Letter to the Editor: Animal rights as a case for veganism

Dear Editor, Two paths, A and B, will get me to point C. Both A and B have the same physical obstructions I will have to navigate past. A has one additional obstruction, however: a

Dear Editor,

Two paths, A and B, will get me to point C. Both A and B have the same physical obstructions I will have to navigate past. A has one additional obstruction, however: a small pig. The pig isn’t a threat, but only by stepping on her head, thus causing terrible pain and distress, can I get to point C.

Most would argue it is unethical to choose path A instead of B because by doing so, I am causing unnecessary harm. And that is wrong.  

Michael Vick, for instance, liked dog fighting. And he was roundly criticized. Whatever the entertainment value or tradition, the harm (including death) caused when training and fighting dogs is completely unnecessary given all the other forms of entertainment and traditional activities that don’t hurt anyone.

Now consider our diets. According to the American Dietetic Association, a vegan diet is nutritionally sound at all stages of the life cycle. We eat animals for many reasons (taste, habit) but not nutritional need. Given that non-animal-based sources of food are abundant in most areas in the United States, like Vick’s actions, most people cannot justify their choice of diet because eating animals causes unnecessary harm.

And here we have the crux of the argument for animal rights: We cause unnecessary harm every day even though on principle we believe it is wrong to do so because we are speciesists.

Speciesism is an unthinking assumption against seriously taking the interests (importantly, the interest in not being harmed) of animals. To see this, consider how most people pre-reflectively believe hurting human beings is more significant than doing the same to animals even though many other species are capable of being harmed – physically and psychologically – to the same level of intensity as you and me. This is because, the argument goes, animals aren’t human beings. But what’s so special about us?

Moral agency, language-use, intelligence? Many human beings, the mentally disabled and babies, for example, lack this or that characteristic. So does hurting them matter? I certainly think it does.

No doubt people will agree with me, because they will urge me to remember, they’re still human beings. But that is just a prejudice in favor of members of our own group. My species, like my race and sex, is not ethically relevant.

Being harmed is horrible, no matter the race or sex or species of the individual experiencing that harm. And that’s reason enough not to hurt someone.   

In the U.S. alone, literally billions of birds live in chronic pain brought on by their genetic-manipulation-induced bulk, cows are asphyxiated by their own blood when their throats are sliced open and tracheas ripped out while fully conscious, millions of pigs, as intelligent and loving as dogs, go insane after spending years in cages so small they can barely move. And millions of other animals are experimented upon and harmed for sport, fashion and entertainment.

Not only is this suffering and death easily comparable with the amount of suffering and death we have caused members of our own species throughout history, but 99 percent of it is unnecessary by any reasonable definition of the word.

Now to be clear, animal rights aren’t about literal equality between human beings and animals, or about extending all rights and obligations to animals. Animal rights are part of a liberation movement, demanding the end to an unjustifiable prejudice that results in the unnecessary harm to billions of animals every single year.  

Go vegan. It will make your actions consistent with your ethics. Most people will find this conclusion hard to accept because we believe animals somehow just exist for our use.

It may even seem laughable to suggest otherwise, just like it was once laughable to suggest women do not exist for men’s use, or that blacks do not exist for whites’ use. This is because speciesism has been drilled into us since we were too young to think for ourselves.

Well now you can think for yourself.

Alexander Melonas
Doctoral candidate,
Political Science


  1. Absolutism will not prevent problems, just like veganism will not save animals. Animals rights are a farce, just as human rights are a farce. Those who survive are those who are in charge. Granted, humans can use their domination over the animal kingdom more wisely than they do. The examples you give of animal cruelty in the medical and food industry are valid. However, simply avoiding leather clothing or eating daiya cheese isn’t going to do anything. If anything, you’re contributing to the monster of industrial agriculture: soy, corn, wheat — all the vegetables used to produce these “veggie-friendly” goods are degrading ecosystems and thus the animals that live within them.

    Vegans like to think that they’re performing the ultimate human sacrifice…eliminating animal products from their diet so these species can thrive without fear of death or torture. And yet, humans are animals. We are highly intelligent and powerful animals. We even have the power to carefully plan our own consumption and impact, even though we don’t often do so. But we are still animals. We interact with the environment just as a lioness interacts with her own. Death is a part of the animal world. To be clear, I’m not saying that there is always a purpose when we kill animals. But I wouldn’t say that “99 percent of it is unnecessary.”

    In fact, what’s more unnecessary are the abominable products we like to eat and wear because they make us feel righteous. Oreos are unnecessary. Boca patties are unnecessary. Vans shoes are unnecessary. But they’re vegan! I don’t really find this vegan conclusion hard to accept because I realize that it’s bullshit. This narrow point of view makes sense because it enables vegans to ignore the damage they’re still causing despite their best efforts to save the world. Just like most ignore the harm they support by going to McDonald’s or buying bottled water.

    You’re also ignoring the relationship you can have with animals. And I don’t mean cats and dogs and lizards that you keep in your house and only let them out when they need to pee or you want to show them off. I mean chickens, sheep, cows, goats that you care for. You treat them with kindness like you would a friend. And what they produce also helps you maintain a healthy diet. It also forces you to confront the origins of your food. Vegans can’t see the soil erosion that the soy crops in South America are causing. They can’t see the habitats being destroyed by the yuppie white suburbs in which they reside, or the people being mistreated in the factories from which they buy their China-made clothing. But a farmer sees where her food comes from. She knows the animal, how it likes to be pet, how it likes to be fed, when it’s sick.

    And she knows how best to eat it. So that nothing’s wasted. Veganism can never be enough. It makes you turn a blind eye to reality. But it sure makes you feel fuzzy, doesn’t it. Real charitable.

  2. First, the argument for animal rights is an ethical one: if you accept the principle that causing unnecessary harm is wrong, then certain conclusions logically follow. Yes, this is fairly narrow because harm is often inherent in the seemingly non-harmful choices (i.e., veganism) we make. However, I charge you with narrow reductionism as well. To wit: “monster industrial agriculture” is *primarily* used to care for the billions of land animals we exploit for food. Industrial soy and corn are staple crops in factory farming. So veganism *still* looks like the correct ethical choice: you and I are both contributing to harm; however, I avoid the *additional* harm of directly exploiting farmed animals.

    Second, yes: we are animals; but no: we *don’t* interact with the environment just as a lioness interacts with her own. What distinguishes *you* from that lioness is your capacity for moral agency: you can (and should) choose to control instinct. Death is a part of the animal world, but it certainly doesn’t follow that A) death isn’t harmful or B) that morality/ethics shouldn’t at least contribute to a conversation about if you should kill someone tonight.

    Third, veganism *is not* about perfection. I certainly never claimed that. In fact, that is often a straw man used by non-vegans when confronted with an argument for animal rights (you are certainly doing that here). Veganism, as I argue in my post, is a conclusion that follows from recognizing that A) we believe that causing unnecessary harm is wrong, B) animals are capable of being harmed, C) alternative, non-animal based sources of food are available, and so D) going vegan is a reasonable way to try to live-up to our own principles. All your argument suggests is that that move is *not enough*, NOT that veganism isn’t still right. We ought to be aware of the indirect harms involved in our choices, and act in ways that reasonably respond to that harm.

    Fourth, as for your farmer, if the farmer truly “knows” her animals, i.e., truly cares about the interests of her animals, then it stands to reason that killing that animal (whom she cares for) when vegan alternatives are available is obviously a strange decision. Why does “knowing where your food comes from” trump avoiding causing unnecessary harm when you can? That farmer could produce vegan food. She would still know where her food comes from, but she could avoid the strange contradiction of killing an animal whom she purportedly “loves” and cares for.

  3. Mr. Melonas – THANK YOU.
    That was such a cogent and well-expressed article that I am keeping it as well as sending it to everyone I know. I have been a vegan for 27 years, and rarely have I read such a wonderful case for it. Everything felt as if it was written out of my own heart. THANK YOU.

  4. This letter is important – a sound, logical (common sense, yet so frequently argued against) discussion on how most people feel animals should be treated – with compassion. Studies repeatedly show that the vast majority of Americans feel that animals should be protected from unnecessary suffering, including farmed animals, yet know next to nothing about how these animals are treated before they and their products reach our plates. Most people still act in direct conflict with our own ethics by paying others to act violently on their behalf for meat, dairy and eggs (and the other industries that profit through animal use).

    Thank you for your letter and very importantly for your polite response to Sarah.

  5. For starters the whole animal rights thing is a scam. HSUS, PETA, Mercy for Animals all pay their people with DONATED funds. These people continually bash animal agriculture without any ground to stand on.

    Let’s take Mr. Hauff for instance. I see he posted here so I will “pick” on him. Mr. Hauff is the head of investigations for Mercy for Animals. I became familiar with this completely useless organization last spring/summer with the Ohio Dairy farm youtube video. I watched the video in awe that a actual human being could treat another animal this way. I also noticed in the video Mercy for Animals (MFA) they posted the name of the farm owner trying to get ill cow up with force, but not the name of the person doing the majority of the violence.

    The video had me outraged, so I contacted MFA in Chicago IL. After a couple of weeks Mr. Hauff found time in his schedule to contact me. I wanted to know (as a farmer) the proper way to handle sick animals. Mr Hauff had no solid answers. Why, one might ask. Mr. Hauff or any of the other Animal Rights people are not trained in veterinary science, they just merely operate of off what they feel is right or wrong. They’ll keep making videos though, because the money that the naive donate funds their yuppie lifestyle.

    It’s a individuals choice as to what he or she eats. It’s not up to some donated fund driven, drain on the economy organization to determine what an indvidual’s diet is.

    As for the episode in Ohio. Mr. Hauff told me they had “plenty of footage” of Mr. Conklin abusing animals. Yet in court a panel of veterinarians cleared Mr. Conklin of abuse charges because he was doing what was necessary to save the life of the cow. Billy Joe Gregg, the abuser was encouraged by MFA’s undercover investigator to abuse animals. Also in court, the investigator admitted to never telling the farm owner (Conklin) of the abuse. MFA was simply trying to make a horrific movie to bash the dairy industry and get more people to go vegan. That’s all these animal rights organizations want, more vegans. They DO NOT DO ANYTHING to protect animals.

    Bottom line, eat what you want and believe who you want. Just realize that most vegans are irrational lunatics looking for attention.

  6. Mr. Melonas

    You seem to mention Michael Vick alot. Do you realize that he’s Wayne Pacelle’s new poster child for pet owners? Just goes to show the rationale behind the animal rights movement.

  7. @ Tom Leonard: While the majority of your comment is ad hominem (thus, I will dismiss most of it), there is a grain of a moral argument.

    You write: “It’s a individuals choice as to what he or she eats.” But isn’t it true that our freedom to choose *ends* when we begin to cause harm? It seems that it is also an individuals choice as to what form of entertainment she pursues. However, if she chooses, say, to hit a cow with a baseball bat, then she should be criticized morally *because* that form of entertainment needlessly causes harm. It is my freedom to choose where I walk, I suppose, but my freedom ends if I decided to walk over a small baby. And so on.

    Likewise with our freedom to choose what and whom we eat: when we begin to cause needless harm (as the non-vegan does), our freedom to choose ends.

  8. Mr. Melonas,
    From what I’ve read and know from being active in agriculture the vegan diet would not support feeding the world. Using grains to feed livestock produces more food than to consume just the grain. Also there are vitamins in animal foods that can’t be obtained by a plant based diet.

    I can appreciate your concern for animals. I feel there is a difference between concerned for animal welfare and becoming irrational.

    I have read and heard too many lies from vegan/animal rights supporters. Also I am not able to respect animal rights supporters due to their lack of common sense and fanatical thinking.

    How come you are to afraid to respond to my TRUE statements about the corruption behind the animal rights groups.

  9. @ Tom Leonard: The argument for animal rights (as I’ve laid it out above) is right or wrong *independent* of any animal rights group or the actions of any person. That is, my ARGUMENT stands regardless of your charges of corruption. So I don’t need to respond. So importantly, identify *the error* in my logic to support your charge of “irrationality.”

    What you’ve heard is false. We know it isn’t necessary for us to eat animals to lead an optimally healthy lifestyle. This is a fact: there aren’t any nutrients or vitamins necessary for human health that cannot be obtained through plant-based foods alone, according to the American Dietetic Association, e.g. (B12 only becomes an issue because of absorption and access.) And as an ecological matter, animal agriculture is disastrous. The conversion ratios are horrible: it takes between six and twelve pounds of plant protein to produce one pound of flesh; it takes a thousand times more water to produce a pound of flesh than it does to produce a pound of wheat or potatoes. One acre of land can feed over twenty vegans in a year, whereas it takes roughly three and a half acres to feed one omnivore in a year.

  10. Alex
    Please post some links to back up your statements. I would like legitimate links please not fairy tale animal rights ones. This country has a plethera of food because we utilize animals and plants for food. You have no concept of what a acre of land will produce. I feed 150 head of dairy animals (mixed ages) with 105 acres of land. So by your statement a 200 pound human eats more than a 1400 pound cow. Actually that 200 pound human would have to eat over 3 times as much as the cow. Your nuts. Also what are we supposed to do with all of the animals that are already on this planet? There obviously must be something that your diet is missing for you to make these ridiculous statements.

    I also want to add that it must not be to morally incorrect to be an omnivore since most churches have feasts with meat, dairy, poultry, and fish. I’m sure you’re not to christian though judging by the lies you put on this site.

  11. Alex,

    I forgot to add that I hope you don’t use modern medicine. Most medications used at hospitals are tested on animals before they get used on humans. That would be very hypocritical for you to go to the hospital if needed. What if a cure for cancer was found by animal testing? One rat’s life is worth more than thousands of other lives? Just wondering, after all your the vegan with such high morals and ethics.

  12. @ Tom Leonard: So to be clear, there isn’t anything wrong with my argument: IF you believe that needlessly hurting someone is wrong, THEN veganism is a moral minimum because non-veganism causes needless harm.

    For example: http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.htm
    Moreover, Reijnders & Soret (2003) found that the average conversion of vegetable to animal protein is 10 to 1. For chicken production, the protein conversion efficiency is about 18%, for pork about 9%, and for beef about 6%. Smil (2000) gives similar rates, from 5% for beef to 20% for chicken on a protein basis. Pimentel & Pimentel (2003) found that the US livestock population consumes more than 7 times as much grain as is consumed directly by the entire American population. The amount of grains fed to US livestock is sufficient to feed about 840 million people who follow a plant-based diet. And so on.

    The Judeo-Christian god committed genocide and ecocide by flooding the earth (Gen. 6:7), kills all the firstborn sons, even of slave girls who had no part in oppressing the Israelites (Ex. 11:5), ordered David to take a census of his men, and then sends a plague on Isreal, killing seventy thousand for David’s sin in taking the census (2 Sam. 24:10-15), and laid a three-year famine on David’s people for *Saul’s* slaughter of the Gibeonites (2 Sam. 21:1). God commands us to put to death adulterers (Lev. 20:10), homosexuals (Lev. 20:13), and people who work on Sunday (Ex. 35:2). Jesus promised salvation to those who abandoned their wives and children for him (Matt. 19:29, Mark 10:29-30), and said children who curse their parents must be killed (Matt. 15:4-7, Mark 7:9-10). And so on.

    So is all that morally justified, too? That is, just because religion A, B, and C believe X, X is necessarily okay.

    Finally, what if a cure for cancer was found by *human* testing? One human being’s life is worth more than thousands of other lives? The important question is: what is so special about species membership that human beings *are always* left out of these hypotheticals?

  13. Alex,
    I please indicate where I could find out your land use figures. I am not going to read all of the link for the simple fact I will never go vegan. I don’t feel it is morally incorrect to use animals for sustenance. I also don’t believe over twenty vegans could live of off 1 acre of land. You have absolutly no concept of reality. What would be done with the billions of dollars invested in the infastructure we have for animals. What about the jobs animal agriculture creates. So everybody is supposed to “go vegan” even though it would put the country into another great depression? You probably don’t care because the animals will be able to live and die of old age. I realize your continuing your education so the economy is probably the least of your concerns. In the real world you have to make money to live. Who will care for the animals, feed them, cure them of illness? I sure wouldn’t do it if I didn’t gain anything. I have a family to support.

    I would use my body for cancer research if I had the disease. I feel many would, so you have no argument there. The FDA doesn’t allow that though. The answer is yes, myself, and many others feel that to sacrifice one life to benifit the lives of many others is worth it. Look at what the Armed Forces do just to protect our freedom.

    I will scan through your link, however I am confident nothing will change. Myself and the vast majority of farmers will still raise livestock for food because it is necessary to use animals for food and animal products are a huge part of our economy and they’re necessary to feed the world. Animals have been used for food since the beginning of time and the world is still here. You really don’t have a leg to stand on.

  14. @ Tom Leonard: the land-use figures were included; simply read the cited works, and the works they cited, and you will also see that eating animals is NOT necessary to “feed the world.” But you won’t do that because, as you wrote, “I am not going to read all of the [sic] link for the simple fact I will never go vegan.” You are here to argue, not for honest discussion. But in the hopes that you will begin to have an honest dialogue, I will again respond to your questions.

    By *your* logic, ending race-based slavery in the US was morally problematic. The US economy was (literally) built on the backs of slaves: southern plantation owners, and everybody else who benefited from trade in slave-made goods, could have (and certainly did) respond to abolitionists just as you’ve responded to me: what would be done with the billions of dollars invested in the infrastructure we have for slaves; what about the jobs human slavery creates; so everybody is supposed to “give up their slaves” even though it would put the country into another great depression; and so on.

    But economies can, overtime, change Tom. And that is what ought to happen. If I could snap my fingers now and create a vegan world, well, I’d be god wouldn’t I, and we never would have had a vegan world to begin with.

    If you are being honest about your desire to sacrifice for, say, cancer research, AND because the empirical results of human testing are easily applicable to human diseases (versus nonhuman testing to human diseases), then why aren’t you challenging the FDA on its immoral (b/s it costs lives) and irrational (b/s you’re willing to step-up) policy? Because you don’t really believe that, perhaps?

  15. Alex,
    I work over 90 hours a week and pay employees for approximatley 40 hrs of work a week. My employees are white and are paid over minimum wage. I am in buisiness to feed people. I am also responsible to take care of the land I have and leave it in better condition than when I found it. I am pretty confident that the infastructure that’s in place now is a signifant amount more than it was during the time that slavery was legal. I am not going to challenge the FDA because I am not off on some crusade to do something that probably would never happen. It’s kind of like you with the veganism thing. My focus is keeping my cows in good health and maintaining my land. How many students do you think read your letter and went vegan because Alex feels that eating animals is morally incorrect? I give you the benefit of the doubt and say 1 or 2. How many people read your letter and thought you were a flat out idiot? Probably more 50% of the readers.

    It’s pointless to argue with you. You have no grasp on reality and won’t have one until you go into the real world and actually start contributing something.

  16. Candice and Alex,
    First of all I’ve never heard of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Study. I am involved in animal and grain farming. If this organization had any useful data the data would be published in information I receive.

    Second, vegans are either A)self righteous individuals that have no regard to the impact they or their teachings have on society or B)they’re “misfits” of society desperately trying to make a mark with their lives.

    Third, I have met 99% of my food I consume. I have seen a 1/2cc straw of semen turn into a calf and I’ve seen corn seed turn into a beautiful plant. I have also seen pneumonia take the life of a cow and drought ruin a crop of corn. What have you witnessed to create your pro-vegan attitude? Having said that if Mr. Melonas was correct with his figures what would the twenty vegans eat if their acre of land suffered from drought or flooding? I have also seen the prices fluctuate from other countries purchasing commodities produced in this country to overcome their shortfalls. If we were a vegan country are we supposed to turn our backs on our starving allies?

    So in conclusion I feel it is safe to say that vegans are very self absorbed individuals. Vegans don’t take into consideration the growing demand for corn and soy for use as biofuels. Vegans also don’t take into consideration the economic impact of volatile commodity markets. While Mr. Melonas is true with his theory, it is putting too much value on the life of a animal. The vegan theory is based solely on ones personal beliefs and on a hope and a whim, without researching the whole idea.

  17. @ Tom Leonard: You wrote, “While Mr. Melonas is true with his theory, it is putting too much value on the life of a animal. The vegan theory is based solely on ones personal beliefs and on a hope and a whim, without researching the whole idea.”

    But my reasoning is based on the principle that causing unnecessary harm is wrong. *If* you want to argue that that is merely “ones personal belief and a hope and a whim” *then* reject my argument. But I am confident that most people will disagree.

  18. Mr. Melonas

    Please take into consideration the organization that you have obtained information from and posted their links to is not affiliated with production agriculture. The concept of veganism doesn’t take into consideration the global food supply. It also doesn’t take the economy into consideration. You’re just setting yourself up for failure with veganism. We have a limited amount of land to work with in this world and we have to be as efficient as possible with the land. That’s why farmers raise animals, grain, fruits, and vegetables. I’d be willing to bet in a country where food is not as plentiful as it is here in the United States, there isn’t such a thing as veganism because the people are thankful just to have food.

  19. Your denial of your own status as a creature on Earth, but rather something higher, shows to me that you are completely disillusioned. You are an animal. And I’m not trying to say you were born to eat meat. But what you do cannot be argued as more ethical or less ethical than anything else that any other animal on Earth does. You are only arguing this way because you’ve been brought up thinking that you have some moral agency that other animals don’t have.

    What small farmers do for a living is not harm. It’s survival. Just like any other animal. Would you say that a snake bite causes unnecessary harm just because it hurts its victim instead of just poisoning it softly?

  20. @ Tom Leonard: You wrote, “We have a limited amount of land to work with in this world and we have to be as efficient as possible with the land.”

    But if you consider the *empirical evidence* — I’ve provided but a small sample of that evidence above in response to your question — then, by this standard, we ought to be moving towards a plant-based diet *because* of the inefficiency of using plant protein to produce flesh protein.

    Tom, you are making arguments that require evidence, but you refuse to consider evidence that contradicts your own predetermined beliefs. That is intellectual dishonesty.

    @ Sarah: You wrote, “You are an animal. And I’m not trying to say you were born to eat meat. But what you do cannot be argued as more ethical or less ethical than anything else that any other animal on Earth does.”

    Well let’s consider other animal behaviors. Sexual aggression, hierarchy, and violence towards out-groups are common behaviors in nonhuman primates like chimpanzees; infanticide is common in many animal species; and so on. By *your logic*, human beings should be allowed to rape, be violent racists, and kill their children; moral disapproval of these behaviors, by your reasoning, is completely misplaced BECAUSE, after all, as you wrote, “what [I] do cannot be argued as more ethical or less ethical than anything else that any other animal on Earth does.”

    That is a shockingly bad argument Sarah, and I am confident that nearly everybody would disagree. I’m certain *you* reject the conclusions that follow from *your own* logic, in fact. You simply want to eat animals, but all the other conclusions that follow are just too inconvenient (and horrific) to accept. But instead of rejecting your bad reasoning, you’ll just accept your inconsistency.

  21. Alex your source of information is biased in your favor. I am in the agriculture buisiness therefore I don’t need to post every ridiculous bit of information I find on the web or in a magazine. The United Nations Food and Agriculture is not familiar to United States farmers. I believe on their homepage they’re based in Rome. I am not going to consider research from other countries as credible because most do a poor job compared to what U.S. farmers do. I know a .27 acre garden provides my family of three with enough vegetables for a year, including eating animal products. I think in your continued education perhaps a class in agriculture is in order. Maybe in that class they could teach you everything that your missing, like how much area an acre really is.(not a vegan acre) I just find the ignorance of vegans shocking especially since most are over-educated such as yourself. Maybe you should focus more of your education on something you have studied because the food chain is obviously not one of your strong points.

  22. @ Tom Leonard:

    Just a point of clarification: the United States is *one* of the 191 member states on the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization. The data it produces, then, while it is not familiar to at least one US farmer (you), it is still relevant to the US case. And the other cited evidence is peer reviewed.

  23. Alex I read several agriculture publications, and get e-mails on current agricultural events and never once have I heard of this organization nor has that organization contributed data of any significance to make a headline. I’m sure that if the USDA thought animal agriculture was a waste of time they would discourage farmers from doing so. The research that you posted the link to must not have been to relevant to the grand scheme of things, if it was people would be selling cows not purchasing them. Just face the facts, veganism will never work, no matter how you try to sell it. It’s amusing though that you, a Doctoral canidate, couldn’t find anything to worry about other than what the general public consumes and the feelings of a pig. You sure have wasted a lot of time on your education.

  24. You’re also assuming that I eat animals. Or that I’ve always eaten animals. I was a vegan for 3 years of my life. But I realized that everything I stood for was a delusion. Currently, I am, for the most part, a vegetarian. This is because good meat is hard to come by. But when I come by it, I eat it. And good cheese or yogurt or milk or eggs, from good farmers and healthy animals, are not hard to come by. So I eat them all the time.

    And you are misconstruing my argument by pulling this infanticide/hierarchy/sexual aggression bullshit. There are no morals; in any creature. Only things we are taught. So how can you assume that what you were taught to be wrong is indeed wrong?

    By the way, your asterisks are really working. They make your pretentiousness come across so clearly.

  25. @ Sarah: I am not assuming anything about you; I have refuted your argument, or at least shown it to be question begging and morally problematic. (Your not-even-near vegetarianism is a non-issue.)

    The problem with your argument is this: you write, “There are no morals; in any creature. Only things we are taught.” Okay, so as a consistency test, combining your moral relativism AND your previous argument that you and I are mere animals, *you must* believe that “infanticide/hierarchy/sexual aggression bullshit” are moral non-issues. Other animals do these things; we are merely animals; so we can do these things, too. And, even if that weren’t true, morality is just something we are taught. So, if someone is taught differently and decides that killing their baby, raping their wife, and being a racist is okay, then we can’t morally criticize him.

    But let’s put it this way. Even if it is totally subjective to say that causing unnecessary harm is wrong, if you want to be even remotely ethically consistent, and you believe (although subjectively) that causing unnecessary harm is wrong, than veganism still logically follows.

  26. How can you qualify milking a cow, or eating eggs, or eating something that is dead unnecessary harm when the animals are/were healthy? They had a life that they otherwise could not have in the wild. The unnecessary harm was done thousands of years ago. And now you’re ignoring that these animals even exist.

  27. @ Sarah: Because exploiting animals for food is unnecessary for human health (as the ADA, for example, proves), *any and all* harm (including death) caused when farming animals to eat is unnecessary, by definition. Even so-called “family farms” are in the farmed animal business; the end of having the animals is to exploit them, which is harmful. That is, the animals are property (maybe “happy” property). But because that exploitation is wholly unnecessary given all the available non-animal alternatives, it is wrong because causing harm when you don’t need to is wrong. Simply because it has been this way for thousands of years doesn’t justify continuing the practice. We can choose to stop today.

    As a point of fact, these animals could still exist without being exploited for food. And as a moral matter, simply because we bring an animal into existence, that doesn’t give us rights to use that animal for our ends, anymore than bringing a human baby into this world gives us rights to use that baby for our ends. In fact, we believe we have special obligations to provide that baby as good a life as possible, which *must*, necessarily, include NOT causing wholly unnecessary harm to the baby. The same thing is true for the animals we bring into existence.

  28. Alex
    I can’t take your ignorance anymore. Animals are necessary for food. Try getting data from and organization that IS involved with agriculture. If you are so confident that animal agriculture is unecessary why can’t you site some data from the USDA? We are’nt “so called” family farms, at least 98% percent of United Stades farms are family owned and operated. So, genius, that means we ARE family farms. In response to the conversion ratios, they may be true, however not only are you gaining flesh, but also gaining, milk, glue, shampoo, clothing, the list is almost endless. What’s the carbon footprint of manufacturing vegan friendly items, or foods. There’s less damage to the environment by using animal agriculture than to be the “holier than thau” vegan. By the way, please don’t post any information, unless it’s from an organization that *is* prominent in agriculture. Speaking of exploitation, I’m sick of vegans exploiting farmers by spreading mis-information and lies to the general public. After all you have rabbits in a cage, how’s that their natural habitat? You have several dogs at your residence, do they get to run freely over 250 acres like my dog? Aren’t you exploiting them by using them as companion animals? Might want to check your facebook settings there genius!

  29. @ Tom Leonard: The institution of pet ownership is problematic. However, as I said in response to Sarah, we have obligations to care for the animals we’ve contributed to bringing into existence. Thus, we ought to adopt, rescue, and foster animals. Indeed, this situation isn’t ideal, but we have been forced into it nonetheless. The alternative (death or homelessness) is worse.

  30. The institution of pet ownership is *not* problematic, either is farmed animals. It’s concieded assholes such as yourself that present the problem. Pretty pathetic response coming from a Doctoral candidate. I thought you had all of the answers. Still waiting for some information from the USDA about how we should all be vegans. I also want to know the carbon footprint of making vegan goods compared to animal goods.

  31. Apparently Mr. Melonas is unable to come up with any other defense for veganism. Too bad. Mr. Melonas, here’s a life lesson for you. Don’t voice *your* opinion, unless you can back it up. Don’t stuff any more animals in your apartment, that’s confinement. Also don’t bitch about Michael Vick when there’s a youtube video with you laying on the bed with dogs fighting next to you. You never know, a someone might turn you in for dog fighting.

  32. What a bizarre comments thread. Leonard accuses others of being irrational and then behaves like a crazy person.

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