Vegans -an honest query

After reading the (two) threads recently started by Opalcat regarding the use of leather, I realized that I am baffled by those that totally reject the use of any animal products.** Now, I firmly oppose the methods that many cow and chickens are now raised by in the U.S. as both unhealthy and unnessarily cruel.** In fact with a wee bit o’luck, I will ONLY be eating beef and chicken that I have raised in the near future. However, I don’t understand what die-hard vegans purpose that we do with cattle, chickens and pigs etc. if we don’t eat 'em. What will happen to the existing herds if ranchers and farmers can no longer sell them? Do you want all breeds of domestic farm animals to die out? I am very curious as to your solutions.

Jeez-you’d think I’d learn to spell check and preview. Sorry.

Note that you’ll probably get a variety of answers to this question, as there is no one “vegan platform” of what exactly is and is not proper usage of animals. However, the most common explanations that I’ve seen (I’m an ovo-lacto vegetarian and have read up on the subject) include the possibility of simply not breeding these animals any longer and letting them die out naturally.

O.K. but if we all become vegans tomorrow, who should bear the burden of ** feeding and sheltering ** these animals until they keel over from old age? I

I am distinctly “posting challenged” today. However, I was attempting to add the following:
I have 2 cows. They’re not “pets” or “companions” by any definition.
If I couldn’t use their milk or ultimately their off-spring for meat, I would certainly stop feeding them.

Jilzania, there’s the argument that, even if all existing livestock starved horribly to death now, at least it’d stop future suffering by them. Better one generation die off than hundreds of generations suffer.

Animal rights, in my experience, is extremely individual-oriented, as opposed to group-oriented. While most AR folks will weigh one death against multiple deaths and decide one death is better, they won’t decide that the preservation of a species is worth even a single death.

Sometimes AR folks and environmentalists come into sharp conflict over this: environmentalists often put value at the species, or even ecosystem, level, and would rather (for example) kill off a bunch of invader rats using whatever means are effective than let the rats eat all the eggs of a rare bird.

Tom Regan, author of The Case for Animal Rights, even goes so far as to refer to John-Muir-style environmentalists as “environmental fascists.” He’s apparently never heard of Godwin’s law :). (He does, however, elaborate on his accusation, comparing the promotion of the species over the individual to a fascist promotion of society over the individual).


DanielWithrow my cows do not suffer. They roam merrily on my 19 acres and receive free daily meals and good medical treatment. When it becomes time to turn them into burgers, I’ll say a quick prayer to the cow god and drive them to a small local meat market where they will be quickly slaughtered.
I really don’t understand the logic of your statement.

Where is imthecowgodmoo when you need him?

But if we stop eating beef and chicken, there’s no incentive to breed more animals. And if we don’t breed them, assuming the species can survive at all in the wild, they will reproduce at a lackluster rate at best. So basically, putting a stop to the meat-production industry dooms countless future generations to the void, in that untold billions of sweet fluffy animals will never be born! Surely even a short life is better than no life at all, yes?

Wait a minute. They have cows on Vega?

Although I’m sure that your remark was totally tongue in cheek, Max Torque I have to say that anyone that thinks that cows are

has never dealt with one.

Many vegans would disagree, for various reasons. Some say it’s morally/ethically wrong for humans to use animals in this fashion, to breed them for food. This would be their definition of suffering. Also, many slaughterhouses are not exactly quick or humane in their slaughter methods, though this might not be the case at your local one.

Many vegans would, in fact, disagree. They view the lives of most farm animals - and not without some justification - as being short, full of discomfort and even pain, most of the time being in confinement and not seeing the sun or breathing fresh air, and for the sole purpose of ending up on someone’s dinner table in one form or another. Since these species were bred by humans to be totally dependent on us, it would be better in many vegans’ minds for them to be allowed to die off rather than continue to lead such an existence.

(Not a vegan, but I play one on the SDMB! Er, or something.)

MaxTorque - I know you were being funny; however, here’s a serious response to your query.

You’re right - those cows and chickens never get to live. On the other hand, there are lots of wild animals that aren’t going to get to live because the land they’d live on is being taken up by cows and chickens.

On the other hand, no matter what you eat, you’re preventing some animals from living - even if you’re vegetarian. The food you eat is preventing some other animal from eating.

Species do the best they can to proliferate until some of them are starving. It’s a harsh world.

Nah, that was just me being facetious. I grew up in very rural environs in a free-range state, about 2 miles from a dairy; I can remember cows and bulls wandering onto our property all too well.

And for the record, I am no vegetarian. I’ve done it before, when I was trying to lose weight, and it worked marvelously; in fact, I found that avoiding most meat really opened up my sense of taste, and I was able to appreciate subtle flavors in food I’d never noticed before. So, I’m not opposed to the idea of vegetarianism.

That being said, we also raised our own chickens, turkeys, goats, and for a while even rabbits, all of which I helped dispatch on their way to our dinner table. To me, whacking the head off a chicken is no different from picking an ear of corn; it’s just harvesting a food crop. “We must spare the lives of all animals” arguments don’t go very far with me.

jlzania, lemme preface this by saying I’m not an animal rights adherent, though I used to be pretty close to being one. So take my depictions of the philosophy with a grain of salt.

Second, I know that folks can treat their livestock really well. I’m not saying you keep your cows in tiny stalls all day long.

That said, if you want to understand the AR position, remember that it equates an animal’s right to life with a human’s right to life (in most circumstances). If, in a given situation, it’d be unethical to kill a human being, the AR advocate will usually believe it’s unethical to kill an animal.

I shouldn’t have used the word “suffering.” Instead, I should have said something like, “Better one generation be killed than hundreds of generations be killed.”

It’s been a good ten years since I’ve read the philosophical underpinning for this position. If you’re interested, check out Tom Reagan’s The Case For Animal Rights. It’s a dense read, but pretty interesting stuff.


I’d also recommend Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation; he’s written other books on ethics, and this work did a good job of explaining the ethical and philosophical reasoning behind ‘animal rights’ or if you prefer, humans’ responsibilities towards animals.

**DeniseV & DanielWithrow **, I really and truly appreciate your perspectives on this issue and realize that you are quite tactfully trying to represent the AR view.
However, it still doesn’t make a lick o’ sense to me and I’m a person that much prefers the company of my dogs, cats, and horses to that of 90% of the humanoids I know.

I was debating the point with a vegan who insisted that I was abusing my cows. When I related the circumstances under which they lived, his argument was reduced to “But waa waa waa-they don’t get to live out a natural life span.” WTF. Like they’d live 20 years in nature. Shoot-if I hadn’t been on hand when Minimoo got pneumonia, she’d been dead 2 years ago.

What is this mythical beast called Nature with a capital N and why do I get the impression that the most ardent of the AR people think that it is some kind of animal utopia?

Minimoo… LOL!!!

I’m not a vegan. I’ve tried it, but couldn’t handle it. I’m a vegetarian though, and I generally do not eat a great deal of dairy products (but I really like to have pizza or icecream occasionally. :slight_smile: ), and almost no eggs.

I have no objection to people eating animal products. If everyone were to become vegan or vegetarian overnight, it would be a Bad Thing IMO. Change has to come gradually.

Here’s the thing though. People eat way too much meat. It’s not good for you to eat that much (no, I don’t have a cite. I have read an article somewhere, but don’t remember where, and have anecdotal evidence to hand only. Therefore take this as an IMO statement), and it’s very inefficient in terms of land usage. Similarily, but to a lesser degree, with dairy products and eggs.

That’s the argument against large-scale consumption from the human side. Now from the animal side: Large scale production of meat, etc. means extremely poor conditions for the animals. I don’t need to go into detail, but I think most people can agree that the conditions animals are in for farming are Bad. Whether you agree that’s a problem is a different matter.

Where something to be done about it, here’s what I would propos be done with the herds, etc. People shouldn’t just stop eating meat or dairy products, but they should eat less. For example if they eat meat only one meal every other day at first, or something like that. Then the current herds will still be used up, all that’s then needed is to breed fewer animals, which will happen anyway with less demand for them. This should then increase the standard of living for the animals as well: As the numbers decrease, the value of the individual animals increases and the cost of keeping them in a decent state decreases (because there are fewer to take care of). Eventually the population will stabilise at a more reasonable level.

Of course, I don’t propose actually doing this for the simple reason that there is no widespread interest in doing so. It would be an attempt to impose my own personal morality on others, something which I have no interest in doing (in fact I believe it’s wrong to do so, even if I may try to given a sufficiently good reason, but that’s a different matter entirely).

All IMO of course.

But she is a “minimoo”, Dieter, she’s an Irish Dexter and is only 40" tall at the shoulder!

And kitarak, I agree that excessive consumption of meat is unhealthy but I really don’t see it changing soon in America where a large portion of the population thinks that it is their right to have unlimited access to .99 cent hamburgers.