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World's first no-kill eggs go on sale in Berlin (2018) (theguardian.com)
238 points by andreiursan 63 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 407 comments



I suppose it's slightly more animal friendly. On the other hand it just seems like another step into the direction of turning the chickens into optimized food machines. Would be more interested in seeing more means of producing tasty food without using animals and at reduced costs to the environment. Working towards one final giant culling of all unnaturally engineered animals and just continuing on with a small number of animals to live reasonably natural lives and produce goods for realistic, high, prizes to be consumed as a luxury or exotic thing. Sorry, I'm a dreamer I guess, continuously disappointed by a world that doesn't seem to be able to set any significant goals nor pursue them at large scale unless it's for profit and likely at the cost of the rest of the world.


There’s a moral difficulty here where western societies care a lot about the beginnings of things and can’t stomach things ending, as if the only desirable world is one in which we all experience immortal bliss until the heat death of the universe.

Every living thing exists by consuming other living things in some way or another. Every living thing has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Most animals are at least in small ways, consumers of animals.

There is moral value in striving to maximize the quality of life in all its stages, that does not necessarily have to exclude death for a purpose.

Everything dies whether by accident, disease, predation, of degradation by age. Thinking things were better off not existing or better off dying of organ failure instead of being eaten doesn’t always make sense to me.


> Thinking things were better off not existing or better off dying of organ failure instead of being eaten doesn’t always make sense to me.

Would you rather live a long life and then die of organ failure, or get eaten when you're three years old?

Most people value getting to live longer. So, if we apply our own principles to other animals, there's value in letting animals live longer rather than killing and eating them.


That isn't the choice.

It's billions of chickens get to live 3 years and get eaten or a million chickens die of liver failure.

But I think you're missing the parent's point. Death isn't cruel. Suffering is cruel and can only be experience by living things.

This kind of philosophy is a pretty active subject currently. The debate is, generally, maximizing happiness vs. minimizing suffering. The former creating more suffering overall and the latter creating less happiness overall.


indeed this is why it's not conflicting for a vegan to be an organ donor.

the problem is that we create beginnings for unnatural endings.


> as if the only desirable world is one in which we all experience immortal bliss until the heat death of the universe.

This is a very fast step beyond this point, which I think does not do it justice. This end goal is worthwhile and logical and it is not reasonable to pretend it somehow isn't the only desirable world.


The point is that there is such an aversion to endings that many people simply do not have any sense of where death and discomfort fit in to life.

I used “as if” not because i think many people think this way, but because it is the de facto way of thinking when you only strive to avoid endings.

In other words, people lack an appreciation for death and are so afraid of it they try to pretend like it can not exist.


Sure, if you worship death then death is not bad. That's why we call that a death cult. It doesn't necessarily follow that this is a good thing.


Just because you have to die anyway doesn't mean I get permission to serve you a shitty life.


I think this just depends on your values and moral code, and there's no clear right or wrong here.

I personally do not see a problem with using animals as food. If that's good enough for all the other omnivores and carnivores in the food chain, it's good enough for humans. There are certainly a lot of problems with the sustainability and humane-ness of our livestock farming, but I don't see "become vegetarian/vegan" as the only solution, or even necessarily a desirable one. But getting into a meat vs. no meat debate here isn't ever going to be productive, so that's all I'll say.

I had not known that male chicks are killed after birth in such numbers, and the practice does make me sad. But I also recognize that a lot of people just don't have any kind of emotional response to this sort of thing, and that's ok too. It's great that people are building new technologies to allow us to keep doing what we're doing, but with better treatment of the animals involved, and less waste.


> But I also recognize that a lot of people just don't have any kind of emotional response to this sort of thing, and that's ok too

I will guarantee that a massive percentage of people do in fact have a very strong emotional response to this kind of thing, but it's all just "out of sight, out of mind".

If you make people be involved in the killing of millions of baby chicks, they'll suddenly care very, very much.

Our modern world is doing thousands of thousands of utterly horrible things each and every day, we just don't get to see it or be involved, and we're way too busy making our next mortgage payment and getting the kids to school on time to notice.


> I will guarantee that a massive percentage of people do in fact have a very strong emotional response to this kind of thing, but it's all just "out of sight, out of mind".

Interesting you hold such expectations. Based on my dealings with people I don't think a lasting response would be that great. Empathy and morals seem to suffice while it is convenient, but when necessary people always take the path of least resistance.


If you make people be involved in the killing of millions of baby chicks, they'll suddenly care very, very much.

For a few days, then they'll get used to like the 1000 previous generations of humans that had to kill animals to survive.


> like the 1000 previous generations of humans that had to kill animals to survive

Just a couple of hundred years ago there wouldn't have been many people killing more animals than they could eat.



For all of history until 100 years ago, and even now in about half of the world, poultry was purchased in live markets. The vast majority of the population did not/does not flinch to see their poultry slaughtered after seeing it a few times. For humans, generally, Eating takes priority over empathy to animals. Therefore I doubt it would be different if we were involved in the slaughter of our food. I suspect even if the all people were taken to tour agricultural facilities, the majority would accept the cost.


What about medical research and testing? Per individual animal, that seems generally much worse, although I don't know how the global scale/numbers compare and how to morally weigh quantity of suffering vs. quality.


> If that's good enough for all the other omnivores and carnivores in the food chain, it's good enough for humans.

If there’s a larger “food chain” on the interstellar scale where some intelligent species mass-consume others, would it be “good enough” for some aliens to farm humans like we do animals?


It's all good and well to argue about it while we're at the top of the food chain. No guarantee that'll always be the case, though.


Sure. Though we'd probably mount an armed resistance to the idea, successful or not.

The animals on the farm are welcome to do the same if they don't like being farmed.


So you think you only deserve the right to live if you can resist me murdering you? What if you become crippled? You cannot resist me, armed or not. Therefore you are an old-time farm animal, mine to kill whenever I want.

I think that's an unhealthy stance to take towards life.


Yes. I've seen this alien argument used a lot by non-meat-eaters, as if it's some "gotcha". It is not. One can construct a sound and valid viewpoint that is consistent simply by saying that sure, I can eat animals that are lower in some quality than I am, such as sapience, but then if an eldritch alien with more sapience than me comes about, they are free to eat me.


The fact that animals cannot mount a resistance makes our practices even more grim and morbid, not better.


Might makes right is a poor foundation for any moral framework, imo.


This is satire?


What's so "dreamy" about making animal based nutrition something reserved for the privileged few?


In terms of animal protein, aren't eggs basically optimized food machines? For more efficiency, one would have to go down to insects with better conversion ratio.


> Working towards one final giant culling of all unnaturally engineered animals

For what purpose?


"be the change you want to see in the world" - Gandhi

"If not you, then who?" - Hillel, first- century Jewish scholar

"would you like some cheese with that whine?" - my mom


Nitpicking the Hillel quote, the message is correct but to prevent misinformation spreading on the web I feel like correcting. Hillel is quoted in the Mishna[0] as saying,

"If I am not for me, who is for me? If I am for myself, what am I? If not now, when?"[1]

If Hillel said "if not you, then who?" I have not found a source, but I believe this is a common interpretation of his first sentence. Then again, maybe he was talking about self care and not taking responsibility. I don't know.

[0] Avoth 1.14

[1] Translation by me, the wording is terse and open to interpretation so I tried to be faithful to the text and not inject my own interpretation


I have no idea thanks for the extra information! it’s a quote I’ve always liked. When I googled who said it Hillel came up.


Yeah the internet is awesome at mangling and misattributing quotes. The fact that the original is easily found online doesn't help because it's in a foreign language. Fortunately it's pretty rudimentary Hebrew and it doesn't take an expert to understand, just someone who can read the language. Hillel's saying immediately preceding this one is in Aramaic...good luck dropping that in Google Translate :)


Please, its Gandhi. No ill will intended, its a common mistake.


noted, thanks.


Nothing's ever enough for vegans.

> Would be more interested in seeing more means of producing tasty food without using animals and at reduced costs to the environment.

There is increasingly more of that all the time.

> On the other hand it just seems like another step into the direction of turning the chickens into optimized food machines.

Another step? They aren't getting any more optimized, if anything new available options are scaling that back in favor of more land-use, open space, slower growth.

> Sorry, I'm a dreamer I guess, continuously disappointed by a world that doesn't seem to be able to set any significant goals nor pursue them at large scale unless it's for profit and likely at the cost of the rest of the world.

You're free to consume whatever you want.

EDIT: my opening sentence is not fair. But it invited a lot of response. That can walk a thin line but in this case I figure it worked out. If my post were purely inflammatory, then it would be counter-productive but I don't see it that way.


> Nothing's ever enough for vegans.

That's a weird complaint on a site about eternal disruption, eternal improvement of things that are basically fine already.

I'm an omnivore, and I'm comfortable with it. But that doesn't keep me from recognizing the ethical issues with killing and controlling other beings to survive. I really appreciate people pushing the envelope on this. If I could eat basically the same diet but have it all be from a replicator, I'd do it in a heartbeat. So keep pushing, vegans!


> That's a weird complaint on a site about eternal disruption, eternal improvement of things that are basically fine already.

I mean the subject matter is itself a disruption and improvement, which is being rejected. It is not the status quo. So I don't see that as analogous.

> But that doesn't keep me from recognizing the ethical issues with killing and controlling other beings to survive.

I also try to be cognizant of related issues. But I see developments like these as a win, whereas for for a certain demographic, it's irrelevant. They aren't the ones asking for this in the first place, egg consumers are. Granted vegans are a good base for criticism which probably contributed.


Vegans are not necessarily asking for anything. They will simply buy products that no harm was done to animals for, given the choice. As a result they will buy more of the non-animal derived products. Some plant-meat/dairy/egg may be on the menu for vegans, but that's not what defines them.

Sure some vegan may voice their believe that "all animals should be wild", but not even this belief is shared among all vegans and not all are activists.

Your statement "it's never enough for vegans" has two sides for me. If someone abstains from animal derived products, vegans will generally think that's "enough". The mission and "required behavioral change" is very commonly agreed on by vegans (contrary to other movements). On the other hand, most vegans are very aware that pest control is not going away soon, and that fast modes of transport will cause some (mostly bugs) collateral harm. From this point of view you are right: there will always be some next frontier of harm reduction. It will never be enough.

For me there is a line between breeding domesticated animals, and the regretted harm caused to wild animals. I find the first appalling, where the latter is something I cannot reasonably go completely without (bugs on my windshield, pest control, etc.).


> Your statement "it's never enough for vegans" has two sides for me.

That's all well and good, but the only side that matters is the side that the statement was responding to: the original parent's comment that advocated for not bothering with technologies such as this, but instead moving toward an all-vegan society.

From that perspective, I think "it's never enough for [that kind of] vegan" is quite apt here.


There are camps in the vegan movement. For instance the abolitionists vs the utilitarians. The latter are generally more supportive harm reduction and will sometimes also eat non-vegan food when it otherwise goes to waste.

I'd say most vegans at this point think "harm reduction" is just a form of "green washing" and does not deserve our support or attention.


Hacker News, where technology > empathy


I'm really disappointed in these sorts of low-effort responses because they seem to be interested in shutting down discussion without allowing for any differences of opinion.

The idea that animals should be revered and never used as food is an opinion, not a fact. One can be sympathetic toward the treatment of animals raised for food, and advocate for better treatment while still consuming animal products.

The funny thing is that your comparison is also just flat-out wrong: the technology in question is also in part a product of empathy! Yes, there are efficiency and cost concerns around incubating eggs to maturity where the (male) chick will just be discarded, but there's also a strong empathetic argument that terminating an egg shortly after fertilization is much more humane than killing male chicks after birth.


I value ethics and empathy deeply but, I don't understand vegans and vegetarians.

Their biggest line of defense is "animals are alive and they have feelings and senses, we abuse them for food". That's sadly right. And they implicitly say that "eating plants are OK because, plants are not animals and they're just happen to grow. They don't feel, they don't understand".

On the contrary, there's a growing mountain of research revealing that plants can communicate, issue warnings about diseases and bug infestations. They so-called get stressed when it rains, and their metabolisms startle during fast light changes (like eclipses). More shockingly, they release all the nutrients they store when they sense they're going to die, so other plants can thrive from their remains and nutrient stocks (writing this really moves me).

This is complete opposite of "plants are well, just alive wood" hypothesis. When I share this research with vegans and vegetarians, their response is: crickets.

Moreover, most hardcore ones suggest that we don't ever need meat to thrive or live a healthy life however, we've evolved that far because we consumed meat. Meat made us and, same people are ignorant of this fact.

I can understand that we need to grow these animals more ethically. This is why I always try to buy ethically produced food. I understand that these animals are adding great amounts of greenhouse gases. I can understand that we may live well with less meat. However, we need to understand, some of these animals are evolved under our reign and they may not survive outside farms for long. The cattle are grass puppies now and are essentially "useful pets". We need to understand where we are to move forward. Ignorance and fight won't take us anywhere. We need to talk openly and need to put our prejudice aside. We need to learn and understand first.


As a real vegan (not a meme about vegans that you saw from meat eaters) I can confidently tell you that "animals are alive and they have feelings and senses, we abuse them for food" is not my biggest line of defense.

My biggest lines of defense are:

* Dr. Kim Williams, former president of the American College of Cardiology, said "there are two kinds of cardiologists, vegans, and those who haven't read the data"

* Animal agriculture is responsible for 20-33% of all freshwater consumption globally

* Mass cultivation of animals increases the chances of pandemic

* 41% of mainland USA is used for grazing livestock, yet meat only provides 18% of our calories; feeding the world on a vegan diet could reduce farmland use by 75% or more

* Going plant-based for two-thirds of meals could reduce food-related carbon emissions by 60% (the way we produce, distribute, and refrigerate food is a huge contributor of global emissions)

* 70-75% of soybeans grown globally are for livestock, only 6% are used for human food products (meat eaters often try to claim that soy production is terrible for the environment; surprise, surprise, meat consumption is the main driver)


Great list, I have another to add about ocean plastic :)

* most plastic in the ocean is made up of abandoned fishing gear (see https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2018/03/great-pacifi...)


Thank you for these references; it's great to see some logical arguments here rather than knee-jerk responses.

But I do question how much of some the things you reference are actually problems.

We have plenty of fresh water. Distribution is often our problem when it comes to getting that water to humans everywhere, but stopping livestock production will not fix that.

Does it really matter how much of the USA is used for livestock grazing? Are we missing out on using that land for other things that are important to us?

I have no opinion on soybean production, but, again, does it matter that the lion's share of soybean production goes toward feeding livestock? And if soybean cultivation really is that bad for the environment, are there other things we could be feeding livestock that don't have such bad effects?

The carbon emissions suck, but are there ways to reduce these through better process?

I don't think any of these problems are unsolvable, but likely they're expensive, and there's no political will to tax the bad behavior to the point that it becomes financially better to do the right thing. Getting around that is likely easier than getting a significant chunk of the world to go vegan.

And that's the issue I have with most logical arguments around veganism. Meat production and consumption has a lot of problems, certainly, but vegans seem to believe that the only way to fix those problems is to throw the baby out with the bathwater, when there are almost certainly solutions or at least mitigations to those problems. I get that as an individual, you aren't going to fix those problems, so personally going vegan is a way for people to avoid being a part of the problem. That is a satisfying route for some people, but not for everyone.


Freed agricultural land can and should be returned to wild. Most of farmland that was freed in EU after discontinuing unproductive farming is now forested. Sorry I don't have a link, forgot where I read about this.

Cattle raising and soy production (for animal feed) are major contributors to the continued loss of Amazon.


Yours is probably the first comment I've seen that takes a rather logical approach. I'm an omnivore but always buy everything pasture raised and mostly local. Where not local, I order from farms listed on eatwild.com. The obvious hit is cost, but that means I eat less of it.

Eventually, humanity will have to accept that going vegan is the only sustainable method.


Yep, plant based diets aren’t a dogmatic all-or-nothing thing. You can still get a good portion of the benefits (health, ethical, and environmental) by cutting down on animal products even if you don’t cut them out completely. No need to let perfect be the enemy of good.


"* Dr. Kim Williams, former president of the American College of Cardiology, said "there are two kinds of cardiologists, vegans, and those who haven't read the data""

An appeal to authority. I'm mean surgeon general once called for not wearing masks until he changed his mind completely.

"* Animal agriculture is responsible for 20-33% of all freshwater consumption globally"

Why would that be problematic? There is no shortage of water where they raise animals. On the other hand there is a shortage of water in California where they grow crops on a massive scale.

"* Mass cultivation of animals increases the chances of pandemic"

That is a true, but the same can be said of large fields of monoculture crops where disease can quickly spread and destroy everything resulting in hunger.

"* 41% of mainland USA is used for grazing livestock, yet meat only provides 18% of our calories; feeding the world on a vegan diet could reduce farmland use by 75% or more"

Only if that 41% of mainland is suitable for plowing and you don't mind destroying other habitats for food production. Live stock can graze, humans cannot. Plus we don't need pesticides and insecticides on grasslands which are destroying our fresh water supplies.

"* Going plant-based for two-thirds of meals could reduce food-related carbon emissions by 60% (the way we produce, distribute, and refrigerate food is a huge contributor of global emissions)"

That is already true for vast majority of people on this planet. Think of the food pyramid.

"* 70-75% of soybeans grown globally are for livestock, only 6% are used for human food products (meat eaters often try to claim that soy production is terrible for the environment; surprise, surprise, meat consumption is the main driver) "

I don't know how real the numbers are, regardless it is not an ideal situation and we should strive towards less monulture.


Animal agriculture has its list of problem but so does crop agriculture. There are no free lunches here. One can argue about which problems are more harmful than the other, and its pretty clear that there exist some horrible practices in Animal agriculture. However when faced with a list of only the harms from the animal agriculture, I feel forced to mention a bit more facts about the whole picture.

For example, freshwater consumption is important in regions which lacks freshwater. Crop agriculture is however the most common source for water pollution, occurs in all regions, and is not only a major environmental problem but also harms the supply of fresh water even if its not responsible for the primary consumption. Fertilizers and pesticides being the main culprits here. Sadly there is very little food in stores that do not have a direct link to fertilizers and pesticides except for wild fish, shellfish and seaweed.

In quite a few times I have seen studies showing that the lowest carbon emission in any food group would be either shellfish, seaweed, or insects. No fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, minimal land usage and sustainable. Vegan would exclude two of those, and seaweed is pretty rare in non-asian diets.

In general I try to look for marks of sustainability when buying food. Small producers, non-factory farm operations, local, crops that are in season, and so on. The article here focus on the issue of sex determining the eggs, but my primary priority is the area that the hen has. In EU you can have 16 hens located in a small box the size of 0.2m². That is plain cruelty and so I choose eggs under the mark that require 4m², a requirement for outside area, always access to natural lighting, and given crops grown without chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides.

Is it perfect? No. Not using fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides is still being debated and researched if they are better for the environment or worse since land usage increases from it, but since I regularly dive in the Baltic sea I am constantly reminded by the harm done already by the revolution of chemical fertilizers produced primarily by natural gas.


> In quite a few times I have seen studies showing that the lowest carbon emission in any food group would be either shellfish, seaweed, or insects… Vegan would exclude two of those…

There's a whole strand of veganism called bivalveganism which supports the usual vegan diet + eating bi-valve creatures like mussles precisely because their cultivation seems to have a lot of positive environmental benefits (or at least, it's one of the least harmful, as you mentioned) and because they seem to rank pretty low in terms of sentience / capacity-to-feel-pain.

> Crop agriculture is however the most common source for water pollution

Again I think the most compelling rebuttal is the fact that dairy/meat is the primary driver of crop agriculture today. We can feed the world on literally a fraction of the crop agriculture that we currently do. The vast majority of that crop agriculture goes towards feeding the animals we use for dairy or meat. So in terms of thinking about the whole picture, as you mention, any problems with crop agriculture are exacerbated by meat/dairy reliance.


It not much of a rebuttal since I agree with it above. A lot of rain forest is burned to make room for crop agriculture, most which get used as feed to animal agriculture. It is generally a good recommendation to avoid food that is created by burning rain forest, and animal products derived from that is the worst offender.

Thus why I go for "the whole picture" approach. Locally produced food with markings for organic and sustainability is usually devoid of burned rain forest. Small producers tend to value sustainability more than large factory farms. Crops in season tend to involve less obscurity and less complex process which can hide ecological crimes. Animal farms with fewer animals tend to care more about individual animals health than larger farms that treat animals as items.

A big reason why organic crops has a rather complex picture comes from the issue that there exist no free lunch. Farmers that do not use chemical fertilizers derived from natural gas will instead use natural fertilizers. What that actually mean from a ecological perspective is that the chemical fertilizers produced from natural gas get put in the ground to produce animal feed, the animal feed get put into animals, and the rest product in form of manure get sold as a natural fertilizers which then is used to produce organic crops. Since organic farmers need to use more manure than non-organic farmers, and the output is lower, the total amount of carbon emissions per product can be argued as higher depending on how one count and attribute emissions. Still I generally prefer organic over non-organic because it does not directly put natural gas into the ground, and I find the cost in increase land use preferable over the other trade-offs.


You are completely glossing over the fact that animals need to be fed.

Sustainable grazing (most grazing isn't) is a perfectly good use of marginal land, but that cannot produce anywhere near the meat we consume. Most animal production requires producing feed from other agricultural products. It is inherently less efficient to do this. Chicken is more efficient than beef, but still much worse than just eating plants directly.


For an alternative perspective that refutes a bit of this, maybe meat is actually the more environmentally healthy and human healthy way of going about things?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxW-JKLeu1k

Blog version w/ reference links: https://www.sapien.org/blog/why-we-should-be-eating-more-mea...


meat only provides 18% of our calories

But what percentage of our protein?


Americans consume protein like its the only nutrient that matters and that not getting the maximum amount possible will make you lose all of your muscle and become emaciated. Frankly, this is certainly helped by general marketing campaigns from the meat and dairy industry where they basically claim that protein makes you stronger.

The truth is pretty far from that and most people with a regular omnivore diet get enough protein just through the plants they eat without even considering the meat. The human body burns protein and most excess protein just ends up getting burned along with carbs and fat.

So while animals may take up a large percentage of protein intake, our irrationally high collective protein intake is hardly a good reason to chose meat over plants. Eating meat is really all about calorie density.


I don't know but I think I can anticipate your concern. It's very viable to meet your protein needs on a vegan diet. That stuff about vegans not being able to get complete proteins is meat industry propaganda. Furthermore, the World Health Organization said that only 10 to 15% of daily calories need to come from protein. I believe I've also read that there's no proven benefit to all of the extra protein that Americans eat daily (I haven't looked into that claim in-depth, though).


I disagree. I was vegetarian for 2 years for ethical reasons. Animal-based protein is much easier to digest. And your average person perhaps doesn't need much protein...because your average person has no concept of exercise or fitness except as something other people do. Then your average person falls victim to metabolic syndrome and other western lifestyle related diseases. Once you set fitness goals your nutrition perspective changes. There are very few vegan/vegetarian athletes.

I agree with the perspective on limiting animal suffering and I buy pastured meat. I agree with the vegan perspective on many things but I think its limited and fails to consider other aspects of the human condition. I oppose the widespread mockery and lack of respect that vegans get. The health issues associated with an ethical commitment to avoiding animal products makes it more worthy of respect.


No disrespect but I see this "I'm an athlete, I need more protein" thing all the time. It's yet another meme that has spread that has the convenient side effect (or main effect) of shutting people off from considering the effects of their food choices. There are an abundance of plant-based protein supplements for hitting your nutrition targets.

I don't know if you're talking about the broader community of people who self-identify as athletes but I'll restrict the discussion to professional athletes for the sake of clarity.

Here's a few household-name professional vegan athletes:

* Venus Williams

* Lewis Hamilton

* Colin Kaepernick

* Kyrie Irving

* Tia Blanco

* Meagan Duhamel

Veganism isn't very popular in general so I'm not sure if this "if professional athletes don't do it, then it must be bad" argument holds. I'm also not even sure if that claim is true. If we could compile a list of all professional athletes, find the vegan population, and then compare that to the general population, I would wager that veganism might have a higher percentage in the athlete population than the general population. Pure speculation, though, and obviously I'm biased. But I follow lots of vegan channels and they're very proud and vocal about vegan athletes and it's the kind of news that I think you won't be exposed to unless you're inside the vegan community. In other words we should both acknowledge that there's a lot of selection bias / echo chamber at play here and I don't think either of us can definitively say whether veganism is more popular or less popular among professional athletes.


I wasn't sure about this because it contradicts my priors so I did some quick searching:

Venus Williams is a "chegan" and uses milk-based protein.

Lewis Hamilton is a driver and is unlikely to have protein demands related to his sport that are different than the average person.

Colin Kaepernick became a vegan at approximately the same time he stopped playing professionally.

Kyrie Irving: I can't find what he does for protein but SI says he may not be a pure vegan. [0]

Tia Blanco is a surfer and also unlikely to have protein needs different from a normal person.

Meagan Duhamel is a good example and seems to be one of the few people who is known to have achieved professional goals while vegan.

> I don't know if you're talking about the broader community of people who self-identify as athletes but I'll restrict the discussion to professional athletes for the sake of clarity.

There are some confounders with professional athletes that make those examples less persuasive than they might be otherwise. Pros have access to more resources (such as medical/endocrine assistance) and are able to structure their lifestyle around their training and competition. Additionally I'm unable to find anyone who went from an amateur to a professional while vegan in a competitive sport that requires one to build a physique. It is somewhat more believable that some people can maintain a professional-grade physique on a vegan diet.

> No disrespect but I see this "I'm an athlete, I need more protein" thing all the time. It's yet another meme that has spread that has the convenient side effect (or main effect) of shutting people off from considering the effects of their food choices.

I'm not really repeating a meme but arguing from my personal experience and my understanding of diet and physiology. The effect of relying on plant-based protein is that your protein sources are more difficult to digest.

> I would wager that veganism might have a higher percentage in the athlete population than the general population. Pure speculation, though, and obviously I'm biased.

I'm glad you're conscious of your biases and while I would take that wager opposite you, I will also admit that is more a result of my biases. I'll also mention that professional athletes tend to be outliers and if a genetic freak can build muscle on a vegan diet, it may be evidence that they are a genetic outlier their rare physiology is able to build muscle on any diet with protein but more sensitive to the byproducts of animal product consumption.

> But I follow lots of vegan channel and they're very proud and vocal about vegan athletes

Thats because they are passionate about veganism and want to counter the meme you referred to above. I would be more persuaded if people who were passionate about nutrition or athletics were vocal about veganism as a performance enhancer.

Thanks for the reply and much respect to you for making ethical decisions a central part of your lifestyle.

[0] https://www.si.com/eats/2017/10/12/kyrie-irving-celtics-plan...


Formula 1 athletes (Lewis Hamilton) get that critique a lot but from what I've heard, it's a physically demanding activity that requires a lot of physical fortitude and therefore the "F1 drivers aren't athletes" argument is dubious (although I admit it's not a persuasive argument on my side precisely because people don't automatically think of F1 drivers as athletes).

Professional surfing is not physically demanding and doesn't require needs different from normal people? Do you think that they just casually go out on the water once a week? Also, from my brief experiences surfing, I seem to recall it being one of the most physically taxing sports I've ever done, in terms of total body usage.

Valid points about needing to distinguish between professional athletes who were vegan at their peak versus after their peak, and diving into the details about how precisely how "vegan" each of the people I quoted actually are.

> Thanks for the reply and much respect to you for making ethical decisions a central part of your lifestyle.

Thank you for the respect, the feeling is mutual


I avoided saying that they weren't athletes for specifically those reasons. Driving at a professional level and surfing competitively are indeed strenuous, difficult, and athletic activities but they do not seem to require building lots of muscle, which would mean they wouldn't be good counter-examples for our protein discussion.

Thanks for the reply.


While it’s hard to rule out genetic abnormalities, there is a huge difference between being fit and the kind of physical trauma associated with absolute peak human performance.

Plant based protean is often used for pure muscle building simply due to cost. With actual vegan examples being Barny du Plessis a bodybuilder, and Kendrick Yahcob Farris a weightlifter.

In terms of endurance Jack Lindquist a track cyclist shows that’s likely viable for the overwhelming majority of people. So while I think it likely takes more effort that’s in part due to market forces and economy of scale not inherent physical differences. If anything the higher amount of calories burned by top athletes often mean they need a larger quantity but lower percentage of protein in their diets.


Quick reminder that the vast majority of Americans eat too much protein.


For their sedentary lifestyle, perhaps. Not if they were actively cultivating an athletic physique they don't.


I'm not finding a lot of people answering this question from a cursory search, but I found one source saying 33% globally[0]. (This may include eggs and dairy.)

Personally, I eat more protein than I did when I ate meat, though to be fair I still eat eggs. It's not hard at all to get adequate protein.

[0] https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/worlds-main-sources-protein...


How does the way we distribute meat create that much more carbon emission than distributing a comparable amount of plant based food?


Cooled storage/transport, waste (a lot of meat is wasted due to limited shelf life and the following regulations), distribution of feed, water usage, methane (like 4x worse than CO2 i believe), more plastic used in packaging.


These are all reasons why I consider going vegetarian. I'd still eat honey, though, so not vegan.


There are several responses to the "plants have senses" rebuttal:

If you care about the well being of plants, you should still prefer to eat plants rather than animals. The trophic level of animals in the food chain necessitates that they will eat more calories of plant matter than would provide calories of food upon being eaten.

Secondly, you should look at the sorts of plants being consumed and where they fall in the plant's life cycle. Fruits and nuts have been evolved to be eaten by animals. Staple crops such as grains and pulses are generally harvested from plants that have already lived to maturity and died off. Really it's only fresh greens and tubers that require the damage or destruction of a living plant.

Lastly, it's important to recognize the evolutionary purpose of sensing pain and suffering from it. Animals use pain and suffering to detect harmful situations and learn how to avoid them in the future. This process consists of sensations, memory and adaptive behavior. Plants may have "reflexive" responses to stimulus, but these responses aren't adaptive and aren't affected by previous experience (mostly... there are some exceptions). There would be no evolutionary purpose for plants to develop a sense of suffering if they have no practical use for that sensation.


> If you care about the well being of plants, you should still prefer to eat plants rather than animals. The trophic level of animals in the food chain necessitates that they will eat more calories of plant matter than would provide calories of food upon being eaten.

To put this into more laymen's terms, meat cultivation dramatically increases the total amount of plants that we need to grow.

As mentioned in my other comment:

> 70-75% of soybeans grown globally are for livestock, only 6% are used for human food products (meat eaters often try to claim that soy production is terrible for the environment; surprise, surprise, meat consumption is the main driver)

So, it's a bit counterintuitive, but globally switching to a plant-based diet would actually dramatically reduce the total amount of plants that we are raising, and therefore would dramatically reduce overall suffering of plants (if they suffer)


"So, it's a bit counterintuitive, but globally switching to a plant-based diet would actually dramatically reduce the total amount of plants that we are raising, and therefore would dramatically reduce overall suffering of plants (if they suffer)"

Only if you believe you are more efficient at digesting grass and other plants than animals.


> There would be no evolutionary purpose for plants to develop a sense of suffering if they have no practical use for that sensation.

You've made interesting points, but I think the most important point here isn't one of biology but of moral philosophy: animals presumably outrank plants in terms of moral standing.

Torturing a person is presumably worse than torturing a mosquito. A person has more capacity for pain than a mosquito, and in turn the mosquito has more capacity for pain than does a heap of sand.

I figure plants lie further down the ranking than mosquitoes, for the reasons you've just explained. They're certainly further down than farmyard animals. It would be considerable moral progress to switch from torturing billions of chickens and pigs, to torturing billions of plants (and that's ignoring that a plant in a farm environment is likely 'happier', in its own terms, than a livestock animal).

A vaguely related TED talk on how brains ultimately exist to orchestrate movement, and essentially nothing else: https://youtu.be/7s0CpRfyYp8?t=15


> animals presumably outrank plants in terms of moral standing.

In aggregate I probably agree but one thing I've wondered, especially in the last year as I started gardening during lockdown, is if that's really universally true. Large, long-lived plants - redwoods, oaks, saguaros, and so on - seem very close to the same niche in the plant kingdom humans occupy in the animal one. They exert significant energy to cultivate and modify their environment; they gather and store resources they do not immediately need; they change "behavioral" patterns significantly and cyclically over the course of their life; they maintain vast communication networks.

I have no doubt a pig "outranks" a mosquito. But I also suspect a redwood outranks a mosquito. The middle is all fuzzy though - where does my cucumber (which exhibits relatively complex reproductive behavior to attract pollinators, and expresses significant "wants" in terms of vining and leaf facing) lie in relation to mosquitos, or aphids, or bees?


The "plants have senses rebuttal" as you put it is only an illustration that exposes the absurdity of the whole attachment of ethics to consumption of any form in and of itself.

The only logical endpoint is that humans should just off themselves so we don't participate past one cycle of reabsorption into the Earth's environment.

One way or another, everything is going to die and be consumed by another living organism.

That's why it's absurd. You can arbitrarily pick your own resolution, but it's only arbitrary until you exit the cycle completely.


> The only logical endpoint is that humans should just off themselves so we don't participate past one cycle of reabsorption into the Earth's environment.

That would obliterate all future human happiness. It doesn't stand up even under a cold utilitarian conception of morality.


I thought the whole premise was that we needed to limit the suffering of other living things that aren't humans at all costs, not about human happiness.


That's not the premise at all. That's a disingenuous strawman that anti-vegans would say to eachother about vegans to rile themselves up. It shows a total lack of understanding of what they're really about.


Please don't twist my contributions to being so ill-hearted. We're supposed to respond to each comment with generosity around here—defaulting to sincerity.

The discussion began with moralizing about eating other living things.


You literally proposed killing all humans and now feel unfairly portrayed as "ill-hearted".


I didn't propose anything, Mike—let alone killing all humans. But maybe I made too many assumptions and should have anticipated some might take my comment literally.

I'm an optimist, but I also don't anoint humankind with some divine moral authority—I put us on the level with every other animal on the planet.


I agree with mike. You have offered a reductio ad absurdum. This isn't meaningful discussion and it is painfully transparent, as well.


Transparent? How's that?

I was being hyperbolic, yes. That was the point. I think the entire argument over the morality of it is an appeal to absurdity. There are gross assumptions made on every side of the argument and I don't see any clear path to one side of the discussion about whether or not eating animals is immoral being possible.

I'm not anti-vegan. How could one even be anti-vegan? Seems more like a personal conviction to me, and that's, quite frankly, none of my business.


Very few people hold that moral view.

There are various reasons people become vegan or vegetarian, there's no single premise.


Doesn't that then go further to the point? It's not a matter worth moralizing over—rather a personal preference and pragmatic approach to that end.


> It's not a matter worth moralizing over

Why not? We already have some laws against animal cruelty. Thankfully we don't treat that as a matter of personal choice.


That's the eternal question isn't it: Where's the line?

In this case I think the question is something like "is it cruel to eat an animal?"

I'm not a spiritual person, but I like what the general consensus of the tribes around the Great Lakes (and elsewhere) saw of it: we're very much part of the [natural] world, not above or outside of it in any way. And I don't see that as a bad thing. Now, talking scale of consumption and all that is another matter that I didn't gather was at the core of this discussion—at least that is the way I've been framing my comments.

But now I'm getting a bit worried I'm taking this too far off track of the actual linked content and discussion so I think I'll have to leave it at that—but I'm happy to continue to discuss if you wanted to—just fire me an email.


I'm unsure what this comment is trying to say. If your objective is to have empathy for plants and thereby eat fewer of them, then you would also seek to eat less meat since raising livestock requires vast amounts of plant-based feed. In addition, any scientist who has ever taken an animal laboratory ethics course will understand that there exists a rough hierarchy of public empathy towards certain animals: first primates, then typical companion animals, then livestock animals, then fish, then vermin, then insects. There is no "gotcha" here; it is entirely reasonable for someone to have more empathy for, say, mammals than they have for grain. And I say all this as someone who eats meat.


Animals also die in a lot of vegetable farming too. Lots of small rodents, squirrels, birds, insects and so on grinded up by various farming machinery or poisoned from pesticides, and until we have replicators or scalable permaculture farming we will never escape that.

If 800 rats and fluffy squirrels die violently & painfully for the equivalent amount of veggie nutrition of one cow who is killed ethically, eating grass grown naturally, are their lives worth less? What is the ratio?


Most vegans and vegetarians are well aware of the "but plants have feelings tho" argument. It's actually one of the most common arguments that people who like to "gotcha" vegans will bring up.

The fact that plants can have subconcious reactions to stimuli does not mean they are sentient beings. These reactions are more akin to when you subconciously kick when a doctor hits a hammer on your knee.

Plants do not have a central nervous system nor do they feel pain in the same way animals do. In an evolutionary sense, pain is useful for animals because it tells us to deliberately move and avoid that pain, plants are obviously not able to do this.


> plants are well, just alive wood

Plants don't feel as much animals do. They don't feel the torture animals do. They don't grief. They don't show responses that they don't want to be killed.

The fact is at the end we have to draw lines even though we don't want. For vegans its probably in bacteria. Vegans don't care about bacteria even though they are living.

Its the situation where vegans cannot go beyond right? Are you going to say vegan eat bacteria so eating meat should be justified? Nope.


to inject a bit of humour:

"When I share this research with vegans and vegetarians, their response is: crickets."

I'm suprised the vegetarians you're talking to would suggest crickets, even though that's one of the leading animal protein replacements in the form of insects.

Do vegetarians/vegans have similar ethical objections about eating crickets for food? I suspect so, but I don't know if crickets have the same type of cognition/emotions as vertebrate animals.


As someone who raises crickets for pet food, I can confidently tell you that you needn't kill crickets. Just give them a water dish and at least 10 will promptly drown themselves. They're either suicidal, or so painfully stupid that the only reason they haven't been wiped off the face of the planet is the incredible rate they reproduce at.

In a less facetious sense, I do believe that insect neurology is substantially different. Crustaceans have a nervous system web, which is why you have to cut crabs and lobsters in half to kill them rather than just stabbing them in the head.


From your line of reasoning, I'd guess that you have no moral issues with eating humans. If eating animals and plants is the same, then isn't eating non-human and human animals the same?

If you do have a moral problem with eating humans, then you probably have moral hierarchy - humans' lives are the most important, and every other life is less important.

Some vegetarians have a different moral hierarchy - animals' lives are most important, then plants' lives. You can value plants' lives, and treat plants with respect, and still decide that you're morally okay with eating plants.


Animals we eat, eat plants. So eating plants directly is being more sparing with plant lives.


Sentience is what matters. Comparing animals (like cows) with plants is absurd.


I was with you until

> Moreover, most hardcore ones suggest that we don't ever need meat to thrive or live a healthy life however, we've evolved that far because we consumed meat. Meat made us and, same people are ignorant of this fact.

That's just flat-out untrue. Meals would be less delicious and you'd have to plan a bit better to get certain nutrients (B12) but healthy life is absolutely possible on a vegan diet. And even more so on a lacto-vegetarian diet (one of the most ripped guys I know is lacto-veg).


You know that it takes more plants to raise animals than it does to just eat the plants directly, right? So even if you believe your argument that plants feel pain just like animals do then it's preferable to go vegan.


> On the contrary, there's a growing mountain of research revealing that plants can communicate, issue warnings about diseases and bug infestations.

The TV show Cosmos with Neil deGrasse Tyson discussed this "Mycelium Network" on Season 3/Episode 7, "The Search for Intelligent Life on Earth," that aired Nov. 17th. It was quite fascinating. It starts about the 5 minute mark.

https://www.fox.com/watch/78c4500e6b3b7bf2d9b9832ae23f79c7/


Believe me that we have heard all the possible arguments against veganism including “plants feel pain too”, it’s not one or the other, livestock is fed plants, so you cause more suffering by eating them.


I’m pretty sure vegetarians, or vegans for that matter, don’t need to defend themselves.

Also, we evolved without living in stone structures and sewn clothes. I don’t see you asking people who wear jeans and tshirts to defend themselves.

I’m neither, but you’re arguing a straw man version of what either vegetarianism or veganism is.


Vegans and vegetarians want to legislate meat eating away, and there is a lot of nutritional deficiencies and allergic reactions that come from vegan eating that carnivores / omnivores would want to avoid.

There is a big moralizing streak in veganism, and a lot of vegans are into it from ethical, moralizing or emotional reasons, which leads to activism and trying to ban, tax and reduce meat eating. We see where the puck is heading.


> I value ethics and empathy deeply but, I don't understand vegans and vegetarians.

That’s a ironic contradiction. If you witness the conditions in which animals are born, raised, harvested and culled by the millions, and still be okay with it, you really don’t have a claim to empathy.

[I enjoy meat]


Maybe vegans do that but most vegetarians I know of don't eat meat for one simple reason: they are disgusted by it. Vegetarians don't really care about the ethics of it. In fact they are fine with animal based products, like milk.


You are in fact make a generalization and thats fair here. But I must so you are little incorrect here. You have clearly not seen how world lies, how society lies. So let me explain it to you.

First when you grow you drink mom's milk and you are under impression drinking milk is good for health which indeed is. So people start consuming milk everywhere.

And there are advertisements which shows happy cows, chocolates made from milk. Vegetarians are under impression that its ethical. And many farmers advertises as if their cows are happy they are grass fed etc. In some religion they even worship cows etc giving impression that cows are respected etc.

And the other thing you often hear is cows babies get enough milk and farmers only sell excess milk. So from religion, society people are brain washed so much they don't even see how animals are tortured, left on road after buffalo/cows stops giving milk.

I wish media would cover this subject more especially in India which is probably top 3 vegetarian country in the world.


I was speaking from my own experience. Many of my family members are vegetarians and some of them are in the milk business (small scale). Pretty much everyone knows that the cow's milk should go to the calves. Sure almost all companies lie in their ads but people aren't as stupid as some would think. Some people are under the impression that they are into some great secret of the world (about how cows are handled in the milk business). But the reality is that most people know about it but don't care.

So to reiterate the number one reason most people (that I know of) become vegetarians because they are disgusted by meat. I wish there was some great vision to it but there isn't.


The solution is obviously to invent empathy technology.


I love it ;) A device that will allow us to interpret other's feelings without empathy?


> That's a weird complaint on a site about eternal disruption, eternal improvement of things that are basically fine already.

I disagree. Vegans generally adopt a hard-line, no-compromising position on things like this. That's the antithesis of a lot of what we talk about here, which is continual improvement, perfect-is-the-enemy-of-good, and making reasonable trade-offs and compromises to find better solutions.

A startup that said "We're going to build X in the most perfect, idealized way, and will settle for nothing less! We'll never ship until it's perfect" would be laughed out of town and burn through their money before shipping anything. And that's pretty much what veganism advocates for.


I agree that some people here are in the perfect-is-the-enemy-of-good camp. But far from all of them. Think about all the arguments about which technology is best. Or the worship of people like Steve Jobs, famous for being unreasonable and uncompromising. Or the continual brushing aside of societal balance when it's a shiny new technology or a company on the rise.

Even as a person big on incrementalism, I believe that there's a lot of benefit in being uncompromising in long-term goals. Look at Toyota and their "one piece flow" concept, which they've been pursing for decades. I also think the people who seem unreasonable in the moment turn out to be right in the long term. Look at Google launching when people thought search was basically a solved problem. Or Dropbox. When they were getting going many saw them as entering a crowded market with a too-simple product.


>But that doesn't keep me from recognizing the ethical issues with killing and controlling other beings to survive.

Does that include plants?


As one vegan (we don't all think the same) I can say yes, I absolutely recognize the issues of how we control plants. I mention it tangentially in this other comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=25211083

I sense that some vegans give the impression that it's totally OK to eat plants, and there are no repercussions. Or maybe that's what meat eaters think vegans are saying. In my experience as a vegan, it's not about plants versus meat. It's about let's be more aware about the impact of our daily actions and strive towards optimal decisions. (As I mention in the other comment) when I consider the health, environmental, ethical, and maybe even spiritual benefits of veganism, it clearly seems like a more optimal general strategy, both for myself and for the world.


Have you ever raised a garden or slaughtered an animal?

I would never hold it against you if you had not, I didn't for the first decades of my life, but anyone who has done both of those things and tries to equate them is not being intellectually honest. Or has the emotional capacity of a potato, which I posit is strictly less than the emotional capacity of a chicken.

Again, if you haven't done either of those things, that is OK. I do however encourage others to do so, because I have gained so much appreciation and understanding for what it takes to keep individuals, and therefore the world, fed.


Both actually. I worked at a slaughterhouse during my summers while at University.

Plants aren't strictly for eating. You use them in everything from building houses to all of the furniture in your house.

Just curious, but what would you rank the emotional capacity of a chicken? Because honestly it's basically non-existent from what I can tell.


I would rank it something like [all plants] < chicken < human. Chickens may not cry over spilt milk, but they do experience fear.


Sorry, just saw this. Yes. The ethical issues for me are smaller, but they're not nonexistent. This is especially true when we look at the environmental effects of large-scale agriculture.


> But that doesn't keep me from recognizing the ethical issues with killing and controlling other beings to survive.

We don't undergo photosynthesis, so fundamentally we have to kill and eat other beings to survive. Plants are other living beings too. And a revolution is underway in learning about plant intelligence -- while not a nervous system, trees communicate with each other and share resources. [1]

My primary reason for trying to eat less meat is the environmental harms -- not the individual rights of animals -- as I think might eventually find ourselves in a place where we recognize that we cannot escape denying the rights of another organism (plants included) for our own nourishment given that we aren't photosynthesizers. Unless we become fruitarians and only eat fruit that naturally falls from the tree -- but obviously that is ludicrous.

[1] https://mothertreeproject.org/about-mother-trees/


Plants are not beings under any standard usage of the word. While plants certainly communicate and show some level of computational processing, there is no evidence they have subjective experiences. There is a very clearly line to be drawn between plants and animals.

And if that's not a compelling enough counterargument, there are two additional issues with trying to conflate plants and animals in this context. First, it takes far more plants to support an omnivorous diet than a plant-based diet. Second, many plant-based products are obtainable without having to harm the plant.


People made this exact same "no evidence" argument about animals for years, and many still believe it. The fact is we don't know enough about how plants or animals experience life to be sure of anything.


People made the claim _while_ ignoring the evidence. And as I went on to argue, if you really want to play it safe and assume plant sentience, you would still adopt a plant-based diet.


>People made the claim _while_ ignoring the evidence. And as I went on to argue, if you really want to play it safe and assume plant sentience, you would still adopt a plant-based diet.

People would still adopt a plant-based diet because there is no other alternative right now. Purely lab-synthesized food that does not involve cultivation of any other organization is still a long way off from reaching any kind of scale for mass consumption.


> Purely lab-synthesized food that does not involve cultivation of any other organization is still a long way off from reaching any kind of scale for mass consumption.

I don't disagree, but I don't see how that's relevant to my point.


I think you should be careful of our heritage of narcissism here. Historically, ethical protections are extended to anybody sufficiently like the speaker's in-group, and denied outside it. You're making an identical argument here. There are always lines to be drawn, and they're almost always the ones convenient for the speaker.


> We don't undergo photosynthesis, so fundamentally we have to kill and eat other beings to survive.

Currently that's true. But it's not an essential property of the universe. Yesterday's ludicrous may be tomorrow's normal. Thus my mention of Star Trek's replicator. Imagining those were common helps make clear the ethical tradeoffs.

If everybody were used to getting any food they wanted from a magic box, then what would we think of people who insisted on doing it the old way? A guy who spent months raising animals just to murder and consume them would certainly hear about it.

A person who had a vegetable garden might just be seen as a quirky hobbyist, or he might be seen as a person doing something weird and gross, the way many Americans feel about somebody who eats organ meat or dog. They might even be seen as heretical; many religions see life as sacred, after all. And if they did it at modern, industrial scale where they destroyed square miles of ecosystem? Perhaps it would be seen as historical reenactment, or perhaps it would be taken as a sign of severe mental health problems.

As I said, I'm an omnivore. But I try to be an honest, self-aware one. I just dismembered a turkey, ripping joints apart and rending flesh from bone. I'll enjoy the meal, but I'm aware of the horror, too. That's the deal with evolution and being part of a species that is early on in the self-uplift process.


As long as animals are treated as commodities instead of sentient beings, yeah, nothing is going to be enough for vegans.

Empathy is a great quality to cultivate.


Empathy is great, but unfortunately it's not a fix. There's only so much empathy we can have for the environment around us without giving away everything and getting nothing in return. Having empathy for the needs of your fellow human beings is still empathy, even if it comes at the cost of empathy for animals. Empathy for animals at the cost of empathy for your fellow humans is no more a solution than the other way around. So empathy just doesn't fix everything.


Typically, people who have a higher-than-average concern for the welfare of animals also have a higher-than-average concern for welfare of people. Compassion and empathy seems to grow for both, not be a trade-off.

Compare an analogous concern to the one you raise: "what if caring about people of color comes at the cost of empathy for your fellow whites?"


I walk past PETA’s west coast headquarters in Los Angeles every week, and they have inset windows behind a small ledge that’s raised from the street and protected from the weather [1]. They have the raised metal studs near the edge of the ledge, which are called “skateboard deterrents” [2], but given that the ledge is a couple inches high and unsuitable for any sort of grind trick, the purpose is clearly to prevent the homeless from sleeping on the ledge comfortably. My take on the vegan debate is that people who do it are making a good choice both practically and morally, and I wish I had the willpower to make it, and I also understand that PETA represents a very specific brand of veganism and animal welfare, but I always feel pretty sad when I see that PETA building and its unethical treatment of humans.

[1] https://goo.gl/maps/iDZ2TZV4o12DiKtL8

[2] https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/06/how-cit...


do you shed a tear when you walk past a homeless shelter that serves meat, clothes their homeless in wool and doesn't have bird safety film on all the windows? Oh you don't. When it comes to supporting animal welfare, you have to be considered "perfect" for some reason.


See my note below about spoon theory. I guess I could've been clearer that I meant not a total fix, it won't fix everything on it's own. I didn't mean that it's not part of the solution.


That's a false dichotomy. Who's advocating for less empathy for humans?


Nobody's advocating less empathy for humans, what I'm suggesting is that according to spoon theory, there's only so much in a day you can give a shit about before you burn out [YMMV]. I'm suggesting that when you put all your empathy into caring for one thing at the cost of another, typically yourself, it's a hard path to walk. Empathy as a fix all, isn't. There needs to be balance between what's reasonable, feasible and practical, for our environment, for the eco-system and for us as humans. Empathy for sure is necessary, but it's only part of the solution, not the whole solution.


The spoon theory definitely applies as you change your behavior but once you’ve made new habits, it’s not the same. Spoons aren’t used up by category of empathy, if you heard detailed life stories of those dying of war or COVID it would be equally as taxing. I care about animal welfare and changed my habits to reflect that (when I felt I could, slowly over years) but like everyone, there is a line where there additional changes are “too much”. Eg, I’m not going to live without electricity or live purely offgrid, to me this is not practical and the positive impact that may have doesn’t outweigh the negative impact to my life.

If you have a lot of pressures in your life, adding a diet change to that is not realistic. Pushing for meat alternatives in convenient places and making it easy for large groups of people to have small cognitive load (low cost of spoons) to go without meat for a meal is far more impactful than trying to convince everyone to go “full vegan or you are a monster”. If you have the time to consider your options and make a change to your habits that match your values, great, otherwise power to those trying to make those choices easier for everyone. Don’t let it weigh on you, take care of yourself and create space to make the changes you want to see in yourself.


The people who want humans to live with as limited a footprint as possible, their standard of living be dammed


As a vegan myself I think appealing to empathy is probably counterproductive because it implies that meat eaters don't have empathy. It's basically the vegan-mirror-equivalent of slothtrop's "Nothing's ever enough for vegans." comment. I feel like "meat eaters don't have empathy" is the common judgment that vegans cast on meat eaters, and "vegans are unrealistic, holier-than-thou perfectionists" is the common judgment that meat eaters cast on vegans.


I didn’t try to imply anything. I’m no vegan myself. Empathy is a great quality to cultivate; I don’t know if an ideal world is a vegan one, but I’m sure an ideal world treats humans, animals and living systems (intentionally avoiding the plants debate going on) with a great deal of empathy and respect.


Ah, OK. For the reasons I mentioned earlier I did assume you were vegan. We're on the same page and we want the same thing. My goal was to point out to my fellow vegans that empathy seems to be a trigger word for meat/dairy eaters and usually doesn't lead to productive debate.


Sure, I know :) Our egos tend to throw ‘empathy’ without it.

Glad we had this exchange.


Demonstrated sentience/consciousness is on a gradient, from nil/very-low, to high. And somewhere in between, a gray area.

- mussels/mollusks (zero sentience) - insects (very low demonstrated consciousness) - fish (low demonstrated consciousness) - chickens/reptiles (disputed level) - dogs, dolphins, primates, etc (high)

You can't equivocate chicken sentience with human sentience. What you can do is suggest they have a high enough level of sentience to warrant that certain treatments be immoral. I think infliction of constant stress and suffering certainly would be immoral, however, raising chickens does not necessitate it. And moreover, the level of sentience is not so high that captivity in itself / exploitation be problematic. If that were true keeping domestic pets ought to be just as problematic.

Animals suffer in the wild, that is a constant. They require vigilance over a) predators, b) constant search for food, c) other natural threats. In captivity, these issues don't exist.

Notwithstanding the symbiotic evolution of chicken with humans, a chicken is arguably better off in a free-roam farm than in the wild. This is constantly ignored.

The vegan solution is such that these animals basically cease to exist (i.e. are killed) because they are more dependent on humans than their ancestors. That's what letting them be "sentient" beings instead of commodities would mean.


There is a whole lot of citation needed on this reply, not to mention you’re talking about consciousness as something that can be clearly defined and measured.

This is not physics. If you think it’s ok to breed beings that clearly look to avoid suffering and care for their offspring with the sole purpose of exploiting them, and that’s fine because life > death, there you have it. Just don’t try to push a pseudoscientific scale to vegans just to prove their fallacy.


> There is a whole lot of citation needed on this reply, not to mention you’re talking about consciousness as something that can be clearly defined and measured.

With sentience it's speculation, and that's part of the point I'm making. I responded to an ethical claim on the basis of sentience (no citation) by bringing to question what it means to be sentient when some beings e.g. insects demonstrate it.

Notwithstanding immeasurability, our perception of this level of sentience is relied on to determine our moral standing. We see this through actions we take for granted.


It might be regarding insects, but I don’t think it is that much regarding farm animals. Also, not being able to nail it in a materialistic framework does not put it in the nothing can be known/fair game territory.

But let me set this aside since it might obscure our dialog. What surely can be measured is the degree of immune system depression this animals experience, how far do their life cycles deviate from control, and what health an behavioral consequences they experience from being forced to live the way we make them live. We can also measure the impact this ways have on ourselves and the environment.

Would we put the family dog trough this experience just because it is not clear (to us) if it fully understands or experience what is happening, ignoring all the fairly obvious signals that it will experiment a great deal of suffering?

I once witnessed an organic cow’s sacrifice and no one in its right heart can argue it didn’t experience an great deal of distress and suffering.

I don’t judge people from being meat eaters, I’m no vegan myself, but I won’t play conceptual games to ease people’s minds. If you have the heart to kill this animals and eat them (and I don’t mean this pejoratively or disrespectfully), go ahead. Just don’t pretend there is a gray area in what this animals will be experiencing and what does this means in terms of their lives. I mean, we eat calves that have been kept all their short lives strained in cages just for the taste, and we do this in mass scale.

This is not something to run from.

(To clarify, I’m not trying to make it personal, english is not my native language. On the contrary, I’m very open to talk about this topic with an open mind and a warm heart).


> Just don’t pretend there is a gray area in what this animals will be experiencing and what does this means in terms of their lives.

To reiterate, this is a fair assessment as per pain, stress. This is easily detected in the animals. Where a gray area exists to me is commodification, i.e. there is no reason to believe captivity in a safe environment would lead to some sort of existential crisis for the animals. There's a persistent argument from a sizable base that holding animals in captivity is inherently immoral, with sentience as the basis. This is the usual response to the notion that animals can and should be killed fairly painlessly/quickly without persistent stress.


Mollusks include Cephalopods like octopus and cuttlefish, which are on the higher side of the consciousness gradient.


Octopus have a pop culture reputation for being intelligent owing to lab maze experiments, but their intelligence isn't well known or defined. They have an average lifespan between 3-6 months to a few years depending on the species.

"Until the 1970s, researchers tried to classify the intellectual abilities of different animals and rank them within a universal intelligence scale with humans at the top. That view crumbled as it became obvious that the abilities of different animals were tuned to the circumstances in which they live. Rats learn some things slowly and others very rapidly. Just one experience with a novel food that makes them ill will put them off that food for life, even if they only become sick many hours after eating it. It's a useful memory feat for an animal that survives by scavenging. Honey bees remember the location of a flower that is producing nectar after a single visit and with just a few trips will learn at what time of day the nectar flow is at its peak. Octopuses are not very social so we should not expect their intelligence to show itself in observational learning. [...] True, octopus have huge brains. But they look nothing like the brains of the vertebrates that are so adept at learning. [...] some critics suspect that their intelligence has been grossly exaggerated by anthropomorphising observers-"they watch my every move, therefore they must be curious". On the other hand, because cephalopod behaviour and brain structure are so foreign, others argue that their greatest cognitive feats are probably still being overlooked. " -- https://web.archive.org/web/20120407062518/http://www.fortun...


There is this Netflix movie “my octopus teacher” where the octopus develops rather advanced hunting and camouflage techniques. Like how it knows how to handle sharks or how to build a shell for itself to hunt a particular type of food. That seems quite intelligent and beyond observing humans studiously in labs.


Octopuses have been known to:

* unscrew the lid of a peanut butter jar to get a treat without training

* hop from one tank to another to prey on the fish in the tank. This was observed quite by accident and not part of an experiment at first. In fact the octopus waited for its human handlers to leave the room before going in for the kill; the incident was caught on camera.

* gently grasp the hand of a friendly human with their tentacles, and squirt water through their siphon at a disliked human

All spontaneously, without training or prompting.

That last bit is particularly interesting to me, because they are recognizable signs of affection and dislike. Octopuses show some semblance of an ability to bond with us, despite having vastly different brains from us.


This is a reducto ad absurdum takeaway, but I wonder if at some point will we consider the humans required to create said food, part of the "animals treated as commodities"?

Unless humans are somehow exempt from the list, I don't see how this argument is feasible in the realistic sense. Humans are frequently treated as commodities, as any team over the size of 1 needs to delegate responsibilities to people. Hence, "doctor, lawyer, police officer, teacher, pilot" are all words that describe a delegated responsibility of a human, and therefore the commodity that they represent. "We need more firefighters!" is a phrase that literally treats humans as commodities - showing how replaceable they are. How about whenever you ask a friend, or a family member to pick something up for you from the grocery store? Are they not being treated as a commodity to suit a need in that moment?

However idealistic the notion, being a "sentient being" isn't mutually exclusive from being treated as a commodity.

I understand the empathic argument in support of veganism full well (and I empathize with it), but there is such a thing as runaway-empathy, to the point that it becomes unproductive conversation.

This is a win in an aim to reduce unnecessary suffering and pain. I'll take it as such.

Seeking some sort of absolutism though, I can't wrap my mind around that. It gives me some serious Sith vibes...


Firefighters get something in return for being firefighters. Otherwise, it is slavery, and it is indeed feasible to argue against any slavery. The animals in the farm get nothing in return, don't have a choice. It is hard to argue their life is better than no life at all.

No matter how philosophical you get, it is possible to be vegan, you only have to sacrifice some pleasure. If you value your pleasure over the miserable life of the animal, that certainly is something one can criticise without being inconsistent because "humans also need to work to buy food".

If you actually want to argue for better workers' rights and redistribution from the rich to the poor, to end the missery of the working man: I think that is a good point :)


Well, there are whole continents where people are treated as commodities. Working 16 hours a day for one or two dollars while living in unhealthy, unmerciful environments is not drastically different from being breeded for exploitation.


To quote you:

> There is a whole lot of citation needed on this reply


Gladly.

I invite you to come to my country and see how farmers/maquila workers live, in what conditions do they work, who they work for and which populations most benefit from this farmers/workers living conditions.

As I said before, empathy is a great quality to cultivate, and so does awareness.


I'm not sure you understand how citation works.

A first-hand account of farmers' living conditions in your local area isn't a reliable source that shows that there are "whole continents where people are treated as commodities". Nor do I see how this specifically relates to the underlying topic of veganism. Perhaps you can link the two topics so that I can see the point you are making?

> As I said before, empathy is a great quality to cultivate, and so does awareness.

I don't recall disagreeing with this.


I don' see why you have to be rude, but since we are here, if you need citations from a prestigious peer review journal to acknowledge this fact, you need to read more, travel more, hell, just change the channel more.

The world bank defines people living below its poverty line as persons living in households where the total income is below 1.9 US dollars, and acknowledge 689 million people living there[0].

"At higher poverty lines, 24.1 percent of the world lived on less than $3.20 a day and 43.6 percent on less than $5.50 a day in 2017"[0]

I you had read carefully, you might have noticed that my response was to the questioning on treating people as commodities, and since we are now on rude territory, you appear to me to be living in a cozy bubble, and can use some new knowledge. In my country, México, 52.4 million people are estimated to be in poverty (7.4 mill in extreme poverty)[1]. In rural areas, 29% of the population (2013 data)[2] had food shortages so no, this is not anecdotal.

I could go all academic, citations included, and tell you where does the avocado you eat comes from, who controls its growth and in which situation the people who grow it live, but I think it’s easier for me and maybe life changing for you to take a trip to Michoacán and see it for your(anecdotal)self.

[0] https://www.worldbank.org/en/topic/poverty/overview#:~:text=....

[1] https://www.coneval.org.mx/Medicion/Paginas/PobrezaInicio.as...

[2] https://www.coneval.org.mx/Informes/Evaluacion/Cruzada%20con...


I don't find it rude to point out that you asked for citation in this exact thread, and then didn't provide any yourself while making some pretty serious claims.

Thank you for the citations.

These make a very strong case for showing poor living conditions in your area, and I empathize with that - please don't think that I'm debating this fact.

I'm not entirely sure how it relates to my comment which is a nit about veganism's fundamental issue with defining it's own belief systems effectively. Are humans considered animals? Is the issue that some things are treated as commodities at all, or just that living things are? Are we okay with treating people as commodities, but just not "animals"? As in, it's okay to buy human-animal created products (like a phone or a computer), but not to buy wool socks because that is animal cruelty?

I'm not suggesting that people aren't treated as commodities, I'm suggesting the opposite. Your citations (unfortunately) add to my point.


The rudeness was not in the citation request, but in the “I think you don’t know how a citation works” comment. I find hard to believe you really needed/wanted a citation on what I stated just to equiparate my post to a citation request on a sentientness scale on a different comment. I’ve read Hofstader and I know some of the origins of these scales and their are based on all but true scientific method.

That aside, how can we expect to treat animals better than we treat ourselves? And that’s why veganism without ethics is just another form of consumerism. It’s late at night and I will fail to provide citation, but you can google how quinoa prices skyrocketed when became part of the superfood/healthy eating/vegan culture of rich populations, and what this meant for the locals that used to grow it and eat it.

I say the above (the google it part) without trying to be offensive and with an olive branch, looking forward to go deeper in this reflections.


> Are they not being treated as a commodity to suit a need in that moment?

Kant calls this: using people as a means to an end.


The moral dilemma that vegans/vegetarians face is at what size we consider them sentient. Does the same apply to the micro-organism that vegans consume everyday on their salad? Or they are simply not sentient enough because we can't see them with naked eyes?


For me it's not about trying to nail down sentience but rather a basic heuristic about the creature's ability to feel pain. If I cut it or take its babies and it produces a response that indicates it doesn't like that, then I don't eat it. Fruits easily pass this test because the plant encourages us to take them (although I recognize that we've gamed that system and it's not like we're hunter gatherers anymore accidentally spreading seeds for the plant's benefit). Vegetables less so, but the response is nowhere near as visible as mammals and birds and fish and even bees. I recognize that pain is also a squishy, debatable concept but personally this is a situation where I don't think we'll have a rigorous intellectual framework in our lifetime so we just have to trust our intuitions; which is why there's so much disagreement (your intuition might be the opposite of mine).

I'll also mention however that I'm not solely vegan for ethical purposes so my conviction in veganism doesn't hinge on being perfect here. When I realized the health, environmental, and spiritual benefits of veganism, in addition to the ethical angle, it was a pretty easy decision to make.

But to your point, yes I do think we (everyone, not just vegans) are biased towards bigger creatures that we can see with the naked eye.


> although I recognize that we've gamed that system and it's not like we're hunter gatherers anymore accidentally spreading seeds for the plant's benefit

I don't know, I bet the tree's fore-bearers think a tended orchard with consistent water is a pretty sweet deal in exchange for a few apples.


Vegans don't face any such dilemma.

The animal kingdom is quite clearly defined and vegans are pretty consistently defined as not consuming animals or animal products.

If you wish to take a more extreme position that considers other forms of life (and almost nobody appears to), that's no longer just veganism: it's something more extreme.


Vegans obviously consume animals. We are all inhabited by by and, through circumstance, kill and consume countless microscopic animals, such as mites.


I'm not sure that counts as "consumption." We also "cultivate" countless microscopic animals such as bacteria in the gut and on the skin but that doesn't really count as it is both unavoidable and requires no choice. Vegans choose not to consume animals to the greatest extent possible and that's what is being discussed.


> Vegans don't face any such dilemma.

This is such hand-wavy bullshit. It's such a lazy response to OPs point...

Are humans animals? If so, should we not consume the products that humans create, in order to achieve perfect veganism? And if people are not animals, and I'm feeling a bit hungry........?

The computer or phone you used to post your comment is an animal product. Unless, yet again, we consider humans to be above animals, and therefore exempt from all the rules, and veganism is cannibalizing itself, philosophically.

Absolutist veganism (which is a beautiful idealism) exists heavily in a state of cognitive dissonance.


That's such a strange way to argue. We use heuristics all the time. As I said elsewhere, the farmer is not a slave, that changes the equation. If all salads were made by slaves, beef might be the ethical superior choice. But it isn't. If you find someone who wants you do eat them: I guess that's fine? You cannot li ve 100% without harming animals - so it is cognitive dissonance to call for ending 95% of animal suffering (that, again, serves no good reason)?


The cognitive dissonance is the perfectionist idealism of veganism, and the assumed "ethical superiority" that constantly gets thrown around while taking zero constructive criticism that the people promoting it are in fact, living at complete odds with it.

It's like beating your children to try and instill core values that abuse is bad. "Don't hit, Timmy. Hitting is bad! I'm going to spank you to get my point across."

OP made a good point about the imperfections of idealistic veganism and it was dismissed with a, "Nope. This isn't a thing. Our ideals are perfectly defined. You are the problem", which goes directly against the belief that one's ideals are perfectly defined if someone is questioning holes in the definition - i.e, cognitive dissonance...


The OP did not make a good point - they made a Nirvana Fallacy. And your analogy in no way captures that argument anyway.


I interpret OPs point to be one that highlights the already existing Nirvana Fallacy that is the core of idealistic veganism. My analogy adds directly to that point.


Vegans don't have to be vegan for ethical reasons. They can be vegan for health reasons, or environmental reasons, or any combination of reasons.

Vegans in general choose to not consume animals or (non-human) animal products, by definition. There is a large variety of adherence and some variety in self-definition, just as there is in any common human community.

The Nirvana Fallacy lies in claiming that all vegans are vegan because they wish to be perfectly ethical, or follow a particular definition strictly, and are therefore failing on their own terms.

But vegans in general make no such claim to be perfectly ethical. They are not failing on their own terms - they are failing on your invented terms: ones which only highlight your own cognitive dissonance.


Individuals have all kinds of reasons for doing the things that they do, which is why I wouldn't use the phrase "vegans in general", and why I haven't addressed my comments to vegans at all.

Veganism, however, has strong ethical foundations, and any amount of research shows this.

Unless we are considering the mental health benefit that comes with feeling ethically superior by being vegan, there are no valid health conditions that support unilateral veganism. It's akin to swearing off all liquids because of a lactose intolerance when consuming milk.

Veganism relies on the assumption that commodification of animals and products created by animals is considered unethical and should be rejected. I don't disagree with the sentiment to a degree, but I also don't agree with it absolutely. I do feel the need to point out that there is a Nirvana Fallacy within veganism itself, as it fails to truly define what is considered an "animal", and what is considered "commodification", and this is where conversations frequently turn into splitting hairs. Many animals (humans and not) engage in symbiotic relationships. Dogs will guard a home, and as a result, will be fed and protected by people in that home. It's how families work, friends, etc.

If a sheep sheds wood, naturally, is it anti-vegan to use that wool to create a coat? What about skinning a dead cow (natural causes) for its leather? There's a ton of gray area.

Veganism, at face value, is an idealistic platitude based on a beautiful notion, but it doesn't work on its own. There are a lot of great things about it, but it has never held much sway in my mind besides, "That's a cool idea, and I like seeing strides being made to make it easier to make 'vegan' choices, but I cannot bring myself to promote it".


> There are a lot of great things about it, but it has never held much sway in my mind

On the contrary, it feels like veganism holds quite a lot of sway in your mind.

Based on my understanding, you have created an imaginary idealised version of veganism, so that you can mentally reject its imperfections, while recognising that this version would still hold some value. All the best.


It holds enough sway that any time a conversation about veganism comes up, I find it easy to point out the flaws, again. Beyond that, it holds incredibly little.

For a short while I dated a vegan, and that was the most veganism has had any impact on my life. Planning meals together required more work to find viable options. I enjoyed the few vegan meals that I ate during that time, but it never changed my personal eating/purchasing habits. Nor have my beliefs been affected by any conversations I've had on the subject.

> you have created an imaginary idealised version of veganism

I'm pointing out glaring holes in its fundamental philosophy. You didn't respond to any points I raised about Nirvana Fallacy being a core part of veganism. Nor have any of my points been debated or addressed in this thread. Just a lot of "Pro veganism! Yay! Shun the non-believer" talk, which does nothing to actually support it.

The olive branch I offer from the other side of this argument is that there are positives to reducing the commodification of animals and animal products. It doesn't mean that I believe it's a solid, effective, or feasible philosophy to live by.


> It holds enough sway that any time a conversation about veganism comes up, I find it easy to point out the flaws, again.

But why are you spending your life doing this?

Again - I am not a vegan, why do you assume that anyone in this thread is a vegan?

>It doesn't mean that I believe it's a solid, effective, or feasible philosophy to live by.

And yet people do live by it, as a lifestyle practice, and that's fine. What other philosophies are solid, effective, and feasible? I don't think there are any, and I'm not sure why you would get to decide this anyway.

You keep suggesting that veganism (your own selective definition of veganism) is philosophically imperfect. But that's not an argument for anything. What's your actual point?


This is.... one of the more bizarre critiques of veganism I've ever seen.

You familiar with the concept of consent?


Nothing is ever enough for anyone. Look at any discussion here. "This software should be fully free without ads", "this license isn't permissive enough", it's not distrbuted, it's not blockchain, it is blockchain, it's written in java. And I think it's fine. We need people on the extremes in order to put pressure and advance things, as extremes rarely get implemented, but meeting in the middle does.


> We need people on the extremes

After 2020, I'd like to see more in the middle. I think extremes are overrepresented.


Human nature is very hard to change. What we really need is a societal mechanism that somehow forces (or persuades) those on the extremes to compromise. The U.S. Constitution was designed to be such a mechanism, but it doesn't seem to be standing up well to new technologies.


> What we really need is a societal mechanism that somehow forces (or persuades) those on the extremes to compromise

This isn't how social change happens. The extremes stay planted. They define the Overton window. The centre is the bulk that moves. It's the part that decides. The extremes effect change by persuading the centre, not by talking to other extremists.

This is the problem with partisan-fueled premature dichotomization. It creates lots of immovable people. The only solution to that system is to punt the problem for a generation in the hope that more people drift to the centre.


> The centre is the bulk that moves. It's the part that decides.

No, it isn't. That's exactly the problem. Trump found a bug in the system, a security hole, in the form of leveraging the non-linearity built in to the current system. The Constitution was designed to produce minority rule, on the assumption that if the minority abused that power too much the majority would rise up and force them out of power. The problem is that this bias is amplified by modern communications technologies, which allow a determined person to leverage a fairly small minority into effective dictatorial power. The Constitutional bias towards minority rule is amplified by party politics, gerrymandering, echo chambers, etc. to the point where you only need a few million motivated followers to effectively control the agenda. All you need is enough voters following you that you can pose a credible threat to unseat any politician in your party at the next primary. Those few million motivated followers are much more likely to be found at the extremes than in the center, and they are much more likely to be found in rural areas and hence be conservative. Given enough time, this influence can be leveraged into enough disenfranchisement through legitimate-seeming voter suppression efforts that unseating the minority becomes effectively impossible through any legal means. At that point, the minority no longer needs to compromise. And since it is the most radical members of the minority who are the foundation of this strategy, the result is extreme radicalization. And all this can happen without moving the center. That's the problem.


seems to me the constitution is pretty much working as designed. during polarized times, it makes it very difficult to change things. if you believe all the terrible things written about trump in the news (I do, with some reservations), it's sort of remarkable how little damage he managed to do. we (probably) just elected joe biden, who is almost the definition of a compromise candidate.


> it's sort of remarkable how little damage he managed to do

I think it's much too early to assess the totality of (let me put this in the least inflammatory way that I can think of) Trump's long-term impact. At the very least, he has re-formed the American judiciary, delayed action on climate change by four years, and eroded or eliminated many of the societal and governmental norms that are essential for the functioning of our society (e.g. accepting the results of elections).

But even now, we have North Korea with ICBMs and more nuclear weapons than before, Iran closer to a nuclear weapon than before, and probably a hundred thousand people or so dead from Covid who might not have died if Trump had not politicized the wearing of masks. That's not "little damage" by my reckoning.

There are also a few hundred innocent children who were forcibly separated from their parents and likely will never see them again because of shoddy record-keeping. Despite the relatively small numbers, the sheer monstrousness of this makes it impossible to sweep it under the rug. Trump effectively abandoned the moral high ground that America has held since the end of World War II. America is no longer perceived as a reliable partner, leader of the free world, and beacon of hope. I suppose reasonable people can disagree in their assessment of the long-term impact of this, but in my book, that's not "little damage."

[ADDENDUM] Something else Trump has done is form a significant contingent of the citizenry who now equate the interests of the country with Trump's personal interests, i.e. who believe Trump when he says that we face existential threats that he alone can fix. Ironically, they do this in the name of patriotism and freedom, utterly oblivious to the historical precedents that show time and time again that cults of personality lead to tyranny and ruin. Thankfully, we have not yet crossed that threshold. But we were standing on the brink, and it won't take much to bring us back to it.

[ADDENDUM2] There's also this:

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/11/william-barr-lam...


Tech's most famous extremist, RMS, turned out to be more moderate than where the mainstream ended up, within a span of under 40 years.


How does not writing it in Java advance things?


Was just an example, but I feel like there is a very anti java sentiment on HN. I have near no Java experience, but it's certainly on undertone that if you aren't using Go, Rust, Elxir, whatever you're doing it wrong. Which is nonsense, anything can be good.


"Nothing's ever enough for vegans."

I stopped reading right there.

- non-vegan with low tolerance for counterproductive comments


> Nothing's ever enough for vegans.

is that surprising? most vegans I know care more about the animals' quality of life than whether or not they end up getting slaughtered. this is a large part of why they are vegans and not merely vegetarians. interestingly, I find that they tend to be pretty accepting of hunting.


Assuming all vegans feel the way the person you're replying to is a bit of a broad brush, no?


It's a broad one. We've been here often, if for the sake of argument you control for issues that are brought forth like suffering or the environment, the overwhelming response will default back to saying those thing actually didn't matter because meat is murder anyway.

Granted "some vegans" would be more precise, but that's still the sentiment.


The parent didn't indicate they were a vegan at all, they just described an ideal.

You were just so ready to attack vegans that you don't appear to have read what they wrote.


> you don't appear to have read what they wrote.

I don't see how you could surmise that.


> Nothing's ever enough for vegans.

Getting human slaves out of the food production process is a great first step, but I like to think that we'll eventually spot inflicting pain on _any_ animal to produce our food.


> Nothing's ever enough for vegans.

The most funny argument used by vegans is: "we are closer to nature". There's nothing more natural than animals eating each other.

And no, humans are not herbivores. Some primates might be, but human evolution started the moment our monkey ancestors decided to get off the tree and eat meat. By promoting veganism you're trying to undo the last 3-5 millions of years of human evolution. Talk about Catholic Church pushing us back to Middle ages... /s

Another argument that I hate: by not eating animals you reduce suffering. If we take that to it's logical conclusion, the only way for you to not cause any sufferning is to die. That's why Buddhists (for whom "reducing suffering" is a religious imperative) came up with this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokushinbutsu

Life is an infininte circle of joy, pleasure, sadness, suffering, death... If you try to eliminate one of them you are against the life itself.


> Nothing's ever enough for vegans.

Just to jump in with an additional point, vegans would never be ok with this. I believe you might be thinking vegetarians, which as a vegetarian, this is good news, and is enough for me.


> "You're free to consume whatever you want."

Most ridiculous thing I have ever heard in my life.

You're not free to consume whatever you want. It may be legal but not ethical.


You're taking this to mean far more than it obviously is meant to mean.


> Nothing's ever enough for vegans.

Causing zero harm to animals is enough.

It's totally within reach, too. You just have to take responsibility and DO IT.


If you go by the actual definition of what defines an animal, it is literally impossible not to constantly harm animals. Either the rabbits caught in the threshers, the tiny organism we step on, the mites on our face we consume unknowingly.

Even the strictest Jainist can't stop from annihilating an uncountable number of tiny animals that live in, on and around us. (though to their credit, they sure do try).


Sent from by device built my slave labour in China.


Soon Jainism will become popular, is my prediction. Someone will package twigs and leaves as a Jainist snack pack and make a fortune.... I'd better get started! /s


VC pitch: We'll make money on the supplements our customers have to take.


> Nothing's ever enough for vegans.

No need for a blanket prejudiced statement like this.


[flagged]


I don't have a problem with someone who raises a chicken, uses the chicken's natural existence to improve the local environment (fertilizer, etc.), lets that chicken have a life similar to its life in nature, and gives it a lifespan that isn't dramatically shorter than what it experiences in nature. Eating that chicken and its eggs seems fine to me because that seems like a mutualistic relationship. Asking me to endorse factory farming is tough because it provides literally none of those things, all of which seem like pretty reasonable definitions of a decent life for a creature. If you can verify that the chicken/eggs you bought came from that situation, I don't have a problem with that. I know a lot of brands claim an image like this, but let's be honest, no one is verifying that before purchasing because we know it's probably not true.

In other words, I am a vegan, and I just suggested a situation of ethical meat/egg consumption. As I said before, I think you're prejudiced towards vegans and don't really understand what we're about. I suggest listening more to what vegans have to say about veganism rather than what meateaters have to say about it.


> I suggest listening more to what vegans have to say about veganism rather than what meateaters have to say about it.

That is precisely what brought me to my conclusion.

> As I said before, I think you're prejudiced towards vegans and don't really understand what we're about.

To the extent that I see the vocal base as having an absolutist view compared to yours, yes. If you're insinuating more connotations associated with your choice of words prejudice, no. You don't know me.

That view is not terribly dissimilar from my own, so I'll grant I understand it well. Congrats on defying my expectations. I was confident you would not.


> I'll rescind it the day I see a vegan suggest there is such a thing as ethical meat/egg consumption. It will never happen.

your statement is a "there exists"

one just presented themselves.

will you rescind, or just continue to move the goalposts?


For your pleasure: rescinded. That was implicit in the post you quoted. Has this brought any value to you?

I'm not moving goalposts. I'm explaining my position.


People are downvoting you because you are making blanket generalizations that don’t meaningfully add to the conversation, and then doubling down on them when challenged. I thought maybe you would like to know what’s happening, but if it’s not wanted sorry to have potentially upset you further.


I made one generalization. I'll stand behind it. I hoped to see it provoke contradiction.


> nor pursue them at large scale unless it's for profit

You, as a consumer, directly dictate to companies what is profitable and what's not by what you choose to buy and what you choose not to buy. Dichotomy of profit and ethics doesn't make any sense: profit is a signal which among other things also includes information about what consumers think if ethical or unethical, and how important it is to them.


Everything profitable is ethical? I disagree. Supply chains are opaque and complex and there’s a diffusion of responsibility by the time you reach the level of decision-making consumers. I may give money to a company that is doing something unethical without my really knowing or thinking about it.


> Everything profitable is ethical?

I never made this claim, as ethics in this case is subjective: some things are ethical in some eyes and unethical in others, and profitability is the mechanism of reaching consensus between these views.

Your point about transparency is valid, I have to admit. However, I don't think that it applies in the case of food production: most meat and animal products consumers are well-aware that in order to get meat, you need to kill someone, and if you want to keep milk and eggs as cheap as possible, you can't afford to treat the animals well.


> I never made this claim

Sorry, you're right. That's what I took away from your claim that profit encodes a signal for ethicality. I still am not sure I agree with the idea that profit represents a consensus for whether or not something is ethical. Specifically _because_ money is involved it seems like the equation is muddied.

In the food production case, more ethical choices often come with a higher price tag. E.g., I believe that cage-free eggs are more ethical, but when I was broke I would buy the cheaper eggs because I was financially incentivized to do something I found less ethical, if only in a small way. And even now, if I am in a rush to buy eggs and the store is out of cage-free, I'll still make the less-ethical decision to do what is cheaper (in terms of energy). I wouldn't say that people's ethics are determined by how much money they have, but rather people may believe that one product option is more ethical than another, but considerations about money and convenience make them sometimes behave less ethically than they would without those constraints.


That's why I said that profitability represents not only what's ethical, but how important it is for people in their particular circumstances.

Also, isn't ethics always dependent on circumstances you're in? For example, stealing is wrong - but many would argue that stealing to save you or your kids from hunger is ethical. That's the same kind of choice you're making when you choose to buy cheaper eggs when you can't afford cage-free.


The chickens we raise on our hobby farm are "dual purpose" birds in that they are good for both meat and eggs. That is traditionally how all poultry was raised, really, on family farms, etc. Roosters were raised and fattened until a few months in, and then slaughtered and eaten, while a portion of the hens were kept for laying. The meat from roosters isn't as good, but it's frankly fine overall.

There's no reason the meat industry couldn't divert the male chickens into a separate supply chain where they were raised until 6-8 months and then slaughtered and sold as stewing meat or some other (decent tasting) protein product for human consumption. The roosters don't develop aggressive behaviours until much later.

But that would be inefficient by market measures. So it doesn't happen.


I started this year with a couple dozen chickens, a motley crew of heritage breeds. Our (formerly 3) roosters definitely started showing aggression before 6 months. Furthermore, the repeated mounting of the hens is pretty abusive - chicken sex, I'm sorry to say, is pretty much rape.

That said, as you noted, on an industrial scale you would separate the roosters. But it's not clear that there's any market at all for rooster meat. Chicken meat is incredibly cheap and adds surprisingly little margin above the main input cost - feed. Roosters consume just as much feed but produce a lesser quantity of inferior meat. The margins are likely to be negative.

It's an efficiency story yes, but of the "you'll go bankrupt with this idea" sort.


I'm surprised you noticed the aggression before 6 months. It's actually hard to even identify roosters as roosters in the first few months. They don't develop their physical traits fully for some time.

Re: birds and rape, wait til you see ducks...

I should note that there are roosters and then there are roosters. We had a really amazing one, a well bred barred rock who was a real gentleman. They have an important role in the flock, warning about and fending off predators. He died after sustaining wounds from diverting a fox over 100 feet away from his hens. Tussled with the fox from the coop all the way down to the road, distracting it from his hens, then hid under a passing car until we could rescue him. Miss that guy.

But it is important that the hen to rooster ratio is right, or they get competitive and mean.


I should also mention another neat role roosters have: they mediate conflict. We got a rooster because our hens were picking on each other. That stopped once we got him. He even used to sit between the conflicting hens on the perch at night.

Also a good rooster will find food for the hens, and call them over to it. Ours used to find bugs and then make this cute "coo coo coo" and they'd come running, and eat while he watched and waited to take his turn.

sniff miss our guy. I think we'll get a new rooster in the spring, maybe a really neat looking bantam.


Oh, I definitely love having roosters! The crowing makes me happy. But our polish started mounting the most developed hens at 19 weeks, and the other two (silkies, believe it or not) wanted in on the action less than a month later. Too many roosters for the number of hens, and the girls were getting frazzled.

The thing I'm hoping for out of this "no kill" technology is the ability to buy sexed fertile eggs at the ag store. I don't have a problem culling roosters from unsexed breeds, but it would be nice to bypass raising them from chicks and guessing which ones will turn out to be keepers.


Can I ask what method you use to cull? I originally got the birds for myself and my daughter to take care of but my wife fell in love with them and she treats them like babies, which is fine, but even when we've had very sick hens killing ourselves has been off the table and we've ended up paying vets big fees to take care of it. She wants more birds in the spring but I'm not going to go along with that unless this becomes a more serious 'farmy' type situation and we become more self-sufficient with the animal care.

I grew up rural and have dispatched my share of animals hung around on my grandpa's farm during meat bird processing, so I'm not squeamish. But I need a good humane way to do this that won't upset my wife and kids.


Lately it's been the "Coyote Method".

Not deliberately, of course. Either hawks or coyotes (not sure; we're in the process of setting up cameras) have taken several of our flock. We're still figuring out what to do about it.

We've tried the broomstick method but it's hard. What works best for us is to take a traffic cone, cut off the top of it, mount it upside down, stuff the chicken in it so their head is poking out the bottom, and slit their throat with a very sharp knife. It's gruesome and if your family is squeamish it won't go well. But they go quick and drain out, so cleaning is easier.


The only predator incident we've had was the fox. We'd never even seen a fox around here before. Coyotes, yes. Foxes never. Broad daylight, while we were eating dinner, came out and found feathers everywhere. We had gotten lazy since we got the rooster, never had the roll out fencing electrified. My wife still hasn't forgiven herself.


Sorry to hear about your dude. I wish our roosters were that motivated. Even trimming his crest, our polish is practically blind so he's constantly being surprised by everything. He's useless for protection and frequently goes after our toddler. Our two silkie roosters are/were pretty timid, which is good and bad. Unfortunately our favorite (by appearance and temperment) was taken recently.

We didn't pick the roosters, we just ended up with the 3 because some of the chicks were unsexed. A well-tempered bantam would be nice.

We could fence them into a smaller area... but we like letting them roam around the property. Tough choices.


Yeah we got our rooster from a gentleman who got him from a fancy poultry breeder here in Ontario. ("Precision Plymouths"). He was a show quality bird and absolutely stunningly beautiful, but also the guy had done some "training" work with him. He was very timid with people, and not aggressive at all. And he had come from a farm where he was just one of a few roosters and just seemed pleased as punch to have a few ladies of his own without any competition :-)


Also, what's to stop us from breeding fat and delicious roosters? It's amazing what selective breeding can accomplish in a few generations, especially with marker assisted selection. Evolution has its own traits "it" has selected for in roosters, but we could easily have our own.


Fat & delicious roosters are called 'capons' - they're neutered & raised for meat, though a bit of a luxury food.


Hiding under a passing car sounds rather dangerous. Did you mean parked? :-)


The car was passing but it was this nice couple that slowed down and pulled over when they saw the fox taking bites out of our bird. Jacques took that opportunity to hide under their car. We were frantically hunting for our scattered hens when they came up the driveway asking if we were missing a bird.

We kept the poor guy going for a few weeks on antibiotics until he succumbed. Turns out foxes carry lethal bacteria in their mouths. They can bite things without finishing them off, and then come back later and find the animal again after it succumbs to infection. :-(


We found that the dual purpose breeds were pretty mediocre at both purposes. Not great at laying eggs, and scrawny birds when prepared. When we switched to egg layer breeds our egg harvest was substantially larger. I never did try to raise meat birds.


> There's no reason the meat industry couldn't divert the male chickens into a separate supply chain...

I assume that that cost of an egg for a broiler chicken is less than the price delta for fewer pounds of worse meat that takes longer to produce, so it's still more cost effective to accept the male chicks as a sunk cost and move on.


> There's no reason the meat industry couldn't divert the male chickens into a separate supply chain

Setting aside the ethics, purpose bred meat birds are much less expensive to raise and more desirable to consumers.


>There's no reason the meat industry couldn't....

>But that would be inefficient by market measures.

>No reason

>Gives reason


I can't help you if you choose to read things that pedantically. Maybe get a job as a lawyer. I guess I need to edit and insert "no technical reason" or "no non-price sensitive reason" in for you?


Some people may argue that raising and killing one "meat-efficient chicken" is preferable to raising and killing three "inefficient" ones from a moral point of view.


Would they be willing to actually pay for it?


I’m not sure you’ve understood the discussion.

Cmrdporcupine says the only reason to prefer raising and killing one “good” chicken rather than three “bad” ones would be that it’s cheaper.


I've been buying no-kill eggs for years now, there are plenty of egg distributors that hatch two-use chickens, the males grow large enough to be edible, the females lay eggs. Available for years.

I really don't see an advantage of this technology for the consumer, the real advantage lies with the producers.


> the males grow large enough to be edible,

It would seem to me these are still killed. Lacto-ovo vegetarians might still prefer no-kill egg as shown in the article.


Unless the chickens are kept after they finish laying eggs, no commercial egg laying is no kill. Most battery or free range hens are killed (or if they're lucky, rescued for home use) at a year old as they approach their first moult.


At the very least it's still less-kill.


How is it less kill if all the male chicks are raised then used for meat? Same number of chickens being killed either way, some just get slightly longer to live.


I was specifically talking about the method from the OP, where male chicks aren't killed (unless you count destroying the egg as killing them).


Some die before you have the chance to kill them.


A farmer friend told me that as egg production declines due to aging, feed consumption actually increases. This was among the factors that drove a soft-hearted novice chicken rancher of his acquaintance out of the business.


You don't have to kill them to eat them, as long as you aren't eating all of them. A lot of poultry live in conditions where they have no use for wings or thighs anyway.


2020 update: the eggs actually became available in supermarkets (REWE) for little extra cost, but are subject to regional availability.


Is it only in REWE or can we find them in Edeka/Aldi/Lidl?

REWE is a little bit away from my location.


Wait a bit for market forces to do their work. I'm sure the others will follow suit

Edit: the article is from 2018. Lidl has announced recently that they plan to have that for their organic eggs starting in early 2021 and their free range eggs until end of 2021. Source: https://unternehmen.lidl.de/pressreleases/2020/200714_lidl_e...


Free range eggs by end of 2021 right?

This is great! Hopefully Lidl will have them in other countries as well so I can buy them.


Rewe, Edeka, Penny, Marktkauf, Famila, but only select stores.

https://respeggt.com/de/die-produkte/


REWE has a great online shop in case that’s an option for you. I exclusively use that one for the past year and it works really well.


Agreed. I wonder why none of other competitors do that, especially in current context. There is Amazon fresh and Bringmeister but they arent as good.


Thanks, I will look out for them when getting my lunch later today.


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