If you're not Vegan, you're stupid.

So, Heather decided to write a blog post titled, Atheists: when disbelief does not equal logic or critical thinking. Perhaps a more concise title would have been, If you're not Vegan, you're stupid.

Her post starts off reasonably enough. For some reason, she states, she had been under the misapprehension that atheists are generally more intelligent people than theists. This is an easy trap to fall into, and I am sure I have fallen victim to it in the past. After all, it is natural for the human ego to want to feel superior to other people. Just take a look, for example, at the comments section of any post on Pharyngula. Your smug-o-meter will go off the scale.

Fortunately, that illusion was shattered one sunny day, when she realised that not all atheists have the same opinions as her on a variety of issues. In Heathers own words, it was "A phenomenon that burst my smug little atheist bubble".

What happened next will probably sound familiar to a lot of people. It is reminiscent of the emails received by various sceptic podcasts which begin, "I love your show, BUT... ". I think it can be best explained in terms of something called the "Maddox effect".

The Maddox effect is named for George "Maddox" Ouzounian, author of the deliberately offensive satirical (and modestly named) web-site, The Best Page in the Universe (warning: potentially NSFW). The synopsis of the effect is that an individual, who had previously been a devoted fan of Ouzounian's work, will suddenly lose their sense of humour and become incredibly hostile when an article is posted deriding their particular sacred cow. I believe poor Heather is suffering from a variant of this rationality-imparing effect.

In Heather's case, exposure to viewpoints opposed to her own led her, not to introspection or enquiry, but to simply conclude that these pesky individuals must not be as intelligent as her.

What was that she said about smug?

The issue in question is, of course, Vegan-ism.

Level 5 Vegan (I don't eat anything that casts a shadow).Now, don't get me wrong. I have no problem with Vegan-ism, per se. If someone feels better about themselves - or heck, even better than other people - because they choose not to eat certain types of food, then all power to them. You do what you like. As long as it doesn't affect me in any way, then frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

Of course, a lot of Vegans can't seem leave it there. Instead, like missionaries embarking on their first voyage to Africa, they feel the overwhelming urge to share the Good News with everyone they can. They insist that their arbitrary ethical system is, in fact, superior and should be adopted by all. How is eating an cow, they ask, any different from eating a human? It's all life!

How then, I might respond, is red any different from green? After all, it's all colours! And where does that leave poor old yellow?

As was explained so eloquently (as usual) by Matt Dillahunty & co. on episode 8.8 of The Non Prophets, the value we attach to various different forms of life is not governed but the sole property of it being life. I value human life more than I value ant life. I value my life more than I value yours. In fact, I probably value my sisters dog's life more than yours. No offence - it's nothing personal - he's just a really great dog.

Anyway, far be it from me to try to summarise the thoughts presented by the Non-Prophets crew, so I'll leave it to interested parties to listen to the episode itself. The discussion in question begins at 49:07. I will, however, finish with a quote from my favourite Non-Prophet, Shilling, from that very episode:

"Where are all the Vegans volunteering for Chemotherapy to destroy their immune system and preserve the bacteria growing within them?"

- Shilling.

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Comment by Secular Sue on May 11, 2010 at 1:00am
Comment by Secular Sue on May 11, 2010 at 12:52am
The documetary King Corn helped steer me away from beef too. Because the cattle are fed an unatural diet of CORN, which they can't digest properly, they're dosed with antibiotics to keep them alive. The abuse and the additives = I'm grossed out. I don't eat pork either, except for a little yummy bacon once in a while. I don't drink milk, don't eat many eggs. I've reduced my meatfootprint quite a bit from the way I was raised. In the old days we had meat everynight, usually beef. One tasty chicken a week dies for me and my husband and a fish or two. So, maybe we're slowly evolving away from eating animals.
Comment by Secular Sue on May 11, 2010 at 12:30am
I quit eating beef after seeing this video.
Video Shows Cattle Abuse at California Feedlot
Electric shock, other illegal methods, used on sick cowsBy Nick McMaster|
Posted Jan 30, 08 (Newser) – Cows are zapped with electricity, picked up with forklifts, and subjected to high-pressure jets of water up their noses in a video taken at a California slaughterhouse by an undercover investigator from the US Humane Society, the Washington Post reports. The video shows cattle workers using extreme, and illegal, measures to try to get sick or slow cows moving.
Comment by Burton Rosenberger on May 10, 2010 at 11:39am
@ Prog
Ok so now we have Amaranth (http://www.aaoobfoods.com/graininfo.htm), Quinoa (link below), Hemp (link below), and BUCKWHEAT! :) (http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrientprofile&dbid=81)

Soy does contain a large number of amino acids, but I wouldn't eat it unless its fermented.

Lysine and Tryptophan are the hard ones to get for vegans, or strict vegetarians. I eat all the foods above regularly, soy included if fermented (normally miso some times natto and tempeh)
Comment by Prog Rock Girl on May 10, 2010 at 10:35am
Soy and amaranth aren't complete?

Quinoa is delicious and cool-looking.
Comment by Burton Rosenberger on May 10, 2010 at 10:11am
@Adrian Lea

Its more than 8, 9 are just essential.
Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine (and/or cysteine), Phenylalanine (and/or tyrosine), Threonine, Tryptophan, Valine

WOW never realized quinao had all 9!

So now we have two complete protein plants, hemp and quinao, any more? I should go make some quinao dish for breakfast.
Comment by Jaume on May 10, 2010 at 7:23am
No, but I'd like everyone to know the specifics - I'm more than mischievous enough to enjoy the "yuck" factor it might cause to a puritan, next time they're served a juicy T-bone.
Comment by Darren Cubitt on May 10, 2010 at 5:36am
@Daniel & Jaume

Not that there's anything wrong with that...
Comment by Jaume on May 10, 2010 at 5:13am
Daniel: (did you know that steers are used to tempt the bulls into artificial vaginas? Yes, your buger results from homosexual bovine sexual perversion)

It's worse than that. While the superduper bull mounts the steer, there's always a human around to gratify the former with a handjob. Homosexual bovine-human zoophiliac threesome would be a more accurate description of this perversion.
Comment by Darren Cubitt on May 10, 2010 at 3:29am
@Aaron S

An apology beforehand - somebody said something wrong on the internets and I have to go on my rant now.

For varying definitions of "wrong" ;)

First of all, vegans sound pushy because, well, that's the entire point. Veganism is about ethics, and ethics is that special arena of human activity where we do just get to tell each other what to do.

You must have a very unusual definition of ethics. You are well within your rights to tell people what you think is ethical, and they are well within their rights to ignore you.

Telling a vegan (or an omnivore, for that matter) "Don't force your 'lifestyle' on me" makes as much sense as a pedophile telling the cops "Hey, don't push your lifestyle on me".

Damn, you came so close to a Godwin there. Still, drawing an analogy between a non-vegan and a paedophile can't be too far from the mark.

It's simple: paedophilia violates the rights of another human being; this is why it is illegal in most societies. You might argue that these rights should be extended to other species and this is where we will disagree.

I choose not to extend basic human rights to most animals (excepting the cute fluffy ones I can anthropomorphise) because I don't feel that we, as a species, have anything significant to gain from doing so. It seems like a lot of effort for very little (if not negative) return.

I have to agree with what uɐƃoɹƃ ɥɔןǝɟ (what a name...) said, and I think it justifies my position that ethical decisions are down to personal choice: We are all pretty selfish individuals, and most of what we do (even when we think we are being altruistic) is really just to satisfy ourselves in some way.

I choose to eat meat because I like it. You choose not to because it makes you feel like a better person. When I sling a few bucks to the homeless guy, I can't escape the fact that my main motivation was to give myself a sense of satisfaction. Would I have been a less-ethical person if I didn't give him any money because I felt I could put it to better use myself?


I don't doubt for one second the claims of vegans/vegetarians that they have had to endure being lectured by us carnivores, and I sympathise. But it really raises my hackles when people (such as Heather) make broad generalisations such as "people who disagree with me must have a lesser intelligence".



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