Is it really cricket, though?

silva

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I don't think I was making that case? I was asking about a single person's choices right now in the example I provided - if they wish to make the best ethical choice as guided by veganism. If people don't want to think about the problem of insects in crop farming that's fine, but if someone does then there seems to be a strong argument they might do better than only eating plants. I think that is within the intent of veganism but clearly many do not.
What is your case then? You've been going back and forth about how many insects are killed by traditional grain farming, comparing that to the efficacy of eating them directly. If you're not not concerned about reducing insect deaths, then what is your point?
You say you're against raising them in factory farm conditions, but we all know that's exactly what happens once businesses see a consumer market. You're eating cricket powder is just one step towards having bins of crickets on top of each other, being fed grains that kill millions of crickets. Food waste would not pass the FDA
As for the problems with crop harvesting I've already addressed alternatives, which you've ignored
That does strike me as incongruous but as I am not much moved by appeals to insect sentience it doesn't bother me much. I do think it shows a weakness in how people use veganism to guide their behaviours though.
You have the attributes of a troll. Many here, myself included, have listed the options we have with harvesting, as well as the many other ways insects are killed that are even easier to reduce.
Your fixation on the foods that are the foundation of a vegan diet while ignoring all the other causes of insect deaths lead me to this conclusion. Well that, and your other thread that favor eating animals 🙄 . Vegans eat plants directly when omnivores feed them over and over and over to animals so they can then kill them and eat them--with sides of plants.
One thing that does stand out - and I am sure this is covered by the idea of equal weight to interests - is that people are clearly giving more weight to the life of a cow than an insect. If they didn't they'd all eat cows rather than plants. That is fair enough, I'd agree, but that does raise questions about nearly all the other choices people make in regard to veganism. Does anyone know where I could find a summary of the argument for weighting the value of animal lives in this sense? As I mentioned I think this is covered by evaluating interests rather than the fact of being alive.
Really :fp:.
Eat the cows that have repeatedly been fed the grains that kill the insects? Or is your idea cows that graze wild and are hunted with bows and arrows?
And how would eating cows save insects---or are you not concerned with insects anymore :woo:


Please remove 'vegan' from your lifestyle.You are not, and simply a hypocrite
 
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Graeme M

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What is your case then?
I think I have made that fairly clearly all the way though. I have offered evidence that growing crops for food very probably causes vast numbers of insect deaths. I have shown that it is probably less harmful to eat insects directly. That is the claim. Responses simply regurgitate the argument that vegans don't eat animals, regardless of how many animals are killed to do that.

So, here is the question again, as simply as I can ask it. IF it were found that eating the plant foods you can buy at your local supermarket causes more insects to die than eating insects directly, is it within the intent of veganism to choose the crickets. If not, why not.

I am not asking about future outcomes or hypotheticals, just what is the correct thing to do right now IF we found that we can do less harm by eating insects directly.
 

KLS52

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You’re not asking for hypotheticals yet you say IF more than once. I think the burden of proof lies on you. When you can without a doubt, come up with proven facts about which causes more/less insect death, then maybe a discussion will be warranted.

Let’s assume you are correct. Do we stop growing crops? Or do you simply want someone to validate you by saying sure, go ahead and eat crickets and call it vegan if you want. I don’t care if you eat crickets. I have family and friends who eat meat. But it’s not vegan by definition.

You can go out and advocate to have the definition changed to include eating insects if you want. But for now, vegans don’t eat animals and insects are included in that.

I’m probably more like you in that I don’t call myself vegan but I strive to live a vegan lifestyle on a daily basis and for the most part, I succeed. But I don’t need a label. I just live the best life I can live.
 
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Lou

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IF it were found that eating the plant foods you can buy at your local supermarket causes more insects to die than eating insects directly, is it within the intent of veganism to choose the crickets. If not, why not.
IF it was found out then Maybe I would consider it. But I seriously doubt there is any evidence to prove that.
In the meantime we vegans will continue doing what we have always done - avoid and reduce animal exploitation.

BTW, I sort of admire all he time, effort, brain power that has gone into your position. I do like it when vegans think for themselves and don't accept vegan ideas as dogma.

But your whole argument seems to be based on a hypothetical. and one that probably isn't true and/or can't be proven. Vegans strive to avoid animal exploitation. We don't really need to get into any complex utilitarian math. Its just that straight forward.

Arguing hypotheticals IS troll like. What if you were trapped on a desert island and the only thing edible was your dog? Vegans have heard them all.

Come to think of it, you thesis is a lot like a trolley problem. Do you throw the fat guy off the bridge in order to save 5 people from the trolley? Do you eat a dozen crickets in order to save hypothetical crickets? It's an interesting thought experiment and may even be a way of refining a person's ethical belief. But it does not have much real world usefullness.
 
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Graeme M

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I think it is mischaracterising my position to say I am talking hypotheticals or future cases. I was asking a very specific question on the basis of the best information I can find. As to me, I don't have any particular concern about whether I eat crickets or not. The genesis for my question is that I was talking about this with several other people, all of whom were surprised by the fact that a person who is "vegan" would eat crickets. I do not eat crickets as a matter of course, it was an experiment to see what the stuff is like (because I have genuine doubts about the the suitability of a plant only diet). But it got me to wondering because I have spent a fair bit of time digging into the debate about crop deaths and had always ignored insects. As do Fischer & Lamey who to an extent left that side of the debate alone in their 2018 paper although they did note the possible staggering scale of this problem if it were taken seriously.

The question I asked wasn't about hypotheticals. It was quite precise. As far as I can see, in the case I offered as an example, it is very much better to eat the crickets if by veganism we mean a personal ethical position. To say why it wouldn't be, you would have to show that in this particular case more harm is done to do so. No-one has. Or, you would have to assume a blindly ideological position, which is largely what most commenters have done.

Plant-based eating is not without harms. Those harms can be considerable, but they are orders of magnitude worse if we include insects. I wouldn't personally bother even vaguely comparing cows to insects, but no-one here has offered any clear opinion on why the life of an insect is worth less than the life of a cow. I can offer good, empirically motivated reasons for my view, but the general trend of opinion here has been the precautionary one - they are animals and probably are sentient. If so, we are in a bit of a bind but as best I can tell, people here want to consider insects in very similar ways to cows morally but then to discount insects in favour of cows. I don't disagree, I just don't follow the reasoning. But I wasn't really asking about that, I was asking about insects alone.

We are on more equitable grounds when we compare an insect with an insect. Whatever their status as sentient beings, we can reasonable claim that all insects should be considered relatively equal. If that is the case, then we should be able to make a moral calculation about whether eating plants is better than crickets. Sure, the question is somewhat like that of arguing how many angels can fit on the head of a pin, but in reality I do not care about whether you or I should eat crickets. The question is about whether vegans are genuine in their moral calculus or just blind hypocrites. So far, it isn't looking good for the former possibility.

I think I CAN show that it is better to eat the crickets. I have advanced evidence for that. I might be wrong because I have not exhaustively researched the data. On the other hand, if all that veganism boils down to is sentimentality, OK. My argument hasn't a leg to stand on. The IF in my argument was simply to the effect that while I think my claim is true, I can't say for sure. I wanted to ask what would be the best course of action for a vegan to take if it really were shown empirically that eating store bought plant-based foods is worse than eating crickets directly. I think on the evidence to hand, that is exactly the case. If veganism cannot admit of that then I think there are some deep flaws in how people are thinking about things.

IF it was found out then Maybe I would consider it. But I seriously doubt there is any evidence to prove that.
I have offered evidence to this effect. Fischer & Lamey were quoted, and you will note they are frequently quoted in vegan arguments as one of the more balanced assessments we have to hand. Why do you doubt this fact of the matter? What counter evidence can you offer?

By the way, I see now that this question might have been better posed in the Philosophy section.
 

Lou

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I have offered evidence to this effect. Fischer & Lamey were quoted, and you will note they are frequently quoted in vegan arguments as one of the more balanced assessments we have to hand. Why do you doubt this fact of the matter?
I haven't read that article. Maybe you could post a link to it. I surely am not going to spend $40 to get it re-printed.

Meanwhile just judging by the abstract - it does not support your argument, your argument being eating crickets saves animals lives.
 
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Graeme M

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Meanwhile just judging by the abstract - it does not support your argument, your argument being eating crickets saves animals lives.

Fischer & Lamey mentioned insects but made no particular assertion as data isn't comprehensive and the moral weight of insect lives is not generally agreed. They did make some rather philosophical points, but those sorts of discussions rapidly become far too esoteric to be useful in offering guidance to everyday folk. Their broader conclusion was somewhat vague and didn't include the insect problem. That's fair enough.

However, they did note the size of the problem and suggested it could be significant. I think if we want to argue against against eating bivalves and insects - as vegans frequently do - then the problem of insect deaths in farming must be significant. To turn a blind eye to insect deaths in crop farming then seems ideological rather than genuine concern for other lives.

Fischer & Lamey estimated sentient insect deaths per hectare to be as many as 20,000, but that was mostly a stab in the dark. However, we aren't concerned directly with sentient insects as the commenters here took the view that we should always err on the side of caution and assume that all insects ARE sentient enough. This is the same claim made for oysters and the like. So we wouldn't do the discounting that F&L did because we care about all insects, not just some possible sentient proportion.

Taking away the sentience problem and it looks like F&L used 250 million insects per hectare as their baseline and suggested pesticides kill 1/10 of those. I think though that F&L were saying that 250 million insects may be present per hectare at any given time. If so, then total numbers of insects on a hectare of cropland over the course of a year would be far greater. Pesticide treatments must kill most insects present, otherwise why do it? So, killing 1/10 of insects present seems a fair possibility. That means we might be seeing as many as 25 million insects killed over the course of a year, though I suggest it is very much higher than that but do not have any evidence to support that. But you can see why I might think so.

Here is what F&L said:

"It’s very difficult to estimate the number of insects present in agricultural contexts, but it’s obviously an enormous quantity: a conservative estimate is well over 250 million insects per hectare, and some judge that it’s over a billion per hectare (see Sabrosky 1952 and Pearse 1946, respectively). Even if we stick with the lower number, make the supposition that only 1/100 of those insects are candidates for sentience, make the further supposition that the odds of the candidates actually being sentient are only 1/10, and finally assume that pesticides only manage to kill 1/10 of the candidates for sentience, we’re now talking about an additional 20,000 deaths per hectare. When we recall that the 7.3 billion number was generated with a 100 deaths per hectare estimate, it becomes obvious that the moral significance of insect sentience is difficult to overstate."

If I ate some cricket powder each day to help deliver certain nutrients including protein, it will require maybe 15,000-20,000 crickets to be killed each year. That gets me about 5kg of protein. To get 5kg of protein from high protein plants would require about 30kg of crop yield. At an average yield of 1800kg/hectare, about .015 of a hectare would be used. If 25 million insects die per hectare of crops in a year, then my share of insect deaths is 375,000. Bear in mind we aren't including any insects killed by other farm processes such as tractors driving over the ground.

Sure, it very may well be the case that far fewer insects are killed in crop farming, however on evidence to hand eating crickets is a better choice. You would need to show convincing evidence that fewer than one million insects are harmed per hectare in crop farming over an entire year to make the alternative case.

My point is that you can do what you like, but on the usual interpretation of veganism in marginal cases, one should eat crickets. Or find more ethically produced crops.
 

silva

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Well you've stated you're not interested in what insect eating will lead to, which should really be the greatest concern
What good does anyone do if their habits lead to horror? Do you think our ancestors who kept a cow or goat to milk, with hens running around, would have ever thought their habits would lead to factory farms? Well they sure did.

You seem to truly be looking for reasons to believe a plant based diet is unsustainable. It's your choice, but what you describe is nowhere near consistent with a vegan thought pattern.

You keep saying your not concerned about other ways insects are harmed, or that you're even concerned, so why do you continue to ask if it's more ethical to directly consume them if it isn;t going to stop the harm? In reality, eating insects would increase the harm, which you refuse to address
 
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Graeme M

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You keep saying your not concerned about other ways insects are harmed, or that you're even concerned, so why do you continue to ask if it's more ethical to directly consume them if it isn;t going to stop the harm? In reality, eating insects would increase the harm, which you refuse to address
OK, so your position is that whatever is the case now, someone wondering about this problem would do best to make their decision based on some possible future outcome. I guess I wouldn't take that tack. It is inevitable that most things we do become harmful at scale, I tend to think that all you can do is make decisions about what your choices mean now. If it happened that insect farming became sufficiently harmful that it were worse than some other option, I'd take on that other option.
 

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Anyone who reduces their moral reasoning to a single metric shouldn't be surprised if it occasionally leads them astray.

Utilitarianism is a really useful mental device but it isn't an infallible guide. And for me minimizing suffering isn't the end goal of veganism. It's respecting other living beings as individuals with a right to autonomy, a right to not have their lives dominated as they're used as a means to an end.

I don't think anyone would want other humans factory farmed and slaughtered so us "wild" humans could suffer less. And if crickets had the same capacity for moral reasoning I doubt they would want that either.
 

Graeme M

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Anyone who reduces their moral reasoning to a single metric shouldn't be surprised if it occasionally leads them astray.

Utilitarianism is a really useful mental device but it isn't an infallible guide. And for me minimizing suffering isn't the end goal of veganism. It's respecting other living beings as individuals with a right to autonomy, a right to not have their lives dominated as they're used as a means to an end.

I don't think anyone would want other humans factory farmed and slaughtered so us "wild" humans could suffer less. And if crickets had the same capacity for moral reasoning I doubt they would want that either.
Well, the metric concerned is one of the more important according to vegan philosophy. Are you saying that even if the degree of suffering and death is vastly greater to eat the plant food, the possibility one is exploiting the crickets trumps that? On that view, we can kill however many insects it takes to grow food, so long as we don't specifically raise them to be killed. Which part of spraying insects to kill them and destroying their homes, food and lives when harvesting is respecting their autonomy?
 

silva

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Well, the metric concerned is one of the more important according to vegan philosophy. Are you saying that even if the degree of suffering and death is vastly greater to eat the plant food, the possibility one is exploiting the crickets trumps that? On that view, we can kill however many insects it takes to grow food, so long as we don't specifically raise them to be killed. Which part of spraying insects to kill them and destroying their homes, food and lives when harvesting is respecting their autonomy?
I am not about defining vegan in any kind of personal purity. If someone strays for whatever their reason, so be it. What I do get ticked off about is the excuses

1. you haven't addressed all the other ways we've pointed out that insects are killed and exploited. You've kept your focus on the harvesting of food as if it's solely for vegans
2. You've not addressed the reality of those plant foods grown and harvested for livestock and dairy
3. You really don't explain how eating insects would replace plants, nor the reality that if farmed (and would be if your idea catches on) they would not be fed surplus scraps, but cleaner grains.,
4. Without acknowledging the future impact of change you're risking far worse. While saying you don't intend for this to happen is quite shortsited

If we stick to the basics of do no harm, of not promoting animal exploitation, farming methods as well as other areas, will naturally change. Less animals, less harvesting
 

Graeme M

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I still don't follow why I would have to address those questions as they are absolutely nothing to do with the original question. You seem to be tying yourself in knots to avoid a simple proposition.

But OK. Here goes.

1. you haven't addressed all the other ways we've pointed out that insects are killed and exploited. You've kept your focus on the harvesting of food as if it's solely for vegans

If my question relates solely to insects harmed for me to eat, what do these other problems have to do with it? What particular ways are you referring to by which insects are exploited and harmed, outside the food system?

2. You've not addressed the reality of those plant foods grown and harvested for livestock and dairy.

Again, what does that have to do with the original question? Yes, I agree that if we were to eat meat from a beef operation that utilises feedlotting, we would be causing very many insect deaths. Where was I promoting that idea?

3. You really don't explain how eating insects would replace plants, nor the reality that if farmed (and would be if your idea catches on) they would not be fed surplus scraps, but cleaner grains.,

I never suggested eating insects rather than plants as a general choice. I specifically referred to one particular possibility - that vegans eating farmed crickets from a sustainable operation might be less harmful than eating plants grown in commercial agriculture. The intention is not to replace anything, it is simply to minimise the harm my choices cause. Vegans eating plants rather than meat probably has next to no impact on the beef industry, but that doesn't stop vegans making that choice.

4. Without acknowledging the future impact of change you're risking far worse. While saying you don't intend for this to happen is quite shortsited.

I don't know that is true. As the vast majority of people are not vegans, it seems to me any potential future intensive insect farming would only be successful if serving the needs of non-vegans (ie the benefit of scale). As a vegan, if I limit my choice to insects produced in sustainable and ethical small-scale operations, why would my choice encourage factory farming? If the kinds of sources from which I bought my insects were to change and become more intensive and I were satisfied that my choice is now more harmful, I would change tack. Isn't that what vegans are supposed to do - consider the harm arising from their choices?
 
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Graeme M

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Just to explain myself one more time. All I am asking is the simple question - if it seems likely beyond reasonable doubt that eating farmed crickets from an ethical and sustainable small business causes less harm than eating plants instead, wouldn't it be in keeping with vegan principles to do so? The main reasons for not doing so seem to be first, that vegans don't eat animals (which means any deaths, harm, suffering accruing from eating plants are irrelevant), secondly that farming crickets is exploiting animals (which leaves us with the same situation as the first argument), and lastly that eating crickets will lead to factory farming (which in terms of my personal choices seems irrelevant - my economic input can be as equally withdrawn as provided).

I am happy to accept that as the concensus, but have to register some concerns. First, the two cases of killing animals by eating them or killing them in other ways don't seem worth the distinction, especially if you are the insect. So I don't think the first argument holds water. Second, what is exploitation? If it is using another for one's own benefit unfairly or unjustly, I suppose it could be true that killing insects to grow food isn't exploitation. But it's hard to see the strength of that argument for it seems to me that on any reasonable interpretation, causing pain and death appear to be worse harms than exploitation. Particularly if the form of exploitation leads to no particular physical suffering. Third, my support of a sustainable and ethical activity is just what it is. Any future unethical or unsustainable activity by someone else appears to have little bearing on whether or not I should undertake the activity, especially if I have no plans to support anyone undertaking unsustainable or unethical activity in the future. I follow the reasoning but I don't think it is strong reasoning.
 

silva

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Veganism is not about one persons person purity.
This seems no different to me than a vegan saying it's fine to eat the eggs of their chickens
Or milking their rescued goat or cow
Or eating animal products that are discarded
None of these are vegan
You're looking at this in a bubble.
you do not seem to have an understanding that veganism is about avoiding all aspects of animal exploitation. Period

A human corpse is protected from abuse by pretty harsh laws. It is considered sacred. You cannot even use humans organs for transplants after death without that person giving legal permission while alive. You cannot make leather from their skin. You cannot grind them up for animal feed.
People are raised to not even give any of these thing as acceptable, and taught the sanctity of life.
Veganism is about the sanctity of all lives
You are proposing intentional exploitation, which is completely antithetical to vegan standards
What would be in line would be to advocate ways to reduce the harm to life, not to excuse different methods of harm
 

Graeme M

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Veganism is not about one persons person purity.
This seems no different to me than a vegan saying it's fine to eat the eggs of their chickens
Or milking their rescued goat or cow
Or eating animal products that are discarded
None of these are vegan
You're looking at this in a bubble.
you do not seem to have an understanding that veganism is about avoiding all aspects of animal exploitation. Period
So boiled down, in vegan philosophy the exploitation concern is paramount. The extent of harm, suffering and cruelty are secondary where we are faced with choosing how to act.
 

silva

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So boiled down, in vegan philosophy the exploitation concern is paramount. The extent of harm, suffering and cruelty are secondary where we are faced with choosing how to act.
You choosing to directly eat insects so you don't contribute to the deaths that may or may not be caused by harvesting has zero impact on insect deaths overall.
So not only are you guilty of direct and intentional death, you obviously (as in this thread you've created) are willing to advocate international harm.
A vegan otoh, would do better to advocate ways to minimize deaths rather than redirect the killing
 
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Graeme M

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A vegan otoh, would do better to advocate ways to minimize deaths rather than redirect the killing
I admit I find your logic hard to follow. I can only do what I can to minimise harm. If I am reasonably confident that eating food grown in commercial agriculture has a greater harm than eating the crickets, isn't my choice to eat the crickets seeking to minimise deaths? I noted above that any one person's choices do little to affect the bigger picture, for example my choice not to eat chicken would have zero impact on deaths in poultry farming. Whatever I do, it's mainly about satisfying my own personal moral outlook, which really is all that any vegan can do. The kinds of crops that we eat for protein such as beans, lentils, peas etc are typically grown in a way that is damaging to the environment and local ecological function. At scale, these are some of the most devastating forms of agriculture. If we are then also confident that a great many animals are killed to do this, it is hard for me to see your logic in advocating against choosing a food that causes fewer of these harms overall. I may not affect anything at all in the larger scheme of things, but at the end of the day such a choice seems consistent with the ethics of veganism.

Remember, the question never was about me, it is about whether some act that anyone might undertake is consistent with veganism.

If, as seems evident, many insects are killed in commercial crop farming and that form of agriculture is generally destructive of the natural environment, what do you recommend a vegan to do? You say a vegan would advocate for ways to minimise deaths, which is fine. But what can one DO, right now in the world we have, to minimise those deaths in food choices?
 

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All life exists at the expense of other living things. Being the indirect cause of incidental death is part of the moral baseline. Advocating for living beings to be treated as property and killed for money is not.

Some Jains don't eat things that grow underground to avoid killing bugs. That's commendable, and is a good done without commodifying or killing others. But vegans aren't under any moral obligation to go that far...and certainly not obligated to actually eat animals out of similar concerns.

This is just another example of corpse eaters setting the bar for veganism unrealistically high then telling vegans they're hypocrites for not meeting that made up standard.
 
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