The Slaughter of Animals for the Consumption of Meat Ought to Cease
Debate Rounds (4)
The slaughter of animals for the consumption of meat ought to cease.
Note that this does not mention anything about government mandates or enforcement. This is just a debate over what each individual person should do.
10,000 characters, 72 hour response times.
First round is for acceptance only.
Why do we value human life as much as we do? This is not a question we ask ourselves very often, because it just seems natural to value human life. If pressed however, we usually think about what a human life is. We think about the novelty of a person living a life besides our own, having their own thoughts, joys, loves, and trials. I could go on attempting to describe human life, but I think the point is made. We place a value on human life because of the high quality of existence that is human life; in other words, quality of life determines value of life.
Take this concept over to animals. For the sake of argument, I would posit that animals experience life 1/1000th of the way we do in terms of complexity and intensity. I feel that this is a pretty low bar to set (I mean, can you imagine experiencing things on 1/1000th the level you are right now?), and I'm setting it here so my opponent and I can have a debate beyond trying to ballpark what the life of an animal is like compared to a human's.
If an animal experiences life 1/1000th of the way we do, then, if we're being morally consistent, we ought to consider their lives to be valued as 1/1000th of a human's. If we're doing that, then we kill an equivalent of 10 million people per year in the US alone. So if we're being morally consistent, and if I'm being generous to my opponent in terms of what an animal's life is like in comparison to ours, what we're doing is worse than the Holocaust. Far worse. That's the damage done to the animals, now let's talk about ourselves.
Plain and simple, eating meat is a wasteful process. Were we to stop eating meat, we could provide enough new food to meet the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people. In a world where 1/8 of our constantly growing population are starving, it's not as if we can readily afford this wastefulness. If you'd like to read about why raising animals for food is incredibly inefficient compared to growing crops, follow this link.
According to the American Dietetic Association, "...vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes...
...the results of an evidence-based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease. Vegetarians also appear to have lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than nonvegetarians. Furthermore, vegetarians tend to have a lower body mass index and lower overall cancer rates. Features of a vegetarian diet that may reduce risk of chronic disease include lower intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol and higher intakes of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, soy products, fiber, and phytochemicals."
Well that's pretty clear cut. Non-meat eaters are healthier than meat eaters, suffering from less horrible diseases like cancer. I'd like to add to the list: Alzheimer's. The more one consumes meat and the saturated fats within, the more likely one is to develop Alzheimer's.
Simply put, it is in your interests to cease eating meat.
Perhaps at this point some of the readers are thinking to themselves, "Whatever, it tastes good." While that would hardly be enough to overturn the fact that meat causes cancer, Alzheimer's, starvation, and the moral equivalency of 10 million human deaths, this point doesn't even have to get in the way; there are plenty of non-meat but meat-tasting alternatives, and you could imagine that as the number of non-meat eaters rises, so too will the demand for these alternatives, and therein, the appropriate market response to that.
Well that wraps it up for me. The slaughter of animals for the consumption of meat causes the moral equivalency of 10 million human deaths, prevents nearly 9 billion people's worth of food, and causes diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer's, and none of it is necessary to get that meat taste we all love.
LiamKNOW forfeited this round.
My opponent offers forceful and cogent evidence in favor of their position. However, I think I can dismantle or at least weaken each of their arguments.
My first observation on this point is that, in the first paragraph my opponent attempts to settle a question that has long been debated and which continues to be controversial. The question of how to define human life and to measure its value is complicated, and is not settled with an appeal to our intuitions about our own worth. It is true that many philosophers have held that our experiences and emotions are what make us unique -- the profundity of our perceptions and the complexity of our feelings is unrivaled in the animal kingdom, though animals do find their place along this continuum. So if we embrace this model, my opponent's point is perfectly legitimate.
However, my adversary dismisses the many other theories about human life which do not lend themselves to translation to the animal kingdom. Those for whom belief in God is the foundation of human value would disagree that animals are worth a fraction of what humans are; they would say that humans are qualitatively (not quantitatively) different from animals, and any attempts to compare them numerically is spurious.
Not only would many religions reject my opponent's reasoning, but some secular philosophers -- like the German scholar Schopenhauer -- would say that self-awareness, imagination, and the ability to engage in abstract thought (traits that animals likely lack) are what distinguish us from the animal and plant kingdoms.
I do not seek to settle this question, but only to offer alternatives to my opponent's views which s/he must refute in order to put through this argument from moral consistency.
I do not contest that the mass breeding and slaughtering of animals for human consumption is a wasteful process, which is counter to humans' caloric interests. Let us, however, look closely at the contention under debate; my opponent must support the claim that ALL slaughter ought to cease, not just on a massive scale but also on the scale of a farmer killing one of his chickens to garnish the Christmas table or a rancher sacrificing a cow in order to save money to pay rent. In these examples, the decision of individuals to kill and eat an animal is not putting additional strain on the environment, or wasting valuable farmland and preventing the cultivation of crops.
Again, I agree that vegetarians, when compared to meat-eaters, are generally more healthy individuals. However, the burden of proof that my opponent is bound to through the phrasing of the proposition under debate does not allow such an easy victory. My esteemed adversary must demonstrate that the consumption of meat is NEVER beneficial to one's health. The very same doctors applauding vegetarianism admit that certain meats, like mutton or pork, when eaten in extreme moderation, can improve health and even reverse the deleterious effects of some diseases, like muscle-wasting disorders that require large amounts of protein and nutrients that are rare in vegetables but which some meats plentifully provide.
I do not feel the need to address this point, because my opponent is not offering it in an effort to establish their case, but as a preemptive rebuttal of an argument I might have offered. However, since the burden of proof rests on their shoulders and I thus need only defeat their arguments to be successful, I see no need to advance any arguments of my own.
My opponent makes several good points (though, clearly, I don't think they're compelling). In every case, I think my opponent either fails to account for the breadth of the contention under discussion, or ignores widely-held theories that weaken their position in favor of weak appeals to intuition.
I thank my adversary, and my readers, and look forward to a strong response.
My opponent does correctly point out that some people do not view this issue in the same way as I do. I think it would be silly to argue that morals are anything but subjective, so I do admit I'm on slightly shaky ground when I make my moral consistency arguments. Despite this admission, I believe there are some legitimate things I can add to this particular aspect of the debate.
Firstly, I think I'm in the right when I say that the vast majority of people who acknowledge that morals are subjective do not act as if morals are subjective. If we really acted as if morals were subjective, we'd not care about groups like ISIS or Al-Qaeda killing people for their religion. I mean, I know morals are subjective, but I still can't help run everything through an analysis of its utilitarian benefit or lack-thereof. So you might acknowledge that morals are subjective, and that my argument of morality is therefore unfounded, but as per how we usually act in the real world, you can still examine my proposition in comparison to your personal morality.
That said, I'll extol my position a bit. Of course animals do not experience things on the level that we do, but we must know that they do experience things. Joy, pain, boredom. When you kill an animal, you cut off those experiences' natural length. You are ending a life; a life not like a humans I'll admit, therein meaning less damage is done in terms of life experiences being cut short, but it is still something. It is still a life that could have continued on. Something is still being killed, unnecessarily.
My opponent proposed two moral systems as alternatives to mine. One was religion, which I won't bother to argue. The other was a secular view unaligned with mine, that, "self-awareness, imagination, and the ability to engage in abstract thought (traits that animals likely lack) are what distinguish us from the animal and plant kingdoms."
I would just like to note that simply being distinguished between does not make one completely valueless, as per my argument.
Seeing as I acknowledge that morals are subjective, I also acknowledge that not everyone may agree with me. But I would hope that voters note that as per how we view morals in real life, one can reasonably cast a vote for my moral system if they find it sensible, even if they acknowledge it is subjective.
FOOD AND DISEASES
My opponent points out that there could be small exceptions made to a total meat eating ban without majorly affecting the ability to gather more food. This is true, so I drop this point. I would like to note that exceptions do not override my morality point, unless my opponent wants to dream up some random event that just might occur in order to make him technically right. I would hope voters acknowledge that random, dire, rare events (i.e. I'm trapped in a room with my cat and I'm starving) are small in the grand scheme of things, and small in terms of this debate. I realize that I have the burden of proof, but that burden can't rest so heavily upon me that there can be virtually no debate.
Next my opponent argues that certain health benefits are needed through a modest consumption of meat. However, there is no need to end lives to satisfy our nutritional wants when you can get the nutrition that is available in meat from supplements. As far as my research has shown me, and as far as logic would suggest, there is nothing that is in meat that cannot be got in a supplement, and given that there are meat-tasting substitutes, and eating meat ends lives that do have some worth, there really is no reason to eat it.
My opponent"s point, in essence, is that you should believe animals" value can be expressed in numerical comparison to our own because"they feel that it can. Beyond their own intuitions, they offer little substantive argumentation to support their view, going so far as to concede the subjectivity of their position. Their case, in fact, suggests an effort to appeal to our emotions, and not engage in reasoned discourse.
I re-iterate that my esteemed adversary shoulders the burden of proof in this exchange, and note that if they would have us assign value to animals " despite their apparent lack of imagination, complex communicative abilities, the capacity for abstract thought, intense sensations of love, hate, repentance, jealously, or any significant levels of intelligence " then I think they should describe their reasoning. My opponent claims that animals can experience "joy, pain, boredom" and seems to use these characteristics as the foundation of their comparison with humans and central to their efforts to assign moral value to the animal kingdom. But two of those traits " the ability to feel joy and boredom " are restricted, even allowing for the most unsupported conjectures in cognitive science, to apes, monkeys, and perhaps a handful of other mammals. These traits are probably not shared by most meat-producing species " like chickens, pigs, and cattle " and thus cannot be used to establish their moral worth.
Attempting to establish the moral value of animals independent of human worth, my opponent claims that ending a life, any life, unnecessarily should be avoided. But vegetables are alive, and we are certainly ending their lives when we cut them, mash them, broil them, cook them, smoke them, eat them, and digest them. A response that might be given is that to live humans must eat something, and that eating vegetables is merely the lesser of two evils. But why? Why are tomatoes less worthy of life than chickens, or carrots less worthy of life than cattle? Plants metabolize, reproduce, and react to their environments just like animals do. Some have evolved sophisticated survival aids, just as animals have. It seems an arbitrary distinction to grant one group an absolute right to life and to completely dismiss the moral value of the other group.
My opponent"s concern about the burden of proof is valid, and I do not wish to over-emphasize their responsibility in this debate. But I do not think that I must appeal to particularly unlikely or fantastical scenarios to dismantle their argument, and I am gratified to hear them abandon this line of evidence.
My opponent"s objection to the consumption of meat for its nutritional benefits rests upon their moral argument, which I don"t think they"ve firmly established. I repeat that medical experts acknowledge the value of certain meats in the treatment of some diseases. Lacking compelling reasons to deprive those afflicted with such illnesses of meat, it seems useless " and even harmful " to do so.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Blade-of-Truth 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.
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