US Why Should We Become Vegan?

complex

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So, I am not a philosophy major, but I have taken a few philosophy courses at the university I attend. I am going to use two specific belief systems here: utilitarianism and deontological ethics. I am not going to get too in depth about these two concepts, but here's the basic definitions -

Utilitarianism - Maximizing the overall happiness of a society.
Deontological Ethics - According to Immanual Kant, in order to achieve moral goodness, people must act from duty. His second argument is that it is not the consequences of an action that determine whether it is right or wrong, but the motive behind them.

You may be wondering what the point of this is, but I am getting there.

There are several problems and inconsistencies with utilitarianism. To completely maximize the total happiness of society is to look at the happiness of an action in a kind of point system. For example, eating meat makes the majority happy against a few who are adamantly against it. Now, since it is a point system, say that everyone being vegan would make you extremely happy - that happiness would get a high number of points, and if those points outweighed the majority who do not care as much about such things, the utilitarian approach would be for society as a whole to convert to veganism.

But this wouldn't only apply to veganism. One of my professors gave an example about a small village and a thief. Her summary was that it would cause the people significant distress if their valuables were stolen, but the thief's pleasure at having stolen those items would have over-ruled that because of its shear intensity. The peoples' distress, in this case, would be minus 1,000 points (hypothetically) but the thief's pleasure would be +10,000 points, and therefore, according to the utilitarian approach, that is how it must be.

Now, the deontological approach. A good example of this would be another one that was introduced to me by one of my professors - the vaccine one. This is actually not related to anything currently going on. She's been using this one for years.

Essentially, there would be this deadly disease that can only be cured by a recently created vaccine. Now, according to the utilitarian approach, the right move in this situation would be to save as many people as possible. However, what if the supply of the vaccine was limited? And, out of the people with the disease, those with no pre-existing conditions and stronger immune systems are much more likely to survive. If you were to take the utilitarian approach, you wouldn't be paying attention to who got the vaccine first; your ultimate goal would just be to save the greatest number of people.

With a deontological approach, however, you know it would be better for society if you were to save the people who were most likely to survive. In the long run, that would be better for society. It would ensure that the people who were saved were more capable of innovations, that they had their entire lives ahead of them. It would increase the probability of new discoveries. Therefore, out of a sense of duty to society, and with the intention of bettering the future of the population rather than focusing on numbers, a morally good person would save the people most likely to be receptive to the vaccine.

The point of explaining these two concepts was because I really wanted you to understand them so that my argument would make more sense.

So, eating meat is morally wrong. I am sure everyone here can agree to that.

Take this scenario within the utilitarian approach - the scenario wherein animals' happiness also contributes to the point system.

Take into account that humans are not the only omnivores. There are even carnivorous animals out there. It's all part of the food chain that's taught in middle school biology courses. Lions are carnivores. Tigers are carnivores. Bears are omnivores. Tigers chase antelope down and eat them. Some animals eat other animals while they are still alive.

What about those animals? If we're promoting veganism here, should we try to ask the non-human meat eaters kindly to become herbivores? It won't work because it's not in their natures. So why are we asking humans to do the same exact thing that specific animals will never do?

I don't remember the name of this show, but back in the late 20th century, these two guys tamed a tiger and would get on stage and play tricks with it. They had raised it from birth, and it had never shown any violent tendencies before. Yet, one day, during a show, it randomly attacked one of the guys and permanently injured him (it might have actually killed him, I don't remember exactly).

I feel like a lot of the time, when promoting veganism, you're only referring to animals that are herbivores. You won't be able to convince carnivores or even some omnivores (humans included) to become vegan, so what's your argument for that? For the animals who eat other animals simply because it's in their nature? Who don't quite think like humans do, and who, even after being domesticated, have the potential to act violently?

As stated, utilitarianism has flaws - just because something makes you happy in the moment doesn't make it right. I am sure many people will relate this back to eating meat. That animals are the same as people. Because, quite frankly, people have the capacity for violence too, and not just against animals.

Deontologically, however, finding substitutes for the protein and other nutrients that meat provides you will leave you weaker. How is that better for innovating society? I understand that the ways in which animals are treated is inhumane. However, think about this example: a person is attached to a tube in a hospital. They're miserable, but they can live as long as the tube is attached. Now, apply that to animals.

If an animal was miserable and living would equal suffering, would it be humane to just end its suffering or to let if suffer as long as it was alive?

Also, here's a different argument - if we're eating plants, are we not eating the animals' food? Are we not stealing from them, like we still milk from cows? If everyone were to go vegan, we would need to start growing a lot more plants, taking down factories, and somehow being able to provide plants for every species on earth excluding carnivores. Carnivores who we are fine with killing other animals as long as we ourselves don't do it.

Carnivores are still animals, after all, and should be treated as equals, right?

Another thing is the capacity to think and innovate - do you think animals would stop and consider what was morally right? They don't, not like people do. They protect their own, but they most definitely would not stand up in defense for other species. Some would even look at people and consider us their next meal, like so many people consider certain animals in that same way.

That's one of the major things I don't understand - if they do not care what happens to us, some would even attack us, and they attack each other on a daily basis around the globe, why are we so adamant about fighting for animal rights? Now, I also understand that most people eat herbivores - again, so do carnivores and non-human omnivores.

Despite all of this, why should people become vegan? If I truly understood, maybe I would one day, but there are so many factors and inconsistencies when it comes to veganism and animal rights that just make no sense to me (mainly the ones stated above). So, why should I (and other people) become vegan?
 

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So, I am not a philosophy major, but I have taken a few philosophy courses at the university I attend. I am going to use two specific belief systems here: utilitarianism and deontological ethics. I am not going to get too in depth about these two concepts, but here's the basic definitions -
If you came up with the vegan stuff on your own, color me impressed.
There are various arguments on veganism by real life philosophers, and as far as I know they always use either the utilitarian or deontological approach.
There are several problems and inconsistencies with utilitarianism.
Yeah, in any Ethics course, they always start with utilitarianism. And then rip it apart.
Regardless it is still a valid school of thought.

I can't remember all the arguments for veganism from a utilitarian point of view. And its been over 20 years since I read Pete Singer. but if you are serious about understanding you should study Peter Singer. His Animal liberation book is a real classic. But maybe better is his Why Vegan, a collection of his essays is a better place to start.

By the way, Peter Singer is not an amateur philosopher like you and me but a world renown moral philosopher and now teaching philosophy at Princeton. He is also an advocate of Utilitarianism.

Two of my favorite Peter Singer quotes.

Becoming a vegan is a sure way of completely avoiding participation in the abuse of farmed animals. Vegans are a living demonstration of the fact that we do not need to exploit animals for food.

Becoming a vegetarian is not merely a symbolic gesture. Nor is it an attempt to isolate oneself from the ugly realities of the world, to keep oneself pure and so without responsibility for the cruelty and carnage all around. Becoming a vegetarian is a highly practical and effective step one can take toward ending both the killing of nonhuman animals and the infliction of suffering on them.



What about those animals? If we're promoting veganism here, should we try to ask the non-human meat eaters kindly to become herbivores? It won't work because it's not in their natures. So why are we asking humans to do the same exact thing that specific animals will never do?

That is ridiculous and I am tempted to not even respond. but ok...
There is actually another good quote that addresses your concern but I'll just paraphrase. Morality is a human thing, you can't use animal behavior to justify human behavior. If we did we could justify rape, murder etc. Basically, once you know better you need to choose better.
As stated, utilitarianism has flaws - just because something makes you happy in the moment doesn't make it right.

according to Utilitarianism, If it makes you happy and doesn't impinge on anyone else,it is "good"
When eating meat, you are depriving that animal of its life.
I am sure many people will relate this back to eating meat. That animals are the same as people. Because, quite frankly, people have the capacity for violence too, and not just against animals.

not sure that is true. Animals are not the same as people. they are not capable of making those kinds of decisions. but just because they aren't able to make moral decision doesn't mean their "value" needs to be excluded in our moral calculus.

A famous quote from Mahatma Gandhi springs to mind here: 'the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members."

finding substitutes for the protein and other nutrients that meat provides you will leave you weaker.
That premise is FALSE. Even the most superficial study of the literature shows that to be untrue. So forget about the rest of your argument. As punishment for trying to promote lies you must now watch The Game Changers, a documentary on vegan athletes.
Also, here's a different argument - if we're eating plants, are we not eating the animals' food? Are we not stealing from them, like we still milk from cows?
That is also an absurd argument. The only reason we have animal agriculture is to eat animals. If we didn't we would not have to feed them. No vegan is promoting going into wilderness to graze.
If everyone were to go vegan, we would need to start growing a lot more plants, taking down factories, and somehow being able to provide plants

Again you are stating an absurd and false claim. If we stopped animal agriculture we would need to grow less plants - not more. eating livestock is way less efficient than eating plants.

I'm not sure what "factories" you are talking about. But if you bulldozed every CAFO, you would end up with a lot of land that Could be used for better purposes. Farms, orchards, parks, homes...
for every species on earth excluding carnivores. Carnivores who we are fine with killing other animals as long as we ourselves don't do it.


We don't need to feed wildlife. they are perfectly capable of doing that themselves.

Ok. I'm tired. and your stuff just keeps getting more ridiculous.
 

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Despite all of this, why should people become vegan? If I truly understood, maybe I would one day, but there are so many factors and inconsistencies when it comes to veganism and animal rights that just make no sense to me (mainly the ones stated above). So, why should I (and other people) become vegan?

Oh. I probably should have started here.

Ethics.

“Align your actions with your values. If you believe that the life of an animal has higher value than your taste buds then reevaluate the purchases that you make. Every time you reach for a bacon sandwich, dairy ice cream, or any animal product, you’re saying that you value your taste buds over the life of the animal who suffered and died for your purchases. Is this really the choice that you want to make?⁣⁣” Earthling Ed

Environment

Couldn't think of just one quote or statistic that captures the importance of saving the earth.
this might say it best

Personal health

Again I couldn't find just one quote or statistic.

'nuff said.
 
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complex

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If you came up with the vegan stuff on your own, color me impressed.
There are various arguments on veganism by real life philosophers, and as far as I know they always use either the utilitarian or deontological approach.

Yeah, in any Ethics course, they always start with utilitarianism. And then rip it apart.
Regardless it is still a valid school of thought.

I can't remember all the arguments for veganism from a utilitarian point of view. And its been over 20 years since I read Pete Singer. but if you are serious about understanding you should study Peter Singer. His Animal liberation book is a real classic. But maybe better is his Why Vegan, a collection of his essays is a better place to start.

By the way, Peter Singer is not an amateur philosopher like you and me but a world renown moral philosopher and now teaching philosophy at Princeton. He is also an advocate of Utilitarianism.

Two of my favorite Peter Singer quotes.

Becoming a vegan is a sure way of completely avoiding participation in the abuse of farmed animals. Vegans are a living demonstration of the fact that we do not need to exploit animals for food.

Becoming a vegetarian is not merely a symbolic gesture. Nor is it an attempt to isolate oneself from the ugly realities of the world, to keep oneself pure and so without responsibility for the cruelty and carnage all around. Becoming a vegetarian is a highly practical and effective step one can take toward ending both the killing of nonhuman animals and the infliction of suffering on them.





That is ridiculous and I am tempted to not even respond. but ok...
There is actually another good quote that addresses your concern but I'll just paraphrase. Morality is a human thing, you can't use animal behavior to justify human behavior. If we did we could justify rape, murder etc. Basically, once you know better you need to choose better.


according to Utilitarianism, If it makes you happy and doesn't impinge on anyone else,it is "good"
When eating meat, you are depriving that animal of its life.


not sure that is true. Animals are not the same as people. they are not capable of making those kinds of decisions. but just because they aren't able to make moral decision doesn't mean their "value" needs to be excluded in our moral calculus.

A famous quote from Mahatma Gandhi springs to mind here: 'the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members."


That premise is FALSE. Even the most superficial study of the literature shows that to be untrue. So forget about the rest of your argument. As punishment for trying to promote lies you must now watch The Game Changers, a documentary on vegan athletes.

That is also an absurd argument. The only reason we have animal agriculture is to eat animals. If we didn't we would not have to feed them. No vegan is promoting going into wilderness to graze.


Again you are stating an absurd and false claim. If we stopped animal agriculture we would need to grow less plants - not more. eating livestock is way less efficient than eating plants.

I'm not sure what "factories" you are talking about. But if you bulldozed every CAFO, you would end up with a lot of land that Could be used for better purposes. Farms, orchards, parks, homes...



We don't need to feed wildlife. they are perfectly capable of doing that themselves.

Ok. I'm tired. and your stuff just keeps getting more ridiculous.
These... are not actually my arguments. Well, they are in the sense that I am the one who posted them, but it's all second-hand knowledge. I agree that some of it is ridiculous, but I wanted to hear counterarguments.

...I am doing a research study about veganism, however, and I needed to hear from both sides. That's some of the data I acquired from the other end of the extreme. Personally, I am not vegan, but I won't rule it out as a future possibility. I am doing this with a friend, who is vegan. What I have gotten from this is that it has everything to do with morals. But also, you do have to understand that most people (including me) are raised in a society where we are taught, from birth, that it's okay to eat meat. We're desensitized to it. So, it's hard for me to just... become vegan on the spot without any evidence - but you just provided evidence, and I will look through it. It's a decision I need to make for myself.

As of right now, be vegan or don't be vegan, it's your life and I want you to do whatever makes you feel the most comfortable. A sentiment that I have found is not shared with people on both ends of the spectrum. There's been protests both for and against veganism, and I just don't understand why people care so much - this is really the key route of the study we're doing. Why do people care so much on both sides? What's their reasoning?
 
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Lou

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it has everything to do with morals.
As an ethical vegan myself, I can't argue with that. However, many vegans became interested in it from the health perspective, and some are very environmentally motivated.

I wish you had been more upfront with your purpose. I would have give you (IMHO) a better or more useful perspective.
 

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Veganism seems to be a rather odd thing. No-one really agree on what it is. Is it a lifestyle, is it a moral philosophy, is it a personal health choice, is it part of a sustainable approach to managing the environment. I think of it as a moral philosophy. As you say
...eating meat is morally wrong. I am sure everyone here can agree to that.
Veganism as a moral philosophy isn't just saying that eating meat is wrong. It is arguing that the use of animals for human purposes (such as food, fiber, entertainment, etc) is wrong.

As I think of it, veganism as a moral philosophy is the simple action of deciding to what extent we can extend our existing moral prtinciples and beliefs to other animals. It doersn't necessarily mean we treat all other animals the same, partly through practical constraints and circumstances and partly because there are many other factors we have to consider (which is where ideas such as doing least harm emerge).

That's pretty much it. Consequent to that decision, we can then apply utilitarianism or deontology as we see fit. That is, the act of extending moral attitudes to include other animals comes first, after which we can worry about what form our normative ethics should take.

Let me offer an example. Vegans talk about not hurting or causing suffering to other animals. But that isn't specifically a vegan concern, it's just a question of welfare. Worrying about and protecting the welfare of others is part of everyday ethical considerations about our relations with other animals, including humans. In this example, veganism isn't asking more from us in terms of our beliefs because we already believe good welfare for others is important - the debate then becomes one about how to decide what is good welfare and which species should we apply that to.

Another example. Moral vegans might believe that killing an animal to eat it is bad. The animal has a right to life. Most of us have already made the moral decision that killing some other animals (eg humans) to eat them is wrong because they have a right to life; we are less concerned about most other species. Clearly, what is in question is whether we can extend from humans (and perhaps domestic pets) to other species the moral belief that we are wrong to kill another for food. Again, we are in the position where we already believe it is morally wrong to kill another for food - the debate from moral veganism is how to decide to which species should we apply that action.

My point is that veganism isn't anything special as a moral philosophy. It is everyday moral beliefs and attitudes extended to opther species when we can do that. Veganism isn't A moral philosophy, it is everyday moral philosophy EXTENDED to include other species when we can. I tried to capture that here:

 
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When we force animals into farms or service or to be pets etc., we make them a part of our society, they therefore should be given rights the same as the rest of us. I suppose that is how the utilitarian argument.
 

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Why do people care so much on both sides? What's their reasoning?
On our side, simple. Try for a few minutes to imagine yourself being slaughtered in a sausage factory. Imagine, then, the pig feeling more or less the same as you. If you are a normal human being this should be enough to show you why we care so much. I appreciate we are desensitized and that for many, it is hard to give up animal produce and there can be no greater meat lover than myself. I struggled and failed for decades just to be vegetarian. Ultimately, I didn't try - per se - to give up animal produce, I simply made a point enjoying trying to eat only plant based foods every day but without labeling myself and without having any hard and fast rules hanging over me. If I ate meat or dairy, so be it, but it would not affect my future attempts. After nearly a month I realized I had eaten one omelette and a couple of portions of yoghurt and that is all - and it was easy!
 

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I think most of the philosophy people are just playing around with words. One girl told me that her philosophy professor told her that everything we do is a selfish act. That people who felt good about themselves, after they did something that was generous, were really selfish people.

I call BS on that bit of ridiculous thinking.
 

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I think most of the philosophy people are just playing around with words. One girl told me that her philosophy professor told her that everything we do is a selfish act. That people who felt good about themselves, after they did something that was generous, were really selfish people.

I call BS on that bit of ridiculous thinking.
Selfish is perhaps the wrong word to use but it is true that everything we do is to try and create a situation in which we, ourselves, feel more comfortable. If you give money to a homeless man for example, it is because you don't feel good about his situation so you give in order to try and change his situation to one you feel more comfortable with, so you are ultimately doing it for yourself. If you didn't feel uncomfortable about his discomfort there would be nothing to drive you to try and help him.
 

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I think most of the philosophy people are just playing around with words. One girl told me that her philosophy professor told her that everything we do is a selfish act. That people who felt good about themselves, after they did something that was generous, were really selfish people.

I call BS on that bit of ridiculous thinking.
Um. that is actually a real theory of philosophy. I do think you or your friend is not recalling the theory correctly.

Its called egoism. and not so easily dismissed. You probably have heard of Friedrich Nietzsche. If not the founder, he is at least a major proponent of egoism. He has written at least a whole book on the subject. and every Ethics 101 text has a whole chapter devoted to it.

Its a fun theory to argue about. the proponents of it have developed it into a very nuanced and complex theory. Discussing it with a philosophy professor can be very mind expanding.

Jeremy Betham, Ayn Rand, and Thomas Hobbes all were at least for a while proponents of egoism.

"Egoism does not mean ignoring the existence and welfare of others, though they are not necessarily advocated either. Though egoists act in the name of their own happiness, others may benefit."

 
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Um. that is actually a real theory of philosophy. I do think you or your friend is not recalling the theory correctly.

Its called egoism. and not so easily dismissed. You probably have heard of Friedrich Nietzsche. If not the founder, he is at least a major proponent of egoism. He has written at least a whole book on the subject. and every Ethics 101 text has a whole chapter devoted to it.

Its a fun theory to argue about. the proponents of it have developed it into a very nuanced and complex theory. Discussing it with a philosophy professor can be very mind expanding.

Jeremy Betham, Ayn Rand, and Thomas Hobbes all were at least for a while proponents of egoism.

"Egoism does not mean ignoring the existence and welfare of others, though they are not necessarily advocated either. Though egoists act in the name of their own happiness, others may benefit."



This happened back in the ear!y 80's, and she asked me about it. I have taken a few philosophy classes, and have found some people teaching these classes have some twisty interpretations of philosophy. I am familiar with the concept of egoism. I have also heard some really strange views on philosophical theory.

For instance, Complex quoted this story:

"One of my professors gave an example about a small village and a thief. Her summary was that it would cause the people significant distress if their valuables were stolen, but the thief's pleasure at having stolen those items would have over-ruled that because of its shear intensity. The peoples' distress, in this case, would be minus 1,000 points (hypothetically) but the thief's pleasure would be +10,000 points, and therefore, according to the utilitarian approach, that is how it must be."
 

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This happened back in the ear!y 80's, and she asked me about it. I have taken a few philosophy classes, and have found some people teaching these classes have some twisty interpretations of philosophy. I am familiar with the concept of egoism. I have also heard some really strange views on philosophical theory.

For instance, Complex quoted this story:

"One of my professors gave an example about a small village and a thief. Her summary was that it would cause the people significant distress if their valuables were stolen, but the thief's pleasure at having stolen those items would have over-ruled that because of its shear intensity. The peoples' distress, in this case, would be minus 1,000 points (hypothetically) but the thief's pleasure would be +10,000 points, and therefore, according to the utilitarian approach, that is how it must be."
maybe the biggest problem with the Utilitarian theory is assigning values.
but I think they base the math on number of factors that include intensity and duration.
I would argue that the thief doesn't get 10000 points but just 100 and the villagers get -100 each.

Jeremy Bentham is one of the most quoted philosophers by vegans. and he was a utilitarian.
The question is not, Can they reason?, nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?

That quote cuts right thru a lot of the aruments non vegans spout off about. .
I may now read up some more on Jeremy and Utilitarians. I know he wrote a lot about points but it seems to me that has got to be a weak link in their arguments.

Oh, btw, to paraphrase Woody Allen, I'm what you would call a teleological, existential atheist. I believe that there's an intelligence to the universe, with the exception of certain parts of New Jersy
 
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maybe the biggest problem with the Utilitarian theory is assigning values.
but I think they base the math on number of factors that include intensity and duration.
I would argue that the thief doesn't get 10000 points but just 100 and the villagers get -100 each.

Jeremy Bentham is one of the most quoted philosophers by vegans. and he was a utilitarian.
The question is not, Can they reason?, nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?

That quote cuts right thru a lot of the aruments non vegans spout off about. .
I may now read up some more on Jeremy and Utilitarians. I know he wrote a lot about points but it seems to me that has got to be a weak link in their arguments.

Oh, btw, to paraphrase Woody Allen, I'm what you would call a teleological, existential atheist. I believe that there's an intelligence to the universe, with the exception of certain parts of New Jersy


Non vegans seem to think that just because animals cannot communicate that they don't have the ability to reason.

There are videos of octopus' using shells as tools. I watched a wonderful video about stray dogs, who live in the Moscow suburbs, and ride the train into the city to be fed by tourists. They recognize their stops, and wake each other up if they are going to miss their stop.

A seal came over and warned a diver about a great white shark circling above. Whales will approach boats to ask people to remove fishing nets.

Just because they don't have a voice doesn't mean they don't feel.
 

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there is a author/reserarcher that has been writing about animal intelligence for years. In his last book he concluded that We are not intelligent enough to understand animal intelligence.

so many example of animals being smart, besides the ones you mentioned.
squirrels who can remember where they hid their nuts, monkeys that do math, apes who sign, etc

but that was not Bentham's point. We don't have to understand animals. we just have to not cause them pain.