Animal Protection Is The Most Meaningful Cause

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Animal Protection Is The Most Meaningful Cause

Postby KAICHEN on June 24th, 2015, 9:27 am 

I have had much compassion for animals since I was a child. When I was growing up, my faith and values changed several times, but my love and compassion for animals never changed. Now I finally realize that animal protection is the really meaningful cause.

Below are my answers to some questions, and a rough description of my animal protection concept.

Why must we protect animals?

Like we human beings, animals have consciousness and feeling, and can experience suffering and happiness.

No one wants suffering, and neither do animals. This is the enough reason why we must protect animals.

Why do we not advocate "protecting plants"?

Plants do not have brain or nerve, so that they do not have any consciousness at all, including any suffering or happiness.

Therefore, in terms of morality, there is no need to protect plants.

Why do we not advocate "protecting mosquitoes"?

All vertebrate animals, including human beings, have advanced nervous systems, and have strong feeling and consciousness. However, most invertebrates, such as insects, only have very simple nervous systems, so that most invertebrates' feeling and consciousness are very weak.

We do not say "protect mosquitoes" or "protect mites", because their feeling and consciousness are very weak.

Why we must not kill animals, although animals keep killing each other?

Animals should not be condemned for killing others, because animals have low intelligence, and cannot understand that their behaviors bring suffering to other individuals. It is just as you cannot condemn a child who is three or four years old for killing someone, because it knows nothing; in fact, many animals have the same intelligence level as a child at that age does.

However, adults' intelligence level is high enough for them to know that their behaviors may bring suffering to other individuals. Under the circumstance of knowing that, doing such behaviors is an obvious atrocity.

Why do we not obey the natural law which lets the strong ones prey upon the weak ones?

The natural law that allows the strong ones to prey upon the weak ones runs counter to the human ethics. If not, there would be no need to protect the disadvantaged groups.

The weak ones should be protected. The laws of nature are brutal, but the human ethics are compassionate. We human beings must fight against the brutality and stop the killing, not perform the killing.

Why should we be concerned about animals, rather than people?

People live really well nowadays. Most of the so-call disadvantaged groups and poor people are just have rough or less good living conditions. In addition, the human societies keep offering helps and opportunities to those disadvantaged people; with the development of societies, the helps and opportunities keep increasing.

In comparison, animals’ situations make me feel sorrier – at least those poor people will not be mistreated or killed. However, there is not even any relevant law to punish the murderers who killed animals cruelly. Now there is nothing more urgent than protecting animals.

Moreover, there is a distinction of good and evil in humans, but animals are all innocent and lovely – just as children (many animals have the same intelligence as children do); every single child is lovely.

Nowadays the rich and powerful people, have strong power, but always squander the power and capital on luxurious lives and meaningless faiths. I will be the owner of power, and use the power to make the greatest contribution to animal protection.

Strive for it!
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Re: Animal Protection Is The Most Meaningful Cause

Postby Darby on June 24th, 2015, 10:37 am 

I have a few points to quibble with you on.

1) "Animal Protection is the most meaningful cause."

I disagree with the three words I italicized. There are bigger issues, such as the looming issue of global warming which threatens to become a mass extinction event for all life on the planet. I think a much more reasonable statement would be "Animal welfare is a very worthwhile cause" ... something I wholeheartedly endorse without hesitation.

2) "Animals should not be condemned for killing others, because animals have low intelligence, and cannot understand that their behaviors bring suffering to other individuals."

You seem to be implying that carnivorous predators {ex: tigers, many species of fish, killer whales, sharks, etc.), if they were sufficiently intelligent enough to empathize with their prey's suffering, should become ethical vegans like yourself or suffer condemnation. Forgive me (no offense intended here), but I find this assertion to be completely out of touch with reality. The vast majority of top predators are carnivores courtesy of millions of years of evolutionary design and biological necessity, and it would be virtually biologically impossible for the vast majority of them them to become vegans for any meaningful length of time even if they wanted to. Ethics has nothing whatsoever to do with unalterable biological necessity. Humans are different, because we've evolved to be omnivorous, which makes it possible for us to both carnivorous and herbivorous as opportunities and biological needs dictate ... but biological carnivores CANNOT. That is simple biological fact. Go ahead and put your housecat (if you have one) on a diet of steamed broccoli, kashi and wheat grass extract, and watch that happens after a week or two.

Zooming out to the big picture, I will agree that in many cases, animal protein is too environmentally intensive for our ever growing global human population to continue consuming at the ruinous rates we have been. We as a species, and as responsible stewards of our planet, need to more firmly embrace sustainability, and adjust our diets and food production practices accordingly. That's something I've been onboard with for a long time.
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Re: Animal Protection Is The Most Meaningful Cause

Postby Serpent on June 24th, 2015, 10:50 am 

Why should we be concerned about animals, rather than people?


It's not an either-or choice. We can be concerned with both at the same time. Indeed, we must fight cruelty at every level, against any living thing, all the time. We must raise awareness to the suffering and exploitation of the helpless by the powerful. Those who objectify cattle and horses and dolphins and dogs, will also objectify people: dehumanize them simply by declaring one subhuman because of his skin colour, another for her gender, a third for his politics. He will put families in concentration camps, send children into mines, rape the maids and whip the peasants - because he can, and doesn't care.
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Re: Animal Protection Is The Most Meaningful Cause

Postby Watson on June 24th, 2015, 11:26 am 

From another forum Aug 19 2012
Guys, I'm guessing kaichen is going from forum to forum to forum all over the internet posting this very same thing. If kaichen is around and wants to have a discussion, s/he can come back. But I'm guessing his/her post count will be 1 forevermore.

And it is still 1. We are blessed with a second post.
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Re: Animal Protection Is The Most Meaningful Cause

Postby Braininvat on June 24th, 2015, 11:59 am 

On the remote chance, Kaichen will read past discussions, let me point out we had a discussion about this topic in the Vegan Cat thread last year or two. Let me find the link, ICAII...

viewtopic.php?f=47&t=27206&p=261752&hilit=vegan+cat#p261752



BTW, I see the last post gives 8 years as the average lifespan of an indoor cat. I think that should be fact-checked, as I've always heard a much higher figure, around 12-16 years.
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Re: Animal Protection Is The Most Meaningful Cause

Postby Watson on June 24th, 2015, 2:15 pm 

I brought a cat home from a farm I was at, 17 years ago, and other than escaping once it has never been outside. I don't know what happened that night out on the town but even opening a door to the big world sends her hiding under the bed. Her name sake from my youth lived to about 18 years, just curled and expired.
Maybe they mean outdoor cats live 8 years, and feral cats even less.
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Re: Animal Protection Is The Most Meaningful Cause

Postby Graeme M on April 7th, 2016, 5:16 pm 

Browsing this topic and it struck a nerve. As someone who has recently begun moving to a vegan philosophy I thought Kaichen's original post was pretty good but as others note some of the ideas expressed seem to ignore realities.

It's nothing to do with 'low intelligence' that causes animals to eat other animals (when we mean by this actual carnivores), it's evolution plain and simple. I think Kaichen means here that other animals don't have the capacity to evaluate their choices in a moral sense (whatever that actually means I guess) and hence we shouldn't use their situation to evaluate our own stance.

That is, it is no excuse for us to eat animals if such is the case within the rest of the animal kingdom for the simple reason that we CAN make moral and ethical choices.

Human beings did not evolve as omnivores, I think the evidence is clear that we derive from frugivorous origins. As I understand it we do have some adaptations that means we can eat a larger proportion of meat than we might have naturally (before tool making), but to the best of my admittedly limited knowledge there has been no major genetic shift to support a substantially meat based diet.

I think it's a mistake to claim that our status as 'omnivores' is a reason to consume very large quantities of meat. In nature, without the cultural effects of tool making and social attitudes, omnivorism in many animals amounts to opportunistic eating, with prey often being small animals like rodents, insects, fish and so on. For example while it's claimed chimps are omnivores and that they eat meat, much of that behaviour is cultural and in fact animal food constitutes less than 10% of their diet (probably less than 5%).

The real issue with human animal consumption is that we simply don't have to do it. We apply moral and ethical considerations to almost all of our behaviors within our species, and we do (at least in the West) have a commonly understood notion of what our moral and ethical frameowrks should contain, and yet we ignore all of that when it comes to our treatment of other species.

We are indeed, as Richard Ryder observed and Peter Singer argues, speciesist.

Animal welfare/protection is not THE most meaningful cause, but if we wish to be moral beings then it should be ONE of the most meaningful causes.
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Re: Animal Protection Is The Most Meaningful Cause

Postby Braininvat on April 12th, 2016, 12:25 pm 

Human beings did not evolve as omnivores, I think the evidence is clear that we derive from frugivorous origins....


It's very important to really research this field, getting into peer-reviewed studies, so as to realize how very complex this issue is and how limited our present knowledge remains. There has been considerable genetic shift, in humans, away from the largely fructivore primates you allude to. Analysis of human dentition, the length and anatomical features of our digestive tract, and countless nutritional studies point towards humans as being true omnivores who experience great difficulty achieving complete and optimal nutrition from a purely vegan diet. Here are some points to consider:

1. Vegetarian and vegan are different diets. A vegetarian, like me, who eats cheese and eggs, and the occasional sardine or scallop (which I believe to be insufficiently sentient to suffer), can access sufficient whole protein, B-12, copper, and other nutrients that are rare or impossible to extract from plants. While some soy bacterially-based cultures, like tempeh, provide B-12, it's important to remember that many people, with larger percentages in certain ethnic groups, may not be able to digest soy. My ancestors in Norway, bear in mind, had hundreds of generations with very short growing seasons and a great need to depend on herd animals and whatever game was available for cheese and meat. Many of my relatives become ill, as I do, when eating soy except in very small amounts.

2. Pay attention to how your body responds to a vegan diet. I know many people who have tried it, but encountered rather serious health effects when maintaining it with absolute rigor for more than a few weeks. Muscle cramps, difficulty concentrating, loss of sexual drive, split ends, skin problems, and other effects appeared, all pointing towards a mild protein deficiency. And I'm talking mainly about individuals with advanced degrees in the life sciences, and not in the thrall of the meat industry. IOW, people who know how to evaluate nutritional content of foods and make well-constructed meals. Remember, even the classic "complementary" plates like beans and rice, have LESS protein than a serving of animal protein and are rather short on methionine. Soy will fill the gap, but again, it's not for everyone.

3. Omnivory doesn't mean you have to eat a lot of meat, so setting up a dichotomy may lead you make distinctions between extremes rather than understand the middle ground. Just because people don't need six ounce chunks of meat at every meal, doesn't mean that they don't benefit from, say, 3 ounces every other day of some form of lean animal protein. Free-range eggs are a good option if you have, as I do, ethical concerns about factory farming methods and animal treatment.

Good luck, and I hope you learn more as you go. But remember there is a "failure to thrive" among many of us who have tried to do the right thing and get away totally from animal protein.
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Re: Animal Protection Is The Most Meaningful Cause

Postby vivian maxine on April 12th, 2016, 12:43 pm 

Braininvat » June 24th, 2015, 10:59 am wrote:On the remote chance, Kaichen will read past discussions, let me point out we had a discussion about this topic in the Vegan Cat thread last year or two. Let me find the link, ICAII...

http://sciencechatforum.com/viewtopic.p ... at#p261752



BTW, I see the last post gives 8 years as the average lifespan of an indoor cat. I think that should be fact-checked, as I've always heard a much higher figure, around 12-16 years.


Right. I had a cat who lived to age 18. My last one was just short of 18. I have read about some living into their 20s. Strictly indoor cats that are well cared for have much longer life spans than outdoor cats, even if they are also fed and doctored. And both have a far longer life span than feral cats.

All of which probably just says "Generalizations are hazardous".
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Re: Animal Protection Is The Most Meaningful Cause

Postby Braininvat on April 12th, 2016, 12:44 pm 

On the ethical side of this, I think it's also important you examine your assumptions as to what is ethical in terms of how animals experience reality and mortality. For example, I have heard people say that our slaughtering food animals is inherently cruel. While I have no doubt that our systems of confinement and control of livestock are inhumane, I would also have to admit that the method of slaughter is far more humane than what an animal encounters in its "natural" state. So if we are invoking our supposedly superior moral insight as humans, then this would also have to come into play in any weighing of relative amounts of cruelty. One might apply one's own preference here: would I rather be painlessly euthanized or ripped to pieces by hungry hyenas? I'm pretty sure what my answer would be, and I imagine you are, as well. This is why I see the confinement aspect of livestock raising as a more pressing ethical concern than the fact that their lives end abruptly. I do not see any evidence that chickens, lambs, cows, et al. fearfully anticipate their own demise or have any sense of mortality that would increase their suffering in this regard. If they were allowed to live in open fields, form social bonds and affections, and be unmolested by humans until a painless euthanizing dart were shot into them late in their natural life cycle, then I might be okay with that from an ethical perspective. It would require further reflection, for sure, as this could legitimize a certain "backsliding" towards former methods of livestock raising that were less compassionate. Really, it's very hard to know what's right here. That's why some animal rights people have been open to future tech developments that might allow the growing of meat tissue cultures that are never attached to a central nervous system. This might be a good option for those who really find great benefit from meat in their diet, but also considerable guilt. :-)
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Re: Animal Protection Is The Most Meaningful Cause

Postby vivian maxine on April 12th, 2016, 1:06 pm 

It is definitely not scientifically true but it does fit the thread with a bit of light-heartedness. This comes to mind whenever threads like this one appear. Some of you will know it, I'm sure.

The Monkey’s Disgrace

Three monkeys sat in a coconut tree,
Discussing things as they are said to be
Said one to the others, "Now listen, you two,
There’s a certain rumor that can’t be true,
That man descended from our noble race,
The very idea is a great disgrace!

“No monkey has ever deserted his wife,
Starved her babies, and ruined her life.
And you’ve never known a mother monk,
To leave her babies with others to bunk,
Or pass them on from one to the other ,
Till they scarcely know who is their mother.

“And another thing you'll never see,
A monk build a fence 'round a coconut tree,
And let the coconuts go to waste,
Forbidding all other monks to taste.
Why, if I put a fence around this tree,
Starvation would force you to steal from me.

“Here’s another thing a monkey won’t do -
Go out at night and get in a stew,
Or use a gun or club or knife
To take some other monkey’s life.
Yes, man descended, the ornery cuss,
But brother, he didn’t descend from us!”


Author Unknown
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Re: Animal Protection Is The Most Meaningful Cause

Postby Graeme M on April 12th, 2016, 5:08 pm 

Braininvat, the ethical question appears to me at least to be relatively straight-forward. That said, I don't disagree all that much with your suggestion that a safe and pleasant life in a field that leads to a tranquilising dart and a 'humane' death might not be so bad. Of course, even if you had absolutely no idea that was on the horizon, would you feel OK about it if it were you cut short in your prime?

The problem of course is that this is highly unlikely. Reducing animals to units of production, and embedding ownership (and extinction of rights) of those units into our legislative and ethical frameworks means that the farmed animals will suffer at every turn when we make eating an entertainment as well as nutrition, and we grow our population into the 7 billions.

It is a simple equation - when profit making is the primary concern, welfare becomes the lesser concern, if it even figures at all. Notwithstanding the wonderful efforts of many enlightened thinkers, it seems that the lot of animals today is far worse than it has been in the past, and the trajectory is ever downwards.

We are too many, and we do not curb our desires, even when it causes great harm. I think somewhere between 50 and 100 BILLION animals a year die for our food.

And yet, we do not need to eat animals, at least not in many nations. I think it very safe to say that in the West, we could stop eating animals tomorrow. Now, does that mean we could survive on a vegan diet? I believe so. There *may* be a few people for whom this is not an option, but I'd be surprised if that were a significant number. Much of meat eating is a cultural phenomonen.

I do take issue with you regarding the inability to survive nutritionally on a vegan diet. I am not going to labour the point here, but I see no evidence for that and there are now plenty of studies that support this. For example, the myth of complementary proteins has been well laid to rest by now. Yes, to gain sufficient nutrition on a vegan diet does require a little more effort, but were we to make such a diet the standard, I doubt we would be faced with protein shortage!!

As for B12, the major issue there is often absorption failure and many non-vegans also have B12 deficiency due to the over-sanitised nature of modern foods (especially those over age 50 or so). Getting B12 via a supplement is neither here nor there, and as it is B12 is required in smaller levels than had hitherto been thought. In a world where people think nothing of scoffing a headache pill at the drop of a hat, or consume various health 'supplements' like it's going out of fashion, why should we find using a B12 supplement too onerous if it means millions of animals do not suffer?

In regard to human evolution and diet, I think the jury is still pretty much out. I think there is no doubt that humans evolved from frugivorous forebears, however it seems that some level of omnivory has been part of the mix for around 1-2 million years. I think it's hard to judge though to what extent. I know there used to be ideas that modern brain development was caused or at least fuelled by meat, but that is still in question (see Dr Karen Hardy's paper of last year). But even were we truly omnivorous (and it's worth spending some time researching this, because it is a very shadowy idea as far as I can tell), in a natural ancient setting the amount of meat may have been quite small. Especially when you consider we come from a tropical zone where meat spoils quickly. Today's average diet is not small in quantity of meat and there are plenty of studies to support the dangers of that in a health sense.

And yes, before you mention it, the Inuit survive on a primarily meat diet, but they have some adaptive changes to suit that and I am not convinced that they are healthy in a longevity sense on that diet. I have seen evidence that their oft proclaimed dietary based cardiovascular health is a myth. They also have a shortened lifespan, though how much is due to meat consumption might be debatable. But I wouldn't bet against it. Think about it - while a high meat diet may provide sufficient nutrition (with suitable adaptation) to survive well enough to be reproductive, there's little pressure to extend longevity past reproductive years. It is possible that the natural selective benefits of a high meat diet are not necessarily useful in a modern setting where a long and healthy life is seen as desirable.
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Re: Animal Protection Is The Most Meaningful Cause

Postby Graeme M on April 12th, 2016, 9:04 pm 

I should add a small point regarding the ethics of our treatment of animals and the matter of perception and treatments in artificial settings versus natural settings. Yes, an individual animal in nature faces a terrible death if torn apart by a predator. However, my guess is that such a fate is relatively rare - in large herds of wildebeest or zebra or buffalo or fish, how many animals are predated upon? I suggest relatively few. Yet in a herd of beef cattle, or pigs, or sheep raised for meat, how many might die through slaughter? 100% is the answer.

And in so doing we also remove any vestige of a natural experience for them. Over 90% of pigs in my country are factory farmed which means that for most pigs, the quality of life is awful. In the US and increasingly in Australia, most beef cattle are slaughtered at young ages and end up in fattening facilities for their final 6 months of life. Again, quality of life is pretty low. Even the dairy industry offers substantial shortcomings when we consider the lives of the animals involved.

Is the fact that in nature some animals die badly sufficient grounds for us to compromise the lives of all farmed animals? Were we to genuinely care and let our animals live largely natural lives and then do the 'humane' slaughter thing, it would most definitely be a better thing than what we are doing. But this is less and less the case as I note above.

I should also like to note that I think in the daily life of a factory farmed pig, their actual perception of their situation isn't going to be too much different from ours. No, they may be unaware of their impending doom, but in the day to day business of suffering, I suggest they experience what we might in that same situation. Would any of us voluntarily submit to such a life, however short it might be?

And when you say that you see no evidence for these animals anticipating their fate, I agree that such may not be the case prior to slaughter but there is ample evidence of this once they reach that point. Check out some online video of pigs in their CO2 cage. Or how they react when they enter that boiling water if they weren't quite dead after the gassing and throat cutting. They definitely look to me as though they evidence fear, pain and horror in their behaviours...
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Re: Animal Protection Is The Most Meaningful Cause

Postby Braininvat on April 13th, 2016, 9:38 am 

When I'm not on a mobile, will respond at more length to your thoughtful posts, GM. I agree that factory farming has many aspects of ongoing misery, as well as terrors at the end. My country idyll scenario, ending with a dart, was more a thought experiment than a practical suggestion.

Regarding veganism, my earlier comments were more cautionary than proscriptive....I would like very much to be completely vegan. I will address the research later, as I do find some conflicting reports on the general ability to thrive, as well as my own anecdotal experience. Many indigenous diets that were classified as vegan have proved to have quite a bit of insect residues,
which add B12 and whole protein...I will try to point out literature on this, if I can.

Wish I could thumb-type faster. Back later.
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Re: Animal Protection Is The Most Meaningful Cause

Postby Braininvat on April 13th, 2016, 1:40 pm 

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/89/5/1627S.full

This is one of the best overviews of the vegan/vegetarian diets I have found, and how these diets compare to omnivore diets, detailing the pluses and minuses of each. I notice they mention the tendency towards vitamin D deficiency in vegans and what steps must be taken in high latitudes especially (fortified non-dairy milks and margerines, e.g.), where sun exposure is minimal for several months of the year. There's also useful information on calcium and zinc sources, B-12 supplementation, etc.

While one can have the best intentions, I think it is important to confront the reality that, from a public health perspective, there is a large number of people who have difficulties with a diet/lifestyle that clearly needs so much personal researching and constant attention to supplementation. My own experience reminds me that even well-educated people can falter when trying to go purely vegan and end up with some of the symptoms I mentioned earlier. If one leads a busy life, there is a tendency to go back to a vegetarian, rather than vegan, diet, simply because one has only so much time/energy to devote to getting nutrients.

I think one of the best points you made, GM, is that if society were to move generally towards veganism, it would be much easier for the average person to obtain proper nutrition that way, as most foods would arrive on the supermarket shelf with the needed supplementation. And perhaps food science would progress in making vegan foods that more closely resemble those animal foods many of us so dearly love. For example, vegan cheese really has a long way to go before I would find it anywhere near as delicious as Italian white cheeses. At this point, is it difficult for me to imagine wanting to sprinkle anything but real grated mozzarella/romano on my otherwise vegan spaghetti.
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Re: Animal Protection Is The Most Meaningful Cause

Postby Graeme M on April 13th, 2016, 5:59 pm 

Yeah, it does seem to be a murky area for research by a layperson with an interest. But I think I've managed to get a fair handle on the arguments, though I admit I might be wrong in some of the detail. Thanks for the link to that paper, I will try to make time today to read that.

I think that for me the ethical question is settled, at least as far as modern 'farming' goes. The huge demand, fanned by the conversion of eating from sustenance/nutrition to entertainment, means that intensive operations aimed at minimising costs and emphasising the commoditisation of free creatures can only cause untold misery and suffering.

Still, I can only agree with your thought experiment about a much more 'humane' approach to livestock farming. If people consumed far less meat and there were standards to ensure ethical treatment of animals and these were enforced, it would have to be way better than where we seem to be heading.

I agree that it seems challenging to move to a low meat, or meat free diet. But I do think that were the market to demand more plant based options, then the industry will naturally apply the same innovation and product refinement to ensure appropriate nutritional requirements. Already many 'vegan' foods are fortified to help supplement itake.

And of course, I cannot imagine being motivated to oppose intensive plant-based farming operations! :)

A curious thing for me is this focus on the supposed nutritional shortcomings of a vegan diet. Like the rest of the country is taking care with their diet? The Standard American Diet is safe, nutritional and healthy? That obesity epidemic isn't happening?

Sure, a vegan needs to give a little thought to diet and food choices, but the results surely can only be positive.

As far as various nutrients go, protein seems not such an issue. As far as I can tell, as long as you consume sufficient calories of a reasonably varied nature you should get sufficient protein. I am not sure about Methionine but here is a paper that suggests that lowering Methionine intake may actually have beneficial effects:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18789600

In terms of general protein intake, it seems to some that Lysine is a bigger issue. This is a good article about this:
http://veganhealth.org/articles/protein

It is also worth noting that focusing on vegans tends to obscure that many omnis also have major nutritional issues - for example, current research suggests that up to 40% of the general population may be B12 deficient.

In summary I really don't think that a vegan diet is that hard, but I'll report back in ten years.
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Re: Animal Protection Is The Most Meaningful Cause

Postby vivian maxine on April 14th, 2016, 7:04 am 

I have not read every syllable of this thread. Been overwhelmed with things. So, maybe someone has already said this. I know the word "vegan" has been given a broader definition recently. So has the word "vegetarianism". But, for the sake of those who make the distinction, could someone please explain the difference. I know a bit about veganism. They avoid dairy product,s if I am correct. Vegetarians do not avoid those products.

A full explanation of the differences would be helpful. Thank you.
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Re: Animal Protection Is The Most Meaningful Cause

Postby Graeme M on April 14th, 2016, 7:42 am 

Vegetarianism as best I know is simply someone who does not eat animals. There can be 'flavours' of this (sorry!) and we can have people who are for example ovo-lacto vegetarian (ie will still eat eggs or drink milk). There can be a variety of motivations for being a vegetarian.

Veganism is however a philosophy of not exploiting animals. The idea was created by Donald Watson who had in mind non-human animals, but the scope was later extended to include human animals. Veganism requires that we do not use any animal products, so not only should a true vegan not eat animals, but he or she should not use wool or leather or use animals for entertainment or work etc. Thus, not eating animals is a consequence of the philosophy rather than the driver of it.

The underlying philosophy does sort of operate along the notion of 'possible and practical'. That is, we cannot avoid doing harm to animals or exploiting them in some circumstances, so we aim to do the best we can. But that does lead to all sorts of factional disputes I am afraid.

Veganism has recently been defacto extended to cover almost any form of exploitation, which I disagree with. But I gather that many now see veganism as almost a catch-all form of anti-exploitive activism. Some argue that the label itself needs to be changed - I've seen names like reductionism or environmentalism* etc.

EDIT: Environmentalism is the wrong word but I am damned if I can find the recent article that proposed extending veganism to some sort of more general, broad environmentalist philosophy...
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Re: Animal Protection Is The Most Meaningful Cause

Postby vivian maxine on April 14th, 2016, 7:51 am 

Thank you, Graeme. I did not realize that veganism had branched out so much. I tended to think of it as what vegans consume. Good to know all that other about their group.
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Re: Animal Protection Is The Most Meaningful Cause

Postby Braininvat on April 14th, 2016, 12:00 pm 

Given the level of commitment (and resistance to constant peer pressure, in most of the developed countries) that veganism requires, it really has to be more than just a dietary regimen. Without a commitment to not exploiting animals, without that ethical stand to support one's daily habits, it would be far easier to backslide it seems to me.

I don't feel all the ethical questions about animal rights are settled, for me. I have certainly long opposed using animals for entertainment (e.g. orcas and dolphins being confined and trained to do stunts). But I can see exceptions where the "entertainment" is a natural outgrowth of that animal's nature, e.g. dogs doing various tricks. Dogs are sociable pack animals and enjoy learning tricks and the interaction with their "pack" that this brings. When kept in an enlightened way, dogs enjoy a good symbiosis with humans - we get companionship, security from intruders, assistance with animal herding, and in some areas control of local vermin that are overpopulating, e.g. rabbits. In return, the dog gets a regular food supply and an interspecies social structure that it seems, by all indications, to fit well with. But the enlightened relationship I'm describing seems to not work in densely-populated urban areas where the dogs ends up confined and without some kind of useful outdoor activity, and sometimes quite isolated for many hours of the day.
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Re: Animal Protection Is The Most Meaningful Cause

Postby Graeme M on April 14th, 2016, 4:39 pm 

Yes, I agree with those observations. I am always surprised when I read of vegans 'going back to meat' due to health issues because it means they didn't truly understand what veganism is. To give up veganism would be to abandon an ethical philosophy. I've never met a vegan who would do that.

Still, true veganism is hard to achieve for the various reasons you note, Braininvat. Many vegans have pets and I can't see that's such a bad thing. I also see the case for killing vermin or feral pests in the right circumstances. And I agree that once you start to analyse veganism thoroughly there are always loose ends or logical inconsistencies, but I think that's the same with many philosophies and religions. It's a consequence of a messy world. I have no real answer other than to fall back on what is practical and possible - we shouldn't abandon an ethical framework just because we can find its faults, we have to judge it for its overall value.

For example vegans will tend not to harm any living creature. I avoid harming insects when I can but that doesn't mean that I don't kill them driving my car or walking around. Just being in the world must have negative impacts on some creatures. But considered in the 'practical and possible' light we can see veganism isn't proposing that no animal should ever be harmed or killed, but rather that we should try to minimise our impact as much as possible. On that basis, it becomes much easier. I don't get too wound up about whether or not to kill that mosquito that bites me, but it's quite clear we should not torture animals for their taste, or skin them alive for fur, or intensively farm them for our entertainment.
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Re: Animal Protection Is The Most Meaningful Cause

Postby Braininvat on April 19th, 2016, 11:45 am 

This is a question that's been posed, in a group conversation - is it a violation of vegan ethics to eat meat, if the eater didn't in any way obtain, prepare or ask for the meat and it is leftover food that will be thrown away? To sharpen the question, we are postulating that no "make more meat" signal is sent back up a food supply chain. The meat in question can either be eaten by the vegan or rot in a trash bin. (a concrete example would be a vegan guest at a social function where a fixed amount of meat is always ordered and discarded food does not result in a revision of food purchasing practices)

An interesting argument in favor of eating the meat is this: an animal was confined and has an unpleasant life in order to make this meat. If the meat's simply going to be wasted, then the animal suffered and died only to make garbage. So, wouldn't it be better for this meat to be eaten? Then the animal's sacrifice at least made nourishment. And there is no net increase in animal suffering, either way.

(It would also suggest an argument for eating fresh roadkill. Let no protein be wasted.)
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Re: Animal Protection Is The Most Meaningful Cause

Postby Braininvat on April 19th, 2016, 11:47 am 

I realize there may be a "role model" counterargument to this.
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Re: Animal Protection Is The Most Meaningful Cause

Postby Graeme M on April 19th, 2016, 5:11 pm 

Hmmm... I can't answer from a true vegan perspective given I've not made a study of it. Anecdotally, it seems to me that many people (mostly women interestingly enough) take the philosophy to mean to them that they see other animals in much the same light as they see human beings.

So while they may not necessarily agree that one might confer personhood or legal status to other animals, they do regard say a sheep in the same physical light as a human. On that view, one wouldn't eat a dead sheep for the same reason one wouldn't eat a dead human. Quite a few of the vegans I know are physically repulsed by the idea of eating any animal flesh.

So again it comes back to this being a philosophy about life, not so much about diet.

As far as your question goes, here's my own take on it. There seems to be an ethical and logical inconsistency in your proposition. If a vegan were to eat meat to prevent wastage, what difference is that from eating meat as food? Clearly, it makes no difference to the actual situation (where a set amount of meat has been provided) if the vegan were to eat it or not eat it, so the only path is to not eat it.

I would suggest too that there might be a practical significance to making the ethical choice. If at a social function one or more vegans chose not to eat that meat, then there is a level of waste. The signal to organisers of such social functions would be "hey, we threw out all that food, so let's order less next time". The more people become vegans the greater that signal. A signal that would be lost if all the vegans ate the food to prevent the wastage.

By the way, I disagree with any suggestion of an animal's "sacrifice". When you use the word in that manner - that is, assign ownership of the sacrifice - you imply an act of altruism, for example Bob sacrificed his life to save his kids. Our farmed animals do not do that.
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