For some reason, all my posts seem to be Ethics and Morals issues. Sorry about that.

So my brother attended a colloqium lecture on species-ism, which is basically what it sounds like. The speaker was saying that it's wrong to discriminate animals. And he was, as you could guess, a devout vegan.

I know Athiest Nexus has a lot of strong vegetarians/vegans and a lot of carnivores as well. The reasons for both have been debated often. Species-ism, however, is a completely different genre.

In particular, I wonder how making the decision to be vegan isn't completely species-ist in and of itself. The moral reasoning of many vegetarians and vegans is that we can make a conscious decision not to eat our fellow creatures and live just fine. But humans are animals, and I've heard this argument from meat eaters, but the general defense is that we're smarter, we have more logical and ethical capabilities and therefore we have more responsiblity and more choice. I think that's true, but I think it's also species-ism! If we're saying that we're above eating animals, we're still putting ourselves above the animals, are we not? Again, this isn't really a vegetarian/meaty discussion, I respect both decisions.  But is species-ism something you could get behind? Does it even make sense?

There are the other obvious arguments, such as the fact that you kill animals every day, and the majority of us are species-ist in how we don't care if we step on a bug but we certainly do if we step on a cat. We don't flinch when we kill living bacteria with our hand sanitizer, but when you shoot Bambi's mum we've got a problem. Maybe the whole purpose is to get beyond that, or maybe it's about just doing what you can. I don't know. But I don't really understand it.

Thoughts? Arguments? Rude remarks? Compliments on my adequate grammar?  Does speciesism contradict vegetarianism? Is it a viable idea?

Tags: meat, poodle, species-ism, veganism, vegetarianism

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robbrownsyd, I second John's agreement with your latest comment. I think we agree in principle about avoiding causing suffering. It's just a question of emphasis. I think our real focus should be on human population control. Every other problem in the world (global warming, diminishing water supplies, inadequate food production and distribution, armed conflict, etc, etc) is made worse by having too many people on the planet. It's true that we could feed more people with plants than with animals, and thereby reduce animal suffering, but that's really just a stopgap. Reducing the human population also eliminates the need for meat. I'm not, of course, advocating the removal of existing humans, but we really need to get the whole world to reduce birth rates. Almost any other cause is secondary to that, because every problem is exacerbated by high human population. Why pick at the edges of the problem?

In any case, meat isn't just about taste, at least for me. It's a diet I'm habituated to. I actually feel physically worse if I don't eat at least some meat. And given that I'm just as evolution has made me, I find it hard to feel morally obliged to change that.

And a couple of nits. I think you keep calling me John, though you could be replying to John D. Also, it's "ought", not "aught". "Aught" means zero. I don't normally comment on typos, but your usage there is consistent.
I know I'm getting off-topic, but re: population control, it might be worth pointing out that nearly all of our pollution issues aren't a problem of population, per se, but with Western (especially American) cultures of over-consumption. The poorest 2/3 of humanity produce only a tiny amount of greenhouse gases and other pollution. Coincidentally, the richest 1/3 also tend to have the lowest birthrates - so, it seems that overpopulation isn't really the issue so much as the lifestyles we lead with those populations.

If we provided education, equal human rights and birth control for the bottom 2/3, while getting the top 1/3 to live lives a little bit less lavish (or at least more sustainable), it'd do far, far more for the environment than population control would.
Aaron, I agree that overconsumption is a problem we should address, but I think 2/3 of humanity is clearly underconsuming, at least in terms of having adequate health and comfort. It's not like the poorest 2/3 are refraining from Western consumption levels out of noble restraint. They're not consuming as much because they can't afford to, and this generally leads to human misery.

Individual consumption rate is really just a multiplier applied to the underlying population demand on resources. Fewer people equals less demand, regardless of the multiplier. It's true that the more technologically and economically developed societies choose to have lower birth rates, but the growth of the overall population is a severe problem. Earth's population needs to decline significantly before the whole population can enjoy minimally acceptable consumption rates.

We can certainly talk about more equitable distribution of resources and more reasonable top-level consumption rates, but even if Westerners cut their consumption in half, we'd still come up short. Fewer babies is the most direct solution to all the world's woes.
From reading the responses to this post i believe i can say that species-ism and vegan-ism are contradictions. In fact I'm beginning to think vegans are almost as dangerous as theist (referring to a previous responders fervid "protect the animals" responses with a lack of coherent thought or facts.. O.o).
Onwards to an explanation.
Humans are animals, to say that as humans we can make the choice to not eat meat where as other omnivores eat both meat and plants, is species-ism; therefore, you cannot be a vegan without implying species-ism. Saying that its our duty to interrupt the food chain in anyway because we are morally superior is species-ism and as mentioned earlier, is really turning out to be just as ignorant as religion.
I believe you can be a vegetarian, without implying species-ism, as vegetarian's may be vegetarians for a variety of reason's; however, this usually isn't the case.
Example: I considered becoming a vegetarian for awhile because of health benefits.
Eegh, I've been trying to back out of this discussion since I have things I'd rather do, but honestly? "vegans are almost as dangerous as theist"? Now nonviolence against animals is "dangerous"?

Also, for someone claiming that veganism isn't coherent, you've got some work to do, yourself. It's not speciesist so point out plain fact, as I've reiterated more than once on this thread. Whites have white skin. That's not racist, it's a fact. Most animals don't have a conscience, or at least one that's as well-developed as ours are. That's not speciesist, it's a fact. It's also not incoherent to point out that two wrongs don't make a right.

With all due respect, you don't seem to understand what the meaning of the word "speciesism" is, or what constitutes intellectual coherency. Given that, you should avoid accusing others of lacking these, since when you do, you're also being a hypocrite.
i never said veganism wasn't coherent.
i was referring to your argument and logic.
You come off as an extremist.
Yes, your "nonviolence against animals" is just as bad if it gives you an excuse to assert an opinion as fact.

As for speciesism, marriam-webster defines it as "prejudice or discrimination based on species". I believe i understand the word fine, do you?

Also, if you want to back out of a discussion there's that link right under the comment window that says to stop following.
OK, finally time to say something here.
Why I chose to become vegetarian (or at least part of the reason): sometimes I would eat a meat-free meal, other times not. Then I started thinking that every time I eat, I have a choice to eat something that something had to die for, or not. So I chose to go for those meals that did not involve some creature being killed.
At the time, living in the UK, it turned out to be relatively easy, and nobody really treats you like a freak. When you travel abroad, that can happen, and I've found the US to be less tolerant of non-killing meals than the UK.
I am not vegan, and see this as a sign of weakness in myself, that I don't yet have the conviction to do away with all ill-treatment of animals for the purpose of my chocolate craving, or whatever.
In a more perfect world, I would hope enough people would produce tasty, cruelty-free produce, that everyone would turn around and say "hey, why are you killing that pig?"
I'm no real activist though, at the moment. But I definitely feel happier in making a menu choice that isn't a death sentence for some poor creature.
I'm not against vegetarianism in any way.
I don't choose to be personally, but i have thought about it for health benefits.
I haven't heard of much intolerance for vegetarians in the U.S. One of my friends growing up was a vegetarian and i don't recall him ever being frowned upon for it.

I believe people should have the choice in what they eat, as we are omnivores and are capable of eating both. As for not killing animals, animals kill other animals all the time, be it in a fight or for nourishment, its really not preventable.
I admit the way we do it is different from other animals, but that's a different topic.

There are certainly logical arguments someone could provide as to why someone should switch to vegetarianism, but I have only seen a few people provide them and they weren't vegetarians entirely themselves o.o


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