Category Archives: Vegetarian Issues
Christopher Lewis asked me on Facebook:
I am interesting on understanding your scale for judging an animal’s suffering. How do we know killing one animal is fine, another is wrong. Torturing one animal ok, hunting another to extinction not.
Here’s my answer:
Christopher Lewis It’s an excellent question.
I would formulate my thoughts this way:
- Vulnerability to extinction.
First, we have to protect species against extinction. I believe it is a massive sin to cause any extinction of species, a total blasphemy against the Creator as we cannot create a single species. And also the loss of the genetic material robs future human generations of the opportunity to experience this life form. So I make the same point here for animals, plants, fungi and without regard to size or complexity. We cannot replace them, and don’t destroy what you cannot create is an excellent maxim for life.
- Controllability of habitat and numbers
Second, given the first point, we need to take more care with regard to animals or plants where the slide to extinction is less controllable by us. So at the moment marine life has a bigger call on protection because we have certainly placed plastics into the oceans at measurable amounts and this is completely and guaranteedly anthropogenic and there is no debate about it, unlike the debates that can be made in the case of greenhouse gases and global warming. I am in two minds about GW but I am not in two minds at all about the plastic issue, to the degree where I jumped up and down and got everyone in a small chain of stores I do things with to abandon plastic bags entirely. I have been talking about the plastic issue for fifteen years in fact, and finally people are starting to take the issue seriously and hopefully not too late, but we still don’t know how good the clean up can be and how fast. So I put animals in the line of threat from plastics into a degree of priority.
- Strength of links to others of the species
It does appear that certain animals, even from their behaviour, have empathy to each other and interact with each other and some have interactions with their offspring which are related to love and tenderness in the human. For animals where the loss of one causes distress to others, I give more consideration than for the ones which do not have such a case. There are many species of bird, for example, that could be domesticated but humans have not chosen for the farmyard those which have lifelong pairbonds and which pine away when their loved one is taken. Take a chicken from the rooster and he happily carries on with his existing harem and the other chickens also don’t tend to look around for the missing hen. Do this to penguins, storks, swans and many other birds and mammals and you have a node of suffering. So I give priority not to eat the animals which show tenderness to one another and which demonstrate meaning to one another. In “The Time Machine”, for example, H.G.Wells Morlocks have taken the trouble to breed out of the Eloi race of humans they are farming any kind of empathy for each other. As indeed the powers that be do to us today, replacing Christ’s call to love our neighbour with the empty husk of political “correctness”.
- Intelligence regardless of sociability
Fourthly, the above point doesn’t mean that vertebrates are always preferred over invertebrates. It appears that shrimp which people eat in great numbers are social and that the octopus, which is pretty anti-social really, is a startling intelligence and deserves a bit more respect than your typical invertebrate. All of this is subordinate to the first and second point, anyway.
- Deaths per kilogramme of useable protein
This leads on to the fifth and this is an important point. If we are turning a living, sentient animal into amino acids for our own digestion, it seems to me to be more moral to take one animal that will feed many families over many meals than to take an animal which it takes many of to feed one person one meal. This is one of the reasons why I try to avoid shrimps. It takes maybe 10 shrimps to make a meal for one person, whereas a cow might make a hundred meals so the relationship of shrimps to cattle to give you a tonne of protein is at least a thousand (maybe closer to ten thousand) shrimps to one cow. This is an extreme example. Now if we placed the intelligence and value of the life of the shrimp at only one thousandth of that of the cow, maybe that would be justifiable. But if you look at shrimps in an aquarium for any length of time you’ll see probably just as much different activity and expression going on as you’ll see on a cow’s face as it stands around chewing cud, and maybe even more. So for me it’s disturbing to think that we could be making a virtual holocaust of these crustaceans just to produce the kilos of a single slaughtered cow. Likewise when it comes to fish is it not a bit disturbing to take a thousand capelin to give us the equivalent flesh of one tuna? Worth a thought.
- Naturally predated
And then we have the sixth issue. Prey animals. Animals are by nature divided into hunter and hunted. The hunted tend to be thise which are naturally in the niche of proviing meat to other species and to a degree they evolved into it. It is part of being a sheep that you get eaten by a tiger, it is part of being a tiger that you don’t get eaten by anything. Human agriculture fit into this natural division in that we usually don’t eat tigers (some do) and usually do eat sheep (some don’t).
If an animal or plant can be substituted with another in order to give the necessary thing we are looking for (example tortoiseshell now largely replaced by plastics) then it is best to take the version of the product with the least offences against these other points. If there is no substitute then all the more we need to take care that the species is protected from extinction. Usually this involves careful cultivation over a number of different sites.
Given the last point, an animal or plant which can actually be farmed is a better candidate for use than a wild species that cannot be kept and cultivated under human control. Those which can be kept ought to be kept in a proper way, with regard to diet, housing and enrichment. The use of battery farms and similar is becoming thankfully a thing of the past, and this trend should continue. We are making a one way trade with these animals, they feed us and give us food and fibres, plants render to us all their nutrients and chemicals and of course it is not a deal any of them signed up to. The least we can do is give them a reasonable time of quality life with as low suffering as possible prior to sacrificing that life, again with the minimum possible suffering. Not all species lend themselves to farming, on the other hand those species which do also seem to lend themselves to adaptation into numerous breeds with varying characteristics.
- Multiple products.
It is maybe good in view of the above to use synthetic fur rather than real fur, however if synthetic fur becomes unviable for any reason, it is better to farm fur animals which are also edible, such as rabbits, rather than mink which are only there to provide fur and which by the way require the sacrifice of numerous other animals to nourish them, although they can of course be fed on foods made from spent hens and dairy cows not usually sold for human cuisine. If we are going to sacrifice an animal, we should at least waste as little of it as possible. It is good to keep sheep as they provide milk and wool in addition to the produce of their carcase. Cattle produce leather in addition to their milk and blood products taken during their lives but this, like their meat and unlike wool, is a one off event at their death.
- Utilisation of inedible food. Humans cannot eat grass which is the easy crop. Cattle, sheep and camels do eat these as they are cellulose metabolised, thanks to their microbiota hosted in special chambers of their alimentary canal. Pigs can eat acorns and scraps which humans cannot eat. Via these animals, oak forests and grasslands have a use to us which might make the difference between keeping them going with their additional biodiversity, which you wouldn’t find in say a wheatfield. Hence farming them has advantages which vegetarians tend to overlook.
Now let’s apply all the above to the issue of whales. They for sure let themselves down on the size issue – one whale will feed more than one of almost anything else, and given that we cannot eat plankton they let themselves down in the acorn argument too, but on the other arguments we shouldn’t be taking them.
Playout date: 31 May 2007
People don’t put little pieces of plastic into the sea deliberately, but it gets their anyway, and gets mixed up with the planktons and ending up in the food chain, reducing the photosynthesis of sea algae, etc, and they never biodegrade.
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Some people swear by chicken broth as a cure-all. Certainly Jewish traditions make a lot of it, and from them also Polish cuisine makes a big deal out of rosol, as they call it. It is a useful pick-me-up while on a liquids only fast, and it is very useful to tide oneself over between meals as an alternative to tea or coffee.
For those eating chickens, the best chickens to use are older ones, like an old rooster who has served his days making hens happy and waking your neighbours up in the morning while you blithely sleep through it. He has tough meat and is unpalatable. His Chicken Kiev would be more of a Chicken Maydan, but boiled into broth he gives you more microelements than Mendeleyev himself wrote about in the song “On the road to Mendeleyev, where the flying fishes playev”.
The Mexican recipe for chicken soup is rumoured to start with the same four words as every recipe in the Mexican recipe book, accordingly to the old joke. If you don’t know what those four words are I will not ruin the tone here by mentioning them, but maybe someone will show their knowledge of the history of comedy by mentioning them in the comments section below. (Come on, I have to do something to encourage readership participation round here!)
This is a great film about it but is unfortunately in Polish, but it includes info about how Syngenta, one of the producers, had repressed its own research that it’s GM animal feed has killed 5 of its own cows, and therefore allowed a poisonous GMO to go into the market.
If you take the case of Soya, there are only a few producers of GM soya seeds and even though Ukraine’s non GM Annushka brand would do very well in Europe, the lobby is very strong to use the Monsanto brands and make Poland dependent on US NWO firms and now organic farmers cannot even buy the non-GM soya here, and need to buy from Belgium.
There are things being done by certain global firms, in the area of vaccinations, in the areas of food and certain other areas, by big corporations and governments in cahoots with them, to get control of our food chain. They are then able to hold populations to ransome either for economic gains or for political ones. Whether you think that there are already conspiracies for population reduction or not, why allow such companies to obtain the potential for such power?
Cancer is all about protein, in particular about things that can attack your DNA. I would say that it ought to be glaringly obvious that if things which are purely natural are capable at times of attacking our DNA as indeed they are, especially animal proteins rather than plant ones, but plants are also sometimes quite capable of it, even in their natural state, how much more something which has been tampered with by rude hands and which has lost its natural stability can mess about with our DNA.
In not resisting GMO, we will wake up one day in a situation where those tampered genes are out of the box and can’t be reigned in again. That’s already the cases with various forms of plants and fishes in various parts of the world. The natural, God-given or evolution-given (whatever you prefer) form is now irreversibly inbred with the manmade form.
These big companies will then effectively own rights to whole species and will say that every salmon that swims on God’s earth is theirs in a similar way to the way Cat Steven’s record label behaves as if every performance of “Morning is broken” belongs to them and they need to be paid for it, even though it is an old English hymn and nobody got paid by them when they first took it and made use of it. They are trying to steal the world from under our noses, even words, thoughts, the water that rains down on us and the air we breathe are not free from commercial plundering by overgrown companies who can buy the legislation they require, and all at our expense.
It is a huge commercial raid on us and a huge blasphemy against this planet and its Creator.
- Genetic Engineers Explain Why Genetically Modified Food Is Dangerous (fastcoexist.com)
- Busted: Biotech Leader ‘Syngenta’ Charged Over Covering Up Animal Deaths from GM Corn (activistpost.com)
- Superbug vs. Monsanto: Nature rebels against biotech titan (seeker401.wordpress.com)
- The Lies You’re Told about Genetically Engineered Foods (articles.mercola.com)
- Marchers Throughout U.S. on Sunday to Demand GMO Food Labeling (danielrrosen.com)
It has been a few weeks not so much hectic as rather completely crzay, hence my kind and loyal readers might with reason consider themselves somewhat neglected by this blog. In order to put that right, I shall attempt a brief post on a useful topic which may be of help to many people.
Some years ago my dear friend Leslie Grufford informed me that you should not eat and drink at the same time. I was not convinced of this at the time as I knew that Mr Grufford was prone to making statements that I didn’t agree with, although with the passage of time some of them have increased their plausibility and this statement of his is no exception. Looking at the matter today I trawled the internet looking for opinions on whether you should avoid fluid intake close to mealtimes and if so why?
Of course I had an inkling myself of why this should be, and this was confirmed by those who said that the stomach contents are flushed into the lower reaches of the Alimentary Canal more quickly if you drink fluids, whereas it hangs around longer in the “pouch” as some commentators put it, if you don’t drink at the same time, which not only enables the feeling of fulltitude to happen with less food, but also better digestion of the nutrients in the food.
Which all kind of makes sense. The best reason to have liquids at hand is of course in case you find yourself choking, but hopefully that doesn’t happen very often and if anxiety to avoid choking makes you eat slower, then well, there’s a third advantage.
It is one thing to know the above though, and quite another to put it into practice. People like to have a drink with meals and there are some social kinds of eating which rather call for the drinking of fluids at the same time.
Maybe we need to change social morays and other sociable eels like the conga in order to reflect what actually is conducive to better health. Maybe we should wait for a good hour after desert before we start to drink coffee. In a lot of restaurants I’ve been at that tends to be what can happen anyway even whn you don’t want it to, so maybe that should be formalised and written into the newest editions of Debretts?
Aperitifs and wine with meals which are included in the price with certain set posh meals are a big temptation to let all that go by the board on occasion, but if that happens at least we need to get back on the programme when we are eating in normal life. It isn’t what happens on conferenced that determines if we are fat or thin, but what happens in our own kitchens and dining rooms and at our desks or canteens at work.
I will say this – an unexpected side effect I noticed when becoming vegetarian was that the desire to drink while eating automtically went down. I need to remember to drink after meals.
The recommendations people on line say that their doctors had given them is not drinkning from 15 minutes before eating a meal to 30 minutes or in some cases 60 minutes after finishing eating. Maybe 45 minutes is a good compromise. I like the 80:20 rule but I’m not sure it would apply here very well.
- Bartender Wisdom: ‘A Damn Good Drink’ (esquire.com)
- The Order In Which You Eat Your Food In Matters (chelseagalipeau.wordpress.com)
- Families that eat together may be the healthiest, new evidence confirms (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)
- First Rounds On Me! (marryrichandhavebabies.wordpress.com)
- Menu Plan Monday | Etiquette Before Eating #2 (solaceandjoy.wordpress.com)
- Rules (constantlyunderconstruction.wordpress.com)
- Weight Loss Shakes Recipes (answers.com)
- Menu Plan Monday + Food Etiquette (solaceandjoy.wordpress.com)
Many changes have been made to taxonomy since I was a schoolboy and had a basic grasp of what went in what kingdom, phylum, class, order, family and genus, but when I last checked, fish STILL weren’t vegetables.
I don’t want to get unduly Aristotelian, Linnean, Cladistic or othewise dogmatic about it, but I think it stands to reason that vegetables include many things, but rather not fish.
I understand that you can debate about whether a tomato is fruit or a vegetable. Or that a mushroom is a fungus rather than a vegetable, and also that nori is made of algae and green drinks from spirogyra so even these things are not really “vegetables” either, so one has to be a bit flexible with the definition of what is a vegetable when following a vegetarian diet. Basically, though, if something can move around at will, an individual going from place to place, it’s highly likely that it isn’t a vegetable. There are some corals which don’t get out much, and are still animals, but there aren’t really any vegetables which go walkies – not outside the novels of John Wyndham like the Triffids, anyhow.
So why, then, am I continually being offered things like tuna and herrings when I say that I am a vegetarian in Poland? Do people here genuinely believe that fish are vegetables? Do they think that tuna and herrings photosynthesise and put down roots or something? What’s up with these phoney fish vegetables people give offering me here?
- The Guide to Raw Foods: Foods that Feed The Pineal Gland (2012indyinfo.com)
- Tofu, Three Ways (l2ee2l.wordpress.com)
- Week 3: Fruits and Vegetables? (mbhealthystudents.wordpress.com)
- Recommended Eating habits for your Veggie Weight trainer (boldstate.com)
- Vegetarian Way of Living (socyberty.com)
- Vegetable Growing (rayden59.wordpress.com)
- New Gardener Primer: Why Grow a Garden? (frugalupstate.com)
- Are Vegetables Good For Muscle Growth? (fitnesstroop.com)
- What Kind of Vegetarian Are You? (everydayhealth.com)