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  1. #1
    chronyx's Avatar
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    Ex-vegans

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    Hello all.

    Been reading this site for a while and agree with the approach to nutrition entirely. I don't eat grains, processed food, any beans apart from soya, and eat lots of veggies and nuts.

    One thing I also haven't eaten in a long time is meat.

    I went vegetarian about 3 years ago to help lose weight, and vegan to continue the theme. Then the more I read about it, the more I agreed with the ethics side of things. While eating meat, in 2007 I bought a locally reared turkey as I wanted to do right by the animal.

    I've read a lot of posts on here from ethical ex-vegans and I wondered how you resolved things in your mind. Recently I've been thinking a cow wouldn't give a crap if I died, and about the whole circle of life thing. But the killing/suffering side of things still doesn't sit well with me.

    You'll have noticed I'm not a preachy person, so please extend me the same courtesy. This is something that is really playing on my mind, and as an open-minded person, I need to hear things from both sides of the fence, so to speak.

    All I've wanted was to do the right thing! Avoiding suffering, being compassionate and mindful.

    Thank you.
    Last edited by chronyx; 07-11-2010 at 10:09 AM. Reason: Typo

  2. #2
    Griff's Avatar
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    Everything dies. Everything suffers. These are facts of life that we can't get away from no matter how much we want to. We are by our very natures programmed to eat other things that die, and that suffer while they die. We are not programmed to leave out half or more of what we've evolved to need in order to survive and thrive just so we can minimize suffering. Suffering is a fact of life. It doesn't go away.

    The world - the real world, the one that runs on scientific facts - does not give one blue damn for our moral systems. Neither do our genes. Morality has its place, but when we try to extend it to things that it can't reasonably apply to, like genetics and our basic natural needs for various kinds of animal food, it becomes worse than useless - it becomes damaging. Applying morality to nutritional questions is like applying religion to scientific questions. It is, simply, the wrong tool for the job.

    We like to live in a fantasy that our morals will create the perfect world. The reality is just the opposite - our morals often make the world even worse than it already is, because they involve denial of basic factual things that don't go away just because we really really really reallyreallyreally want them to. To think otherwise is to remain, at best, an intellectual adolescent.
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    Agree with Griff. Also, and I'm sure you have come across this argument before, a vegetarian/vegan diet is NOT "guiltless" animals die as a direct result of your dietary choices, the ONLY difference between meat eaters and vegans is that we eat the animals we "kill" ... embrace the fat and protein that your body is desperate for.

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    chronyx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Griff View Post
    We like to live in a fantasy that our morals will create the perfect world. The reality is just the opposite - our morals often make the world even worse than it already is, because they involve denial of basic factual things that don't go away just because we really really really reallyreallyreally want them to. To think otherwise is to remain, at best, an intellectual adolescent.
    Yes, the second point there had occured to me - The first one hadn't...motals getting in the way...

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    The pertinent question is: are you better off eating meat? If the answer is yes then you should do it. Why you should have to cheapen your existence for the sake of an animals who don't have anywhere close to the appreciation for their own existence as you do doesn't make sense to me. You're the important one, not them. Vegetarians can be martyrs if they want but I'm not impressed and I wouldn't have anyone else deny themselves the joys of eating meat for no good reason. Humans come first with me.

    If you still have issues with the prolonged pain and suffering thing, there is free-range pasture raised meat that is also healthier. So it's win win.
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    chronyx's Avatar
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    Thanks, Stabby. The strange thing is, it feels like a foregone conclusion. I believe you were vegan for a while, so I guess you know how much of yourself 'becomes' vegan, like an identity.

    You are talking sense though.

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    I only ate wild fish and free-range eggs, so not a vegan per se. I never saw why a fish or an egg would need ethical consideration. Fish are not self-aware and aren't exactly living the examined life, whereas eggs aren't even alive yet; they can't possibly have minds let alone have minds requiring ethical considerations. But then I got to thinking that there are certain situations where an ethical consideration is needed and ones that aren't. Somewhere along the line in human evolution our brains became so good at foresight and creating abstractions that we were able to place ourselves in those abstractions and foresee ourselves in future worlds, and as a wonderful consequence we gained the ability to examine our own thought processes and become self-aware in an entirely new sense. We gained the ability to picture the distant future and see ourselves in it and also reflect to the distant past as well. We became minds at the center of a great and continuous story and escaped the box of living completely in the present and reacting to sensory stimulation based on our past conditioning in a mindless dance of survival and reproduction. We became able to deliberate and use the present to plan our future actions, and thus able to make our ethics in the future a product of conscious reason and not simply pre-programmed genetic instructions and worldly conditioning. And so because we are the only species on the planet that can think in this way, I maintain that we are the only animal that is requiring of such ethical considerations. A cow might act as if its life matters to it because it is intuitively programmed to survive and reproduce as best it can, it might feel pain because pain is the mechanism by which we know that we're in danger of death, but this sense of "matters" is far removed from the human sense of contemplative mind living the examined life; a story in which the protagonist can realize value in past and future experiences. An elevated mode of existence and one that truly matters to me.

    Vegans will obviously disagree and assert that pain is pain is pain and killing anything at all is wrong is wrong, and they're allowed to think such things, but I see no sense in it, especially when such views are harmful to the individual human's quality of existence. Above all I think that humans should work together to make each others' lives better, and I see no place in the non-contemplative animal except to serve some anthropomorphic friendship role as in a dog or cat. But even then the purpose of the relationship is for the benefit of the human, and the human is not under any particular obligation except to himself and his fellow humans. Vegans will arbitrarily add extra obligations to include the non-contemplative animals, but there is no rational reason to it. It is borne of non-thinking emotion or perhaps confusion and if one can rid oneself of this sort of emotional vice, one can re-partition such energy to more productive endeavors.

    Anyway that's what I think about the issue. I probably could have written that better but I'm a bit distracted today.
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    I think the book the 'Vegetarian Myth' by Lierre Keith is a very good start. She is an ex´vegan (I think she was vegan for 25? yrs) and very compassionate of the vegan cause. She also explains some of the dangers of eating soy. Please stop eating soy!

    I also used to be vegan. I care very much about animal welfare. And so I eat meat from ethical sources. I go to the farms and meet the meat. No matter how hard you try, you cannot be 'pure' morally when it comes to eating. I now embrace the circle of life.

  9. #9
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    Any kind of ethical dietary guideline draws an arbitrary distinction which, in some cases, makes no sense at all. I am currently, as I type, enjoying a salad composed of tomatoes, cucumbers, avocadoes, cauliflower, basil, and eggs (yum... but I digress). Let us focus on the last two ingredients - the basil and the egg. The basil leaves in my salad came from a living plant that needed those leaves to keep itself alive. The farmer who sold it to me cut it down, killing it. The plant died for my lunch. Did it suffer? I don't know. But I do know that it died.

    The egg in my salad is infertile. It came from a chicken that, presumably, did not incur any pain or suffering in producing it - chickens lay eggs naturally. Since the egg is infertile, there is no way that it could have developed into a living chicken.

    Why does the vegan diet allow the basil (which involves killing), but not the egg (which does not)?

    We are animals, and we are part of the food chain. It is far more mindful, I think, to recognize and respect that fact about our nature, and to make peace with it. We are part of the cycle of life. We can't exempt ourselves from it. There's no way you can eat without killing some other living thing, unless you depend on factory-processed food that kills a lot of living things and poisons you besides. It is better to make peace with our place in the food chain - we are predators - and to make sure we maintain a healthy ecosystem that will allow us to continue eating the way we are designed to. What matters is not the individual animal, but the ecosystem; each animal and each plant and each fungus and each bug and each human being have a role to play in maintaining that healthy ecosystem and keeping it functioning.

    I went to the farmer's market today, and bought a lamb heart (inspired by this site). I know that the sheep in question had a normal and happy life, running about in the hills, munching grass, playing with its sheep buddies, enjoying the sunshine. (I've seen pictures of the farm) I hope it was killed humanely and without excess cruelty - but that's all. It died so I could eat, same as the basil plant that died so I could eat.

  10. #10
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    Humans are a the top of the food chain for a reason. We survived for thousands of years because we hunted. Had we not hunted animals then we more than likely would have not survived. Had we survived, we would be completely different people. We have massive brains and strong organs and are able to dominate because we ate a mix of plants and animals.

    Think about it... if we truly never ate any animals then we would be a completely different species. You would not be able to do the things that you can do today. So, why stop now? We are meant to eat animals as we have been ever since our existence.

    We have powerful brains because of the omega 3 fatty acids found in the fish and other wild animals that we consume. Specifically the EPA & DHA in fish (and I think amphibians and reptiles??). Had we not hunted, then would have survived all the wild animals during our existence? I believe no, but who knows.

    Just understand that you are who you are because of humans consumption of both plants and animals. They are essential for one to live as healthy as possible.
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