It’s Not You, It’s Meat.

Via on Jun 10, 2012
Photo: R'eyes

Some day, can we talk about what meat is without you throwing a hissy fit about how I’m moralizing?

I want to be free to say “eating meat is disgusting” without you hearing “you are disgusting.” Because it is, and my reasons are grounded in logic, facts and sound research. And you are not disgusting. The behavior of eating meat in today’s climate? Uninformed, unimaginative, yes. You as a person? Not disgusting.

I love you. Got that? I am not perfect. Hear me? Good, now can we put those two to bed? One time, can we converse about the manufacturing and consumption of animal products without you trotting out an irrelevant but deflecting comment? The tactic belittles both of us.

Let’s skip your quip that I’m judging you or f*cking hurting plants and soil. Yes, I also am ruining the planet by my wasteful existing. I consume oxygen. Guilty as charged. But all of that is irrelevant to this particular storyline and you know it.

You are being deliberately obtuse, consistently, and it obfuscates the conversation. This omnivore’s judo is more than a gut reaction: it is really your only solid argumentative ground.

Japanese Whaling Industrialists have been able to forestall talks about bans at the International Whaling Commission by pointing at the French and going, “Hey, you fois gras munchers, don’t talk to us until you stop force-feeding geese.” That is not an exact quote per se.

Finding fault with the one pointing out your unjust behavior is a vacuous argument which will forestall growth forever. We are all flawed dummies. Can we just start there?

And really, could we skip the threadbare lie that eating meat is a personal choice? I love that you can keep a straight face when you say it, but, as my dad would say, “Ya gotta be sh*ttin’ me.”

Photo: Royalty-free image collection

Animals are not little machines for us. But we don’t even need to go there.

The expense of that steak is shared by everyone. Water subsidies, rivers wrecked by cow manure, un-breathable air, billions of sentient beings suffering, organic, small-time farmers crushed underfoot, they all scream wordlessly that this position is a bald, cold, cruel lie.

Like many lies, it sounds really good. But eating meat is not a personal choice. Ask a cow. Or one of the 94 other animals most meat eaters consume every year. Ask a river. Ask a conscious taxpayer.

I am not talking down to you, or judging you. Now get your head out of your butt before it gets lodged in there permanently. See what I did there?

It is stunning how defensive and protective you meat eaters become when threatened with information and science revealing facts about eating meat. You leap to tangential defenses.

The effort to safeguard a certain amount of ignorance is almost instant, and often hostile. “Oh yeah? Well you drive a car, don’t you?” Ummm, yeah. We are not talking about my driving habit, this is a conversation about what meat is.

“Ha! Bet you heat your home with fuel oil, huh?” The lack of logic is constant, and its power is poleaxing, if that’s the word I’m after.

Bryan Kest, on his Facebook page, recently asked people who argue for a change to plant-based diets to shut up. He coached us to live life as such a power of example that people are simply inspired to emulate us. Seriously. This happened. From a major leader in the yoga world.

Thanks Bryan, that will make change happen. I picture a glacier with a flat tire. Heading uphill. On a windy day.

Meat eaters, on the other hand, run from conversations about the stuff they are eating faster than a policeman cruising toward a donut.

In response to “Forking Up”, a recent article I wrote for elephant, I had a reader comment that since I travel internationally, I cannot claim to be a vegan.

Okay. I give up. You are right.

But that is, without question, the least interesting, most irrelevant comment you could possibly contrive in response to what I wrote. I was talking about the power you command as a fork wielder. How did we get onto my penchant for plane rides?

What a joy to have just read the top essay in the New York Times “Ethicist Contest.” It was a fail on wheels. The task was to write why it is ethical to eat meat. The winning essay singlehandedly redefines the term “oy.”

In it, the writer points to an idyllic method of eating meat that maybe seven people on the planet are doing, and that the vast majority of humans could never afford. The essay is lambasted (!) in the comments so many times over that I’ll spare you the details.

There was no defense, in the essay, for the gruesome, ice-cold practice of producing and eating meat as it happens today. Because you cannot defend that. Really. You can’t.

So meat eaters, if this New York Times contest-winning essay is the best you can do, maybe let’s keep the topic of the meat industry and animal cruelty flowing for awhile.

Seriously. Can we talk?

The habit of deflecting and redirecting the conversation is leaving your side of the argument empty of logic and lacking in depth. The practice of eating meat remains morally undefended.

“Soy cows have feelings too” is funny, but it lets you off the hook on something bigger than you are allowing yourself to see.

You are abdicating an invitation to a more quiet, innocent approach. People like themselves more when they are causing less suffering from their choices. Really. They did studies.

Photo: Identity Photography

Try the salad. One time. Have the beans, they are delicious. Eat one meal knowing no animal died to make the plate. It’s your fork.

Stop being the meat industry’s b*tch.

Because it’s not you.

You are better than that.

 

~

Editor: Kate Bartolotta

Like elephant readers for animal rights on Facebook.

About Karl Saliter

Karl is a circus artist sculptor yoga teacher writer miscreant gypsy, living in Mexico. He often feels as if he was born under a silver whale of a frisbee moon in the back of a red cartoon pickup truck, careening down route 66 at speed, that he somehow took the wheel, stuck his baby elbow out the rolled-down window, and decided to roll with it, and that though the truck had awesome chrome mirrors, he never looked back. He hopes you sometimes feel the same.

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133 Responses to “It’s Not You, It’s Meat.”

  1. Thaddeus Haas Thaddeus1 says:

    Bravo. Humorous and to the point…for once. Thanks. My friend wrote a response to the NYT article as well, which you might want to check out.

    • karlsaliter says:

      Thanks, Thaddeus! Yours seems to be a minority opinion today, and is most welcome. Cheers and I'm glad you commented.

    • karlsaliter says:

      Thaddeus, I finally got time to read the Straw Man article: thank you for sharing it here. I will repost it at the end of this comment stream, I loved it. (Not 100% sold on his conclusion, but it is a great response.)

  2. Katherine says:

    It is very tough to be open to your argument when you use such aggressive language, Karl.

    You seem to have some really good points, but I found myself disinterested, not in your argument, but by the way in which you alternately praise and disparage meat-eaters/readers. That is a manipulative style of relating to someone, and a lot of negative energy to relate to while reading.

    It's very disappointing, because I would so love to see a civil, engaged dialogue on this subject.

  3. maru says:

    It always make me laugh -not really- when I hear the saying…"you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar"?
    What if some of us do not want the damn flies to begin with! I dont want them, the truth i sthe truth and some people just dont want to hear it.

    There are some issues like this one, like slavery, like racism, like rape, which are not a matter of personal choice, but are a matter of LIFE or DEATH for these beings, and are black and white. There has to be an intervention at some point and it may not look like you want it to look. I wait for the day when a massive disease starts killing hundreds of thousands of people, so people can see that what they are eating i snot only disgusting, it is a nuclear bomb!

    Why meat eaters have to be handled with tongs and get so defensive when confronted with the reality of what their choices are doing to others, while vegans are alwayas attacked for standing up for injustice?? Why murdering is ok (by hiding behind the lame excuse of 'here in the artic we´ve been hunting forever -when you know well those were not the people/situations Karl was talking about- ) and trying to stop it is wrong? wow…

    • @Suri_k8 says:

      Dear Maru
      First of all , it seems like you really need to get a dictionary , Murder means the killing of a human being by another human being …. Second , you really sound like a psycho , it is scary …..third, how dare you? do you live in the arctic? If not then you dont know what ur talking about, you live in Mexico dude , where there is an abundance of fruits and vegs all year round ….and finally have you ever considered that a lot of us just dont care ? And that is the truth so deal with it.
      Best wishes
      Suri, an omnivore just like nature intended.

      • karlsaliter says:

        Suri, Maru is right about the arctic comment. Louise talking about the Inuit in this context is a perfect example of the dislocation from the threads of conversations which meat eaters are forever inserting into arguments. Often knowing full well what they are up to. Louise was quite perfectly exemplifying the "intentionally obtuse" point of view.

        I'm not going to take you by the hand and walk you through it, but the readers digest is that the Inuit are not a representation of the average meat eater in today's society.
        Nature also intended for you to enjoy the power of choice. It's kind of cool.

        • Louise Brooks says:

          Okay Karl, why are Inuit not "representative"? If they must eat meat to survive then your absolutist statement that eating meat is morally wrong is incorrect. You are just dancing around the question. You are making "Truth" claims (all meating eating by humans is wrong) and I am saying things are not as black and white as that. That is not a relativist statement. It is a fact.

          • karlsaliter says:

            Louise, the ethics of eating meat in this context does not apply to people who have no other option. And I credit you enough to believe you know that, and are being deliberately obtuse in bringing it up as an example.

          • Louise Brooks says:

            Ah no, Karl. I am not being obtuse. Your essay is an absolutist claim that humans eating meat is immoral. You did not issue a disclaimer with your argument that people with no other option could eat meat. I brought this issue up because it shows the flaw in your absolutist argument.

          • karlsaliter says:

            Morality implies choice, and given that you understand this, of course you are being deliberately obtuse.

        • @Suri_k8 says:

          Exactly , and i choose to eat meat because i have been a vegan and it sucks …..

          • karlsaliter says:

            Depends how you do it, Suri. It can be really delicious with some study.
            Hats off to you for having tried it. It sucks worse for the animals.

          • @Suri_k8 says:

            I didnt try it i lived with it for eight years ….so im not just talking.

    • Louise Brooks says:

      Maru – the saying "catch more flies with honey" is a wonderful wisdom saying. It is a reminder that even if you are the "correct' one in a dialogue you will not get people to see your side if you are nasty and rude to them. In other words, common human decency is required. It isn't difficult that be respectful of other human beings. If you, Karl, and Mike think that yelling at people is the proper way to talk to others than perhaps you three have some self-reflecting to do. You are very attached to your own personal ideas and beliefs and show much contempt for differing opinions.

      Hopefully Karl (and perhaps you too) will see all the posts on this essay as a learning experience. To apply this to the vegetarian/vegan perspective: if we should have respect and reverence for all animals and not eat them then maybe you might want to throw some of that respect towards fellow human beings as well? Just a thought.

  4. maru says:

    In response to the previous comment, where you are put in the spot for using 'agressive language'… it reminded me of a parta of the book 'Franny & Zoooey' that I am currently reading, where in an argument with his sister, Zoeey confronts Franny for being constitutionally unable to listen to or understand the message of a son of God just because he dared to be upset and went into the synagogue and threw tables and idols around…

    I suppose all of us that read tis articles are all adults, we will not break like delicate German crystal glasses because an 'agressive' word is thrown here and there. We are also adult enough to choose to eat a product which is nothing else than the result of brilliant marketing but it nothing else than a cake mix of the pain of innocent beings and corruption.

    There is PLENTY to be furious and frustrated about! What different does it f***ing make? It is the message is what counts.
    Yeah, let's just wait for the time when millions of meat eaters can do us the favor to engage only if invited to coffee and cookies to a civil dialogue. And in the meantime, let's just continue to let billions of animals die with no mercy. IT IS ENOUGH! Not everything has t be sugarcoated all the time!

    Karl, you are a master of words and truth and integrity. This is a wonderful piece.
    I love it to pieces. Papa is right by the way.

    • Katherine says:

      Maru, that we are adults is the exact reason that we should engage in respectful dialogue. I understand that you are passionate about this, but I can imagine that you would not like someone speaking to you as your post has spoken to Louise and I. Dialogue is not about handling someone with tongs or sugarcoating things, it's about respect. I will listen to everything you have to say, as long as you do not disparage me or others.

      Unfortunately, it looks like the meat debate is one of those shouting matches that is not getting anywhere because of all the noise. Like I said, it makes me sad, because I think if people talked to each other, we could get somewhere.

      Louise, right on. You said what I am feeling very well.

      • karlsaliter says:

        Yes Katherine, but respectful dialogue has to include not saying dumbass stuff. "Vegetables feel pain too" presupposes that the speaker cares about the pain of vegetables, which they do not, and that the vegan in their sites is claiming sainthood, which they are not.
        And here's the rub: bullshit like that Abounds from meat eaters. It is their main argument 99% of the time.
        The only reason I sound angry is because I am.
        I am railing against the abdication of intellect in this discourse.

        • Katherine says:

          You know, I think that you just have to relate to people where they are. If they have a belief, it came from somewhere, and whether or not it makes sense, you have to relate to it to change it. Saying that it's "dumbass" is shaming language, and does not help dialogue.

          With starting dialogue, I don't think it's helpful to put the cart before the horse, which is what you seem to do — presupposing that meat-eaters' arguments are "dumbass," "Vegetables feel pain too," etc. By starting a conversation angrily with hurtful language, you set the tone for the rest of the dialogue. That is my point.

        • Louise Brooks says:

          Karl, you write, "Yes Katherine, but respectful dialogue has to include not saying dumbass stuff." No Karl, it does not. However did you reach your stage in life believing that other people are not allowed to say things you disagree with? This is very troubling. True dialogue with another person is going to include statements by both sides that the other side does not agree with. You seem to be saying you will only have a dialogue with someone if they agree to say things you agree with. Do you have a form I must fill out before we have a talk about meat-eating in which I check off the boxes that say "I promise not to use A B C and D arguments to state my perspective"? Sheesh.

          • karlsaliter says:

            Now listen, because I am writing quietly.
            "Vegetables have feelings too" is simply a dumbass remark.
            It derails the dialogue, and is disrespectful. And you know that.

          • Louise Brooks says:

            That is beside the point. You alone cannot dictate the rules of human dialogue. Each side will say things the other side finds silly, insulting, offensive, etc, etc. So what? You must be a real treat to live with.

    • karlsaliter says:

      Maru, thank you for being here. I think your " a cake mix of the pain of innocent beings and corruption " is nothing short of brilliant. I'm stealing it, ok?

  5. Louise Brooks says:

    Katherine is completely correct in her take that Karl's approach in this essay is aggressive. It is also rude, snarky, arrogant and condescending. Haven't you ever heard the popular saying "you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar"? Talking to another human being with this tone will not win any converts nor will it get omnivores to think Karl may have some good points. It is simply a turn off to be talked to in such a manner. Approaching other people with an attitude that you alone possess "the truth" is the height of ego and arrogance. Karl reminds me of the Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons that sometimes come to my front door. Armed with the so-called "love of Jesus" and the way to "eternal happiness" they think they KNOW what is right and just. Much like Karl. Heaven forbid there may be other perspectives in the world.

    Karl, you will not win any converts with your style. You may wish to reflect on why you think you have the final answer on what foods are morally permitted to eat. Unfortunately, life is not so black and white.

    BTW: there are much more than 7 people needing to eat meat on this planet. Come on up to the high Arctic here in Canada. The Inuit have been hunting for thousands of years. They hunt animals and eat meat, or they die. No tofu, veggies or fruit here.

    Mara: excusing Karl's arrogant attitude and hiding behind your belief that he is "right" is cheap and easy.

    • Russ says:

      "Talking to another human being with this tone will not win any converts." Since you compare his tone to that of Mormons, have you noticed they make quite a few converts? But more to the point, your perspective seems to be that there can be no right or wrong, just nice and mean, which I think is entirely wrongheaded. There can be hard truths that are difficult to hear, and sociopaths can seem quite charming.

      • Katherine says:

        It's possible to respect a person but not their perspective, which is my core criticism of this article and dialogue.

        • karlsaliter says:

          Katherine, my respect for people who choose to eat meat is at the core of my upset with their very lame and childlike arguments.

      • karlsaliter says:

        Thanks Russ. I am quite disinterested in flutt and window dressing for this communication, and it looks like you get it.

      • Louise Brooks says:

        Yes, Russ I have met the converts to Mormonism you talk of. The only people that change their entire lives after someone rang their doorbell are extremely needy, lonely, broken people that then adopt the religious belief in hopes it will fix them and fill their lives up with so-called happiness. Not usually the sharpest knives in the drawer. I've worked with these people in spiriitual settings. They substitute one addiction (often drugs, booze) for another (this time religion).

        No, I do not think there is no right or wrong. I am not a relativist. One can hold certain values and beliefs, however, and not wish to hit people over the head with them. This is what Karl's approach is doing. In the case of the morality of humans eating meat – I don't think the issue has been solved. I am open to hearing arguments on both sides. That is the difference between Karl and me. Karl thinks he has it all figured out and he wishes to spread his belief by anger and nastiness towards those with a different perspective on meat-eating.

        • karlsaliter says:

          Thanks for commenting, Louise. One thing I have definitely figured out: the very best arguments for the ethics of eating meat to date are lamer than a fuchsia prom dress. Seriously, if you disagree, let me know of one good one, anywhere. Cheers.

          • Louise Brooks says:

            Karl, you keep dodging the point. It is your approach that I and others have a problem with. The topic of meat eating is irrelevant. You seem either unable or unwilling to really learn from what your critics are trying to tell you. Why?

    • karlsaliter says:

      Louise, what is the "truth" I am writing as if I possess? This article is a request for dialogue beyond the inane pseudo arguments most meat eaters throw out as if they are answers. I am pointing to the idiocy of the argument to date, that is all, and yes, deliberately turning off the PC tone for variety.

      As for my condescending tone, your BTW reveals an incomplete grasp of what I wrote regarding the Times essay.

      I am welcoming other perspectives, but also firmly calling bullshit where I see it.

      • Louise Brooks says:

        Karl, the "truth" you believe you possess is that human meat-eating is morally wrong.

        You write, "This article is a request for dialogue beyond the inane pseudo arguments most meat eaters throw out as if they are answers.". Ha, ha. There is no "request for dialogue" in your essay, Karl. Just you angrily spouting insults at people who have posed counter-arguments to you in the past. It is laughable that you say you want a dialogue. You shut down dialogue right at the starting gate. Dialogue means both sides suspend judgement of each other and really LISTEN to the other person BEFORE answering. You begin your talk by shouting down opposing opinions. This doesn't foster dialogue it discourages anyone from wanting to be in your presence.

        Your essay could be about any topic and my written points would still be the same: please stop yelling and insulting other people and maybe they might listen. However, I don't think you are ready for that as you display a huge amount of anger that needs to be worked through first before you can have a civil conversation with someone.

        • karlsaliter says:

          Louise, you have a point or two there, but there is a void of reasonable argument for eating meat, and a value (to a meat eater or a veggie) in pointing that out.

          That contest in the NY Times really showed how empty the meat eating side is of any valid argument. Yes I had fun and threw some sass around, but at heart everything in this article holds water.

          Have you ever heard a valid ethical argument for eating meat?

          Ridiculing the inane comments like the ones sited in the article is fun. These are generally conversation stoppers,
          and should be held up as the farcical inept rantings that they are.

          Repeating them discredits both parties to the conversation, and believe me, they are often repeated.

          So in point of fact I am looking for dialogue, but I definitely know only too well the nonsense I don't want to hear, so I know how this comes across.

          And I am not yelling, it is you with the busted caps lock button, louise.

          • Louise Brooks says:

            Again Karl. You are dodging the point about your approach. And again, why? This is all quite revealing about your personality. You are right everyone on the opposing side is wrong.

    • __MikeG__ says:

      Lousie, why are you whining about the tone of the article and not providing an actual counter argument the the premise of the article instead? Is it because you do not have a counter argument? Instead you put forth a red herring about flies and honey and being turned off?

      Also i think it is hilarious that you provide a bullshit and off-topic argument to contradict an article which is about people making bullshit and off topic arguments. Thanks for that, I needed the laugh.

      • Louise Brooks says:

        Mike, I am not "whining". I am calmly outlining how Karl's essay is rude and angry and is thus a turn-off to those with a differing opinion than his. If you read my post immediately above this one you will see I think Karl could be arguing about any old topic and still I would feel the same way if he continued to use the same approach.

        What exactly is my "bullshit and off-topic argument" that you speak of? I am merely speaking objectively about his writing style and pointing out how problematic it is.

        • __MikeG__ says:

          My language was much too aggressive. I apologize for any offense you may have felt. I will take this as a learning experience in effective communication. Thank you for that.

          I agree that tone is important. But the article is about people making poor arguments. It is not about how the bad arguments are worded. Your objection is about the tone of the article. It would have been much better to not worry as much about the tone as it would to have been to argue for/against the actual subject of the article, IMO.

          And for the record I did not have the same reaction to the tone of the article as you did. I like strong opinions put forth forcefully.

  6. maru says:

    I agree with Russ, some things just have to be said…

    • Louise Brooks says:

      Wow, you and Karl really do deserve each other. Quite a friendly pair aren't you? Just heap scorn and contempt on your fellow human beings each and every day. No ahimsa for humans, only for animals.

  7. GeoffOfOz says:

    I guess it comes down to whether you actually want to convince other people, or just put a message out there. Marketing is all about convincing people.

    I am sure want to convince people of your point of view, as you believe it is a moral issue, and that there is only one right answer – don’t eat meat. You aren’t interested in a conversation or an informed choice, merely a conversion.

    Food is culture, first and foremost. Most of the things we do with food are based on social and community needs not nutritional necessity. When you threaten their social and community needs, or are at least perceived to, people react angrily.

    Persuading and convincing people needs to more comprehensively allow for this.

    • karlsaliter says:

      Thanks Geoff, breath of fresh air that was. You are right of course, but a re-read might convince you that I am not looking for conversion so much as asking WTF regarding the threadbare excuses currently on offer from the meaters. (Conversion would be nice, don't get me wrong, but I'm just looking to put some utter crap to rest, for now.)
      If people were to post here reasons why it is ok to eat meat in today's climate, I'm all ears. In fact, my interest in a conversation prompted me to hear what meat eaters most often say: the garbage I posted above.
      Your comment on food as culture is interesting, especially because I often speak very lightly, believe it or not, and find that people go from zero to hostile in about 5 seconds. You are right.
      Now how do we allow for this reaction, and make progress?
      My hopes are for subtle shifts in our culture which will make carrot ginger soup sacred,
      and rotting flesh between slices of bread prohibitive. It is not as big a leap as it appears.

      • GeoffOfOz says:

        Thanks karlsaliter – I can only speak from my own experience. I went vegan last month and the hardest thing about it that I found, once i was confident about my nutrition (information I found easy – Vegan for Life is a Great resource) was that it is isolating. Which led to my thinking regarding food as culture.

        My reason for going vegan was one of sustainability and limiting unnecessary suffering, as well as to eat clean and healthy. Limiting, not eliminating. My own situation was based on the above concept, however importantly not feeling like I was apologising for existing.

        As such after a month vegan I had a weekend where I ate what I wanted again. The first taste of bacon again was delicious! Chocolate! Cakes! Biscuits! However, what I recognised was that it was more comforting to be in the group again and feel like I was "living life" and not placing "unnecessary restriction" on my lifestyle (which I certainly feel that being vegan is regarded as unnecessary by the "mainstream"). Thus ongoing for the moment I am looking at vegan weeks and vegetarian weekends and eating kangaroo meat (I'm in Aus). Are there holes in this argument? You betcha! But as with any change I believe that it being imperfect and sustainable, not only environmentally, but emotionally and socially for myself is important.

        I just wanted to see your opinion on these points. Do you think there is more to going vegan than the science (which by the way, I believe is strong, but it is a disciplined diet, more disciplined than most people I believe can muster)?

        • karlsaliter says:

          Yes, I believe there is way more to it than the science. I'm in it for the compassion as well. I think the choice requires discipline only until you learn how to cook delicious, cheap vegan, then you are golden.

          Your approach is very intelligent, and I wish more people would do it. It sounds like you are going about it in a really smart way, Geoff.

  8. Ariel Nessel says:

    Thank your Karl. It is indeed remarkable for me to see how many serious spiritual aspirants still eat the flesh of their fellow earthlings. I think the challenge for the ethical vegan community is to try and recall what dust was covering our eyes when we use to eat animals, and what was it that allowed us to see more clearly the consequences of our actions and make a change. Allen Drury wrote that "People defend nothing more violently than the pretenses they live by." So how do we encourage others in a way that provokes a willingness to question their often un-investigated assumptions? That is what I would am trying to figure out. I do believe it has something to do with expressing my personal sadness and heart-felt concern surrounding the horrific lives and deaths of countless beings who are my equals in their ability to feel pain and suffer.

    As far as what Bryan Kest wrote, I would conjecture that many of his personal heroes would have very different opinions about about activism on topics closer to his heart such as anti-semitism, racism, environmentalism etc. In an ideal world, inspired actions would speak loud enough to also inspire change for the masses. Alas, this is not the world we live in, where billions of dollars and hundreds of years of cultural have trained humans to not consider the needs of their co-inhabitants of this planet. I like the way Albert Einstein put it back in 1930's Germany: "The world is too dangerous to live in — not because of the people who do evil, but because of the people who sit and let it happen." and as the famous Nazi "hunter" and Nobel Peace Prize winner Eli Weisel put it… "We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.". Or, even one degree further, from Martin Luther King Jr, "Our lives begin and end the day we become silent about the things that matter."

    So thank you for your editorial and rather than "shut up" as Mr. Kest would like, keep speaking your truth, so that others can reflect to see the deeper truth, that as we do to others we also do to ourselves.

    • karlsaliter says:

      Thanks Ariel. You pose the most interesting question so far, and certainly, I do not know. The question " how do we encourage others in a way that provokes a willingness to question their often un-investigated assumptions?" is fascinating to me.
      Certainly the above article is no attempt at that, it is more of a gallon of gas and a match.
      This previous article showcases a video which at least approaches your question with some forethought. http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/02/grammy-ad-
      These people are engaging meat eaters with kindness, and it works.

  9. @Suri_k8 says:

    Karl
    You forgot to mention the science part where it says that animal protein is the only reason we could evolve such big, complex brains like the ones we have now…..so meat is the only reason why you can write this story.

    • karlsaliter says:

      Suri, thanks for commenting. Where does it say that exactly?
      Is there a further part where it says evolving past that point is wrong?

    • Thaddeus Haas Thaddeus1 says:

      Citation? Anyone…citation?

      P.S. Still waiting for you, from three or four conversations ago, to list off those science creds you got.

      • __MikeG__ says:

        I made a reply to suri about the protein/ big brain hypothesis. I think we may be in agreement as to not being convinced by the argument.

        But generally I I like suri's posts, even though we have occasional disagreements. From my reading she has a good general knowledge of the scientific method. And BTW, it does not require a PHD to have an understanding of the scientific method. All it takes is interest, an open mind and a willingness to educate oneself.

        • Thaddeus Haas Thaddeus1 says:

          I agree with you MikeG, in part. We are definitely on the same page regarding the paucity of evidence in support of Suri's claim.

          And I agree with you, in part, that one need not have a PhD in anything to be a knowledgeable representative. However, the question I put to Suri stems from one of the many posts in which you, me, she and others have tangled over the role science plays in the construction of knowledge. In those comments, I have been taken to task for my purported lack of experience with science to which I have provided my credentials. But, I'm glad to hear that you hold this view, so I can count on you the next time we meet on the field of debate to support my "right" to speak despite my lack of a PhD in science.

          But, the real issue still remains, because while I believe you are correct, you still wouldn't go to a piano teacher to learn guitar, or to sculptor to learn how to paint. Our experience is relevant to the arguments we make. And I must admit that Suri's above claim only serves to pique my interest regarding her actual training in and understanding of the scientific method, since as you rightly point out below, there simply ain't shit that science has to say about the "protein/big brain hypothesis" given the experimental limitations surrounding the impossibility of time travel.

          So, essentially Suri's above claim is an example of what I find suspicious about those who tout science without actual experience in the field. The throwing out of, "well, science says…" is merely a fallacious appeal to a perceived authority and like most fallacies is intended to circumvent real critical, reflective thought.

          I know that the above is probably way more than you asked for, but I appreciate your attention and look forward to our future discussions.

          • __MikeG__ says:

            Hey Thaddeus. Even though we have argued my guess is that we probably would agree more than disagree on many subjects. And I still like most of suri's posts. How could I not like a person whose avatar is a cat wearing a melon helmet?

            I don't think I have ever questioned someones right to speak. I have questioned many persons understanding of the subject under discussion. And I will continue to do so if a person is speaking without a fundamental understanding of the subject at hand. I will call out anyone on a faulty understanding as I also should be called out when my understanding is faulty.

            And notice I said fundamental and not expert level. I believe (without experimental data to back up my assertion :) ) that a knowledgeable layman can have a very good understanding of a subject. If one wants to become a guitar expert then one should learn from a guitar expert. But a piano teacher can still have a good understanding of the fundamentals of playing a guitar.

            And I like many others use the term science like science is any entity, which is incorrect. One cannot send mail to science and science cannot drive a car. What I mean by science is the scientific method of hypothesis, evidence, experimentation and evidence based conclusions all performed in a perpetual loop by experts in the field.

            And I don't have blind faith in science. And for the record professional scientists to not have blind faith in science either. An expert in the scientific method would make my little calls for evidence look paltry by comparison. Professional scientists are for the most part extremely rigorous in the call for evidence of a claim.

          • Thaddeus Haas Thaddeus1 says:

            Absolutely. I completely agree.

            As you point out science is not an entity, which is exactly what makes Suri's comment problematic.

            In addition, scientists also don't ever talk about proving something, because they know "the rules" i.e., induction, of science don't actually allow for such things. Sure, there is "proof beyond a reasonable doubt," but even this is a very different animal than what one often encounters in blog comment threads.

            But, I think you're right…I do believe we would agree more than disagree if we are ever fortunate enough to converse in person.

          • @Suri_k8 says:

            Aw Mike , you are adorable ….i like my cat/helmet avatar too….lol 8)

    • __MikeG__ says:

      Suri, I am aware of no experimental results which support the animal protein/big brain hypothesis because it is impossible to create experiments on evolutionary phenomena which happened millions of years ago.

      Unless I am wrong the hypothesis states that our pre-human ancestors ate meat and got big brains. But the hypothesis suffers from the cultural bias of meat eating scientists. It is also likely that our ancestors started to get big brains and then used those bigger brains to create ballistic weapons, cutting tools and then tamed fire in order to eat meat. And since they were always a few weeks away from starving to death some of them added meat to their diets so that they could add a few years to the average lifespan of 25-ish years old.

      • @Suri_k8 says:

        Hi Mike , buddy
        But why did they add meat? Is it not because it is a high quality food ? What advantages did our ancestors get from eating meat? And why did we kept meat in our diet ? There is no record of any vegan primitive society why?
        Btw hindus dont count as a good example because they eat dairy , i dont think they have been vegetarian for more than 2000 years …maybe …..an expert in hinduism could give us a more acurate date.

        • __MikeG__ says:

          I think they added meat because they were always on the verge of starving to death. Any food source was welcome. Maybe not starving to death is a big enough advantage in itself.

          Before our ancestors developed the mental capacity to build tools, weapons and tame fire they did not bring down game animals. They probably ate bugs but an ancient bison would laugh its ass off if bare handed pre-humans tried to eat it.

          My problem with using science to say modern humans require meat because our ancient ancestors ate some meat is that there is no way we can verify that claim due to the time scales involved. The current state of nutritional science does not completely support or deny either side of the vegetarian/meat eating argument.

          So, it is just my (somewhat informed) opinion that meat is not required for the health of modern humans. But if I ever did come to the conclusion ( or science provided a clear answer) that modern humans do in fact require some meat in their diets I do know that I would never supply myself with meat from a factory farm. Only grass fed pasture raised animals would suffice.

          • @Suri_k8 says:

            Just to clarify im not saying modern humans need meat just because our ancestors did, what i wanted to point out is that the consumption of meat helped in our evolution.

            As for the rest , fair enough I agree although i would like to add that a vegan diet is not for everyone and i say that from personal experience.

            Hugz

          • __MikeG__ says:

            Hugz back

    • mijnheer says:

      At least two recent scientific studies (one published in the journal Nature, in December 2011, and the other in The Journal of Evolutionary Biology, June 2012) claim to refute the so-called Expensive-Tissue Hypothesis. Although it's true that our remote ancestors ate meat as a good source of energy, it would now appear that eating meat was neither necessary nor sufficient for evolving large brains.

      Even if the Expensive-Tissue Hypothesis makes a comeback, there is a logical fallacy involved in inferring an "ought" (that eating meat these days is ethically justified) from an "is" (how part of our anatomy evolved).

      • @Suri_k8 says:

        You are right but the Navarrete paper in Nature doesnt exclude meat from the equation ……
        Here is the link to the article. Navarrete et al posted in Nature 2011 , Energetics and the evolution of human brain size, http://saki.caltech.edu/biCNS158/PDFs/Navarrete20

        And a peek:
        Starting with Early Pleistocene Homo, this increase could have come from any of the three sources listed in Fig. 3. First, they improved diet quality as indicated by increased consumption of meat and bone marrow1 and by tool-assisted food processing, at one point including cooking4. Second, despite having moved into highly seasonal habitats9 they reduced temporal fluctuations in energy budgets by cognitive buffer- ing25, which is also known for other primates15 and birds14. Third, provisioning and food sharing probably arose with the adoption of cooperative breeding and substantial meat acquisition among the earlier representatives of the genus Homo4,26. Comparative research suggests that such energy subsidies for reproducing females and dependent offspring can support increased brain size19,21.
        The second pathway to brain enlargement is increased energy allocation to the brain by savings on other expensive functions, although the expensive-tissue hypothesis for organs is no longer sup- ported. One likely trade-off could be found between brain size and the costs of locomotion……..

        ,

        • @Suri_k8 says:

          In fact if you check out figure 3 , it proposes complementary pathways that include improved diet quality , For an adaptive increase in relative brain size :

          Increase in net energy input—–>
          Improved diet quality -Energy subsidies (cooperative breeding)-Stabilized energysupply(avoidance of starvation)
          Change in energy allocation—–>(-)Locomotion costs , (-)production
          = Larger brain (relative to bodysize)

          This is the part that refutes the ETH but it has to do with gut size:
          These results therefore refute the expensive-tissue hypothesis as a general principle to explain the interspecific variation of relative brain size in mammals. In our view, this finding reduces the plausibility of the argument that human encephalization was made possible by a reduc- tion of the digestive tract1,5.

          • @Suri_k8 says:

            The one in the journal of Evolutionary Biology , is about fish and metabolism and has nothing to do with meat, cant comment on it because i could only find the abstract: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1420

          • @Suri_k8 says:

            I wonder if you only read the abstract because well, if you had read the entire story you would have noticed that meat is definitely mentioned.

          • @Suri_k8 says:

            Oh and in the abstract it says that "support for the hypothesis is mixed".

          • mijnheer says:

            Here are a couple of extracts from the JEB article:

            "There are three obvious explanations for the mixed support the expensive-tissue hypothesis has received in comparative studies: First, it is possible that the expected constraints do exist, but that differences in the selective forces acting on different species obscure the correlations that those constraints would be expected to generate. Second, it is possible that the constraints do not exist, but that selective forces may sometimes introduce negative correlations between tissues that are then inaccurately interpreted as evidence of trade-offs due to constraints. Third, it is possible that the expected constraints exist, but the trade-offs they produce are simply too weak to be detected in many comparative studies. By conducting this study within a single species, we control for the first two possibilities. We therefore believe that the lack of support seen here for the predicted constraints is a strong indication that the expected constraints simply are not relevant for some species even at this high level of variation in investment, and that changes in investment in metabolically expensive tissues are primarily compensated for in ways that do not produce changes in tissue mass. …
            "We suggest that support for the expensive-tissue hypothesis from comparative studies be viewed with considerable scepticism if the effects of the hypothesized constraints have not been demonstrated within any of the studied species."

            I am not an evolutionary biologist, so I am not in a good position to assess the merits of these studies. The subject is fascinating, but from the standpoint of ethics, how humans got their big brains in the first place is simply irrelevant.

  10. La mexicana says:

    Maru y Karl me encantaría que le echaran todo este rollito a los lancheritos de playa , a ver que cara ponen, y de paso sugieranles que se compren su lechita de soya de 40 pesos el litro…..su ideología vegana solo cabe en EU y el primer mundo y con los ricos…..cero contacto con la realidad.

    • Andrea Balt Andréa Balt says:

      Pareces no estar muy enterada de tu propia realidad. He vivido en ambas realidades, tanto la del "primer mundo y con los ricos" como en la menos rica y mi cambio al veganismo he produjo precisamente en un pueblo en el corazón de Argentina (el país de la vaca y sus derivados) sin niguna otra "rica alternativa" a la carne, que no fuesen las frutas, legumbres, nueces y verduras básicas. Cuando a uno verdaderamente le interesa la verdad (y por verdad me refiero a la pura realidad – de la que te puedes informar en cualquier estadística) sobre todas las cosas (comodidad, costumbre, etc.), encuentra una manera de conseguir vivir esa verdad.

      Cada día hay más gente en Sudamérica que se niega a participar de esta locura colectiva a escala mundial y vuelve las raíces originales.Si echas un vistazo en las tiendas y quioscos de los países pobres te darás cuenta de que lo que necesitan no son productos caros como susituto a la carne – porque la carne, dietéticamente, no tiene ninguna necesidad de ser susituída. Lo que necesitan es educación para saber cómo mejor utilizar sus recursos naturales (abundantes en la mayoría de estos países) y reavivar sus cultivos, cargados de todos los nutrientes necesarios para una vida saludable. Ah, y clases de cocina para poder disfrutar de sus plantas.

      Mencionas la soja como producto alternativo, pero ni siquiera es una opción decente (más allá de que en el mercado la presenten como tal y se intenten aprovechar del tema). La soja es una de las legumbres más problemáticas tanto porque es genéticamente modificada (en su mayoría – e incluso cuando supuestamente no es GMO, es imposible detectar si ha sido o no contaminada – lo más seguro siendo lo primero) y también porque es altamente alergénica y provoca numerosos problemas de salud actualmente no identificados como resultado de su consumición.

      Con tu argumento consigues ejemplificar lo que Karl menciona en el artículo: esquivas, derivas, desconoces y te excusas.

  11. karlsaliter says:

    Thanks for commenting La Mexicana. I am not sure I follow you, but I do know it is cheaper to eat veggies than meat. Especially after you factor in the cost per heart attack.

  12. jean says:

    Death is as much a part of the nature of this world as life. You live in a world where animals eat other animals, part of nature. It is in human nature as well to eat animals. Yes it is vital that we make healthy eating for ourselves and for the planet a priority, but you will not change a human pattern that is ancient overnight or probably not at all. You most certainly will not change many people with shaming language and anger filled diatribes. Fundamentalism of any kind is not good for the world. It is rooted in anger, flowers into hatred and can bear fruits of violence. Be mindful of how you engage in the world that you claim to be trying to make a better place.

    • __MikeG__ says:

      And yet you do not seem to realize that your comment of "it is human nature to eat animals" is itself a fundamentalist statement. There has never been a single human diet and there has never been a single version of human nature. Ancient humans and our pre-human ancestors lived short, violent and disease ridden lives. Their diets were mainly dictated by their environments and had nothing to do with your post modern perspective of human nature.

      • jean says:

        No it is not fundamentalist at all. I deeply respect people who have chosen vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. Fundamentalism is when one rigidly and relentlessly promotes and zealously defends his/her viewpoint with no room for other's views. Fundamentalists believe they are 100% right and those who don't agree with them are 100% wrong.
        They approach their activism from a base of anger and judgment. I am most definitely not that but I do have a broader and more forgiving viewpoint on this topic. And it is within the nature of humans to eat meat, we know this because people eat meat.

        • Thaddeus Haas Thaddeus1 says:

          You may be right that your claim is not "fundamentalist," but it is definitely "essentialist" and I would point out that it begs the question, but in order for there to be an actual fallacy one would have had to actually make an argument.

          At present all you've done is asserted that a) there is such a thing as human nature (probably going to be hard to argue this one) and b) that part of this nature is the consumption of animal flesh (probably going to be hard given the difficulties associated with "a").

          The overwhelming irony is that this post is about poor argumentation and yet the very same trends continue in the comments. It's a good day to have a philosophy degree and if I was still teaching I could use this entire comment stream as a tutorial about how to fail Critical Thinking 101.

          • Jean says:

            You clearly are not getting my point. I am not saying that the premise of this article is false. I agree that the meat industry (read industry as opposed to small organic meat producers) is essentially harmful. I believe if people choose to eat meat it is best if possible to eat organic, locally and humanely grown meat in moderation. My response is more about the approach and mindset of the author. The world needs compassionate activists not shaming ones.

          • Thaddeus Haas Thaddeus1 says:

            Oh no…I get what you're saying.

            You're more concerned about critiquing a rhetorical strategy than dealing with the "meat and potatoes" of the argument. I get it. That's fine. However, if you are going to do so, I might suggest not doing so by employing the same debunked style of argumentation that the author challenges in the piece. But, then again, if you are too hung up on the rhetorical strategy then perhaps you didn't actually get the point of the piece.

            Which to my understanding is that if we are ever to have a serious discussion regarding the moral implications of the consumption of animal flesh then this will require both sides to be frank and honest in their approach and require that we avoid using misleading and irrelevant argumentation. Like for instance, your point about the difference between "industry meat" and "humanely grown meat" might fall into this category if the question is about whether or not it is moral to consume the flesh of another living being. The answer to this question most likely will not revolve around whether or not the cow or chicken was happy before you dined on it.

          • __MikeG__ says:

            Ok, I stand corrected. Not fundamentalist but I was attempting to get the point across that the assertion was not valid. Good post Thaddeus, you did a much better job than I did in stating what bothered me about Jean's post. Remind me to not ever argue philosophy with you.

          • Jean says:

            Interesting, it does not seem you are interested in a discussion at all. You seem to be, as I said, only interested in arrogantly shoving your view down other peoples throats. Discussions on "morality" are always complex and tend to be very polarizing. I did get the point of the piece. What don't you get about treating people (as well as animals) with respect? You will not change people by making them feel small, so if that is truly your objective then again you should reconsider your approach. I concede you are more educated and better equipped in the matters of philosophy and argumentation, but people respond much more to those who posses both intelligence and charisma, emotional intelligence. Just a suggestion.

          • Thaddeus Haas Thaddeus1 says:

            Well, I'm sorry that you find me unpleasant and lacking in emotional intelligence. My friends and family will be so disappointed to learn of this.

            Personally, I'm not interested in being popular, or even being right. I'm interested in searching for the truth and if in this process I offended your sensibilities by pointing out that your comments were failing to address what I see as the article's main point, then I sincerely apologize.

            I simply feel that choosing to focus on the above piece's rhetorical strategy as a reason to not consider the, as you correctly point out, complex moral issues it raises is a wee-bit dis-ingenious and exactly the issue raised by the author.

          • Jean says:

            I have and do consider the complex moral issues but do so in spite of people who just can't seem to do so without using profanity or saying things like "get your head out of your butt before it gets lodged there permanently". This is a yoga teacher who is supposed to live by the ethical and moral precepts of the yamas and niyamas, and violating them in the name of observing them also seems a wee bit dis-ingenuous. Maybe you are not a yoga practitioner and if not I suggest you try it. I agree there is no singular study that I have found to suggest that humans must eat meat or always do so or that it is necessary. I am just pointing out that there is more than science involved. People tend to align with social, economic and cultural trends and the science you speak of is not readily available to the general public, not to mention the poor who have far more dire concerns at hand than either of our positions on this topic. Even if all the science and all the facts are on your side you still have to be able to deliver and disseminate the information in a way that does not alienate the very people you would want to reach. Vegan activists have a steep uphill battle in front of them. I hope you do find the truth, but it is a whole different thing to use that truth to change the world, and if not to that end then why bother at all. Goodnight and namaste.

          • __MikeG__ says:

            Your not so bad, Thaddeus. No matter what Jean says.

          • @Suri_k8 says:

            Well, thaddeus if there is no such thing as human nature , then are we like blank slates? I think most evolutionary biologists , and evolutionary psychologists …. Would disagree … Geneticists too.

          • Thaddeus Haas Thaddeus1 says:

            Well, while it is a step up to cite a particular branch of science over the blank amorphous non-entity of "science," I'm still going to have to ask for some citations with which we can think with on this one.

            You know throwing out a bunch of headings and names does not an argument make. And even if you can provide me a study, or several studies, which purport to have some evidence of a such a thing as "human nature," I'm guessing that these aforementioned studies are going to fall short of providing "evidence beyond a reasonable doubt" which is only going to result in us having to resort to our critical evaluative skills.

            So, what do you say, we stop the name dropping appeals to perceived authority and just use our good ol' noggins to think about this? And we can start by coming up with one feature that is, has been and always will be essential, i.e, necessary, to being human. You can go first.

          • @Suri_k8 says:

            Thaddeus , you are good man , i like the way you force the conversation towards your side of the yard…very clever … You wanted citations i gave you citations , but no citation will ever be good enough because well….you just dont like science…and yet you seem to think philosophy is a better tool to explain the world … Well good for you i respect that … What my critical evaluative skills tell me is that no argument will ever be valid for you unless it agrees with your relativistc way of thinking ….which really gets us nowhere ….relativism reinforces ignorance, really.

            Like i said you are clever , but i wont play by your rules ……my 2 citations are better than your ZERO citations , you arguments come from nowhere …you say there is no such thing as human nature but you yourself cannot provide any evidence to support that claim … So i guess your own arguments and demands apply for you too , you are not above everyone else just because you know how to make a logical argument ….and like it or not you are not above nature or its laws …if you get a nasty bug you will have to make use of that Indeterminate void you call science….

          • paul says:

            Perhaps I missed them or they disappeared, but could you re-post the two citations?

          • Thaddeus Haas Thaddeus1 says:

            Well, thank you for the nice compliments. I'm sure you are a very good person as well.

            And while I am sure it is more comfortable for you to think you understand me and my relationship to science and the world, I can tell from the above that you don't. In fact, I bet you might be surprised about what I think regarding all sorts of things. I'll also bet that it is easier for you to see me in your mind as unreasonable although nothing could be further from the truth. I simply refuse to accept something on a simple appeal to authority.

            I'm sure my persistent holding of your feet to the fire actually requiring you to account for your statements is tiresome since it requires you to examine perhaps unexamined ideas about the world in which you live.

            As for my arguments in opposition to human nature, I will merely assert the charge that has been laid at my feet so many times before regarding the existence of God et al. Atheists and scientists are quick to point out that they are not required to disprove God's existence since the burden of proof lies on the individual making the claim. I, myself, am not always convinced of this argument, but in this particular instance, I've made no claim but merely questioned your assertion. So, I'm sorry to say but in this case the burden lies on you.

            Looking forward to those citations.

          • @Suri_k8 says:

            Well, like you said throwing a bunch of headings and names doesnt make an argument ,right?…im stoping the name dropping appeals to authority like you requested and i will stick to my own opinion ….i have been a vegan and i dont like it , i dont think that any animals will actually be saved if I , Suri stop eating meat ….i think that for that to be true a decent percentage of the worlds population must stop eatin meat in order to actually affect the industry …. Maybe this is an excuse , maybe this is not even logical , i dont care , i need animal protein and my health goes first ….so for all vegans out there including karl and maru …sorry , been there done that and dont intend to go back.

          • karlsaliter says:

            Thank you Thaddeus!

  13. maru says:

    Le comento a la Mexicana que a excepcion de los ninos, los humanos dejamos de necesitar soya a MUY temprana edad, asi que se pueden ahorrar la lechita de soya a 40 pesos el litro (informacion falsa por cierto) e intentar alimentar a sus hijos con mas leguminosas, cereales, frutas y verduras, digo, si de verdad les importan sus hijos. O prefieren darles carne saturada de antibioticos, hormonas, excremento, y muchos mas interesantes ingredientes. Lo de siempre, poca informacion.

  14. karlsaliter says:

    Deep thanks to Suri and Jean! It was a genuine pleasure to read your comments,
    especially where you have unintentionally reinforced much of what I posit in the article.

    I believe the search for ethical reasons to eat meat will continue.
    As billions of animals are born into 24/7 suffering and killed without mercy, the question
    "Is this right?"
    can continue to be avoided by sheer unapologetic bluster.

    At least we can take comfort in our old friend Irony.

    • Jean says:

      Karl all science and proof aside what I am telling you is the reality of what you are up against in your fight. The vast majority of people in this world eat meat, they have been doing so for thousands of years and will continue to do so. If you would have read and paid attention to everything I said I really am in agreement with you. I do feel that the meat industry is harmful to people and the planet but you will not change many people with this approach. I wish you luck in finding methods to create change, but honor your yamas and niyamas in the process. I found your language and presentation to be a violation of the ahimsa you claim to hold so dear.

    • @Suri_k8 says:

      You are very welcome karl…..still …i dont see you actually doing something about the meat industry other than the personal meat boycott…..i dont see you trying to change legislation , or creating a pressure group in order to force the meat industry to change its practices….really other than being a vegan and whining about meat eaters what are you doing to change things???

      • karlsaliter says:

        Suri that is a topic for a different article, and a good one. But its also yet another deflection. Discredit the author to obfuscate the topic.

        • @Suri_k8 says:

          Or dissmiss an uncomfortable comment by saying it is off topic …..very clever… Well , not so much …
          Karl , there are millions of animals dying right now and you are here "raising awareness" , expecting other people to put their buttsies in the line….. If all vegans are as worried as you, dont expect things to change…..in the meantime how many cows did you save since you posted this??

          • karlsaliter says:

            Well, you seem pretty stuck on this, so:
            I work with and donate to local animal rescue groups in Mexico and the states.
            I am organizing a festival to spread dietary/cruelty awareness this coming fall.
            I give to Mercy for Animals and PETA.
            I opened a non-commercial yoga center that disseminates pro-vegetarian information to students daily.

            Now having answered your question, really, the question is beside the point. Trading question for question, do you have any ethical reason why it is ok to eat meat, given how it is produced? I think it is really sad that you stopped veganism because of the old "what difference can one person make". You obviously care.

          • @Suri_k8 says:

            Hi karl , i like this new tone of yours , more honest , better than the one you used in your original post …. So i will drop my agenda and be honest too ….. I stopped veganism for health reasons and i know you ve heard this before but it is true , it happens , some people just dont do good with a vegan diet ….and this is why im so convinced veganism is not for everyone , because i think there are lots of people like me that have had the same problem , you try and try but your body just wont adjust , ill spare you the datails , ill just say that it took me 4 years to gain all the pounds i lost after 8 years of veganism .

            I dont have an answer to your question , i wish veganism worked for me but it doesnt and i do care . Being honest , i dont think meat eating will ever go away and that is why i think that all of those who are interested in animal welfare should invest their energies also in changing how the meat industry works today.

            And im sorry for being so pessimistic but i am convinced that not even the 3-9 million vegans that live in the us (which is the most veganized country) can actually make a big difference , a difference that matters…. Unless they organize and start working towards conquering less ambitious goals ( veganizing everyone being the most ambitious goal)

            One last thing , i dont think that putting all the blame on the consumer is beneficial , producers and the industry in itself are just as guilty , why would they be spared of guilt.?

  15. paul says:

    I don't recall where I read this, but, "the only sustainable living is stone-age living." If you are living in of and from "the land" then the ethical stance is going to take different parameters and framing than those of us reading and typing on computers and living in thoughts. If you want to go and eat meat, go and raise it and eat it, hunt it with tools "of the land" and of course do the courtesy of thanking your food. If you want to eat vegetables go raise it and eat it. Here is the first link I saw: http://www.home-vegetablegarden.com/ If you can follow through, it will pay for itself. But regardless, do everyone a favor and be thankful for your food.
    If meat-eaters are going to try and make any case amongst vegetarians, they can skip the "born this way" arguments (also made by vegetarians) and start with the obvious facts of the horrors of factory farming. So too can vegetarians make headway by asking for consuming only animals known to have been raised in "natural" and open environments- it is more expensive and it tastes better, and is more a treasure- are you eating trash or treasure? But regardless give thanks for your food.
    As for rhetorical approach of this article, I liked that it addressed some of the over-reaches and false parallels made for meat eating, and tried to talk to people like they are humans, but still I found the negativity distasteful. I think people can be sassy and flashy without calling people variations of stupid head.

    • __MikeG__ says:

      Nice insights, Paul.

    • karlsaliter says:

      Paul you are right, there is no need for the writing to be hurtful.
      I believe I have been calling people's lame, vacuous arguments stupid, not people.
      And I think the difference is a huge one. But that's just me.

      I also agree with your idea of giving thanks, and growing food. Both are awesome.

      • paul says:

        It is a thin line, and many people don't see how calling an argument names is any different from calling the progenitor of the argument names. And I don' think you've been sticking to arguments, with "You are being deliberately obtuse, consistently, and it obfuscates the conversation. This omnivore’s judo is more than a gut reaction" and "Now get your head out of your butt before it gets lodged in there permanently." to pick a few. (vs. "keeping to X argument and X statement is being obtuse" or "here are some facts that need to be on the table before any discussion is to be had") Maybe there is some irony I miss in these statements, but if you are going to address the arguments, don't involve the people who make them. Emotion and identity is an integral part of food, and even the most delicate phrasing is going to be met with anger and defensiveness.
        That said, I do say "because it is disgusting" when asked why, and name health and environmental hazards, and ethical objections. And if they ask "so am I disgusting" I say "I don't know, that's up to you" (because it is). But I'm not much of a proselytizer because I've been eating dairy and rarely from places I trust; in other words I'm a hypocrite (not to mention my sad tomato plants). (Which is another game played in these debates- who's the bigger hypocrite, a game that lays no groundwork for trust and honesty, which are vital to get to any understanding.) I wonder though about PETA who I think has helped to make a lot of progress, mainly because I see more acceptance than contempt for vegetarians, maybe not so much their a particular aggressive tactic, but their aggressive presence has forced a cultural acceptance. Ok phew, I didn't expect to go on so, if I have one critique of this article it's that I found it confusing in tone, being simultaneously accepting/engaging and insulting. But thank you for it, while it may not have saved any cows (!), at the very least I'm an instance of a person reevaluating their dairy consumption, disproving the contention that writing has no value.

  16. Andrea Balt Andréa Balt says:

    Wow! I am amazed by reading all the comments on this article… There are hardly a couple addressing the real issue and providing counter-arguments, and half of those only prove what you're saying in the post, Karl… Rhetoric? Really? Did you read the article? It's like going to a museum & arguing about the picture frames…

    It reminds me of this one time in college. I studied in Argentina (a country famous for its yummy cows & dairy) & as a final project for one of my communication classes, my friend & I made a short documentary on the problem of eating meat in our current reality…in which we tried to present the problem of the current meat industry and its negative, massive effects on the environment, health, economics, politics, etc. (a general view)…Anyway, the dept. chair was also invited to the showing and after watching our short, he raised his hand.

    We were excited as to what his arguments could be – he was considered an ahimsa-type-intelligent-man-in-a-high-position-deep-bow-to-you-kind-of-dude & an avid cow-&-other-living-beings-eater (like most people in that town). We were ready to discuss… Anyway, he says: "It's an embarrassing, journalistic low-blow on your part to show this video & make us sit here & watch it…" I was speechless! (It was actually one of the best shorts & we got an A for it.) "Excuse me?" I dared to ask… "Yea, I didn't need to watch that cow getting killed." Again, speechless… He continued: "You can't make a solid argument through the use of emotional & shocking images…" So, I was outraged & I tried to contain myself & said: "So, you have nothing to say about the killing itself but you just disagree with the reporting of it? You get mad at the reporter? That's funny, you get bad news & punish the messenger for the way he / she delivers them? Dude, let me say it again…the world as we know it is ending, are you aware?" And then chaos followed…OK, maybe I didn't call him "dude" so I wouldn't get expelled but I did fight for my (& that cow's) rights. :)

    Note: The clip was one of the softest footage of a cow getting killed – it doesn't even match the real atrocities happening, basically the least shocking, basic everyday killing we could find…I'd love to tie that man to a chair someday, glue his eyelids to his forehead so he can't blink & have him sit through the entire Earthlings…here, take this for a low blow, this is what's really happening beyond your plate. But I won't 'cause that's not ahimsa or good rethoric. You don't only have to be good in this life, you also have to look good – and sadly, the second seems to be more important for most.

    • jean says:

      It is not about "looking" good it is about being consistent in your ethics. If you are a champion for ahimsa and non harming then using abusive language and violating tactics should not be your vehicle of action. It is a REAL and pertinent issue. People who have attitudes of any means to their ends are the people who become terrorists and create violence in this world. You have it in your mind to glue someones eyes open, you say you would not do that, but what we think is what we manifest. You will manifest anger and suffering with this type of activism.

      • __MikeG__ says:

        Argghhh!!!! Still not addressing the actual content of the article I see, Jean. We get it. You think that until people communicate in accordance the the rules you make up there is no need to argue about the actual content of the article. We totally get your point. I for one want to thank you for your contribution.

        Why do you keep to an argument that has nothing to do with the article? An article that is about, even though it does not meet your seal of approval in how it is worded, persons making faulty arguments. Do you not understand that by continuing this line of posts are are verifying and validating every thing that was written in the article?

        The terrorist connection you made is more than a little bizarre. It is a complete failure or logic to claim that people who use language which you believe is too aggressive are the the same people who "have attitudes of any means to their ends" and become terrorists.

        • Jean says:

          Mike what don't you get that I actually agree with the content of the article? I am with you, get it? My original argument was not intended to be a defense of the meat industry but to point out the reality at hand. Who is being obtuse now? I want to see change too, I just very strongly believe that the way this article goes about it is not the way. People will not listen to this. You won't get the change you seek by pissing people off. That is my opinion and I am sticking by it.

          • __MikeG__ says:

            How could anyone know your opinion of the article when you never spoke to the subject matter of the article? You only spoke to the tone in which it was written. Understand now?

          • Jean says:

            Mike I think if you go back and really read all that I said you will see that I do say I am a proponent to a movement for more conscious eating, that I do understand and agree that there are real and serious problems here that risk the health and well being of people and the planet. I am a yogini, a teacher, and a mother of four. Believe me I am concerned beyond about the state of our society and this planet. I have a complex outlook on this issue because I am for the most part vegetarian but one of my kids rejected vegetables outright from a very early age, she is extremely difficult to feed and she is a true carnivore. I try to minimize this and make responsible choices and minimize it as much as possible, but hey unless you or someone else has a great vegan chef or ideas that I have not tried already, and I have tried them all, this is my situation! I believe fully in the ethics prescribed in my yoga tradition and do my best to uphold them in every conversation, every action, and I do fail sometimes too. Thank you for this enlightening exchange and I do believe that compassionate change is possible.

  17. Andrea Balt Andréa Balt says:

    Jean, I was being sarcastic, there is a place in life for laughing even at the tough things — just as I believe Karl has done at different points throughout this article. What I'm still hoping to see is some kind of intelligent argument pro-factory farming & the current meat industry situation…& some kind of possible solution to this problem…& out of 75 comments, only 3 or 4 seem to address the issue.

    The point is, we stay near the shore, very few omnivores are willing to dive deep & take responsibility for their actions. And those who are (just like the responsible vegans), instead of being met at the bottom (at the root of the problem) by their critics, they're being criticized for how good or bad they can swim…

    I agree that the medium in which we deliver our message is important, but in this case, the message is so grotesque, scary, profound & imminent that it's funny we can have 75 comments on the medium and totally miss the real problem. Dark humor & silliness aside, this is what I'm trying to illustrate in my comment.

    Now, can anyone really add a solid argument that goes beyond rethorics? A possible solution, middle ground? None of us is perfect & neither is our communication, but are we able to go beyond that & address the real problem? You seem to say that you can't, unless the frame / the way in which the message is delivered adjusts to your idea of "peaceful activism"?

    I can understand that, but I simply think that by taking that approach we're missing the point & the mass insanity is still happening & destroying our planet & lives. I'm not perfect, but aside from my sarcasm, I'm willing to face my choices & face my food & do the best I can manage, while I keep my mind & discussion open to find better ways…it's a journey. This is what Karl is asking for.

    I don't personally think that eating meat is fundamentally wrong…actually, I have no idea, I just think it's creepy in its essence – but that's me – I know humans have been eating animals for as long as we know, but then again, that's not the point.

    My argument (& I believe Karl's as well) is not about the philosophy of eating meat or even about the rarities or occasional meat eaters, it's about the madness of the current meat industry: literally destroying the environment, promoting inequality, air contamination, impoverishing third world countries that cannot afford anymore loss, global malnutrition (obesity on one end + starvation on the other), finishing up our water natural resources, torturing billions of sentient beings every year (numbers are doubling) heart disease, diabetes, cancer… all this crazy stuff caused largely by the meat industry & consumption, that we support on our daily trip to the supermarket. Stuff we vote on with our money every day (and money means time & effort & that, ultimately means bits & pieces of our lives – we truly are what we eat, in more than one way).

    These are the issues.This is the picture, not the vegan's misplaced comma, sarcastic remark or "poor choice for a frame". That's important too, but I don't think it's comparable to what they're denouncing.

    • Jean says:

      Andrea, bravo!! This comment is much more effective than Karl's article. And yes I took your comment to heart and really I do love humor, so point taken. I simply feel there is a way to discuss and find middle ground, maybe smaller more palatable changes that people will actually get on board with instead of all or nothing demands. I don't find that approach helpful or realistic. I just don't think escalating angry energy ever turns out to have an optimal result for anyone involved. You should write an article expanding on your comment here, I would actually like to read that.

      • Andrea Balt Andréa Balt says:

        Thanks for your kind words, Jean. Yes, I also see your point and actually agree for the most part. I did see Karl's kindness throughout the article but it may not have been as noticeable to most because it's mixed with his personal concern & frustration on this insufferable issue, which, given to its urgency, it's not easy to contain—it's like when you get really mad at someone you deeply care for—so it didn't seem that inappropriate to me.

        Actually, I already wrote something similar a while back on elephant (expanding on the above comment), in which I'm trying to reach that common ground: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/02/humanimals

        And I agree with MikeG – we need more discussion & points of view on the subject and you seem to be very sensitive & mindful about the tone, which is helpful. It'd be great if you could add your input with an article. Here are the submission guidelines, just in case you might be interested: http://www.elephantjournal.com/write

        Best,

        A.

        • Jean says:

          Andrea I just read your article and LOVED it. This is exactly what I mean. Your eloquent and giving approach made me want to listen, want to consider, it had both compassion and intensity. I did not feel, as a current sometimes meat consumer (more about my kids than me, explained in a comment above), that you were judging my value as a fellow human or questioning my intelligence. Your style of writing is one that might actually persuade meat eating people to reconsider their choice, I don't think that Karl's would and that leaves it not very effective. Now as a person who tries to be conscious of myself and my actions in the world this whole exchange has ignited the question in me, "What got me hooked in Karl's article?" "Why did it trigger such a need to respond and defend?" I think that is what I will write about first because that would be useful for me and for all of us reactive beings. Thanks for your light.

    • karlsaliter says:

      Andrea, this is it. You have said it better than I could. I have no idea if my stumbling efforts will bear any fruit, but they are worth making, if only to get the ideas the hell out of my head, and perhaps bump into a response like this once in awhile.

      It is like we are walking through a graveyard, nonexistent marble slabs glooming to horizons in every direction, chirping about the cobblestones underfoot.

      Your work is a force of nature. Thank you for taking the time to write this.

  18. karlsaliter says:

    Rather than questioning your intelligence, Jean, I am questioning the intelligence of your arguments. There is a difference which makes a difference. Coming from where this piece is written, The "Now get your head out of your butt before it gets lodged in there permanently" does not violate Ahimsa.

    Not all discourse needs to be gentle, and sometimes kicking someone in the ass is a form of service.

    You presuppose I am unaware of my choice to take an abrasive tone. You also condescend to me repeatedly in your comments, at the same time presuming to instruct me in content delivery. And then call my work disingenuous. It is delicious.

    Your desire to paint my words in your colors is quite beside the point, which is:
    "It's Not You, It's Meat."

    All of what you say about how I write can be filed under "You".

    And you are so deeply asleep, so mired in your point of view, that you have missed this communication from me and others in this thread numerous times, assuming that if you do not hear from us what you want, you have not been understood.

    The amusing part about your communication is that it depicts with stunning accuracy the exact conversational quagmire the article decries. It's all in the title. really.

    • Jean says:

      Karl ok I give up. You are not willing or able to receive what I am offering to you. As I said in a previous comment to MIke, what don't you get about the fact that I fundamentally think you are right? I am trying to help you, as someone who currently is in an exploration of my eating, and how to be true to my view and serve my family, as to the problem in your approach. I am not deeply asleep in my point of view but I am merely aware of the reality of the world around me. In order to win this war Karl you might have to fight smaller battles first and you will not convince people by pissing them off. Andrea (above) wrote a stunning article that is highly effective and she knows how to come back to the table and relate to someone like me. Maybe she could coach you on effective and compassionate communication. And your words did violate ahimsa as more than person who read them felt shamed and belittled. That is it, that is all, and if I am deeply mired, and I will admit that I am when it comes to respect and compassion, then maybe you should consider where you are dug in as well. Again best of luck to you in your quest. Namaste.

      • Jean says:

        Oh just one more thing. I do want to apologize if I came across as condescending to you. I admit you pushed a major button in me and I did try to present my thoughts as skillfully as possible. You clearly are a very intelligent and passionate person and I guess I did not tell you that I like those qualities but what you said in your article did feel shaming and it did kick me but not in way that will inspire me. We need to come together to save this planet not split apart. So please know that I wish for you happiness and peace.

  19. Jean says:

    Ok now I am also a liar, but I do have one more thing to say. I am sitting here having a good ol cry about various stuff and I felt a strong need to tell you this. Our anger is limiting us, I include myself here. My anger has impeded my ability to communicate with you. Yours has kept you from seeing that I have been trying to reach out to you. For that I am deeply sorry. I do understand your frustration and I do honor your path. Just feeling like in all things we need more love, not less of it. I pray for change and healing for myself and all beings every day. Be kind to all you meet because each is fighting a hard battle. I honor the light in you.

    • karlsaliter says:

      Thanks for that Jean. We are closer in our approach than most, and I get where you are coming from. My stubbornness on this issue stems from genuine anger on behalf of the animals, which is no breeze to manage.

      I have no argument at all with your position on the writing style. I also traffic in lighter approaches here on elephant: my writing takes different forms. http://www.elephantjournal.com/author/karl-salite
      While I do see where it is uncompromising, difficult, and lacking tact, I'm happy with the tone on this piece, for my own reasons.

      Andrea's idea to write is a good one, and the puzzle of tone and delivery, how it can effect message and receptivity, is a worthwhile article topic. My first writing for elephant was also in the comments section. :)

  20. MelS says:

    If your goal was to bond with the like-minded through airing your dissatisfaction, then this article is a success. If your goal was to get meat eaters to really think, it's a total fail. I'm not sure which was your goal – it's in elephant so I can gather that goal #1 is more likely. Also, you write to the meat eater but from a point of moral superiority which also suggests the article is mostly about you.

    • karlsaliter says:

      Thanks for the analysis, MelS.

      My goal for the article was for people around the country to throw down their forks in distaste, barf, and convert directly to a plant-based diet on the spot. I think it worked, except for the part about the forks. And the conversion. And the people around the country reading it. Well, I got some stuff off my chest, anyway.

      Asking for a moral or ethical reason why it is ok to eat meat, this article and the NY Times have come up with butkus.
      I am guilty of a feeling of moral superiority, and it stinks to high heaven.
      I had hoped, in this article, to obscure it in overwhelming intellectual superiority. Damn!

  21. maru says:

    This article is amazing and straight to the point, which most people have a problem with, well, too bad… and I love it.
    And yes, it is not you, it is meat!

  22. Steph says:

    This article is so very ego based…How long have you been a vegan? You sound like you are very new to the game and on a tower of drama seeking soap boxes. A veg. for 26 years I can say that it is people like you who create the very stereotype (of non-meaters) as small minded crazies. And Maru, putting meat eating on par with slavery, racism , and (ahem!) RAPE? Really?? I am shaking my head in extreme disappointment and quite frankly, disgust. Take a breath my friends. There is wisdom and fortitude in the bigger picture and in respect for your fellow human beings.

    • Cmac says:

      I must agree with Maru ..are animals not held in slavery…if not racism..speciesism for some animals are considered less important beings than others, some species are protected from being eaten or abused such as cats and dogs ..and are animals not raped (artificially inseminated ). Being Veg for 26 years doesn't make you a "Superior Veg"…who cares about meat-eaters stereotypes of us..the only issue here is to save beings from suffering. In the 21st century there is no need to eat meat and to do so is a selfish choice that causes needless pain. We should all have respect for our fellow beings Human or otherwise.

  23. maru says:

    Steph, I stand by what I said. And I am not 'new in the game' either, as you insinuated about Karl.
    I see the dynamics of factory farming (not the fact of eating meat) exactly as a system of corruption, slavery, rape and murder.

  24. karlsaliter says:

    Thanks for commenting, Steph. I first went vegetarian at age 17, roughly 29 years ago, so yes, I am still new to the game. I can do the even-tempered thing too, but I sometimes get very frustrated with (not the meat eaters, this is where people are mistaken) the very poor logic put forth by meat eaters on why they eat meat today.

    If you have found a way to be even-tempered in the face of what's going on, good for you. But give me room enough to express myself. Given the ugliness of our topic, my tone is tame enough.

  25. Ned says:

    So Karl, no hot dog at the Yankee game?

  26. karlsaliter says:

    Wait Wait, I never said THAT! Looking forward to it, Ned. :)
    God, no beer either. I'm just a boring date. Do they serve hummus?

  27. Itspi good says:

    Eating meat is natural and I am all for it if it suits your constitution. At my age and seeing all I have seen I feel it is ignorant to tell others that you know more what's better for them then they know themselves. The article also sounds soooo angry, I hope that Carl's veganism wasn't supposed to reduce his anger because in that case it failed he should try meditation. Don't forget hitler was a vegan and animal rights activist. Since Maru is his wife her comments are pretty biased. It's ignorant to say carnivores arguments for nourishment are illogical and vegans are logical, that's the basis for fundamentalism and the beginning of war. Watch out Carl you never know who you might inspire with your anger and fundamentalism. Pretty soon you may have the wrong kind of followers, ones that blow things up! ( or maybe down deep you would find that satisfying )

  28. [...] ever saved a cow. Literally. It was in the comments on my fire-and-brimstone vegan article, “It’s Not You, It’s Meat.” Have I rescued a single pig, or am I merely hanging my dusty derby on the smoke and mirrors of [...]

  29. Carolyn says:

    Fabulous post/essay! I find it VERY hard to keep anger out of my thoughts about meat-eaters. And why is it that vegans have to be nice? There's nothing nice about factory farms. Nothing. It would be great if meat-eaters would just listen sometimes instead of defending themselves.

    Btw, I saw this essay because someone sent it to the wondrous Marla Rose. If you haven't already made the acquaintance of the Vegan Feminist Agitator, do yourself a favor. She is AWESOME !!

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