A Rational Reprisal

To depoliticize meat eating and put it on the individual to reason why they eat meat is very eye opening. However, I think the brazen shaming put forth by the paper is concerning. I don’t disagree with the institutionalized issues of our consumer and capitalist driven society, but I have an issue with the aggressive tone put forth by the vegan scholars and their critical animal studies.

Biologically speaking, consuming protein in the form of meat is healthy and encouraged by medical professionals. The only issue is the overwhelmingly massive amount of meat consumption that currently dominates a typical Western diet. Drawing attention to this issue is necessary and encouraged but to throw moral righteousness in people’s face is a bit much.

There are two sides to every story. It is apparent that we currently live in a society that industrially abuses animals in order to provide for the demand the system has created for itself. However, reading articles such as this one puts me on the defensive because of the drastic opposition to the status quo. I feel like there is a way to understand the need to consume a balanced diet while still respecting the organisms that we consume.

Can we afford to lose our planet just because we like the taste of meat?

This has been a topic of debate for years now, especially as climate change has become more prevalent, and as a vegetarian/veganism diet has become more accessible and popular. I have been a vegetarian for 7 years, and I’m currently trying to make the switch all the way to vegan. As a nutrition major, you bet I’ve watched documentary after documentary and read article after article on this. I was so excited when I saw the title of this article, On the Limits of Food Autonomy, because I’ve been doing research on it lately and it pertains (somewhat) to my major.

I’ve heard many arguments on both sides of the vegan debate, and they tend to usually be the same ones. I thought this article was really interesting because it brought up something I’d never really thought of before – eating meat is what everyone grew up with, and most people don’t want to stray away from the societal norm. Lots of people claim it is harder to be vegetarian or vegan, and that can be true in some cases. It requires an extra step or two of thinking when you eat out at a restaurant, and you have to plan your diet to contain the nutrients that are harder in some cases to get with those dietary restrictions. However, if society considered veganism or vegetarianism more normal, options would soar for places to eat and items to get in the grocery store (and prices would go down for direct vegan substitutes; a general vegan diet tends to be cheaper than an omnivore one).

I could type for hours about the many reasons to transition humanity to a more plant-based diet, and I think the biggest barrier for most people is that the average human does not know how big of an industry livestock raising is, and how staggering some of these facts are. 18% of the world’s greenhouse gases come from the emissions used to raise livestock – that’s more than all of the transportation systems in the world combined. 70% of the water available to humans is used to give to farm animals; 20,000 pounds of water is used to create 1 pound of beef (whereas a pound of potatoes takes only 60 pounds of water). I am really hoping that if more information gets out to the general population, more people will consider reducing their meat intake. I really hope that we aren’t condemning our planet just because we like the taste and convenience of meat.

Image result for pro vegan comic panels

Eat more Chicken

As a meat eater, I do love a good steak, but I am also aware of the environmental impact that eating beef has on the environment. One kg of beef produces 27 kg of CO2 while the same amount of chicken produces 6.9 kg and rice produces 2.7 kg. I am also aware of the other impacts such as methane emissions—a much more potent greenhouse gas—and the tremendous waste that the meat industry produces. As a result, I try to limit the amount of certain meat that I eat, but I do not think it is necessarily easy to convince everybody to go completely vegan or vegetarian. Nor do I believe it is necessary to go to that extreme as it would be better for everybody to compromise and choose to limit our carbon footprint. I agree with some points but have different opinions on others: here are two of my thoughts.

 

Firstly, I am a bit confused about the analogy between cannibalism and the consumption of meat. I think that for the majority of other animals out there, they would agree that eating their own kind is morally taboo too. It is strange that the author uses the phrase “the role of the principle or norm of autonomy in naturalizing the killing of animals for food consumptions” when carnivores and omnivores exist in nature. I think that argument is a bit inadequate and stretching it a bit too much, but I certainly agree that we must revise the way we mechanized the slaughter of animals. Industrial meat production has removed us from reality and perhaps objectify the sacrifices of the animals. We waste a substantial amount of food and overconsume leading to environmental and health issues. However, our consumption of processed food high in excess carbs and fats is more to blame for our obesity crisis than meat has.

 

Lastly, I strongly agree that we need to rethink our diet and consume everything in moderation. It is probably very difficult for everybody to eat the “utopian diet” because not everybody has consistent access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Not to mention that finding alternative protein sources would be difficult for those without much disposable income. I think that the true solution for everyone will come in the form of lab-grown meat which has proven to be very likely viable. Even when it is commercially available, the technology may still too costly to justify for everyone. I think that saying that “actively desiring the taste, smell, visual presentation and texture of meat” and “mistaking that appearance of choice is autonomy” is as judgmental as judging a balanced vegan diet as unhealthy. Any drastic change will not happen, but we can encourage others to mind their environmental impact as we all share this same planet. Maybe instead of eating meat, maybe eat more chicken (I am not sponsored by Chick Fil A) or some other meat with less CO2 output. It’s easier to change in small steps, not huge leaps.

If a human is accused for killing other species, are all omnivores murderers?

The argument that humans are not meant to consume meat is an argument that is based on the perception that humans are separate from nature. A quote from the reading reads “Humanity’s high esteem for capacities believed to be unique to humans, such as rational thought, justify the superiority afforded to homo sapiens and define autonomy as freedom from nature.” This is the mentality of much of the human race, and it is the result of this mentality that animal agriculture exists in the form it does today. If humans think they are separate from nature, that they have a superiority above the rest of the nonhuman animals, they will not hesitate to control animals in order to provide food for themselves.

However, this is not reality, humans are animals like all the rest of the species on earth. Just because we have dominion over much of the earth doesn’t mean we have any responsibilities for it. Humans are unique in that they take species under their wing and “protect” them from harm (ex. Pets, cows in India) but they are not unique in their consumption of meat through killing other animal species. That is how the food chain works. Just because we are at the top of it does not mean we have to remove ourselves from it altogether.

If this is confusing, what I’m trying to say is that humans as a species are meant to kill other animals for food, but the animal agriculture of today is not the way to do it. Not only is it unethical to the societal norms of today, but it also violates the laws of nature. A single species should not be able to take control of its food sources in a way that does not allow any other animal to benefit from it. The food chain as a whole is balanced, the bird eats the worm, but the bird also gets eaten by something bigger. The world today is very unbalanced, with the overwhelming human population on one side of the scale and all the rest of the species on the other side. The main reasons for most environmental damage humans cause comes from unbalanced systems.

If there was some way for humans to bring balance back into the food chain without hurting our own species too much, that would be ideal, but for lack of a better solution, not eating meat is a good option. It would also lessen the amount greenhouse gas emissions, open up more land, and decrease the large, if not overwhelming, population of cows.

 

 

 

If you didn’t kill it, you shouldn’t eat it… but did you kill those vegetables?

The freedom to choose what I eat is awesome. I can eat foods I like, avoid the foods I don’t, and try new things at any time. If I’m worried about my money or my health, I can even plan my food intake to meet my daily needs. What if I didn’t have this freedom? What if someone else was in charge of what I ate? Would I be better off? If the person controlling my eating habits had my best interests in mind, there probably wouldn’t be any issues. However, who is the judge of what my best interests truly are? I personally wouldn’t trust anyone to dictate what food I consumed. I am always open to suggestions, but at the end of the day, what I eat is my decision and no one else’s. That’s how a free society ought to be.

The concept of “killing at a distance” does catch my attention in this paper. As a meat eater myself, I understand that while I’m not the guy who kills the animals on my plate, I am held just as responsible from a capitalistic perspective. I, the consumer, drive the production of goods, which is meat in this scenario. If I had to personally go out and kill all the meat I wanted to eat, chances are I would change my diet a bit. This isn’t because of a new sense of guilt or shame, but rather a result of my laziness. I’ve never been interested in hunting big game animals as I prefer everything I eat to be in moderation. I have friends who hunt elk and deer, and can you guess what they have to eat for months on end? I would rather eat no meat at all than have to eat the same thing for three months strait as to not waste the meat.

In the end, I think people should eat less meat in general. It’s better for their health and its better for the environment. A dinner plate balanced with fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, dairy, and fats sounds perfect. However, I don’t think anyone has the right to tell someone else what they can or cannot eat. Unless it’s medically required or cannibalism, I think people should just mind their own business. You never know what people are going through. Chances are, they might not be able to afford the utopian diet nutritionists agree on. So while it’s important to keep an open mind on better eating habits, don’t forget that your right to eat vegetarian does not infringe on my right to eat meats, and visa versa.

Stop Going to Chick-Fil-A

Animal rights is an issue that is near and dear to me, as I have been a vegetarian for over 2 years now. I chose to become a vegetarian, not because I don’t support humans eating meat, but because I don’t support the way we eat meat. In On the limits of food autonomy, one point that’s brought up is that we have made ourselves “continually dependent on ecology and others.” This was said in a negative way in the reading, but I don’t see it in a negative way at all. It’s fundamental for species of different ecosystems to rely on each other—for shelter, food, or nurture. In this way, I don’t think it’s fundamentally wrong for humans to consume meat, in the same way it’s not wrong for lions to prey on antelope. Predators are an important part of a healthy ecosystem.

However, the way that humans have transformed the meat industry is inhumane and ecologically detrimental. First of all, one of the biggest causes of deforestation in the Amazon is the meat industry. Close to 70 percent of deforestation occurs as a direct result of the increasing demand for beef. In addition, it’s a leading cause of ocean dead zones and water pollution. Every year, livestock produce 130 times as much waste as humans, and most of this waste is unfortunately deposited into the oceans. And in my opinion the worst impact of the meat industry is its contribution to global warming. Carbon emissions made by livestock production produces 65 percent of human-related emissions, which is an outstanding number. Not to mention how inhumane the cattle farms and slaughterhouses are, and how poorly they treat the animals from birth. Chick-Fil-A is currently under attack by many for using farms and slaughterhouses that severely abuse chickens.

Therefore, my issue with the food industry is fully based on my ethical and environmental issues with the way the meat industry is set up. In this way I want to educate the world that buying animal products from sustainable, local farms is the way to go. Eating those products is not the problem—but eating them from big companies or restaurants, like Chick-Fil-A or Tyson, is.

Is No Meat the Best Option?

Our diet is certainly a hot topic of discussion. I would like to make it clear that I do care about our environment, and I agree that agricultural emissions are great contributors to our current climatesituation. With that being said, there is much more to be said, for our diet and/or culture is something that cannot be easily changed.

As someone who was a vegetarian then vegan for three years, I know what should be done. I tried for as long as I could to make a little change to my life and show others that it is doable and easy. I agreed and I still do agree that our consumption of so much meat leads to animal cruelty and repercussions to the environment. Our planet cannot withstand a greater increase in the amount of CO2 emissions, runoff, etc. We also cannot keep treating the animals the way that we do. The mass production method is inhumane, but the sad reality is we have to feed people, which we are not excelling at.

We cannot just simply eliminate the meat production industry from the food supply. Meat, poultry, and fish contribute greatly our needed source of protein. We would have to compensate for the loss of protein and calories with more grains, vegetables, fruit, nuts, etc. Those alternatives are also environmentally costly. They require land, water, and nutrients to grow. It may not be as easy nor as great as we hope, and honestly, those replacements are not the same, and they are sometimes the more expensive option. I personally feel fuller, less lethargic, and I even hold my weight better, now that I have reintroduced meat back into my diet. For me, being meatless is not the best option.

There are also tons of people who rely on agricultural practices for their living. They may be third, fourth, or even fifth generation farmers. They send their kids to college with the money that the earn. It is not as simple as it seems to completely let all of this go and abandon meat products. What we need to do is more aware of where we buy these types of products from. We should be supporting our local farmers that have ethical, responsible practices. It may be more expensive, but it is the way that benefits more people than not. People are not going to get on board with seemingly radicle changes. It does not have to be an all-or-nothing situation.

 

Going Against Social Norms is Hard!

I fully understand that eating meat is bad for the environment. I know it’s not the best thing for my health. I know I could be making better choices. However, living a meat-free life is harder than one would imagine. Meat is a great source of protein, and as a person with an iron deficiency meat is often the best way to get the nutrients I need. Going meat-free is a lifestyle I would definitely be interested in, but it is a difficult path, or at least that’s the way I perceive it as a person who eats meat. I am also definitely biased as a meat eating person, but there are ways to raise animals for food products that does not involve their pain and suffering, and this article ignored all farming techniques where that is the case- they say all animals suffer.

In addition, this article uses the word “murder” quite often. I am not sure how I feel about animals as sentient beings and if we are morally obligated to not kill them. For example, the article compared killing and eating other humans to killing animals. I am not sure I’d draw that same connection. I agree with the ideas of the article: we should eat less meat because it is better for us and it is better for the environment and it is better for the animals. I just don’t think calling people who eat meat murderers is the best way to get them to stop eating meat. I think a better way to go about it is to perhaps politicize the matter more by placing taxes, or something similar, on meat consumption. It has been done before on soda, something similar could probably be done for meat. Another method could be treating meat similar to cigarettes- run media campaigns that warn against the dangers of eating meat (bad for the environment, increased likelihood of obesity, etc.) to convince people that eating meat should be lessened. Berating people for doing it is only going to make them more resistant to stop eating meat. People generally don’t like being told what to do, especially if it’s to stop doing something they enjoy.

Overall, I think the article has a good thought behind it, I just don’t think presenting ideas on meat eating in this way is the most efficient way to achieve a goal of our country eating less animal products- whatever the underlying motivation may be.

Fish are friends, not food.

Choices are important.  They represent our sense of freedom, and provide many in Western cultures a feeling of antiquated autonomy from some of the few required political taxations, such as those on luxury items, liquor or cigarettes.  Taxes which often inflate the price of goods harmful to users or the environment.

In On the limits of food autonomy, “A classic defense by meat eaters is to declare that their food practices are a personal choice.  Furthermore, vegans are often asked to ‘respect’ the choices of others as a mean of closing down critical conversations.” …. “However what is lost from such a request is the recognition that for most consumers of animal products no choice as such has been made.  Consuming animals is a dominant cultural practice, and so it is part of the set of normalized values and ontological distinctions of the culture we are born into.”  As such, it would appear the requirement for change must start at a global or federal level.  Individual choice to harm the environment must be removed.

“Deploying privacy as a strategy or deflecting criticism incorrectly assumes that such food choices fall within the boundaries of acceptable autonomous actions.  As the taboos against eating other humans and companion species demonstrate, food autonomy does not translate into the license to eat whatever (or whomever) one wants.  The prohibition against cannibalism is not encountered as a limitation on human freedom, because this food ‘choice’ is incompatible with the ownership, exploitation and murder of fellow human beings.  Humans are not food and the desire to consume the flesh of homosapiens is pathological.”  Rather than an argument of who counts as “morally considerable life”, I think we are obligated to consider how great is the existent need for government to supersede ‘choice’.  Western social cultures establish the right for individuals to choose their diet.  And the impact on our ecology has primarily been a response to the growing western populations and the growing demand for animal consumption.

The argument of needing to eat meat is obviously quick to solve. Humans are omnivores, we have adapted to such, and commonly eat both plants and animals.  That said, it is often more humane to consider consuming the flesh of a plant versus an animal.  This is because, while both are considered sentient, the animal is considered akin to our species.  It is notable to mention, plants too are exploited and stressed, to rapidly produce food for mankind.  Arguably however, the stress animals endure is much greater due to their higher cognitive reasoning, but regardless, both are exploited.  Similarly both the plant and animal production cycles impact our world negatively due to the larger-scale productions developed each year, but the output of noxious gases from animal production is much greater.

I agree with the sentiment, and I strongly believe moderation is key.  That said, I believe the reality of Western culture electing for governmental control over food consumption is near non-existent.  Too much is engrained in the concept of giving up meat.  To have empathy for animals, we first must have empathy for ourselves and those around us.  Awareness is key.

I know it’s a good point, but I hate sudden change

Of all the readings we have been assigned in this class, I felt that this was the most interesting yet. For me, most of the ideas presented in this reading were familiar, but never before now had I read a piece that went so in depth to the privacy of food consumption and its effect on human’s decisions.

As someone who is an athlete, I have consumed meat to fulfill the health requirements of protein and certain vitamins. However, I do see the consumption of meat as a non-necessary dietary choice…for the most part. I felt the reading brought up very good points about morality and where the line should be drawn. I have thought of the morality issue in regards to consuming animal-based products a lot and do see validity in the claim for non-consumption, however, if I were to stop eating meat, it would not be because of morality.

I obviously think the animals that are raised for consumption should be treated well and the food industry should have a no tolerance policy on animal cruelty. However, do I think it is morally wrong to kill an animal for consumption? No. I believe raising animals to be eaten is fine, but could get behind a sort of “ration” technique where the amount of consumption is limited. This idea ties closely with my main reason for ever considering to stop eating meat: there are technically other sources of the nutrients found in meat that don’t require the killing of animals, which would, in turn, have the benefit of reducing CO2 in the atmosphere.

Mother or Father Nature?

Throughout this reading, there were two main concepts which caught my attention. With regards to animal sciences, the choice of animal consumption and feminist approach to these ethical debates intrigued me.

 

It does indeed seem quite normal that animals are considered to be a large part of our food industry. It almost appears as a challenge against our entire culture to remove these animals from our consumption. This being said, the question of our relationship with animals is being brought up more often. People need to understand that our food is shaping our perception of nature as a whole. If we remove ourselves from animals which we consume, this furthers the concept that we are divided from nature. This connects to a previous topic on our discussion of humankind’s perspective of nature. It is important to understand that we aren’t a separate entity from nature. This is the only way that we can respect our environment. If humans understood their impact on ecosystems, perhaps they would treat it with more care. Animal consuming practiceshave become ingrained in our society, and it will take drastic measures to shift away from this. Will this have to be a political or legal transition? From our current position, it does appear that something will have to force the majority of the world to alter their consumption of animals.

The feminist bioethics portion of this excerpt was a new region of thought for me. I had previously never considered how different perspectives could be based on gender. It is apparent that in general, humans have been characterized as being masculine. From our terms “mankind” and reference to humans as “man”, it seems common. Ecofeminism is also an interesting concept. This portrays masculinity as the reason behind most problems. I don’t think we can blame all our environmental problems on masculinity, it is just a product of human nature. However, some aspects of masculinity like hunting in animal consumption might support this train of thought.

If We Push Nature from all Sides We’ll Only Run into Ourselves

“We must think of nature without…exempting ourselves from it, and also without remaking it into our own image.” Thesis 2.

Humans have almost always thought of ourselves as separate from nature. Nature was always something we explored or adventured in – it was almost synonymous with the word “wilderness.” I still say to my friends, “oh, I haven’t seen enough of nature recently! I need to get out into the forest!” However, if we continue to think of ourselves as separate from nature, there isn’t really going to be a way to fix how we are affecting it. We have to treat humans and nature as connected in one system so that we can really see how our lifestyle impacts the world we live in (and on). By separating it, I believe we are distancing ourselves from so-called “Nature” and the environment itself. If we claim not to be a part of nature, then we think we really don’t have a responsibility to clean up our act.

“However far we go in space, we will never find an edge or boundary.” Thesis 4

I really liked this quote, because I feel like the author was trying to tell the reader that we are treating the Earth like outer space. We keep pushing and pushing our boundaries into what we consider “nature” and we aren’t considering that eventually we will meet ourselves on the other side. Space is infinite, and we have endless places left to explore. Humans are well aware that Earth is a finite resource, and yet we still act like we have all the time in the world to make a change in our attitude. It starts with stopping the mental separation of nature and humans. I really enjoyed this reading and I thought the format of 22 Thesis was a very interesting way to get a point across.