It’s Not You, It’s Meat.

Via Karl Saliter
on Jun 10, 2012
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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

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About Karl Saliter

Karl is a circus artist sculptor writer miscreant gypsy, living in Mexico. He has written two novels, "Compassion's Bitch," and "Breakfast In A Cloud," and has published neither. 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. That careening down route 66 at speed, he leapt up into the cab, took the wheel, stuck his baby elbow out the rolled-down window, and that though the truck had awesome chrome mirrors, he never looked back. He hopes you frequently feel the same.


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

  1. 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.

  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…

  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.

  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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. Katherine says:

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

  9. maru says:

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. @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.

  13. 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.

  14. @Suri_k8 says:

    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… meat is the only reason why you can write this story.

  15. karlsaliter says:

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

  16. karlsaliter says:

    Hi Katherine! Thanks for reading and commenting.
    The praise/disparage tactic is a new one I'm trying out. I will confess it was really fun to write!
    Don't give up on me, I often take a far gentler approach. Try this one out, it's way softer:

  17. 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?

  18. 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.

  19. 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… ideología vegana solo cabe en EU y el primer mundo y con los ricos…..cero contacto con la realidad.

  20. karlsaliter says:

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

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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?

  25. 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.

  26. 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.
    These people are engaging meat eaters with kindness, and it works.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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)?

  30. 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.

  31. __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.

  32. __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.

  33. __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.

  34. __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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

  40. 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.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

  45. __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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

  48. __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.

  49. __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.

  50. 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.