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Vegetarianism for ethical reasons

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/24/2013 Category: Health
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,319 times Debate No: 38087
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
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First of all, it helps the environment. Modern farming is one of the main sources of pollution in rivers, meat production related to deforestation. Many species of fish are facing extinction because of our desire to eat fish. The 2006 U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report concluded that worldwide livestock farm inggenerates
18% of the planet's greenhouse gas emissions " by comparis on, all the world's cars, trains, planes and boats account for a com bi ned 13% of greenhouse gas emissions.
Moreover, it's immoral to kill animals. Now people don't need to inflict pain to animals to survive. Farm animals are our evolutionary cousins and like us can feel pleasure and pain.
Also many specialists argue that there are significant health benefits to be "veggie", because vegetarian diets contain high quantities of vitamins and minerals, and is low in fat. Furthermore, the possibility of heart diseases decreases because vegetable have no cholesterol.


Thank you for posting this debate.

Let us begin.

You bring up several interesting points in your opening argument that I would like to address.

"it helps the environment. Modern farming is one of the main sources of pollution in rivers, meat production related to deforestation."

There are a few things I would like you to clarify.

1) How would switching to a plant based agriculture system prevent deforestation?
As a matter of fact the soybean farming operations in Brazil are doing just that. They are slower due to the use of already deforested land that the cattle farmers provide but without the cattle farming would be just as devastating.

2) How do you mitigate the pollution caused by the raising of crops?
It is well known that the use of pesticides is of particular concern in the farming industry. In order to keep up with the demand of feeding an ever growing population we have modified plants so as to increase yield. One of the modification allows for the spraying of mass quantities of Round Up (tm) on the crop without damaging the yield. The insect population is also becoming more resilient requiring different and stronger chemicals for use in control. Due to the nature of runoff the same issues you address with animal farming exist in crop farming. In addition the leaching of these chemicals into the water table is also of concern.

"Many species of fish are facing extinction because of our desire to eat fish."

Please name me some of these fish that face extinction. For clarity I am in the U.S. and the top 5 consumed fish as of 2011 are:
1) Shrimp
2) Tuna
3) Salmon
4) Pollock
5) Tilapia
None of which are at risk for extinction.

I would also like to address your concerns about greenhouse gas emissions. I too share the concerns for what we are doing to this planet and how we conduct ourselves as stewards of this planet. Would it be fair to assume though that a lot of the issues concerning the production of animals and the relationship of greenhouse gases through a change in best practices?

From "The Role of Agriculture in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions" released by the USDA:
"Livestock managers can reduce methane emissions by changing livestock feeds. Dairy and hog producers can install digesters to capture methane produced during manure storage; the captured methane can then be used to generate electricity. Digesters reduce emissions by converting methane emissions that would have arisen under other methods of manure disposal into less-powerful CO2 and by generating energy that replaces CO2 emissions that would have come from fossil fuel based electricity."

So in essence not only would be able to reduce the damage from greenhouse gas emissions through a change in diet in the livestock but also harness the released gases for use in alternative energy.

The next issue is one that is subjective. You say that it is "immoral" to kill animals. I ask you; what is your basis for that claim? Morals/ethics these are subjective based on your personal culture or experience and are weak arguments to consider. You base it on the fact that when animals are killed they are done in painful ways. If an animal is properly slaughtered then the death is quick and immediate. I also ask this; do animals not kill other animals? I'll admit that it is hard to argue a matter of opinion but you state it as if it is fact. You may hold the view that you do not like the thought of taking a life but that is merely your viewpoint. Humans hunted for 100's of thousands of years and from my understanding they mostly held a sacred bond to the animals they killed. They respected them, ate and used every part of the animal, and worshipped them. The animals they killed is why they were able to survive to the next season.

The last point you bring up has nothing to do with ethics or morals but based on the "health" benefits of being a vegetarian. Please clarify this as you merely state "many specialists" without naming any or giving details. As for the high amounts of vitamins and minerals you get in the consumption of veggies I will say that is just flat wrong. Chances are for most, you are probably consuming production farmed crops. These crops leach the soil of those minerals, are grown at rapid rates and through over production of the land are lacking in the vitamins and minerals you would get from growing at home. You also mention heart disease and fat as being related. It is no secret America has an obesity problem but the consumption of fat is not the reason and no reasonable person could make that claim. Only speaking anecdotally I consume 60% of calories from fat, 30% from protein and 10% from carbs and am a very fit person. The consumption of high amount of sugar (especially HFCS) is the more likely culprit. But all of this is unrelated to the matter of ethics and we could have another debate on the merits of these specialist in another debate.
Debate Round No. 1


What about fish. U wrote five types f fish, which are not at risk foe extinction. But cause of europeans' and americans' love to sushi tuna is under threat of extinction.
Maria Juan-Jorda, from A Coruna University in Spain, said: "Populations have declined, on average, by 60 per cent over the past half century, but the decline in the total adult biomass is lower (52 per cent), driven by a few abundant populations.The steepest declines are exhibited by two distinct groups: the largest, longest lived, highest value temperate tunas and the smaller, short-lived mackerels, both with most of their populations being over-exploited. The remaining populations, mostly tropical tunas, have been fished down to approximately maximum sustainable yield levels, preventing further expansion of catches in these fisheries.'
People need more ingredients for sushi, cause of that increased quote for fishing, which a main problem of extinction of tuna.

Animals kill animals, but not so much as people. Because of people's love to meat, a lot of animals at risk for extinction. On today's factory farms, animals are crammed by the thousands into filthy windowless sheds, wire cages, gestation crates and other confinement systems. These animals will never raise families, root in the soil, build nests or do anything that is natural and important to them

According to the ADA, vegetarians are at lower risk for developing:
-Heart disease
-Colorectal, ovarian, and breast cancers
-Hypertension (high blood pressure)
But a vegetarian diet, like any healthy diet, must be well planned in order to help prevent and treat certain diseases. If u have a right diet, it will help to your health.


The reason why I listed those 5 fish is because those are the most consumed in the US by mass.

The entirety of your argument is based on the standard practices and whether they are ethical. It would be the equivalent of saying that ALL energy is bad because of the use of fossil fuels. The consumption of animals (like energy) is not the issue here it is the means in which they are produced. You list factory farming as the crux of your argument and I am not disagreeing with your assertion that conditions can be less than ideal, however that does not address the morality of eating meat, but the production by large corporate entities.

You also again bring up health but as I stated before, your premise is based on ethics to which health is different argument and your argument is based on correlation not causation. Other variables are not even considered in your statistics like lifestyle of typical vegans is usually more healthy than the standard population because they are making conscience choices about their life rather than the standard person. Yoga, Exercise, etc. These are not matters for a debate on morals or ethics but personal choices.

I feel that based on your arguments you do not have an issue with the eating of meat but the process for the majority of meat takes to get to the table. Eating grass fed locally farmed livestock would alleviate your concerns in that regard. There are many options available that allow for the conscience consumer to make "ethically" based decisions when choosing the meat they would like to consume. Reduction in meat intake and supplementing with good organic produce I have no problem with but there is not just one option available to reduce the issues you talk about, it is not black and white.

A more cognizant consumer would reduce impact, lead to healthier lifestyles and still allow for the consumption of delicious tasting meat. I would not argue that we, as a population, need to consume more veggies, less processed junk food, and probably eliminate dairy from our diets but that is nothing on the ethical nature of consuming animals but how we raise and slaughter them which can be done humanely, with them living stress free, open range lifestyles free of predators and disease eating all they can eat while they share their time here on earth. That in many ways can be a much better life than facing constant fear of death, starvation, illness etc. In the animal kingdom there are herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores and humans are omnivores as our physiology tells us (eye placement, teeth, articulated jaw). It doesn't mean that we eat meat all the time but it does show that we are evolved to consume some amount of meat so it should not even be considered as to whether or not it is ethical it is an evolutionary trait. You may choose based on opinion not to consume meat but you cannot state with fact that the mere act of consumption is grounds for unethical behavior no more than you can fault a lion for being a carnivore.
Debate Round No. 2


Yerkezhan11 forfeited this round.


I would like to thank my opponent again for the opportunity to debate a topic that holds a lot of questions for our ever growing society. They made very sound points in regards to the methods by which we obtain our food and have shown that no matter which side you fall on this matter, we as a society need to consider our impact on the world around us.

I have shown through our discourse that, while I believe some of the points that Pro has brought up, there are means to which we can lessen the impact through better techniques in farming. There are many options that allow for healthier consumption while allowing for better quality of life of the animals in which we consume. Standard practices whether it be livestock or agriculture both have negative consequences that need to be adjusted as we desire to feed more people. Whether it be pollution through manure of live animals or pesticides and herbicides in farming produce the stewardship aspect is one that I feel that all farmers have a great responsibility in protecting. Overfishing can be a problem and one that also can be addressed through conscious consumerism. Regulation, education and new techniques hold a great future on the horizon.

Consuming meat cannot be equated to an ethical problem. It is not a matter of whether or not it is ethical or moral to avoid meat but one of personal preference and one I can respect. We, like our closest cousin the chimpanzee, live on a diet that is varied mixing a lot of fruits vegetables and some meat. I for one try to include as many vegetables in my meals and am conscientious of the meat I acquire. As someone who has been around the local farms I can tell you that when cared for properly the animals are treated better than we treat our homeless. Commercial production is often times done for the processed and frozen food industry and for large fast food chains. These are lesser quality and often times are the unhealthy choice when consuming food. This is also the case with the processed produce that is farmed as well. The best option for health and treatment is through eating as locally grown and farmed as possible.

So in conclusion I will say when considering these factors and the options available the matter of Vegetarian vs Omnivore debate cannot be one of ethics but choice, and given the amount of choices available one cannot say that omnivores are unethical in that choice.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by michaeltaffe3 5 years ago
I would love to debate this but you are right. Scientists are currently studying how increasing cattle populations worldwide could be creating enough methane gas to be even worse for the environment than humans!
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