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The ethical choice is vegan.

All sentient beings feel pain.

Meat, dairy and eggs come from sentient beings. Meat, dairy and eggs always cause pain. Humans do not have a biological need to eat meat, dairy and eggs. So, if you choose to eat meat, dairy and eggs, you are choosing to cause pain and to participate in exploitation and murder. Participating in pain and murder is always unethical. The ethical choice is vegan.

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nowaytommy May 4, 2015 5:32am

I have a problem with the absolutist term "Always causes pain" If someone keeps a few chickens in their yard (Which they never kill even when they stop laying and they live out their lives untroubled and in peace) If they take unfertilized eggs how is this causing pain?

ilan ben-yehuda Jun 3, 2012 7:13pm

plants also have a kind of sentience.
their consciousness is equally as mystifying to us as that of animals.
trees communicate with one another to warn of invading termites. they can sense the invaders, synthesize a response, communicate this to their surrounding colleagues, receive the message, and react to it in a way that protects them from further forest damage.
fungi have shown some level of awareness of their surroundings in test studies (documented in Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets).
that trees do not walk around shopping for an answer to 'what does it mean to be a tree?' does not make them suddenly not sentient.

"i don't eat sentient beings" is not an ethical argument. all beings have sentience of some kind (why on earth do we think that we or animals have the market on awareness?) and to claim that an egg or chicken feels pain, but a plant doesn't is absurd. A tree knows when it has lost a limb, and an apple is an egg of a tree.

That is, of course, unless you clarify what you mean by sentience. It comes from the word sense – which plants and fungi certainly do – ask anyone who has spent a goodly amount of time with growing plants. Sentience (feeling) was, in the 18th century philosophies, used against the concept of "reason" (thought). Again, that palm tree and mushroom qualify as sentient. From Wikipedia: "For Eastern philosophy, sentience is a metaphysical quality of all things that requires respect and care." Again, all things (which includes mountains, clouds, fire, oceans, water, as well as trees, forests, wildabeasts, and popcorn) are sentient.

The simple, spurious, esoteric, and empirical view of ethics in this blurb of an article is an insult to those who choose to not eat meats, those who choose to eat meats, and to those with no choice whatsoever. By Mr. Smith's logic, we may also assume that cats (as animals they must be sentient) are completely unethical, as they play with their food while eating it while it still hangs on to an inarguably painful existence.

Also – we are biologically equipped to process meats. all strict herbivores have a much longer GI system so that they can break down plant matter and reap enough nutrients to survive. We on the other hand, have short colons, one stomach, canine and incisor teeth, and the need for certain minerals and protein chains which are difficult (but in recent times not impossible) to come by in plants and fungi alone.

the real question should be – why aren't we all eating insects? no one really likes them. they're not cute. they have the biggest biomass on the planet, and they are choc a broc full of protein.

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Gary Smith

Gary Smith is co-founder of Evolotus, a PR agency working for a better world. Evolotus specializes in nonprofits, documentary films, animal advocacy campaigns, health/wellness, natural foods and socially beneficial companies. Gary blogs at The Thinking Vegan and writes for elephant journal, Jewish Journal, Mother Nature Network and other publications. Gary and his wife are ethical vegans and live in Sherman Oaks, CA with their cat Chloe and two beagles rescued from an animal testing laboratory, Frederick and Douglass.