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Mostly included to have for later. - A little less than a happy high — LiveJournal
Mostly included to have for later.
"The vegan utopia would also condemn people in many parts of the country to importing all their food from distant places. In New England, for example, the hilliness of the land and the rockiness of the soil has dictated an agriculture based on grass and animals since the time of the Puritans. Indeed, the New England landscape, with its rolling patchwork of forest and fields outlined by fieldstone walls, is in some sense a creation of the domestic animals that have lived there (and so in turn of their eaters). The world is filled with places where the best, if not the only, way to obtain food from the land is by grazing (and hunting) animals on it - especially ruminants, which alone can turn grass into protein.

To give up eating animals is to give up on these places as human habitat, unless of course we are willing to make complete our dependence on a highly industrialized national food chain. That food chain would in turn be even more dependent than it already is on fossil fuels and chemical fertilizer, since food would need to travel even further and fertility - in the form of manures - would be in short supply. Indeed, it is doubtful you can build a genuinely sustainable agriculture without animals to cycle nutrients and support local food production. If our concern is for the health of nature - rather than, say, the internal consistency of our moral code or the condition of our souls - then eating animals may sometimes be the most ethical thing to do."

-Michael Pollan, The Omnivore's Dilemma
11 comments or Leave a comment
From: aphorisic Date: November 29th, 2007 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Man, "the condition of our souls"? Why'd he have to go and bring my soul into this?
komos From: komos Date: November 29th, 2007 07:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's actually a relic of the content. The passage is in response to the thoughts of a utilitarian philosopher by the name of Singer who attempts to argue that rights and equality are moral ideas based on the potential for an individual to understand and experience pain. The crux of the argument rests in the idea that if we assume that marginal case humans (such as infants or the severely disabled) deserve basic rights, then those rights should be extended to mature animals which have more such potential than the marginal cases.

Edited at 2007-11-29 07:13 pm (UTC)
From: aphorisic Date: November 29th, 2007 07:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, I'm decidedly uncomfortable with several aspects of that argument, to put it mildly.
komos From: komos Date: November 29th, 2007 08:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
The most obvious comes from noting that so-called marginal cases are still human beings, which Singer contends is indicative of speciesism.

Funny thing, when the author contacted Singer to discuss sustainable farming methods, Singer indicated that he was not comfortable saying that the life cycle on such a farm did not respect the animals' rights, and conceded that it was ultimately better that the animals had lived and died than that they had not lived at all. (A release of all domesticated farm animals into the wild would likely result in the extinction of many of the breeds, with the notable exception of... the pig.)
cayetana From: cayetana Date: November 29th, 2007 06:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I use Pantene on my soul. It makes it silky-smooth.
komos From: komos Date: November 29th, 2007 07:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've been trying to stay away from expensive soul-care products in favor of a more natural approach, like the consumption of fine charcuterie.
From: dsgood Date: November 29th, 2007 08:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, New England is quite farmable by the standards of pre-industrial Northern Europe. Similarly unpromising land was farmed for generations in Norway, Ireland, and Scotland. That's "farmed" as in raising grains and vegetables.
komos From: komos Date: November 29th, 2007 09:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
... and those farms were dependent upon polycultural ecosystems that included domesticated animals. Production of grains and vegetables alone do not provide sufficient materials to enrich the soil, and eventually will deplete it.

You're also not taking into account that no one in pre-industrial Northern Europe was vegan, or at least no one was a vegan by choice outside of the odd monastic collective.
cook_ting From: cook_ting Date: November 29th, 2007 09:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can understand the vegetarian view of not causing suffering, but I don't get vegans. It's not like the cows or chickens are gonna make it on the outside what with the wild animals and ninjas, or that bee keepers are abusing their hives by harvesting the honey. We've developed longstanding relationships with these species, bred them through long generations to a purpose and now our responsibility is to consume the milk, eggs and honey they produce. We owe them that much. If you don't want to kill an animal, that's totally cool by me, but don't subject them to extinction because you lack to foresight to grasp the overarching moral implications of your philosophy. That's just bullshit.
komos From: komos Date: November 29th, 2007 10:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Pollan also makes a case that there is no real way to prevent the killing of animals in agriculture that is intended to support anything but the smallest population. Ultimately, he asserts, the best way to minimize the number of animal deaths associated with providing nutrients for ourselves is to raise and eat the largest ruminants capable of grazing on the smallest amount of land possible. In other words, grass-fed beef for everyone.

That said, I remember being horrified by reading about the cows that had died in Normandy during WWI because there had been no one to milk them. I won't go into details, but suffice to say that humans have developed a symbiotic relationship with the animals he keeps and even those with which he interacts (for instance, the fossil record shows that the North American Bison went through significant evolutionary changes at precisely the same time that humans arrived on the continent and started hunting them). Suddenly disrupting that dependency and those ecosystems would have terrible consequences to the animals and likely to other ecosystems as well.
From: aphorisic Date: November 30th, 2007 12:19 am (UTC) (Link)
In other words, grass-fed beef for everyone.

I would eat grass-fed beef for breakfast if I could.
11 comments or Leave a comment