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Old 11-27-2019, 04:26 AM
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Vegans and naturally-shed animal products


I was out in the woods the other day hoping to find a deer antler to use in a craft project and I got to idly wondering... what do vegans think of use of products that are of animal origin, but that are naturally shed or discarded by the animals in the wild, without any human intervention.

Examples:
Deer antlers - they are deciduous - the deer grows a new set in spring and sheds them in autumn, after rutting.
Seashells - OK, the organism usually had to die to vacate the shell, but that's just part of the natural life cycle.
Ambergis - AKA 'Sperm Whale vomit' - the whales just produce it and it washes up on the beach - and it is highly valued in perfumery

There are probably other examples.
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Old 11-27-2019, 04:27 AM
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ive always wondered if a cow died would they htink it it was ok to use the hide for leather .....

Last edited by nightshadea; 11-27-2019 at 04:29 AM.
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Old 11-27-2019, 04:30 AM
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Not sure about the cow - those are typically domesticated, which is a problem.
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Old 11-27-2019, 04:50 AM
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How about fossil fuels?
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Old 11-27-2019, 06:34 AM
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I'm not a vegan, but it seems to me it's going to be an individual decision. I mean, I only learned fairly recently that a fair number of fruits and vegetables are not technically vegan, because their production involves the use of bees to pollinate the plants. Which seems to me an extremely strict definition of "vegan" that I suspect most vegans do not subscribe to.
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Old 11-27-2019, 06:51 AM
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In my opinion, most of the vegans I have met would take the position that, while this particular antler may have been shed naturally, if there is a market for them, someone else may be tempted to harm deer in order to make a quick dollar. This particular blob of ambergris may not have harmed any whale, but using it creates the temptation to harm whales.
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Old 11-27-2019, 08:09 AM
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In my opinion, most of the vegans I have met would take the position that, while this particular antler may have been shed naturally, if there is a market for them, someone else may be tempted to harm deer in order to make a quick dollar. This particular blob of ambergris may not have harmed any whale, but using it creates the temptation to harm whales.
An old German folktale summarized tells about a maid who was found weeping in the cellar next to the beer keg. When asked, the maid said she was thinking how someday she might marry and have a son, and someday they might ask that son to go to the cellar to fetch beer, and that son might jiggle the keg while getting the beer out, and because of that jiggling, a brick might work loose from above the keg, and might fall on her son's head and kill him.

In other words, don't work so hard to find things to worry about.

Last edited by Two Many Cats; 11-27-2019 at 08:10 AM.
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Old 11-27-2019, 10:40 AM
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In my opinion, most of the vegans I have met would take the position that, while this particular antler may have been shed naturally, if there is a market for them, someone else may be tempted to harm deer in order to make a quick dollar. This particular blob of ambergris may not have harmed any whale, but using it creates the temptation to harm whales.
For the antlers, I think that makes sense (and some antlers in the market are from culled/butchered animals, not naturally shed - although I am sure an accreditation framework could be worked out for that)

For the whales, I don't think the market for ambergris can lead to harm for the whales - they need to be alive to produce the stuff, so in theory, it should work the other way - if you want Ambergris, you have to look after the whales.
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Old 11-27-2019, 11:24 AM
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[...]a fair number of fruits and vegetables are not technically vegan, because their production involves the use of bees to pollinate the plants.
Virtually all cultivated food products require domesticated bees for pollination.

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[...]don't work so hard to find things to worry about.
But there are already precedents for these, such as killing elephants for ivory and rhinos for their horns. Not a hypothetical.
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Old 11-27-2019, 11:37 AM
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But there are already precedents for these, such as killing elephants for ivory and rhinos for their horns. Not a hypothetical.
True, but those species don't naturally shed their horns/tusks - deer antler is actually a pretty plentiful resource, even if (especially if) nobody ever harms a deer

Last edited by Mangetout; 11-27-2019 at 11:38 AM.
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Old 11-27-2019, 11:59 AM
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I'm not a vegan, but it seems to me it's going to be an individual decision. I mean, I only learned fairly recently that a fair number of fruits and vegetables are not technically vegan, because their production involves the use of bees to pollinate the plants. Which seems to me an extremely strict definition of "vegan" that I suspect most vegans do not subscribe to.
Why would bees be a problem? They're just doing their bee thing, and it happens to pollinate the plants. It doesn't harm the bees unless we somehow harvest the plant with the bee still attached somehow.

It's a win-win for everyone- we get pollinated plants, and the bees get nectar and pollen.
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Old 11-27-2019, 12:03 PM
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Why would bees be a problem? They're just doing their bee thing, and it happens to pollinate the plants.
It depends, I guess, on whether the bees doing the pollinating are wild bees, doing their bee thing, or if they are domesticated bees, enslaved by humans for their honey
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Old 11-27-2019, 01:41 PM
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True, but those species don't naturally shed their horns/tusks - deer antler is actually a pretty plentiful resource, even if (especially if) nobody ever harms a deer
Yes, the reality is that deer are no in danger of being hunted for antlers but if someone spread a rumor in Asia that deer antlers were an aphrodisiac then you can bet that people wouldn't just wait around for them to fall off.
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Old 11-27-2019, 01:58 PM
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Why would bees be a problem? They're just doing their bee thing, and it happens to pollinate the plants.
Insect are the dominant pollinators. Bees top the list. Topping the list for bee pollinators worldwide is the European honey bee. Agriculture relies on a bee that humans have selectively bred and then introduced into non-native ecosystems. Since we care about protecting, tending, and when needed feeding those invasive bees they tend to out compete the native bees. They also tend not to be as good at pollinating native crops as native bees.

We rely on those partially domesticated bees, despite their weaknesses at actually pollinating crops, because we had already invested in using factory farming methods on them. They also produce honey and wax that we can take from them. Because we have selected for relatively low aggression against the beekeepers they are useful for industrial agriculture. We can and do intentionally breed them to increase numbers. We then ship their hives around to pollinate crops at the appropriate times.

The bees we rely on for agriculture aren't just doing their thing. Now I am not a vegan so none of this is my ethical take. As pointed out above there can be a range of opinions on how absolutist any individual vegan. Some do focus more on reducing harm and draw that line different places. PETA considers honey and beeswax to be non-vegan products because of the kinds of issues I brought up above. That is different but provides some insight into how some view beekeeping practices that related to agriculture.

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Manipulating Nature
Profiting from honey requires the manipulation and exploitation of the insects’ desire to live and protect their hive. Like other factory-farmed animals, honeybees are victims of unnatural living conditions, genetic manipulation, and stressful transportation.

Last edited by DinoR; 11-27-2019 at 02:00 PM.
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Old 11-27-2019, 02:02 PM
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Yes, the reality is that deer are no in danger of being hunted for antlers but if someone spread a rumor in Asia that deer antlers were an aphrodisiac then you can bet that people wouldn't just wait around for them to fall off.
Oh for god's sake, Mangetout was just looking to do a craft project with a deer antler. Are you saying that there's a danger that some random Asian dude could see Mangetout's project, get a boner, then go back home and start blabbing about it, leading hordes of poachers to cause America's super abundant white-tail population to go the way of the passenger pigeon? Cripes, that German maid in the basement has nothing on you.
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Old 11-27-2019, 02:13 PM
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If vegans won't consume milk or eggs, which are pretty much "naturally shed" by animals, I'm sure they wouldn't want deer antlers or snake skins or bird feathers either.
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Old 11-27-2019, 02:18 PM
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It depends, I guess, on whether the bees doing the pollinating are wild bees, doing their bee thing, or if they are domesticated bees, enslaved by humans for their honey
Bee reparations.

But seriously, if going vegan will help us get through this Thanksgiving holiday in the US without being exposed to Jello with fruit in it, I may be supportive of the whole vegan
idea.
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Old 11-27-2019, 02:22 PM
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If vegans won't consume milk or eggs, which are pretty much "naturally shed" by animals, I'm sure they wouldn't want deer antlers or snake skins or bird feathers either.
I think there's a key difference in that you generally can't just wander around and collect eggs or milk in the same way you can collect seashells at the beach, or antlers in the woods. The question is: Is that point of difference significant to vegans?

Last edited by Mangetout; 11-27-2019 at 02:23 PM.
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Old 11-27-2019, 02:34 PM
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If vegans won't consume milk or eggs, which are pretty much "naturally shed" by animals, I'm sure they wouldn't want deer antlers or snake skins or bird feathers either.
Eggs are in fact live birds waiting to hatch, unless they are unfertilized, which presupposes human manipulation. They aren't 'shed' in any natural sense.

Milk is even less 'shed'. In nature the female provides exactly as much milk as it takes to raise her children, no more. Human intervention requires extraction, among other things. It doesn't just appear in a bucket.

Antlers on the other hand, have already served their purpose for the animal and are a true discard.

I understand vegetarianism as an ecological position, but not as a moral one. It's like my friend who "doesn't eat anything with a face". To her, fish don't have faces.
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Old 11-27-2019, 02:37 PM
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Oh for god's sake, Mangetout was just looking to do a craft project with a deer antler. Are you saying that there's a danger that some random Asian dude could see Mangetout's project, get a boner, then go back home and start blabbing about it, leading hordes of poachers to cause America's super abundant white-tail population to go the way of the passenger pigeon? Cripes, that German maid in the basement has nothing on you.
Perhaps you missed the point. No one is criticizing the OP, but the OP was asking how a vegan (who obviously already takes these concerns seriously) might view it. This was one concern that Cooking could envision, and it’s not a completely far out hypothetical because there are similar situations already happening.

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Old 11-27-2019, 02:43 PM
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If vegans won't consume milk or eggs, which are pretty much "naturally shed" by animals, I'm sure they wouldn't want deer antlers or snake skins or bird feathers either.
Milk and eggs are naturally produced by wild animals in quantities sufficient for their young/reproductive needs. In order to get the quantities humans want them to produce, birds and mammals are bred into creatures who are in some cases drastically removed from the wild versions, sometimes to such an extent that they can't survive except in specific human-created conditions; and are often kept in conditions that are nothing like the ones they find in the wild.

I'm an omnivore, and eat lots of things, milk and eggs included; though I try to be careful about how the animals were raised. But the milk and eggs available at the store, or even the ones I sometimes get from the neighbors, aren't really "naturally shed."

-- Different vegans disagree on a lot of these issues. Some will eat honey, some won't. I expect some will use naturally shed deer antlers and others won't. If you want to make a gift for a particular person, I'd advise asking that person.


[whoops, partially ninjad by Ulfreida.]
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Old 11-27-2019, 03:22 PM
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But there are already precedents for these, such as killing elephants for ivory and rhinos for their horns. Not a hypothetical.
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Oh for god's sake, Mangetout was just looking to do a craft project with a deer antler. Are you saying that there's a danger that some random Asian dude could see Mangetout's project, get a boner, then go back home and start blabbing about it, leading hordes of poachers to cause America's super abundant white-tail population to go the way of the passenger pigeon? Cripes, that German maid in the basement has nothing on you.
This is a thread about what vegans think. This snippy argument over an unlikely hypothetical is far too heated for such a simple question that is polling for opinions, and off-topic for the thread anyways. CookingWithGas, stick to the topic of this thread please, and Two Many Cats, dial it way back, or take it to the Pit.
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Old 11-27-2019, 03:34 PM
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I have heard of vegans who keep "rescued" hens as pets and eat the eggs. I don't think any vegans drink animal milk, though, because that's not ever "naturally shed". (although domestic milk cows that have started producing milk need to be milked or they will die. But maybe there's not a movement to rescue milk cows while they are in milk.)

Naturally-shed antlers have a distinct "scar" at the end where they fell off the skull. I'd think "harvested" antlers would have to be sawn, and would be obviously different. My guess is that most vegans would place that in the category of "doesn't really both me, but I don't want it around my house".
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Old 11-27-2019, 03:35 PM
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This is a thread about what vegans think. This snippy argument over an unlikely hypothetical is far too heated for such a simple question that is polling for opinions, and off-topic for the thread anyways. CookingWithGas, stick to the topic of this thread please, and Two Many Cats, dial it way back, or take it to the Pit.
I take exception to the characterization of my post. I am not trying to have an argument. I was amplifying the point quoted below and certainly not critical of the OP. My post and the post below are directly responsive to why some vegans may not support the use of animal parts of any kind.
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In my opinion, most of the vegans I have met would take the position that, while this particular antler may have been shed naturally, if there is a market for them, someone else may be tempted to harm deer in order to make a quick dollar. This particular blob of ambergris may not have harmed any whale, but using it creates the temptation to harm whales.

Last edited by CookingWithGas; 11-27-2019 at 03:36 PM.
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Old 11-27-2019, 03:39 PM
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Veganism isn't about perfection, it's about doing the least harm possible and practical.

I practice veganism and we do buy "shed" antlers for our dogs. The label claims they are naturally found in the woods from wild deer. I don't know that's true in all cases; it seems to me that if they move enough product they might need a more reliable source. I also don't know HOW they are found -- for all I know it could be dogs used to sniff them out, or enslaved sweatshop orphans.

Some brands aren't as specific in their labeling and might be from farmed animals; we try to avoid those.

In the meantime, the ones we do buy appear to be relatively benign and the dogs' quality of life is improved. If we do learn something that makes buying shed antlers seem inappropriate or harmful, we will reconsider. It's a moving target as both our understanding and society's practices evolve.

Generally feather products are not considered vegan, because it's difficult to imagine a commercial quantity of feathers being available. In certain cases and small quantities, presumably some sort of certification/attestation of sourcing might ameliorate that concern.

However, when we lived with parrots (rescued), I kept shed feathers in a jar and made a craft project out of them -- Mardi Gras masks for a party at my work. Some of my co-workers breathlessly asked if we'd pulled the feathers out of our parrots...I've never been able to decide whether they were genuinely concerned that we'd harmed our birds (and therefore their concern was touching) or just assumed we were stupid or something (unflattering).
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Old 11-27-2019, 04:01 PM
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I take exception to the characterization of my post. I am not trying to have an argument. I was amplifying the point quoted below and certainly not critical of the OP. My post and the post below are directly responsive to why some vegans may not support the use of animal parts of any kind.
Fair enough.
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Old 11-27-2019, 04:30 PM
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I realize we're talking about a hypothetical vegan here and my apologies if I offended CookingWithGas with a flip and boisterous answer.

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Old 11-27-2019, 04:49 PM
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...
For the whales, I don't think the market for ambergris can lead to harm for the whales - they need to be alive to produce the stuff, so in theory, it should work the other way - if you want Ambergris, you have to look after the whales.
Mightn't there be a temptation to kill the whales in order to harvest the ambergris? I mean, yes it may wash up on shore, but that's pretty iffy. Slaughter one whale of the appropriate species, and you've got a much higher chance of a payoff.
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Old 11-27-2019, 04:53 PM
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Mightn't there be a temptation to kill the whales in order to harvest the ambergris? I mean, yes it may wash up on shore, but that's pretty iffy. Slaughter one whale of the appropriate species, and you've got a much higher chance of a payoff.
I'm sure it's been thought of and was judged not economically viable. Not all sperm whales contain ambergris.

Last edited by running coach; 11-27-2019 at 04:53 PM.
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Old 11-27-2019, 08:33 PM
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I worked with a vegan who had a tortoise* shell on her desk, because tortoises were her spirit animal.

Are these shed naturally? I have found them on occasion and I figured the turtle had just died and withered away, leaving the shell.

Anyway. This vegan was also a Reiki master. I'm pretty sure she did not wear leather shoes. But that shell. It was all lacquered too so it wouldn't shed. I will say she was not fussed about what other people wore or ate. It was a very diverse office and I have never worked anywhere else where there was such a trauma about pizza in the break room, i.e., does it have pork? Does it have dairy? Does it have citrus fruits? How about gluten? The Reiki master didn't eat any of it. But she ate Jello. And she had that shell, which was a real shell.

*Turtle, tortoise, I don't know.

Last edited by Hilarity N. Suze; 11-27-2019 at 08:34 PM.
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Old 11-27-2019, 10:16 PM
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I'm not a vegan, but it seems to me it's going to be an individual decision. I mean, I only learned fairly recently that a fair number of fruits and vegetables are not technically vegan, because their production involves the use of bees to pollinate the plants. Which seems to me an extremely strict definition of "vegan" that I suspect most vegans do not subscribe to.
The main counterargument I've seen is a debate over whether shipping bees around is an exploitative act, or a mutually beneficial one that makes the lives of those bees better. The bees aren't made to pollinate anything, they're just shipped to where they have a greater opportunity to do so.

I mean, I know few vegans who think that having pets is immoral. And the reasoning is that it is not exploitation, but a mutually beneficial relationship. (That said, how animals are bred can be immoral, and you shouldn't support those with inhuman practices. More you should adopt pets.)

There's also the argument that veganism is about reducing harm in reasonable ways, not being an insane stickler about everything. This is the argument I've seen for why bugs accidentally getting trapped when harvesting plants doesn't mean they can't eat plants. I could see it also applying here.

On the other hand, there are vegans who decide the most ethical thing they can do is grow their own food, to minimize the problems with industrial foodmaking. That would reduce the accidental killing, and remove the bees who have to be exploited, relying just on the natural pollinator population.
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Old 11-27-2019, 10:16 PM
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I'm sure it's been thought of and was judged not economically viable. Not all sperm whales contain ambergris.
It's been thought of, and when whales were hunted, it was done.

https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/what-...20the%20future.

Quote:
When whaling was widespread, sperm whales were hunted for ambergris and other valuable products, such as oil.

Sabin says, 'Whales are now protected worldwide, but could still be at risk in the future.

'There are ongoing pressures from some countries to reintroduce whaling as a mechanism for population management and control.'

All whales are now protected worldwide and cannot be hunted, with very few exceptions Laws regulating the collection and sale of ambergris vary around the world. In some countries ambergris and all other whale-derived products are prohibited, but elsewhere it is either legal or a grey area.
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Old 11-28-2019, 12:26 PM
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I just asked my daughter this question, who is a vegan, using the deer antler example. She said as long as they were shed naturally and the deer doesn't need them anymore, no problem. Same for seashells.

Last edited by CookingWithGas; 11-28-2019 at 12:26 PM.
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Old 11-29-2019, 08:51 AM
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I recall an advertisement by some vegans who wanted a lactating human mother to move in and share her leftover breast milk with them. I'm not sure it was real though.
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Virtually all cultivated food products require domesticated bees for pollination.
If you're going by just number of individual products, probably, but the vast majority or our calories do not require bees.
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Old 11-29-2019, 12:14 PM
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I recall an advertisement by some vegans who wanted a lactating human mother to move in and share her leftover breast milk with them. I'm not sure it was real though.
Vegans are not known for their craving for milk that would make them that desperate to get some. Also, leftover breast milk is not a naturally-shed product (unless you bottle some for your kid but he doesn't finish all of it?)

It is true that some strict Jains, Buddhists, and others will not eat honey because harvesting it could potentially involve hurting bees. I don't know how widespread this is, but I have encountered it. There is a lot of stuff they won't eat, eg digging up potatoes or onions is bad; not everything has to be "naturally shed", but there is a principle of non-violence including towards insects and microorganisms.
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Old 11-29-2019, 01:32 PM
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Ethically sourced down is naturally shed--is that cool? And where do vegans stand on wool? I mean, sure the critter has to be shorn but that takes about a minute and I've seen sheep afterward and I think they're pretty happy to be shed of that weight of winter wool and if left unshorn it can actually harm them and possibly kill them. Same with alpacas--poor buggers can suffer heat stroke from too much unshorn fleece. How's that go over with the vegans?
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Old 11-29-2019, 03:16 PM
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I'm a "vegan" (I hate that term because it sounds too trendy). I have no issue with what you describe.

Last edited by Marcus Flavius; 11-29-2019 at 03:17 PM.
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Old 11-29-2019, 03:32 PM
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A tree does not naturally shed its trunk, which may be exploited for lumber, clogs, and guitars. Are those verboten? Oh wait, that's vegetative, not animal. But what, it's moral for animals to eat people but not vice-versa? Okay, so my old longhair golden retriever Junipero shed fur like crazy. I could have swept all that up and felted it -- likely with some of my own fallen hair included. Is it moral to exploit creatures' sheddings?
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Old 11-29-2019, 04:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by puzzlegal View Post
Naturally-shed antlers have a distinct "scar" at the end where they fell off the skull. I'd think "harvested" antlers would have to be sawn, and would be obviously different.
True, but to be perfectly fair, once it's made into a product such as knife handles, walking stick parts, etc, the distinction will no longer be evident without destructive testing of the item.
  #40  
Old 11-29-2019, 07:30 PM
flatlined is offline
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I used to work with a vegan and we discussed these things on our down time. From what I have been told, honey is bad because bees die when their hives are transported for human use as well as the general exploitation thing. While chickens will lay eggs with or without a rooster around, the eggs are not vegan because of the cruel process of sex sorting the chicks. Around half of the chicks hatched are male. About 1 percent of the males hatched are needed/wanted, the rest are culled (killed).
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Old 11-29-2019, 08:13 PM
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This steak was shed naturally by the cow, honest.
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