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Is it ethical to eat meat?

  • MGZ Mar 21, 2012 04:23 AM
LOCKED DISCUSSION

The New York Times has opened up what I find to be a fascinating contest. The fundamental question is quite complex, though it can be asserted in a rather simple way: "Whether it is right to eat animals in the first place, at least when human survival is not at stake." Here is a link to the article which includes some clarification, the rules, the judges, and some thoughts (not always thoughtful or on point) from some NYT posters:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/25/mag...

So, I'm curious. Anyone else find this to be an intriguing exercise? Anyone have any thoughts on the subject? Anyone else thinking of trying to submit an answer?

  1. I reject the premise, eating meat is neither ethical nor unethical, eating has nothing to do with ethics.

    6 Replies
    1. re: redfish62

      That's a fine way to avoid the question, but I'm not sure I can agree. If ethics is an examination of the moral nature of human conduct, your idea would require that either eating is not an example of human conduct or there is never any moral component to the act of eating. The first alternative is empirically wrong and the second would suggest that any consumption is morally permissible - including eating one's child or eating something known to be poisonous.

      Although, one could support the latter position on the notion that there is never any moral component to any human action, i.e., there is no right and wrong, I prefer not to accept that for my own belief structure.

      1. re: MGZ

        There are certain taboos that are universal in humanity, among them are eating your children and eating poison. Granted there are some cultures where eating other people is accepted, but even then they eat their enemies who they do not regard as fully human.

        I have no choice but to eat, or to cease to exist. What I eat is part of my wiring ... I did not ask to be born an omnivore.

        A tiger faces no ethical dilemma in eating, nor does an antelope, nor do I.

        1. re: redfish62

          A tiger and an antelope lack a consciousness, you do not.

          I do not believe vegetarianism is universal.

          This post will get very sticky. Eat meat and enjoy it. I do. Michael Pollan expands on this much better than I can in 'Omvivore's Dilemma.'

          1. re: CCSPRINGS

            <A tiger and an antelope lack a consciousness, you do not.>

            But we know elephants, dolphins and a few other animals have consciousness. I don't think dolphins have trouble eating fishes despite their consciousness.

            It is argued that dogs have self awareness and consciousness. Now, assuming it is true, then it wouldn't surprise me that a tiger also do as well

            http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/201...

            :D

            <This post will get very sticky>

            Not sure if it will ever make it to 300 posts, let's alone 500 posts.

          2. re: redfish62

            Yes redfish.

          3. re: MGZ

            Moral is such a big subject to start off with. In addition, what is moral to one person is not to the others. Yes, some are very widespread and widely accepted like you said: no to steal, kill...etc. However, many are very personal. Should you marry a person who is 10 years younger than you? Are non-believers of Jesus Christ moral? Is pro-choice or pro-life more morally sound? (no I am not asking for a real answer).

            As such, I doubt "eating animal" has a widely accepted position, and everyone will have a different position on it depending on their view points.

        2. Humans have the teeth of carnivores and not herbivores.

          4 Replies
          1. re: JAB

            Eyes on the front of our heads too.

            1. re: mpjmph

              ?

              1. re: JAB

                As a rule, carnivorous mammals (land based, anyway) have both eyes facing forward for better stereoscopic vision. Non-carnivores (prey) tend to have eyes optimized for peripheral vision.

                1. re: egit

                  Yep. Humans are built to to consume meat. We are also built to consume things that aren't meat. We are omnivores, and I enjoy it.

          2. Is it ethical to eat meat?

            ____________________________

            Depends on your ethics.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ipsedixit

              Clever, in an ipse dixit goes ipso facto kinda way.

            2. I have a problem with the basic premise that I somehow need to show why it's ethical to eat meat. Any time you eat you are taking food from another creature, so unless you are at deaths door you shouldn't eat anything.

              If you don't eat meat because it's unethical to kill would eating road kill be OK? How about if I only eat meat that I kill in self defense? That pig was attacking me. Mmm, bacon.

              jb

              1. I had another thought on a different angle. We have no way of knowing what the result of our actions will be. When we kill an animal for food we could be alleviating suffering. That anmial may have suffered a terrible fate if left to live, mauled by a predator, hit by a car or contract a slow and painful disease.

                To say that killing and eating animals increases the suffering may or may not be true. If the ehtics relies soley on, it's not my place to determine an aniamls fate, how far do you take that? Bugs, microbes? Is it ethical to mow my lawn? Take a walk in the woods? Where do you draw the line?

                Just some musings.

                jb

                1. Yes, God gave us dominion over animals.. so lets braise 'em up with some Barolo, baby!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: grant.cook

                    does that apply to Fido and Fluffy too? or is there some ethical or moral element that determines which animal are okay to consume and which ones aren't?

                    food for thought.

                    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristin...

                    1. re: grant.cook

                      "Yes, God gave us dominion over animals.. so lets braise 'em up with some Barolo, baby!"

                      "If god didn't want us to eat animals,he woulda made em outta wood...."

                      Actual bumper sticker I seen somewhere

                    2. Although some would argue, I think that they fact that we have evolved to eat at least a certain amount of meat indicates that, in principle, eating meat is ethical. I think what is of far greater importance is the ethics of how we get our meat. Being past the hunter gatherer stage, we rely on farming for most of our meat., most of us, at least. But I do think it is obviously ethical to ensure that the animals we eat are raised in the greatest degree of comfort possible, and killed as humanely as possible. The animals do not have a human's knowledge of mortality, and a life well and comfortably lived, humanely ended before sickness and decreptitude sets in, is perfectly ethical.

                      25 Replies
                      1. re: EricMM

                        Best answer here!

                        1. re: EricMM

                          I agree with this, good post.

                          1. re: EricMM

                            I brought up this exact argument in another thread a while back and was resoundingly destroyed for it.

                            DT

                            1. re: EricMM

                              a month of two ago I was watching a show that we tape on homesteading in Alaska. don't remember the name of it, have watched them all so they're erased. anyway, there was an episode where the matriarch of the female beef community [of this one particular family] was showing signs of very old age and the concern was that she'd not make it through another frozen winter. they'd had her for years and she'd provided many baby's and lot's of milk over all these years. almost thought of her as a family member but decided to put her down as they thought it was the humane thing to do so she'd not suffer. she ended up being dinner and several more meals for several family's [so] her life was celebrated via the food she then provided them after her life had ended. and yah, I cried.

                              1. re: EricMM

                                A few counter-arguments*:

                                "I think that they fact that we have evolved to eat at least a certain amount of meat indicates that, in principle, eating meat is ethical."
                                _____
                                We have also evolved (in the sense that a society 'evolves') to a point at which eating meat isn't strictly necessary for a decent number of us. So given that eating meat as a practice entails a degree of animal suffering (see below), wouldn't the most ethical choice then be to forgo meat entirely for those of us with the luxury to do so?

                                "The animals do not have a human's knowledge of mortality, and a life well and comfortably lived, humanely ended before sickness and decreptitude sets in, is perfectly ethical"
                                _____
                                Even humanely-raised animals are almost always slaughtered not just before old age sets in, but looong before old age sets in. In the best real-world scenarios, food animals are deprived of a large portion of their healthy adult lives. The animals themselves have no concept of what they are missing, of course. But we do. Whether they know it or not, they are still being deprived.

                                "I do think it is obviously ethical to ensure that the animals we eat are raised in the greatest degree of comfort possible, and killed as humanely as possible."
                                ______
                                Any animal as an individual can be raised comfortably and killed humanely. But when we talk of killing millions of animals, even the best (most humane) systems of animal husbandry entail that a number of animals will fall by the wayside, be outliers, and be subject to incidental suffering. The occasional slaughter will go awry. The odd animal will get sick or injured and be overlooked. The odd meat-producer will do so without scruples while claiming to be fully humane. It is simply impossible in the real world to have a system of animal husbandry large enough to feed billions of people without some animals being subject to conditions that are, by just about any standard, cruel. And by eating meat and taking part in that system, even one that strives for humane practice, you are helping (unintentionally) to perpetuate a system that entails a degree of animal cruelty to these outliers.

                                In a way, this argument is similar to one of the stronger arguments against the death penalty: if a society executes one man, and that man is guilty of a heinous crime, then justice (as it's conceived by many, though of course not all) has been served. But if a society executes 10,000 people, the odds are overwhelming that despite checks and balances in the system, at least one of those 10,000 people was an innocent. And supporting that system also entails supporting the killing of the occasional innocent as one of its inevitable costs. In the same way, animal suffering and cruelty is an inevitable cost of a system of meat-eating... any system of meat eating.

                                *Anyone familiar with my posting history will probably realize that I, as an admitted meat-eater, am playing devil's advocate. I picked your post, EricMM, because I thought you made an especially cogent argument. But the vegan/vegetarian side of the argument has not been represented in this thread. And personally, I've come to see meat eating (when not necessary to prevent starvation) as morally ambiguous. I'm okay with that.

                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                  Okay, so I'll counter your argument. Or at least your first point.

                                  I find it to be quite simple to me. If you just delete meat from your diet, you'll die. Meat is the single best way for humans to get all the essential protein nutrients your body requires. So your diet has to be adjust to ensure the needed proteins are in there.

                                  DT

                                  1. re: Davwud

                                    Lots of people manage not to eat meat while not dying of protein starvation. It's not that hard.

                                    For anyone who actually cannot get the nutrients to survive in good health without meat, I don't think this discussion really applies. But I think that basically fits into the 'starvation' exception listed in the OP (protein starvation is a kind of starvation; severe vitamin deficiency is a bit more of a stretch, but still should be covered as an ethical exception, IMO).

                                    1. re: Davwud

                                      "Meat is the single best way for humans to get all the essential protein nutrients your body requires"
                                      Biologically, yes. That is what I meant by saying that we have evolved to eat meat. However, since we have developed agriculture, and a variety of different food crops, along with the ability to understand the quantities and balance of individual nutrients, it is quite possible to maintain a vegan diet as an adult and be perfectly healthy. (Don't get me started on making young children vegans....) But, that is really a product of modern technology. Prior to that, you are right- animal products were required (although obtainable from eggs and dairy) to maintain proper protein intake. It is this biological aspect of our nutrition, that we have a physical, evolutionary adaptation for meat consumption that leads me to believe that animal consumption in principal is ethical. If anyone questions our evolutionary adaptations for omnivory, you can always compare our anatomy to the herbivorous species of Paranthropus among our closest hominid relatives, not to mention gorillas among our living relatives. A completely herbivorous diet involves significant anatomical differences.

                                      1. re: EricMM

                                        But all this is doing is illustrating my point. We're designed to eat meat. You can get away without eating it but you have to compensate. Thus, morals don't enter into it because that's how we're set up. To eat meat. In my mind it's no more an ethical dilemma than to drink water or breathe air.

                                        DT

                                        1. re: Davwud

                                          My feelings, too. We're born atop the food chain as part of nature, not above it. It's not as if the big fish are unethical for eating the small ones when there are seaweed and stuff around, too.

                                          1. re: Davwud

                                            'Designed' is a very problematic word if you are arguing from an evolutionary perspective.

                                            More to the point, I don't think the evolutionary argument holds much water. Not because I dispute that meat-eating has played an important role in human evolution, but because I don't think that it follows that meat-eating must then be exempt from ethical considerations. The obvious difference between eating meat vs drinking and breathing is that the later two are necessary for survival while meat eating is not (with exceptions already noted). But the argument goes deeper than that.

                                            For one, meat-eating is far from the only behavior that has affected human evolution. Some evolutionary scientists believe that fighting (especially amongst males) has played a significant role in human evolution as well. It is likely to be part of the reason that aggression, obvious musculature, and tall physical stature are sexually attractive qualities to females. It can explain differences in facial structure between men and women. It might even be part of the reason we stand upright ( http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/... ). All that said, most people would consider it unethical, in more scenarios than not, to punch someone. It doesn't matter that evolution has made us a species built for punching each other. I'm trying not to be too inflammatory here, but raping and killing each other have also almost certainly shaped our species' evolution. Does that justify either practice? On a more positive note, the ability to apply ethical or moral thinking to our more animalistic urges has likewise almost certainly influenced our evolution as a species.

                                            In a more basic sense, evolution doesn't dictate what we SHOULD do, or even what we CAN do ethically. It dictates, at times, what we MUST do to survive and/or thrive (breathe, sleep, etc). But that's not the same thing, and it doesn't apply to meat-eating (with the OP's exception again noted). Evolution is merely the description of the process by which we came to be what we are, not prescription for what we are then to do within those bounds.

                                      2. re: cowboyardee

                                        "It is simply impossible in the real world to have a system of animal husbandry large enough to feed billions of people without some animals being subject to conditions that are, by just about any standard, cruel."

                                        one might argue the same could be said for a system of agriculture large enough to feed billions.
                                        anyone who thinks animals don't die as a result of agriculture is kidding themselves.

                                        i believe it was the san francisco chef chris cosentino, in one of the best pieces on eating i've read on the internet (which i frustratingly cannot find), who said it best (and i paraphrase): the act of eating on this planet involves destruction.

                                        1. re: linus

                                          That is indeed a good point. I can't pretend to know with certainty exactly how a system of pure agriculture compares with a system of mixed agriculture and animal husbandry in terms of animal cruelty. Very offhand, I would venture to guess that a pure system of agriculture entails less animal suffering. Might that not be a reasonable ethical consideration? More often than not, IMO, acting 'ethically' actually just means acting 'as ethically as possible, given your options.' Rarely does one get to choose between a wholly unethical path vs a wholly ethical one.

                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                            i'm not sure what you mean by the term "pure agriculture." when i used the term "agriculture" i was speaking of farming fruits, vegetables, grains etc. and not animal husbandry.
                                            "ethically as possible" troubles insofar as where does the line get drawn. as tom grunick says in 'broadcast news': "they keep movin' the little sucker."

                                            1. re: linus

                                              "i'm not sure what you mean by the term "pure agriculture."
                                              _________
                                              I meant just agriculture.

                                              '"ethically as possible" troubles insofar as where does the line get drawn.'
                                              ________
                                              That's where I differ with a lot of people who make ethical distinctions. There is no line. And that applies to most ethical distinctions, IMO. The need for a clear-cut divider between right and wrong is nothing more than a kind of heuristic, whereas I think the truly ethical thing to do in most situations is to weigh out consequences and then make the best choice that you can.

                                          2. re: linus

                                            i have made a mistake: the piece i paraphrased was written by mark pastore, the business partner of chris cosentino. no wonder i couldn't find it.
                                            anyway, the main thrust not really about meat eating, but about foie gras. however, i think it still applies to this topic.

                                            http://incanto.biz/2009/02/01/shock-f...

                                        2. re: EricMM

                                          I would add to that, not only concern for humane practices, but least harm to all. That means practices that are sound in terms of not polluting, causing antibiotic resistance, or damaging to environmental, public and human health, too.

                                          1. re: EricMM

                                            EricMM - I think it is the other way around.

                                            Humans have not evolved to the point where we don't eat meat in our diet. It is a choice, and we choose to eat meat. Many animals also eat meat and beings that do not comprehend what it means to destroy a living being to satisfy hunger find it acceptable to eat meat.

                                            I would not say it's not unethical to eat meat, but it is morally superior to have a diet which does not include killing sentient beings. Our animal nature does not push us in this direction, but our higher-level understanding makes this an aspiration (at least for some).

                                            The only common argument I hear on this that I disagree with is the idea that it's somehow a product of nature that humans eat meat. There is nothing natural or unnatural about eating meat. It is a choice and in this society we consciously pick the foods we want to eat.

                                            1. re: calumin

                                              "...it is morally superior to have a diet which does not include killing sentient beings..."

                                              "...I disagree with is the idea that it's somehow a product of nature that humans eat meat..."

                                              I disagree with you on both of these points. Those are your opinions and you are certainly entitled to them, but they are just opinions.

                                              1. re: John E.

                                                Well of course, this entire thread is people posting opinions. Feel free to disagree.

                                                On the second point, you don't say anything other than you disagree so there's not much of a compelling argument. But I think it is factual and not opinion about the "naturalness" of eating meat. It is not natural or unnatural - it is just what people choose to do or not do.

                                                People can justify the killing of an animal to satiate hunger as "natural" -- but it is just more a reflection of animal behavior. The question the OP posed can also be stated as: since humans have a conceptual understanding of killing that other animals don't, is it still moral for humans to kill what we eat? It's our choice to form whatever opinion we want in answering that question.

                                                1. re: calumin

                                                  I state this somewhere before on this thread...I don't agree with the premise of the question. Here's a question: "Is it ethical for a vegetarian to question the ethics of anyone who does not agree with them"?

                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                    John E -- I think the answer is yes.

                                                    I'm not a vegetarian, just articulating a point of view on the ethics of eating meat vs. not eating meat - which seems like a perfectly valid topic.

                                                    1. re: calumin

                                                      There are honorable actions and shameful actions, but most of the actions in our life are "gray area" actions. For example, brushing my teeth and rubbing my nose are neither honorable nor shameful.

                                                      Just because a particular action is not honorable, it does not mean it is unethical.

                                                      The problem of the NYTimes article has an undertone in implying the following: if meat eaters cannot justify their meat eating diet as ethical, then they should not eat meats.

                                                      Well, I cannot justify picking my nose as an honorable or a ethical action, but it does not mean other people should restrict my ability to do so. I do so many things which I cannot defend as honorable actions, like drinking Scotch, posting on CHOWHOUND, baking cookies, taking naps....

                                                      Unless there is a very good reason, I don't think people can/should impose their own values on others. It is about choices and the ability to make choices.

                                                      1. re: calumin

                                                        I don't care if someone does not eat meat, I just do not like it when militant vegetarians attempt to tell me how and what to eat.

                                                        By the way, although I did not write it nor did I imply it, but that was mostly a rhetorical question as I know the question will not change the answer anyone is going to provide.

                                                      2. re: John E.

                                                        <I state this somewhere before on this thread...I don't agree with the premise of the question.>

                                                        Sorry, that part of your statement was gone when they removed my posts (yours were attached to mine, so everything went.

                                              2. Perfectly ethical--provided it's fed to trolls.

                                                1. The Huffington Post "hosted" a debate on the subject. It has rather lame and unnecessary "poll" format, but the discussion does hit on some of the responsibility issues often brought to the forefront when the subject is discussed. If nothing else, it's worth reading if you're interested in the general exercise.

                                                  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03...

                                                  1. We are meat-eating animals. We are also animals that are capable of thought. I do not believe that human beings are meant to be vegetarian, for health reasons. However, also for health reasons, I don't believe that we are supposed to eat anywhere near as much meat as we often do in Western societies. I like the concepts that underlie the traditional Jewish laws regarding meat...raise and treat the animals well. When it is time for slaughter, kill the animals as quickly and painlessly as possible.

                                                    But the thing is, I don't know if the term "ethical" really applies here. Is it ethical to have sex? To go to the bathroom, to look for warmth when we are cold? Not really. It's just what we do. We evolved eating meat, we are genetically programmed to like meat. We can decide not to eat meat, but in a real way I consider that to be as unnatural as celibacy. Now, both vegetarians and celibates might have chosen those courses based on their moral or ethical beliefs. But neither course is really natural to human beings.

                                                    Actually, the more I think about this, it seems to me that eating meat in Western society is ethically neutral. Most of us are raised eating meat. There are no laws against eating meat in our communities. We rarely face serious questions about how we may or may not be hurting other people when we eat meat until we are old enough for meat to be an ingrained habit.

                                                    An aversion to meat is personal. The decision to become vegetarian is also personal. A vegetarian may feel ethically or morally superior to a meat eater. However, feelings aren't facts. I feel more ethically comfortable with kosher raised and killed meats. That makes me feel better about eating meat, but again, feelings aren't facts.

                                                    I think I'm going to stick with the "ethically neutral" line.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: StrandedYankee

                                                      Those nice aliens in "Avatar" ate meat.. and they seemed to really have it together. Their mother-earth god seemed okay with it.. that must mean something..

                                                    2. (as a 100% omnivore person)

                                                      IMO, people are eating too much meat (red meat in particular).

                                                      The production of meat takes a lot of resources (water, land, energy) and that is starting to cost us (humans) more and more.

                                                      As the (so-called) third world countries are getting richer, they try to emulate our way of life and are starting to eat meat more as a symbol of social standing than as a necessity; and with their population, it takes more and more resources that could be used elsewhere.

                                                      M.

                                                      1. it is ethical, and an important reflection of our cultures and our evolution, to eat meat. vegetarianism is a personal choice/lifestyle.

                                                        however, corporate/industrial food systems, factory farming, unsustainable fishing, etc, are unethical. ain't that a bitch...

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                          Well said sk. It's not smart, it's short sighted and will bite us eventually if not changed.

                                                          jb

                                                        2. For me the ethics issue doesn't involve in whether we should eat meat. Humans obviously evolved as meat eaters. Early European humans hunted, apparently, for the bulk of their diets. It is possible that further evolution helped humans cope with eating grains. (Isn't the jury out on that? But this is a possbility, I believe.) The dilemma for us, is how animals are raised and slaughtered. Packed tightly in pens, and then hauled to a horrifying slaughterhouse, is not my idea of an enlightened way of producing meat. But I eat it. I choose to do this because I can't afford pricier pasture raised meat. For those truly horrified at the factory farm method of meat production, I think vegetarianism is an admirable path.

                                                          I would like to see an ethical discussion of the ramifications of factory meat production. How are the workers dehumanized? Or are they? How does the tending of cattle penned tightly together in a feed lot affect humans designated to tend them? And, what are the medical effects of antibiotics added to feed? How has that practice affected medical practice? For me, those are more salient than debating whether humans should eat meat.

                                                          Being vegetarian is, rightly, a choice. But the morality is personal. It cannot be applied to our culture as a whole. Then, the practice of vegetarianism would not be a moral choice, but a requirement requiring no moral choice at all.,

                                                          1. It's unethical to ask that question in the first place. Being a vegetarian is a personal choice which I respect but that question makes it sound that eating meat could be considered unethical. It's fairly easy to be a vegetarian in a civilized society when you can walk into a grocery store and have an entire store full of vegetarian options, and, can go out to restaurants and order a vegetarian meal. Try being a vegetarian where you have to grow and process your own grain and vegetables and see how long that lasts. Or, go live in a third world country where the food options are limited and Joe walks into the room with a dead animal. "The only difference between civilization and chaos is three meals and twenty four hours." If you're going hungry, ethics and morals will quickly take a back seat to survival.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: Bunson

                                                              there's nothing unethical about asking a question; on the contrary, people should ask more questions and not be ashamed of doing so.

                                                              1. re: Maximilien

                                                                How is this for a question? "Is it ethical for vegans to demand that omnivores defend their diet"?

                                                            2. I too believe the premise of the question is faulty. The topic is biased in the manner in which the question is phrased. What I find interesting is I would bet that most militant animal rights activists are also pro-choice.

                                                              1. I think it is easy to over-think this whole thing. Arguing about what really is a non issue -- ethics depend on your personal code of conduct, belief system and cultural norms. Is it ethical? It depends on all of the above. We eat to live. We are physically constructed to be omnivores. The answer is easy..."it depends on your belief system". There is no right nor wrong response to this answer. Debating this is to provide argument for argument's sake. Meh.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: freia

                                                                  The question basically asks you to defend your belief system. There is no right or wrong response to the degree that there is no right or wrong response in being asked to defend your belief system as it impacts hot-button cultural issues such as abortion or gay rights.

                                                                2. freia, as is often the case, you hit the nail on the head. it's a belief, it's what your environment was as a little one growing up, it was what you parents did, the way your neighborhood treated the subject, what your best friends did in their family, the culture you were raised with and for some your blood type. some choose not to for a variety of reasons. some choose to eat some meats but not others. your religion, or lack there of. all make up you as a person and if you choose to eat it it's your choice and if not, that's up to you.
                                                                  all things in moderation, meat for me is necessary as it's an iron thing, but vegetables and fruits are more what I crave.

                                                                  http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Does_the_Bi...

                                                                  1. "In response, those who love meat have had surprisingly little to say."
                                                                    Why do we as meat eaters have to say anything. Humans eat meat. We don't have to justify it.

                                                                    It would take a lot of convincing for me to believe that those who defend veg/vegan and attack carnivore as having anything more than a "Holier than thou" attitude at thier root. As was pointed out upstream, eating meat is natural and as such, isn't subject to ethical questions. How the meat gets from seed to table can certainly be up for ethical debate.

                                                                    DT

                                                                    1. There seem to be a lot of subjectivists among 'hounds. I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised as that may be the dominant American ethos today, but somehow I didn't expect it.

                                                                      I think that a well reasoned, objective, ethical defense of eating meat can be articulated (I'm still working on mine as there are a few stray bits and 600 words is really not that many). That is the point of the academic exercise proposed.

                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                      1. re: MGZ

                                                                        "There seem to be a lot of subjectivists among 'hounds. I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised as that may be the dominant American ethos today"

                                                                        I don't think it is just an American thing. I think if you were to ask the Chinese or the Turks or whatever, they will give you a very similar answer on this topic of "is it ethical to eat meat". I cannot imagine many people (beside vegetarians) telling you that eating meat is universally unethical.

                                                                        Consider that eating meat is the norm, I would think the burden of the argument lies with the people who consider "eating meat is unethical" instead of the people who consider "eating meat is fine"

                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                          I limit my comment to Americans since this is the only society I constantly observe. I do no limit my thought to the instant question, however, but to the notion that for a great deal of Americans subjectivism seems to be the prevailing ethical model. I do not think this was the case even as recently as twenty-five years ago.

                                                                          As to who has the burden, it's a contest proposed by a newspaper. Sponsoring such an intellectual exercise should be sufficient to permit them to frame the issue in whatever way they choose.

                                                                          1. re: MGZ

                                                                            I understand the word subjective, but what is subjectivism? It would help if you pointed out a specific instance of subjectivism in this thread. Just a quote will do.

                                                                            Thanks,
                                                                            jb

                                                                            1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                              Examples: "Ethics are relative." or "An aversion to meat is personal. The decision to become vegetarian is also personal."

                                                                              Here's a decent discussion of the subject:
                                                                              http://www83.homepage.villanova.edu/r...

                                                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                                                MGZ,

                                                                                I think this is probably the part I don't quiet understand -- a point I made way up in this thread. I understand that there are some universally agreed ethics, like "do no kill", but many of other ethic rules are very personal. Like, is it ethical to marry someone who is 10 year younger? Is it ethical to marry someone outside of your own religion? Is it ethical to drive a traditional combustion car instead of a Prius? Is it ethical to have more than two children? (expanding human population)

                                                                                These will be personal choices based on one's own ethics and own priority. I think it is odd to say people who do NOT drive Prius are unethical or that people who have more than two children are immoral.

                                                                                Since we live in a world where parents are free to choose how many kids they want to have, I would again argue that the burden lies with those who challenge the status quo. Otherwise, we have to defend every single things we do from brushing our teeth to setting up an alarm clock.

                                                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                                                  Ok, that makes sense. so are you writing a piece that uses objective scientific fact to prove eating meat is ethical? That should be an intersting read. Something along the lines of, I have canine teeth therefore I can ethically eat meat?

                                                                                  Look forward to seeing your work.

                                                                                  jb

                                                                                  1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                    Not exactly, as philosophy is not science. Nevertheless, the reasoning must have some degree of "proof."

                                                                        2. I don't have a problem with answering the question "why is it ethical to eat meat?", but I do have two problems with the contest:

                                                                          1. The prize is $zero.
                                                                          2. The comment in the announcement "at least when human survival is not at stake". Last I checked, ethics/morals stayed the same, regardless of the cost. If I thought something was a sin, I wouldn't commit it just because it was expedient. I wouldn't shoot a human to steal his dinner even if I were about to starve. (or maybe I would...but I wouldn't call it ethical)

                                                                          23 Replies
                                                                          1. re: danna

                                                                            "The comment in the announcement "at least when human survival is not at stake". Last I checked, ethics/morals stayed the same, regardless of the cost. If I thought something was a sin, I wouldn't commit it just because it was expedient. I wouldn't shoot a human to steal his dinner even if I were about to starve. (or maybe I would...but I wouldn't call it ethical)"

                                                                            That is a good point -- if we are to believe ethic is absolute and universal. This is a point I tried to commute to MGZ, but I think you did better. For widely accepted universal ethic issue, the ethics/moral should not be related to cost to oneself, like killing another person.

                                                                            For the not-widely accepted ethic issue, then by definition, they are personal -- because not everyone share the idea. Can I marry someone outside of my religion? Well, that completely depends on your own belief system. I think to acknowledge the fact that many of our own ethic choices are "personal" does not make us subjectivists. We are merely describing the situation.

                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                              Ethics don't quite stay the same. For some killing is never ok, but for many in self defense or the defense of loved ones it's ok.

                                                                              jb

                                                                              1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                                                                :) True. I think for most people self defense or defense of loved ones is ok, but I thought danna touched on a very good point. That is, killing another person for his/her food. It is still about survival, but the other person is not directly harming your existence.

                                                                                Anyway, this is an interesting topic about eating meat, but it is a personal moral question.

                                                                              2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                Keep in mind that the contest is fundamentally a game, an intellectual exercise. Calling attention to it is why I posted the thread with the link. Discussions of whether or not a universal set of ethical rules can exist are interesting, but tangential. It seems to me that an argument based upon a subjectivist model will not succeed in winning the game.

                                                                                After noting some of the more prominent ethical objections to meat consumption, the Times states:

                                                                                "In response, those who love meat have had surprisingly little to say. They say, of course, that, well, they love meat or that meat is deeply ingrained in our habit or culture or cuisine or that it’s nutritious or that it’s just part of the natural order. Some of the more conscientious carnivores have devoted themselves to enhancing the lives of livestock, by improving what those animals eat, how they live and how they are killed. But few have tried to answer the fundamental ethical issue . . . ."

                                                                                I think that a dispassionate, logical argument can be made that is based upon a certain degree of universality. Danna's second point is interesting, but I think the caveat at issue was added to prevent arguments founded upon purely practical assertions, i.e. humans must eat and meat can be eaten, therefore if there is nothing else to eat, it is ethical to eat meat. Nevertheless, winning the game is going to require reasoning that is consistent regardless of expediencies.

                                                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                                                  MGZ,

                                                                                  I see. A very good point about subjectivist model will not succeed in winning the game. I think the reason that you see a lot of people go for the subjectivist mode or whatever one may call it is that these people (me included) worry about being to judgmental. Unless we feel absolutely strong about something, we are usually in the "open minded" or "tolerance" mindset. So while I probably can formulate reasons why eating meats is unethical (or vice versa) it makes me looks like an intolerance person.

                                                                                  I am on my way to do some errands. I will try to come up with some arguments later, but just for disclosure purpose. I am not trying to impose my moral principles on others -- not on this topic anyway. :)

                                                                                  Cheers.

                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                    MGZ,

                                                                                    I have noticed that this is an interesting topic for you. Just for the sake of jump starting the topic, have you considered to be the first person to get your feet wet? On controversial topic, sometime it is more encouraging for others if the original poster (you) take the first step.

                                                                                    Maybe you can write a post about your stance and your reasoning. This may encourage others. Just a thought.

                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                      My intent was to submit my entry to the Times and then post it on this thread. A tough week with a couple clients requiring more than their fair share of attention, as well as prepping to host a dinner party tonight, has kept me from doing so. Soon.

                                                                                      I do think, generally, that one must start with a foundation that is acceptable to most, if not all, but that foundation must be something more than "all people need to eat." Nevertheless, that has to be part of it. Any adopted set of ethical rules needs to be based in widely accepted principles or irrefutable truths.

                                                                              3. re: danna

                                                                                Your post caused me to come up with this question for non-meat eaters.

                                                                                "At what point of hunger will you throw your ethics out the window and eat meat"?

                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                  Anthony Bourdain answered that one when he encountered vegetarians in Argentina - 4 or 5 days.

                                                                                  And for the meat eater - At what point of hunger will you butcher Fluffy, Spot or Black Beauty? Because at the heart of it, meat is meat.

                                                                                  1. re: MplsM ary

                                                                                    Remember the "Would you eat a dog" thread? I'd eat a dog if it was a starvation situation. I don't currently have a dog, but to save my family, Spot would draw the short stick. (There is a Far Side cartoon with two guys and a dog in a lifeboat. One of the men is holding a short straw while the other man and the dog are holding long straws. The caption reads, "Fair is fair Larry, you drew the short straw".

                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                      I love dog, and the idea that I have to eat a dog pains me. I suppose it is easy to say that I won't eat a dog under any circumstance, but once you are put square between pure hungry and moral code.... eventually most of us break down. I know I would.

                                                                                      I used to fast once a year (water is allowed, but nothing else), and after a 3-4 days, my fingernail turned bluish, my heart beat funny, my mind could not focus, chewing my fingernails.... . Suddenly, the insects on the wall looked tasty -- I am serious. Everything looked eatable to me at that point....even paper.

                                                                                      I tell you. I was willing to steal to eat at that point. Of course, I didn't have to steal since I was fasting under my free will, but I am just saying that if I was really starving for 3-4 days, I would steal bread from a bakery.

                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                        I hope you don't do any fasting like that again. The symptoms you described are serious and you put your health, if not your life, in danger.

                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                          Heart palpitations. Yep. I don't do any water fasting anymore, not in the last five years, and am not planning do it again. However, many people consider heart palpitations as normal during a water fasting:

                                                                                          "Fluctuations or indeed palpitations of the heart muscle are not uncommon on a water-only fast and are usually only temporary. It would be vital to rest at this time which should be the norm' for the maximum benefit anyway."

                                                                                          http://curezone.com/forums/am.asp?i=1...

                                                                                          "heart palpitations and low blood sugar are common and normal for water fasting"

                                                                                          http://www.whyeat.net/forum/archive/i...

                                                                                          Frankly, I have my own reasons for not doing it again.

                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                            Of course they're normal, but they're still danger signs. Screw with your electrolyte balance long enough and it'll screw you back. :-/

                                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                                              You are just jealous that I went on fasting. :-/

                                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                Nuh UH! :-)

                                                                                      2. re: John E.

                                                                                        The Far Side pops up in my brain with amazing frequency. And as I get older, I get more blank stares when I quote from such.

                                                                                        I think it may have been that very cartoon that led me to one of my long-running conundrums: I beleive that in a life or death situation, if I knew I would be rescued if I could just survive a bit longer, I would kill my dog and eat him. I further believe that he would starve to death before eating me. I ask you -what does that say? Does it mean that dogs are better than people? or just dumber?

                                                                                        1. re: danna

                                                                                          I think your dog would eat you, personally speaking. Instinct to survive overrides pretty much anything. But no way of knowing at this point LOL...
                                                                                          I think many of us would think that they would act a certain way given an extreme circumstance, but when really faced with such a situation (not just sitting at home, with a beer, pondering the situation) their actions would be very, very different from what they like to believe they would be.

                                                                                          1. re: danna

                                                                                            "I further believe that he would starve to death before eating me. I ask you -what does that say? Does it mean that dogs are better than people? or just dumber? "

                                                                                            It depends. I think if you are already dead, then your dog may actually eat you. However, if you are alive and have a strong bond with your dog, then your dog may actually starve to death before attacking you. There is a very different switch for animals than human. For many animals, once the body is dead, they automatically switch off the connection. It is known that many animals will eat their already dead offpsprings even if they are not particularly hungry. On the other hand, the same animals will starve to death before killing their living offsprings (depending what animals we are talking about).

                                                                                            1. re: danna

                                                                                              I suppose an internet search could be made in an attempt to locate a story where a person and their dog starved to death together, either isolated in a house/apartment or in a more remote setting. I would guess that it mostly depends on the personality and breed of dog.

                                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                                I think I'm done with this topic, but I feel compelled to warn readers not to google anything having to do with starving dogs if you want to sleep ever again.

                                                                                                1. re: danna

                                                                                                  I guess you're correct. I would be interested in the story, not the photos.

                                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                                    Again, a moot point. IF God forbid you're starving, you'd eat your dog. IF the dog was starving and you're gone, how would you know? And would it matter to you? You're gone!
                                                                                                    Now to get back on track and topic....humans are biologic omnivores. Any food choices involve a personal choice (and yes, sometimes a medical choice is made for you), and such choices depend on community values, how and where you were raised and so on.
                                                                                                    In Peru, it is perfectly acceptable to deep-fry and eat a guinea pig. In Korea, dogs are on the menu. Its a cultural thing. Here, not so much.
                                                                                                    And don't forget, for much of the world, this truly is a first world problem -- what shall I choose to eat today vs. DO I get to eat today....

                                                                                    2. Ethics are relative. Just ask any hungry tiger.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: beevod

                                                                                        Great post.
                                                                                        My grandmother nearly starved to death as a child during WWII and told me a story when I was little. She remembered stealing a stick of butter from the pantry from a place she was sent to stay due to the evacuations. Because she was so malnourished and needed the fat she never regrets it. She said to this day she can't remember anything tasting more delicious.
                                                                                        When you are that hungry, instincts kick in. Ethical or not, if it was eat meat or die, almost anyone would do it.

                                                                                      2. I am hard pressed to find a solid argument that it is ethical to eat meat. I may argue that my dad deer hunts because due to human agriculture the deer population is completely out of control. If my dad and his friends didn't go out and shoot deer, then they would starve and freeze to death throughout the winter. And then once he shoots the deer for this seemingly ethical reason, it would only be ethical to not let it go to waste. But not all the meat we eat is procured in this way. So this argument does not encompass the whole issue.

                                                                                        It's much easier for me to argue that while eating meat may not be ethical, it's not unethical. One problem I have in declaring eating meat unethical is that in my mind, the entire subject involves a lot of gray area. Living things must eat other living things to survive. Why is an animal's life more valuable than a plant's life? Janists feel this way and therefore often only eat fallen fruit or plants that they need not kill to eat from. If we won't eat animals because of their ability to feel pain, where do we draw the line? And is it really only animals that feel pain?

                                                                                        I think the important thing is to eat what you're comfortable with. If the thought of ending a lamb's life sickens you, then don't eat it. If you feel it is all part of the cycle of life, then more power to you.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: wisconsin210

                                                                                          From another point of view, I've heard people say it is not ethical to hunt deer. The same people are eating meat. If they think it is not ethical to eat venison but it's ok to eat beef, they should try to explain that to the steer.

                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                            That's so interesting. I, as a Minnesota vegetarian view hunting as part animal population control and consider responsible hunting and fishing as ethical.

                                                                                        2. There isn't much in nature that is ethical in my opinion. I'm at or near the top of the food chain (depending on what arguement you want to make); I hunt, I fish and I eat my share of meat (not overly so) and don't believe my ethics, morals etc. have anything to do with it. But the great thing about this country is we can all believe whatever we want........

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: River19

                                                                                            Which country? These boards are frequented by folks from all over the world.

                                                                                          2. The one thing about ethics is that ethical varies from person to person and society to society. There is no absolute when it comes to ethics.

                                                                                            By my ethical standard, eating meat is acceptable.

                                                                                            1. It's as ethical as using a computer to weigh in on this discussion.... are y'all pedaling to power yours?

                                                                                              1. My understanding is that there are about 500 million vegetarians in India. Imagine the drain on resources if those people chose to become meat eaters. I've been vegetarian for about eight years now, and, while it didn't influence my initial choice to give up meat, I now like to think I'm doing my very little part to conserve some resources. I would never say it was unethical to eat meat, but I do think that to eat anything ethically one has to not only consider, but act in recognition of, a number of factors, including how the animals were treated, what resources went into producing the food, how humans who contributed to the food processing were treated, etc.

                                                                                                89 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Jetgirly

                                                                                                  "My understanding is that there are about 500 million vegetarians in India. Imagine the drain on resources if those people chose to become meat eaters"

                                                                                                  It depends upon which resources you mean. They have one of theihghest rates of diabetes and its expensive complications in the world, too. That's extremely costly, removes them from the able work force and as family supporters, etc... I'm one who developed many of those complications on a vegetarian diet and reversed them with high animal protein and fat eating. I don't buy meat/dairy/fish from inhumane or polluting industries for us to eat at home for ethical reasons, but animal proteins will always be the mainstay of my diet.

                                                                                                  1. re: Jetgirly

                                                                                                    "Imagine the drain on resources if those people chose to become meat eaters"

                                                                                                    True. I don't disagree that meat is more resource draining than vegetables and grains. That being said, there are just so many more important things if we want to go down this route. For example, energy, cars, water, houses.

                                                                                                    If we want to talk about how wasteful Americans and Europeans are, then I think there are many other things which can come up before meat.

                                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                      ..... and computers that we use to argue about wasting resources...
                                                                                                      :-P

                                                                                                      1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                        So true. :) Both wasting the physical resources as we toss away (update) computers very frequently, and wasting time. :P

                                                                                                        Of course, come to think of it... it is ethical to buy iPhone and iPad? So wasteful. :D

                                                                                                      2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                        But half of your examples- energy and water- are directly associated with food production, and producing meat requires more of them than producing grains or produce. There was an article in the New York Times that did some math, and it reported, " "if Americans were to reduce meat consumption by just 20 percent it would be as if we all switched from a standard sedan (...) to the ultra-efficient Prius. Similarly, a study last year by the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Japan estimated that 2.2 pounds of beef is responsible for the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the average European car every 155 miles, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days." If you're worried about "houses", the NYT also reported that "an estimated 30 percent of the earth’s ice-free land is directly or indirectly involved in livestock production".

                                                                                                        Waste is waste. I take huge steps to reduce waste in other areas as well, but my daily diet is one of the easiest places that I can choose to do my part and use less.

                                                                                                        1. re: Jetgirly

                                                                                                          That's also short sighted, though. It would shift us into more diabetes, federally funded dialysis and a huge toll in human suffering, because the government keeps telling people to replace that essential protein component with starches and sugars, while cutting fat far below levels healthy for humans. It just shifts the burden. No one needs to be supersized or eat a 1lb steak or 8 oz burger in a sitting, but the unintended consequences of such recommendations so far have been devastating.

                                                                                                          BTW, when I say I eat a diet high in animal protein, that's as a percentage of caloric intake, not large quantities, necessarily.

                                                                                                          1. re: Jetgirly

                                                                                                            You do know agriculture is a relatively small sector for energy consumption, right? If you are going to argue that meat-eating is a luxury (which is something unnecessary), then I think there are plenty other things which can be argued before that. For example, the energy consumption of buying a iPhone every year vs keeping an old cell phone for 5-10 years. What about having children? Do you know how much energy you can save the planet by having 1 child instead of 2 children? Right there your offspring will reduce the energy and resource consumption of current and future planet Earth by more than 50%. Oh, and if you wanted to have 4 children, and now reduce to only 1. Well, that is saving by 75% and more.

                                                                                                            <I take huge steps to reduce waste in other areas as well, but my daily diet is one of the easiest places that I can choose to do my part and use less.>

                                                                                                            Maybe easy for you. To you, being a vegetarian is not a big deal because you are already one, but it is a choice. To post it as a moral question and try to impose on others, one can then do the same for another topic like the right to have the numbers of children.

                                                                                                            I don't have a child, not a single one. Can I make an argument that people also should not have children for energy and resource consumption like you did? I mean afterall, I take huge steps to reduce waste in other areas like you do too, but me not having children is one the easiest places that I can choose to do my part and save the planet. In fact, let's not go so extreme. Do you know by simply "delaying the time you have children" you can save energy and resource? That is to say having a children at age 35 instead of age 25 (This effectively lengthen the reproduction cycle). How about that? By simply delaying the time to have children, it is one of the easiest place which we can all do our part and use less. -- much more effective than reducing the amount of meat consumption.

                                                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                              I find it interesting that some people immediately translate the question of the ethics of eating meat to an imposition of one person's values on another. They're not related -- it's clear that some people can't talk about this issue without making the discussion feel like discussing gun control.

                                                                                                              Ethics starts with a personal view of right and wrong. For some people, there's no other discussion possible other than "you're a murderer" or "get off my back". But that's really childish.

                                                                                                              There are some good arguments on this thread arguing why eating meat is ethical. But the worst one is some variant of "don't tell me what to do".

                                                                                                              There are some good arguments about why eating meat is unethical. But I think the least convincing ones are "just do what I tell you to do and the world will be a better place."

                                                                                                              1. re: calumin

                                                                                                                "ethics of eating meat to an imposition of one person's values on another"

                                                                                                                Ethics, like you said, is a personal. It is our view of what is right and what is wrong, and it can be different from one person to another person. In fact, this is how this thread started. The earlier posters have mostly agreed that moral and ethics are very personal. However, as the original poster , MGZ, has mentioned. This is just too 'subjectivism'

                                                                                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8400...

                                                                                                                In the recent posts they are more assertive.

                                                                                                                When a person say it out loud that "I think eating meat is unethical", it does mean more than one's own behavior. It also mean this person views other people who consume meat as unethical. So now, the meat eaters feel that judgement has been passed onto them. Keep in mind that this is not the same as saying "I don't think I am ready to have a dog because I don't have a house nor the time to take care of it" -- that is a very circumstantial statement. By simply saying that "eating meat is an unethical action", it is more like saying "having a dog is unethical". If you walk up to a dog owner and tell that to his face, he will most likely take it very personally, and he certainly will consider you are passing judgement on him -- thus imposing your own values on him. One should not be surprised that meat eaters will respond similarly to "eating meat is unethical"

                                                                                                                <some good arguments on this thread arguing why eating meat is ethical>

                                                                                                                Who made these arguments? I must have missed them

                                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                  <<Who made these arguments? I must have missed them>>

                                                                                                                  EricMM on Mar 21 made the comment that we've evolved as a species to eat meat to some degree. That's a fair point. It's hard to argue that the only ethical behavior for man is to always do something counter to his evolution.

                                                                                                                  It represents a significant jump in human behavior to go from where we've been historically (as omnivores) to becoming vegetarian. As a result, to say that it's unethical to eat meat is to argue that man is, and has historically been, an unethical species. I think that's an extreme judgement.

                                                                                                                  1. re: calumin

                                                                                                                    "EricMM on Mar 21 made the comment that we've evolved as a species to eat meat to some degree."

                                                                                                                    Even to the exclusion of all else... protein and fat being the only two essential macronutrients in human nutrition. You can live without everything else, but will die without either of these two.

                                                                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                      You can find those macronutrients easily in legumes, veggies, raw nuts and seeds.

                                                                                                                      My bigger concern is B12, which is available through animal sources only (the useable kind). Vegetarians and vegans in particular suffer from B12 deficiencies. And before one argues this as a vegetarian/vegan, get your blood levels tested first. Algae/Brewer's yeast/fermentation processes of the GI tract do not provide the type of B12 needed to sustain life.

                                                                                                                      1. re: freia

                                                                                                                        That hasn't been my experience nor is it borne out by the metabolic science I've been reading for many years. But whatever floats your boat is fine with me.

                                                                                                                        1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                          ??? Are you referring to the ability to get fat and protein from non-animal sources? Or are you referring to the issue of Vitamin B12 intake for vegetarians/vegans?
                                                                                                                          ???
                                                                                                                          Me thinks you need a quick trot around the current literature...

                                                                                                                          1. re: freia

                                                                                                                            I'm referring to current literature. It's just in biomedical journals, not PETA and PCRM web sites, or other non trustworthy sources like Ornish.

                                                                                                                            1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                              I understand, I'm just wondering what part of my post is at issue -- is it the ability to get protein and fat from non-animal sources, or that vegetarians/vegans need to monitor/assess their B12 intake?
                                                                                                                              I'm not sure why the first point is in question -- quinoa and lentils and beans are sources of protein. Fat can be found in Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds and olives.
                                                                                                                              And the latter point is also factual -- bioavailable B12 is in animal products and vegetarians and vegans need to be vigilant in order to make sure that their intake either through ovo-lacto vegetarianism or supplementation is adequate.

                                                                                                                              I'm sure my post wasn't clear enough. I was trying to make the point that even though one can find protein and fat in non-animal sources it is very very hard to find the essential micronutrient B12 in non-animal sources.
                                                                                                                              Alluding to the fact that vegetarianism and veganism may not be bilogically "preferred" if that makes sense since we need B12 to live and can't find the bioavailable form in non-animal sources.

                                                                                                                              1. re: freia

                                                                                                                                I think it's extremely difficult to get adequate good quality, bioavailable protein from non animal sources. The ones you list have miniscule amounts per calorie. I also think that any diet that has a built in essential nutrient deficiency that leads to disease is not meant for humans and is very unwise.

                                                                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                  You're overlooking things like tofu, seitan and a number of other very high-protein vegetarian options.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                    And I don't think it is an issue of protein per calorie, it is protein per serving if I'm not mistaken?
                                                                                                                                    The bigger issue to me is the B12 issue.
                                                                                                                                    The thing with bioavailability is that it is specific to B12 in that there are 2 forms of B12, one of which is in vegetable form and is unusable by the body (contained in Brewer's yeast, for example, or algae) and the other form, which is useable by the body and is in animal protein. Artificial supplementation is required in the case of dietary deficiencies.
                                                                                                                                    Protein, on the other hand, is always bioavailable in that it presents as a long chain amino acid that the body breaks down and reforms in the body. There isn't a non-usable protein in either animal nor plant form to my knowledge. Whether the protein is in the form of chicken or seitan or in quinoa, it is all equally available. The difference is the amount per serving and the accompanying carbs and/or fats that come with the protein. Plant forms/vegetable forms of protein aren't "pure" proteins, but they are proteins nonetheless and the body uses all sources well.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: freia

                                                                                                                                      "And I don't think it is an issue of protein per calorie, it is protein per serving if I'm not mistaken?"
                                                                                                                                      ________
                                                                                                                                      Depends on your goal. MCF is a big advocate of a diet that is very high protein, high fat, and low carb (compared to the most common American dietary advice). It's hard[er] to eat a diet that is very high in protein and low carb if your protein sources come with a significant amount of carbs. Tofu, for example, doesn't have that problem.

                                                                                                                                      Personally, I'm not quite as totally opposed to carbs as MCF is though I tend to agree that the diet most commonly pushed by the American medical establishment is still too low in fat and too high in carbs for the average American sedentary or semi-sedentary lifestyle. And I think things like tofu are a reasonably good way to up the % of calories you eat from protein, which wouldn't be a bad thing for a lot of people. Then again, I'm not a dietician or anything either.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                        Oh I absolutely agree. If you are looking for a pure protein source then animal proteins are your "go to" sources. But I don't think it is quite accurate to suggest that non-animal protein sources are either not bioavailable (aka pass through your system without being digested) or are inferior in some way with respect to their function as a protein. That's all.
                                                                                                                                        I think the worse problem in our diets today is the amount of refined, sugary crap food that forms around 60 percent (I personally think it is higher but that's just me) of an average American diet. And I think it depends on the natural carbs one chooses to eat. Vegetables are indeed carbs but have a different effect on the body than whole grains. So when we talk about carb-heavy diets, it may be kind of generalizing? A plate of steak, with steamed asaparagus with a touch of lemon juice is a protein/carb meal, as is a plate of steak with a side of white rice. The impact on the body is undoubtedly different.
                                                                                                                                        Still believe in things in moderation, just so as you all know LOL..and don't believe in demonizing any food group, protein included. Relating to this topic specifically, to me the issue of bioavailability of B12 makes the consumption of meat less an ethical question to defend and more of a health issue.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: freia

                                                                                                                                          "just so as you all know LOL..and don't believe in demonizing any food group, protein included."

                                                                                                                                          You broadly recommended Ornish plans to everyone on the boards earlier, and he "demonizes" fat, despite its essential role in human health and survival.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                            I was using the Ornish diet as a legitimate counterpoint to a paleo diet/high protein high fat diet, that was all. I don't recommend it, nor do I follow it. I believe in all things in moderation, sugar, fat, carbs, whole grains, all in moderation, and that's been covered pretty clearly. It is a far cry from demonizing fat -- Ornish may, but I certainly don't. I'd love a link to a post where I say "you need to do the Ornish diet because ....". I don't think you'll find it. I WILL find the converse with respect to other posters who find fault with all dietary positions other than their own and who refuse to take personal medical considerations into account.
                                                                                                                                            Your post is deflection, not rebuttal....

                                                                                                                                            1. re: freia

                                                                                                                                              My post was a correction; I have never advocated a particular diet for everyone as you have claimed. I'm not going to hunt for the particular quote, but I recall how prescriptive it sounded at the time.

                                                                                                                                              I see nothing legitimate about Ornish; it minimizes the essential nutrients to sustain life and maximizes glycemia. And he demonizes fat, one of only two essential macronutrients.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                          <It's hard[er] to eat a diet that is very high in protein and low carb if your protein sources come with a significant amount of carbs>

                                                                                                                                          Correct, which inevitably leads to animal products.

                                                                                                                                          <commonly pushed by the American medical establishment is still too low in fat and too high in carbs>

                                                                                                                                          It depends which views you want to push for. The Japanese/Asian diet is much higher carbs lower fat and protein in comparison, and then we have the argument for the Eskimo. A lot of the problem we see here has to do with people living longer. Frankly, human bodies were not evolutionary designed to be 80-100 years old machines, just like the fact that human women bodies are not designed to give birth at mid 30's.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                            "Correct, which inevitably leads to animal products. "
                                                                                                                                            _______
                                                                                                                                            Or to things like tofu.

                                                                                                                                            "It depends which views you want to push for. The Japanese/Asian diet is much higher carbs lower fat and protein in comparison, and then we have the argument for the Eskimo."
                                                                                                                                            _______
                                                                                                                                            The truth is there's probably more than one way to a healthy diet, and that can vary further with lifestyle and activity level. In a general sense, the biggest problem with the American recommendations is they make it too easy for people to convince themselves they're eating 'healthy' when they're eating Frosted Flakes or Cheez-It crackers.

                                                                                                                                            "Frankly, human bodies were not evolutionary designed to be 80-100 years old machines"
                                                                                                                                            ______
                                                                                                                                            That may be true, but it's not going to convince many people not to try.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                              <Or to things like tofu.>

                                                                                                                                              And there are so many variations of tofu too.

                                                                                                                                              <Frosted Flakes or Cheez-It crackers>

                                                                                                                                              I love Frosted Flakes but I have not had them for years now. Now, Cheez-It, I didn't use to like them a lot, but now I like them. :)

                                                                                                                                              <That may be true, but it's not going to convince many people not to try.>

                                                                                                                                              Nothing wrong with trying to push for the limit. We just shouldn't be surprised that we are trying to double our natural life expectancy.

                                                                                                                                              Push the limit:
                                                                                                                                              http://youtu.be/TuEdU_lrtZk?t=2m30s

                                                                                                                                            2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                              "It depends which views you want to push for."

                                                                                                                                              I'm not interested in views so much as good research and, most important, clinical outcomes in the real world.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                Won't the real world data suggest the Japanese diet (rather Okinawan diet) is the way to go given their extreme long life expectancy while without the very expensive medical treatment?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                  Those are two very different diets, what are you suggesting?

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                    <Those are two very different diets>

                                                                                                                                                    Not as different as the Western diet, either diets (Okinawa or Japanese) is very high in carbohydrates, and both people have long life expectancy.

                                                                                                                                                    While at it, people from Hong Kong also live a very long life. Hong Kong people have a traditional southern Chinese diet, while having better medical care than mainland Chinese.

                                                                                                                                                    We may debate the finer point of these three diets (Mainland Japanese, Okinawa, Hong Kong), but they are all high in carbohydrates and low in fats -- when compared to American diet.

                                                                                                                                                    http://online.wsj.com/media/info-unbk...

                                                                                                                                                    This is not to say we could just blindly eat more carbohydrates, but it does mean that one can have a perfectly healthy lifestyle with a high carbohydrates, low fats, low proteins diet.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                      If you're conversant with the research, there's a HUGE social and life style component to the Okinawan's longevity when eating the traditional diet, which sadly is less and less the case. Often, more than one thing is at work, in addition to genetics. And quantities of food eaten. The Okinawan diet, too, is notable for being very low calorie and much lower in starches than a traditional Japanese diet.

                                                                                                                                                      http://211.76.170.15/server/APJCN/Vol...

                                                                                                                                                      To call a Japanese diet "very high" in carbohydrates kind of ignores the fact that it is not, traditionally, very high in anything due to very modest meal sizes. From long ago recall, it is significantly based upon fish and vegetables, with miso soup and fish a typical breakfast.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                        Yes, these diets are low in total calories. Yes, I am aware that Okianwan diet has a lower still total calories intake than Japanese. Hong Kong diet is Cantonese diet, also modest in size.

                                                                                                                                                        They are high in carbohydrates in percentage, but the total calories is lower than a Western diet, so the calories from fats and proteins are ever less.

                                                                                                                                                        < it is significantly based upon fish and vegetables, with miso soup and fish a typical breakfast.>

                                                                                                                                                        Rice is a bigger part. We can tell from the historical text that the rice is much more important source of calories than just fish and vegetables for Japanese since ancient time. Natto is very common, a point I made earlier about natto. If anything, these three diets point to the importance of the "total" calories, not the percentage of proteins...etc. Shifting calories from carbohydrates to protein and versa vice has an effect, but it is more important to look at the total. As mentioned in the previous post, my point is that "This is not to say we could just blindly eat more carbohydrates, but it does mean that one can have a perfectly healthy lifestyle with a high carbohydrates, low fats, low proteins diet."

                                                                                                                                                        Don't forget that you are listing some of the ideal Japanese diet here. Many Japanese do not get to eat that kind of diet. Many just eat Cup-O-Noodle for lunch, just like many Americans just eat a hamburger for lunch. This is not to say Cup-O-Noodle or hamburger is healthy or not healthy. It i just that most people do not actually eat the so-called traditional/healthy meal. Most Hong Kong people also do not eat their so called traditional meals neither.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                          Limiting discussion to traditional Okinawan eating, it's staple is a particular sort of yam, not grains, and pork and fish are prominent, too, including all parts of the animal. But because it's such a low calorie diet, it is not high carb in terms of metabolism... starchy carbs are extremely dense calorically. So once you're into calorie restriction, the whole calcuation changes. Less metabolic/pancreatic stress.

                                                                                                                                                          Actually, you're wrong to just look at the total; caloric restriction for health relies heavily on nutrient density... and without meeting protein and fat essential requirements, one will not do well health wise. I suspect you have the cliched belief that rice is a huge part of the diet of the healthiest Asians, when it is not. Not true in China, either. Where reliance on rice is highest and meat and fish are not available, there's a lot of ill health and nutrient deficiency.

                                                                                                                                                          And of course I'm discussing the traditional diets, why would i focus on modern, urban, more westernized eating Japanese or Chinese when addressing the health claims made for Okinawans or Japanese?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                            <why would i focus on modern, urban, more westernized eating Japanese or Chinese when addressing the health claims made for Okinawans or Japanese?>

                                                                                                                                                            Well, because it is actually the modern Japanese/Chinese..etc who have long lifespan. If we are talking about 1600's-1800's, then their lifespan is actually not that long due to poorer medical treatment, warfare...etc. So it is probably better to compare to Americans when they both have comparable healthcare. When we say Hong Kong residents have long lifespan, it is definitely modern. Hong Kong only exists in the last 100 years or so.

                                                                                                                                                            <starchy carbs are extremely dense calorically>

                                                                                                                                                            Yes, very high in calorie and very high in carbohydrate.

                                                                                                                                                            <caloric restriction for health relies heavily on nutrient density... and without meeting protein and fat essential requirements, one will not do well health wise>

                                                                                                                                                            Yeah, that is part that we don't know -- what is the minimal requirement.

                                                                                                                                                            <I suspect you have the cliched belief that rice is a huge part of the diet of the healthiest Asians, when it is not.>

                                                                                                                                                            I suspect that it is at least in term of calories. Rice is what Japanese warlords and samurai payment -- in koku of rice. Southern Chinese like Hong Kong eat much more rice than say Americans, and much fewer proteins and fats than Americans. I am talking about relative. I did not mean they were eating bowls after bowls of rice.

                                                                                                                                                            <Where reliance on rice is highest and meat and fish are not available, there's a lot of ill health and nutrient deficiency.>

                                                                                                                                                            That is not quiet my point. I do not advocate no fish no meat diet. I am just saying the diet in Asia is much higher in rice than in here in the US, while the proteins and fats intake are less. The total calories are also less. It does not matter how you look at it. The Asian diet has a much higher component of rice than American diet, and a much lower ratio of animal proteins and fats. Now, of course, you can say that the Asians who eat a lot of rice than their counterpart in Asian have bad health. Sure, why not? They are already eating a lot of rice to start off with. Yet, the "Average" effect is real. On average, an Asian from Hong Kong, Japan or Okinawa eats more rice than an American. On average, an Asian eat less meats and less fats than an American. On average, these Asians live longer and healthier.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                              All the research on longevity and health in Okinawa was based upon a traditional diet that is losing ground. And, again, it's part of a very tranquil way of life as well.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                "All the research on longevity and health in Okinawa was based upon a traditional diet that is losing ground"

                                                                                                                                                                True, but even the current diet is still better than the American diet. There was/is this sweet spot where the traditional diet of Okinawa with the combination of modern medicine.

                                                                                                                                                                Okinawa residents may have a tranquil way of life, but I am 100% sure that average Japanese and average Hong Kong residents have very stressful lives, but they still live long.

                                                                                                                                                                Anyway, back to the original topic. Longevity or not, is it moral to eat meat? Just because eating meat make you live longer (or not), it does not justify an immoral act, does it?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                  That's really moot. If we're talking about health and studied eating patterns, we're not talking about current Okinawans. It's really just conjecture to do so.

                                                                                                                                                                  I reject any notion that eating meat is a moral/ethical issue worthy of debate. BTW, simpley eating meat doesn't "make you live longer" and no one here has said so.

                                                                                                                                                                  The point isn't to live the longest, it's to have your parts still attached and working and to enjoy the time you do live, IMO.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                    <BTW, simpley eating meat doesn't "make you live longer" and no one here has said so.>

                                                                                                                                                                    Neither did I. I put forth a case of "if".

                                                                                                                                                                    <The point isn't to live the longest, it's to have your parts still attached and working and to enjoy the time you do live, IMO.>

                                                                                                                                                                    It still does not answer the moral aspect of the question. Let it be eating meat get you to live longer (or not), or let it be eating meat get you to enjoy your taste bud (or not), it does not make it moral or immoral.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                      Is there a moral question???

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                        :) Just trying to get back to the original question of this thread.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                          But the original question was about ethics, not morals.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                            Ok, then, let's talk about ethics then. Is it ethical?

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                              I don't see how any of the conversation about diet relates to ethics or morals. I don't see anything unethical or immoral about eating a bag of potato chips, even though they might not be good for you.

                                                                                                                                                                              To me the moral and ethical question centers around the action of killing an animal for sustenance. If there is no objection on that ground, then I don't see how eating a hamburger can be considered unethical.

                                                                                                                                                                              There is an entirely separate discussion about the way animals are treated and how we've mass produced meat intake. There could be some very substantial issues there, but those actions are not related to the consumption of meat itself (which was the original question).

                                                                                                                                                                              It's clear that it's not a black and white issue. There are some animals that society as a whole think we can kill and eat, and some we can't. For example our society feels that eating dogs and dolphins is immoral.

                                                                                                                                                                              However, we feel that eating cows is okay. I'd argue that this is purely sociological and not in any way related to "human nature." In many parts of India cows are sacred and eating them is immoral. In some parts of China it is considered fine to eat dogs.

                                                                                                                                                                              If all of these beliefs are valid, it seems equally valid to have a point of view that eating any of these animals is immoral to some extent. Whether our society chooses to adopt that way of thinking depends on a lot of factors, most notably our understanding of the significance of killing any particular animal.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: calumin

                                                                                                                                                                                calumin,

                                                                                                                                                                                I am not disagreeing with you. I think the act of killing constitutes a very central point of the question. The nutrient value should have a very little bearing in this. Please keep in mind that the conversation has drafted far away and I was trying to get it back to the original post which is why it may seem like I am questioning the health aspect with the moral/ethics.

                                                                                                                                                                                <To me the moral and ethical question centers around the action of killing an animal for sustenance. If there is no objection on that ground, then I don't see how eating a hamburger can be considered unethical.>

                                                                                                                                                                                Now, now, I think there is a few exceptions here. I do agree with you that the killing part is very central, but there are probably another aspects too. Like you said, our society views dogs particularly valuable. Many people would probably tell you that eating dog meat is wrong regardless if the dog was already dead or not. A more closely example is cannibalism. Most people will tell you that it is not alright to eat human flesh despite the remain may be the cause of a car accident or what not. Killing a human is wrong, but eating one is also wrong. In fact, probably more people will tell you that it is ok to kill a human than to eat one.

                                                                                                                                                                                <For example our society feels that eating dogs and dolphins is immoral.>

                                                                                                                                                                                Excellent point. On one hand, many of us are guilty of this. We may say "Hey, I can eat beef all I want, and don't you judge me and tell me what I can or cannot eat", while the same person is likely to pass judgement on a South Korean who eat dogs.

                                                                                                                                                                                <it seems equally valid to have a point of view that eating any of these animals is immoral to some extent>

                                                                                                                                                                                Alternatively, morality is just a creation of human mind, so anything can be immoral or moral depending one's mind. In some culture, not wearing a Burqa is immortal.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                                  Personally, I don't have a problem with what other people eat but I suppose there are a few exceptions such as primates and whooping cranes. I wonder what the last passenger pigeon or dodo birds tasted like?

                                                                                                                                                                                  Here is an interesting thing (well, maybe not) about my thoughts on the consumption of animals: although it is legal to keep a 50" muskie (think giant fresh water fish) it bothers me when a Minnesota fisherman keeps one instead of throwing it back. Measure it, weigh it and throw it back. The same for a sturgeon (think even larger freshwater fish). When someone keeps an 80 to a 100 year old sturgeon it bothers me. But you can eat all the dogs or lamb you wish to. (Not specifically you Chem, you know what I mean).

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                    chicken.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                                                                      :D

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                      <whooping cranes>

                                                                                                                                                                                      Where did they come from? (as in why are you ranking them so high up there).

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                                        They are one of the most rare wild North American birds that have been the subject of a program to restore the species. In 1941 there were just 21 wild whooping cranes. There are now 437 of them. I suppose I could have said California Condor instead as they are even more rare, but we have whooping cranes in my part of the country for part of the year.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                          <In 1941 there were just 21 wild whooping cranes>

                                                                                                                                                                                          Wow, I didn't know that. Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                            because people quit eating them?

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: melly

                                                                                                                                                                                              You are going to need to clarify and specify exactly what it is you are asking in order for me to respond.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Supposedly the Dodo tasted really bad. It was only eaten because it was so easy to catch, was big, and after being on a ship all those months anything fresh would be good. However, it wasn't people who ate the dodo into extinction...it was the rats and pigs people left behind on Mauritius.

                                                                                                                                              2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                No, I'm not. I just don't think getting your concentrated proteins from them alone is a very good idea for most folks. Protein content, too, is not the same thing as protein biologically available.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                  I am unaware of any significant risks of eating a variety of plant foods that are fairly high-protein (rice, whole grains, quinoa, beans, etc) and then supplementing that with additional tofu or other sources of even-higher-protein vegan foods. If you have any references, I'd take a look through em. My readings on the issue of protein utilization in a vegan diet suggest that it's not a problem as long as your diet is varied and contains enough protein in the first place.

                                                                                                                                                  It might be more problematic to attempt a diet that does away with carbs entirely while eating vegan, but I just don't think that's necessary.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                    "I am unaware of any significant risks of eating a variety of plant foods that are fairly high-protein (rice, whole grains, quinoa, beans, etc) and then supplementing that with additional tofu or other sources of even-higher-protein vegan foods."

                                                                                                                                                    Are you suggesting that whole grains, quinoa and rice are sources of significant protein value???

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                      Depends on exactly what you mean by 'significant.' I'd say they're 'significant' as opposed to 'insignificant.' And that's pretty tangential to my post above where I was talking about varying ones sources of proteins. If you just want to get more protein into you without the carbs, tofu and the like does the trick. But I've said that a few times now.

                                                                                                                                                      You've kind of made it out to be borderline impossible to eat enough protein on a vegan diet. I just don't agree. Heck - there are vegan bodybuilders eating diets that are extremely high in protein and doing just fine. Course, a lot of them rely on supplements, and I'd understand why others (chowhounds especially) might not want to do that. But the point is just that it's far from impossible to eat a healthy vegan diet, even if your concept of a healthy diet is more protein-heavy than most.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                        "Depends on exactly what you mean by 'significant.' I'd say they're 'significant' as opposed to 'insignificant.' "

                                                                                                                                                        Well, we disagree about "high" and "significant." And we haven't touched on biological value, which is just way off of CH mission anyway and will get deleted if we go further.

                                                                                                                                                        "You've kind of made it out to be borderline impossible to eat enough protein on a vegan diet."

                                                                                                                                                        Enough *quality* protein, is what I've said. Interestingly enough, many years ago when my own child tried to be vegetarian, I knew from my own years as one to buy her tempeh, tofu, seitan, quality eggs, cheese, etc. and she used whey peptide protein shakes daily, too, to keep her protein consumption around 100 gms per day. But she got so weak and fatigued and lost muscle and decided to quit after some months.

                                                                                                                                                        I don't know if that's because soy products harm thyroid/endocrine function in so many folks and if it happened to her, or if it's because the protein was not biologically available as much as it should have been, but it's an experiment she hasn't repeated the way I mistakenly did. Just anecdote, obviously some folks would've done fine on it. But quantity of protein is not the whole issue; bioavailability is.

                                                                                                                                                        BTW, I ate tempeh last week, I love baked and smoked tofu, but I keep my soy consumption fairly infrequent and I never eat TVP or ersatz foods made from it. I sometimes eat black soybeans with vinaigrette for lunch (they're almost all fiber, carb wise).

                                                                                                                                            3. re: freia

                                                                                                                                              Freia,

                                                                                                                                              You have described plant "proteins" inaccurately. Plant "proteins" and food proteins are vastly different.

                                                                                                                                              Plant amino acids are incomplete proteins, and not usable by the body until after the plant has been digested as a carb (with a corresponding blood sugar rise) and the plant's amino acids are combined with the amino acids it lacks. This process is performed by the liver and can be hit or miss if the liver cannot readily access the amino acids it needs to assemble a complete protein the body can use. Plant "protein" is an inaccurate term when describing protein the body can actually use.

                                                                                                                                              Food proteins (fish, meat, poultry, dairy) are complete proteins and do not have the incomplete amino acid issues and are immediately utilized by the body after digestion.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                That's pretty old school -- if you have a variety of plant products overall, there is absolutely no need to combine those foods with complementary amino acid profiles. Thinking on the "food combining" theory changed about 10 years ago.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: freia

                                                                                                                                                  "A variety of plant products" means you are food combining. The need to consume a variety of plant amino acids so that the liver can assemble a complete protein hasn't changed in the last ten years (I checked with Harvard Medical School a few years ago). The only thing up for debate according to Harvard is the degree of absorption of plant amino acids and how long those amino acids are available for use by the liver after absorption.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                    A variety doesn't mean "food combining". When one talks about food combining with respect to vegetarianism, the traditional old school thought is that you must eat for example beans and rice at the same meal in order to intake a complete protein at one time. This is old school and not necessary. You don't need to overthink it. Just get a variety of different plant protein sources in over a week and you'll be fine. No writing down, no measurement, none of that is necessary.
                                                                                                                                                    The bigger issue for vegetarians/vegans is Vitamin B12 intake, only available from insect and animal sources. Protein intake is rarely if ever a problem for vegetarians.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: freia

                                                                                                                                                      In this case, variety does mean food combining. The only difference is where and when the combining occurs. The manner in which certain constituent groups interpret "combining" has no bearing on this fact. It's a scientific, not a philosophical, distinction.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                        Meh...wordsmith away if it makes you feel better to be "right" because in a techincal sense if you eat more than one thing you are "food combining". One clearly must eat a variety of foods aka "food combine" to get in all your nutrients, regardless of the diet one follows in your sense of the word.
                                                                                                                                                        In the colloquial, public sense, if one is into "food combining", it is a totally different issue. Just google "food combining" and you'll get a sense of the popular term of the word, and the term was used in the same manner by the previous poster.
                                                                                                                                                        "Food combining" in the popular sense as used above isn't necessary for vegetarians.
                                                                                                                                                        This is why I say eat a variety of food, including whole grains, animal proteins, fruits, vegetables and fats in moderation and you won't have problem

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: freia

                                                                                                                                                          Freia, Sorry, you are still being inaccurate, and misinterpreting my words.

                                                                                                                                                          Food combining, protein complementation, and amino acid combining are all current terms for the same thing: the strategy of eating a variety of foods that supply all the amino acids necessary for the liver to assemble a protein the body can use.

                                                                                                                                                          The only thing that's changed is how long after a meal missing in amino acids does one have to consume those missing amino acids. Old-school says they must be consumed at the same meal, and that is still best. New evidence says they must be consumed within a 24-hour period. The liver cannot "bank" the incomplete amino acids and wait for the missing ones indefinitely. Your window of a week is not supported by the medical literature -- the variety of plant foods must be consumed within a single day. And that assumes those plant amino acids are being absorbed -- another issue.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                            "Meh...wordsmith away if it makes you feel better to be "right" because in a techincal sense if you eat more than one thing you are "food combining". "

                                                                                                                                                            We're talking about biochemistry here, not pop notions about health. What you've written about combining is scientifically incorrect. We're specifically addressing completing proteins by combining amino acids, not playing with words. At least I am.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: calumin

                                                                                                                                    Hi Calumin,

                                                                                                                                    <EricMM on Mar 21 made the comment that we've evolved as a species to eat meat to some degree.>

                                                                                                                                    I don't know why I missed your reply, but I did. Now I see. Yes, but I didn't think that is a "moral" argument. Afterall, human beings were most likely evolved to be polygamy. Most certainly humans were evolved to be a much shorter living organism -- definitely not some 80-100 years old.

                                                                                                                                    If evolution design is to be relied on, then the whole "married to one spouse" and "living as long as you can" are countered to that.

                                                                                                                                    <As a result, to say that it's unethical to eat meat is to argue that man is, and has historically been, an unethical species.>

                                                                                                                                    Circumstances changed. One can argued that it was fine for human to eat meat during the early evolution when meat is plentiful and when we don't know anything about farming, just like the fact that the strongest man should able to mate with multiple women to strengthen the genetic pool. Afterall, if we only reply on evolution, then it is "eating grain" which is immoral, which farming grains is a very recent event.

                                                                                                                                    Now, it isn't meat itself is the crime, but rather eating meat is resource draining, so it is indirectly hurting the environment and other people.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                      Hi Chemicalkinetics --

                                                                                                                                      That's an interesting argument. Your view is that the issue is that eating meat drains resources and hurts the environment.

                                                                                                                                      I don't really agree with that argument... but to extend your logic, if there was a model in which people raised, slaughtered, and consumed animals in a sustainable (as well as humane) way, then there would be no issue?

                                                                                                                                      I think it's reasonable to say that we need to fight animal practices which pillage the environment. The problem comes when we take that idea to an extreme which says that all meat-eating is inherently destructive to the environment (which would be pretty hard to justify).

                                                                                                                                      1. re: calumin

                                                                                                                                        There are also some agricultural practices in raising crops that can be as bad or worse for the environment than raising animals for market.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                          True, that. Any form of crop production (animal or vegetable) can be destructive to the environment.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: calumin

                                                                                                                                          Calumin,

                                                                                                                                          Man, I keep missing your posts.

                                                                                                                                          <Your view is that the issue is that eating meat drains resources and hurts the environment. >

                                                                                                                                          A few posters here have used the resource and energy argument. I am more or less using their line of thought.

                                                                                                                                          So in your mind, we are debating if the very fundamental of eating an animal is moral, right? That is killing a living being to extend our lives. If that is the question, then of course the famous counter argument to that is "Ain't vegetables also lives?" I remember a funny sketch explaining vegetarianism.. something along the line.

                                                                                                                                          "We kill vegetables and not animals because vegetables do not scream when they get killed, which is also why it is sometime to kill fishes too because they mostly don't scream".

                                                                                                                                  3. re: calumin

                                                                                                                                    "I find it interesting that some people immediately translate the question of the ethics of eating meat to an imposition of one person's values on another. They're not related -- it's clear that some people can't talk about this issue without making the discussion feel like discussing gun control."

                                                                                                                                    I'm not sure I understand your gun control reference.

                                                                                                                                    The interesting think about your statement is that you apparently do not leave room for the fact that frequently the discussion of being a vegetarian or an omnivore actually DOES include the attempted imposition of personal values concerning eating meat upon another individual. Militant vegetarians do this all the time. (No, not necessarily on this site).

                                                                                                                                    "There are some good arguments on this thread arguing why eating meat is ethical. But the worst one is some variant of "don't tell me what to do"."

                                                                                                                                    As to your last sentence above, why do you say this?

                                                                                                                                  4. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                    I absolutely think you can make the argument that people should not have children for reasons of energy and resource consumption. I mean, who can look at an image like this http://www.wrsc.org/sites/default/fil... and think, "Man, everyone should have more kids!" (Those high-yield grains are primarily used to feed livestock, btw...

                                                                                                                                    )

                                                                                                                                    Those of us who can, should. I can eat a healthy, balanced vegetarian diet (and I do- I've been tracking all of my food for years to ensure I get the nutrients I need). I can access family planning tools AND I live in a culture where I have, for the most part, the freedom to choose my sexual partner and encounters. I don't have a medical condition requiring me to eat meat. My body isn't considered the property of my husband- or the local militia. I'm not going to tell a starving person in a Third World country not to eat meat. I'm not going to tell my parents not to barbecue a steak. My idea of ethical eating- and ethical living, in general- is to do what I can, even when it's not the easiest, most fun or most pleasant choice- to conserve resources and help bring some balance.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Jetgirly

                                                                                                                                      <I absolutely think you can make the argument that people should not have children for reasons of energy and resource consumption.>

                                                                                                                                      Yes, we can, but we should also understand why people feel that their choices have been questioned.

                                                                                                                                      <who can look at an image like this..."Man, everyone should have more kids!">
                                                                                                                                      Don't worry. Wars and starvation will take of this. This is how population is limited for any organisms. All organisms (including bacteria..etc) will grow as fast as the resources permit. When resources approach limitation, then starvation and battles occurs -- natural selection.

                                                                                                                                      <the freedom to choose my sexual partner and encounters>

                                                                                                                                      .... what is going on....

                                                                                                                                      <My idea of ethical eating- and ethical living, in general- is to do what I can, even when it's not the easiest, most fun or most pleasant choice- to conserve resources and help bring some balance.>

                                                                                                                                      Let's face this. Your impact is next to nothing compared to the whole population. Not 1%, not even 0.0001%. So while you may think you are making an impact, you cannot objectively believe by changing your own personal diet that you are making a real impact for the planet earth in term of energy consumption. Now, you may do it as a moral reason -- that is you cannot do what you believe to be wrong (eating meat), but it cannot be a practical reason (changing the end result).

                                                                                                                                  5. re: Jetgirly

                                                                                                                                    If I want to eat local food, then that means meat. I don't eat hay nor sagebrush. We don't have many crops around here. Maybe some corn, that relies on irrigation. But, we have plenty (relatively) of pastureland for cattle and sheep.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                      I wonder how many condos and mcmansions would go up on much of that cattle range in beautiful areas if not used for food production? I think a bigger energy issue is the benefit of the movement to increase local/regional farming and slaughtering facilitiies so that less will be spent on transportation costs of meat products.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                        Not many. There are some. But, lots and lots of it is accessible only by 4-wheel drive. Believe me, we have many beautiful areas that have just ranches. and they re few and far between. If one is around Jackson, Pinedale, Dubois, maybe. When we go up the to the mountain at night, and look out over the town, it's as if we are located on the edge of the ocean. Hardly any lights. Except now there are many more wind turbines cropping up. The lights from a wind farm are interesting. otherworldly.
                                                                                                                                        But those that are there (mansions) have many vehicles, and probably a private jet or two. Otherwise, it's populated by many a run down trailer house or a ranch house that has been there since the operation began.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                          I didn't mean only those in your state, I was asking more universally. But once the homes are built, the "amenities" often follow. And the more modest homes for the service class to serve those mcmansion's occupants.

                                                                                                                                          It sounds like pure heaven to me... until I feel like walking into town to a restaurant. But I think I could be happy in such a setting.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                            Town, what town? hahahaha! yes, those are few and far between, too! Walking, even in our town, is really dangerous. Our town was built on energy, and not built for walking. Or bicycling. Although we do have a marvelous walking/biking path. Just got done riding part of it, did a 7.5 mile loop, in 45 minutes.
                                                                                                                                            But to walk to a grocery store or anywhere, unless one lives downtown (then there is a very limited grocery selection), is really not possible.
                                                                                                                                            I still want to know how folks are powering their computers to respond to this thread...

                                                                                                                                            1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                              LOL... yes, that's my point. I moved to this small, friendly, city like suburb from a little semi rural suburban hamlet years ago, and love the ability to walk to and from dozens of restaurants, stores, galleries, post office, library, etc... but I miss starry nights without light pollution, the sounds of nature and nothing else, and no soot in my lungs or on my windows. As for powering up... gerbils. LOTS and LOTS of gerbils.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                ha! Yes, we have lots of sounds of nature..... especially when the wind blows. Now that the leaves are out on the aspens in the yard, it sounds more like the ocean, instead of the proverbial freight train. The only soot we get is from our backyard fire pit. Then, it really just blows to Nebraska.
                                                                                                                                                yes, we burn wood from time to time, usually after a meal where we've grilled meat, with charcoal.
                                                                                                                                                I can do my part, and I can also LIVE. and love life.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                                  My friend who has a country estate in the Tuscan countryside (living daily in Firenze) has an indoor woodburning fireplace made specifically for indoor grilling. I've never seen one like this before -- apparently it is historic as in 400 years old (with maintenance of course). Burning wood inside to form coals, then grilling meats indoors. I love it and suspect you would too. :)

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: freia

                                                                                                                                                    jealous!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                                      Me too... when we did our kitchen reno, I looked high and low for an example and couldn't find one. Sigh...Like you, I love nature and bringing it in to our everyday lives. :) (and yes, I'm the poor foreign relation when I visit my friend and her husband never lets me forget it, in Italian of course which he for some reason forgets that I understand LOL)

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: freia

                                                                                                                                                        hahahahaha!

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                                        double jealousy!

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                                      Amen to that, sistah.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: Jetgirly

                                                                                                                                          Agriculture is a big part of the economy in a lot of places. I am not talking about 'big ag' either. We have a neighbor in northern Minnesota who, among other things, is a cattleman. He raises beef feeder cattle. He cuts several hundred bales of clover off our land for his cattle. He and his brother are only two beef producers, but a 20% reduction would certainly affect them as reduced demand would decrease the price they get for their cattle.

                                                                                                                                    2. You are humans. Humans are omnivores by biological design. This is not an opinion that can be argued against logically (thought the emotional among you will attempt to do so). Eat as you will.

                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                      1. re: PommeDeGuerre

                                                                                                                                        "Humans are omnivores by biological design. This is not an opinion that can be argued against logically"
                                                                                                                                        _______
                                                                                                                                        'biological design' is a tricky combination of words. We are an omnivorous species by virtue of what our bodies allow us to digest and what foods are available to us. The word 'design' would seem to imply intent, as in we are intended to eat in a certain way (by whom or what, I ask, as the process of evolution has no intentions on its own), and that does not have to factor into it at all. More telling, we are not obligate carnivores and we do not need meat to survive.

                                                                                                                                        There is a good bit of argument from the evolutionary standpoint upthread. I am not one to emotionally argue against eating meat as I am in fact a meat eater - I just don't think the evolutionary argument holds any water. It's an ethical cop out, IMO.

                                                                                                                                        ETA: if you or anyone else wants to make a theistic argument, that's fine - I'm not objecting. I just object to an evolutionary argument being used as though it were a theistic one.

                                                                                                                                      2. My ethics limit me to eating vegetarian meat. I only eat vegetarians....

                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                                                          ah... the old cannibal's ethical dilemma joke. :)

                                                                                                                                          1. re: dave_c

                                                                                                                                            I don't view myself as a cannibal. I eat pigs, cows, chickens -- all basically vegetarians. I do not eat dogs, and cats which are more carnivores (not vegetarians). So from the preponderance of evidence - I only eat vegetarians....

                                                                                                                                            Basically every plant and animal is part of the food chain, for the most part man is at the top of the food chain. If some people want to abdicate there responsibilities as head of the food chain, then they move down in the food chain and should not complain when they get eaten. Just saying....

                                                                                                                                        2. Hi folks, please pardon the interruption.

                                                                                                                                          We've had to remove a number of increasingly heated replies from this thread.

                                                                                                                                          We realize that the ethics of eating meat is a sensitive topic, so we'd ask that people take extra care to keep the conversation friendly and focused.

                                                                                                                                          1. Forgive me if I missed someone else responding in the same vein, but one ethical issue (from the animal perspective, I guess) is that unless you eat it, it won't exist. Don't flame me please, but wat I mean is the commercial production of animals is dictated by the market place. If farmers couldn't recoup their costs, do you think they would raise the animals in the first p,ace. An example is the resurgence of old heritage breeds of pigs, cows, turkeys, whatever. Domestic animals have been bred for so long that they depend on us for their very existence. is it ethical to say that if we didn't eat them, they wouldn't exist? My answer is absolutely.

                                                                                                                                            44 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: katnat

                                                                                                                                              Interesting POV...:thinking about it definitely from a different POV. Not too many farmers want to run a charity Home for Wayward Cows, for example...

                                                                                                                                              1. re: katnat

                                                                                                                                                Michael Pollan made a similar argument in 'Omnivore's Dilemma": people often think about the individual animal when discussing the ethics of meat-eating, but they seldom discuss the species. Basically, while being eaten by people is bad for the individual pig, it's been extremely beneficial for the species, Pig. One might think of our species' relationship with food animals as a kind of evolutionary bargain, wherein humans get food while farm animals are selected from other species, protected, given land and food, and encouraged to reproduce. To end this relationship would probably entail letting some species die off entirely (or nearly so).

                                                                                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                  <One might think of our species' relationship with food animals as a kind of evolutionary bargain>

                                                                                                                                                  I don't buy this argument despite I am a meat eater myself. This is to say as long as we nurture it, then we have the moral ground to destroy it. I just don't believe in the "saving one's life grant you the right to destroy it after"

                                                                                                                                                  If it is immoral to kill a being (if), then it is still be immoral to kill it even if I saved its life earlier.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                    I don't think it's an argument-ender myself. Still, there's something to it. It's not about nurturing one animal and then using that nurturing to justify killing it. Instead, the point is that what's good for the species as a whole is different than what's good for an individual member of that species. To which do we owe more consideration?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                      <Instead, the point is that what's good for the species as a whole is different than what's good for an individual member of that species. >

                                                                                                                                                      I don't disagree with that. There are plenty other examples of that. The idea of say only the strongest lion get to mate is certainly an example -- what is good for the speices (gene pool) is not good for other individual members.

                                                                                                                                                      <To which do we owe more consideration?>

                                                                                                                                                      To be honest, this whole discussion is getting confusing by the minutes.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                        if God didn't want us to eat animals, why did he make them out of meat?

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MacshashRIP

                                                                                                                                                          :D

                                                                                                                                                          Well, it is a test. It is temptation. It is giving us the ability to choose (rightly or wrongly) -- just like what happened in the Garden of Eden.

                                                                                                                                                          In all seriousness, there is one problem with your statement above -- because I can ask the same about human and human flesh.

                                                                                                                                                          :D

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                            Did she not eat a fruit? OK, god does NOT want us to eat anything that grows out of the ground..... So - meat it is.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                                                                              :D

                                                                                                                                                              I guess that is another way to look at the story.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: MacshashRIP

                                                                                                                                                            Or so darned delicious?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MacshashRIP

                                                                                                                                                              : D

                                                                                                                                                              I have been waiting to see when someone would post this. Yours was post #193 (minus deleted posts of course). I lost the over/under by a long shot. My guess was that it would be post #50 or earlier.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                          i personally would be happy to see more of a separation of church and chow in this discussion (i don't think everyone accepts the same religious teachings), but maybe it's not to be. still, even without some of the problems i see with folks doing across-the-board anthropomorphism of animals, there are gray areas.

                                                                                                                                                          is it ethical to destroy rainforests, and the millions of organisms and species that live there, in order to promote soy monoculture, so that more people can live a vegetarian lifestyle?

                                                                                                                                                          how about hunting (and eating) species which humankind introduced into non-native habitats, which then go on to destroy the native habitats? are these actions unethical?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                            it is not ethical to destroy rainforests or species which are threatened with extinction, but because of local infrastructure and lack of financial enforcement resources in many, if not most of these habitats, often in third world countries, it is all but an inevitable eventuality.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                              <is it ethical to destroy rainforests, and the millions of organisms and species that live there, in order to promote soy monoculture, so that more people can live a vegetarian lifestyle?>

                                                                                                                                                              Good point. However, if the idea is to convert meat-eating to vegetable-eating, then we can just convert the current cattle ranch into soy frams without destroying more rainforests.

                                                                                                                                                              <how about hunting (and eating) species which humankind introduced into non-native habitats, which then go on to destroy the native habitats?>

                                                                                                                                                              Now, that is an excellent point.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                I'd like to see you try and grow soy on cattle ranches here... ha!

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                                                  Vegetables, cotton, and alfalfa is grown in the desert. It depends on the availability of water, with enough irrigation, it can be grown anywhere.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                    with water, key words. most of our water either goes to Nebraska or California and AZ. Also, elevation is a factor, combined with latitude. We don't have a very long growing season. I've seen snow here every month of the year.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                      water is actually not an infinite resource...

                                                                                                                                                                      i take WyoGal's point-- cattle (and other livestock) can be grazed in areas, terrains, and climates that are not ideal for growing cultivated crops.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                        Exactly. Not just "not ideal," but downright impossible.

                                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                                                                          Uhm...I never said nor implied that water is an infinite resource. I made many trips to Wyoming over the years and am familiar with the landscape. I simply pointed out that with enough water, crops can be grown anywhere.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                            anywhere? yeah, right.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                                                              If they can grow alfalfa in the Arizona desert then with a few exceptions crops can be grown on an open piece of ground just about anywhere in the 48 states. Heck, the state of Alaska was selling land so cheap in the 1980s for crop farming it was virtually the same as homesteading.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                Ummm, Arizona desert with irrigation is much different than high altitude arid regions. Where have you been in Wyoming? Yes, there are sugar beets in the basin, there are some cornfields, and some crops in the prairies in the east and a few valleys. But there is mostly hay (IF you have water, which is a BIG if) and rangeland.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                                                                  You are kind of making my point for me. IF there is enough water and open land some sort of crop can be grown there. I was not suggesting that it be attempted. It was an innocuous comment and never intended to become a point of contention on this thread.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                              right. my point was that there is NOT enough water to just turn every desert we fancy into irrigated rice paddies. there are a great deal of problems in areas of the country and internationally where too much water has been diverted for crops, to the degradation of the land and impoverishment of the folks where the water originally came from.

                                                                                                                                                                              as the world's resources become taxed by human population, eventually it would be wonderful if land were used more appropriately to real growing conditions/climate/rainfall. it doesn't make sense for a person to try to put in cranberry bogs outside of paris, texas, for example. in areas where water is restricted to people... don't put in another cattle factory farm where thousands of animals require 80 gals water per day per animal.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                                                But there ISN'T enough water, and irrigation doesn't create more of it, it has to come from somewhere.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                          oh yes, and what happens when you convert these farms over to vegetarian farms - you don't want the cows roaming around eating you out of house and home so they will either be killed or starve to death. Now that is ethical.... kill for no use what so ever :o

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                                                                                            One big issue in the "ethics of meat-eating" question is the fact that our production processes have changed. When people are closer to the production process (e.g. when people live on farms or they understand the lifecycle of the animal prior to its flesh landing on a plate), they have a better appreciation of the life that existed before eating the meat.

                                                                                                                                                                            Today most people have no understanding of the life associated with the meat. In fact people don't want to know -- we serve fish completely filleted and don't want to see the bones or head. Everything has to be pretty.

                                                                                                                                                                            There's nothing wrong with a nice plate, but the ethics question is linked to a fundamental awareness (or lack thereof) of the animal life. If more people knew how animals lived prior to their death and processing, there would probably be more vegetarians.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: calumin

                                                                                                                                                                              We used to live in a town that would post pictures of the kid with their steer or hog, along with their fair ribbons, right above the meat.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: calumin

                                                                                                                                                                                Probably not, when we were a more agrarian society - we had a lot less vegetarians.

                                                                                                                                                                                If everyone becomes a vegetarian then we will go from having a million heads of cattle, billions of chickens - to maybe 20,000 -- because the land will be used for other purposes.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                                                                                                  "because the land will be used for other purposes." like what?

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                                                                    Private land is used for raising cattle, if you are not going to make money raising cattle then you grow crops. Which private owner is going to invest money having cattle on their land and not be able to make money out of it? Grow hay or corn for cattle - not very likely. Not many cows on public land.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                                                                                                      ummmmm, yes. lots of cows on public land here.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                                                                        Where is that? When I was younger I did a little work building fences to keep the cattle from wandering off :o

                                                                                                                                                                                        In your area you have wild cows? Or public land leased to private farmers for grazing?

                                                                                                                                                                                        I have seen the law of unintended consequences before, where environmentalists pushed for "bio" fuel - so incentives and requirements were built in so that people would grow crops for oil -- which in turn tied the price of food oils with fuel oil - which in turn has created shortages of cooking oil in some countries or raised the prices - which hurt a lot of people that could least afford it... then now - this same group of environmentalists go oooops sorry actually it is not more environmentally friendly. I just see another law of unintended consequences happening again :o

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                                                                                                          fences? Yes, lots of BLM land used for grazing, leased, permitted. Did you see the pictures that I posted? Open range is not just a movie.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                                                                          Or are you in India where cows are like gods? It won't happen in North America :o

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                                                                                                            What are you talking about? The pictures were taken on a day drive in our "neighborhood." Lots and lots of open range here. Not many fences. Lots of grazing on public lands. I really don't understand your comment about India.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                                                                              Did not see pictures - still don't. For a second I thought you were in India where they let the cows (skinny) wander because it is illegal to kill them (or close to it).

                                                                                                                                                                                              Public land in the east is usually park land - and I have never seen cows grazing in public parks. Land is mostly private except for parks - so obviously your area is different. In fact the only cows I have seen grazing on public land was prison cows (medium security prison I believe) :o

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                                                                                                                hahahahahaha! scroll up. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: wyogal

                                                                                                                                                                                            Don't get me wrong - I am all for having happy cows..... because happy cows make for tender meat..... If you kill a cow while they are tensed up it actually hurts the quality of the meat.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: cacruden

                                                                                                                                                                                        cacruden - when we were a more agrarian society we had fewer vegetarians, but for a totally different reason. meat was more necessary as a source of protein.

                                                                                                                                                                                        it's the fact that people can now adopt sustainable, healthy diets without meat that makes this whole question even viable.

                                                                                                                                                                                        it wouldn't be a bad thing to have fewer cattle on the planet. the fact that we have industries that mass-produce animals so we can eat them isn't inherently natural or necessarily humane.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: calumin

                                                                                                                                                                                          "it's the fact that people can now adopt sustainable, healthy diets without meat that makes this whole question even viable."

                                                                                                                                                                                          that's not a fact and it's not possible nor healthy for many of us.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mcf

                                                                                                                                                                                            mcf -- no this is a fact. some people may not agree that this is possible, and for some people it is unrealistic, but there are large societies where most of their citizens live on a vegetarian diet with no ill effects and with some distinct health benefits. over 30% of the entire population of India is vegetarian.

                                                                                                                                                                                            the idea of man's necessity to eat meat is sociologically derived and not a product of man's "nature"

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: calumin

                                                                                                                                                                                              I said it's not a fact that applies to all or even most. I never said there were no people who could adapt. Given the breadth of environmental resources for different cultures around the planet, I think it's a given that some can survive on it. That doesn't make it healthier and it does not confer any mortality or overall health benefit. The only thing that's lower is ischemic heart disease but mortality isn't improved overall.

                                                                                                                                                                                              "the idea of man's necessity to eat meat is sociologically derived and not a product of man's "nature""

                                                                                                                                                                                              Humans are part of nature, not above it. Clearly, we're working from different information sources.

                                                                                                                                                                        3. Of course it is. How do you think the fricken cavemen and women survived? My cardiologist is putting me on diet of organic and pastuer fed meat , veggies, and some fruit. NO grains. No pasta, no bread. He swears by it for his "apple" shaped patients like me. I've been reading about it and I want to get healthy and people...vegetarian/vegan diets don't make people healthy. It is not meant to be. Not for us nor for our animals.

                                                                                                                                                                          I would not eat a cat, I would not eat a rat.....I am talking about beef, chicken, pork, lamb, and some fish. Lot's of root veggies and berries..n' such.

                                                                                                                                                                          I'll let ya know how it goes...my apple should be an hourglass and I should be much healthier. I've been eating whole grains, legumes, low fat this and that, veggies and I keep getting UN-healthier.

                                                                                                                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: melly

                                                                                                                                                                            The China Study...
                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.thechinastudy.com/
                                                                                                                                                                            and a critical look at The China Study
                                                                                                                                                                            http://www.humananatura.org/viewartic...
                                                                                                                                                                            Meaning that for any study produced there is an equally valid counterstudy that can be found.
                                                                                                                                                                            Unfortunately we/you won't know the long term effects of ANY diet for another 20 years.
                                                                                                                                                                            I'm hedging my bets LOL and am an "everything in moderation" person, with 50 percent of diet from fruits/veg, 25 percent from whole grains, 25 percent from protein.
                                                                                                                                                                            Yup, I'm an apple too. But 85 lbs later and almost there, this works for me!
                                                                                                                                                                            Best of luck!
                                                                                                                                                                            :)

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: freia

                                                                                                                                                                              Freia, I'm a bit surprised you cited both these links. The China Study is horrendously flawed as a medical study, and the rebuttal you've linked to has terrible biochemistry errors.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                                                                                                                Some thoughtful discussions:

                                                                                                                                                                                To wit: http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com... http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/i...

                                                                                                                                                                                http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/ob...

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: freia

                                                                                                                                                                                I am a dedicated carnivore/omnivore overall I would say 25% by volume of meat is not bad in comparison to many North Americans, it is probably a wee bit higher than recommended. By my estimate the recommended intake of meat proteins is a around 3 or 4 small slices of meat (stir fry slices - about 100 grams) of meat per meal - which is about the amount in a typical stir-fry. My problem was always juice - I could easily consume more 1000+ calories in any given day in fruit juice (now beer :o). Basically, IMHO - it is not meat vs veg it is everything in moderation - especially high calorie - low "fullness" things like oil, fruit juice, bread, etc. Many people on a diet will watch out for obvious things but then pour on sauce without thinking, sauces tend to contain the most hidden calories (i.e. oil based salad dressings, oil, 4 pieces of bread etc.).

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                                                                                                  Moderation is not a term measured by any two people the same way and is competely without merit or meaning in an discussion of diet and health. In studies, macronutrients are typically reported as % of calories, for precision. freia doesn't say what those % mean, volume or % of calories. Two VERY different things.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I try to make sure I get at least 70-100 gms of quality protein per day, at least. I want to feed my lean body mass, not my fat cells.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. Folks, we think this thread has about run its course and is now mainly the same few people talking to each other in an increasingly testy manner. We're going to lock it now.

                                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                                                                                                                                                                I was kind of hoping to see the OP's (MGZ's) promised argument before this one gets locked away...

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                                                                                  Me too, but it is not to be.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                                                                                                    I put it here:

                                                                                                                                                                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/844979