Thursday, June 14, 2007

On The Arrogance of Veganism

The title of this post is taken from a short piece that written by Michael Ruhlman at his blog back in May. In that post, Ruhlman tried to make the point that vegan arrogance was rooted in an act of denial relating to a fundamental aspect of human biology. He implied that because humans are fundamentally omnivorous, choosing not to eat animal products is tantamount to refusing to acknowledge who we really are and therefore guilty of a "colossal arrogance." When I first read that piece and the collateral comments from his readers I thought the thesis was pretty shaky. And I still do -with qualification, of course.

I don't see anything particularly arrogant about an individual who chooses to not eat meat or use products derived from animals despite the fact that he can eat almost anything. After all the fact that I'm able to eat and digest most forms of life allows me to eat people, but no one would accuse me of arrogance for refusing to eat Ruhlman. Right?

I'm not even sure it is arrogant for an individual to refuse meat knowing that there are billions of people who don't have that choice. Neither do I believe that vegans as a whole are any more arrogant than any other religious group. But, and this really should be a BIG BUT with really loud sound effects. There is a very vocal subset of people in the religion of veganism who like many "my way or the highway" movements could benefit from a good dose of self-doubt.

Let me attempt to identify the sub-type of vegan so that I don't end up offending everyone who refuses to consume products derived from animals.

The vegans who I believe are colossally arrogant are not simply content to refuse to consume animal products. There is no arrogance in quietly going about the business of eating vegetables and wearing cotton instead of leather. The arrogant vegans are the ones who think they have the right to stop other people from consuming animal products too. Moreover, they act on their beliefs; they take it to the street.

I'm not sure I'd judge them the same way if I was sure that they were correct. (Maybe I would) But since so many of the basic assumptions of veganisim are based on untestable assertions, their attempts to dictate what we can eat strikes me as extremely arrogant.

One of the assumptions of veganism is that animals suffer when they are killed so therefore they should not be killed. Well, lets assume that it's true that animals suffer when they are killed (it's likely that most do) is this a reason not to kill them?

I really don't know. I don't have any information that would help me answer that question.

If I were a Buddhist I suppose I could answer this. A Buddhist might say that because The Buddha taught that enlightenment (extinction of the self) can only be achieved through the elimination of suffering (of self and others) and that suffering can only be vanquished through inaction. So because killing is an action it's not smart to do because it diverts you from the path towards enlightenment. But I'm not a Buddhist.

Another assumption of veganism is that animals are unique and distinct from other forms of life. They assume that only complex, multicellular organisms with nervous systems should not be consumed. But it's okay to consume plants, bacteria and in sum: anything outside of the Kingdom Animalia. Well, while it is highly unlikely that something like a yeast cell experiences pain when it is killed, how can anyone be sure that it doesn't suffer? I realize this sounds absurd but what I'm really trying to get at here is the notion that any belief that is not based on demonstrable fact needs to be seasoned with doubt. And since most beliefs about what things other than the self experience must always be based on assumptions, doubt should attend everything we think or say about anyone or anything other than ourselves.

I don't see much doubt apparent in the behavior of radical vegans who picket restaurants that serve foie gras or destroy mink farms. My sense of many of them is that they have been brainwashed by years of watching talking ducks and dogs on television and have developed an extremely anthropomorphic view of animal life. They are so sure that animals are people that they want to give them the same rights as we give to ourselves.

And I bet they win.

I have absolutely no faith that a significant voting majority of Americans in the regions where vegan activists are the most active have what it takes to fight these people back into private lives of self-reflection. Foie gras is already slated to be banned in one of the two states where it is produced (Ca) by 2012 and I predict that the second state (NY) bans it within the next 10 years. (It looks like Michael Ginor of Hudson Valley Farms has already given up.) Once the foie gras industry is out of the way the next traget might be the fledging caviar industry. Luxury products always make good targets for radical vegans because a) it's easy for them to get worked up about because many of them are 20 somethings pissed off because they associated the consumption of luxury goods with status they have not or cannot achieve b) most people don't eat the stuff and find it distasteful and often resent the people who do eat it as snobs.

Now getting back to the question of arrogance. I wonder how a vegan who attempts to promote the elimination of animal products from the human sector of the food web looks to someone in Haiti existing on 500 calories a day. Or what about a kid in Nepal who loses his father while he was out hunting a goat for meat. Just a tad bit arrogant perhaps?

27 comments:

michael said...

"no one would accuse me of arrogance for refusing to eat Ruhlman. Right?"

I would. What's the matter with me, not good enough for you? You food snobs are all alike.

David Blaine said...

The Buddha ate meat.

Scott said...

You know this is starting to sound like Mont Python's Lifeboat Sketch:

?: What's the matter with Johnson, sir?
1: Well, he's not kosher.
5: That depends how we kill him, sir.

Steve said...

This is only vaguely related to your comments, but I think one of the problems with the "denial of human nature" argument is that just because we are omnivores does not mean we're designed to eat big porterhouse steaks and platters of pork ribs. If you compare human dentition with that of other animals, you'll see that our teeth are much more similar to herbivorous teeth than carnivorous. Most likely, we are omnivores mainly because we evolved to supplement our predominantly nut/berry/vegetable diet with grubs, beetles, and other "gatherable" animals. You don't see any other primates out there taking down big game and having themselves a big ol' feast. So while veganism may be unnatural, I would argue that eating cow is also pretty unnatural.

The Foodist said...

A Vegan activist and a wolf are locked in a room together. The wolf devours the activist after a few days. What would you call that? Occupational Hazard.

But seriously. I agree with you on where the line between an arrogant vegan and a not-so-arrogant vegan exsists.

When you make the choice to pick up a picket sign, march down to the local French Bistro, and camp out with you buddies for 5 days because they sell Squab.. thats just a little arrogant.

The act of Gavage is force feeding. Its what they do to ducks and geese to produce Foie, so arent these uber-vegans committing the same basic act? arent they force feeding their belief and morals down our throats? damn right they are, welcome to the boat..dont rock it to hard I dont swim to well.

as far as buddhists go. I dont think they WOULD or COULD answer this. The ideals prevent them from forcing their opinions on others. They believe all life is sacride and should be cherished, but would never be so arrogant as to tell us what we can and can not do in our lives... least not any true buddhist that Ive met. Hell, theres a buddhist ceremony upon death in which the dying is carried out to a field. Upon death the corpse is then dismembered by monks and fed to vultures. This is considered a very devote thing to commit your body to. So for a buddhist to tell us what to eat.. well...

Really Im just sick of these people being so arrogant that they camp outside restaurants in protest. Making guests to the places so uncomfortable that people leave or dont come in. How can you be so damn full of yourself that you purposely make people unhappy?! well I guess its along the same lines as the environmentalists who burn down buildings and sink ships.

ok../rant off

Don Luis said...

Actually, human teeth are more like carnivore teeth: all mammals have molars and incisors, but only omnivores, carnivores, and insectivores have canines.

Steve said...

That's not entirely true, Don Luis. For one thing, human canines are terribly underdeveloped, since we're not at all designed to grab onto live prey and not let go. Our canines are glorified incisors.

Among herbivores, horses do have canines (aka wolf teeth) though they are vestigial and commonly removed after they grow in. Ruminants also have lower canines, though they lack upper incisors and canines. Camelids (camels, llamas, alpacas) have upper and lower canines.

If you look at the morphology of the teeth, also, it becomes rather clear that humans evolved on a primarily herbivorous diet. Carnivore teeth, including their molars, are predominantly sharp and pointy. Herbivore teeth are designed to cut and grind, so their incisors are flat with a long blade-like edge (like human incisors) and their molars are blocky with a large rough surface (like human molars). One difference, of course, is that herbivore molars are continuously erupting, since the coarse vegetation they eat constantly wears down the molars.

Bret said...

The point of veganism, to a certain extent of course, is moral. I think that's what much of the criticism of veganism is missing.

The vegan's point isn't that vegan food is better, or that eating animals is icky. The point is that killing an animal when we don't have to is wrong. This is especially true in the developed nations.

If you'd like to criticize vegans, this would be your best bet. You think that killing and eating animals isn't wrong, and so you should say why it isn't wrong. You come close when you make the point about animal suffering.

(As a side point, I question why you doubt that animals don't suffer when they die. Shouldn't suffering, regardless of species, be enough justification to try and reduce the amount of suffering? I assume you'd try to reduce the amount of human suffering if you could, why not other animals?)

Arrogance has nothing to do with it. It's not that vegan culture is better, it's that our culture is built on killing and eating animals, which they see as wrong.

tscape said...

Bret, that's why I think that this argument will go on and on in circles - if you make a lifestyle choice based on morality, then not only are your feelings about that choice going to be pretty strong, but you are not likely to be amenable to a healthy discussion about it. When morality comes into play, beliefs and choices tend to become entrenched. Sometimes it goes from simply not being able to be dissuaded to actually trying to make people around you make the same choices as you - because, after all, if something is morally wrong to one, it should be morally wrong to all.

Bob's last paragraph describes my own issues with veganism, and where I, personally, see arrogance. A vegan who makes his own choices and adopts a live and let live attitude is one thing, but an activist vegan is simply ignoring that the rest of the world is in a very different situation. I feel veganism is mostly an affluent-country trend, and sometimes activist-vegans are so blinded by their sense of morality that they forget that.

Charlotte said...

An animal-activist friend of mine got married a few years ago. The wedding was in Charleston, and the rehearsal dinner featured a bit old oyster roast outdoors. Those of us who are the old college friends, the ones who knew the animal-rights guy when his biggest cause was the-right-to-drop-acid were all out there scarfing down yummy oysters while asking why *they* weren't sentient beings? Sentient beings that were being roasted *alive*?! (Note, we were eating more than our fair share at the time.) There's a weird disconnect with those folks about fish, shellfish, and critters of the sea ....

FaustianBargain said...

re luxury products being an easy target for 'vegans', i have a few thoughts. ALL luxury goods..conspicuous consumption...is difficult to justify. if you confront a radical animal activist and ask him/her if he would still protest the consumption of animal meat if it was the last meal on earth, the activist has to be saddled with dogma to say that he/she would still protest.

conspicuous consumption that occurs side-by-side to what is essentially callous disregard for life, human or otherwise,(foie gras: forcefeeding definitely falls in this category, as far as i am concerned and i am no radical activist.), environmental damage, endangering the balance in nature(disappearing rain forests, gas guzzlers for bling-appeal etc), causing endangerment of species(caviar, rhino for their horns, big tigers) for food, libido and fun...not to mention torture and killing of animals for entertainment(circuses, bear baiting, fox hunting), breeding of animals for the sole purpose of killing them(fur trade..there is little meat involved..you cant nibble saddle of mink for sustenance)when there are alternatives available..

i could go on...but my point is that we have to draw the line somewhere. luxury items is where most people draw the line. why not? would you rather people go to extremes and protest even the legitimate/necessary/reasonable/traditional benefits of animal husbandry...

i am asking because i dont understand. i have tried. every once in a while ruhlman comes up with a post. and the same arguments go around. he gets his hits. everyone has a say. it always ends with 1. top of the food chain argument. or 2. foie gras is a low hanging fruit. 3. vegans/vegetarians are forcing their opinions on the rest of the world 4. the plight of factory farmed chicken...and ridiculously and unrelatedly, about farm workers and fair wages.

it makes absolutely rational sense to protest luxury goods like foie gras and fur, doesnt it? certainly, it must be less confusing than a bunch radical vegans protesting consumption of eggs or milk, no? you dont throw someone in prison for peeing on the street. wouldnt you want to punish someone who steals/kills?

the reaction ought to be appropriate to the action. to me, it seems perfectly right and logical.

your last paragraph...does a vegan from the western world look 'arrogant' to a tahitian on 500 calories/day or an orphan nepali kid? i dont know. they would probably find it amusing. usually, they dont care. most people(including vegetarians and vegans in the states) dont care. altho' the ones who are calling vegans arrogant are those who cant stop gorging themselves with duck fat and pork. it is one thing to stand back and ask vegans/vegetarians to back off..and it is totally another to taunt and lure them into confrontational situations by making controversial statements.

anyways..somehow, i have a feeling that ruhlman isnt on a 500cal/day diet...i would hazard a guess that his father didnt go 'hunting'* for a goat.

*you dont have to hunt a goat. it will come willingly to slaughter as its a domesticated animal.

FaustianBargain said...

i am curious..do you think anti-war protestors are arrogant?

what do you think is the difference between lobbyists sitting in the offices on the Hill and protestors on the street?

where would the world be without people who fight for their beliefs?

where would our world be without those people who fight to defend their beliefs?

the defenders and the protestors play a game...and we have been playing this game for a long time now. and our world has always been shaped by the ideas that belong to those who have won this game. and this game will never end.

i am on the side which suggests that kindness is better than disregard or apathy or cruelty. everyone has to pick their side. we'll see who wins. all is fair in love and war, someone said...arrogance doesnt even come into the picture. i suspect ruhlman just wanted some attention.

and i, for one, am glad for it...he is doing more than i can do to bring attention to this matter. i thank him everytime he raises this issue...:)

tyronebcookin said...

Here are a few thoughts for you...

If you kill the cow he does not continue to suffer, so in essence you stopped his suffering with one last act suffering (if it reall did suffer).

Christian/Catholic: eating meat has been since the book of Genesis (accounts since the begining of the world), and even if you didn't eat animals God still expected the slaughtering of animals for sacrifice.

Atheist: Why does it matter? You are not going to pay for your sins after you die...eat, drink, and be merry...for tomorrow we die.

Budhist: doesn't matter, cow went on to a better place.

Most religions: doesn't matter, they don't believe animals have souls.

If you don't even use animal products because of 'unfairness' what would a cow be usefull for??? The cow is still suffering pulling your cart to town to get groceries, or do work around your farm. No milk, no meat, but still it suffers.

If you are a vegan but not religious, doesn't matter what happens to the animal because you have no preference to base the suffering or killing of that animal (no soul, no moral judgement of animals rights because they are only based on assumption)...

If you are a vegan but are religious, it goes back to all my previous statements above.

Be one because you want to be one, but don't push it on others.

Bob del Grosso said...

Faustian Bargain

i am curious..do you think anti-war protesters are arrogant?

I was waiting for this one. The short answer is "yes." But of course this needs to be qualified.

In my opinion any time you reach the point of being sure that you are correct and take the step of trying to impose your belief on another person or group you are behaving in an arrogant manner. And I suppose you'd still be arrogant even if you had doubt about your belief and still tried to impose it.
However, if you protested without making any attempt to force or compel someone else to accept your idea that would not be arrogant in my opinion. For example, there was a very famous act of non-arrogant protest that came out of the Viet-Nam war era when a buddhist monk set himself on fire to protest restrictions that had been imposed on Buddhists by the Diem government. Try as I might, I cannot see any arrogance in that. But I suppose someone could.

Maybe arrogance is not the right word to use to describe the behavior of someone who attempts to impose their beliefs on someone else. Perhaps "unselfconsciously dogmatic and authoritarian" might describe it better. I don't know.

But what I do know is that what we cook and eat is a personal decision and that the ability to make that decision is a fundamental human right. I don't like it at all when someone takes action to deprive me or anyone else of that right.

I'm still seeing red after learning that Greenpeace and other anti-GMO food activists succesfully delayed the release of genetically modified Golden Rice. That rice is engineered to contain bet-carotene a precursor to Vitamin A which is crucial to the proper eyesight. Half a million people in Africa and Asia go blind each year due to lack of vitamin A. That rice would be a cheap and easy cure plus people could earn income from growing it. But those Luddites are so sure that all products of genetic engineering are what, "unnatural?" "not what god intended?" that they would rather see people go blind than let the rice onto the market. Arrogant twits.

It's so ridiculous and arrogant that it even pissed off the cofounder of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore, so much that he quit.

Bob del Grosso said...

Tyrone

Wuzup? You still on the ship?

The problem with this

"If you kill the cow he does not continue to suffer, so in essence you stopped his suffering with one last act suffering"

is that Buddhists believe that unless a soul reaches enlightenment before the body it is in dies it is born again (reincarnated) in another body. The body it enters could be any type of animal. And I'm pretty sure that the only body that will provide a soul with the proper vehicle for enlightenment is human.

So if you kill the cow it's soul (or karma) gets reincarnated in, well, really you can't know. You might be releasing it to go into a human, but then it might be a dog. If it's a dog the soul is kind of screwed because a dog has limited ability to "not act" and reach enlightenment. You know how dogs are always after something.

So it's a bit of a crap shoot. If the cow's karma is sufficiently developed and free of the negative effects of bad deeds you might get lucky and improve it's position in the cosmic order by sending it's karma into the body of the next savior of the world. It it isn't perhaps you have just induced the next Brittany Spears or concentration camp guard dog.

But no matter where you send it one thing is for sure: since Buddhists also believe that existence is suffering, by causing it's karma to "live again" you've doomed it to another go round through existence and more suffering.

Steve said...

Tyrone, I do not disagree with your statement about people not pushing their beliefs on others, but I do want to point out some religious items.

1) The Garden of Eden was actually vegetarian.

2) Regarding atheists, just because they don't believe in a deity does not make them amoral. In fact, Peter Singer, the somewhat reluctant godfather of the animal rights movement, is an atheist. Anyone who wishes to enter into a debate about the ethics of eating meat really should read Singer.

3) Regarding "all other religions" (clearly you were raised Christian), almost all religions give animals some degree of ethical significance. Vegan communities abound in Hindu culture, and in fact cows specifically are believed to be souls in purgatory between human incarnations. Judaism and Islam, besides sharing the Old Testament with Christianity, further offer welfare protection for animals in their dietary laws. Kosher and Halal laws governing slaughter are designed to minimize the suffering of the animal. That these laws are now outdated is beside the point.

So while most religions (with the possible exception of Buddhism) clearly endorse the eating of meat in some form, almost none of them would find the wanton torture and cruelty towards animals acceptable. The possible exception being Christianity. Not surprising that it is a Christian nation which is full of self-righteous loudmouths trying to jam their views down everyone's throats, defend their right to do whatever they please, or generally try to conquer the world.

The Foodist said...

"The possible exception being Christianity. Not surprising that it is a Christian nation which is full of self-righteous loudmouths trying to jam their views down everyone's throats, defend their right to do whatever they please, or generally try to conquer the world."

Just wanna state that this statement would be a gross generalization. What of Muslim extremists who blow up buildings and kill people cause they dont believe what they do?

I only use that as a counterpoint to your statement. There will always be zealots in regards to religious or any other belief system. Its what happens when you cross the line between passion and obsession.

So to say that christians are the only ones who are that zealot in their beliefs would be a matter of opinion, and a seemingly clouded one.

Its really that viewpoint about how we see each other thats gotten us into alot of the mess were in today. But thats a whole other subject.

Steve said...

Of course it's a gross generalization. I just like to blame all of America's problems, and by extension all of Western civilization's, on Christianity. That sort of thing is fun to me.

FaustianBargain said...

i am going to skip over the whole issue of religion. i really dont see the relevance..

bob, i totally agree with you on the greenpeace/anti gmo activists. i am bringing this up first because it has nothing to do with vegan activists..

see..my problem with gmo is that they dont disclose. my second problem is that they strangle farmers and sue them when try to save seed. the six big conglomerates are trying to shit over our fields and crops by acquiring patents. how can you patent nature? how can it belong in a corporate balance sheet as an 'asset'? it infuriates me.

on the other hand, i see you point. but you have to understand that it is not charity. setting aside my reservations, i think food should reach the needy at once..but it is not as simple as it sounds. african nations are rejecting food aid. they find that food aid actually hurts them because it is not avilability of food that is the problem, but distribuition and lack of purchasing power..

here is a link to a discussion on the guardian food blog a couple of weeks ago... http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/food/2007/05/in_1987_i_was_working.html

you can read the article that the blog discusses here> http://observer.guardian.co.uk/foodmonthly/story/0,,2086227,00.html
"how america is betryaing the hungry children of africa"

work beckons..i am going to leave now, but will be back in a few because i have something to say about the vegan issue. take care.

FaustianBargain said...

lets see how fast i can type..

bob, you said: "In my opinion any time you reach the point of being sure that you are correct and take the step of trying to impose your belief on another person or group you are behaving in an arrogant manner. And I suppose you'd still be arrogant even if you had doubt about your belief and still tried to impose it."

tell me something..how is being a vegan arrogant then? you are referring to fringe elements who are found in the radical corner of every group..radical vegan, radical carnivore, radical deist..etc.

secondly, if you believe in an idea strongly, naturally, you wish to see the idea grow, spread and flourish in the mindspace of others. we are social animals afterall and we tend to create and recreate our surroundings that is familiar to us and we surround ourselves with people who are likeminded. and food is a major player.

let me give you a personal example...i hail from india..i belong to a southern state..and my ancestors belong to a particular sect and community. several months ago, we were invited to a dinner that was partly related to work. at some point, i asked for water and the guy sitting next to me excitedly blurted out the district from where my grandfather came from..i kid you not. turns out that there is a particular tamil word that the brahmin iyer community from tanjore whisper when they are thirsty. it is same at jewish kosher kitchentables(kosher laws) and indian jain kitchens(mostly vegan lifestyle with the exception of milk...and they dont consume vegetables that grow beneath the soil like tubers, no honey etc), at a xian lenten table. at the table, we identify ourselves..we announce the most minute details about our families, our upbringing, our ideas, our preferences etc. we become personal. and when it gets personal, we become vulnerable.

so, it is understandable if omnivores are annoyed by constant vegan propoganda, but i see that it is actually the other way around. veganism is inclusive. meat excludes others at the table. the everyday life of a vegan/vegetarian is surrounded by something they have excluded from their lives. with the exception of radical vegans, they do not impose their beliefs onto others. the question we must ask, as evidenced by ruhlman's supremely arrogant and insensitive blog post, is why meat eaters feel the need to taunt vegans and vegetarians?

to suggest that vegan mothers are killing their children is not just cruel, it is patently nasty. it makes a snide innuendo that vegans are not fit to be parents..that it is irresponsible to allow them to procreate. ever heard a vegan suggest that a meat eater shouldnt be having children or that feeding mcD burgers to one's kids is child abuse?(altho' it probably IS a form of child abuse with long term impact). i chanced upon another blogger called megnut who, in apparent 'innocence', asks if human breast milk is vegan. and elsewhere she claims that she used to be a 'vegan'. shades of nina planck? somehow i feel that it is this crowd that loosely embraces veganism is the evangelising crowd, but that's just my suspicion.

here you are discussing whether veganism is arrogance. look at the other vegan blogs in the blogsphere..these are normal folks. they are not radicals. they dont spend half a post dissing meat eaters. they, like all normal people, talk about their lives, sharing recipes, discussing where to buy what...so, i have to ask this...why are meateaters threatened by vegans? michael ruhlman certainly wasnt..you werent..why this obsession? why this persistent witchhunt? why this insecurity that some meat eaters/omnivores(not radical carnivores either) need to place those differnt from themselves under a microscope? essentially(with the exception of radical veganism)in the last paragraph of your post, you are saying that a deeply held PERSONAL belief is arrogance. it is exactly statements like these that have made me judgemental towards foie gras eaters. i judge them. harshly. i speak about my opinions whereever i go. i do this because i realise that its a free for all and in a world that appreciates the desperation of a self immolation, it is time to get pay back with similar currency.

re the self immolation by the monk, that is not a protest. it is a sacrifice of one's life through suicide even though this violence towards self is prohibited in buddhism.

final point re golden rice. i do agree with the specific case of golden rice that it is silly to protest it..but generally, gmo has hurt people and countries more than the benefits it supposedly showers upon them..especially because it cripples them before handing out the crutches. with the exception of golden rice, of course.

thanks for listening.

Bob del Grosso said...

FaustianBargain

I don't have a lot of time to respond so please forgive the brevity of this response.

I don't think all vegans are arrogant, but I do believe that vegans and others who try to force others to not consume meat are supremely arrogant.

There is nothing arrogant about not consuming animals or not feeding animal products to ones children.

As for Ruhlman's unfortunate post I have to agree with you. Of course he is my friend, so I've got to give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that if he had taken a bit more time to explain what he believed, it would not have sounded quite so arrogant.

It's a bit nuts really, I mean wasn't Ghandi vegan? Bertrand Russell?

I'll try to address some more of your (and other's) comments later in the day or -more likely- Saturday.

FaustianBargain said...

bobdG, i dont think gandhi was vegan. he did drink goat's milk, but mostly because of his failing health towards the end of his life. he did lead a vegan lifestyle, for most parts. he didnt wear or eat any animal products. he encourged people to spin their own cloth(this came to be known as khadi)for self reliance during the british raj's rule. every year, my mother would buy bed linens, fabric and saris from khadi gram udyog which follows gandhian principles. gandhian principles, of course, do not endorse silk which is made from throwing live silk worms into boiling water. khadi silk is made from silk worms that live and die a natural death. it is a slightly coarse silk, but i thought it was rather keen! my family(and esp my grandfather) was also involved with the gandhi museum in madurai(eta:http://www.madurai.com/gandhi.htm) and i spent a lot of my childhood summers vacations in the quarters behind the museum. i never got tired of visiting the museum. BUT..having said all that, i became deeply critical of gandhian ideas and philosophy. I agree that India needed gandhi at one time, but he wasnt always right. if i met gandhi today..i'd probably debate him until the cows come home.

re bertrand russell..i dont think he was a vegan. i am not sure, but he was chummy with the quakers(i am rather appreciative of the quaker/society of friends philosophy) who had some very strong and stable ideas about morals and values. they were certainly against violence and cruelty against animals. but i dont think..and i am stretching my brain cells here..that they preached or practised veganism or vegetarianism. the seventh day adventists, on the other hand, were vegetarians(at least..altho probably vegan too)..but it is not practiced by most these days.

have a good day.

tyronebcookin said...

As I have read most posts so far I will say this...

(steve)Garden of eden was vegetarian (as far as we know)...yes thats true. But the sacrifices on alters are not. Religion? Ah, at last count over 4200...according to website statistics. You really know the base belief to all of them?

(faustianbargain) And yes, the other comment brings up a good point...what does that (religion)have to do with it??? I guess nothing in the big picture, but thats the NUMBER 1 answer I get when I ask about 'peoples' vegan choice in my circle of society. NUMBER 2 is usually Health convictions...

And back again to (steve) the previous comment about Christians, its usually generalizations like yours that get us to where we are now...a comment debate about (generalized) vegan arrogance...I guess after your generalization we can have a comment debate about your 'Christians being loudmouth...' statement?

Just for an additional measure a lot of Seventh Day Adventist are strict Vegans, and OH YES they are under the Christian heading too.

So what are you? What heading do you come under? That way all the readers that feel lambasted by your comments can equally make fun of you.

But of course I wouldn't do that. I was merely stating some thoughts on the matter.

Jeez.

tyronebcookin said...

Bob, I came back the end of May...then worked a week and went on vacation in Boston for a week...and now I am back at the base in Texas.

Probably about 2 more weeks and I will drop you an email about mailing you the products to survey.

(we have some things curing)

FaustianBargain said...

tyrone, you are right. i remember now... seventh day adventists are vegans..or at least they are supposed to be..i doubt if they are able to lead a vegan lifestyle in these times..kudos to them if they can..

on a general note: re quakers...even if they belong to a 'religion'(the way i see it, it was a sign of times), i find the quakers' philosophy rather appealling. most of it is close to what i believe...it is one of the few 'religious' sects of our world with no dogma. if i were to chose a 'religion'(not god, mind you..religion), i'd like to identify myself as a quaker.

Steve said...

Tyrone -- I am an atheist. I was born and raised in PA, went to a private nondenominational Christian boarding school, majored in religion in college, and am currently a veterinarian. If I were religious, I would be a Buddhist. But I don't believe in reincarnation. And I'm fully aware when I make sweeping generalizations. I don't actually believe them; I just like to argue.

And of course I don't know the doctrines of all groups fancying themselves to be religions. But most are minor faiths (in terms of the number of people that believe in them) or offshoots of one of the major religions anyways. I am interested in religion, and I have a passing (if basic) knowledge of many of the world's major religions. Really I was responding to your own sweeping generalization that animals don't matter in most religions. In fact, I find that most religious people I know, regardless of the religion, tend to have greater compassion and concern for animals than those who are casual observers of a faith, agnostics, or atheists.

Faustian -- I think the heart of what Bob is saying is that it is arrogant to presume to know so much about what is morally correct that you feel the need, the duty even, to chastise those around you and attempt to change their evil ways. If you read his second paragraph, you'll see that he does not believe that vegans who keep to themselves are arrogant. He also does not generally agree with Ruhlman's position about veganism being inherently arrogant. But I'm sure he will lay out his argument better that I can in the next day.

tyronebcookin said...

(steve) Ah, that would make sense...And I would agree with your thoughts on:

'I find that most religious people I know, regardless of the religion, tend to have greater compassion and concern for animals than those who are casual observers of a faith, agnostics, or atheists.'

In addition to me Its interesting to see how many people want to know if there pet 'so and so' will make it to heaven or an afterlife when talking to guru's or pastors.

And in an earlier comment by bob, I also 'blanked out' temporarily not really thinking about the reincarnation issue.

I also like to dialogue, argue, debate...of course trying to do it without going overboard.