• Atheists don’t have to go veg

    A while after I became a skeptic, I started noticing certain secular trends among some skeptical circles and much groupthink that reminded me of the religious setting, with their arrogant and self-righteous attitude — the most recurring theme was veganism.

    A few days ago some Steve Stankevicius wanted to start the conversation about the animals ‘rights’ and made the poor decision to publish in Salon, which turned his piece into click-bait — at any rate, we can recover the his main point:

    The poster boys and girls of atheism, secularism, science and reason have done wonders for so many domains of public discourse. While they fittingly weigh in on many moral questions not restricted to religious indoctrination and its impact on human rights, animal rights has so far garnered little attention. However, the great thing about reason is that it is a tool. Reason does not presuppose its answers, but is rather a process by which conclusions germinate under the light of the best available evidence. The best available evidence currently shows that eating meat and animal products is bad for animals, our health and the environment. Many of the New Atheists and their associated colleagues have realized this; they just need to come forth into the light.

    That’s simply not true, at least not in the way Stankevicius is portraying it to be.

    Yes, eating meat and animal products is bad for animals. The thing is, eating vegetables, grain and fruits is bad for animals as well.

    As for our health, eating meat and animal products can be bad for our health. The thing is, so is the veg diet:

    Legumes are deficient in cysteine ​​and methionine, whilst cereals are deficient in lysine, so making an exclusive diet based on one of these two foods may result in deficiencies of essential amino acids, which are eventually fatal. Soy is one of the few vegetables that have an optimal ratio of amino acids, that’s why it is so popular in feed and nutritional supplements. This risk exists, but is easily avoidable by including cereals and legumes on the menu, eating soy, or with an ovo-lacto diet. The case with vitamin D is similar, as it is very rare in plants but abundant in milk and eggs.

    Another problem is also related to micronutrients, particularly iron and zinc. Many vegetables are rich in these two elements, but the problem is that most of the times the iron is sequestered by fiber or other components such as phytate, oxalate or citrate, so although the concentration (total amount) is high, the bioavailability (amount we can assimilate) is very low. It’s easier for a vegetarian to get anemia than it is for an omnivorous.

    Some of these compounds that sequester iron or zinc have an added risk. They tend to crystallize. Normally this wouldn’t matter too much, because the kidney will eliminate them, but if you saturate the kidney, or if it doesn’t work as it should, they begin to crystallize in the kidney, causing the dreaded stones. Vegetarian diets have a higher risk of kidney stones.

    A diet that completely excludes animal foods may also have a deficit in essential fatty acids. Interestingly a severe deficit in one type of fatty acid (n-3 polyunsaturated), along with vitamin B12 deficiency, which can also occur in vegetarians, can lead to platelets not working as they should, leading to a higher risk of thrombosis, and increased risk of a cardiovascular accident.

    As a matter of fact, going veg can’t prevent cancer

    And as for the environment, actually, the most recent best available evidence has shown that veg diets are harmful for the environment (caloric intake is a bitch!).

    There we go. Contrary to what Stankevicius’ claims (or wants us to conclude), going veg is bad for animals, our health and the environment.

    Since we’re on the topic of so-called animal rights, let me set the record straight: rights stem from our species’ moral agency, hence the whole concept of “animal rights” is laughable at best.

    But it isn’t, because veg-animalism activism has turned out to be a misantropic movement (and what else can you expect of the New Age-y bullshit of Hare Krishna?) that is creeping into society and we should do our best to counter it.

    Choosing a veg diet is as respectable as choosing an omnivorous one, and any properly fed and informed person should decide which one they prefer, there’s no right or wrong answer — but what rubs me the wrong way is the animals’ champions saying they don’t eat meat “for ethical reasons” and other ways to claim a moral superiority that no diet has whatsoever.

    (via Friendly Atheist)

    Category: AtheismPhilosophySkepticism and Science

    Tags:

    Article by: Ðavid A. Osorio S

    Skeptic | Blogger | Activist | Journalist
    • ncovington89

      I wonder how many people stick to vegetarianism for +10 years and how much of this is all a fad.

      • Dermot

        I can assure you that it is not a fad, and that numerous individuals maintain a vegan diet their entire lives. It’s a philosophy that was officially started in the 1940s by Donald Watson. It’s not a new fad.

        • ncovington89

          Well, vegetarianism can be a fad for some people: people who do it for a short period of time and later go back to being omnivorous. How many vegetarians are like that and how many are more permanent in their resolve?

          • Dermot

            You’re right. It can definitely be a fad for some people I just meant vegetarianism in itself is not a fad diet, like atkins diet, for example. But I’d venture go to guess that a lot of vegetarians relapse and go back and forth. When you’ve been eating meat your entire life, and everyone around you is eating meat, it can be a challenge.

          • Dermot

            Actually, I just recalled this article. I read it a while back. A great percentage of people relapse. Check it out:

            https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animals-and-us/201412/84-vegetarians-and-vegans-return-meat-why

            • ncovington89

              That’s what I was thinking of. The number of ex-vegetarians I know is astonishing. Meat is too good and to hard to avoid ; )

          • I have to agree with @disqus_M2YJ5G9FQO:disqus: it ain’t no fad, because it isn’t being forgotten.

            It’s more accurate to say it’s New Age bullshit.

    • Dermot

      Stankevicius’ points hold true and you have not refuted them. I will argue why this is the case.

      The main point of the article is that if the new atheists are to weigh in on the topic of morality, as they often do, and are going to use tools, such as reason and critical thinking, to formulate a secular basis for morality, then this moral framework inevitably leads to veganism, which is the conclusion that unnecessarily harming/killing animals for pleasure is wrong, just as it is wrong to do the same to a human.

      Like humans, non-human animals are sentient creatures, and as such are worthy of moral consideration. If it cannot be justified to harm a human for pleasure, then it cannot be justified to do the same to a non-human animal, since there is no fundamental difference between the two that warrants a difference in treatment. I know that you disagree with the concept of animal rights, and I address this point in more detail below under point 4 of my rebuttals.

      Must all atheists become vegan? Well if by atheist you mean one who thinks critically and argues that there is a secular basis for morality, then yes, in order to remain consistent, they must accept veganism. To do otherwise, while perfectly legal, is not morally justifiable nor consistent. And this is a point that Sam Harris and Paul Bloom discussed in the podcast episode titled The Dark Side. Sam Harris, a proponent of secular-based morality, agrees with this point, which is why he is currently attempting to become a vegan. If, on the other hand, you dismiss all claims of morality and believe that the only real reason not to harm a human is because it is illegal, then no, you don’t have to accept veganism. Otherwise, I maintain that you do.

      Here are some specific rebuttals to some of the points you made:

      1. “Yes, eating meat and animal products is bad for animals. The thing is, eating vegetables, grain and fruits is bad for animals as well.”

      There is a very important distinction to be made here, and that is of whether an action is intentional or incidental. For instance, legally speaking, when a crime is committed we take into account whether the criminal had a guilty mind (mens rea) when committing his/her guilty act (actus rea). The intentionality of the crime plays a significant role in determining the level of guilt and, consequently, the punishment. Much in the same manner, when we are discussing harm caused to animals in an omnivorous versus plant based diet, we must take into consideration the intention. Animal agriculture intentionally harms animals by breeding, confining, often mistreating, killing, and dismembering them for us to consume for our pleasure. Plant based agriculture may in fact harm some creatures, particularly smaller creatures, but the process is not intentional; it is incidental. Therefore, the two cannot be judged under the same light when it comes harm caused. It’s a defeatist position to claim that just because we cannot completely eradicate all forms of violence that we should be morally licensed to institute and partake in systems of oppression that are not in anyway necessary for our survival. It does not follow that because a vegan diet may incidentally harm some creatures it is equal in moral repugnance as an omnivorous diet which intentionally harms and kills creatures for pleasure.

      2. “As for our health, eating meat and animal products can be bad for our health. The thing is, so is the veg diet:”

      Whether a plant-based diet is healthier than an omnivorous one is debateable, but it really isn’t the point. Though there are plenty of studies that demonstrate a correlation between better health and a plant based diet, the only claim of importance is that a plant based diet is NO LESS healthier than a meat-based one. This claim isn’t really up for debate. It is common medical consensus that a well-balanced vegan diet is a perfectly suitable diet for humans; humans will not perish or suffer significant health maladies by abstaining from meat. Aside from the studies, one need only look at anecdotal evidence: there are people who have lived their entire lives as vegans (my child is a vegan), there are people who switched to a vegan diet later in life and have lived decades on the diet, there are vegan athletes, marathon runners, body builders, doctors, philosophers, etc. 1 to 2% of the USA population identifies as vegans. There are 320 million people in the USA and 1% of this is around 3 million. This simple fact supports the idea that a vegan diet is, at the very least, no less healthy than a meat based diet. For the purposes of our discussion, that’s really all that matters, not whether it is MORE healthy than a diet with meat.

      3. “And as for the environment, actually, the most recent best available evidence has shown that veg diets are harmful for the environment (caloric intake is a bitch!).”

      I don’t even know how anyone with the ability to google can claim that a veg diet is more harmful to the environment than animal agriculture. The United Nations has concluded that animal ag releases more GHGs than the entire transportation industry combined. Animal ag is the leading cause of deforestation, and as such is leading to a reduction in biodiversity. Animal ag also leads to the killing of wild animals in order to ensure the safety of grazing cattle. The death caused by animal ag does not stop at the animals we consume. Additionally, the amount of land needed to produce enough nutrition from plants for a single person is SUBSTANTIALLY less than the amount of land needed to feed the same person using animal ag. Consider the following point, which demonstrates that animal ag is much more taxing on our environment. I will post the link after the quote,

      “Davis mistakenly assumes the two systems–crops only and crops with ruminant-pasture–using the same total amount of land, would feed identical numbers of people (i.e., the U.S.population). In fact, crop and ruminant systems produce different amounts of
      food per hectare — the two systems would feed different numbers of people. To
      properly compare the harm caused by the two systems, we ought to calculate how
      many animals are killed in feeding equal populations–or the number of animals
      killed per consumer.”

      http://www.veganoutreach.org/enewsletter/matheny.html

      4. “Since we’re on the topic of so-called animal rights, let me set the record straight: rights stem from our species’ moral agency, hence the whole concept of “animal rights” is laughable at best.”

      You seem to base this conclusion on Carl Cohen’s “Kind” argument for affording humans moral rights and not animals. I reject this notion and argue that he is guilty of the fallacy of division in this instance. I’m not going to go into detail, but please read this rebuttal to Carl Cohen’s arguments. In essence, rights should be based on the capacity to suffer and to have an interest in remaining alive. When it comes to these two criteria, there is no difference between human animals and non-human animals.

      I can’t link the source that refutes Carl Cohen’s claims because it is a PDF. But if you go to google search and type the following, “Tom Regan on Kind arguments against animal rights” it should be the very first link that pops up. It’s not a long read at all and I hope you’ll give it the consideration it deserves.

      5. Lastly I’d like to leave you with two sources that support the link between atheism/secularism and animal rights.

      Source 1: Short book by philosopher James Rachels titled, Created from Animal: The Moral Implications of Darwinism. Here’s an excerpt followed by a link to his site that has the entire book for free.

      “Traditional morality, no less than traditional religion, assumes that
      man is ‘a great work.’ It grants to humans a moral status superior to
      that of any other creatures on earth. It regards human life, and only
      human life, as sacred, and it takes the love of mankind as its first and
      noblest virtue. What becomes of all this, if man is but a modified
      ape?”

      http://jamesrachels.org/CFA.htm

      Source 2: Book titled Animal Liberation and Atheism by Kim Socha. Here is a review of the book by Michael Shermer followed by the link to the book on Amazon.

      “The link between animal rights and atheism is apparent once we bring
      evolution into the conversation and abandon all supernatural religious
      beliefs about the nature of human nature, which is that we are connected
      to all other species. With that foundation in place the expansion of
      the moral sphere to include primates and marine mammals, then all
      mammals, and finally all sentient beings, follows logically, as Kim
      Socha demonstrates in this cogently argued treatise that science and
      reason, not religion and faith, are the primary drivers of moral
      progress. Socha lays out the arguments for animal rights so well that I
      predict you will abandon your speciesism by the end.” –Michael Shermer,
      Publisher of Skeptic magazine

      http://www.amazon.com/Animal-Liberation-Atheism-Kim-Socha/dp/0988493810

      • “then this moral framework inevitably leads to veganism”

        No.

        “unnecessarily harming/killing animals for pleasure is wrong”

        It’s eating. It’s a need. Farmed animals aren’t killed and we don’t eat meat for some kind of sadistic pleasure. You don’t even get that right (although, how else can you vegs sell their bullshit?)

        “If it cannot be justified to harm a human for pleasure, then it cannot be justified to do the same to a non-human animal”

        Straw man. It’s a NEED. Not pleasure. Got it?

        “in order to remain consistent, they must accept veganism. To do otherwise, while perfectly legal, is not morally justifiable nor consistent”

        Holier than thou bullshit. I’ll have a double cheeseburger tomorrow in honor to that comment! Let’s see if I can set all of my lunches for the weekend…

        “Sam Harris, a proponent of secular-based morality, agrees with this point, which is why he is currently attempting to become a vegan”

        Ad verecundiam. Sam Harris ain’t perfect (no one is), so he can do whatever he likes, but that’s his problem.

        “the process is not intentional; it is incidental”

        I call bullshit. False equivalence. The intention for both diets is to feed us. Incidentally, animals die from both diets.

        “the two cannot be judged under the same light when it comes harm caused”

        Actually… they can. And they should.

        “it really isn’t the point”

        Red herring. That’s for Stankevicius to decide. I countered his words. If he meant otherwise, that’s what he should’ve written.

        “It is common medical consensus that a well-balanced vegan diet is a perfectly suitable diet for humans”

        May be, but the *evidence* says otherwise: http://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h4962

        I’ll stick to the evidence.

        “one need only look at anecdotal evidence”

        Anecdotal evidence is not evidence at all. And I’m not gettinge lectured and self-righteous bullshit from anecdotal evidence. Savy?

        “I don’t even know how anyone with the ability to google can claim that a veg diet is more harmful to the environment than animal agriculture”

        Once again: I have evidence to back my claims up. I have peer-reviewed papers published in long standing journals with high Impac Factor backing what I’m saying: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10669-015-9577-y

        You keep googling to have your beliefs confirmed.

        “The United Nations has concluded that animal ag releases more GHGs than the entire transportation industry combined”

        First, ad verecundiam (again!).

        Second, that claim has been debunked: http://www.monbiot.com/2010/09/07/strong-meat/

        “animal ag is much more taxing on our environment”

        I call bullshit, once again. Because due to caloric intake you need like a ton of lettuce to get what you can get from one pound of meat. Now you tell me which one is more taxing on our environment.

        “I reject this notion”

        That’s your problem.

        “rights should be based on the capacity to suffer and to have an interest in remaining alive”

        I reject this notion. And, yes, that is my problem. But I’m not trying to shame everyone for their eating habits, telling them they’re wrong, they’re immoral or any sort of that veg self-righteousness.

        “It grants to humans a moral status superior to that of any other creatures on earth”

        Well, then you got a paradox, because if we don’t have a superior moral status, quit whining on my blog, and go lecture lions about veganism. The ‘preferential’ treatment we get form veg activists about how we all are nazis is just speciesism. I thought you guys were against that kind of stuff.

        “It regards human life, and only human life, as sacred, and it takes the love of mankind as its first and noblest virtue”

        Straw man. I have consideration towards animals. But, just like any other animal (we’re just modified apes) I’m gonna eat what I want. And I won’t be shamed about it.

        BTW, if you think humans are just as equal as animals, I hope you never find yourself in the position of having to choose between saving a boy from a fire or saving a rat from that same fire. I know what I would do.

        “we are connected to all other species”

        We’re also connected to plants for that matter.

        “With that foundation in place the expansion of the moral sphere to include primates and marine mammals, then all mammals, and finally all sentient beings”

        Yes, the logical conclusion of veganism is we’ll end up eating rocks.

        • Dermot

          “It’s eating. It’s a need. Farmed animals aren’t killed and we don’t eat
          meat for some kind of sadistic pleasure. You don’t even get that right
          (although, how else can you vegs sell their bullshit?)”

          I don’t understand how you can continue to make this claim. With the exception of some communities who must absolutely eat meat to survive, it is not a need for the majority of us. Eating is a need, but eating animals is not a need; it is done for pleasure, not sadistically (never claimed it was sadistic), but for pleasure nonetheless. So no I don’t “got it” because it is absolutely not a need. If it were, then I, and all the vegans in the world would be dead from needing meat in our diets. The fact that humans can and do exist without eating meat automatically dispels the notion that it is a fundamental need. Again, I concede that there are special circumstances where it is understandable, but those who are not in these circumstances don’t get to hijack the plight of those who need it and use it as a justification for their habits.

          “Ad verecundiam. Sam Harris ain’t perfect (no one is), so he can do whatever he likes, but that’s his problem.”

          I only brought up Sam Harris to establish the legitimacy of Steve’s article, since his article was directed at New Atheists who seek to establish a secular and rational basis for morality.

          “I call bullshit. False equivalence. The intention for both diets is to feed us. Incidentally, animals die from both diets.”

          The goal is to eat. One diet intentionally harms sentient beings to meet this goal; the other does not intentionally harm animals. I mean, all I can do is basically repeat my last comment on this point. I don’t see how you think you’ve debunked what I said. It seems like you didn’t even try.

          “Actually… they can. And they should.”

          Okay. Well, I guess that settles that then? Again, seems like laziness on your part since you did not attempt to debunk anything I said on this point. You just claimed that it is so because you’re saying it is so.

          “May be, but the *evidence* says otherwise: http://www.bmj.com/content/351…I’ll stick to the evidence.”

          I don’t understand. Maybe what? Maybe it’s common medical consensus that a well-balanced vegan diet is perfectly healthy for a human? I assure you that it is. Since this is the case, does this not qualify as evidence? And what ‘evidence’ are you sticking to? The link you posted does not lead us to ‘evidence’ that a plant-based diet is not suitable for humans. What evidence do you garner from the link you posted? Let me give you a bit of background info regarding the link you posted.

          The author of the article is Nina Teicholz. She is not a nutritional scientist, but is a journalist who not long ago wrote a book insisting that the public eat more red meat, butter, and eggs. After the BMJ published the article you linked, there was tremendous uproar among the scientific community, who called for the BMJ to retract Nina’s “error-laden” article. Here is two links that critiques Nina’s article on the BMJ.

          http://www.cspinet.org/new/201509231.html
          http://www.politico.com/story/2015/10/the-money-behind-the-fight-over-healthy-eating-214517

          If you want evidence that a plant based diet is, at the very least, no less healthy, and possibly healthier than a meat-based diet, then here are two links supporting these claims (there are many more, but for the sake of brevity I’ll only share these two):

          1. It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that
          appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or
          vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide
          health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.
          Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all
          stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy,
          childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.

          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19562864

          2. Adventist Health Study published in JAMA Internal Medicine: CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Vegetarian diets are associated with lower all-cause mortality and with some reductions in cause-specific mortality. Results appeared to be more robust in males. These favorable associations should be considered carefully by those offering dietary guidance.

          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23836264

          “Anecdotal evidence is not evidence at all. And I’m not gettinge lectured
          and self-righteous bullshit from anecdotal evidence. Savy?”

          Anecdotal evidence is evidence, though I concede not strong evidence if used on its own. However, in this case it has utility. If the claim is that humans cannot be healthy on a vegan diet, then one would necessarily expect that any large swath of people who consumed a vegan diet would not be healthy, and one would most definitely not expect people in a vegan community to thrive on a plant based diet. However, anecdotal evidence shows this to be incorrect, and in this case anecdotal evidence is enough in and of itself to debunk the broad generalization that a vegan diet is not sustainable. However, anecdotal evidence is not all there is (please see the two links I shared with you above). Here’s some noteworthy anecdotal evidence to consider when forming an opinion of sustainability and health benefits of a vegan diet:

          “Dr. Kim A. Williams, the president-elect of the American College of Cardiology, often sees patients who are overweight and struggling with hypertension, Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. One of the things he advises them to do is to change their diets. Specifically, he tells them to go vegan.”

          http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/06/advice-from-a-vegan-cardiologist/?_r=0

          “First, ad verecundiam (again!). Second, that claim has been debunked: http://www.monbiot.com/2010/09…”

          When we’re discussing complex issues like climate change or human nutrition, why is it a problem to refer to the experts on the matter? I’m not saying that we should take what people say at face value without criticizing it, but does merely referencing the opinions of an expert disqualify the argument? If so, how is it any different from you posting a link to ‘evidence’ conjured up by a journalist who wrote an article for the BMJ? I ask that you not be so loose with your appeal to authority accusations.

          Secondly, let’s concede that the UN FAO overestimated its calculation of animal ag-related GHG emissions. If this is the case, then, according to Monbiot, the number went from 18% to 10%. 10% is far from zero, and more importantly this figure will not remain stagnant, since there is a global demand for meat. Consider the following statement from the EPA:

          “In 2013, greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture accounted for
          approximately 9% of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Greenhouse gas
          emissions from agriculture have increased by approximately 17% since
          1990. One driver for this increase has been the 54% growth in combined
          CH4 and N2O emissions from livestock manure
          management systems, reflecting the increased use of emission-intensive
          liquid systems over this time period. Emissions from agricultural soil
          management have also increased by about 17% since 1990. Emissions from
          other agricultural sources have either remained flat or changed by a
          relatively small amount since 1990.”

          http://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/sources/agriculture.html

          “I call bullshit, once again. Because due to caloric intake you need like
          a ton of lettuce to get what you can get from one pound of meat. Now
          you tell me which one is more taxing on our environment.”

          Yes, and your point would be valid if vegans attempted to get all of their nutrition from lettuce. Consider the following statement:

          It is absurd to compare the environmental impacts between bacon and
          lettuce when you’re using calories as the denominator,” Brent Kim of the
          Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future’s Food Production and Public
          Health Program told ThinkProgress. A serving of lettuce has fewer calories than a stick of gum.”You can’t lump all vegetables together and say they’re good.” It’snot as though vegetarians are going to eat lettuce to make up for the amount of bacon they’re not consuming — and therefore help to generate the attendant emissions.A person would have to consume at least two whole heads of the veggie to equal two rashers of smoked back bacon in terms of calories.

          http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/12/21/lettuce-worse-than-bacon_n_8855030.html

          “I reject this notion. And, yes, that is my problem. But I’m not trying
          to shame everyone for their eating habits, telling them they’re wrong,
          they’re immoral or any sort of that veg self-righteousness.”

          I’m sorry that you don’t like to feel as though you are being shamed. But the fact of the matter is that you are consuming a diet that unnecessarily, and intentionally, breeds, confines, often mistreats, kills, dismembers, and eats sentient beings for pleasure of palate. What else needs to be said? Just because you characterize it as self-righteous doesn’t make it any less true.

          “Well, then you got a paradox, because if we don’t have a superior moral
          status, quit whining on my blog, and go lecture lions about veganism.”

          You’re guilty of the fallacy of appealing to nature in this case. Lions are obligate carnivores who must eat meat or they will die – for them it actually is a NEED and not just pleasure. Furthermore, humans don’t base their moral standards on what it is animals in the wild do. For example, in addition to eating meat, lions also engage in murder, infanticide, and rape. Should we permit these actions since they, too, occur in nature? What holds true for the lion has no bearing on the dietary choice you have. And I’ll quit whining on your blog when you stop writing flimsy articles about veganism.

          “Straw man. I have consideration towards animals. But, just like any
          other animal (we’re just modified apes) I’m gonna eat what I want. And I
          won’t be shamed about it.”

          This is not a rational or moral justification for doing so. Yes, indeed you will do what you want insofar as the law allows it, and the law permits you to eat meat. But that’s irrelevant to the argument at hand. Your argument is basically a variation of the ‘might makes right’ argument, which is never an acceptable justification for committing acts of violence on vulnerable populations, whether human or non-human animals. And if you had consideration for animals you would not participate in a system that breeds, confines, often mistreats, kills, dismembers, and eats them for pleasure of palate. Otherwise, what does consideration really mean?

          “BTW, if you think humans are just as equal as animals, I hope you never
          find yourself in the position of having to choose between saving a boy
          from a fire or saving a rat from that same fire. I know what I would do.”

          You’re committing a fallacy hear, reduction to absurdity ( A mode of argumentation or a form of argument in which a proposition is
          disproven by following its implications logically to an absurd
          conclusion). You’re using an extreme example – having to choose between saving a human or a rat from a fire – to justify lowering animals to such an extent that they have no moral consideration.

          “We’re also connected to plants for that matter.”

          Plants are not sentient beings. The criteria under discussion here is sentience. Yes, plants are living organisms that demonstrate robust adaptive functions; they are capable of reacting to their environment. But so are lower life forms, like bacteria, protists, fungi, and even viruses. Do these organisms warrant moral consideration too? No, because like plants they do not possess the biological equipment necessary to confer sentience: a brain, nervous system, pain receptors, etc. But let’s conceded for a moment that plants are sentient. If this is the case, we’d still be better off adopting a vegan diet, since on a vegan diet we’d only be killing plants, but with an omnivorous diet we’d be killing the animals we eat as well as the plants used to feed those animals.

          “Yes, the logical conclusion of veganism is we’ll end up eating rocks.”

          Nope, it means we continue doing what vegans do now: eat plants.

          In conclusion, the facts are not on your side, and it seems to me that you have a hefty chip on your shoulder when it comes to vegans; however, you have by no means disqualified or refuted Steve’s article, or the moral imperative to be vegan. You are too loose with your claims of straw man, and I think the gist of your position boils down to the following: I will do what I want and I don’t need to fucking explain myself to idiotic vegans. Fine, that is your right, but if our goal is to put forth a logically backed and factual argument, then I think it’s clear that you have not been successful.

          David, please keep in mind that you are not a victim of pushy vegans. You wrote a contentious article that I feel is lacking in logic, and as such I have taken the time to debate the matter with you.

          • Dermot

            @Daosorios:disqus

            I have some extra info to add to my argument regarding the following point you made about the environmental impact of our diets:

            “Once again: I have evidence to back my claims up. I have peer-reviewed papers published in long standing journals with high Impac Factor backing what I’m saying: http://link.springer.com/artic…”

            So this study that you linked me to is being used by bloggers as a means to debunk the claim that a vegetarian diet is better for the environment; this is the intention you had as well. However, the actual authors of the study have apparently taken issue with this mischaracterization of their study. Here are some statements from an article that interviewed them:

            “Multiple headlines Tuesday suggested that a new study determined vegetarianism to be more harmful to the environment than eating meat, flying in the face previous research. But the researchers behind this new study say that’s a total mischaracterization of what they found…In other words, the researchers didn’t find that vegetarianism is bad for the environment. They found that not every plant product is more environmentally friendly than every meat product…The researchers analyzed these potential diets for industrial energy use
            (meaning resources like gasoline and electricity), blue water footprint
            and GHG emissions per calorie…But none of these hypothetical diets were vegetarian.”

            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/vegetarian-bad-for-environment-debunked_567072d7e4b0e292150f95a4

            So basically the study you used to validate your point doesn’t actually support your point at all.

    • Gaujo

      Life displaces life, be it grazing land or crops. Getting co-opted is the marketers oldest trick. “You’re a healthy lad, drink Michelob Ultra”.

    • sombodysdad
    • Simon James

      Firstly the largest studies of vegans all show that after controlling for various confounding factors, vegans have at the very least no worse health than omnivores, and in many area actually have reduced risks of certain cancers and diabetes. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26657045
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23836264

      Secondly you say you give you don’t give animals rights because they lack moral agency, but you do give rights to infants and people with severe mental disabilities despite the fact they too lack moral agency. To arbitrary discriminate against animals based on species is then no different to any other arbitrary discrimination based on group membership.