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Does being a vegetarian/vegan make you more ethical?
#1
This is a claim I've encountered both online and in real life many many times, and to be honest I find it laughable at best. The main reason why vegetarians/vegans think they may claim to be more humane and more ethical than the average meat eater is because they don't contribute to the suffering of animals that are kept and raised for commercial purposes. Since they're two very different diets, I'll address them separately, I'll look into the moral aspects and health aspects of each.

First things first, for a vegetarian to think they're not contributing to animal suffering by choosing not to eat meat lacks a bit of ignorance to me. Vegetarians have no qualms about consuming dairy products and eggs for example, and we have no reason to believe that animals kept in a commercial setting for their milk or eggs are treated any differently to those kept for their meat. Let's look at chicken, not only do we have no reason whatsoever to believe that layers (chicken raised for their eggs) aren't treated much differently to those raised for their meat (A.K.A broilers), but in many cases once the chicken is no longer laying eggs it's slaughtered anyway:

"Commercial hens usually begin laying eggs at 16–21 weeks of age, although production gradually declines soon after from approximately 25 weeks of age.[7] This means that in many countries, by approximately 72 weeks of age, flocks are considered economically unviable and are slaughtered after approximately 12 months of egg production"

And really, how the animal is being treated has more to do with the farm/producer than with what the chicken is being raised for:

"Free-range poultry farming allows chickens to roam freely for a period of the day, although they are usually confined in sheds at night to protect them from predators or kept indoors if the weather is particularly bad."

"American meat chickens are bred and fed to be big. Hens are “eating machines,” Conner says. They’re usually kept and fed in farm houses. At some farms, like that of Joel Salatin, owner of Polyface Farms in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, chickens lead a freer life. Salatin says it’s vital to expose chickens to a natural environment including bugs, worms, green grass and sunshine as well as corn feed."

If you're interested in reading more about living conditions for commercial chicken I'll direct you to The Street's article on the topic "From egg to plate". In any case, it's more or less the same for cows, once a dairy cow is longer producing quality milk, it's slaughtered for beef and I'll direct you to the business insider's article on the topic, here's a quick quote:

"But here's the weird thing: at the end of their lives, both factory farm and organic farm cows are sold for cheap and mixed up with commodity meat, which is produced on an industrial scale."

And of course treatment does vary depending on the farm:

"Life is considerably better for cows raised by pasture-based, organic dairy producers. They live their whole lives roaming and grazing pasture. They generally aren't sickly."

So to sum it up, if you chose to become a vegetarian out of your desire to feel better about yourself, and claim more ethics, then your decision is based on no facts. It would be far more effective to only buy your groceries from producers who have been verified to treat their animals humanely, and that would certainly be a much better way to contribute to less animal suffering. I would happily tip my hat in respect to those.

It's also worth mentioning that being a vegetarian doesn't seem to have major negative effects on one's health. While white meat that is low in fat like chicken breast is certainly important, it's not unfeasible for the average person to fill in the gap with dairy and eggs. In fact many studies have found that, while the claims that vegetarians live longer that meat eaters are largely baseless, they do compare favorably to the average person healthwise. I suspect that's because the kinds of meat many people consume are far removed from what's generally considered healthy. For further reading I'll refer you to a study by Key TJ, et al. published in NCBI in 2006:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/16...75/related

The same however cannot be said about vegans, who usually do not eat no animal products. They're generally advised to take fortifications or supplements as per a study by the American journal of clinical nutrition, the diet is certainly not healthy:

https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/89...7S/4596952

The problem is that man made supplements are still under evaluation believe it or not, with regards to whether they can completely substitute the natural thing.

Overall, eating no meat because you don't want animals to suffer seems to me about as smart as walking around naked because some factories employ 8 year old children. Just find an alternative!
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#2
No, because plants also have lives and also feel pain.
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#3
(06-14-2019, 11:56 AM)Mustang Wrote: First things first, for a vegetarian to think they're not contributing to animal suffering by choosing not to eat meat lacks a bit of ignorance to me.
I think most vegetarians are fully aware of this and just doing the best they can. Diary products are, imo, harder to avoid than meat, as they require a more rigorous reading of recipe lists.
Still, if you cancel flights, you are doing something good for the climate, even if you still drive a car.


Quote:The same however cannot be said about vegans, who usually do not eat no animal products. They're generally advised to take fortifications or supplements as per a study by the American journal of clinical nutrition, the diet is certainly not healthy:
https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/89...7S/4596952
Your study takes a very nuanced view over whether veganism is healthy and certainly does not support your conclusion of vegans being unable to live healthily. The abstract alone makes it clear that there are risks and benefits.

Quote:The problem is that man made supplements are still under evaluation believe it or not, with regards to whether they can completely substitute the natural thing.
This sounds very interesting, I'd like more details.
As far as I know, supplements are produced by the same kinds of bacteria as those in herbivore guts (just in a laboratory), so I don't see why there should be any problems (plus, your paper doesn't see any either).
That being said, a lot of omnivores do not mind consuming foods that are "under evaluation" either as long as veganism doesn't come up. It is not clear if red meats cause cancer, but no-one seems to care.
Moreover, the health risks of veganism have nothing "Does being a vegetarian/vegan make you more ethical?". Taking a personal risk in order to make the world better is not is not what makes someone lose my sympathy. Maybe this would be a good point if the debate topic was "Should we all go vegan?", but not if this is about individual choices and how this reflects on people.

Quote:Overall, eating no meat because you don't want animals to suffer seems to me about as smart as walking around naked because some factories employ 8 year old children. Just find an alternative!
Like what?
As you said, "some" factories employ 8 year old children.
Which existent meat producers are not responsible for animal suffering?
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#4
"Still, if you cancel flights, you are doing something good for the climate, even if you still drive a car."

This is a terrible analogy imho and with all due respect of course. Reason being that the same cow that produces milk (which you're contributing to when you buy dairy products) will likely be slaughtered for beef eventually. It's like saying I won't drive from the airport but I'll take a taxi when my plane lands. You're really not changing much. If you instead spend some time to do some research and find out which producers treat their animals fairly, then only buy from those, even if they're pricier or harder to come across then that's a meaningful sacrifice that's contributing way way more. In other words, base your decisions on knowledge, not on emotions.

Also regarding that study, I respectfully don't think anyone on this forum has the background to critique an academic study not out of disrespect for their person, but simply because criticizing a study in the grand scheme of things requires performing your own research that has a better methodology (with explanation as to why it is better) and then coming up with contradicting or at least different results. I don't think anyone here has the capacity to do so. In any case, like I explained a completely vegan diet might have some benefits compared to the diet of your average McDonald's consuming, bacon loving modern Western dude. But compared to eating healthy meat and low sugar low fat dairy products the vegan diet is lacking on many fronts. Nature intended you to be an omnivore, and you have evolved for hundreds of thousands of years for that lifestyle, you're not reversing that in one lifetime.

As for why supplements aren't as good as the natural thing:

"Both Dr. Sesso and Dr. Lo advise that you try to improve your diet before you use supplements. That's because nutrients are most potent when they come from food. "They are accompanied by many nonessential but beneficial nutrients, such as hundreds of carotenoids, flavonoids, minerals, and antioxidants that aren't in most supplements," says Dr. Lo."

From Harvard research: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-h...upplements

Another one from Science daily:

"When sources of nutrient intake (food vs. supplement) were evaluated, the researchers found:

The lower risk of death associated with adequate nutrient intakes of vitamin K and magnesium was limited to nutrients from foods, not from supplements;
The lower risk of death from CVD associated with adequate intakes of vitamin A, vitamin K, and zinc was limited to nutrients from foods, not from supplements; and
Calcium intake from supplement totals of at least 1,000 mg/day was associated with increased risk of death from cancer but there was no association for calcium intake from foods.
In addition, the researchers found that dietary supplements had no effect on the risk of death in individuals with low nutrient intake. Instead, the team found indications that use of vitamin D supplements by individuals with no sign of vitamin D deficiency may be associated with an increased risk of death from all causes including cancer. Further research on this potential connection is needed."

Overall, I would be very surprised if you could find a single reputable source that would recommend supplements over natural foods.

Of course, that is to state my opinion, which is based on facts, it's not too ridicule those who choose such diets. People are free to choose whatever they want as long as they're doing you no harm, but freedom is a 2 way steam and I believe it's my right to criticize what I believe is a bad dietary plan.
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#5
Being vegan more depends on the individual. Some of us are better suited and adapted, for whatever reason, to being vegans, while others are not. It’s just individualism.

Take this one person for example:
https://blog.bulletproof.com/humans-vegan-omnivore/
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#6
(Yesterday, 02:31 AM)Mustang Wrote: This is a terrible analogy imho and with all due respect of course. Reason being that the same cow that produces milk (which you're contributing to when you buy dairy products) will likely be slaughtered for beef eventually. It's like saying I won't drive from the airport but I'll take a taxi when my plane lands. You're really not changing much. If you instead spend some time to do some research and find out which producers treat their animals fairly, then only buy from those, even if they're pricier or harder to come across then that's a meaningful sacrifice that's contributing way way more. In other words, base your decisions on knowledge, not on emotions.
Admittedly, if they just substitute their meat with more diary and eggs, then yeah, it doesn't make much of a difference. But under the premise that the average vegetarian does not eat more milk, cheese or eggs than the average omnivore, cutting down meat 

Quote:Also regarding that study, I respectfully don't think anyone on this forum has the background to critique an academic study not out of disrespect for their person, but simply because criticizing a study in the grand scheme of things requires performing your own research that has a better methodology (with explanation as to why it is better) and then coming up with contradicting or at least different results. I don't think anyone here has the capacity to do so.
I wasn't criticizing the study though.
Quote:In any case, like I explained a completely vegan diet might have some benefits compared to the diet of your average McDonald's consuming, bacon loving modern Western dude. But compared to eating healthy meat and low sugar low fat dairy products the vegan diet is lacking on many fronts.
If you want to compare the best-case omnivore diet with an average vegan diet (which is in and of itself kinda rigged), you should probably not rely on a study which compares average omnivore diets with average vegan diets.
Quote:Nature intended you to be an omnivore, and you have evolved for hundreds of thousands of years for that lifestyle, you're not reversing that in one lifetime.
First, nature did not "intend" anything. Even if it did, humanity has done a lot nature did not "intend". For starters, nothing we eat is natural. Where does milk come from? From an aurochs?
Have you ever seen how tiny natural pears are? Or bananas?

While I know that this is only a short sentence, but your opposition to veganism seems to be ideological in nature (pun not intended). Evolution is not a benevolent God, but a blind one. It designed us not for our benefit, but to be just good enough to pass on our genes.
Quote:As for why supplements aren't as good as the natural thing:

"Both Dr. Sesso and Dr. Lo advise that you try to improve your diet before you use supplements. That's because nutrients are most potent when they come from food. "They are accompanied by many nonessential but beneficial nutrients, such as hundreds of carotenoids, flavonoids, minerals, and antioxidants that aren't in most supplements," says Dr. Lo."

From Harvard research: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-h...upplements
So, to sum it up:
1. Supplements can lead to overdoses.
2. Supplements can be very expensive.
3. They don't contain beneficial nutrients, such as flavonoids and antioxidants.
4. Supplements aren't regulated like pharmaceuticals, so well-known brands are recommended.

As for 1-2, a lot of vegan products are enriched with appropriate doses B12 which should both solve the overdoses and the cost problem. 3 is not an issue for most vegans and 4 is more of a recommendation than an issue.
Quote:Another one from Science daily:

"When sources of nutrient intake (food vs. supplement) were evaluated, the researchers found:

The lower risk of death associated with adequate nutrient intakes of vitamin K and magnesium was limited to nutrients from foods, not from supplements;
The lower risk of death from CVD associated with adequate intakes of vitamin A, vitamin K, and zinc was limited to nutrients from foods, not from supplements; and
Calcium intake from supplement totals of at least 1,000 mg/day was associated with increased risk of death from cancer but there was no association for calcium intake from foods.
In addition, the researchers found that dietary supplements had no effect on the risk of death in individuals with low nutrient intake. Instead, the team found indications that use of vitamin D supplements by individuals with no sign of vitamin D deficiency may be associated with an increased risk of death from all causes including cancer. Further research on this potential connection is needed."
All this says is that you shouldn't take supplements when you have 
Even so, while this differentiates between different types of supplements, none of it is related to vitamin B12, even though vitamin B12 supplements are some of the most variable ones you can find.

Or are they all the same as they are all unnatural and hence bad?
Quote:Overall, I would be very surprised if you could find a single reputable source that would recommend supplements over natural foods.
The study in the American journal of clinical nutrition you posted before recommends them for vegans fairly uncritically.

But beyond that, there is no inherent difference between vitamin B12 produced in a lab and vitamin B12 produced in a cow gut. Both have the same molecular structure and are produced by the same bacteria. Your articles talk about risks from for example overdoses, but all of these are avoidable (especially if you use fortified foods; your articles seem to be more focused on these capsules).
Quote:Of course, that is to state my opinion, which is based on facts, it's not too ridicule those who choose such diets. People are free to choose whatever they want as long as they're doing you no harm, but freedom is a 2 way steam and I believe it's my right to criticize what I believe is a bad dietary plan.
It's just a bit odd if your criticism has little to do with the topic title.
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#7
I’d also like to point out that being vegan is a “luxury” in 1st world countries, and people who aren’t wholly a part of these countries really don’t have much in the way of choice regarding what they eat. I remember some Twitter post about how a Mongolian couple died to the Black Death by reportedly eating a roadkilled rat, and someone said it wouldn’t have happened if they were vegans which is pretty callous and no more “ethical” towards a fellow person than the people who eat a more omnivorous diet without particular care. When I find the retort I’ll post it.
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#8
Maybe a 100% meat (and other animal product)-free diet is indeed a luxury, but as a rule of thumb, poorer countries tend have a lower meat consumption per capita:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_co...onsumption
In many of these countries, meat is seen as a luxury and a sign of status.
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#9
Just a quick point, the environmental impact of producing Vegeatables and Crops is often ignored.
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