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Animals : Consumption = Brutality ?

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Hello,

I'm new to the forums but I'm a huge fan of Ayn Rand and have read VOS, Atlas, Fountainhead, Anthem and most of TVOR. I have also listened to all of Dr.Piekoff's podcasts. After all this I think I have a fairly good understanding of what the Objectivist stand on animal rights is and I happen to agree with it for the most part.

Dr.Piekoff and Ayn Rand have expressed that they disapprove of the 'torturing' of animals. I also agree with this position, and for the same reasons they convey. This is where I see an issue with eating meat. In this country something like 90% of meat that we eat in restaurants and buy in stores comes from a "factory" farm. Many investigations have shown that the animals in these places endure unconscionable acts of cruelty. Videos and articles I've read suggest that these abuses occur on a daily/hourly basis (if not constantly in the case of tiny cages and lack of medical care) and are the kind of abuses that even objectivists would object to.

We do not have a moral obligation to be vegan or vegetarian, but do we have a moral obligation to boycott these producers? Are the abuses overstated? Am I missing something?

My final question is this: I'm not a doctor so I can't possible judge wether being vegan can be healthy. I've been vegan for 9 years and I have no major health problems to complain about. Sometimes I feel like I could have more energy, but I know omnivores who seem to have even less energy than I have. I've been vegan for so long that I don't have any frame of reference to know what I would feel like if I were to eat an omnivorous diet. Just as many Dr's will tell you that meat is healthy and veganism will kill you as vice versa so the question is --- How do I know what doctor to trust?

Thanks for reading!

Edited by Kelly Bennett
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Dr.Piekoff and Ayn Rand have expressed that they disapprove of the 'torturing' of animals. I also agree with this position, and for the same reasons they convey. This is where I see an issue with eating meat. In this country something like 90% of meat that we eat in restaurants and buy in stores comes from a "factory" farm.
I also disapprove of torturing animals, and really enjoy meat, the majority of which comes from a "factory" i.e. large, high-efficiency farm. The problem with your equation is the assumption that industrial production of meat is identical to torture. This is a propaganda line from the PETA-vegan machine, which simply lacks a valid foundation. Many investigations have been staged with the intent of persuading gullible audiences that animals are tortured, but in reality actual incidences of torture are extremely rare and, for that matter, are not a function of whether the animals are raised in a "factory", whatever that is.

My primary suggestion is that you focus on what torture actually refers to. It is an undeniable fact that animals are killed and their bodies are cut up to provide meat; this is not what "torture" refers to. Maybe there are some depraved children in your neighborhood who could concretize for you what torture (of animals) really is. The practices of the meat industry do not constitute torture.

I've been vegan for 9 years and I have no major health problems to complain about.
From what I can tell, being a vegan is measurably harmful only for developing children. There is a risk if you are a dumb-ass vegan and don't know anything about complementary proteins, but otherwise, in my experience, the main damage that results from being vegan is mental, i.e. the acceptance of a corrupt morality. Every true-believer vegan that I know has a serious case of stick-up-the-ass and a corrupt anti-man, anti-life foundation to their religion. Whereas, I do know a bunch of morally-ordinary dietary vegetarians.

The only valid basis for sticking something in your mouth (to eat), or declining to do so, is direct effect on you. If you're allergic, avoid; if it's too expensive, avoid; if it's enjoyable, indulge; if it makes you fat or slow, avoid. Indulgence and avoidance can be engaged in in moderation, so prime rib is probably not a good idea for daily dinner (at least, not for me) but it is mighty fine occasionally. Because there is massive individual variation, it's not possible to say "if you eat that, your arteries will clog up and you'll die". Some unfortunate vegans have cholesterol over 300, and some Atkins-maniacs are LDL levels well below 100.

Start by mistrusting any doctor who tells you what not to do, without first determining whether you actually have a problem such as high cholesterol, BP, blood sugar.

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Two things:

First-where did you find that information concerning torture? As Mr. Odden pointed out, there is a whole host of misinformation out there. Take a look at this document which describes how many animals PETA kills. For all the money that it takes in from gullible people, don't you think it could actually act upon principle and save animals? Or is that not really their agenda?

Second-nothing is immoral that is natural, or within human nature. Human beings are omnivores, and ideally need meat as a part of their diet. Any action taken with the intent of consuming the animal would not be brutality. Shoving a metal rod through a cow's head on a conveyor-belt is no different than grabbing a chicken by the neck and swinging it around until it snaps in your backyard. Animal torture and cruelty are not done with the intent of consuming the animal. That makes it a very different act. I don't see any reason for you to be concerned about cruelty.

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I also disapprove of torturing animals, and really enjoy meat, the majority of which comes from a "factory" i.e. large, high-efficiency farm. The problem with your equation is the assumption that industrial production of meat is identical to torture. This is a propaganda line from the PETA-vegan machine, which simply lacks a valid foundation. Many investigations have been staged with the intent of persuading gullible audiences that animals are tortured, but in reality actual incidences of torture are extremely rare and, for that matter, are not a function of whether the animals are raised in a "factory", whatever that is.

My primary suggestion is that you focus on what torture actually refers to. It is an undeniable fact that animals are killed and their bodies are cut up to provide meat; this is not what "torture" refers to. Maybe there are some depraved children in your neighborhood who could concretize for you what torture (of animals) really is. The practices of the meat industry do not constitute torture.

I agree that "Factory" farms are vilified unjustly by PETA and vegi-nazi's because they are successful. That is precisely why I put quotes around "Factory". I am pro-life (in the Ayn Rand values meaning (not the abortion meaning)), pro-man, pro-business, pro-profit, etc. I'm not a hippy or a PETA follower or anything of the sort -- although I WAS an altruist for many years, which is why I've been vegan for the past 9 years. Now that I'm not an altruist anymore I'm trying to figure out the best thing to do with respect to being vegan, what meat to buy (if any), etc. But without actually going to all the slaughter houses myself to see if the animals are being tortured, I can only go by what I can find on-line or in documentaries. Unfortunately I don't know of any such documentary or websites that aren't made by either a radical vegan, or the meat industry itself. In other words, it's hard to find objective information on the subject. I have seen some horrible things in the vegan propaganda videos and you're told that these are regular occurrences. I'm sure that the propaganda is exaggerated, but its hard to say by how much.

The only valid basis for sticking something in your mouth (to eat), or declining to do so, is direct effect on you. If you're allergic, avoid; if it's too expensive, avoid; if it's enjoyable, indulge; if it makes you fat or slow, avoid. Indulgence and avoidance can be engaged in in moderation, so prime rib is probably not a good idea for daily dinner (at least, not for me) but it is mighty fine occasionally. Because there is massive individual variation, it's not possible to say "if you eat that, your arteries will clog up and you'll die". Some unfortunate vegans have cholesterol over 300, and some Atkins-maniacs are LDL levels well below 100.

Yeah, you're right about that.

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Two things:

First-where did you find that information concerning torture? As Mr. Odden pointed out, there is a whole host of misinformation out there. Take a look at this document which describes how many animals PETA kills. For all the money that it takes in from gullible people, don't you think it could actually act upon principle and save animals? Or is that not really their agenda?

There are a ton of videos and websites and books. One example is the video titled "Meat Your Meat".

I'm not really interested in what PETA does with their money or how many animals they kill because I have never been affiliated with PETA and have never supported PETA. The only thing I've ever had to do with PETA is to have read their pamphlets and watched a video they produced. PETA has never been of much interest to me.

Second-nothing is immoral that is natural, or within human nature. Human beings are omnivores, and ideally need meat as a part of their diet. Any action taken with the intent of consuming the animal would not be brutality. Shoving a metal rod through a cow's head on a conveyor-belt is no different than grabbing a chicken by the neck and swinging it around until it snaps in your backyard. Animal torture and cruelty are not done with the intent of consuming the animal. That makes it a very different act. I don't see any reason for you to be concerned about cruelty.

I agree completely. The normal process of the farm / slaughterhouse is fine. I have no problem with this part of the process. I'm concerned with the excesses which you can see on these videos. These things have nothing to do with the act of making meat for consumption. But again, its hard to say how often and where these things are taking place. But my question basically is. How do you find good information on wether these things are actually taking place, and if so, which companies are doing it. Maybe it's such a marginal issue that I shouldn't be worried about it!

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I'm not going to tell you what to worry about. but I'm not worried about how animals I eat are treated. In my experience, most people are not psychopaths, and are even empathetic towards animals, so I see no reason why farm managers would be an exception to the norm and create torture facilities just for the hell of it.

Also, if there was wide spread abuse on these farms, I assume people not associated with irrational movements would provide actual evidence, and create objective, honest reports and documentaries on the subject. As it is, I'm unaware of any such evidence.

Unfortunately I don't know of any such documentary or websites that aren't made by either a radical vegan, or the meat industry itself.

If I was interested in how these farms work, and there isn't a "How it's made?" episode on the subject, I guess my next best option would be video the farms filmed themselves. I have no reason to assume they are lying.

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There are a ton of videos and websites and books. One example is the video titled "Meat Your Meat".

I'm not really interested in what PETA does with their money or how many animals they kill because I have never been affiliated with PETA and have never supported PETA. The only thing I've ever had to do with PETA is to have read their pamphlets and watched a video they produced. PETA has never been of much interest to me.

I will watch that video-I assume you meant Meet your Meat? The insidiousness of the animal liberationists and other agents of misinformation is immense...so many times it is difficult to discover the truth through the murkiness of lies and falsehoods.

I agree completely. The normal process of the farm / slaughterhouse is fine. I have no problem with this part of the process. I'm concerned with the excesses which you can see on these videos. These things have nothing to do with the act of making meat for consumption. But again, its hard to say how often and where these things are taking place. But my question basically is. How do you find good information on wether these things are actually taking place, and if so, which companies are doing it. Maybe it's such a marginal issue that I shouldn't be worried about it!

Well sure-and that is fine if you personally believe that. The danger (and you have not said it yet, so not blaming), is taking your decision to vote with your dollar and turning it into a political law or regulation.

But I am curious. Let us say you went out into the wild in Colorado, went fishing, and caught one. Would you eat it then?

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There are other legitimate reasons not to eat factory-farmed meat. Because of the conditions the animals are kept in, they must be pumped full of antibiotics. They are also frequently fed massive amounts of growth hormones so that they mature much faster than they are meant to. It is possible that consuming these chemicals in the meat you eat is not terribly good for you. If you were to eat instead, say, grass-fed beef and free-range chickens, they may not have quite as much fat content or portion size but they would be better for you and, I venture, taste better as well. I once ate pork from pigs that I could see being raised, mostly on discarded produce as well as anything they could root up themselves. Boy, was that good sausage.

Unfortunately this kind of meat is more expensive, more difficult to find, or both. Because of the regulations on slaughterhouses, all farmers are basically forced to send their animals to the same few slaughterhouses to be processed, and so you may not actually know whose animals you are eating, because it is difficult to keep them all sorted. This is no fault of the farmer - he has no choice about how his animals get processed. It's regulated. So even if you think you are buying one thing, you may be buying another.

I generally eat whatever meat is on special at the supermarket, usually chicken, pork, or ground beef. If it were cheaper and more easily available (which it probably would be in a free market), I would choose to eat non-factory-farmed meat.

YMMV. You have to make choices for yourself in the context of your values.

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Hello,

I'm new to the forums but I'm a huge fan of Ayn Rand and have read VOS, Atlas, Fountainhead, Anthem and most of TVOR. I have also listened to all of Dr.Piekoff's podcasts. After all this I think I have a fairly good understanding of what the Objectivist stand on animal rights is and I happen to agree with it for the most part.

Dr.Piekoff and Ayn Rand have expressed that they disapprove of the 'torturing' of animals. I also agree with this position, and for the same reasons they convey. This is where I see an issue with eating meat. In this country something like 90% of meat that we eat in restaurants and buy in stores comes from a "factory" farm. Many investigations have shown that the animals in these places endure unconscionable acts of cruelty. Videos and articles I've read suggest that these abuses occur on a daily/hourly basis (if not constantly in the case of tiny cages and lack of medical care) and are the kind of abuses that even objectivists would object to.

We do not have a moral obligation to be vegan or vegetarian, but do we have a moral obligation to boycott these producers? Are the abuses overstated? Am I missing something?

My final question is this: I'm not a doctor so I can't possible judge wether being vegan can be healthy. I've been vegan for 9 years and I have no major health problems to complain about. Sometimes I feel like I could have more energy, but I know omnivores who seem to have even less energy than I have. I've been vegan for so long that I don't have any frame of reference to know what I would feel like if I were to eat an omnivorous diet. Just as many Dr's will tell you that meat is healthy and veganism will kill you as vice versa so the question is --- How do I know what doctor to trust?

Thanks for reading!

Hi Kelly, welcome to the forum.

I haven't read this book (link goes to a review) myself, but apparently it does a very good job of dissecting the "moral argument" for veganism/vegetarianism. Animals die so we can eat, no matter whether we eat animals or not. It's not just people, either - one organism living = another organism dying. That's just life, and to say "it's better for me to go without than for another animal to die" first of all means you're putting yourself at the bottom of your own list of values and secondly requires some degree of willful evasion of the facts of reality.

Where it gets 'murky', as you pointed out, is the line between animals being killed for food and being tortured for fun. In my view, torturing animals for the fun of it is sick and wrong because it shows that the torturer holds life in general as a complete non-value. So I'm disgusted by acts of torture not only because I do value life in general, not just my own, and don't like to see other lives being wasted for no reason, but also because the person who holds life as a non-value is repulsive to me and I wouldn't choose to deal with him in any way. Torturing animals for no reason is very different in every respect than killing animals for food, regardless of method.

As for whether veganism is healthy, well, I'm not a doctor either so I couldn't tell you. If your body isn't telling you to do something different then I'd say diet is a matter of optimizing, since you're already maintaining a disease-free state, so whether you make changes or not would depend on how interested you are in the subject and whether you have the time to bother changing things. You could check out Modern Paleo which is a blog about an evolutionary approach to (omnivore) diet written by Objectivists.

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Lets address a more important question that you asked: "We do not have a moral obligation to be vegan or vegetarian, but do we have a moral obligation to boycott these producers? "

Let's get more general, however. The real question is, "Do we have a moral obligation to shun people and companies which engage in immoral behavior?"

I believe that, to the extent any interaction we make with immoral entities supports their immoral action, when such support is definitive and undeniable, yes, we should purposefully avoid such interactions.

Any time we interact with someone in a way that supports their immorality, we sanction their behavior and help make that behavior possible. If you buy meat from a butcher who tortures his animals to death instead of killing them as "humanely" as possible, you trade value (your money) for his immorality.

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The case of how a rational value system fits in the case of killing/farming/mistreating sentinent creatures has always looked complex to me.

Man is omnivorous and the point is not whether we should eat animals or not, but whether we should mind how the animals are treated.

For example, let's say if I am Korean and like dog's meat. What if I find out that, as I have heard, there is certain way to kill dogs in Korea (at least in some towns, at some times) in which dogs are beaten up until they die, so that their flesh can be softened (which is, by the way, physiologically absurd, as the dog's muscle would be contracted as hell). I would find irrational to support that method of killing by buying and eating that meat.

I think it is reasonable to expect that animals will experience pain and distress when raised in conditions that are far different from the conditions that they are meant to live by their own evolutionary process.

Locking chicken or cows within very small cages where they can barely move is objectively very different from the normal conditions that fit their nature.

In nature, cows are hunted for few minutes at a time by a predator, and experience danger for those few minutes. But they live most of their time as cows.

In pre-industrial stages, cows also lived most of their lives as cows, with a lot of freedom, the ability to graze wherever they liked within broad limits, mate, breastfeed their calves, etc. When killed by the farmer, they experienced what they would have experienced with any other predator. There was no significant departure from the realization that a cow was a cow.

In a modern industrial farms, however, it seems to me that cows are treated as if the weren't sentinent creatures but machines.

Even up to this point, industrial farming as such is far from evil. Industrial farming allowed millions of people to have access to proteins by lowering the cost of meat. And obviously men interests are above cow's interest.

The point has come, however, when in wealthy Western societies we have cheap access to so many options to enjoy a healthy, diverse and tasty meal, that it is becoming increasingly harder to support the claim that meat is essential. And even when we decide to eat meat, it is hard to support why whe would choose meat produces in farms where cows are treated as machines instead of more traditional farms where cows are treated as cows.

My position is that the life of animals, particularly higher mammals, should be respected as it is, inasmuch as it does not clash with man's rational self-interest.

In the same way that babies and severily mentally disabled people are valued by rational men, animals with higher mental states are valued for rational men.

Rational men tend to value everything that resembles volitional conciousness, or comes close to it. The more rational a behaviour seems to be in a sentinent being, the more is it valued.

By the same token, the more the animal's pain is linked to our survival or progress, the less we care. But when the link is lost or unclear, our eyebrows start to raise.

That's why a rational man is more likely to feel horrifed by the sight of a gorilla being mutilated to sell its hands as ashtrays than by the sight of a guinea pig being dissected in a lab to explore the toxic effects of a new drug.

We have said that a man who tortures animals is more likely to despise life altogether.

Well... by the same token, a man who treats sentinent creatures as machines, is perhaps more willing to to treat people as machines, to enslave others, to be a collectivist, to deny individuality.

In conclusion, I am not saying that eating meat is immoral. I am not saying that modern farming is immoral as such... and I am not vegan or pro-vegan at all.

I am just saying that we may benefit from considering the whole context: what we eat, how animals are treated, what our personal options and circumstances are, and act accordingly.

The answer may be different for different people. For some, buying meat from modern farms will be unavoidable to ensure access to cheap proteins. For some, eating meat is a proper way to indulge himself now and then. to celebrate the company of friends, traditional cuisine, etc. And seeking meat from traditional farms can be an option. But still for others, who can benefit from a diet based on fish and vegetables, sparing the suffering of cows or pigs in modern farms might be feasible.

Edited by Hotu Matua
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Please consider this aswer of Ayn Rand to the question:

"Is it all life or one's own life that one is morally bound to preserve?"

" The moral obligation to maintain one's life does not mean survival at any price. Only one's own life is a primary moral obligation --if you want to call it that -- because it's the only life over which you have control; the only life you can live, the only life for which ethics gives you guidance. For the same reason that you should value your own life, you should value human life as such. I'd even say animal life has a certain value that man should respect. But that does not mean that you should indiscriminately value the life of every other human, or that yo uhave a duty to sacrifice your own life to others, though you should, rationally, value the life of any human who corresponds to your values".

(Ayn Rand Answers, Centennial Edition, page 113. The bold is mine)

Rand was obviously not referring to the economic value of the animal. The context of the question was the value of life.

I don't think that she used "animal life" in the same sense she could have said "man should respect cars" or "man should respect skyscrapers".

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Certainly, I am not advocating treating animals for what they are not.

Pigs are neither humans, nor unconcious meat machines. So, I would treat them neither as humans, nor as unconcious meat machines.

And I am not advocating treating animals for the sake of the animals, but for our own sake. Treating sentinent higher mammals as non-sentinent factories of meat and milk might have an impact on our own characters, on the way we treat other sentinent creatures, including human beings.

But I can be wrong. Please tell me what you think.

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Treating sentinent higher mammals as non-sentinent factories of meat and milk might have an impact on our own characters, on the way we treat other sentinent creatures, including human beings.

As the old Lone Ranger joke goes, "What you mean 'we' white man?"

The way I treat animals has no impact on how I treat humans. Heck, I'm not even sure that how I treat my dog impacts how I treat certain other animals though it may be possible.

However, I could see a case being made that for some people what you suggest may be true.

What is more likely is that people will make potentially false assumptions about other people based on how they observe them treat animals.

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So then you would agree that your vegetarianism is a self-imposed behavior as opposed to a natural behavior?

Yes 100%.

And for the record, I've stopped being vegan and contrary to the vegan propaganda, I did not get sick from eating meat or cheese -- even after 9 years of being vegan. Actually I feel pretty good.

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Yes 100%.

And for the record, I've stopped being vegan and contrary to the vegan propaganda, I did not get sick from eating meat or cheese -- even after 9 years of being vegan. Actually I feel pretty good.

Interesting.

What then, would you say, is the essential moral reason for your actions to be some sort of agnostic vegetarian? :)

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There are other legitimate reasons not to eat factory-farmed meat. Because of the conditions the animals are kept in, they must be pumped full of antibiotics. They are also frequently fed massive amounts of growth hormones so that they mature much faster than they are meant to. It is possible that consuming these chemicals in the meat you eat is not terribly good for you. If you were to eat instead, say, grass-fed beef and free-range chickens, they may not have quite as much fat content or portion size but they would be better for you and, I venture, taste better as well. I once ate pork from pigs that I could see being raised, mostly on discarded produce as well as anything they could root up themselves. Boy, was that good sausage.

Unfortunately this kind of meat is more expensive, more difficult to find, or both. Because of the regulations on slaughterhouses, all farmers are basically forced to send their animals to the same few slaughterhouses to be processed, and so you may not actually know whose animals you are eating, because it is difficult to keep them all sorted. This is no fault of the farmer - he has no choice about how his animals get processed. It's regulated. So even if you think you are buying one thing, you may be buying another.

I generally eat whatever meat is on special at the supermarket, usually chicken, pork, or ground beef. If it were cheaper and more easily available (which it probably would be in a free market), I would choose to eat non-factory-farmed meat.

YMMV. You have to make choices for yourself in the context of your values.

This is an excellent reason to meet your farmer and spend some time talking with them to:

1) get to know how they raise their animals and;

2) find out how the animals are slaughtered

The farm I recently visited seems to have things pretty much under control and if they don't do the slaughtering themselves, they know who does it. The whole process from birth to my dinner plate is actually pretty fascinating.

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What then, would you say, is the essential moral reason for your actions to be some sort of agnostic vegetarian? :thumbsup:

My reasons were totally altruistic, as I said before. My moral reason was improving the lives of animals. And since you ask, I was an atheist, though I'm not sure why that's relevant. When I first heard Ayn Rand speak (in a you tube video about 6 months ago) it was the first time I'd ever heard anyone challenge altruism. I'd always just taken it as a given,

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I'm glad you've recovered from veganism. I agree that you should definitely check out Modern Paleo, I've been eating the paleo diet for a year or so now and have lost over 60 lbs and feel better than I ever have.

Never feel guilty for eating meat, lions sure don't.

EDIT: To avoid redundancy I also wanted to add

This site

and This one

Hope you enjoy.

Edited by Jackethan
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