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_anarcha_ wrote

These are really lazy arguments against veganism in my opinion. Yes, we all know that cows, pigs and chickens have been heavily modified by humans. Vegans don't exactly propose to just turn them all loose. What if we were caretakers of those animals, and we let them live a happy, fulfilling life until they die naturally? That is certainly an option.

Also, yes, mechanised farming does cause incidental wild animal death, but that isn't really an argument since veganism isn't about being perfect or "pure", it's about looking at ways that humans cause unnecessary suffering to sentient creatures and trying to reduce them as much as possible. Besides, the incidental wild animal death is not equivalent to the suffering on an insane scale that is animal agriculture.

I don't understand the idea of giving animals "as good a life as possible" and then turning around and murdering them, when in the vast majority of situations it is no longer necessary.

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Emeryael wrote (edited )

I see it more as no matter which way you frame it, you live off the lives and sacrifices of others. It doesn't matter whether you eat meat or you don't. We may kill the animals, but someday, it will be our turn and we will die so they can live. That's how all this works.

Think of it more like the approach proposed in "The Mindful Carnivore" or this passage from "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver:

Recently while I was cooking eggs, my kids sat at the kitchen table entertaining me with readings from a magazine profile of a famous, rather young vegan movie star. Her dream was to create a safe-haven ranch where the cows and chickens could live free, happy lives and die natural deaths. “Wait till those cows start bawling to be milked,” I warned. Having nursed and weaned my own young, I can tell you there is no pain to compare with an overfilled udder. We wondered what the starlet might do for those bursting Jerseys, not to mention the eggs the chickens would keep dropping everywhere. What a life’s work for that poor gal: traipsing about the farm in her strappy heels, weaving among the cow flops, bending gracefully to pick up eggs and stick them in an incubator where they would maddeningly hatch, and grow up bent on laying more eggs. It’s dirty work, trying to save an endless chain of uneaten lives. Realistically, my kids observed, she’d hire somebody.

Forgive us. We know she meant well, and as fantasies of the super-rich go, it’s more inspired than most. It’s just the high-mindedness that rankles; when moral superiority combines with billowing ignorance, they fill up a hot-air balloon that’s awfully hard not to poke. The farm-liberation fantasy simply reflects a modern cultural confusion about farm animals. They’re human property, not just legally but biologically. Over the millennia of our clever history, we created from wild progenitors whole new classes of beasts whose sole purpose was to feed us. If turned loose in the wild, they would haplessly starve, succumb to predation, and destroy the habitats and lives of most or all natural things. If housed at the public expense they would pose a more immense civic burden than our public schools and prisons combined. No thoughtful person really wants those things to happen. But living at a remove from the actual workings of a farm, most humans no longer learn appropriate modes of thinking about animal harvest. Knowing that our family raises meat animals, many friends have told us—not judgmentally, just confessionally—“I don’t think I could kill an animal myself.” I find myself explaining: It’s not what you think. It’s nothing like putting down your dog.

Most nonfarmers are intimate with animal life in only three categories: people; pets (i.e., junior people); and wildlife (as seen on nature shows, presumed beautiful and rare). Purposely beheading any of the above is unthinkable, for obvious reasons. No other categories present themselves at close range for consideration. So I understand why it’s hard to think about harvest, a categorical act that includes cutting the heads off living lettuces, extended to crops that blink their beady eyes. On our farm we don’t especially enjoy processing our animals, but we do value it, as an important ritual for ourselves and any friends adventurous enough to come and help, because of what we learn from it. We reconnect with the purpose for which these animals were bred. We dispense with all delusions about who put the live in livestock, and who must take it away.<