Jan 312013

happy farmI fear the universe runs on TGGP’s “Asskicking Theory of Morality” which states that the moral consideration things get is directly proportional to their ability to kick asses. Which is why animals and children have no moral weight to humans, aside from what allies they can seduce with their cuteness. I don’t WANT that to be the case, for the normal Sci-Fi geek reasons – if we run into a much more powerful species, I’d like for them to respect us not for our ass-kicking ability, but purely because we are also sentient creatures. Especially since I consider it entirely possible that we’ll create a much more powerful form of life within this century.

As such, I feel like a hypocrite if I don’t likewise give moral consideration to weaker species who show signs of sentience. But while sentience is hard to measure, I don’t think most animals qualify. Certainly not chickens and cattle. Unfortunately this isn’t the only problem with eating meat.

Obviously hunting is right out. If you hunt an animal, you’ve just killed a free-acting agent (for very loose definitions of agent) for your own gain without giving it anything in return. You are a parasite of nature. A farmer, on the other hand, has given a lot in return. He’s protect the animal from predators and disease. He’s given it land to live on, and food to eat, and a life much easier than the animals who have to claw and scrabble for life in the wild. And, ultimately, he bred the animal and gave it life – if it wasn’t for the farmer it wouldn’t have existed in the first place. So it’s not nearly so bad, it’s almost a transaction.

Sadly, in practice this isn’t the case. The ideal case is the Disney Family Farm, but in reality most factory farms are torture chambers. An animal is born into torment, tortured their entire lives, and then slaughtered. I’d rather have never existed than to be created solely to be tortured for years and then killed for someone else’s profit. That’s the stuff of Horror Sci Fi.

So for years I’ve kept circling around a conclusion I don’t want to embrace – I should change my eating habits. At the very least buy from better sources. And yet I still haven’t implemented that. I’m still searching for the hack that’ll work on my Elephant. I can see the destination, but not the road.

  6 Responses to “Still worried about meat”

  1. This theory flies almost directly in the face of evolution. Animals hunting other animals IS nature.

  2. Hi Seth! Not sure which theory you’re talking about… I laid out a bunch of opinions, not any theories. :) But as to the statement that it is natural – that means jackshit to me. Nature is a bitch and we should (and do) improve on nature whenever we can. Disease and pointless suffering are natural. An average lifespan in the 30s is natural. Screw nature.

  3. I have been a vegetarian for a long time so I will not pretend to be neutral on this. Its this simple for me : I do not think its ok to do whatever you like just because you can. Animals do suffer at our hands, and there is no such thing as something raised in captivity for the sole purpose of being eaten which falls into my idea of fair. I realise that fair is not that scientific,but I still am a big fan of everyone trying to be fair with everyone else.
    The ideal scenario is that we do not eat animals because we do not need to. Death is Bad. Unless you are not human ? unless you cannot speak ? Killing things just because we want to is bad. There is no need to eat meat. No need for us to be the instruments of torture and death. Well maybe that is not true, but I have looked and found none. So unless we can actually find a good reason is it not something we should avoid (killing things which are alive).

  4. My suggestion for how to reduce the mount of meat you eat is something that worked for me. Nutritionist say that one of the best way to change your diet is to choose a food that is unhealthy for you, and replace with a healthier version that you like. Replace meats that you eat with other foods slowly, because suddenly changing your entire diet tends to not work well.

    It also helps to re-frame the problem. Rather than thinking about how you are giving up meat, try thinking of it as trying something new. The next time you visit the supermarket and you feel like eating burgers, instead of grabbing some ground beef, try one of the veggie burgers instead. If you like it, eat those veggie burgers. If you don’t like it, try something else. If you keep ‘trying new things’ you will soon replace meat from your diet entirely. I’m not a vegetarian per se, but I haven’t eaten meat in a long time.

    Another way to encourage yourself to eat less meat is to find the benefits of switching. I love bacon, but it is super unhealthy, so I don’t eat it that often. But when I looked at the nutrition label of vegetarian bacon, I realized that I could have bacon with ever meal! I never looked back.

  5. Interesting that the Death Is Bad blog takes a stance that non-existence is superior to torture.

    While that may sound like criticism, I actually agree. I’d be in favor of completely replacing the wilderness with our own design, full of cute and friendly engineered creatures, if we can ever actually make such a thing sustainable. I’ve been avoiding animal products for almost a decade, but it would be great if the economy made this meaningless. Maybe lab-grown flesh will, and then most of the factory-farmed animals can cease to exist. They may not be sentient, but I strongly suspect that they have a real conscious experience of pain and suffering, similar to what we feel when we stub a toe while dopey and disoriented from grogginess. Their non-existence should have a low cost since they don’t occasionally produce interesting or unique thoughts, like a few humans do.

    “Death is better than suffering, all other things being equal.” This is essentially the reason we choose to use anesthetics that render us unconscious when we undergo certain medical procedures. A little cessation of consciousness now, and back to normal later.

    • >Interesting that the Death Is Bad blog takes a stance that non-existence is superior to torture.

      I dunno, I’d only think that’s interesting if one was trying to portray someone as an extremist or something?

      >Maybe lab-grown flesh will, and then most of the factory-farmed animals can cease to exist.

      Yes!! The dream!!

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