Please don’t use this argument »« Handicapping the papacy

Screw it, gimme a steak

As I’ve been shedding the meat from my diet, I don’t need discouragement like this: a fellow ate a vegetarian burrito and picked up a tapeworm from it, which infected his brain. Is there to be no reward for virtue?

Of course, when you think about the mode of transmission, it probably got into the burrito by way of the poor hygiene of the cook, who’d either been handling raw meat or feces…

Wait, take it away, suddenly I don’t want the steak, either.

Comments

  1. unbound says

    Keep in mind that many of the e-coli outbreaks in the past decade have been via vegetables due to bad handling practices of the food industry in general. So a vegetarian diet doesn’t provide any real advantages from that standpoint.

    BTW, a well-trimmed steak is actually lower in fat than a chicken breast. And, meat is really not as bad for you as your family doctor and your dietitian have been informed…but that is a much more detailed discussion to understand the history and the actual statistics about that.

  2. says

    I am looking forward to sending that link to a moonbeam friend of mine I’ve been arguing with about the merits of microwave ovens. Moonbeam’s opinion is that microwave ovens change the food in terrible ways because of the polarity-reversing effect in dielectric heating. Now I can point out one of the positive benefits of having your food permanently altered by cooking. :)

  3. Crip Dyke, MQ, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    If you’re going to eat vegetarians in burritos, I think tapeworm is the least of your problems…

  4. Nepenthe says

    That steak also may be full of delicious Toxoplasma cysts. So eat it rare and don’t be surprised if you find yourself craving the company of cats.

  5. Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says

    Keep in mind that many of the e-coli outbreaks in the past decade have been via vegetables due to bad handling practices of the food industry in general.

    I was eager to brag about following a “clean eating” diet but . . .. um . . … oh. . . . *plbplbplbplbplbplbplb*

  6. reflectedlove says

    I believe vegetarianism is better for the environment. Uses up less…..stuff. More efficient and all.

    I went vegetarian like five years back or something for ethical reasons.

    But doing it for the environment might be the best reason.

  7. The Mellow Monkey says

    tsig

    PZ, why do you consider it virtuous to be a vegetarian?

    My lost weekend

    On Friday, as I do every day, I went out for a walk for about an hour — I strolled down to the Stevens County Fair, on an unpleasantly muggy early afternoon, and then walked back home…and I was almost there when I felt a peculiar tightness in my chest. That’s odd, I thought, I wasn’t exerting myself that much. And then I felt a slow ache building in my left arm.
    …Sanity won handily, since I had a father who had his first heart attack in his early forties, and after a series of more heart attacks, would die in his mid-fifties….
    …The main consequences are that I’m going to be taking pills everyday, and that I have to change my diet to more cardboard and blandness, which the TrophyWife™ has grimly seized upon as an excuse to take over all the cooking at home, and stick me with the dishwashing job. I think it also means that when I’m off giving talks and joining in the post-event celebration at the local bar, I’ll be eschewing the greasy bar food for a salad.

    I believe PZ’s written about the environmental impact of the meat industry as well, but I don’t have any of those blogs bookmarked and can’t find them off-hand.

    I really wish my partner’s father (or, as I like to call him, my father-out-law) would take his health as seriously after all of his heart problems and surgeries. His wife’s idea of healthy cooking is ground beef instead of sausage and occasionally including a bag of salad with ranch dressing.

  8. Crip Dyke, MQ, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    Mellow Monkey –

    Squeeeeeeeee!!!!!!

    I’ve been calling partner’s family “Out-Laws” for years as an endearment and a political statement.

    Much less effective since my partner of 9 years & I split up and I am now in Canada with a new partner, whose fam I know much less well, and, well, queer marriage is legally recognized here. Hard to be a rebel when you agree with the policy.

    (Me: “Yeah, well, if the state is going to be in the business of registering partnerships and giving legal/financial benefits based on that registration, the gov shouldn’t be in the business of deciding who is my most appropriate partner – for just about any reason, but things like race, religion, gender, and dis/ability are especially pernicious reasons.”

    Canada: “Yeah, that’s why we’re not in that discriminatory business. So did you wanna get married?”

    Me: “Oh, um, well, you mean my relationship isn’t outlawed?”

    Canada: “No, we have your paper right here if you want it.”

    Me: “But then how do I get my punk rock street cred?”)

    Seriously, Canada’s cramping my style.

  9. Matt Penfold says

    BTW, a well-trimmed steak is actually lower in fat than a chicken breast.

    A good steak will have plenty of fat marbling, which is impossible to trim away.

  10. kemist, Dark Lord of the Sith says

    I literally cannot digest red meat.

    (I won’t describe what happens if I try to eat any.)

    Is it limited to beef ?

    I know a woman who’s literally allergic to beef protein.

    Cannot eat anything related to beef, including meat, cow milk, cheese or yogurt without getting really sick.

    She had a really crummy childhood, what with her parents who where beef producers and never believed that she could be allergic, even after medical diagnosis.

    They thought she was simply peckish.

  11. regcheeseman says

    The singer suspects it came from a vegetarian burrito he ate in central america a few years ago…is it only me that sees a racist subtext there? Of all the food he’s eaten in all the different places, he vaguely remembers a specific occasion which invloved people with darker skin that him. It couldn’t happen anywhere civilised, eh?

    Shame on PZ for repeating the canard.

  12. WharGarbl says

    @regcheeseman
    #14
    According to the article…
    “Specifically, a kind of tapeworm from Central America typically found in pork products.”
    While said tapeworm do exist, according to the singer, do exist in other places, I say it’s perfectly reasonable to guess that he caught it from the place known to have a problem with it.

  13. David Marjanović says

    BTW, a well-trimmed steak is actually lower in fat than a chicken breast.

    Which is one reason why it’s more difficult to eat.

    I literally cannot digest red meat.

    (I won’t describe what happens if I try to eat any.)

    Assplosions or worse?

    don’t be surprised if you find yourself craving the company of cats

    Ooh… ouch. ;-)

    The singer suspects it came from a vegetarian burrito he ate in central america a few years ago…is it only me that sees a racist subtext there? Of all the food he’s eaten in all the different places, he vaguely remembers a specific occasion which invloved people with darker skin that him. It couldn’t happen anywhere civilised, eh?

    If there’s a prejudice here, it’s more likely about poverty than about skin color.

  14. says

    Is it limited to beef ?

    No, ham is actually worse.
    I can manage a little bacon occasionally though.

    It’s not an allergy. I have a very sensitive stomach, the list of what I can eat gets smaller every year. <ight be some actual illness thing, my sister is the same way.
    Add to that the fact that my internal plumbing was rearranged as a result of accident/surgery, etc., constant battles with adhesions (more surgery, hence more adhesions), which in turn cause a hiatal hernia.

    Even if I could eat red meat my docs tell me not to due to my liver problems.

    (Be careful crossing the street, kids. A helpful hint from your Uncle Jaffy.)

  15. Nepenthe says

    Of all the food he’s eaten in all the different places, he vaguely remembers a specific occasion which invloved people with darker skin that him. It couldn’t happen anywhere civilised, eh?

    Look at a map of parasite distributions. Nature is sorta racist. And she really has a hate-on for Africa.

    I’m guessing that this guy had cysticercosis from Taenia solium; it’s really really uncommon in North America and Australia. Basically, if you get it, you got it somewhere where it’s common, like Central America, or you’ve been out eating pig feces.

    If it were Diphyllobothrium and he was like “musta picked it up in the uncivilized world”, I’d be nodding along with you.

  16. fleda says

    The vegetarian has gotten the life-cycle a bit wrong. The pork tapeworm is really a tapeworm of humans, i.e. the adult tapeworm is able to develop and live in our intestines. But it first has to pass a larval stage in pigs, its intermediate host, where it does not infect the intestines. Rather, the egg hatches in the stomach, releasing larvae (cysticerci). These travel to various parts of the pig’s body where they forms cysts and wait until we eat the encysted larvae contained in the meat. If the meat is undercooked, the larvae are still alive and can make their way to our intestine and mature. The mature tapeworm produces massive amounts of eggs, which we pass in our faeces, which the pigs then eat, The eggs develop into the larvae, which travel to the various parts of the pig and the cycle continues.

    The big problems start when we eat the tapeworm eggs. We can do this by autoinfection, i.e. eating eggs that we have picked up from our own faeces, or by infection from somebody else with eggs on their hands. So infection via an infected human who hasn’t scrubbed their hands is common. When the eggs hatch, the larvae go awandering through our bodies and encyst, as in the pigs. In us they cause a disease called cysticercosis, caused by the effect of having these cysts in various important parts of us.

    The vegetarian musician had the brain disease called neurocysticercosis, caused by a cyst or cysts in his brain.

    Don’t leap on the guy for assuming he was infected in Latin America. It’s not the brown skin that is the issue. Pork tapeworm infection and cysticercosis are endemic in Latin America and SE Asia, areas where poverty is high, good sanitation often lacking, and where pigs and people often live in close proximity.

  17. indicus says

    What in the name of the FSM is everyone’s problem with meat? Yes, I know mass-market livestock farms are cruel and unsanitary but to equate those conditions with meat eating in general is a red herring. Shop intelligently, pay more, and enjoy a nice steak.

  18. Holms says

    LET THE VEGETARIAN / VEGAN vs. OMNIVORE SHITSTORM BEGIN!

    A good steak will have plenty of fat marbling, which is impossible to trim away.

    No, a marbled steak will be marbled. I’ve no idea why they are so expensive, but they ain’t good.

  19. says

    @indicus:

    Pretty much entirely that. I can get fresh farm-raised beef, but it’s not easy, and just not worth getting up at 4 AM on a Saturday morning and hoping I make it to the farmer’s market before all the meat is gone.

    Also I’ll never eat pig anymore because they’re intelligent creatures.

    All that said, why don’t you just go boil your bottom. Peoples’ diets are their own business.

  20. indicus says

    Simple solution: its called venison. It is delicious, free range, and not injected with a cornucopia of hormones and other crap and you can get it just about anywhere. And for those of you chronically allergic to anything having to do with firearms, its called bow hunting.

  21. indicus says

    Yes, diets are people’s own business. And I don’t give a rat’s ass what anyone eats. Mainly, I was wondering what the general range of reasons for vegetarianism (health, ethical, etc) was.

  22. evilDoug says

    Simple solution. Cook those vegetables.

    That helps for “pre-contaminated” vegetables, but does nothing to prevent subsequent contamination by handlers.
    When Maple Leaf in Canada was busy killing people with contaminated meat a few years ago, I recall seeing something about how wieners can become contaminated with Listeria between the cooking process and the packaging process. This means that eating “raw” (actually fully-cooked) wieners or handling raw wieners then handling ready-for-the-mouth food can pose a hazard. I witnessed the latter in Costco – the worker opened several packages of wieners and put them into the heating tanks, then without changing gloves put heated wieners in buns and served them to customers (Costco is pretty good, in general, and responded to my “complaint”.)
    I’m actually amazed that people aren’t dropping like flies from illness picked up by incompetent food handling. A great many people who handle food are poorly trained and poorly supervised. Much of it is crappy work for crappy pay. I watch when I’m in fast food joints and bad handling is far more common than good handling. The only time I’ve ever seen anyone wash their hands properly was a rather freaky young woman in a chain burger joint. She knew what she was supposed to do and did it carefully and well. I’ve seen “managers” wearing gloves open a door with a conventional knob, take food to a seated customer, return through the same door and go back to food handling without changing gloves. I saw an adult worker in McDonald’s drop 3 or 4 wrapped burgers on the floor, pick them up, fix the partially-opened wrappings and place the burgers on the customer’s tray. I once saw a waiter in restaurant cut a cheesecake, wipe the knife with a finger, lick his finger, repeat for the other side of the knife, then make another cut in the cake. I knew someone who worked in a grocery store who told me they would take meat that was past its sell-by date, grind it and repackage it for sale. I’ve seen Safeway employees take whole roasted chickens from the rotisserie, put them in plastic containers, then stack the containers 2 or 3 deep in an open-topped refrigerated display. It probably took many hours for the chickens on the top to be cooled to a safe temperature – if they ever were (I sicced the food inspectors on them for that one). And that is just a short list of stuff I’ve seen as a casual observer.
    I used to really like Taco Bell “7-layer” veggie burritos. They were one of the very few vegetarian fast-food items I could find (I do eat dead animal parts, but prefer not to). I haven’t eaten one for years because I never got a response to my written complaint about the poor quality and poor handling of the last ones I bought.

  23. says

    Mainly, I was wondering what the general range of reasons for vegetarianism (health, ethical, etc) was.

    yeah, I totally got that from you saying this:

    What in the name of the FSM is everyone’s problem with meat? Yes, I know mass-market livestock farms are cruel and unsanitary but to equate those conditions with meat eating in general is a red herring.

  24. lostintime says

    #27
    Indicus, bowhunting is extremely cruel and most shots puncture the lungs of the animal, resulting in prolonged suffering. Why on earth you think it’s relevant or clever to mention this as a ‘humane’ alternative to supermarket meat I have no idea, but I suspect you’re just trolling.

  25. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    And for those of you chronically allergic to anything having to do with firearms, its called bow hunting.

    What about people who don’t have the time or money to hunt because they’re working too many hours at minimum wage jobs?

    What about people who just plain fucking DON’T LIKE MEAT?

    If you’re going to shit your pants just because everyone else isn’t exactly like you, at least make sure you wash your hands.

  26. Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :) says

    Yes, diets are people’s own business. And I don’t give a rat’s ass what anyone eats. Mainly, I was wondering what the general range of reasons for vegetarianism (health, ethical, etc) was.

    No you’re not. People aren’t this belligerent, contemptuous, or self-righteous when they’re “just wondering.”

  27. Steven Brown: Man of Mediocrity says

    I’ve been a vegetarian my entire life.

    Wanna know why indicus? Because my mother didn’t like meat and didn’t cook it so I never ate it.

    Because I never ate it the smell of meat does not trigger any thoughts of food so I never bothered to try it as I got older and could buy/cook my own food. On the odd occasion I’ve eaten meat by mistake, happens every now and then usually with pizza, it’s made me feel ill so that’s further motivation not to eat it.

    I have some ethical/moral concerns about eating meat but they are poorly formed because I already don’t eat it.

  28. Holms says

    What about people who don’t have the time or money to hunt because they’re working too many hours at minimum wage jobs?

    Or probably more common: people aren’t hunting because we don’t get our jollies from killing something.

    What’s your reason for eating meat?

    The impression I got from this and previous threads is that he is yet another ‘ rugged individualist’ type who considers it a ‘true test of manhood’ or whatever to shoot things.

  29. dianne says

    Properly prepared, vegetarian food is not a virtue but an indulgence which happens, by sheer good luck, to be better for your health and the environment.

  30. says

    Like it or not a vegetarian diet is leaps and bounds ahead of anything else in terms of environmental impact. While “shopping local” might be an OK solution for a few meat eaters looking to lower their personal impact, it just doesn’t scale when the world demand for meat products is assessed. Could all McDonald’s switch to local/grassfed/humanely raised beef? Maybe, but burgers would cost $20.

    The other health consideration is biomagnification, which is a whole ‘nother rabbit hole.

    As far as statistical health outcomes (% cancer, age of mortality, other vitals), vegetarians do best, omnivores second, and vegans last.

    The ethical arguments for vegetarianism are weak, and I can’t see them gaining any traction while we have thousands and thousands of people in the world who’re treated worse than the average American’s dog.

  31. madtom1999 says

    I grow as much of my own food as possible – most years its practically 100%.
    Some times my pigs arrive at the abattoir and I find they have worms – dog worms. They get the worms from eating vegetables infected via dog faeces – the same vegetables I’ve grown and eaten myself! I dont have dogs and wonder where they come from – I do allow wildlife free passage over most of my land.
    Katherine L – pigs are very intelligent. And if you spend time with sheep and cows you will discover they are very intelligent too – more so than horses! The important thing IMHO is to ensure you eliminate or minimise their suffering where you can – the law doesn’t help though.

  32. TonyJ says

    regcheeseman:

    The singer suspects it came from a vegetarian burrito he ate in central america a few years ago…is it only me that sees a racist subtext there? Of all the food he’s eaten in all the different places, he vaguely remembers a specific occasion which invloved people with darker skin that him. It couldn’t happen anywhere civilised, eh?

    I saw no racism. Apparently the doctors said that the parasite was common in Central America.

    After the tumor was removed, the doctors determined it was the result of an infection caused by a parasite. Specifically, a kind of tapeworm from Central America typically found in pork products.

  33. dianne says

    While “shopping local” might be an OK solution for a few meat eaters looking to lower their personal impact,

    Not necessarily. For example, IIRC, lamb raised in New Zealand (which has plentiful and lush pasture) and shipped to Britain is actually less expensive in terms of carbon usage, than lamb raised in Britain, where it takes more land and more resources to raise the sheep. Some places it simply doesn’t make sense to farm and trying to buy local can actually make things worse.

  34. Lofty says

    I suspect people’s tolerance for various animal foods changes significantly with age. Beef and pork have been removed from my diet because of chronic low level indigestion. Chicken and cheese are still OK. I love the taste of beef but I’m healthier without it. Oh yeah, and feed lots are ugly and very bad for local hydrology if not properly managed. So a mainly vegetarian diet for a number of reasons.
    Food hygiene is important no matter what I eat. Kill those parasites.

  35. says

    My dad used to work on a dairy farm. His position on the intelligence of cows was that there seemed to be one herd-brain shared collectively by the cows in a herd. The bigger the herd, the less intelligent any given cow in the herd would be.

  36. Ichthyic says

    BTW, a well-trimmed steak is actually lower in fat than a chicken breast

    huh. Learn something new…

  37. Ichthyic says

    For example, IIRC, lamb raised in New Zealand

    interesting aside…

    most of the good quality lamb is actually exported to the US and Europe, and the price is lower there than it is here in NZ.

    I actually commonly found better lamb, cheaper, when i lived in CA, even though it actually came from here.

    It shocked me, even after I thought about it and realized it’s just the different market sizes that drive that. You have to go to farmer’s markets to actually get good lamb here. go figure.

  38. David Marjanović says

    Simple solution: its called venison. It is delicious, free range, and not injected with a cornucopia of hormones and other crap

    It’s not, however, necessarily free of parasites.

    and you can get it just about anywhere.

    In the US.

    And for those of you chronically allergic to anything having to do with firearms, its called bow hunting.

    Here in Germany that’s forbidden as too cruel.

    IIRC, lamb raised in New Zealand (which has plentiful and lush pasture) and shipped to Britain is actually less expensive in terms of carbon usage, than lamb raised in Britain, where it takes more land and more resources to raise the sheep

    :-o

    My dad used to work on a dairy farm. His position on the intelligence of cows was that there seemed to be one herd-brain shared collectively by the cows in a herd. The bigger the herd, the less intelligent any given cow in the herd would be.

    So, cow intelligence is like ninjutsu?

  39. says

    Re: 43 dianne 28 February 2013 at 3:13 pm (UTC -6)

    While this may be true for some outlying products, I’m fairly certain your story is pure bunk. The grass being eaten in the UK is not going to be sufficiently different than grass in NZ, and the grass in NZ isn’t going to be native as well. The story is full of holes.

  40. says

    Re: 48 Ichthyic 28 February 2013 at 3:47 pm (UTC -6):

    For the longest time that was true of fruit in California. The supermarkets would sell at the price nationally, which was a big mark-up to retail for the low-grade stuff, while the best stuff would get a better price on the wholesale market for the global exports (mostly Japan). Then Japan’s market crashed, then fuel prices went up, local farms continued to expand production here and mexico, and now we can get the big best ones here.

    The thing I don’t get is oranges. I don’t like Florida oranges, and there’s just no way shipping them across country is better economically than eating CA concentrate from the aged orchards here and other imported concentrate. Pisses me off.

  41. says

    My dad used to work on a dairy farm. His position on the intelligence of cows was that there seemed to be one herd-brain shared collectively by the cows in a herd. The bigger the herd, the less intelligent any given cow in the herd would be.

    peer pressure.

  42. The Mellow Monkey says

    Simple solution: its called venison. It is delicious, free range, and not injected with a cornucopia of hormones and other crap

    Let me introduce you to chronic wasting disease. Additionally, studies have found 137 parasite species of white tailed deer.

    I don’t find meat particularly enticing. The smell doesn’t appeal and I find the taste bland unless I do everything to it that I could do to a mushroom to make it taste exactly the same, so not eating meat is largely a matter of taste. My partner doesn’t like fish, but–strangely–no one ever harasses him about his choice not to eat something he doesn’t want to eat anyway.

    Whatever reasons I have for not eating meat are mine. And it’s no more someone else’s business what I’m putting in my mouth in the dining room than it is their business what I put in my mouth in the bedroom.

  43. Ichthyic says

    Let me introduce you to chronic wasting disease.

    I get your point, but there is no conclusive evidence that CWD is communicable to humans. It’s even noted in the first paragraph of your link.

    not comparable.

  44. Ichthyic says

    and you can get it just about anywhere.

    In the US.

    actually, we farm it here in NZ.

    never forget the first time I saw a big herd of full-antlered red deer thundering down the side of an alpine mountain near Queenstown on the South island…

    …and then realizing it was in a fenced paddock.

  45. Nepenthe says

    The ethical arguments for vegetarianism are weak, and I can’t see them gaining any traction while we have thousands and thousands of people in the world who’re treated worse than the average American’s dog.

    The poorest person in America is richer than at least have of the Congolese, therefore there’s no reason to advance any sorts of rights movements or reduce suffering in the United States.

    And animals don’t have feelings.

    This is why I always order my steaks well done.

    Torture it while it’s alive, then torture it after it’s dead? If you’re going to kill it, it may as well be tasty.

  46. The Mellow Monkey says

    Ichthyic, I think you missed my point, as “CWD is communicable to people” wasn’t it.

    Beef is subjected to inspections, yet is being dismissed as “injected with a cornucopia of hormones and other crap.” Wild deer are not subjected to inspections. They, too, have “crap.” Natural doesn’t equal pristine. That is all.

  47. Nepenthe says

    studies have found 137 parasite species of white tailed deer.

    Oh man, we got in some liver flukes that a colleague mounted so beautifully it brought tears to my eyes. Literally. Love the parasites from megafauna!

    (And at least hunters are good for something.)

  48. Ichthyic says

    uh, that’s why I specifically mentioned ” I get your point”

    this was meant specifically as an aside to point out that CWD isn’t comparable to the human tapeworm transmission cycle.

    ergo, it doesn’t count in the “wild animals are full of crap” category.

    is that clearer for you?

  49. says

    I must say this thread is more vegan/vegetarian friendly compared to the comments in the old scienceblog where all the comments have disappeared.

    Possible correlation between this and the Great Rift?

  50. Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom says

    My reasons for being a vegetarian are my own. Same as my reasons for most other things I do. Not least because good veggie food is delicious.

    That said, absolutely nothing will make me stop eating veggie burritos, and that link proves it.

  51. says

    The one friend I had who really gave me crap about being a vegetarian, demanding to know why, quizzing me on how I was doing nutritionally, etc…
    … went vegan after a year or so. Turned out he didn’t really feel happy with the diet he was raised on, but his family was very staunchly meat-eaters, and what had seemed like attacks on my choices were really him trying to find out if he’d be able to defend himself if he switched.

    And *thanks* whoever tweaked log in, I can now do so. I was shut off into lurker mode for a long time.

  52. brucegorton says

    I am debating going vegetarian more because I can’t be too sure what meat it is I have been eating. Turns out it could have been kangaroo, zebra, mountain zebra (a red listed species) or donkey (not horse, because that’s for fancy pants Europeans).

  53. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    @Samantha Vimes

    I used to tease veggies mercilessly almost right up until I went vegan about a year ago. It was mostly defensiveness. I couldn’t actually come up with any solid justifications for eating animal products, I knew there were lots of good reasons not to, but they tasted good and changing seemed hard, so I resorted to scorn and mockery.

  54. thumper1990 says

    @Indicus #22

    What in the name of the FSM is everyone’s problem with meat? Yes, I know mass-market livestock farms are cruel and unsanitary but to equate those conditions with meat eating in general is a red herring. Shop intelligently, pay more, and enjoy a nice steak.

    Um, if you read the comments above yours, I think 1 commenter has mentioned, in passing, that they became a vegetarian c. 5 years ago for ethical reasons, and the Mellow Monkey has mentioned meats documented propensity for contributing to heart attacks, in response to another commenter’s stupid strawman. That’s 2 out of 22 comments, neither of which was exactly vicious. This is hardly evidence of people having a problem with meat.

  55. Louis says

    Mellow Monkey and Crip Dyke, #10 and #11,

    I never refer to my in laws as out laws.

    Out laws are wanted.

    Louis

  56. drusillagorilla says

    Warning: references to adopting veganism as an ethical choice.

    As a vegan, I experience people saying and implingy all sorts of interesting and informative things that would not usually pass muster on an atheist-skeptic forum like this one, and yet somehow manage to fly under the radar in ways that statements about women and feminism do not. Possibly the cloaking device of human privilege over animals?

    moirakearney:

    The ethical arguments for vegetarianism are weak, and I can’t see them gaining any traction while we have thousands and thousands of people in the world who’re treated worse than the average American’s dog.

    Like: the ethical arguments for feminism among Western women are weak? And I can’t see them gaining any traction while we have thousands and thousands of non-Western women in the world who’re treated worse than the average American’s dog?

    People will imply to me that because I am vegan, I am somehow depriving less fortunate other humans of my money or time or other commodites, to a greater extent than I would if I ate animal pieces and secretions.

    Well, as a privileged Westerner, who – despite living below the poverty line in this country – has access to the cheap fresh food paradise that is Melbourne, I can cook the meat and cheese and eggs, or the beans and grains and vegies that I buy at the supermarket. Takes the same amount of time and thought and money (often less money, actually). Doesn’t deprive LFOH of anything additional that I can see. I’m sure some omnivores will be delighted to tell me why I’m wrong.

    Anyhow, hello all. Delurkation in progress.

    For myself, there appear to be a number of reasons to adopt a vegan approach to my life, which are consistent with the atheist-skeptical social justice positions that I attempt to apply daily.

    The usual ones. Impact on environment and the earth’s resources. A fun and straightforward way (and delicious – why do people equate vegan with blandness and cardboard? We don’t just eat twigs and lettuce, you know. Or at least, most of us don’t) to adopt an eating pattern to reduce the likelihood of experiencing the morbidity associated with the diseases of overnutrition so prevalent in Western countries. A way to eat well when close to the poverty line.

    A few less usual considerations. Concern about the dangerous working conditions of workers in ‘meatpacking’ plants. Concern about the overuse of antibiotics in industrial farming of animals. Interest in the possible role of largescale animal ‘husbandry’ in the development of nasty, potentially pandemic causing human pathogens – for example via the contribution of antibiotic resistance, or genetic reassortment.

    And the big one. Animal suffering.

    I’ll lob this one up all nice and slow and juicy:

    When it comes to raising, penetrating, milking and slaughtering animals, I don’t see any significant ethical difference between doing these things to a cow or a pig or a sheep or a dog or a human child.

    And no, I don’t have any citations that demonstrate that sheep and cows and dogs are equivalent in every relevant (to these practices) way to human children. I don’t need them now, the same way that when I was 2 years old I didn’t need citations and studies to tell me that the gender role family and society were squeezing me into was socially constructed and not based any attributes that I supposedly innately possessed because of my gender. At 2 I knew myself better than society and family did. And now, I know enough about animals to change my behaviour with regards to eating and wearing them.

    Which is not to dismiss scientific studies. On the contrary – I do think that well conducted and carefully interpreted studes of animal (including human) behaviour studies can help a great deal in overturning social injustice. But I don’t think I need to wait for them to be performed, or to perform exhaustive searches for them, before I evaluate my own impact on others and how I can modify it for their benefit or to reduce their suffering.

    So yeah, anyhow, fire away about the pig and human child thing. But first I hope you’ll peruse some information on the subject. Here is a really small sampling:

    Slaughterhouse by Gail Eisnitz (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slaughterhouse).

    Really a good one to read if you’re an American and want to comment on the treatment of ‘food’ animals in an *informed* way. Particulary worth considering for those who opine that the way the animal is raised is the main consideration in buying happy – sorry, ethical – meat products. Because it would appear that all or most animals killed for food end up at the same slaughterhouses.

    Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

    Anything about Lyn White of Animals Australia – particularly the Four Corners investigative journalism (http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/ , http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/episodes/). ‘A Bloody Business’, ‘Another Bloody Business’)

    Australian Story: The Razor’s Edge

    If you’re looking for evidence-based vegan nutrition:

    http://jacknorrisrd.com/

    http://www.veganhealth.org/

  57. Holms says

    “When it comes to raising, penetrating, milking and slaughtering animals, I don’t see any significant ethical difference between doing these things to a cow or a pig or a sheep or a dog or a human child.”

    This is exactly the kind of moralising that I hear from vegans all the damn time: lazy, verging on ridiculous.

  58. drusillagorilla says

    Holms@70

    This is exactly the kind of moralising that I hear from vegans all the damn time: lazy, verging on ridiculous.

    How and why:

    – moralising?

    – lazy?

    – ridiculous?

    - And why only ‘verging on’? What is it that places my ‘moralising’ outside the abyss of complete, frank, patent, incontrovertible ridiculousness?

  59. drusillagorilla says

    Holms@70

    Also impressed that you’re familiar with Eisnitz work, or managed to read Slaughterhouse in the brief time between my posting and your own.

  60. Nepenthe says

    Interest in the possible role of largescale animal ‘husbandry’ in the development of nasty, potentially pandemic causing human pathogens – for example via the contribution of antibiotic resistance, or genetic reassortment.

    This. The take away from parasitology: don’t eat pigs. They will have their revenge, and it will be quite unpleasant.

  61. lostintime says

    “When it comes to raising, penetrating, milking and slaughtering animals, I don’t see any significant ethical difference between doing these things to a cow or a pig or a sheep or a dog or a human child.”

    This is exactly the kind of moralising that I hear from vegans all the damn time: lazy, verging on ridiculous.

    Holms, could you explain what you find so ridiculous about the argument from marginal cases? When I hear a pig screaming in a slaughterhouse, I always associate that with violence against human infants and I can’t reconcile the moral difference between them. Subjectively it seems to me the emotional experience of being, for example, kicked in the shorts, is the same for any animal that is capable of suffering. The attempts to split the difference that I’ve read from philosophers always leave me feeling as if they haven’t acheieved their stated goals. Yes, we should be partial to human beings in the same way that we are partial to our own children, but discriminating on that basis only reflects our psychological preferences and it remains irrational as far as I can see to maintain that a sensitive non-human feels pain any differently.

  62. says

    This is exactly the kind of moralising that I hear from vegans all the damn time: lazy, verging on ridiculous.

    Ironically, that is the sort of indolent response to well explained vegan positions that I have come to expect from animal eaters.

  63. Holms says

    How and why:

    – moralising?

    – lazy?

    – ridiculous?

    - And why only ‘verging on’? What is it that places my ‘moralising’ outside the abyss of complete, frank, patent, incontrovertible ridiculousness?

    - I’m going by the fact that the post I replied to contained references to ‘ethical choice’ and ‘social justice’. They are not identical to the concept of morality, rather they are subsets within that larger term.

    - Bear in mind that the christian right frequently tries to demonise liberalism, evolution etc. on the grounds that it ‘attempts to teach people that we are just animals and oh no that means the end of morality because if we’re just animals then people will run amok’ and other silliness. The common rebuttal to this is to point out the contextual differences operating here. On the one hand, yes we are animals, in the sense of being an organism that is a product of the same evolutionary system that brought about every other organism… but in another sense, we are not the same, as we are the only creature on earth with the ability to shape the environment to our ends, we are the dominant resident of this planet, and it is up to us to be responsible, moral and etc.

    You don’t see anything lazy about making a very bold claim (that there is no difference between slaughtering cattle or humans) without bothering to support it with any reasoning whatsoever? This is especially obnoxious given that – as outlined above – we are frequently in the position of having to remind the fundamentalists of exactly the same contextual difference your claim ignores. You might argue that I did the same when replying with ‘that’s lazy’ without further argument, but I’ll point out that you are the one making the assertion, you are the one required to provide support. Burden of proof lying with the claimant and all that.

    - I said that either as a way of softening the statement I was making, or simply out of my usual tendancy of getting wordy, inflating the length of my writing without even noticing. I’m not sure which. If you like, amend ‘verging on the ridiculous’ to just ‘ridiculous’.

    Also impressed that you’re familiar with Eisnitz work, or managed to read Slaughterhouse in the brief time between my posting and your own.

    I like the fact that you quite clearly knew your ‘pig / child slaughter’ bit would come under fire, only to propose a reading list to anyone before they actually rebut it (Referring to your words “So yeah, anyhow, fire away about the pig and human child thing. But first I hope you’ll peruse some information on the subject. Here is a really small sampling:”).

    Do you actually think that your request to become sufficiently well read – as determined by you, apparently – before criticising your reasoning holds any weight? Do you think that this requirement is any different to the courtier’s reply?

    @74 lostintime
    I don’t disagree with you on the point that animals feel pain in the same way we do, but I hold the position that killing an animal can be justified if it thereby provides a practical benefit: research, food.

  64. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    I hold the position that killing an animal can be justified if it thereby provides a practical benefit: research, food.

    How?

  65. lostintime says

    I think drusillagorilla made it clear that animal suffering is the basis of his or her comparison between the interests of human and non-human animals. I agree that the wrongness of killing is much less significant for non-persons because they don’t have ambitions that can be thwarted, and I’m not impressed by the extravagant claims made by the animal rights movement that say that it’s wrong to kill animals in the same way that it’s wrong to kill people. Having said that, a perfectly resasonable case can be made for avoiding animal products because of the suffering it causes, and that’s what I read from the comment.

    As for meat eating being a practical benefit, I sure you’d agree that’s entirely debateable. It certainly doesn’t benefit the environment, or the animals themselves.

  66. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    I’m sure that’s quite a comfort to the animals you eat.

  67. David Marjanović says

    The bigger the herd, the less intelligent any given cow in the herd would be.

    peer pressure.

    *lightbulb moment*

  68. Holms says

    I met facetiousness (“I’m sure that’s quite a comfort…”) with facetiousness.

    Also, I take it you reject medicines that have ever had an animal toxicology testing phase? Hint: this means every medicine at some stage, as far as I’m aware.

  69. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    You’ve offered no evidence for your position, only the assertion that it “makes perfect sense.” I’m not going to try to argue with a postion you won’t even make explicit.

    Or, to put it more simply: evidence or STFU.

  70. Holms says

    I stated my potition, that the death is justified by benefit. If your position is different, go for it; but unless you’ve sworn off medicines, you’re taking advantage of exactly the same reasoning as me.

  71. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    I stated my potition

    But you apparently can’t be bothered to explain what that benefit is.

  72. Holms says

    Yeah, you’re right, I didn’t mention any benefit at all:

    “I hold the position that killing an animal can be justified if it thereby provides a practical benefit: research, food.

    I guess I can’t blame you for missing that, you only quoted it, and reading what you quote is hard. Although I did find it odd that you consistently failed to mention anything on the point of medication, despite it being brought up a few times.

  73. dysomniak, darwinian socialist says

    We can talk about medical testing as soon as you provide evidence to support the position that torturing and killing animals for food provides an actual benefit. And no, “it tastes good” is not sufficient.

  74. Holms says

    Oh, I have to defend my justification before you need to deign to respond? The fact remains we are both benefiting from dead animals; I’ve provided my reasoning, let’s hear yours.

  75. lostintime says

    Animal research is about reducing suffering, whereas meat eating, for most affluent people, is about satisfying a preference for a certain kind of food. The fact that they both end in the death of an animal doesn’t say anything about the ethics of meat eating. You could use this simple equivalence to justify blood sports or crush films, as if there were nothing more to say on the matter.

    Almost all animals are factory farmed, which is extremely cruel and involves unremitting agony for those creatures involved. We’ve already established that the suffering of a vertebrate animal is like the suffering of a young infant, so subjectively the experience of being condemned to a life of misery is the same for both animals. If it’s wrong to harm a baby, then it should be wrong to deliberately harm a non-human unless there is a very strong utilitarian benefit in doing so. Merely prefering the taste of meat over, say, a meat substitute that is just as easily obtained, is not a sufficient reason.

    You might say that this is an argument against factory farming rather than meat eating in general, and so it is, but then you have to ask yourself, what’s the best way of avoiding factory farmed animal products? Is a vegetarian diet more or less likely to involve serious animal abuse, considering that 99% of animals are now raised in CAFOs? And even if you were highly selective, how much do you really know about the supposed organic farms that you buy meat from? One of the best short essays about ethical vegetarianism that I’ve come across is this one by Mylan Engel, if you want to think seriously about the issue then I highly recommend this.

    https://www.morehouse.edu/facstaff/nnobis/courses/immorality_of_eating_meat.pdf