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Ch. 17 - The ethics of eating animals 
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Post Ch. 17 - The ethics of eating animals
Please use this thread to discuss Ch. 17 - The ethics of eating animals. ::39 ::37 ::36




Sun Oct 01, 2006 9:29 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 17 - The ethics of eating animals
I sense a bit of condescension regarding vegetarians in the small section "Vegetarian's Dilema". It really soured me on Pollan.

He mentions the 'burden' put on hosts when a vegetarian guest comes to dinner. When one realizes just how easy it is to cook for a vegetarian (at least for a one-shot party type situation), this becomes a silly argument.

I just lost some respect for him, and that is sad because up until this part, I was gaining respect for him.

I am also saddened to hear Salatin's "animals dont have souls" crap. But he is a bumpkin ("Jesus fish on the door"!)...and at least he provides a good service overall.

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Sun Dec 03, 2006 2:14 am
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Post Re: Ch. 17 - The ethics of eating animals
I have been both vegetarian and non-vegetarian (I am a non-vegetarian currently though I eat very little meat). I didn't find Pollan's statements to be offensive. I thought he was doing a pretty good job of exploring the subject while trying to be brief. When he paraphrases Benjamin Franklins quote: So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do., I think he is dealing nicely with the quandary that we experience. I don't see him advocating one lifestyle over another and appreciated his candor.




Tue Dec 05, 2006 12:53 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 17 - The ethics of eating animals
I still don't have the book with me (had to return it to the library, and I'm waiting on one person to finish reading it!)...so I'll have to trust my memory for the feel of the chapter.

I don't think Pollan was being especially hard on vegetarians (any more than he was on the must-only-buy-organic crowd in the chapter on Big Organic -- I found that to be a chapter of harsh realities). He's right in a way -- a lot of people don't know how to cook w/o meat, and still have a balanced meal. Add a vegan to the mix, and it's even harder. It's a reality for a lot of people that they are not exposed to people with dietary restrictions, don't think to ask, and are not comfortable having to change their tried-and-true guest menus.

Yes, it's easy to cook for a vegetarian/finicky teenagers/Muslim friends/allergy-ridden friends/etc...but it requires communication, and a bit of extra prep.

Don't lose respect with Pollan, Mr. P. I believe, he's trying really hard to appeal to the broad audience, because in the end, what he is trying to share is eye-opening.


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Tue Dec 05, 2006 4:53 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 17 - The ethics of eating animals
I'm a little more than midway through this chapter, but I wanted to go ahead and make a few comments.

1. If pain and suffering are the primary issue in animal rights -- and not the death of the animal itself -- then we can presumably achieve moral social conditions by reconciling ourselves with the idea of paying more for animal products that we currently do. As Pollan points out, the hidden cost of paying 97 cents for a dozen eggs is the money saved by cooping the birds six to a cage, giving them no room to graze, medicating the injuries and diseases that invariably crop up because of those close confines, and force molting the birds when they reach the end of their productive life. So the question that was implicit in the chapters about Polyface farms -- can this kind of farming compete economically with CAFO farming -- is really only applicable so long as you're willing to forget the moral concerns altogether.

What I mean is, so long as the bottom line is the monetary cost of producing a given food, it's always going to be cost effective to suspend our moral reservations. And if we're going to insist that animals be treated with some form of respect, then we've got to be willing to pay for that respect. In the end, the cost of producing food the Polyface way might end up only costing $.01 more that producing the same food in a CAFO -- if Salatin's right that federal regulations are levelled against Polyface methods. But even if only a fraction of a cent is saved per unit, then a strictly economic view of things will justify that savings, even at the cost of animal cruelty.

2. I also wanted to ask if you guys thought the whole Aristotelian train of thought about an animal's "characteristic way of life" -- ie. the doginess of a dog, the chickenness of a chicken -- holds up. Is it a convincing argument? I'm not trying to argue against it, but it does strike me that Pollan invokes the "characteristic way of life" argument pretty freely, and without really providing an explicit argument to support it.

misterpessimistic: The ethics of eating animals I sense a bit of condescension regarding vegetarians in the small section "Vegetarian's Dilema".

I don't think he's terribly condescending towards vegetarians. And I was a vegetarian for a number of years, so I'd be likely to feel the slight. In particular, I understood his personal discomfort -- and since he's speaking from experience, it is personal -- over the demands he's placing on a potential host. I found myself in similar situations throughout my career as a vegetarian, and I usually wound up ingesting some form of meat just to keep from offending the host or hostess.

I am also saddened to hear Salatin's "animals dont have souls" crap. But he is a bumpkin ("Jesus fish on the door"!)...and at least he provides a good service overall.

The impression I got of Salatin was that of a very well and widely read person. If all it takes to be a bumpkin is a rural postal address and a copy of the Bible, then quite a few prominant, brilliant Americans have been bumpkins. Abraham Lincoln springs to mind. And if Salatin believes that animals don't have souls, then he's in good company, at least. As Pollan pointed out earlier in the chapter, Descartes argued the same thing. The difference is that Descartes' argument sanctioned most of the food industry abuses described in the book, whereas Salatin inclines the full weight of his work and intellect against them.




Thu Dec 14, 2006 8:24 pm
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