Philosopher Gary Steiner on Veganism


#1

This is worth reading: nytimes.com/2009/11/22/opinion/22steiner.html?pagewanted=1&_r=3&th&emc=th&adxnnlx=1258902861-gy9OfjqYckiXRzfVUz3iFw

Follow-up podcast commentary: abolitionistapproach.com/commentary-discussion-with-professor-gary-steiner/


#2

The writer believes that animals are people (or the equivalent of that statement). I do not. He is also projecting his own emotions onto the animals that he is considering: "I would be miserable living like those turkeys are living; therefore, those turkeys have a miserable life.

And concerning how animals perceive pain, I recommend reading the stories of James Alfred Wight, a.k.a. James Herriot. Time and time again he would describe sights like a cow standing calmly munching hay on one end, and with a prolapsed uterus on the other end, or a cow from which he had removed half a hoof the previous day, now 24 hours later showing no discomfort. Animals are not people. They do not faint because of a hangnail. Most of the time they're perfectly happy with an abundance of food and water.


#3

Yes, that article does treat animals as if they are the equivalent of humans which they are not. We are created in God's image and God did give us animals to use for our needs and also for companionship. However, just because we are allowed to use animals for our needs does not mean that we are allowed to cruelly mistreat them.

Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say:


#4

This seems to tie in to the general held view among naturalist that we are all just animals with the unavoidable need to spread our genes.


#5

just another singer devotee,why should i care what he has to say.


#6

[quote="spencelo, post:1, topic:298637"]
This is worth reading: nytimes.com/2009/11/22/opinion/22steiner.html?pagewanted=1&_r=3&th&emc=th&adxnnlx=1258902861-gy9OfjqYckiXRzfVUz3iFw

Follow-up podcast commentary: abolitionistapproach.com/commentary-discussion-with-professor-gary-steiner/

[/quote]

It's interesting but what does it have to do with Catholic teaching on social justice?


#7

[quote="Corki, post:6, topic:298637"]
It's interesting but what does it have to do with Catholic teaching on social justice?

[/quote]

o o o o me me ,nothing at all


#8

Those who deny that the difference between human beings and other animals is one of degree rather than one of kind, tend to wind up thinking like this.


#9

Spencelo, I am wondering if you would be willing to explain what in the essay you found persuasive or valuable?

I am aware, vaguely, of the terrible ways animals destined for the dinner table are raised, at least in the US. I think the author could have used his space in the NYT to do some real good at raising public awareness of the cruelty which is commonly practiced. Such practices are accepted because they keep food prices down and keep profits high.

But instead, he says things such as

To be a really strict vegan is to strive to avoid all animal products, and this includes materials like leather, silk and wool, as well as a panoply of cosmetics and medications. The more you dig, the more you learn about products you would never stop to think might contain or involve animal products in their production — like wine and beer (isinglass, a kind of gelatin derived from fish bladders, is often used to “fine,” or purify, these beverages), refined sugar (bone char is sometimes used to bleach it) or Band-Aids (animal products in the adhesive). Just last week I was told that those little comfort strips on most razor blades contain animal fat.

This passage suggests an obsessive concern with ethical self-purity which is well into the territory of being scrupulous. It is a focusing on the minute and inconsequential for the sake of oneself, rather than for animals. It is essentially selfishness in the guise of compassion.

Wouldn't it be far better to spend so much time and energy into bettering the lives of animals? There is much unmet need for public advocacy. I find the kind of navel-gazing he advocates to be very disappointing.


#10

Being a vegan in modern America, is not cheap. IMO, much of this behavior is the result of over permissive parents during adolesence. I know I may get in trouble for this, but, by and large veganism just goes to show you what happens when someone falls prey to faashionable pseudo-science and has more money than good sense!


#11

[quote="Corki, post:6, topic:298637"]
It's interesting but what does it have to do with Catholic teaching on social justice?

[/quote]

I am not sure whether the discussion is better suited for the Social Justice forum or the Moral Theology forum. It certainly is relevant to one of them.

Many here are already familiar with what the Catechism says about the treatment of animals. I will post the relevant section here, for the sake of discussion.

Respect for the integrity of creation

**2415 **The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity.195 Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man's dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.196

**2416 **Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory.197 Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals.

**2417 **God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image.198 Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals is a morally acceptable practice if it remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives.

**2418 **It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons.

vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a7.htm

I think if we are talking about social policy, and not just individual behavior, a discussion of how best to minimize the suffering of animals is relevant to the Social Justice forum.


#12

Animals have consciousness and nervous systems, they feel pain, sadness, danger, fear , happiness and pleasure. Whether they are humans or not isn’t a real issue in the case of cruelties done to them, we are not going to elect animals for presidency to ask whether they are humans or not, they are being slaughtered, used and skinned in worst ways, that what matters, humans have similar conditions and abilities in feelings as much as those animals do, at least if we have a little pity in our hearts we should consider veganism and oppose violence, injustices and harm as much as we can to other sentient species, specially that humans can live and be healthy without the use of other animals. Compassion instead of harm would be the best solution for our evolution on earth, our problem as humans is that we seperated ourselves from this example of pity, it would be ironic to pray to a God for mercy when we are unable to give it for weaker creatures.


#13

[quote="User124, post:12, topic:298637"]
Animals have consciousness and nervous systems, they feel pain, sadness, danger, fear , happiness and pleasure. Whether they are humans or not isn't a real issue in the case of cruelties done to them, we are not going to elect animals for presidency to ask whether they are humans or not, they are being slaughtered, used and skinned in worst ways, that what matters, humans have similar conditions and abilities in feelings as much as those animals do, at least if we have a little pity in our hearts we should consider veganism and oppose violence, injustices and harm as much as we can to other sentient species, specially that humans can live and be healthy without the use of other animals. Compassion instead of harm would be the best solution for our evolution on earth, our problem as humans is that we seperated ourselves from this example of pity, it would be ironic to pray to a God for mercy when we are unable to give it for weaker creatures.

[/quote]


#14

[quote="User124, post:12, topic:298637"]
Animals have consciousness and nervous systems, they feel pain, sadness, danger, fear , happiness and pleasure. Whether they are humans or not isn't a real issue in the case of cruelties done to them, we are not going to elect animals for presidency to ask whether they are humans or not, they are being slaughtered, used and skinned in worst ways, that what matters, humans have similar conditions and abilities in feelings as much as those animals do, at least if we have a little pity in our hearts we should consider veganism and oppose violence, injustices and harm as much as we can to other sentient species, specially that humans can live and be healthy without the use of other animals. Compassion instead of harm would be the best solution for our evolution on earth, our problem as humans is that we seperated ourselves from this example of pity, it would be ironic to pray to a God for mercy when we are unable to give it for weaker creatures.

[/quote]

In consideration of the injustices and the scope of human suffering that exists today in this world, I think that over concern for animals is misplaced. Ones time and energies would be better spent trying to improve the lot of human beings less fortunate than ourselves than to pour out pity on animals! Anyway you want to cut it, animals, including pets, farm animals, and those raised for food, in North America and Europe have better living conditions than many human beings in other parts of the world. Rather than selfishly worrying about whether there are animal products in adhesives or razorblades, one should be trying to improve the lot of ones fellow man!
What would you do if you found out that veganism was being sponsored or financed by those who want to divert your attention from more humane problems?


#15

Untrue.

jamesrachels.org/stuart/veg.pdf

Holocaust comparison: virtueethicsinfocentre.blogspot.com/2008/02/can-treatment-of-animals-be-compared-to.html


#16

[quote="George_Stegmeir, post:10, topic:298637"]
Being a vegan in modern America, is not cheap. IMO, much of this behavior is the result of over permissive parents during adolescence. I know I may get in trouble for this, but, by and large veganism just goes to show you what happens when someone falls prey to fashionable pseudo-science and has more money than good sense!

[/quote]

I've seen that this is the case even here in Manila.
Most of the vegans I've seen or met here in Manila come from the affluent classes.


#17

“Human beings have capitalized on the silence of animals, just as certain human beings have historically imposed silence on certain other human beings by denying slaves the right to literacy, denying women the right to own property, and denying both the right to vote.”
― Gary Steiner, Animals and the Moral Community: Mental Life, Moral Status, and Kinship


#18

[quote="april32010, post:17, topic:298637"]
“Human beings have capitalized on the silence of animals, just as certain human beings have historically imposed silence on certain other human beings by denying slaves the right to literacy, denying women the right to own property, and denying both the right to vote.”
― Gary Steiner, Animals and the Moral Community: Mental Life, Moral Status, and Kinship

[/quote]

Completely true.


#19

[quote="DaveBj, post:2, topic:298637"]
The writer believes that animals are people (or the equivalent of that statement). I do not. He is also projecting his own emotions onto the animals that he is considering: "I would be miserable living like those turkeys are living; therefore, those turkeys have a miserable life.

And concerning how animals perceive pain, I recommend reading the stories of James Alfred Wight, a.k.a. James Herriot. Time and time again he would describe sights like a cow standing calmly munching hay on one end, and with a prolapsed uterus on the other end, or a cow from which he had removed half a hoof the previous day, now 24 hours later showing no discomfort. Animals are not people. They do not faint because of a hangnail. Most of the time they're perfectly happy with an abundance of food and water.

[/quote]

But to those who believe that animals and humans are the same thing, they will never believe stories like that.


#20

[quote="Crescentinus, post:19, topic:298637"]
But to those who believe that animals and humans are the same thing, they will never believe stories like that.

[/quote]

guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jul/07/cows-best-friends

"Who would think that beneath that calm exterior there is a boiling mass of emotions? I'm not talking about Wimbledon champions here, but cows. Yes, cows; those creatures that we eat, and take milk from, but rarely think about. According to new research by scientists at Northampton University, cows have "best friends" and get stressed when separated."

dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2011124/Cows-best-friends-stressed-separated.html


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