Animal Welfare Issues: Vegetarianism, Veganism and Animal Testing

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Animal Welfare Issues: Vegetarianism, Veganism and Animal Testing

Post by shanty on Sun Jul 01, 2012 11:58 am

Hi everyone! I was going to post this as a reply to Gillian's debate on animal testing, but ended up going on a bit of a rant about meat and dairy so thought I'd make a new topic/debate! I really don't want to start an argument - I usually take a backseat in debates but animal welfare issues are very close to my heart. This will be the first debate I've ever taken part in, and I'm quite terrified of the outcome! Laugh So, let's all be grown-ups about this Smile

Firstly, PETA are eejits - never mind them. But please don't let them cloud your judgement of all vegetarians/vegans!! Ok, yes, vegetarianism is hypocritical for many reasons... one is that at least the animals being eaten are dead and can't suffer any more, whereas the milk and eggs being consumed were produced by animals that may still be suffering on a farm somewhere, miles away from your breakfast table. Out of sight, out of mind Sad Many Irish farmers have abandoned the battery farming method, which is wonderful. Still, it saddens me to know that millions of tiny, beautiful, fluffy male chicks are killed soon after hatching, simply because they are not suitable to raise for meat. Just an unfortunate by-product, they are either gassed or ground up in a machine. I know vegans p*iss alot of people off, and many of them are self-righteous, annoying preachers alright.... (no arguments there!!) but some of us are just quietly trying to do our bit Smile At the end of my life I'd like to look back and be happy in the knowledge that I caused as little harm as possible to other living beings during my short time on this planet. I know it's not for everyone and I respect the choices of others, but I'm definitely happy with my life choices - for my health, the environment, and the animals. To prove that I don't hate or judge all you meat-eaters, let it be known that my boyfriend is a complete carnivore, and I know that he will never change! Yet we manage to live harmoniously in some sort of deluded happiness Big Grin - he respects my choices and I respect his.

Yes, people have eaten meat for thousands of years, but our ancestors didn't have the cruel factory farming systems that we have now. We invented those so that meat production would be economically viable and as profitable as possible. It's one thing to go out, hunt an animal that's been living a normal life outdoors, kill it yourself, take it home and eat it because it's one of your only sources of sustenance. It's another to keep it in appalling conditions, deprive it of the basic comforts that every sentient being is entitled to, only to end its miserable life because we like the taste of meat. We don't NEED meat, eating it is just a habit we've all grown up with. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think if we could see what goes on behind slaughterhouse walls, we wouldn't tuck into that steak so eagerly. Pigs are as intelligent as 3 year old children, so we can only imagine the suffering they go through just so we can enjoy our Sunday fry-up. If you have a very strong stomach and want to learn more about the meat and dairy industries, watch "Earthlings", a documentary narrated by Joaquin Phoenix (I mean it - seriously strong. It's heartbreaking)

On the dairy industry - it's true that it's not as bad here in Ireland as it is in places like the US, our cows do get to roam about outside for the most part. But I personally think it's wrong that calves are taken from their mothers so that we can drink the milk that was meant for them. Imagine if you had just given birth a few hours, days, or weeks ago, and some 'higher species' comes along, hooks you up to a milking machine and takes your baby away. I know cows aren't as intelligent as us, but the bond between mother and baby is just as strong. Humans are the only species to drink the milk of another, which is another little bit of food for thought. Would you drink your dog's milk? Or your cat's? I gave up dairy over a year ago and have never felt better, both mentally and physically, because I personally feel that I am making the right decision (for me). I know that it's not for everyone, but I do feel that we have a responsibility to educate ourselves about exactly where our meat, milk and cheese comes from, and acknowledge the real cost. I don't mean to preach - like I said, dairy farming conditions are not bad here, but the calves do still get taken away from their mammies so we can drink what mother nature made for them, not us Sad

And lastly, without being argumentative, I just want to say that in regards to animal testing, it can only ever give a very good estimate of how a drug will affect a human being. I know that animal testing has done a lot for medical research, but when it comes down to it, in the final stages of research it's impossible to know how a particular drug will affect a human - even after testing it on primates, our closest relatives (who have the exact same capacity for pain and suffering as we do) It's a touchy subject, I know, with very good arguments on both sides. But this particular quote says it all for me: "Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: "Because the animals are like us." Ask the experimenters why it is morally okay to experiment on animals, and the answer is: "Because the animals are not like us." Animal experimentation rests on a logical contradiction" (Charles R. Magel)

I'm actually quite terrified to post this as I am the least confrontational person you'll ever meet, and like I said, I normally don't join in debates (like Gillian, I'm tired of defending my diet/lifestyle choices!) So please don't think I'm looking to start an argument - I just wanted to share my views, give people some food for thought, and hope I don't p*ss too many people off! Smile
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Re: Animal Welfare Issues: Vegetarianism, Veganism and Animal Testing

Post by katherine on Mon Jul 02, 2012 10:18 am

Firstly, good on you for weighing in if you don't like confrontation (not that I mean to give you any Laugh ) it's good to discuss these things in a mature environment.

"It's one thing to go out, hunt an animal that's been living a normal life outdoors, kill it yourself, take it home and eat it because it's one of your only sources of sustenance. It's another to keep it in appalling conditions, deprive it of the basic comforts that every sentient being is entitled to, only to end its miserable life because we like the taste of meat."

I totally agree with you here, I do eat meat and I used to be a vegetarian (I was for quite some time actually) but when I re-evaluated (for selfish reasons I must admit) I decided that it's not the fact that the animal is being killed and eaten that bothers me at all - it's the fact that there is an unreasonable degree of suffering involved a lot of the time. So I eat meat and I make sure that all the meat I buy has been raised in conditions that I consider to be of an acceptable welfare standard.

It's interesting what you say about if people could see what goes on inside abbatoirs they would be put off, for me it was the opposite and after seeing a pig being slaughtered (admitted only on television) I felt hugely reassured that I didn't need to worry about that animal having suffered, I expected something awful and saw something that was, of course upsetting, but only because an animal lost it's life and not because it seemed distressed - it seemed to know nothing about it to be honest. Of course, that was just on television and you can only judge so much without being there, and of course there's no way I'll ever know what that pig was feeling or thinking, or if it felt anything at all, in it's final moments. The bolt gun is supposed to render them completely insensible and I could see it knew nothing about that (the man very skillfully pounced on it from the side before it noticed him).

As for dairy, that's another issue all together. I personally feel that diary is much crueller than meat and I know I should really give it up. You're right, it's not good for us and we don't need it, unfortunately I really love cheese and don't think I could do without it and that's really bad Embarrassed Sad It's wasteful (of the thousands of male calves shot after birth every year), cruel and there's very little consumer control over it. I was saying only recently that I think we have the right to know whether our milk and dairy products are from free range animals or not and to choose accordingly. I only ever buy free range eggs.

As for animal testing, that's another debate in itself, but I'm against that all together.

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Re: Animal Welfare Issues: Vegetarianism, Veganism and Animal Testing

Post by shanty on Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:48 pm

Great reply Katherine, I couldn't have asked for a better (and less confrontational!) answer! You are clearly a very diplomatic person Smile Hmm to be fair, I haven't ever seen how animals are slaughtered in Ireland - like everything else, it's probably not nearly as bad as it is in other countries. America seems to be the worst culprit, everything is so intensively farmed that there's just no room for compassion I suppose. Irish farms are probably not that bad. Although I watched that Channel 4 show about British farms, Jamie's Fowl Dinners, and it was pretty horrible stuff! I just wonder if all the animals really do get rendered unconscious by that gun thing... But yes, it's the kind of lives they lead before being slaughtered that concerns me more than the actual killing. I've been thinking lately that I'd like to go and visit a farm and see exactly how the animals are raised. I know I couldn't handle going to an abbatoir though! Like I said, I totally respect meat-eaters and don't ever judge my boyfriend for being one. Actually I'm the only herbivore I know! If I raised a cow or pig myself, gave it the best possible life, then killed it painlessly in its sleep, maybe I'd consider eating it!! But sadly I think profit is always going to be the farmer's main concern, especially in the middle of a recession. Even Irish farmers have to put profit above animal welfare somewhere along the line. It's really good that you eat meat with a conscience though! I admit it's not easy to not be a meat-eater in Ireland, where we've all been raised on spuds and meat - when I'm restricted to only one measly choice in a restaurant I often wonder why the hell I'm doing this!! Roll Eyes
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Re: Animal Welfare Issues: Vegetarianism, Veganism and Animal Testing

Post by shanty on Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:55 pm

Oh by the way, if it helps, I was the biggest cheese-addict in the world - seriously! I would put it on everything, and not just a light sprinkling, I'm talking truckloads of it. I thought I'd never be able to give it up. What I found was that by gradually reducing the amount I ate and letting myself have it the odd time, eventually it just became the norm. I never denied myself a bit if I felt I had to have it - I think that's counter-productive. Same as giving up milk and meat, I did it gradually. I had cheese recently for the first time in months because I was at home visiting my parents who had made a huge lasagne - I always relax the reins a bit in these situations because they had gone to so much trouble and I don't want to be "that person" Roll Eyes I'm what you'd call an extremely strict vegetarian or a not extremely strict vegan, if such a thing exists. Anyway, I thought eating it was going to be like 'seeing the light' after being in the dark for ages, or something very profound like that! Haha but it wasn't, it turns out your body really does adjust after a while. It was ok, but nowhere near as amazing as I used to think it tasted!
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Re: Animal Welfare Issues: Vegetarianism, Veganism and Animal Testing

Post by shanty on Mon Jul 02, 2012 7:04 pm

Oh god, for fear of being branded a *complete* hypocrite, it was vegetarian lasagne - no meat of course, but with a sprinkling of cheese!
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Re: Animal Welfare Issues: Vegetarianism, Veganism and Animal Testing

Post by Zoundz on Mon Jul 02, 2012 8:02 pm

Giving up fish was hard for me... only done it recently... and I do miss it terribly, as I used to eat a fair bit... and I mean all fish produce... so that's not easy. I will use what I already have in the freezer (I hate waste nearly as much as fishing), but other than that - unless I can catch it myself or buy from a friend who fishes with a rod and is very careful about what is taken and when, then I am not eating fish again.

I'm not vegetarian, and never would be. I do believe in buying from good sources, but to me, the wider impact on the environment is more important than the welfare of the individual animals in abattoirs and farms etc. Rightly or wrongly. So for me it's more important to give up cheap chocolate, biscuits, cakes (I bake my own stuff of that nature), toiletries etc, fish (this is massively important to me)... than to give up on meat. I do what I can to buy only from good sources, but sometimes it isn't possible, and I do buy from poorer sources.

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Re: Animal Welfare Issues: Vegetarianism, Veganism and Animal Testing

Post by redrach on Mon Jul 02, 2012 8:29 pm

I agree here with Laura about the wider impact on the environment. I eat meat, but have cut down a lot as I think people generally eat far too much of it. I try to buy well sourced food and we have an allotment so we grow as much fruit and veg as we can ourselves too. We're also started eating more quorn and tofu as they're a lot better for you. Fish has never been an issue in this sense as I don't really eat it. I'm not sure about dairy, I only have milk in cereal and coffee, we buy organic, any eggs are organic free range, and we don't eat huge amounts of cheese either. At the minute we're just trying a less meat more veg approach, but that's not really because of animal welfare concerns, but because it's better for us and for the environment as a whole.
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Re: Animal Welfare Issues: Vegetarianism, Veganism and Animal Testing

Post by Tribble on Thu Jan 17, 2013 9:56 am

A few general comments here, in the spirit of sharing info and non-judgmental conversation.
Be very careful of Organic foods, if you care for animal welfare. Vets are unable to provide any real aid when it comes to illness, no matter how minor.
I've found that free-range is the best option, as the animal I will enjoy has itself had as comfortable a life as possible. With all the care a person would be given if they fell ill, instead of just hoping for the best.
In the scheme of global effects, one also has to be careful as a vegetarian or vegan, as the veggies you source may have traveled far by plane, as well as taken up vast tracts of land when growing. This could cause weather phenomena, soil erosion, as well as soil depletion depending on the crop.
I know that both in a dietary and economic perspective, it is best to eat as veggie as possible; but a lot of people forget how such vast amounts of vegetables grew, or got to your supermarket.

Eating responsibly has become terribly difficult now that is is usually industrialized; easiest thing to look at is how overfishing and the massive devotion to eggs and chicken farming have affected the economy and animals.
I'm lucky enough to live in Cork City, where the English Market has a great variety of locally sourced foods, as well as being priced reasonably; but I know not everyone has these options.
I hope I eat with enough regard for the animals (human and otherwise) involved, and that the impact my selections outweigh my selfish desire for delicious foods.

(I also hope I made sense Embarrassed )

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