and adoption is completely different from breeding and raising. Rescue and adoption of unwanted animals is good. Breeding and raising (that is, exploiting) is wrong. Here’s a rule of thumb: treat an animal as you would a previously homeless 3 year old adopted child.

          • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

            So breeding and raising a dog or a cat is exploiting them, and therefore wrong?

          • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

            No vegan has a response to this? I’m disappointed.

          • Pod people are parasites, which has a greater resemblance to people feeding off the flesh and secretions of sentient animals than people who feed off plants.

            And yes, until we stop killing two million unwanted healthy dogs and probably even more unwanted healthy cats, and as long as animals are property without rights under the law, and as long as millions of dogs and cats annually experience horrific lives as property without rights under law, breeding and raising dogs and cats is wrong and unethical. This is a perfectly moderate and reasonable viewpoint for anyone who cares about dogs and cats as individuals.

          • Clarification: That is two million unwanted healthy dogs ANNUALLY, and probably even more unwanted healthy cats annually.

  2. SpareChange

    “Killing is bad” veganism can provide a meaty argument for the rest of us to chew on. However, when it takes the form (as offered in John Sanbonmatsu’s letter) of inflexible and literal ideology, arguing that any and all raising, killing, consumption and use of animals is equally unethical and immoral, then for the large majority of people it ceases to provide a useful contribution to the discourse of living and eating ethically. When no middle ground is permissible, when any and all use or consumption of animals or animal products is argued to be as bad as the worst excesses of the meat industry, then the most important points and contributions of the vegan perspective are lost on those who may most benefit from considering them. I believe most people do think that raising animals in better conditions (often better than would be found in the wild), and killing and consuming them in a manner which minimizes suffering, is preferable and more ethical than wanton indifference to their living conditions or means of slaughter. Absent that willingness to find or accept any middle ground, then the discourse degenerates into yet another irresolvable issue in the culture wars, where absolute moral assertions offer no room for any other position, and thus no room for real reflection and compromise. By so thoroughly dismissing counter-arguments with hardened moral certitude, it also has the effect of just turning people off. No longer just “bemused” or “perplexed” by uncompromising, self-righteous moralists, people become unwilling to hear the case at all.

    • Lulz

      Again, what we’re seeing is people associated with colleges falsely assuming they’re in positions of political power and have actual intelligence. It’s why they can’t fathom that middle class workers have turned their backs on them. They’re so insulated from actual reality and in a bubble that they’ve become nothing more than objects of ridicule and absurdity,

      Witness the moron recently at Drexel who called for the exterminatation of whites. And FEELS completely safe in saying such things. That of course won’t be tolerated much longer.

    • The Real World

      Nailed it, SpareChange. There have been volumes of articles in this paper about this topic for the last year and the tactic used is virtually always the same……one of sermonizing browbeating.

      Veggie/vegans have NO IDEA how to persuade or even present a compelling message. I’ve mentioned that numerous times on these threads and not one time have any of them inquired about what would be a better way to do it. What does that tell you? It tells me it’s not really about making the world a “better” place; it’s about making themselves feel morally superior to others. If we all turned vegan, they’d be lost without their bogeyman and would cook-up a new one.

      (Psst, a secret, I’ve figured out their Achilles Heel……ask them their viewpoint of abortion. They will run away and not respond. What does that tell you?)

      • Lulz

        They aren’t superior to anyone. If anything, their arrogance is indicative of a lack of SELF AWARENESS.

      • think critically

        While it is true that many vegans are pro-choice, some are not. It is a separate issue, and depends on when you believe life begins. It is by no means an “Achilles Heel,” as you suggest. Here are the words of Kathy Guillermo, a vegan who opposes abortion:

        Animals, babies can both be loved

        It happened again. My husband and I had taken our three kids out for the afternoon and I happened to be wearing a shirt with an animal rights message: “Respect your fellow Earthlings.” Beneath the words is a drawing by cartoonist Berkeley Breathed of a young woman extending her hand to a cautious group of animals, including a chimpanzee, a dog, a bird, a bunny and a pig.

        Not exactly in your face, but it made at least one person see red, because without warning, he was in my face. His features were twisted in anger and his index finger was pointed right at my nose. My kids were startled. The eight-month-old, in a pack on her dad’s back, burst into frightened tears.

        “You care more about animals than people!” the stranger shouted, spit flying from his mouth. “You should be saving babies from abortion, not worrying about pigs! You would rather help animals than unborn babies!”

        Without saying a word, my husband and I guided our family past the furious man, who continued to yell epithets until we were out of his shouting range. No point in arguing with someone who’s about to throw a punch.

        Such incidents are shocking, particularly when my young children witness them. But they’re hardly surprising. I’ve heard the same accusation dozens of times. It’s usually tossed up like a trump card, delivered with a smug look that says, “Now I’ve got you! Nobody can admit to caring more about cows strung upside down in the slaughterhouse than about babies!”

        I’ve heard plenty of arguments against my belief that might doesn’t make right, that we have no right to cage, eat, experiment on and wear animals on our backs simply because we hold the guns and whips and knives. But the abortion accusation is the most puzzling. Why single out animal rights activists? Did the angry man at the beach approach the fellow wearing the Miller High Life shirt and accuse him of loving beer more than babies?

        There is a lot of suffering in the world and all of it needs to be addressed. Why waste time vilifying people who are already trying to alleviate some of it? My guess is that the angry man at the beach doesn’t accuse telephone operators, teachers, bankers, garbage collectors or any other working people of loving their jobs more than babies. He probably doesn’t stand outside movie theaters accusing filmgoers of wasting their time on mindless entertainment while unborn babies die. No, the angry man’s ire is reserved for those who are trying to end cruel, outdated practices, like shoving shampoo down guinea pigs’ throats and watching tigers jump through burning hoops; for those who know we’d be healthier, and the animals better off, if we didn’t consume decaying flesh; and for those who believe fashion shouldn’t involve bloodshed.

        And this is what betrays the angry man. He isn’t thinking so much about saving unborn babies as he is about preserving his turf. He is threatened by the suggestion that we should “respect our fellow Earthlings” because, if he did, he might have to make a few adjustments in his life. After he puts down his “Abortion Is Murder” sign he couldn’t stop for a Big Mac, for example.

        Certainly, it’s easier to make me the villain than face the fact that experimenters still starve and shock animals in “food aversion” studies. But if he labels me a hypocrite, he can dismiss the notion of “respect” for all. I happen to be pro-life. Many animal rights activists are. Many others believe abortion is acceptable, for both humans and animals. It’s not easy to categorize us. We are Democrats and Republicans, men and women, young, middle-aged and old, liberal and conservative; we are college professors, store clerks, writers, priests, ex-hunters, homemakers, actors, dentists, researchers, secretaries, students, veterinarians and mail carriers.

        What we share is the belief that there is an alternative to every cruel act. We believe that if we can stop suffering regardless of what species the victim is we should stop it.

        Still, I sympathize a bit with the angry man at the beach; I used to be him. I used to eat animal flesh, wear leather shoes, and munch popcorn at the circus while elephants twirled before me. Facing up to the pain I supported every time I smeared mayonnaise on a ham sandwich was momentarily uncomfortable, but finding another, better way was surprisingly easy. The most important lesson I learned is that we don’t have to choose between people and animals. There is no competition between us; sharing our compassion with animals only makes us better human beings.

        Kathy Guillermo is a writer for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the author of “Monkey Business: The Disturbing Case That Launched the Animal Rights Movement.”


      • The Real World:

        I’ve had a few exchanges with you on past letters on this site. There is nothing anyone could say that would persuade you (and at least a few others here) to stop contributing to the unnecessary and intentional infliction of violence on innocent and vulnerable others. If it were just you and me, I would not respond to someone like you; however, I believe some readers might benefit from reading responses to you, so I do respond.

        The abortion issue is no weakness for vegans. Abortion is a significantly different issue, which is why there are pro-life vegans (e.g. Matthew Scully – search Pro Life Pro Animal in National Review article) and pro-choice vegans. One can be pro-choice or pro-life and consistently be vegan (defined as a philosophy and way of life that seeks to avoid animal exploitation and harm as much as is practicable).

        Here are some of the more significant differences and similarities between abortion and animal exploitation:

        1) Fetuses are not sentient during at least the first three months of pregnancy, and probably not sentient until after 5 months. Sentience is a sufficient criterion for moral consideration. If a vegan’s criterion for moral consideration is sentience, then pre-sentient abortions (i.e. first term abortions) may consistently not be a moral issue at all.

        2) In cases of abortions of sentient fetuses, there needs to be adequate justification given by relevant facts and circumstances. To abort a sentient fetus for reasons as trivial as animal product consumers provide for killing sentient nonhumans (e.g. tradition and bad habits) is wrong, and akin to aborting sentient fetuses (i.e. using late term abortions) as a regular form of birth control. Further, most animal product consumers do the equivalent of getting an abortion once a week out of habit. By contrast, most vegans have never had an abortion, much less habitually have them.

        3) There are religious vegans (e.g. Matthew Scully) who believe it is seriously wrong to abort from conception because ensoulment happens at conception. Non-religious vegans need not accept such a view to be consistent. All non-religious vegans need to do is to take sentient fetuses (e.g. late term abortions) as seriously as they take nonhuman animals’ lives when it comes to justifying intentionally inflicted harm, and most vegans do this.

        4) The abortion issue can be turned against non-vegans far easier than against vegans. Do you believe abortions immediately (within a few hours) before birth, which is morally indistinguishable from infanticide, are a morally acceptable form of routine birth control? (That is, aborting a perfectly healthy human when the mother’s health is NOT at risk.) If not, then you should be vegan to be consistent.

        Maybe the reason you cannot be persuaded to take animals’ lives seriously is that you simply don’t care. Admitting you just don’t care about the issue is a far more honest approach than trying, and failing miserably, to justify it. You cannot justify consuming animal products. It’s only because of cultural prejudice, leading to a strong indifference, against animals, combined with a related failure to think about the issue seriously, that most people erroneously believe animal exploitation is justified.

        • think critically

          Thanks, Dan, for your excellent post. There are so many misconceptions about animal rights and veganism. I hope some folks with open minds are reading your words, you have articulated your position well. And you are so right, I could respect people more if they just said that they didn’t give a damn, that they believe that might makes right, etc., rather than going to great lengths to obfuscate the issue.

          • Thanks for your kind words, think critically. Yes, people go to great lengths to obfuscate the issue, which causes so many misconceptions about animal rights and veganism: a vicious cycle. Rarely do we see otherwise intelligent and caring people become willfully obtuse, callous and ignorant, not to mention shooting the messenger with unfair characterizations of vegans as extremists and so on.

          • The Real World

            Here you two go again, attacking people. And you wonder why you get so much pushback? Neither of you have the right to declare my positions and when you have, you’re wrong. Be civilized enough to ask questions.

            Dan – you did reply to my inquiry about abortion some weeks ago but others have copped-out (notice Think Critically provided another person view here; not his/her own. Strange). So, clearly many are not willing to go there although the question is valid and they should expect it. I understood and respected your nuanced position and said so. At that time I seemed to ‘reach you’ in realizing that YOU CANNOT know the particulars of other peoples lives to declare they have no need to live other than as a vegan. But, now you are back to the absolutist, know-it-all position.

            Let’s bottomline it, shall we? There are numerous reasons it is not realistic or practical for many people to live as vegans or even vegetarians. Do I actually need to list them? I guess so.

            1) Food allergies/sensitivities – LOTS of people have these and managing a diet in these cases is not a simple thing. Therefore, eliminating even more food groups would, frankly, be stupid.

            2) Health problems – Yep, LOTS of people have these as well and don’t have the strength, or time, ETC ETC ETC ETC to engage in the not simple task of a vegan diet.

            3) Travel – In most of America it would utterly difficult to be on the road and try to maintain a reasonable vegetarian diet. FORGET about eating vegan for 3 meals a day. And Internationally — DOUBLE forget it. Do you know how many people travel in their work life?

            You apparently live in a bubble because it is not easy to switch to or live a vegan life. When it does become easier, more people will do it. Funny how that works. Hello…..work on that plus evidence respect towards people and you’ll make progress. With the current approach — you’re whistling Dixie.

          • The Real World:

            Criticism, including personal criticism, is part of the real world of exchanging ideas. Call it attacking if you want, but either way, get over it. The relevant question is whether the criticism or attack is fair, not whether or not you’re being criticized.

            I can estimate your position pretty well by noting your generally hostile attitude against vegans and veganism. To phrase it like you did, “be civilized enough to” actually offer a position other than “No” and “Don’t be absolutist” and I’ll consider your position. Until then, I’ll attack the negative and hostile attitude, vague evasions and nay saying that you generally provide. Your most recent comment is the closest you’ve come to actually articulating anything specific as to why you attack vegans.

            You misunderstood me if you thought I was claiming anything like what you’re suggesting I claimed. So, I went back to that exchange, and copied and pasted below much of what I actually wrote. The next 5 paragraphs are what I wrote in the thread where you misunderstood me:

            [Beginning of quote.]
            I must ask, are you for abolition? That is, would you prefer to live in a world: where it was very easy to be vegan (or very difficult not to be vegan), regardless of health issues or time constraints; where all nutrition and health care professions were very knowledgeable about vegan health and nutrition, including for those with dietary restrictions; where all food sold was vegan and, like cow’s milk is supplemented with vitamin D, certain commonly-consumed vegan foods were supplemented with B12 and whatever else professional dietitians found were beneficial to a vegan general public, if any; where restaurant menus had incredibly delicious vegan food, and only vegan food; where there were no breeding facilities, feedlots, slaughterhouses, zoos (replaced by sanctuaries and related education centers), animal circuses (replaced by voluntary human entertainers, such as in Cirque du Soleil), and other unnecessarily exploitive and violent places and events?

            If you’re for abolition, then, in accordance with your own values, it makes sense to be as vegan as you can be by doing research on your specific dietary needs and ways you might be able to overcome at least some, if not all of the time or health constraints you’ve mentioned. Also, if you’re for abolition, it doesn’t make sense to criticize outspoken vegan abolitionists for promoting widespread veganism.

            To clear up some obvious misunderstanding of my views, you should know that I’d gladly defend anyone who was as vegan as they could reasonably be under their particular circumstances AND had the attitude and belief that everyone else ought to be as vegan as they can reasonably be. After all, the definition of the word vegan, as Donald Watson coined it, included the phrase “as much as is practicable,” which is a non-absolutist phrase that I agree with. I’m what ethicists call a “moral particularist,” not to be confused with a moral relativist. That is, for me, surrounding facts and circumstances matter, and one cannot make judgments without knowing significant and relevant facts and circumstances.

            Ought entails can. It wouldn’t make sense for me to advocate, much less insist, that anyone do something they are incapable of doing, or that I wouldn’t do in their situation. And I can think of situations where I might be forced to do things I find abhorrent, such as killing someone (human or nonhuman). But I would not change my attitudes and beliefs to accommodate my actions under undesirable circumstances. Making an exception in a tough situation or real dilemma doesn’t mean I make exceptions in reasonable situations or abandon my values.

            So, there’s nothing hypocritical in what I’m proposing. I’m not asking you or anyone else to do something I wouldn’t do in your or someone else’s circumstances. If I found it exceedingly difficult two years from now to be as vegan as I am now, I would simply adjust to my new situation by being as vegan as I could under the circumstances. My attitudes and beliefs, however, wouldn’t change at all.
            [End of quote]

            Now, on to your objections.

            TRAVEL: The problem for you is that I DO travel several times a year for work. Moreover, I travel to rural food deserts in the intermountain west: ranch and rodeo county. It is inconvenient; there are almost no vegan options; and I do bring my own food to supplement what I can get at the stores and restaurants, which is far more limited than in cities, decent sized towns and suburbs. I also travel on vacation through airports, and make do. By contrast, most people who travel for work travel to large cities and suburbs, where it is much easier to be vegan. There are also vegan travel blogs and websites, so it’s pretty easy to be vegan while traveling (even in food deserts!), unless you can’t communicate with the locals or living with a native tribe in the middle of nowhere.

            HEALTH: Maybe people wouldn’t have so many health problems if they were vegan in the first place. The bottom line, however, is that there are no nutrients in animal products that cannot easily be obtained from nonanimal sources. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states in its position paper of vegan diets that well-planned vegan diets are adequate for all life stages, including infancy, pregnancy, and for athletes. Maybe you should research vegan health and dietetics before attempting to criticize it based on your prejudices.

            ALLERGIES: With the exception of one in a million people who are allergic to food in general, it is merely inconvenient to deal with food allergies, and there are many vegans with food allergies or sensitivities, including celiac disease, who manage just fine without animal products. Also, many food allergies and sensitivities are due to lifestyle factors that result in a breakdown of the (good) bacterial gut wall. Eating a healthful vegan diet with vegan probiotics can cure some of these sensitivities.

            So, unless you’re dealing with one-in-a-million facts and circumstances, or have some very specific issue that causes you to consume a specific animal product, all your objections are merely potential inconveniences.

            Drastically improve your general attitude toward vegans and veganism, and offer specifics regarding your personal obstacles, and you’ll get a lot more understanding from me. Until then, I’ll keep criticizing you and defending the innocent and vulnerable victims of our culture’s bad habits.

          • PS: I’ve been vegan and traveling to rural food deserts several times annually for over 13 years. You say I should ask you questions. Maybe you should ask me questions.

          • The Real World

            “Maybe you should ask me questions” — okay Rev Dan, here is an appropriate one.

            Have you had a mental health check-up lately? Because deploying the word psychopath in 3 comments on this string will create serious doubt amongst readers of your sanity.

            Otherwise, as a public service announcement, I strongly urge all y’all vegans to steer completely clear of Central & South America, Asia, India, the Middle East, Russia, Africa and some other destinations. Most of the globe, really. You will not like what you see…. and I’m not even talking about dining.

          • The Real World:

            Here is what I wrote when I deployed the word psychopath all three times:

            “We have no need to exploit or kill animals. Given that there is no need, it is wrong to intentionally kill, exploit or harm them. They’ve done nothing to deserve to be unnecessarily confined, exploited, or intentionally killed. Only to a psychopath, or someone culturally indoctrinated into thinking of animals as morally no different than rocks and too closed-minded to consider otherwise, does this paragraph sound extreme.”

            Now, if you think my mental health is poor because I wrote that, then maybe it is you who needs a mental health checkup.

            As for places far more violent and far less civilized than the liberal democracies of the world, what relevance does it have to what we do? Should we emulate them on everything?

            TRW, you haven’t addressed, much less adequately or thoughtfully addressed, anything I’ve written. And now you’re turning to irrelevant insults and statements. Why don’t you just admit that you don’t care about animals at all? Why the stupid and irrelevant commentary?

          • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

            These people are university academics and Washington DC wonks. IMO they have no clue what real life is about. They live in a synthetic world.

          • Spring Thaw

            Real World, “Otherwise, as a public service announcement, I strongly urge all y’all vegans to steer completely clear of Central & South America, Asia, India, the Middle East, Russia, Africa and some other destinations. Most of the globe, really. You will not like what you see…. and I’m not even talking about dining.”

            It’s a bit late for that. There are already vegans and animal rights advocates living in Central & South America, Asia, India, the Middle East, Russia, Africa and other areas.

            Many are working individually, or in small local groups or in large national and international groups to educate and legislate protection for animals, and to make veganism more accessible in those areas.

            Last I heard, Israel has the highest percentage of vegans.

    • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

      That doesn’t bode well for the movement. There are so many fallacies in his reasoning.

        • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

          See reply below.

          And btw, what’s the difference between raising a chicken and raising a cat?

          • Lewis

            You view one as food and the other as a companion. The parallels between animal agriculture and slavery are striking. It comes down to the same fundamental issue: Do you have the right to claim ownership over other living, sentient beings? NO. The white man did not have the right to claim ownership of African-Americans; men did not have the right to claim ownership over women; man does not have the right to claim ownership over the animal kingdom.

            The ultimate goal is and always has been FREEDOM. Human liberation and animal liberation.

          • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

            I didn’t say raising a chicken to eat, did I? What if a person just likes having chickens around (or goats, horses, what have you). Feed them, take care of them, be blessed by their company.

      • When you come out as a real person with a real name, I might begin to take you seriously. Sanbonmatsu has been teaching ethics, philosophy and politics for over 30 years. What is your contribution to society, other than taking on false alias like “Snowflake” and posting meaningless commentary?

        • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

          He’s been teaching for 30 years and he’s only an associate professor? Yikes! Well considering the many fallacies in his philosophical arguments, no wonder. I guess it doesn’t take much to get a philosophy degree anymore.

  3. boatrocker

    Abortion as the wide eyed vegan cultists’ Achilles heel is BS.

    As we have seen on these forums, many who work at Brother Wolf call themselves vegans which flies in the face of PETA’s playbook which claims domesticated animals are being oppressed and should all be turned over to them to be immediately euthanized.

    People will believe whatever they want, whether crystals heal illnesses, the vegan lifestyle is for everyone, the birther movement, creationists, etc.

  4. Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

    Here’s one.

    “It is neither ecologically sustainable nor practically possible to replace industrialized animal agriculture with smaller, organic farm operations, owing simply to the vast scales and efficiencies necessary to graze, house, feed, transport, kill, dismember and market billions of animals for 7 billion humans.”

    It’s a fallacy to state that since we can’t feed 7 billion humans using smaller, organic farm operations (supposedly), that type of agriculture can’t feed anybody. It’s like saying since wind power doesn’t work everywhere, it can’t work anywhere. Total fallacy. I’ve seen this claim made by another veganazi, so it seems like you folks are reading from a script.

    • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

      Reply was meant for Mary Finelli comment above

    • boatrocker

      Funny, I saw a comment about wind power as you described above in one of your recent posts

      “…because wind and solar are too variable; they need coal plants to produce when these others do not.
      Solar/wind produce like fiends when the sun/wind cooperate, but produce like paupers when they don’t”.

      You seem to suggest using alternative energy in any form is baaaaad, as they might not work all the time so only go with one method and forget the others.
      You seem to have changed your tune, maestro.

      • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

        Wind/solar are wonderful additions to the grid, but they will never replace hydrocarbons completely. Civilization as we know it would cease to exist.

        • The Real World

          “Wind/solar are wonderful additions to the grid” — I understood that’s what you meant. Crikey….the poor reading comprehension and predisposition to assign only black or white variables by some readers on this website is just NUTS. Time to grow up……long past.

          • boatrocker

            Those were Snowflake’s own words I quoted verbatim.
            Then he changed them above.

            Those quoted words are exactly what he said and meant, otherwise of course he would not have said them.

            Way to move the goalposts, Snowflake/RWorld, but we’re used to that aren’t we?

          • The Real World

            He didn’t change them. He clarified his comment for SLOW people. Read his original statement over and over until you comprehend it accurately.

    • It’s true that the sustainability argument for veganism is like the sustainability argument against huge eco footprints (big house, large trucks, jet ownership). However, given that we slaughter 60 billion land animals annually (and triple that to include water animals), for probably about 4 billion humans, and 1% of that is 600 million, to be sustainable, most people’s diets would need to be at least 98% free of animal products.

      But sustainability is only a huge benefit of veganism. The only reason to be vegan (i.e. to avoid animal products and exploitation in every area of life as much as is practicable) is that we have no need to exploit animals. Given that there is no need, it is wrong to intentionally exploit or harm them. They’ve done nothing to deserve to be unnecessarily confined, exploited, or intentionally killed. Only to a psychopath does this paragraph sound extreme.

    • No one claimed it can’t feed “anybody.” The point is that it is not a model of agriculture that can sustainably feed large populations. It will only ever provide for a niche market of consumers. That’s not a fallacy. That’s looking at the evidence about what resources are required to procure animal products.

      • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

        The small scale model feeds most of the people in this world. IT would feed more if it had to.

  5. think critically

    Factory farming came about, in part, because it does offer some economies of scale. This is, of course, at the expense of the animals, who suffer greatly because of it. Animals allowed to move around expend more calories and thus consume more resources than those crammed into tiny crates and cages. Chickens not pumped full of antibiotics and genetically manipulated to reach optimal slaughter weight at 6-1/2 weeks take longer to raise — and consume more food in the process. Cows raised on pasture produce more methane (a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide) than those crammed into feedlots.

    Supporting a meat-based diet requires five times as much land as a plant-based diet, and smaller farms use even more land per animal. Additional demand for these products means deforestation, which leads to increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The amount of land needed to produce all the meat Americans now consume by so-called “sustainable” methods would be astronomical — and it simply isn’t available. We would need several more planets!!! But hey, that’s just science and math, so go ahead and call me a veganazi, since facts apparently don’t matter to you.

    • boatrocker

      Hunting for a small family? Eating what you hunt? Care to address the needs of the animal which are met in nature and this do not require any sort of farming at all? A deer eats what he requires, readily available in nature and requires zero input from humans.

      This point always results in crickets on the side of vegans.

      • Boatrocker: There is almost never any need to hunt for a small family in our modern, developed, 21st century world. We have no need to exploit or kill animals. Given that there is no need, it is wrong to intentionally kill, exploit or harm them. They’ve done nothing to deserve to be unnecessarily confined, exploited, or intentionally killed. Only to a psychopath, or someone culturally indoctrinated into thinking of animals as morally no different than rocks and too closed-minded to consider otherwise, does this paragraph sound extreme.

    • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

      Feeding one’s family raising cows takes very little land. One or two cows in the freezer should feed a family for a year. The country is filled with people who do this. A lot of them work a job while the cows graze while they’re at work. Farming the land as you suggest would simply be impractical.

      And btw, you’re committing the same fallacy that I mentioned above.

      • We have no need to exploit or kill animals. Given that there is no need, it is wrong to intentionally kill, exploit or harm them. They’ve done nothing to deserve to be unnecessarily confined, exploited, or intentionally killed. Only to a psychopath, or someone culturally indoctrinated into thinking of animals as morally no different than rocks and too closed-minded to consider otherwise, does this paragraph sound extreme.

        • think critically

          People arguing against extending compassion to animals always want to set up a hypothetical situation, or look at some irrelevant situation. I have been asked many times what I would do if I was starving and all there was to eat was an animal I could kill. I really can’t say what I would do, I’ll deal with that if it ever happens. I might kill and eat a human, too, if that was my only choice for survival. And who knows, we just might have an apocalypse soon, and we’ll all find out. But let’s deal with the real world, now as it exists. When we go shopping, dine out, whatever, we can choose kindness, or we can choose cruelty. It’s really that simple.

          • Lulz

            If we have an apocalypse, it’ll be with Iranian manufactured nuclear weapons courtesy of the madman who literally paid them to do it. My mind just can’t wrap around this disconnect of the left between the outcome of paying a nation that has been at war with us since 1979 the ability to pursue nuclear weapons and thinking Trump is going to kill us all.

          • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

            “I might kill and eat a human, too, if that was my only choice for survival.”

            Honestly, that doesn’t say much for your humanity. And yet you condemn others for killing an animal to survive.

  6. katrina

    I am always amazed that radical Vegans are so quick to state that it is not necessary to eat animal product. I believe it is necessary for optimal health and I am not alone in that belief. Many people try and fail to remain on a vegan diet, and the majority of people who fail cite health issues. We would all do well and save many animals if we just support local and sustainable organic farms as much as possible, reduce our meat intake by 75%. That alone would cause more change than any ranting self-righteous Vegan looking for a way to feel superior.

  7. think critically

    I wouldn’t condemn anyone for killing an animal to survive. (I might scoff at them if they prayed for the animal first or did some ridiculous ritual “honoring” the life of the animal, because the injustice and cruelty of being killed for food is not mitigated by meaningless words or actions, but that’s another issue). My point, which I think is clear, is that talking about hypothetical situations is a waste of time and a way of deflecting from the issue at hand. Would I kill and eat an animal, human or non-human, in order to survive? I don’t think so. But to say definitively that I would not seems intellectually dishonest, because I have never been in that situation. What I do know is that I could respect someone who killed an animal if it was their ONLY option for survival. It is harder to respect people who eat animals because they have always done so, because they taste good to them, or for all of the ridiculous reasons that people continue the cycle of cruelty and death. Most of us have a choice when we sit down to eat. We can choose kindness or we can choose cruelty.

    Like Dan, I write this in the hopes that a some people reading it get a better understanding of animal rights and veganism. I know that those arguing for the mass slaughter of animals on this thread will continue to call names and throw insults.

  8. Katrina: You’re wrong. People who eliminate animal products from their diet and fail to thrive almost always (99.999% of the time) failed to eat right while doing so, usually because they didn’t do sufficient research in general, or for their specific case. The Position Paper on vegan diets from the mainstream Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (i.e. the experts on nutrition and dietetics) claim that well-planned vegan diets are healthful for all life stages, including pregnancy, infancy, and for athletes.


  9. think critically

    Katrina, I am sure you are sincere. But what you interpret as moral superiority is simply passion, begging for the lives of others to be spared. If vegans were pleading for someone to spare your life, you would be thankful. But when we advocate for people to spare the lives of innocent animals, you see it differently. That is not a surprise, since you partake in the eating of their corpses. But if you are able to step back, you may get a better understanding. And, perhaps, at least respect our passion, rather than be so offended by it.

    .Animals have the ability to suffer in the same way and to the same degree that humans do. They feel pain, pleasure, fear, loneliness, and motherly love. When we consider doing something that interferes with their needs, we are morally obligated to take them into account.

    Animals have an inherent worth—a value completely separate from their usefulness to humans. Every creature with a will to live has a right to live free from pain and suffering. Animal rights is social movement, like the other great social justice movements. This one challenges society’s traditional view that all nonhuman animals exist for human use.

    • boatrocker

      And yet you refuse to acknowledge that humans are animals and conform to the food chain, as we have been for ohhh a few hundred million years until PETA came around.

      There is nothing wrong with hunting, despite dismissive statements from those here who say that nobody hunts. How very White Man’s Burden of you, bringing all those savage hunter/gatherer societies as well as those who do it in order to feed their families even right here in WNC into the shining light of civilization.

      Your anthropocentrism (as in we make some sort of ‘difference’ on this planet) is ridiculous.

      If every human disappeared from the face of the planet, animals would still eat other animals, only the sanctimonious posts would finally cease.

      But don’t bother addressing that point, as it is called anthropology, archaeology, biology, and they all are hard sciences have answered it for us conclusively.

      A week without a LTE accusing omnivores of being murders is almost as unheard of as say a week off from psuedo science new age woo woo LTEs getting free advertising from the Mtn X after they run a story on them.

      As a Mtn X reader (and roller of the yes when I do), I do appreciate consistency, which is why I predict a quote soon from Singer, our favorite part time vegan/advocate for infanticide/eugenics/’compassionate’ bestiality/eradication of those with any disability in 3…2…1…

      Ding ding ding!

      Sins of our grandfathers time!

      • boatrocker

        ha that should read murderers, not murders, unless you’d like to discuss Cain and Able being an extended metaphor for hunter/gatherer tribes being murdered at the hands of farming tribes in the Fertile Crescent- I didn’t think so either.

        • boatrocker

          And before you go on another tiradathon about the environmental impact of eating met, i would challenge every vegan to also go 100% fossil fuel free, which is the real reason for our ecological problems right now. Let me know when you are ready to take the FFFC (Fossil Fuel Free Challenge).

      • Oh, so we should emulate our ignorant ancestors, chimpanzees, and apex predators? As long as we’re doing that, and refuse to progress and end unnecessary violence, why not dissolve civilization? (Actually, due to our technological genius and moral imbecility, and Trump in office, we probably will dissolve civilization with a storm of nuclear warheads in the next four years. It will be par for the course for our stupid ape species.)

        • boatrocker

          And yet there you go assigning humans a superior place in nature over chimps, etc by using ‘ignorant’.
          A real vegan can’t call animals ignorant and then plead for compassion for all animals, it doesn’t work that way.

          To bad biology and archaeology both agree (try the Leakey family and Nat’l Geo for starters) that humans could not have developed a proportionally larger, more complex brain without a diet of animal protein- same with whales, dolphins, primates, etc.

          I don’t know how it works for other papers around the world that the vegans descend upon like a plague of locusts, but this guy is even less likely to give up an omnivore diet unless 100% of vegns worldwide give up fossil fuel and products produced by them completely. Then we’ll take about ecology and treating all with compassion.

          But that ain’t gonna happen, is it?

          • Boatrocker: Let me clarify and elaborate. The word ignorant was meant to apply only to our ancestors in relation to our modern knowledge of nutrition and dietetics. I mentioned chimps because we share 98% of our DNA with them, and morally, humans, on average, are about the same, maybe a little less morally intelligent, than chimps. I mentioned apex predators because that’s how we behave, even though we unsustainably breed like rabbits. Ecologically, that cannot work in the long run.

            As for ranking of species, I consider all species *equally* worthy of respect as sentient beings. In a dilemma, I might look to who has more to lose from death, and might pick one being over another based on how much the have to lose relative to the other, but species membership would *not* enter into the estimation since it is irrelevant.

            As for brain development, nutrition probably was a factor, and humans lacking the knowledge and technology to get adequate protein from plants, animal protein *might* have allowed natural selection to go in the direction it did. (This is more educated speculation than settled science.) However, that’s completely irrelevant to the question of whether we need animal protein today. The scientific fact is that we can easily get all the protein we need from plant foods. We can even get twice or three times the protein we need from plant foods. Protein is protein; it’s nutritionally irrelevant whether it comes from plants or animals.

            Finally, if we eliminated animal agriculture, we’d use a lot less fossil fuel. Even the animal agriculture industry claims that it produces 18% of GHGs, which is close to transportation’s percentage. Less biased sources claim that animal agriculture produces about half of all GHGs, making animal agriculture by far the largest air polluter of all sources, including transportation. That’s not even to mention water pollution from animal agriculture. I’ll laugh in the face of any environmentalist who isn’t almost entirely vegan for being an absurd hypocrite. When the vast majority of people are vegan, I’ll take environmentalIsts seriously.

        • Lulz

          LOL, yet refuses to see the outcome of a nuclear armed Iran. Totally inept, unable to comprehend, and ideologically brainwashed. Bigger threat to anyone’s freedom is people like you.

          • Lulz: LOL, you certainly attribute an amazing number of views to me without knowing much about what I believe outside of animal rights and veganism. All you have good reason to believe is that I believe Trump is dangerous to national security, and may ultimately cause a nuclear war, which I do believe, and which is a view shared by many national security experts, many conservative Republicans among them.

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