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Mike Dwyer

Mike Dwyer is a former writer and contributor at Ordinary Times.

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  1. Avatar zic
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    says:

    Nice.

    We humans need to remember, in all our sympathy, that life is often bitter. Sometimes an individual’s bitterness is a groups salvation. The weak, the wounded, the less-then-able feed the predators, leaving the strong to reproduce. The coyote and wolf, in their momentary cruelty, thin the deer herd enough that there’s some hope of enough winter forage. Otherwise, the deer overpopulates, and invades systems beyond the woods and edges — yards and gardens and roadways — where it’s no longer just a wild thing, it’s now an invasive species.

    But abstract it a bit; for the same rules apply up and down the food chain. If I saw an insect or weed taking over my garden, my woods, my waters, I’d consider it a pest; and I’d try to find methods to control the invasive species.

    What of humans? We now constitute more bio-mass then any other single species on the planet. Are we the invasive species? Do we need the wolf? The hunter?

    Perhaps the Earth has a social disease.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to zic
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      says:

      I have a piece from my old blog I’ll probably update and post over here at some point. It’s about coyotes and my attitude towards them. Basically, I completely leave them alone. They deserve wild game far more than I do.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Mike Dwyer
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        says:

        I’ll look forward to that; coyote’s fascinate me. Here in Maine, there were no coyote historically. They killed the last of the wolves in the early 1900’s, leaving a hole in the food chain. In the late 1970’s, folk began talking about coy dogs; thinking they were a crossbred coyote/wolf/dog.

        But no. They’re a new species, the Eastern Coyote. Evolved in under 100 years to fill the vacant niche in the food chain.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to zic
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          says:

          I see them pretty regularly especially during deer season. Very cool critters.Report

          • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Mike Dwyer
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            says:

            We have coyotes come down from the nearby open space to forage. They’re pretty serious pests, because they’ll happily eat pet dogs, but thus far they’ve been protected by the lobbying of the Acme corporation.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to MikeSchilling
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              Coyotes can be hunted 365 days per year in KY but you won’t ever see me shoot one unless it is threatening my pets or family OR if the state biologists said the population was out of hand. As of now they said it is at a natural level so I leave them alone. We get them on the edge of our neighborhood regularly but our dogs are protected by an 8 ft fence. And to be honest, I feel sorry for the coyote that messes with a pitbull mix and a 90 pound lab.Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to zic
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          says:

          Northeastern coyote, and it’s a subspecies.

          And coyotes are definitely fascinating. They even have them throughout Central America now. They’re like the pigeons of the canine world.

          Another large predator, which initially was harmed by the rapid growth of the human population in North America, is spreading again too: the cougar (puma, mountain lion, whatever).Report

          • Avatar zic in reply to Chris
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            says:

            There’s been a lot of talk of folks seeing mountain lions around; I’m pretty sure I saw one with my mom when I was a kid. Wildlife biologists pooh the idea; but when I hear guys who work in the woods, who care about the kinds of wildlife around, swear to it; I’m pretty sure there are some here in the western mountains of Maine; but they’re not prone to showing themselves.

            A smaller cat, the Canadian Lynx, is another. I saw one last summer, as Irene was moving in. I was driving east, down from a village into a swamp. It was sitting in the middle of the road; I had to stop, watching an arm of the storm move the wrong way (east to west) across the swamp; watching a rain line come toward us. Rain hit, and it ran off into the puckerbrush beside the road.

            A friend took several photos of a lynx a couple of weeks ago, out hopping through an un-mowed field.

            And there’s always whispers about wolves. Maybe up north, but I’m skeptical they’re around here. We’d hear them, you’d hear stories of hearing them from through hikers on the AT and back packers and hunters.Report

            • Avatar Chris in reply to zic
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              says:

              There have been several unconfirmed sightings in Tennessee, and Kentucky too I think, though there aren’t supposed to be any mountain lions in Tennessee anymore.

              Bobcats, though, are everywhere. When I was a kid, one used to sit on the bank of the creek at dusk. I’d watch it from my bedroom window, and I was convinced it was watching me. It was probably just watching the fish, though. They are beautiful animals.Report

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Chris
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            says:

            A friend of mine saw a cougar in her backyard in our SE Michigan town a year ago. I wouldn’t have believed her if she’d just told me, but in fact she wasn’t sure what it was, and showed me the picture she’d taken. It was indisputably a cougar. Beautiful animals, but it makes me a bit nervous.Report

            • Avatar Chris in reply to James Hanley
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              says:

              James, cougars are moving back into Michigan. There’s even a state program to track them. I know there have been several confirmed cougars up in the UP, and some unconfirmed reports on the lower peninsula. If your friend has a photograph, she should contact the Michigan DNR with the picture and where and when she took it:

              http://www.michigandnr.com/observationReports/feline_obs.asp

              The biologists would be very interested in the evidence. It’d be a pretty significant find.Report

            • Avatar Kim in reply to James Hanley
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              says:

              ghostcats stalk humans, for miles upon miles, and days at a time. scary, scary beasts.Report

            • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to James Hanley
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              says:

              We get cougars in Pasadena from time to time (usually up in Altadena, right on the foothills, but they sometimes wander farther south). I used to see tracks up around the hills when I lived in Glendale, too.

              They’re dangerous mostly in the sense that they wouldn’t be coming into the city areas if (a) they weren’t hungry and (b) they weren’t becoming more acclimatized to people. Still, even a hungry cougar is much more likely to eat a house pet than attack even a small human.

              We weird them out.Report

  2. Avatar KatherineMW
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    says:

    My instinctive reaction to this is aversion – and not just because of the killing of a baby animal. Pronghorns are pretty unique – they’re the only North American antelope-type animals, and they were hunted to near-extinction in the past. They’re the world’s fastest animal after the cheetah. They’re part of a prairie ecosystem that is all but destroyed.

    I don’t like them being killed.Report

  3. Avatar bookdragon
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    says:

    Hank sounds like a good guy. I don’t eat warm-blooded critters, but my objections are primarily to factory farming; I’m fine with ethical hunters who eat what they kill and use as much of the kill as possible. If he field dressed the deer and left the remains for the coyotes, then all the better for the whole circle of life.Report

  4. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist
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    says:

    Why wouldn’t he have dressed it and left it? End the needless suffering & let the predators have it. Or are the WY laws not amiable to that kind of behavior?Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Mad Rocket Scientist
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      says:

      Mad Rocket Scientist,

      If he killed it and left it he would legally have filled his tag thus he couldn’t kill an antelope for his table. The guy has to eat so I think this was the best move if he felt killing it was the right thing to do.Report

  5. Avatar Kazzy
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    says:

    At the risk of sonding patronizing, I’m reminded of all the convos I have with children about “bad” animals. I do my best to nform them their are no bad animals… Just animals being animals.Report

  6. Avatar chansaw
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    says:

    Where do you stand on road kills?Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to chansaw
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      I think the general rule is this: if you can comfortable stand on road kill it’s too squashed for good eating.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to chansaw
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      says:

      You want to move them to the side of the road before you stand on them, otherwise you risk joining them.

      Thanks. I’ll be here all night.

      Meanwhile, here is a video showing a cat, a bald eagle, and a fox just hanging out together, which is what predators often do when they lose their sense of purpose because our rifles have made them all obsolete.Report

  7. Avatar Stillwater
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    says:

    This is an excellent post Mike. I’m not opposed to people hunting, and I try to be very supportive of folks who hunt the “right way”. My conception of what that term means that is mostly aesthetic, I’ll admit. But I think that’s enough, actually. Hunt fair, eat what you kill, don’t over do it, don’t kill for “sport”. That sort of thing. I think this post captures alot of those ideas. Nicely done.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Stillwater
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      says:

      Where I live, for many families it means meat all winter instead of beans. Including mine, as a child. And short of a booming wolf population, hunting is crucial for controlling the dear population. Of late, the wild turkey population, also.

      That’s another beast that’s returned from nowhere, and Ben Franklin must be smiling down on every flock.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to zic
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        says:

        Yeah, I’ve got nothing against anyone who hunts for food.
        We got some deer up here, if you’re interested.
        They’re slaughtering the forest, so we could use more hunters!Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Stillwater
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      says:

      Stillwater,

      I hunt for the meat, the outdoor experience and if I’m being honest, I love the sport of it. It’s challenging in all the right ways and when you are shooting well, especially wingshooting, it’s something to be proud of. Sometimes I feel a little embarrassed admitting that to non-hunters but that’s the reality of it. I’ve also come to really, really enjoy hunting with dogs. It’s a special relationship and to see a good dog do what he was bred to do is a thing of beauty.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Mike Dwyer
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        says:

        I’m down with all that. I used to hunt. Avidly. When I said “sport”, in scare-quotes, I meant just that – “sport” hunting – where people show up to prepared locations in order to kill an easy target. There’s a difference. I know.Report

      • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Mike Dwyer
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        says:

        Meat fisherman aquí. Jeeped our way down the Baja peninsula once, bringing the day’s catch to the local hacienda/restaurant—half the house had kids watching TV, the other half a 3-table restaurant with a kitchen in between. They’d cook it up, put it on a plate with rice and beans w/tortillas on the side. We’d give ’em the extra fish and a few bucks and it was free trade @ its finest.

        Got down to the richer places like La Paz and especially Cabo. The idea of someone flying in to catch a fish [marlin] that they would not eat seemed an obscenity. But such people greased a lot of palms, brought a lot of $$$ from the USA, spread it around. That’s good, right?

        On the other hand, the people in La Paz and Cabo seemed so much less happy than the campesinos we met along the way there, like they were mad or something that you tipped ’em a buck instead of ten.

        My mother used to say of my family’s scuffling days that we were poor but we were happy.

        We were poor but we were happy. Seems such a ridiculous thing to say these days.
        ___________
        BTW & FTR, Dwyer, best fish I ever et. I hear you on this. 😉Report

    • Avatar John in reply to Stillwater
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      says:

      “My conception of what that term means that is mostly aesthetic, I’ll admit.”

      I’d venture to say that ethical hunting has a more substantial ethical basis than ethical vegetarianism, which turns out to be mostly aesthetics fraudulently presented as ethics.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to John
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        says:

        You are aesthetics presented as ethics.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to John
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        says:

        Oh, I see now that your anger at me below displayed in your calling my post a “diatribe” might be in repsonse to my silly response to your claim above. In my defense, I thought your claim above was some kind of joke or maybe poorly thought out hyperbole.

        Are there any ethical questions that are not fraudulent? Is it morally okay to kill and eat dolphins and chimpanzees?

        Is it morally okay to engage in dog fighting, bull fighting, crush videos, etc?

        That is to say, in your opinion, are there no legitimate moral questions about how we should treat animals, or are the only illegitimate questions ones about whether it is okay to kill and eat animals, or more specifically, the animals that we usually eat like cows and pigs (not dolphins and chimps and dogs, which are eaten more rarely)?

        I want to know what positions are fraudulent in the ethics textbooks. I will contact the publishers immediately.Report

  8. Avatar DRS
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    says:

    Hunting was a big part of my family’s recent history and I’m totally fine with hunters who shoot only what they intend to eat or that is trying to kill them.Report

  9. Avatar Shazbot5
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    says:

    The ethical vegetarian response to the fact that a lack of humans hunting animals is complex and controversial, but it is discussed.

    1. Do animals have some kind of local “sovereignty?” For example, do, wolves have a right to live on a piece of land and engage in behavior that we might like to prevent in order to maximize overall happiness? We could try to keep the wolves from their prey, feed the wolves some kind of vegan diet with supplements, euthanize the sickest prey animals, etc. This might make the animal kingdom a happier place, but it may not be within our rights to do it.

    If you believe in animal sovereignty you can be consistent in saying I won’t kill animals and it it would be better if wolves didn’t and if we helped prey species live happily (say by euthanizing the sickest, suffering animals), but that it is immoral to kill wolves (or any predator) in order to save the prey animals they kill on grounds of sovereignty.

    It’s difficult (maybe not impossible) to account for animal sovereignty if you’re a straight up utilitarian on the morality of how we treat animals. Those who believe animals have basic rights, like Regan, can argue that predator animals have a right not to be messed with by us and thus their is something like animal sovereignty.

    2. Ethical vegetarians can accept that humans hunting animals is ethical iff it is done to maximize overall happiness in the animal herd. That is, someone like Singer can argue a hunter who finds weaker, sick animals who are likely to suffer, whose death will improve the health and happiness of the heard, has a moral obligation to kill that animal. (Regan would disagree and say that each individual animal has a right not to be killed by us even for the benefit of improving overall animal or human welfare just as each individual human has a right not to be killed by us even for the benefit of improving overall human welfare,)

    I am not sure if the hunting that Mike practices does maximize overall animal welfare. That is an empirical question that some ethical vegetarians would very much like to determine the answer to.

    —-

    So these examples of conscientious hunting doesn’t refute ethical vegetarianism in any sense. Rather, different ethical vegetarians have different things to say about these cases depending upon whether they are utilitarians or whether they believe in individual animal rights and animal “sovereignty”, and what the facts are about how humans hunting of animals does or doesn’t contibute to overall animal and human happiness.Report

    • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Shazbot5
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      says:

      That first sentence should say “…that a lack of humans hunting animals appears to cause suffering in some prey animals…”Report

    • Avatar John in reply to Shazbot5
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      says:

      Shazbot,

      Nothing in your diatribe is relevant to my point. My point is that ethical vegetarians don’t give a damn how many animals are killed to provide their own food as long as those animals don’t appear on their plates in recognizable bits.

      You are conflating killing with eating, which is precisely why I say that ethical vegetarianism is a false portrayal of aesthetics as ethics. It doesn’t matter if the alleged ethics come from Singer or Regan, both are phony.

      If Mike offers an “ethical” vegetarianism a choice between a pound of elk that he killed and a pound of organic rice, which does a truly ethically-driven person choose? Which caused more suffering and death to innocent animals?Report

      • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to John
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        says:

        “My point is that ethical vegetarians don’t give a damn how many animals are killed to provide their own food as long as those animals don’t appear on their plates in recognizable bits.”

        I am an ethical vegetarian and I do care. I try to eat food that complies with a general respect for animal rights and animal well-being.

        Why are you making up what I believe?

        Straw man. 5 yard penalty, repeat first down.

        —-

        “If Mike offers an “ethical” vegetarianism a choice between a pound of elk that he killed and a pound of organic rice, which does a truly ethically-driven person choose? Which caused more suffering and death to innocent animals?”

        Maybe sometimes killing a single sick, suffering elk is morally good. (That is a possible exception to the genral rule: eating meat is morally bad.) But do you think in general commercially raising and then killing elk results in less death and suffering than eating grains and vegetables? (N.B.: Commercially raised elk or cows will also eat grains and vegetables, in the form of feed, the energy from which they will convert into fat and muscle, i.e. meat, that you will then eat. So any loss of habitat for little critters that eat grains, will also be caused by the commercial raising of elk or cows for meat.)

        All that said, I think your calling my comment a “diatribe” and your dismissal of two of the most respected philosophers writing about animal rights (even if you disagree with them, you should respect and not just summarily dismiss such respected voices), I suspect that this conversation will go nowhere.

        So, I bid you adieu.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Shazbot5
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          says:

          Shazbot,

          I think you are missing John’s point. What he is saying is that animals die in the process of bringing vegetables to the table. Small creatures die from loss of habitat and/or from being run-over by farming equipment. Larger creatures die because farmers shoot them to keep them out of crops. When you eat meat there are far less hidden deaths, less collateral damage. Because the notion of kill-free food is an illusion John is saying, correctly, that kill-free food is an aesthetic choice, not an ethical one.Report

          • Avatar John in reply to Mike Dwyer
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            says:

            Exactly, Mike. I should add that animals are poisoned by warfarin to protect grain. These animals die horrible deaths from internal hemorrhaging.

            The most delicious irony is that most wild game causes far fewer deaths per calorie than most foods falsely touted as “cruelty-free.” What fascinates me is that the vast majority “ethical” vegetarians have no interest in determining their own impact on animals; it’s just a device that they use to view themselves as better than others.Report

        • Avatar John in reply to Shazbot5
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          says:

          “I am an ethical vegetarian and I do care.”

          No, you don’t. Your arrogance when challenged shows it.

          “I try to eat food that complies with a general respect for animal rights and animal well-being.”

          So how many innocent animals had their rights and well-being violated to produce the dinner you ate last night? You don’t know and you really don’t care!

          “Maybe sometimes killing a single sick, suffering elk is morally good. (That is a possible exception to the genral rule: eating meat is morally bad.)”

          Straw man. You’re big on phony binary rules, I’m offering you a simple, binary choice. Your rule is a fraud, as it wasn’t logically derived from any principle.

          “But do you think in general commercially raising and then killing elk results in less death and suffering than eating grains and vegetables?”

          Straw man. The choice is between an elk that Mike shot and the organic rice. He’s an ethical hunter. What’s the death/suffering toll for YOUR choice, the organic rice? You don’t know and you don’t care! You only care about demonizing the choices of others.

          ” (N.B.: Commercially raised elk or cows will also eat grains and vegetables, in the form of feed, the energy from which they will convert into fat and muscle, i.e. meat, that you will then eat.”

          Wild game was stipulated. Besides, commercially-raised grass-fed beef is easy to find. No grains, no vegetables. Your binary rule is a fraud.

          ” So any loss of habitat for little critters that eat grains, will also be caused by the commercial raising of elk or cows for meat.)”

          The meat was stipulated to not be commercially raised. What’s the death/suffering toll for the organic rice? Why are you avoiding making the binary choice offered?

          “All that said, I think your calling my comment a “diatribe” and your dismissal of two of the most respected philosophers writing about animal rights (even if you disagree with them, you should respect and not just summarily dismiss such respected voices), I suspect that this conversation will go nowhere.”

          I do too. Regan and Singer are dishonest frauds, especially in what they write about my profession.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to John
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            says:

            John,

            I appreciate that you and I are on the same side of this issue but…the tone. Dial down the outrage a notch or two. I’d like to see this topic explored more but it sounds like Shazbot is already tapping out because of the way you are coming at him.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Shazbot5
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      says:

      Shazbot,

      “I am not sure if the hunting that Mike practices does maximize overall animal welfare. That is an empirical question that some ethical vegetarians would very much like to determine the answer to.”

      It depends on how you define ‘overall animal welfare’. If that means attempting to reduce population numbers to a level that the environment can support, then I would say my type of hunting does improve overall animal welfare. If your definitin is different than that, then maybe not.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Mike Dwyer
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        says:

        Hey Mike,

        Thanks for being civil.

        Here’s what wikipedia says on the issue of whether eating meat or a veggie diet causes less harm: “Steven Davis, a professor of animal science at Oregon State University, argues that the least harm principle does not require giving up all meat. Davis states that a diet containing beef from grass-fed ruminants such as cattle would kill fewer animals than a vegetarian diet, particularly when one takes into account animals killed by agriculture.[20] This conclusion has been criticized by Jason Gaverick Matheny (founder of in vitro meat organization New Harvest) because it calculates the number of animals killed per acre (instead of per consumer). He claims that when the numbers are adjusted, Davis’ argument shows veganism as perpetrating the least harm.[21] Davis’ argument has also been criticized by Andy Lamey for being based on only two studies that may not represent commercial agricultural practices. When differentiating between animals killed by farm machinery and those killed by other animals, he claims the studies again show veganism to do the “least harm”.[22]”

        Like I say, it is an empirical question whether some killing of animals could be made ethical (it also depends on whether you think animals have individual rights and some right not to be interefered with even for the apparent good of humans and other animals.)

        Personally, I think it’s pretty crazy to argue that commercial, mass-scale slaughter houses (even if made more humane) could result in less suffering and death than eating grains. For one thing, you can’t keep enough of those animals alive and well-fed to feed the masses with pasture grass alone. That’s where corn comes in. Corn is the primary source of calories for cows. (http://www.foodandfuelamerica.com/2007/06/how-much-corn-is-acually-represented-in.html) And they ain’t wandering around eating that corn. The process of the growing of that corn may cause animal suffering, and then there is more animal suffering added when the cows in the slaughterhouse are killed after they’ve eaten the corn.

        Finally, I should point out that ethical vegetarians do have a duty to push for farming practices that insure a minimum of death for conscious creatures, especially the wee mammals that love in fields. This is doable with a bit of research, IMO. Mice get caught by tractors. Maybe scientists could figure out a way to install a high pitched noise maker on the tractor to reduce the number of mice killed, etc. That is the sort of research that ethical vegetarians think is morally required to ensure a minimum of animal suffering in our use of the world. (Same thing with birds hitting big buildings. We have a duty to try and prevent this.)

        —-

        If you found out that eating meat, or any practice X, caused more animal suffering than some other practice Y, would you stop doing X?

        That is to say, do you hunt beause you believe it is moral and the least harmful (to animals in general) way to eat? Or are you morally okay with harming animals unnecessarily for gustatory pleasure?Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Shazbot5
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          says:

          “If you found out that eating meat, or any practice X, caused more animal suffering than some other practice Y, would you stop doing X?”

          No, because I sincerely believe human biology prefers meat. So I try to eat meat that causes the least amount of harm. That means humanely-raised farm products and wild game.Report

          • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Mike Dwyer
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            says:

            ” I sincerely believe human biology prefers meat.”

            Do you mean that 1.) humans are healthier eating meat? That meat is necessary for good health? That meat is more conducive to good health than a balanced veggie diet?

            Or do you mean that 2.) eating meat is “natural” in some hard to define teleological sense and that all “natural” acts are moral?

            If you believe 1.), then I’d like to see your evidence.

            If you believe 2.), we disagree on the fundamentals of morality. I don’t believe that natural law provides an adequate basis for moral principles at all. We can have that conversation, but it is not likely to benefit either of us. (I have never had much luck persuading homophobes that being gay isn’t unnatural, as the definition of “natural” is malleable, and that “natural” and “moral” have little to do with one another. So, I doubt I’d have much luck persuading someone who believes that eating meat is moral because it is natural for the same reasons.)

            “I try to eat meat that causes the least amount of harm.”

            Do you believe that it is always wrong to cause unnecessary suffering in animals? Is that a moral principle that you hold? (There are many ethical omnivores these days. Maybe that is your position. If so, I respect it and disagree on an empirical question about whether eating meat, or large amounts of meat, leads to animal well-being.)

            I hold this moral principle. This is why I oppose the dolphin slaughter, dog-fighting, bull-fighting, the murder of chimps for bushmeat, crush videos for fetishists where kittens are crushed on camera, factory farms, the torture of pets and cows and pigs, puppy mills, etc, etc.

            I also believe that it is a contingent fact about human health that we don’t need to eat animals for health purposes. (I think you agree, but am not sure.) And I believe that it is a contingent fact that using land to grow grains to feed to large numbers of livestock and commercially raise them for meat will inevitably result in more animal death and suffering suffering than using that same amount of land for grains fed directly to humans. (However, I do believe that if it turns out to be true that killing some animals leads to overall animal happiness or human happiness, then it is possibly our moral duty to do that killing. That is to say, an ethical diet may include small amounts of meat taken from animals that were euthanized or whose natural predator species is extinct, etc. I just don’t see how you can kill animals on a commercial scale and have that be better for animal welfare than a heavily or almost entirely plant-based diet)

            Thus, I conclude that eating meat is as unnecessary as dog fighting (both are associated with causing pleasure in those that watch dogs fight or those that eat steak). And I conclude that eating meat on a commercial scale causes unnecessary suffering that could be avoided if we aimed at raising a plant based diet, while working hard to create technologies that kill fewer small animals in the process of raising that plant based diet.

            If we move to a plant based diet, we will need less land to produce the same amount of food, and we will reduce other environmental problems, too. Those are good biproducts of the the ethical vegetarian movement.

            Finally, I think we need to start taking questions about animal consciousness more seriously. I think the lives of dolphins and chimps are more valuable than the lives of fish, and that the former two species may have some stronger claim to “rights.” This is a thorny issue for vegetarians and meat eaters, BTW.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Shazbot3
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              says:

              Shazbot,

              Mostly 1 though a little bit of 2. Since we agree #2 is hard to define, no sense covering that. As to #1 my experience is partially anecdotal and also somewhat scientific based. I’ve know a lot of vegetarians and as a group they tend to be more prone to sickness and other health issues. Also, scientifically, I think meat is the most efficient delivery method for protein.

              As for animal harm, I’m talking about factory farms verses cage-free or free range situations. Since I do believe we should eat meat (though maybe in smaller quantities) reducing harm simply means making their life as pleasant as possible right up until the moment of death. Obviously hunting is the best way to do that, but animals can be farm-raised in a pretty humane way.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer
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                says:

                Personally, I’m at the point of saying “eat less meat.” It feels wasteful to do otherwise. Meat is a luxury and ought to be enjoyed like that. Eat it once or twice a week.

                The vegetarians I’ve known have been healthy as horses (one ran marathons).
                I think the key to health is eating a balanced diet. Trying to live on peanut butter sandwiches is probably not the key to good health.

                Also, many places were traditionally “mostly vegetarian.” They weren’t known for being much more ill than carnivorous societies (the opposite, really — Inuit were not exactly pictures of modern health).Report

              • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Mike Dwyer
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                says:

                That’s cool Mike. I’m glad to have this conversation with someone who is the apparent opposite of John, who has gone off the rails below.

                Some quick questions just so we can see how much common ground we have:

                1. ” I do believe we should eat meat”

                Do you mean it is morally wrong not to eat meat? Why “should” we eat meat?

                2. ” reducing harm simply means making their life as pleasant as possible right up until the moment of death.”

                a.) Would you be okay with crush videos if the animals were treated well and maybe anaesthetized before they were stomped to death for some sexual fetishists pleasure? Is gustatory pleasure a better reason, morally speaking, to kill animals than sexual pleasure.

                b.) Would you be okay with killing dolphins and chimps, if it was done humanely and if they were raised on a “nice” farm?

                3. “Obviously hunting is the best way to do that [making animals happy and well off], but animals can be farm-raised in a pretty humane way.”

                Here I need to know what your evidence is. The wikipedia link I cited says this is a pretty vexed question. Killing a few sick animlas who don’t have predators (deer, say) could certainly be morally good. But are there enough such sick animals to allow more than a few people to eat? I seriously doubt it.

                The question is whether hunting and non-factory animal farming (ranching) can be scaled up to feed a non-trivial amount of people. I seriously doubt that it can. Pasture fed beef, where the animals are allowed to live a long time (which isn’t often allowed) without the aid of corn and soy feed administered at high density feedlots (where animals movements are restricted) is a very, very inefficient use of land. You could use farm land far more efficiently to raise crops and feed the crops directly to humans and use some of the land to provide natural habitats for animals. (Some small scale hunting, done only to benefit the health of whole species could be conducted, but not enough to feed a few thousand people.)

                And we can feed people by using the same land to grow grains and vegetables without killing the cows (whom we feed that food to now) and eating them. Thus, killing and eating cows is unnecessarily harmful. It can be avoided entirely by using land more efficiently. (We can get the same nutrition by eating plants that the cows do.) So, if you believe that causing unnecessary animal suffering is wrong, then you should believe animal agriculture (maybe not small amounts of hunting sick animals who don’t have natural predators anymore) is wrong, too.Report

              • Avatar John in reply to Shazbot3
                Ignored
                says:

                “The question is whether hunting and non-factory animal farming (ranching) can be scaled up to feed a non-trivial amount of people.”

                It already has been. Also, I’d pay money to watch you try to call a rancher a farmer. Do you not know that virtually all cattle start out on ranches, and moving them to feedlots is dictated by the artificially low price of corn?

                “Pasture fed beef, where the animals are allowed to live a long time (which isn’t often allowed) without the aid of corn and soy feed administered at high density feedlots (where animals movements are restricted) is a very, very inefficient use of land.”

                How do you figure? Where are your calculations?

                “You could use farm land far more efficiently to raise crops and feed the crops directly to humans and use some of the land to provide natural habitats for animals.”

                There’s your problem: ranches aren’t farm land. They are not arable. Moreover, ranches provide far more natural habitat for animals than farms do. Don’t believe me, though–ask elk hunters whether they hunt on ranches or farms!

                “And we can feed people by using the same land to grow grains and vegetables without killing the cows (whom we feed that food to now) and eating them.”

                No, because you can’t eat grass! That’s what cattle eat on ranches.

                “Thus, killing and eating cows is unnecessarily harmful.”

                You’ve only demonstrated your complete ignorance of ranching and habitat preservation in a huge chunk of the US.

                “It can be avoided entirely by using land more efficiently. (We can get the same nutrition by eating plants that the cows do.)”

                No, you really can’t get the same nutrition from eating grass that the cows do. You’re not a ruminant!

                “So, if you believe that causing unnecessary animal suffering is wrong, then you should believe animal agriculture (maybe not small amounts of hunting sick animals who don’t have natural predators anymore) is wrong, too.”

                So, if you really believed that causing unnecessary animal suffering is wrong, then you should be taking great care to choose among grains and vegetables, as the amount of unnecessary animal suffering they cause varies wildly. So, do you care, or are the animals just tools that you use to claim superiority over other people–people who really do extend moral consideration to animals, like Mike?

                You follow a fallacious rule and you ignore the principle.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to John
                Ignored
                says:

                “You’re not a ruminant!”

                You are a ruminant.Report

              • Avatar John in reply to Shazbot3
                Ignored
                says:

                Did you think of that all by yourself?Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to John
                Ignored
                says:

                I would be really interested to know which grains and vegetables cause more harm, and which cause less. Can you tell me?Report

              • Avatar John in reply to Kim
                Ignored
                says:

                Sure. It’s telling that Shazbot3 isn’t in the least interested in learning about how his food choices impact animals.

                There’s a huge disparity between wheat and rice. Wheat growing kills occasional mammals and ground-nesting birds during plowing and harvest. Rice is orders of magnitude worse because of the flooding, which drowns resident animals. While flooded, a different spectrum of animals moves in. For harvesting, the paddy is drained, killing more animals. Then the combine kills many more than it does in a wheat field.

                Of course, the fewer pesticides one uses (think organic!), the more insects breed, providing many more insectivorous vertebrate animals to kill in the draining and flooding.

                On top of all that, in both cases one has to control rodents during drying, storage, and transportation.

                So it’s clear that replacing any fraction of your current rice consumption with wild game or grass-fed meat will lower, not raise, your death/suffering toll. That’s the most obvious reason why “ethical” vegetarianism (EV) is not a rule that fulfills the principle of respecting animal welfare or animal rights. It’s just about using animals as tools to pretend that one is ethically superior to one’s fellow humans.

                Shazbot’s evasions are predictable. Although EV is presented as a personal choice, when confronted with a personal choice, the goalposts get moved to the silly idea that this has something to do with choices for an entire society.Report

              • Avatar Kimsie in reply to Kim
                Ignored
                says:

                Rats are excellent swimmers. What animals are drowning?
                Also, you appear to be taking a relatively narrow view of rice production. I buy upland rice, which isn’t commercially irrigated.

                20% of the world’s calories come from rice. Do you really think our wildlife could sustain that much more hunting?Report

              • Avatar John in reply to Kim
                Ignored
                says:

                Kimsie:
                “Rats are excellent swimmers. What animals are drowning?”

                Ones in burrows, for example.

                “Also, you appear to be taking a relatively narrow view of rice production. I buy upland rice, which isn’t commercially irrigated.”

                Then it probably would have a lower death/suffering toll. My whole point is that if you care about the animals and not labeling people, you’re going to choose carefully within the categories of meat and veg, not just between them.

                “20% of the world’s calories come from rice.”

                I think that’s low. What percent of rice in the world is harvested by combines? In the US?

                “Do you really think our wildlife could sustain that much more hunting?”

                What? I’m not asking anyone to stop eating rice. I’m just asking them to quit making phony claims about their own impacts on animals when in reality, they have no intention of ever looking at those impacts.

                So if you substituted wild game for PART of your current upland rice consumption, would the animal death/suffering caused by YOUR diet (no one else’s is relevant) increase or decrease?Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Kim
                Ignored
                says:

                John,
                very little of the world’s rice is made in the us.
                Developing countries account for 95% of the total production, with China and India alone responsible for nearly half of the world output.Report

              • Avatar John in reply to Kim
                Ignored
                says:

                “very little of the world’s rice is made in the us.”

                I know. But that wasn’t my question to you, was it?

                What proportion of rice in the US is harvested by combines?Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Shazbot3
                Ignored
                says:

                Shazbot,

                1) When I say we ‘should’ eat meat I mean that I believe it is the healthiest choice for the bulk of our protein.

                2a) I’m not okay with killing anything for fun as the only motivation. It’s why I don’t kill animals I won’t eat even though coyote, raccoon and crow are all legal to hunt in my state.

                2b) I guess I would be okay with killing those if they were being eaten. I could totally get on board with a dolphin steak. Not interested in eating monkey. I’m also okay with eating horse which Americans have decided is off-limits.

                3) I am generally of the belief that our current ‘factory-farm’ methods are pretty humane for beef. They spend most of their lives in pastures with plenty of room. One of the farms I hunt has beef cattle on it and those gals are living a pretty good life with plenty of room to move around. Increasing the size of feedlots could make their final days more pleasant. The actual slaughter process has been improved greatly as a I referenced here:

                https://ordinary-times.com/blog/2012/08/the-reality-of-our-meat-industry/

                As for chickens and pork, I think we have more room for improvement.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Mike Dwyer
                Ignored
                says:

                You would kill and eat a dolphin?

                Would you kill a child if you could eat it?

                The dolphin is just as intelligent, capable of abstract thought, emotional, social, etc as the child.

                If there is a moral principle that states always maximize animal welfare, why should “I will eat that animal” be a better reason to violate that rule than “I will get entertainment from watching that animal crushed to death in a crush video?”

                “I am generally of the belief that our current ‘factory-farm’ methods are pretty humane for beef.”

                I disagree. Many cattle have a very brief life on at pasture, then they are sent to very cramped feedlots (the goal is to keep them still, so they add fat and don’t burn calories with exercise) Certainly, factory farms are less harmful to cattle than not eating them at all, so if you think maximizing animal welfare is a moral position, you shouldn’t eat cows.

                I think your position is this:

                1. Maximizing animal welfare is always a good thing.
                2. Killing and eating animals on a commercial scale (and some local hunting) maximizes their welfare more than not eating animals

                I am glad you agree with 1.

                If you find out that you are wrong about 2., would you stop eating meat as a consequence of your acceptance of 1.?

                1) When I say we ‘should’ eat meat I mean that I believe it is the healthiest choice for the bulk of our protein.

                How is protein in meat healthier than the proteins you can get from a balanced diet of veggies, legumes, etc.? Meat is “complete” protein, i.e. it gives you all your protein in one source, but it is very easy to get complete proteins from veg sources by eating a few different veggies, legumes in your meals.

                Do meat eating human beings live longer and avoid disease less than vegetarian human beings? Healthy is that which leads to longer life and less disease.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Shazbot5
                Ignored
                says:

                If I was in a position where killing a child made moral sense, I’d hope that I’d have the fortitude to eat it. (I’d say after the age of two, I couldn’t make killing a child make moral sense).Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Shazbot5
                Ignored
                says:

                Shazbot,

                A dolphin is an animal and a kid is a human. I don’t advocate for cannabalism and you’re getting a bit extreme in the analogies you are trying to make. But we eat mammals and a dolphin qualifies.

                Grain-finished cattle spend roughly 12 months in pasture (varies slightly by breed and operation). They then spend 3-4 months in a feedlot.

                To dispute the validity of a vegetarian diet for obtaining protein we would need to get into science where varying opinins are numerous. For every opinion the internet will supply four to contradict. I don’t think we’ll have much luck discussing.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Shazbot5
                Ignored
                says:

                “A dolphin is an animal and a kid is a human. I don’t advocate for cannabalism.”

                Why not? Would you eat an australopithecine if they were around? (Not human, but pretty intelligent. Dolphins might be more intelligent, social, capable of abstract thought, etc.)

                These analogies sound silly or extreme, but my grandpa (my hero in life) used to kill kittens wantonly, with no moral regard. He would’ve regarded your positions as silly. The analogy of black Africans to whites was once ridiculed. Sometimes we find things silly because we can’t find a good reason to reject them.

                The analogies and hypotheticals used by ethical vegetarians are used to make a fairly simple point. Biological facts like body shape, race, or skin color, or whether you have hair or feathers, teeth or a beak, isn’t what determines the moral worth of a life. Rather, the experience of suffering, the desire to live, the possession of a conscious mind, etc. are what determine that a life has moral worth and that a being has basic rights.

                Suppose you encounter an alien species that is nearly as intelligent and social and emotional as human beings, but they look like tasty veal calves. Suppose they can communicate in simple ways and create art and use tools, but they are not quite capable of creating the advanced technology that we do. They say “Pleeeaaase no kill. Moooo.” I believe they would have lives with moral worth and full rights regardless of whether they had different looking bodies, because I believe that how your body looks or whether it is edible isn’t morally relevant or what species, race, or gender you are isn’t morally relevant. Indeed, it would be deeply immoral to kill the hypothetical aliens I’ve just described.

                Do you believe that biological facts like body shape or skin color or the existence of feathers is relevant to determining whether another creature has basic rights like the right not to be tortured or killed or whether its life has moral worth?

                Well, dolphins are no different than my hypothetical aliens case. If it’s wrong to kill mentally handicapped humans, small children, or the hypothetical aliens that I described, and therefore it’s wrong to kill dolphins and chimps too, because in all features that are morally relevant (consciousness, intelligence, etc.,) dolphins and chimps are nearly identical to children, the mentally handicapped, australopithecine or the hypothetical aliens.

                “Grain-finished cattle spend roughly 12 months in pasture (varies slightly by breed and operation). They then spend 3-4 months in a feedlot.”

                I think only living 16 months, with nearly a quarter of that in unimaginably bad conditions is pretty harmful.

                It is illegal (sort of, I think) and clearly immoral to treat dogs the way that you propose treating cattle.

                I realize you’re growing tired of the debate, and we’re not likely to get anywhere, but I would be interested to hear your response to my question in bold above.

                I have enjoyed this conversation and learned about your position and hope you have enjoyed it too.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Shazbot5
                Ignored
                says:

                Shazbot,

                I don’t really ascribe higher moral standing to some animals over others, regardless of their physical or mental characteristics. I simply don’t want to eat a monkey or a dog or a cat. That’s an emotional thing with no real logic. If someone else wants to, it doesn’t bother me.

                I do ascribe higher moral standing to humans.

                And as I said, I would like to see the time spent on feedlots shortened considerably. I’d also like to see hormones taken out of the process. But that would make meat considerably more expensive. I don’t think our consumers will allow that. Net moral bad but probably something we will slowly change through technological means (bio-engineered meat, etc).Report

              • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Shazbot5
                Ignored
                says:

                So you believe what species a creature is determines its moral worth. (Look out Mr. Spock! Mike Dwyer will kill you if you feels like eating you 🙂 )

                What about race? Note that some people still believe -and many more used to believe- that race determines moral worth and people of some other race shouldn’t be accorded rights and their lives don’t have moral worth at all or some kind of lesser moral worth. I argue that they were wrong to do so because race, skin color, genetics are biological accidents that don’t determine the moral worth of an individual. Rather moral worth is determined by whether you are a conscious, thinking being. And if moral worth comes in degrees (which maybe it does, though am not sure), then the level of your moral worth is determined by how intelligent, conscious, social, etc. a being you are. (The levels of moral worth is disturbing and I am quite willing to believe all conscious creatures have moral worth in virtue of being conscious.)

                How is species (abstracted away from consciousness and intelligence and emotion) any more relevant to determining the moral worth of a creature than race (or gender or any other biological fact about a creature’s body)?

                Hopefully, you will answer that. But I understand if you are growing tired of the questions.

                I am glad that you believe animal torture is immoral, though. I think there is a spectrum of positions on animal morality. Some (Kant for example) think there is nothing that you can do that is immoral to animal. Others think only unnecessary torture of animals is wrong. Others yet, think unnecessary killing and “harm” (defined generally) of animals are always wrong. Some think animals have nearly equal moral worth to humans and we have a strong duty not to kill them and to treat them the way we would treat the mentally handicapped or small children, i.e. we are their guardians. I think your position is sort of the utilitarian position on animals, but not quite.

                That’s what I’m trying to determine.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Shazbot5
                Ignored
                says:

                Don’t eat that bird, Mister Baseball!, we’d say. “He has as much moral worth as you!”

                And Mister Baseball would make blinky eyes and wind around our ankles.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Shazbot5
                Ignored
                says:

                Shazbot – for me it’s humans and everything else. I’d say anything outside our race is fair game. Likewise, if something can catch me and eat me, I’m okay with that too (morally speaking).Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Shazbot5
                Ignored
                says:

                I hope to God you mean, “everything outside of our species is fair game” not “everything outside of our race.”

                Both species and race determine bodily features: hair vs. feathers, colored skin vs. white skin, talk vs. short, beak vs. teeth.

                Assume two creatures X and Y are cognitively identical: same emotions, intellect, etc. But they are different species, and have outwardly different appearances and bodily features. What about their bodies might make one have moral worth (or the right not to be killed by hunters, say) that the other doesn’t?Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Shazbot5
                Ignored
                says:

                And of course, we don’t claim that animals eating people is an immoral act. Animals are incapable of moral or immoral action. They are not, as we say “moral agents.” But small children and the severely mentally handicapped are also not “moral agents” either.

                Nonetheless, there are things that we moral agents can do to children and the severely handicapoed that are immoral. That is why we say children and the mentally handicapped are “moral patients.” They deserve our care and respect and their lives have moral worth.

                But by analogy, many animals -even predators- are as intelligent, conscious, emotional as small children and the severely mentally handicapped, that is they have the same morally relevant features as the severely mentally handicapped.

                So aren’t animals “moral patients” too?Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Shazbot5
                Ignored
                says:

                Shazbot,

                I understand the road you are going down (this isn’t my first conversation with a vegetarian). When I said ‘race’ that was just an incorrect word choice. Obviously, based on my other comments, I meant our species i.e. humans.

                As for the comparing small children and the handicapped to highly intelligent animals, that assumes I am assigning moral status based on certain traits. I’m not. I try not to talk about animals and morality too much. The term I prefer to use with regards to how I view animals is ‘ethical’ which is different. I do assign moral status to all humans, regardless of age, intelligence, etc. So there’s your line. You can poke around with how I create those groups, but you have to be deliberately obtuse to question the criteria.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Shazbot5
                Ignored
                says:

                Sorry, I don’t mean to be deliberately obtuse. I really don’t understand the general moral principles that have led to your specific position.

                You believe that all humans have moral worth and no animals have moral worth. Animals have ethical worth.

                I am really confused by this.

                What is the difference, in your mind, beween ethical worth and moral worth, in general? (I’ve studied a little ethics and have never heard someone make the distinction you seem to be trying to make.)

                More importantly, do you think its not conceivable or possible for a non-human to have moral worth like humans do? (If so, what about intelligent sentient aliens?) If it is possible for non-humans to have moral worth what criteria do you use to determine when a non-human (say a chimp) does or doesn’t have moral worth. How do you determine who has moral worth if it is possible (hypothetically even) for non-humans to have moral worth?Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer
            Ignored
            says:

            We don’t have the guts to digest raw meat well. Our guts look like vegetarian/omnivorous animals.

            What humans prefer is fire (yay evolution!). But I would not suggest burning yourself simply because of that fact.Report

        • Avatar John in reply to Shazbot5
          Ignored
          says:

          “Here’s what wikipedia says on the issue of whether eating meat or a veggie diet causes less harm:”

          That’s not the challenge. The challenge you’re running away from is for you to address a choice between two foods, not diets of groups of people. Do you see that you are desperately trying to label people instead of considering the suffering that your personal choices cause to animals?

          “Like I say, it is an empirical question whether some killing of animals could be made ethical (it also depends on whether you think animals have individual rights and some right not to be interefered with even for the apparent good of humans and other animals.)”

          Like I say, it’s an empirical fact that your choices involve massive violations of the rights that Regan claims for animals. So let’s see you choose between foods: do you apply principles or binary rules that clearly fail the principle? If you make an isocaloric substitution of wild game for any portion of your current grain consumption, does it change the net animal rights violations/animal suffering to go up or down? Remember that a pound of elk has a toll of 0.002 vertebrate animal death. Can you demonstrate that any food you ate yesterday has a lower death/suffering toll?

          What if you substituted wheat for some of your current rice consumption?

          “Personally, I think it’s pretty crazy to argue that commercial, mass-scale slaughter houses (even if made more humane) could result in less suffering and death than eating grains.”

          If the animals are only grazing on grass, it results in orders of magnitude less.

          “For one thing, you can’t keep enough of those animals alive and well-fed to feed the masses with pasture grass alone.”

          The challenge is on the subject of the choices that you make, not those of “the masses.” Why don’t you appear to care about the suffering caused to animals by choices that you control completely? Mike, a hunter, clearly does.

          “That’s where corn comes in. Corn is the primary source of calories for cows.”

          Not grass-fed cows. Corn provides zero calories for them.

          “The process of the growing of that corn may cause animal suffering,…”

          No, it certainly does. It also certainly causes far less suffering per calorie than growing organic rice.

          “Finally, I should point out that ethical vegetarians do have a duty to push for farming practices that insure a minimum of death for conscious creatures, especially the wee mammals that love in fields.”

          Yet every time an “ethical” vegetarian claims to have a “cruelty-free diet,” that vegetarian is doing the opposite of that duty. You should know that many of the animals killed are not “wee,” and there’s no basis for ethical discrimination on the basis of size.

          “This is doable with a bit of research, IMO. Mice get caught by tractors. Maybe scientists could figure out a way to install a high pitched noise maker on the tractor to reduce the number of mice killed, etc.”

          Scientists? Why wouldn’t the “ethical” vegetarians do that themselves? Why don’t you take responsibility for the death toll for the foods you personally choose to eat?Report

    • Avatar John in reply to Shazbot5
      Ignored
      says:

      “That is an empirical question that some ethical vegetarians would very much like to determine the answer to.”

      Anything but empirical measurement of your own impact on animals, eh?Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to John
        Ignored
        says:

        Kinda goes like this: my morals, our ethics. The empirical measure of meat is this: turning plants into animals then eating them is less efficient than eating vegetables. Sure, it’s more efficient for us, but our dentition points to the fact that we’re omnivores, not carnivores. We eat way too much meat here in America and far too much of what we plant is meant for animal, not human consumption.Report

        • Avatar John in reply to BlaiseP
          Ignored
          says:

          “The empirical measure of meat is this: turning plants into animals then eating them is less efficient than eating vegetables.”

          That’s empirically false when the plants in question are grasses. Or do you have some sort of cellulose-digesting super power?

          “We eat way too much meat here in America and far too much of what we plant is meant for animal, not human consumption.”

          Agreed, but that doesn’t contradict the fact that “ethical” vegetarianism and the smug ignorance that usually accompanies it is based on a completely false dichotomy.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to John
            Ignored
            says:

            While we continue to plant far more feed corn than human edible corn, we cannot substitute any other human-edible crop on the finite amount of arable farmland. Therefore grass doesn’t enter into the equation. Once the ethics of meat are taken out of the equation, all that’s left is the numbers. My point still stands.Report

            • Avatar John in reply to BlaiseP
              Ignored
              says:

              “While we continue to plant far more feed corn than human edible corn, we cannot substitute any other human-edible crop on the finite amount of arable farmland.”

              That’s why we should stop obscene corn subsidies and eat grass- or forage-fed meat. No farmland whatsoever and better for you.

              “Therefore grass doesn’t enter into the equation.”

              Grass must always be a part of the equation. You do realize that even the nastiest supermarket corn-finished beef was at least partially grass-fed on non-arable land, don’t you?

              “Once the ethics of meat are taken out of the equation, all that’s left is the numbers.”

              What numbers? I haven’t seen any and I asked for only relative values from Shazbot. My point is a simple one–there is no equation, because the meat/vegetable dichotomy is a false one from the perspective of both animal suffering ethics and conservation ethics. The variance within each category is huge, as is the overlap between the categories.

              Shazbot’s behavior is fascinating. He claims to be following a principle, when in fact he is following a fallaciously-derived rule. When confronted with a case in which even he can see that the rule clearly conflicts with the principle, the rule–and more importantly, the identity that goes with it–trumps the principle.

              So what really motivates people like Shazbot? Reducing animal suffering or the far more banal seeking of a feeling of superiority over other people? The latter predicts all the behaviors.Report

  10. Avatar BlaiseP
    Ignored
    says:

    The sad fact is, with the apex predators largely eliminated, the prey species rely upon us to do the absent predators’ jobs. Not only aren’t we doing such a great job of it, we’ve added cats to the mix, destroying entire populations of songbirds and suchlike.

    I’m a cat man. Always have been. Indoor cats. For years, I fought with my wife about this issue: she thought cats should be at liberty to go outdoors. It’s not good for the cat, it’s not good for the animals they kill. Cats won’t even eat what they kill most of the time. Maybe, these days, we’re coming to our senses about this sort of problem. But feral cats are a huge problem, increasingly feral dogs and hogs, too. We’re not doing the cats any favours, leaving them out there to get infested with ticks and fleas and many other diseases, not to mention the odds of being killed themselves.

    I’ll never, ever shoulder a weapon again. Too many bad associations. But I don’t mind others who do. They’re performing a badly needed service in the absence of the predators our ancestors destroyed. But let’s not romanticise hunting overmuch. As Mike says, it’s complicated. My uncle was killed in a hunting accident. Some people think he was murdered but nothing could be proven. Not all hunters are responsible, let’s just put it plainly.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to BlaiseP
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      says:

      In addition to the problems of feral cats, I find it amazing that everyone thinks it’s ok for their cats to shit in my yard. If my dog shat in their yard, or my kids, they’d be livid. But it’s just a cat, so apparently it’s ok. Fortunately for the cats I’m more interested in keeping on good terms with my neighbors, or it would be live-trapping and a trip to the shelter for the furry rats.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        One of our neighbors lets his cat run loose in the neighborhood. He and I are buddies so I said it politely but he has been warned that cat will meet my BB gun if I catch it in my yard.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley
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        says:

        A good many diseases are thus spread. Cats are elegant, loving creatures, well-suited to domestication but they ought be spayed/neutered and kept indoors.Report

        • Avatar zic in reply to BlaiseP
          Ignored
          says:

          I do need to push back here, just a tiny bit. Having grown up on a farm, I clearly see the need for outdoor cats, really barn cats, to protect our food supply from rodents. Barn cats are not typically fed; they must learn to feed themselves. But mice/rats in the grain leads to all sorts of problems.

          I recommend Clifford A. Wright’s book, A Mediterranean Feast. Somewhere about pg. 50, he offers up another explanation for the dark ages: mass hallucinations from rotting, rodent-infected grain supplies.Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to zic
            Ignored
            says:

            grains! I just wish they’d use them with peanut butter… (drives rodents crazy…)Report

          • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to zic
            Ignored
            says:

            “Rodent-Infected Grains” was my favorite cereal growing up.Report

            • Avatar Kim in reply to Shazbot5
              Ignored
              says:

              I love eating certain products, even though they are heavily contaminated. (I’m not allergic, and have a pretty strong stomach).
              Get a hell of a laugh when folks are complaining about Hershey’s kisses tasting like vomit, but liking treats that are contaminated.Report

          • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name in reply to zic
            Ignored
            says:

            “I clearly see the need for outdoor cats, really barn cats, to protect our food supply from rodents. ”

            That’s what the black widows are for. We had a policy: any black widow in the house would be killed; any outside would be ignored. Everyone knew they were there and made sure to play safe. We had VERY few rats in the barn.Report

            • Avatar zic in reply to Jeff No-Last-Name
              Ignored
              says:

              No black widows up here in the North of New England.

              The creation myth of the native Abenaki Indians begins with how Glooskabi made the world safe for humans, changing all the animals, before he made the humans. There are no dangerous animals. No poisonous spiders, snakes, nothing like that.

              Not even the fly; those came with European ships.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to James Hanley
        Ignored
        says:

        You should kill his cat and eat it.

        Morality isn’t a concern, just make sure you can get away with it legally.Report

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