Vegeterianism & Irrationality
#1
Hi folks,

I have often been accused by my friends, if accused is the right word, of superstitious/irrational behaviour when it comes to my choice of being a vegetarian.

Here's my case:

I was brought up in a brahminical family. Brahmins are vegetarians because of religious and philosophical reasons. While I despise the religious part, I do appreciate the reason from philosophical standpoint. And why I do that may definitely have to do with the fact that I was conditioned, since I was in my nappies, to believe that meat was bad. I do shudder at the thought of an animated animal being killed to satiate my hunger. I also appreciate the fact there is "net lesser pain" in the world because of people being vegetarian. I can happily share tables with my meat chompers and I frankly don't care if my family members/partner were to be non vegetarian. Note that are better scientific reasons to be vegetarian though I cannot claim detailed knowledge of the same.

What you eat is a matter of one's personal choice but there are two interesting questions that I'd like to highlight here. Firstly, does a Darwinian explanation of the living world yield Vegetarianism inherently irrational? Rather, does evolution warrant disproportionate meat consumption or mass-killing of animals for food?

Secondly, (this might be quite unrelated, it deals with epistemology and ethics/philosophy) : Does a claim of knowledge of irrationality in behaviour/belief in anyway reduce the harm caused by the slippery slope of irrationality? To paraphrase this in a better way, does the human tendency to hold on to an irrational or superstitious behaviour/belief in spite of the realization of irrationality in anyway count better than a blind belief in a certain doctrine? Note that this inclination to continue believing in something irrational even after reasoning your way out could be because of many reasons: psychological/coercion/peer-pressure/social-conformity/childhood conditioning etc.

I already have my answers to these questions, but before I dole out my theories, I'd like to hear what you have to say regarding these issues.

Cheers,

Murthy
Murthy

"Credulity kills" -- Carl Sagan
Reply
#2
*my meat chomping friends
:P
Murthy

"Credulity kills" -- Carl Sagan
Reply
#3
I've come across many types of vegetarians, the latest one being ecological vegetarians whose argument stems from the fact that intensive animal farming is single most leading cause of global warming.

The second strongest argument in favor of vegetarianism is of course that of the suffering of the animal. Assuming that meat-eating is here to stay for a considerable while, the effort has to be to reduce the suffering of the animal as much as possible. I recently saw a TV program called "Kill it, cook it, eat it". I think it was on BBC-knowledge. They showed a slaughter of a pig in a abattoir. The pig was stunned with high voltage across its head. That is the first and the last bit of pain the pig apparently suffers. It becomes immediately unconscious and is then killed by an incision to the throat which drains the blood from the brain pretty fast. The problem is, this was for a tv show and there is no guarantee that every slaughterhouse follows such procedures rigorously due to the increasing demand for meat.

I don't think evolution has anything to do with vegetarianism. If anything, being able to cook vegetables means we evolved to be vegetarians no? Studies have shown that humans certainly don't need the amount of meat they consume today, especially in the west, for a healthy living. I find some in the west eat vegetables as if they are tablets that need to be consumed but they'd rather not.

Finally, I don't think it'll be long before vitro meat is produced in a sustainable and affordable manner. Speaking of irrationality, try to get your head around arguments against Vitro meat.

Reply
#4
(02-Sep-2010, 09:49 PM)murthymail Wrote: Hi folks,

I have often been accused by my friends, if accused is the right word, of superstitious/irrational behaviour when it comes to my choice of being a vegetarian.

Here's my case:

I was brought up in a brahminical family. Brahmins are vegetarians because of religious and philosophical reasons. While I despise the religious part, I do appreciate the reason from philosophical standpoint. And why I do that may definitely have to do with the fact that I was conditioned, since I was in my nappies, to believe that meat was bad. I do shudder at the thought of an animated animal being killed to satiate my hunger. I also appreciate the fact there is "net lesser pain" in the world because of people being vegetarian. I can happily share tables with my meat chompers and I frankly don't care if my family members/partner were to be non vegetarian.

Note that are better scientific reasons to be vegetarian though I cannot claim detailed knowledge of the same.

What you eat is a matter of one's personal choice but there are two interesting questions that I'd like to highlight here. Firstly, does a Darwinian explanation of the living world yield Vegetarianism inherently irrational? Rather, does evolution warrant disproportionate meat consumption or mass-killing of animals for food?

Secondly, (this might be quite unrelated, it deals with epistemology and ethics/philosophy) : Does a claim of knowledge of irrationality in behaviour/belief in anyway reduce the harm caused by the slippery slope of irrationality? To paraphrase this in a better way, does the human tendency to hold on to an irrational or superstitious behaviour/belief in spite of the realization of irrationality in anyway count better than a blind belief in a certain doctrine? Note that this inclination to continue believing in something irrational even after reasoning your way out could be because of many reasons: psychological/coercion/peer-pressure/social-conformity/childhood conditioning etc.

I already have my answers to these questions, but before I dole out my theories, I'd like to hear what you have to say regarding these issues.

Cheers,

Murthy

Murthy its perfectly all right for you to be a vegetarian by choice for moral and environmental reasons. But when you say there are better scientific reasons to be a vegetarian, I would like to know what these scientific reasons are in so far as how a pure vegetarian diet will help increase human physical strength and recovery vis a vis a meat based diet.

Reply
#5
(02-Sep-2010, 10:32 PM)bala Wrote: I've come across many types of vegetarians, the latest one being ecological vegetarians whose argument stems from the fact that intensive animal farming is single most leading cause of global warming.

The second strongest argument in favor of vegetarianism is of course that of the suffering of the animal. Assuming that meat-eating is here to stay for a considerable while, the effort has to be to reduce the suffering of the animal as much as possible. I recently saw a TV program called "Kill it, cook it, eat it". I think it was on BBC-knowledge. They showed a slaughter of a pig in a abattoir. The pig was stunned with high voltage across its head. That is the first and the last bit of pain the pig apparently suffers. It becomes immediately unconscious and is then killed by an incision to the throat which drains the blood from the brain pretty fast. The problem is, this was for a tv show and there is no guarantee that every slaughterhouse follows such procedures rigorously due to the increasing demand for meat.

I don't think evolution has anything to do with vegetarianism. If anything, being able to cook vegetables means we evolved to be vegetarians no? Studies have shown that humans certainly don't need the amount of meat they consume today, especially in the west, for a healthy living. I find some in the west eat vegetables as if they are tablets that need to be consumed but they'd rather not.

Finally, I don't think it'll be long before vitro meat is produced in a sustainable and affordable manner. Speaking of irrationality, try to get your head around arguments against Vitro meat.

I can agree with you on the moral and ecological aspect of animal farming but what studies show that humans do not need the amount of meat they consume today, in the west or otherwise? Your observation that some people eat few vegetables is because those people you have seen are not eating a balanced diet. I would not say that about people in the west who eat a balanced diet. But then most people eat unhealthy diets vegetarian or non vegetarian.
Despite being vegetarian many Indians are increasingly diabetic and suffer CVD because saturated fatty acids in the blood are a marker of excess carbohydrate intake and vegetable oils contain unsaturated / polyunsaturated fats ( vegetable oils) clog the arteries.

Reply
#6
(02-Sep-2010, 09:49 PM)murthymail Wrote: Firstly, does a Darwinian explanation of the living world yield Vegetarianism inherently irrational? Rather, does evolution warrant disproportionate meat consumption or mass-killing of animals for food?

I don't think we can use evolution to say that vegetarianism is irrational. We have evolved to eat whatever food was available and before agriculture was discovered, that was a mix of vegetarian stuff and meat. Now that we can sustain ourselves and procreate while being only on a vegetarian diet, it could be said that we are satisfying our evolutionary purpose.

Reply
#7

Murthy its perfectly all right for you to be a vegetarian by choice for moral and environmental reasons. But when you say there are better scientific reasons to be a vegetarian, I would like to know what these scientific reasons are in so far as how a pure vegetarian diet will help increase human physical strength and recovery vis a vis a meat based diet.


No Sajith, I did not mean it from a lone human's perspective, I hardly have any knowledge base to comment in there Hungry . I was referring to scientific consensus over environmentally sound solution to humanity's nutrition today, given there are what 6 billion people.






Murthy

"Credulity kills" -- Carl Sagan
Reply
#8
The brahmins became vegetarians to counter Buddhism and Jainism to demonstrate a holier than thou attitude. So, it was only a ritualistic transformation. If they were so much concerned on pain to animals they should have stopped milking as the milk is secreted for the young of the species and not for performing religious rituals(milk products are part and parcel of these). Through evolution the taste buds have developed to identify the more nutritious substances. The primitive man undergoing starve and feed cycles must have learnt to identify these by evolutionary mechanisms. The question of consuming more that what is needed by the body comes from those times when food was scarce. Though the conditions have changed the primitive instincts still remain.
Reply
#9
Vegetarianism is not irrational behaviour, as long as you have made this choice after careful rational analysis (within your own framework of morals and ethics)- not because your dad told you do so or some religious scripts ordered you to do so.
I am a vegetarian by choose. I don't criticize meat eaters. My moral boundary line is different to a meat eater’s moral boundary line. Neither one can claim to be superior.
You can argue that while I am not killing animals I am killing plants, I will probably kill a mosquito if it bites me. My boundary line of killing stops at Plants, ants and mosquitoes and so on.
In the same way people who eat meat will not eat dog or cat. Why not? Biologically cats and dogs and pig and cow are same- warm blooded mammals, vertebrates. If animals are meant for human exploitation then why should dogs and cats be treated like gods? If you can eat one set of animal why prohibit another set of animals? the reason is- most ,meat eaters will find eating Cat or Dog as wrong. People love dogs as their own child, the very thought of eating them may make them sick, but every other animal l look like food. In the same way, I love all animals, the thought of eating them is unbearable to me, but plants look like food to me.
In some part of the world people eat Cats and Dogs and I respect their food customs. Certain tribal groups eat rats - meat eaters may call it disgusting . hey it is their food. . I have the same respect for their diet.
While most people can eat meat when it comes in a package, if I brought a pig or cow and asked them to slaughter and eat, most people will hesitate. It is all right if someone kills it first. Those are other moral boundary lines
You cannot have a universal law on what people can eat or not eat. if you force people to eat something ( or not eat something) that is essentially the same as what the religion does. It is Hippocratic.

Morals and ethics are not universal. As Aristotle points out, you lead your life by Reason. Reasoning is a process, not an outcome






(02-Sep-2010, 09:49 PM)murthymail Wrote: Hi folks,

I have often been accused by my friends, if accused is the right word, of superstitious/irrational behaviour when it comes to my choice of being a vegetarian.

Here's my case:

I was brought up in a brahminical family. Brahmins are vegetarians because of religious and philosophical reasons. While I despise the religious part, I do appreciate the reason from philosophical standpoint. And why I do that may definitely have to do with the fact that I was conditioned, since I was in my nappies, to believe that meat was bad. I do shudder at the thought of an animated animal being killed to satiate my hunger. I also appreciate the fact there is "net lesser pain" in the world because of people being vegetarian. I can happily share tables with my meat chompers and I frankly don't care if my family members/partner were to be non vegetarian. Note that are better scientific reasons to be vegetarian though I cannot claim detailed knowledge of the same.

What you eat is a matter of one's personal choice but there are two interesting questions that I'd like to highlight here. Firstly, does a Darwinian explanation of the living world yield Vegetarianism inherently irrational? Rather, does evolution warrant disproportionate meat consumption or mass-killing of animals for food?

Secondly, (this might be quite unrelated, it deals with epistemology and ethics/philosophy) : Does a claim of knowledge of irrationality in behaviour/belief in anyway reduce the harm caused by the slippery slope of irrationality? To paraphrase this in a better way, does the human tendency to hold on to an irrational or superstitious behaviour/belief in spite of the realization of irrationality in anyway count better than a blind belief in a certain doctrine? Note that this inclination to continue believing in something irrational even after reasoning your way out could be because of many reasons: psychological/coercion/peer-pressure/social-conformity/childhood conditioning etc.

I already have my answers to these questions, but before I dole out my theories, I'd like to hear what you have to say regarding these issues.

Cheers,

Murthy

Reply
#10
Hi Raj, nice to see you here. The following lines are not addressed to you or prof Nayak.

I am giving up on my explanation-based approach to creating awareness on the category error known as the naturalistic fallacy. If rational skeptics cannot help but make the error, repeating it in case after case, I don't think it's going to make a difference on the public at large. I have explained this error on multiple threads. But I'm not sure that anyone has understood what it entails. I think that our ways of thinking about morality are more hardwired than we think, and some people are just more inclined to make the naturalistic fallacy.

Sajith, Lije, Murthy and Bala, you guys are some of the most rational people I know. The argument here can be cleared up in a minute- in one paragraph. Anyone game?
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
Reply
#11
(03-Sep-2010, 12:07 AM)murthymail Wrote:
Murthy its perfectly all right for you to be a vegetarian by choice for moral and environmental reasons. But when you say there are better scientific reasons to be a vegetarian, I would like to know what these scientific reasons are in so far as how a pure vegetarian diet will help increase human physical strength and recovery vis a vis a meat based diet.


No Sajith, I did not mean it from a lone human's perspective, I hardly have any knowledge base to comment in there Hungry . I was referring to scientific consensus over environmentally sound solution to humanity's nutrition today, given there are what 6 billion people.



While I can agree with the ecological aspects on meat production some of the stuff he says is anecdotal. For example Graham hill says he lost weight because he reduced his meat intake. In reality he cut his calories and lost muscle mass and strength resulting in weight loss. Its not because he ate less meat. Its because he ate less calories.
He says you will be healthier if you ate less meat. He 'feels' healthier? Anecdotal. There is no evidence to suggest that you will live longer if you ate less red meat or avoided meat all together. As I said earlier its excessive fat from vegetable oils and excessive carbohydrates and sugars that could effect your health adversely.

Reply
#12
Check out this proposal.

http://www.ciwf.org.uk/about_us/default.aspx

http://www.ciwf.org.uk/about_us/strategic_plan.aspx

http://www.ciwf.org.uk/resources/default.aspx
Reply




Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)