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March 27, 2008

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Jimmy Harris

Mr. Green,
I appreciate your argument about meat eating. I get a little tired of hearing supposedly intelligent people acting as though humans and animals are the same thing. I am a little surprised though that you would be able to refer to either the animals or us "evolving" to being meat eaters. Certainly you can't mean evolving in the sense of Darwinistic evolutionary theory? It seems to me that theory is so full of holes that no thinking person could really subscribe to it. The biggest of all the many, many holes I see is the complete absence of a single "in between" creature alive today. From what I understand, the fossil record shows precious little, if any evidence of such creatures either. Why is it that we don't see millions of these creatures alive today and millions more fossils of similar creatures?

sandy

This is exactly why I did not renew my membership to the Sierra Club. In your defense of eating animals you make claims that are inaccurate that could easily have been researched had you wanted to actually know the facts.

First, many people, vegetarians or omnivores, are at risk of B12 deficiency without proper supplementation. B12 is found in bacteria on animal flesh.

Also, the "complete protein" claim popularized by France Moore Lappe has clearly been discredited by the American Dietetic Association, and others. As a Western society we do not lack in protein intake, we actually consume more than the most people in other countries.

Also, ethical vegans do not claim that animal rights means we should protect animals from predators in the wild or give animals a "right" like voting or driving -- that's just plain ridiculous! Animal rights means equal consideration: I wouldn't kill my dog to eat it's flesh, so I won't kill a pig/cow/fish or any other Western acceptable "food animal" to eat it's flesh. An animal has the right to not be used as a commodity, which includes consumption by humans. If an animal is killed in its natural environment by a predator, we have no control over that. Additionally, if we did not breed farmed animals they would cease to exist. Turkeys, cows and other "food" animals do not mate in the traditional sense. They've been genetically altered and breed through man-made processes.

Teeth? Oh, my gosh...I'm surprised you didn't write, "No-one can be a "pure" vegetarian" because animals are killed while harvesting vegetables." Oh, wait, Barbara Kingsolver wrote that, but you basically use the same excuse. How original.

Look, I'm not trying to convince you to go veg, but since you are in a position to speak to a large audience, then please, use a little bit of common sense and actually do some research before pawning this article off as factual.

Will Fisher

Mr. Green,

Please keep to arguing for the environment because you seem to know that much better. Never have I heard someone I thought was so intelligent come out with such stupid and naive arguments in the defense of eating animals (both your arguments are easily dispelled). I suspect you know this and are just unwilling to put yourself out there lest you distance some readers. Fine, but at least admit the truth.

Just to rebut your first argument on the question of why we need not stop: we humans have also evolved to use tools and what other great tools are there but... a Hummer. Why walk or bike when you can use a sophisticated tool like a gas-guzzling Hummer and save yourself the work! We've been driving cars for a hundred years so let's continue to do it! Obviously a stupid argument, tradition or what we're evolved to do don't answer the moral question.

Lily

You seem to be taking your ethical cues from the animal kingdom. Animals kill and each other in nature, so human beings must also be justified in doing so.

First, one of the differences between us and the animals is that we are capable of using reason and applying ethical principles to our conduct. Animals don't make and honor promises, respect rights to private property or have prohibitions on deceitful behavior. But we do.

Second, we may have evolved to eat meat, and perhaps this gave us evolutionary advantages. We have also evolved to engage in violent behaviors between warring groups, capture slaves and subject women and children to the authority of men. Claiming that something has an evolutionary justification is by no means a moral justification.

rajib

Grain for meat and now Food for fuel. What I beleive is that we human can judge and this is not the matter of saying yes or no and right and wrong. It is very simple when we have more we use grain for fuel or meat. When not sufficient grain we can't continue converting them to meat(factory farming way) or fuel. The only care we take is- no cruelty to animal and human.
Hungry people are always present on this earth. Taking care to minimise to small number is everyone's concern and thats why we are human being.

Bryan

I thought it was a good article, but then again, I do eat. Commence the flogging....

Paul Hester

Mr. Green,

I also fing your argument for "eating less meat" rather "uninspiring". It seems to project a rather simplistic view of all the evidence available, and seems pro hunting and pro meat-eating in spite of the evidence. I had hoped for a stronger argument from you, and I am surprised that you are traveling the world with your thoughts and your "book" to promote. Your "corn" argument is simply missing some key facts. First, cattle don't just eat corn to get their protein. The vast majority of protein for cattle comes from soybeans. Which is hard on their digestive system, just like corn and other grains. Alfalfa, grass and hay are, as you say are best for the cattle's digestive system. To say 1 pound of flesh has three times more protein than 1 pound of corn, may be true, but in your comparison, you suggest that the cattle is just eating corn and "magically" converts it to protein. Which is leaving out a few of the above facts, and mis-leading sir. You also admit that there is much waste from livestock. Yet the quality of "factory farm waste" can actually harm the soil, with all the antibiotics and illness that occurs on a vast scale in these places. In fact the waste is sent to holding "lakes" ( I call them). Even more is sent into the Mississppi River, where it travels down the the Gulf of Mexico and true it does contain high hitrogen levels but is still not considered a "good" fertilizer. It creates a huge seasonal "dead zone" in the north western part of the Gulf. Also you say there is suffering at the "factory farms", and you mention this must change, but offer no plan, as long as you contribute to the "factory farm's" existence, there will be little change. Have you ever tried to get into a slaughterhouse in the US, you need a Congressional exemption and that still may not get you in. The suffering and torture that goes on as we speak there is "unimaginable" and for the "taste buds" of humans is an atrocity beyond any on Earth in scale and it's legal too! Your argument that animals will die as a result of humans eating plant based foods seems rather weak, when you compare that to what is happening now with billions of animals suffering horrendous deaths each year in the US alone for their flesh!

Please, see if what I say makes sense to you at all.

In full disclosure I am a vegan and use soybean directly, instead of feeding it to an animal and the eating the animal. Also, if I may add I am a retired Naval Officer and DAV. So I might not be the "average" vegan in my opinions, but then again I might be depending on the person. That being said for me, it is safer to eat, than any form of meat, and it is what is part of my protein intake as well as lentils, rice and other plant foods. I am a lousy cook and find there are many non-animal meals ready to go at the grocery store. The price at these meals at the moment, are indeed high and it is very understandable why it is out of reach for many Americans. It is too much for me to buy routinely as well.

Consider this, that the vast majority of soybean product go to feeding animals, which in turn most people eat. A small percentage of soybean is used for human consumption. If that were to slowly change and more and more competition for plant based foods that "to me" at least, are quickly becoming every bit as tasty as real "meat" would result in many more choices and much lower cost. Most people still like a "good" tasting steak, and I am not one to argue that point "steak" is very tasty indeed, as I remember it from 7 years ago.
Thinking ahead however, I believe 100% that in the next few years "taste" will no longer be an issue or "texture" of plant based meals. Scientists have already created a soy based food that as we speak has the "consistency" and "texture" of real chicken. The biggest issue, and I know there is much debate about it, is the meat industry trying to stifle this research and and I do see why they do, because they are defending their product, and as we have seen in many recent examples "big corporations are not necessarily looking out for "our" best interests but rather their own. I don't agree with that thought process, but I certainly understand it and where it is coming from. I truly would like all peoples of the world to be fed and to be happy with their food choices, while at the same time making food that feeds many more people, is much safer (in terms of antibiotics and issues like "mad cow" disease). However, until there are much stricter rules concerning cleanliness and safety for any food the problem of "e-coli" will show up in plant based foods and animal meat and by-products a like.

Bottom line is little, if any, animals going to slaughter, (which by anyones measure must surely be horrifying and extremely painful death for the animals). So my goal, is people eating foods they "enjoy", that are safer, potential less cost involved and respects the animals, by ending the slaughterhouses once and for all.

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