Social Question

fremen_warrior's avatar

What do you think of eating meat?

Asked by fremen_warrior (5447 points ) June 4th, 2012

Is it moral, or immoral, from your perspective, to eat meat? Please explain why you think the way you do. I have my own opinion on the subject, and I would like to know what other Jellies think, and what dictates your dietary choices.

Let us not focus on how animals are treated prior to being killed, that is a whole other question, but whether you think you are morally justified to eat meat or not, given it requires an animal needs to die first.

Also, if scientists were able to “grow” meat, would you eat it then, knowing that technically no animal would have to die then?

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75 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I am an omnivore by biology. I was designed to eat meat, and I enjoy eating meat.

Leanne1986's avatar

I eat meat. Many creatures have to die in order for another to eat it. It’s not moral or immoral, it’s life.

syz's avatar

I have no problem with the “morality” of eating meat. We are animals, just like all the others. And we are animals that evolved eating meat.

Now, if you want to talk about atrocious, inhumane treatment of animals in mass production, atrocious quality control that results in us ingesting shit, atrocious effects on the ecosystem by mass production, atrocious health effects of the massive use of hormones and antibiotics, atrocious resource hoarding by a society that demands cheap meat….....

It would be nice to be able to think that we are animals that are highly evolved enough to recognize and react to these issues.

Rarebear's avatar

If God didn’t want us to eat animals, he shouldn’t have called them “meat.”

Symbeline's avatar

I’m a raging carnivore and I love meat. I have no moral qualms about it, and as already pointed out by posters here, that’s not really what it’s about anyway. However I do think that it’s overly excessive, and there is way too much waste going on, as well as too much destruction involved. Plus if what I hear about how animals are treated like is true, that’s horrible. But yeah, I know you don’t want to know about that. But eating meat as a concept itself, I’m perfectly fine with it.

Would I eat grown meat? If that was possible, and that this meat was like real meat and had the same proteins and stuff in it, then yeah.

nikipedia's avatar

It’s hard to talk about the ethics of eating meat without touching on the ethics of how that meat is grown (how the animals are treated prior to being killed).

I do not think it’s ethical to take the life of an organism capable of experiencing pain or fear in order to make my life marginally more pleasant.

MilkyWay's avatar

If humans weren’t supposed to eat meat, we wouldn’t have teeth specially designed for the task, and neither would our body require some specific nutrients that come from meat. I am very aware that these nutrients can be obtained from other sources, but the primary source is meat regardless.
I eat meat because I enjoy it, and because I feel like it’s something perfectly natural for me to do… I haven’t really thought about it as much because I don’t think morality has anything to do with killing animals for food.
Saying that, I respect people who choose not to eat meat aka vegetarians and vegans, I have friends who are these type of people and I don;t think there;s anything wrong with our choice of food we eat. Unless of course, you want to eat me. If you do then I will swiftly point out that cannibalism is strictly illegal.

Linda_Owl's avatar

I do eat meat. I would like to see more humane treatment of the animals that are the source of this protein rich product, but about all I can do is sign petitions asking for better care, I feel that I have very little control over how these animals are treated.

CWOTUS's avatar

If God didn’t want us to eat animals, then It wouldn’t have made them so lip-smacking delicious.

Trillian's avatar

Delmonico, medium rare. Mmmmmm.

thorninmud's avatar

Personally, I don’t think there’s some external arbiter of what’s moral and what’s immoral, nor do I feel that it’s my job to be that arbiter for anyone else. In matters of morality, I use my sense of compassion as my guide. It’s an imperfect guide, but it’s all I have. I try to keep it tuned up, so it’s sensitive and in good working order.

I imagine this thought experiment—I’m hungry. In front of me are two possibilities: a chicken in a cage and the fixins for a lentil stew. There’s something about the idea of killing that chicken that bothers my sense of compassion; I see it as being on some level a being that, like me, wants to live. My compassion makes me want it to have its wish. I feel no such compassion for the lentils. So I’ll have the lentils, thank you.

Of course, we don’t usually face this choice in such a stark form, but we do constantly make it nonetheless. We just have so many intermediaries between us and our food that the actual import of the choice is blurred. I have access to a huge array of non-meat food choices, and so I’ve eaten very well for the past 20 years without meat.

This is just my approach. It doesn’t make me better than anyone else. There are probably plenty of good counter-arguments to be made. It’s a complex question with many connections to consider.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I am an omnivore. My teeth consist of molars and incisors. Unlike ruminants I have one stomach. I have eyes on the front of my head like most predator animals. Prey animals have them on the sides.
I eat meat sparingly as part of a balanced diet.

Bellatrix's avatar

I am an omnivore and so I eat meat. When it comes to food, I love a good steak. Preferably quite rare.

wundayatta's avatar

For me morality is about treating human beings well. It is about maximizing the good for human kind. Animals aren’t like humans and have no rights and they only fit into human morality insofar as they affect our good. If hurting animals hurts humans, then they are appropriate to include in our moral decisions. If they our treatment of animals does not affect us at all, then we don’t need to include them in our moral considerations.

How does animal treatment affect humans? Well, one major way is their treatment as food affects human health. So we need to treat them in such a way that we do not harm human health. A second way is that many humans form strong emotional attachments to animals, and when they see animals hurt, it really bothers them. To save such humans from harm, we need to make sure the animals they care about do not receive treatment that causes their human companions harm.

This latter goes only so far, though, because sometimes the emotional harm other humans feel due to bad treatment of animals makes them want to treat animals in ways that harm other humans. Like they may not want humans to eat animal meat. Or they may want to force humans to treat animals with expensive quality of life treatments that humans can not afford.

Thus humans get into conflict over the appropriate use of animals. Do humans who use animals for affection have more say so than humans who value animals for meat, or vice versa? Personally, I don’t really care about using animals for affection. I think that is a fine use, but only if it does not place any demands on people who do not use animals for affection.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with using animals in experiments, especially when looking at human safety of substances. I do not have a problem with using animals for clothing or food. I don’t have a problem with using animals for love. If you believe you can love an animal and you get emotional satisfaction from that, I think that is great. It really helps many people achieve emotional stability.

I do have a problem when one group of people acts as if their way of using animals is better than any other way. I also have a problem when people are gratuitously cruel to animals, or cause them unnecessary pain. I can’t justify this last in terms of human morality, but it just seems to me that creating gratuitous pain in other beings is probably a bad thing, psychologically, for the person who causes the pain.

Ponderer983's avatar

Am I the only resident here that doesn’t eat ALL meat?

I would like to point out a few things. Early humans did not eat meat. It was introduced into our diet, canine teeth were evolutionarily developed, and our diet was transformed to then need such nutrients from said meats. So the humans we speak of today is different then early humans in diet, nutritional needs, and teeth.

This question is something I actually dealt with from an early age. I thought it was selfish of humans to eat animals when we can survive (and lead a healthy life) on vegetation and other non-meat food items. So I made a decision to stop eating meat when I was about 12–13 years old.

I don’t, however, scorn others for eating meat or anything like that. I’m not the Jehovah’s Witness of vegetarians. You can shovel as much meat into your mouth in front of me as you like and I won’t care or say a word. It’s a decision I made for myself and don’t feel the need to have others comply. Just don’t badger me on my personal decision that does not affect anyone else. I feel as though I saved one cow, chicken, turkey, etc. all by myself :)

Bill1939's avatar

Rhetorically asking, what is the difference between eating one kind of life form over another? It seems to me that eating meats and/or plants make little difference. While many believe that plants are without feeling, some studies have shown evidence to the contrary. When we become fully realized beings, having no need for a physical body we can quit eating living things.

Keep_on_running's avatar

I admire those who can resist eating meat, though I don’t have the same desire or willpower to do so. I wish that I wouldn’t crave it and feel so much more satisfied after eating it, but I do. Vegetarianism just doesn’t sit high on my list of priorities. We all have different issues/causes that we’re passionate about; that’s what makes us great.

ucme's avatar

Is this nsfw?
I like it because it’s yummy.

Blackberry's avatar

I think it’s bad ass, and good.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I eat meat because it’s delicious and healthy for me. I don’t think it’s amoral but I also don’t condone cruel methods of raising or killing. Humans didn’t evolve to the top of the food chain by eating mosses, bark and fruits so I’ve no reason to feel meat is bad for me.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I lean more toward non-meat dishes, but I enjoy a good steak now and then. It’s just the way my teeth are made. :)

downtide's avatar

I don’t feel that eating meat is immoral (but treating livestock badly is). That said, I’m not really a big meat eater, and most meat I don’t really like that much so a good deal of the time I will choose the vegetarian option anyway. I was a strict vegetarian between the ages of 23 and 31 but I got fed up with having to study labels for hidden non-vegetarian ingredients so I gave up doing that.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Nothing is inherently moral or immoral. Fuck that shit.

Sunny2's avatar

I don’t think it is immoral to eat meat for all the reasons cited above. What bothers me most, is when you cook the whole animal, such as a chicken or a fish and don’t do a good job of it. This dish, it turns out, was this creature’s purpose in life and I have to respect that. The more delicious it is, the more you have honored this particular animal. The cooking is the only way I really have to show my appreciation.

King_Pariah's avatar

I find morals to be abstract constructs of the human mind. Therefore, it is neither moral nor immoral to consume meat.

WestRiverrat's avatar

You cannot make a BLT without meat.

RocketGuy's avatar

@Ponderer983 – it says right here that early homonids ate meat:
http://www-bcf.usc.edu/~stanford/chimphunt.html

and our close cousins are currently eating monkeys towards extinction:
http://chimpanzeeinformation.blogspot.com/2011/01/in-ghana-red-colobus-monkey-is-going.html

josie's avatar

As above, humans clearly are omnivores, so eating meat could never be considered immoral. Having said it, some people do not like the taste, or embrace pop science that all meat is unhealthy, or they are making a protest against how animals are raised for food. All of these are matters of personal style, and none of them are true denials of human nature, and thus they are not moral issues.
For the record, I like fish and chicken because they tend to be lean. Once or twice a year I like to eat a nice steak, but beef is a little rich for me to eat it frequently. Sort of like pumpkin pie. I eat it during the holidays, but that is all.

cookieman's avatar

I think it’s delicious.

nikipedia's avatar

Do you guys who think morals don’t exist apply that to everything (rape, murder, theft) or just things that might interfere with your personal preferences?

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Ponderer983 where do you get the idea that “Early humans did not eat meat”? Do you have a citation for us?

abysmalbeauty's avatar

i dont eat meat. I dont find anything wrong with eating meat. the end.

josie's avatar

@Ponderer983
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australopithecus_afarensis
An early hominid.
Check out the canines.
Who “introduced” meat into the ancient human diet?

Dutchess_III's avatar

@josie Lucy as as about an “early” human as we can get! And exactly “Who “introduced” meat into the ancient human diet?” It’s not like I could “introduce” a horse or a cow or a rabbit to meat and they’d become partly carnivorous. They’d starve to death before it would even occur to them to eat meat.

Also, @Ponderer983… What did you mean by the statement “Am I the only resident here that doesn’t eat ALL meat?” I don’t eat “all” meat. Unless I’m eating meat. Which, quite often, I’m not.

rooeytoo's avatar

@nikipedia – I wondered the same thing when I read the response proclaiming nothing is moral or immoral, what the hell does that mean?

I eat meat but when I do it is free range and humanely slaughtered. We eat vegetarian 3 or 4 days a week because it too is good and my body doesn’t complain, it actually seems to like it.

Even if I were starving for meat, I would not buy factory farmed meat from a supermarket chain. And not only because of the hideous treatment of the animals but also because it is not good for you. That meat is so full of antibiotics and who knows what else. You cannot have that sort of intense, condensed living conditions and not have rampant disease so it must be controlled with drugs. I believe we are what we eat and there is a reason why so many people are suddenly developing allergies to nuts, gluten. Why is there more autism, ADHD, cancers in younger and younger people, it’s not just a natural occurrence and it’s not global warming, it’s what people are putting into their guts!

King_Pariah's avatar

@nikipedia I don’t think they truly exist, period.

Ponderer983's avatar

Uno
Dos
Both mention the time before humans began to eat meat. I’m not saying we were always vegetarians, or that it was for an extended period of time, but there was a period where our intellect was not so great. As we built tools and began to hunt, we began to eat meat. Let’s face it, without tools, we can’t kill shit and are rather defenseless.

@Dutchess_III What I meant was at the time I wrote my first post, everyone before me ate meat. I meant “all KINDS (or types) of meat”, implying to say I am a vegetarian Hope that clears up.

CWOTUS's avatar

Meat: It’s what’s for dinner.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Ponderer983, thanks for the clarifications on most of it…but no other carnivores / omnivores,other than us, have “tools,” yet meat is all they eat. We need a bit more than random speculation. Yes, some have claws…but dogs don’t. Neither do chimps. That doesn’t stop them from finding, killing and eating meat.

WestRiverrat's avatar

You do not have to be a predator to eat meat. There are several very successful animals that survive by stealing or scavenging meat other animals have killed.

fremen_warrior's avatar

In my experience one thing so far has proven true to me, one thing nicely summed up by Mahatma Gandhi when he said:

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated

People who say there is no morality seriously give me the creeps. Sure you can say it is relative, but to say there is no such thing as an immoral act implies all bets are off, everything is allowed… I would like to think there are some lines that should not be crossed. Ever.

When it comes to my vegetarianism, what convinced me ultimately to stop eating animals was the fact that I could find enough food without causing directly the death of a single animal. Sure some animals die during the process, it is inevitable. I however am doing everything not to intentionally cause more suffering in the world.

What surprises me and what I cannot comprehend is how we seem to have distinguished ourselves from the other animals and think ourselves different. If you argue along the lines of “well the animals kill and eat each other too!” you might as well embrace cannibalism, because, well, there were people who once sustained themselves thus.

In my opinion as the most advanced sentient species on the planet it is our duty to be the reasonable ones, the species that will set the example of a peaceful coexistence of species, even if some of them are not yet developed enough to comprehend what we are trying to do. But we ourselves are struggling with our own instincts still… we are not ready for this it seems.

I would never kill and eat an animal, just like I would never have this done to a human being.

Here’s a thought experiment for all of you:

Suppose Earth was inseminated by a far more advanced race, which someday returns from the stars, when the ‘livestock’ is ripe so to speak, and they begin harvesting us for food. Being far superior to us in every way we cannot fend them off, and they treat us like “dumb animals” – if we follow your warped logics, dear meat-eaters, we must assume it to be perfectly natural and moral for these creatures to be slaughtering and eating us…

Discuss.

King_Pariah's avatar

@fremen_warrior Sure, why not? If we are unable to overcome or adapt to an obstacle, then extinction is really the only option left.

Ponderer983's avatar

@Dutchess_III Most other carnivores do not need tools as they have some form of physical prowess. Dogs have speed far beyond that of a human, and also their canine teeth are far more developed for piercing skin, as they protrude past the rest of the upper teeth. They may not be cheetahs, but like wild dogs, they are mostly scavengers with a little “hunt” in them. And not for nothing, my dog loves broccoli. I think they fell into the omnivore category like humans. Chimps are some 5 – 10 time stronger than man and have the ability to crush bones with their hands. A human punches someone and maybe breaks a bone. Let’s face it, humans have really survived because of their intellect. We are not fast, strong, have claws, piercing fangs, etc. We have our minds, that have created dwellings to protect us and weapons to defend ourselves and to be the aggressor with. Does anyone know for certain what was happening in those caves millions of years ago and what was being served around the rock for dinner? Probably not. But I do side with the vegetarian stance, then we became omnivores once tools were created, and our bodies adapted. And let’s face it, when it comes to trying to survive, they will ingest anything to keep going to see if it is a viable food source. Anyone read “Alive”?

wundayatta's avatar

I think you can make a case for treating other beings as being kind of morally equivalent to humans to the degree that they can communicate as well as humans. Animals clearly can’t communicate with anywhere near the sophistication that humans can. Because of that, they aren’t seen as very thoughtful creatures. They certainly don’t seem to have much moral sense, themselves, with a few exceptions. But even those exceptions do not come close to human moral distinctions.

So, functionally speaking, if you don’t think animals can think very sophisticatedly, it’s hard to think they deserve rights. On the other hand, if you think they do think pretty sophisticatedly, then you will want to give them rights and probably will have a lot more trouble eating them.

A lot of people think animals are sophisticated, because they share a large emotional dialog with their pets. Their pets show them what they interpret as love and affection. So these people believe that their pets are sophisticated enough to love. Many of these people would extend rights to their pets, and I think they might extend rights to other animals, even though they don’t have a personal relationship with those animals. For these people, it’s hard to imagine eating something you could love.

If aliens showed up, I would not expect them to love us or want to give us rights. As far as I’m concerned, the only reason aliens would come here would be for resources, and they would exterminate… or attempt to exterminate anything that kept them from obtaining those resources. The only morality that would enter into it would be their needs. They would not include us in their morality unless we forced them to do so by successfully fighting them.

I’m happy with that reality. The world doesn’t owe me an existence. It doesn’t owe humankind an existence. It owes no creature an existence. If something wants me to treat it differently, then it has to communicate that to me and also have the power to make me treat it better. If it can’t communicate, it’s not going to get better treatment from me. I will treat it as well as I think is good for me. Which is to say, no gratuitous harm in the pursuit of my needs.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

It’s not “immoral” in my opinion. It’s just part of life. I like meat. I need meat. I tried to go vegetarian and never felt satisfied. I kept getting weaker and sicker. I held out for two weeks. Many of my vegetarian friends look sickly, with sallow skin and stringy hair. I think I’ll stick with what makes me feel the healthiest, and not have any regrets.

Oh, and just because you stop eating animals doesn’t mean you’re not responsible for the death of any animals. Do you drive a car? Just because I don’t eat the squirrel doesn’t mean I didn’t kill it.

majorrich's avatar

Meat is good. Especially when it’s properly cooked. (unlike how the wife unit sometimes does) We domesticated animals so that we could eat them, bred them so their flesh was succulent and delicious. Raise them on farms so they don’t have too many extra critters living within the flesh. Salt and Garlic are also good. They are good on meat. Now, there are limits. Just because Gramma is made of meat, I don’t feel she would be good to eat. Probably chewy and tough.

blueberry_kid's avatar

As an omnivore, I find it perfectly okay to eat meat. It’s not immoral, it’s good for the soul. But, I’d also be perfectly okay with living off of strictly vegetables.

thorninmud's avatar

Take a look at the teeth on this skull. What conclusions would you draw about what this animal is “supposed to” eat based on the kind of teeth it has? I mean, look at those canines and incisors!

It’s the skull of a lowland gorilla, and here is its average diet: plants, fruit, leaves, stems, seeds…and about 3% termites and caterpillars. Of the great apes, chimpanzees are the ones most likely to consume meat, yet fecal analysis of wild chimps finds that only about 1.7% of chimp feces contain animal matter. The human guts is essentially the same as that of the great apes. It evolved to process a mostly fruit and vegetation diet. We too have the sacculated colon and slow colonic transit that permits the fermentation and extraction of nutrients from fibrous foods.

The fact that we can also process animal matter no doubt contributed some survival benefit in our evolution; dietary flexibility allows for adaptation when some food sources are unavailable. To be omnivorous means that we have a choice; it’s not a prescription for what we should eat.

gailcalled's avatar

I speak only for myself:

I was heading towards giving up all animal protein when Milo arrived here over four years ago. His presence enabled me to eat a predominately vegan diet. I suffer no physical problems with non-animal protein sources.

I (and my GI tract) feel much better since having given up meat, poultry, fish and all dairy (except for the occasional T of ice cream.)

The moral issues are enormous to me. Even watching a goldfish in a tank represents sentience.

deni's avatar

I love the taste of meat. I love animals, a lot, but I’m an animal too, and I gotta eat. It’s just life. No, I would not eat meat grown by scientists either.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I believe the meat industry is a horrifying example of animal and people abuse. I believe meat is dangerous as it is sold to us and affects our health negatively. I do my absolute best (though I fail sometimes) to never eat meat. I say I fail because sometimes I eat fish.

Paradox25's avatar

Honestly, I wish that we could grow a plant with the nutrients that we can only get from meat such as B12 vitamins, selenium (a reasonable amount), iron, etc. People who don’t consume meat have to supplement. Also, supplementing nutrients/vitamins does not have the same effect as getting these necessities naturally.

I don’t eat alot of meat though, and I could live without it easily. It would be much more difficult for me to give up the dairy products though (I love some cheeses, ice cream, etc) and I don’t feel that we would need to go that far.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Paradox25 A starving omnivore might ingest ‘anything’ to stay alive. But that is not true of a true carnivore or a herbivore. I don’t care what you do, a rabbit, even a starving one, will not eat meat.

Of course we survived because of our intellect. Our intellect allowed us to hunt food, other animals, in a way that compensated for our lack of speed, strength, etc. What does that have to do with anything? We evolved as omnivores.

Trillian's avatar

You people have totally talked me into a trip to the market for a nice steak and salad. I rarely eat red meat anymore. Not for any reason other than I don’t crave it very often. But I started thinking about a nice, pink, juicy steak yesterday when I first read this Q. And now, I really think that I must go out for a bit.

Keep_on_running's avatar

@Trillian I’ve been in that “want steak” mode the whole week and still haven’t gotten around to solving it. :/

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

We’re cooking ribeyes and baked potatoes this Friday!

wundayatta's avatar

What kind of steak do you get when you get steak? (For anyone who wants to answer).

Symbeline's avatar

I denno, but it reminds me of a Farside comic about beavers and fence pickets.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@wundayatta That reminds me of a time, when I owned the shop. Some guy came in selling hunks of meat. It was like this HUGE length of meat…some long section of cow. He told me that it just needed to be cut into thicknesses of my preferences and we’d have T-bones and… what ever other choice pieces. I took it to Dillions (grocer store.) They wouldn’t cut it for me (OSHA says they can’t dirty their blades with “outside” meat) but the butch ‘splained how to cut it. Shure enough, the stretch of cow section yielded about 20 T-bones/ KC Strips, whatever. It was interesting to see this this long chunk of meat turn into the steaks I’m familiar with.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@wundayatta I buy a variety: NY Strip, Sirloin, Ribeye, T-bone, Porterhouse, Prime Rib, etc… I buy it all.

majorrich's avatar

The Striploin and the Tenderloin run the length of the animal. Generally you only see one cut from one or the other half. Porterhouses and T-Bones are the same muscle group just from front and rear half respectively. The forequarter is considered Kosher. The piece of meat @Dutchess_III is referring to was probably one or the other side of these steaks. They would be referred to as Strips and Filets. Now that most meat comes from factory packing houses a lot of meat cutters don’t really know all they need to know about their meat. Either of these pieces would be the length of the muscle which could be from 5–9 feet and in my day would have been a real pain in the keester to get out in one piece. With the new machinery and bigger people probably easy.

mattbrowne's avatar

It’s not immoral in general, but a significant burden for our planet’s limited resources. So my approach is as little as possible.

foraginggirl's avatar

The act of eating meat, isolated from every other factor of meat production, is not immoral. It’s interesting to note that humans (homo sapiens) actually weren’t “designed” to eat meat. We have evolved to eat meat. Our species eats meat because we broke off from another species that ate meat. Scientists believe our ancestors first started eating meat because of climate change. Africa, where these ancestors lived, is now a desert-like, hot, dry place. But in ancient times, it was a lush, green oasis with lots of water and vegetation. Our ancestors didn’t need meat as their diet was satisfied with plant foods (much like other primates who still live in such rainforests and jungles). But when the climate started to change, our ancestors couldn’t find enough food, so they became scavengers. They couldn’t yet kill an animal themselves, so they went to the remains of killed prey. Since there was usually nothing left, all they could get to was the marrow; which their digits (fingers) were able to dig out. No other animal was able to get deep into the bone to get the marrow out. That was believe to be the cross-over point when our ancestors went from eating plants to eating plants and animals.

It’s also interesting to note that other animals are carnivorous. Since most animals don’t have the mental anguish that our species has (i.e. feelings about morality, religion, sex, etc.), other animals are more like a human infant: innocent. They do what they need to and haven’t been told what is “good” or “bad”. So I would say that eating meat is moral. I would also say that if you are to ask the question about putting another life after your own, I would argue that mostly everything on earth is full of life. So when you eat broccoli, you’re putting the life of that plant after your own.

I also disagree with the notion put forth by @wundayatta that non-human animals are only good insofar as their usefulness to humans. That is a frightening example of self-centred behaviour in humans. I recently heard the term “Speciesist”: the idea that someone would think that one species is superior to the other. I think humans have a big problem with being speciesist, especially given our track record of our usefulness to the earth as a whole. We ought to remember that, even though we have a sense of individuality, of personality, of companionship etc., we are still in a taxonomic web of the species of the earth. We are primates, and primates are animals. Therefore we are animals. We ought to remember that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@foraginggirl Now how in the world could you possibly be so certain about how or why our species evolved to eat meat? You’re suggesting that when Africa was a lush forest, we were herbivores. Your logic seems to suggest that animals that live in lush vegetative areas are all herbivores, and that, of course, isn’t true. Truly, you must indicate that your logic is speculative, not certain.

foraginggirl's avatar

Actually @Dutchess_III I never said I was certain. I did, however, suggest that it is the current running consensus among scientists who study human evolution. And I also never suggested that ALL other primates who live in jungles and rainforests are completely vegetarian. I simply compared our ancient ancestors to some primates who still live today (such as the gorilla, who eats plants and insects). You’re right, though. I left out an important point. We wouldn’t be having this conversation without that switch from plants to plants and meat. The only way we would have gained enough nutrition to grow larger brains is by eating meat. Bigger brains do not necessarily mean smarter, however; because the shape of the brain also matters. But for our level of intelligence, the evidence suggests that the size of our brains (bigger in proportion to our bodies than any other animal) does make us as smart as we are.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120420105539.htm

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128849908

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/02/0218_050218_human_diet.html

http://www.nasw.org/eating-meat-drove-evolution-our-big-powerful-brain

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0047248497901615

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/prehistoric_life/human/human_evolution/food_for_thought1.shtml

wundayatta's avatar

@foraginggirl How does one obtain a non-speciesist position? Like, how do we get outside ourselves to understand a non-human point of view? Is there an earthist point of view? How can we know it? How could we obtain a point of view of another species?

Well, apparently you have one. So I’d love to know how you got it. How is it that you know what our usefulness (or lack thereof) is to the earth as a whole?

Let me clarify one thing. I am not claiming humans are superior to any other species. Nor do I think we are inferior. I do not make a value judgment about the human race at all. The only value judgment that I make is I like being alive. At least, I like it about 97% of the time.

dabbler's avatar

Ref Specieism: Seems that the more you could relate to the fundamental aliveness of other critters, the less the details of their species matter.
Considering the effectiveness of relating to others, accomplishing sympathy, sometimes the communication with a non-human is as clear as that with humans.
The degree to which we ‘relate’ to other species directly affects our capacity to eat them.
Perhaps our mental classification of inferior species is a surrogate for thanking them for their lives, which some people do when they eat another.

King_Pariah's avatar

Directly affects? Doubtful. A positive correlation between the two I would definitely agree with but definitely not anything direct.

foraginggirl's avatar

That is an interesting point, @dabbler and I’ll have to ponder it some more. I think at one point that was true, but how many people send a wish of gratitude for their meal before they eat in today’s age?

@wundayatta How does one obtain a non-speciesist position? Well, my answer is the same way one obtains a non-racist or a non-homophobic position. As humans, we have a special talent for being able to recognize and interpret others’ feelings. We can think outside ourselves. I’ve read studies where certain type of people, when they are looking at a person who is looking elsewhere, look along that person’s line of sight to find out what they’re looking at. Other test subjects did not look at what the person was looking at. And the interesting part is that each person tended to fit into a certain political or social ‘bubble’, which they had self-indicated.

gailcalled's avatar

@wundayatta: Happy day. I just learned the meaning of speciesist, not having even known that such a word existed.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@foraginggirl In all of your links I didn’t see anything that suggested we were herbivores at one time. However, I just glanced through them. Do you have anything (just one thing please) that offers up some proof that we were herbivores?

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