It’s Not the Size of the Farm that Matters. {Video}

Via Gary Smith
on Mar 30, 2012
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Using and killing individuals is always wrong.

It doesn’t matter if these individuals were confined in large factory farms or your uncle’s small family farm. Using individuals against their wills, whether they are pet, named and fed organic food,  is still wrong. Since we have no biological need to eat animal products, doing so is always unethical.



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Editor: Kate Bartolotta


About 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.


10 Responses to “It’s Not the Size of the Farm that Matters. {Video}”

  1. Annie Ory says:

    Gary, I am confused by your cat. That is not a judgment, just a statement of my intellectual state as your reader.

  2. oz_ says:

    I think that you've vastly oversimplified a complicated situation.

    First, define 'will'. How can you tell that animals who are well treated (e.g. the livestock on Joel Salatin's Polyface Farms) are being used "against their wills"? I will stipulate, BTW, that to consume animals from factory farms is unethical and clearly, in my view, violates ahimsa.

    Does it even make sense to apply the term 'will' to a chicken? I don't know and I suspect you don't either. This argument you are making, which hinges wholly upon the notion of 'will,' (which you have failed to define or even characterize) seems VERY similar to me to pro-lifers who insist 'life begins at conception'. It's a purely ideological statement – can't be proven, depends entirely on subjective perception. In an objective sense, it is meaningless. Which is the case here as well.

    As such, this is a terribly flawed argument – it won't change anyone's mind, and it's largely preaching to the choir (just like the pro-life argument cited above). Will is not something that can be quantified in any way – I doubt it's even determinable in the case of many animals. And even if it were to be, then there are a whole host of questions that arise.

    For example, when the government takes taxes out of my paycheck, they do so against my will, especially since I know some portion of this extorted money will go to make bombs and weapons systems that will be used to kill and maim people with whom I have no quarrel and with whom I wish to live in peace. But if I resist paying my taxes, then I can be thrown in jail, and I suspect most people reading this are in favor of such coercive actions against tax protesters. If I strenuously resist being thrown in jail, the government agents can even shoot me. Legally. So, do you object to this 'being used against my will' scenario? And note that I am human, which means there is no question about whether or not I have will that can be gone against. I can think of dozens of examples like this. So even if we stipulated that animals had wills, the notion that those wills are inviolate is silly, because every day we support the violation of human wills and I'm guessing you don't object to that. Or do you have a history of wholeheartedly supporting tax protesters?? If not, then you are guilty of, at the least, selective outrage or a disingenuous argument.

    Rather than 'will, it would be better, IMO, to use something that CAN be determined objectively – cruelty, pain, harm, etc. Ahh but in such a case, then cruelty-free meat can still be arguably consumed without violating ahimsa, and that seems to be your thrust here – to try to make an ethical case that even eating cruelty free meat (i.e. that raised on 'your uncle's small family farm') is 'bad' – but you haven't effectively made that case here because it rests on this vague and ill defined notion of 'will' and that just doesn't stand up objectively. No offense intended, but I'd say your dogmatism is showing.

  3. GeoffOfOz says:

    I am trying to go vegetarian, slowly. Watching something die was horrible. Any killing is violent, and for these reasons I am going vegetarian. But for goddness sake let the video speak for itself. I am not expecting anyone else to, and I stil LOOOVE the taste of meat, I would just like to do a little less harm. Trying to stop hurting stuff just to keep me alive. As much as is reasonable and practical.

    That's sometimes what is missing in the animal rights world; empathy an understanding for human conditions, who's habits they are trying to change.

  4. Gary Smith says:

    These are the distracting arguments that people use to justify the exploitation and murder of individuals. I can go back and forth with you on every detail you wish to bring up, but that would be a waste of time for both of us.

    Animals suffer, feel pain, have emotional lives, create families and bonds. Breeding an animal so that someone can confine, mutilate, use and ultimately murder him or her for taste is unethical. Period. You can talk about better treatment all you want, but at the end of the day you are using and murdering an individual.

    All of this because you like the taste of the flesh, muscles, bones, blood, milk and eggs of sentient beings. You have no biological need to do so. None. So, by choosing to participate in this exploitation, you are culpable. You can ahimsa it all you like, pray over the murdered being all you like, but it doesn't change the fact that no animal needs to be confined and murdered.

  5. Gary Smith says:

    Hi Geoff,

    Good for you. Sounds like you went from viewing animals as somethings to someones. While you take this journey, please consider the chickens and cows who suffer and are ultimately killed for eggs and dairy. They deserve the same recognition as the animals killed for meat. Let me know if you need help.

  6. Gary Smith says:

    Hi Annie,

    My cat is not all that confusing. What did she do to confuse you?

  7. oz_ says:

    You shift arguments too nimbly for my taste. Was your first argument, posed in the article, not capable of withstanding logic? Rather convenient to dismiss simple logic as 'distracting' – I thought your arguments disingenuous – perhaps in fact they are flat out dishonest, if they cannot withstand logical scrutiny without that scrutiny being dismissed as mere distraction. But then, logic has always been despised by the dogmatic.

    Further, i n this post you make the assumption that I am a meat eater – which in point of fact is untrue. Is it that you feel that only a meat eater could possibly disagree with YOUR interpretation? IMO, this further demonstrates dogmatism at work.

    This holier-than-thou stance – so clearly on display here – is why people dislike vegans even as they dislike evangelicals. Issuing such thundering condemnations satisfy an inner sense self-righteousness, I am sure, but they are in this instance quite absurdly misplaced. Still, they are illustrative. You are not talking to me, but to all the meat eaters out there – it is a form of projection onto the world which is not as you wish it and feel it 'should' be. I understand.

    However, what you have done in your response is simply to demonstrate that, like many zealots, you lack an appropriate sense of nuance and complexity. I only wish reality was as simple as you seem to posit. I'm sure it feels that it is this simple, to you.

    Psychologists call this dichotomous – or black and white – thinking. Having grown up the son of a Southern Baptist preacher, I am very, very familiar with this 'digital' approach to the world – it's either wholly good, or wholly evil. No middle ground even seems possible when one is caught in this trap of a mindset. It's taken me some years of psychotherapy, meditation, yoga, to develop a mindset that is less unequivocal, less about the 'answers' and more about the questions. A mindset which not only allows for, but embraces mystery and uncertainty. All of that is missing in your argument, I fear. There is this suffocating feeling of 'certitude' that I well remember from childhood. As Dr Douglas Brooks has said:

    "Nothing is more dangerous than a person who is certain."
    "Nothing strikes me as more stultifying, more frightening, or more boring than certainty or those who believe they’ve attained it."

    This accusatory approach is not helpful for your cause, of that I can assure you. Which is really too bad, because I am in fact quite sympathetic to your aim of reducing the suffering of animals, and in fact I take the precept of ahimsa quite seriously, though strangely you seem to mock it.

    A sad example of how strident and militant vegans and other fanatics can turn potential friends into enemies.

  8. Gary Smith says:

    You've done a nice job of making the argument about me and not about the exploitation and murder of individuals. Good job.

  9. oz_ says:

    I don't know what to tell you Gary – I made it about the topic you broached (which YOU insist on characterizing only in your way), and you dismissed my logic as a 'distraction' – now I point out evidence of zealotry and an inability to entertain the fact that reality is actually more uncertain than you seem to believe, and you accuse me of another distraction. You don't even have the grace to apologize for 'accusing' me of being a meat eater when I've pointed out this was a mistaken assumption on your part. No grace – yet another sign of dogmatism. I'm getting tired of repeating that phrase, but it just keeps being so richly deserved by your responses.

    For your own sake, and that of your cause, I would humbly sugest that instead of continuing this pattern, you might find it profitable to actually back and read what I wrote and CONSIDER it instead of instantly dismissing it and seeing everything that does not agree with your interpretation of reality as a distraction.

    I found your original argument unimpressive, and your 'defense' of it – that basically anyone who disagrees with you must be 1) a meat eater and/or 2) engaging in tactics of distraction – has been even less so. That's not because *I* have made the argument about you – it's because, in fact, it is *you* that has done so.

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