When asked why I'm a vegetarian, my answer is, "because of the dolphins." Well, that used to be my answer anyway, back in the early days before I realized that the actual reason most people asked me why I was a vegetarian, was not because they were actually interested or curious, it was because they wanted to tell me why they ate meat. No, but really, it's because of the dolphins! :)


In the summer of 1991 I had gotten a job at Sea World in San Antonio, TX., at Ye Old Woodcutters (cutting names out of blocks of wood with a scroll saw lol.) Everyday I had to pass the dolphins on my way to and from my booth. There was a lot of hubbub around that time concerning dolphins being killed by tuna fishing, so consequently, there were a lot of documentaries and such being made about dolphins. After watching a few of these and especially one with John C. Lilly talking about the dolphin brain and seemingly highly complex consciousness, I just had one of those moments. 


It was just one of those shifts in perspective, that sometimes seem so small in retrospect, but really make a big difference in the way you see the world. I suddenly saw the dolphins that I was passing at work everyday as conscious beings, looking at me every bit as much as I was looking at them. I'm not saying that I necessarily thought they  were self-aware in the same way humans are, or that they have some kind of symbolic way of thinking, I just became aware of there being, behind those eyes, an awareness that was perceiving the world from it's own center. In other words, they ceased being objects, and became their own subjects.


Well that almost immediately led to me completely reconsidering how I thought about all living things, and concluded that I had to become a vegetarian. What it boiled down to was this, however complex an animal's consciousness, it is still an individual, experiencing being. As such, doesn't it have the same right to live as I do? Or, to put it the opposite, doesn't it have the same right to kill and eat me as I have to kill and eat it? Well, the fact is, I don't really want to be killed and eaten, so I only feel that it's proper to extend the same courtesy. Also, just out of plain empathy, from then on I couldn't possibly kill and eat an animal unless it was truly a matter of survival. And if I couldn't kill it myself, then it would be hypocritical to let others do my killing for me. So I stopped eating meat. (I do confess that my impulse has always been towards veganism, but I've never been able to completely go vegan, though I do try.)





Views: 205

Comment by oneinfinity on June 15, 2011 at 3:13am
seems i started a kerfuffle, yay me :)
Comment by Arcus on June 15, 2011 at 3:41am

I do not find the arguments from tradition very strong. We currently have the technology to substantially reduce the current consumption of meat, and I for one have modified my diet to be less meat based.

"a vegetarian diet is even as healthy as one containing meat"

Conversely, a meat heavy diet can give you gaut.

"EATING MEAT is what caused our brains to GROW MUCH FASTER AND MUCH LARGER!"

From what I've read, it was the concentrated and easily accessible crustaceans in particular, and seafood in general, which helped spur on the big brain. Indeed, fish is much more important to the diet than animals. In addition, from nature's side, we are fairly ill equipped for hunting anything much larger than rabbits as we lack the claws, teeth, speed, agility, sight, etc. common to most predators.

"IF we were not meat eaters, our digestive tracts would be MUCH larger and so our body shape would more closely resemble those of apes."
To use your argument against you: "ALL NATURAL THINGS ARE GOOD?".
"NOT one was a vegetarian! In fact, ALL of them averaged eating meat TWICE a day."
This violates "fact" violates almost every single rule of statistics that I know of. You will need to correct for a whole host of other causes than just eating meat. A common feature of the so called blue zones, where people live long and happy lives, is a low consumption of animal protein.

I am not a vegetarian myself, but your factoids come off as silly if you are attempting to defend a carnivoristic diet.


Comment by Jillian Mann on June 15, 2011 at 7:05am

this is a featured discussion on this issue.....http://www.thinkatheist.com/forum/topics/the-religion-of-meat?comme...  


Comment by Ashley Bryant on June 15, 2011 at 7:11am
@Ron V, exactly the same reason I'm technically a pescetarian now too; however if I choose to easy meat again I plan on eating certified humane meat. Just haven't had the desire to after Food Inc.
Comment by Jillian Mann on June 15, 2011 at 7:45am
@Neil.....please read the above featured link i posted, it has a lot of info for you to digest. your so called facts are wrong......i don't have the energy to keep debating you as we have discussed this at length and i will keep it concise. our digestive tracts are very long, take a book of anatomy and look for yourself or google it and compare to that of a carnivore whose digestive tracts are small. Latest studies on our brains show that they are shrinking even when we are eating copious amounts of meat, that's a fact google it. go open up PCRM website it will give you some of the latest studies on health/meat lifestyle. our expanded lives are not because of eating meat but because of advances in science, we have figured out a way how to keep people alive, but if you say most of the diseases that will reduce your life expectancy they can be linked to meat, like high cholesterol, atherosclerosis etc, just google it or read for yourself. Debating you will be a waste of time as it would be like debating a born again christian, this actually fits you more.
Comment by Bob Zane on June 15, 2011 at 10:38am
good views - I think we set the balance
Comment by Southern Skeptic on June 15, 2011 at 12:13pm

An interesting discussion. I eat meat because I like it. I am prepared to take the lives of other non-sentient creatures in order to feed myself, and I have done so since childhood (I grew up on a farm and have been hunting since age 7 or so)


My personal morality allows me to do this, because it is the way of nature.


Having said that, the conditions in some slaughter houses and especially chicken farms can be appalling from a human perspective. Who knows how the animals killed there perceive it?

Comment by Kirsten on June 15, 2011 at 3:36pm

"While people can certainly choose to be as Vegetarian as they care to be, they have no rational, logical or intelligent reason to do so." - This is opinion, not fact. Sorry. There are plenty of rational reasons. Diet is a choice with thousands of options. 

Your view on the matter is the past = the right way to be? Meat was a great source of food for humans in the past, yes. It concentrates nutrients and calories, which historically were hard to come by. This is no longer the case. Here, in developed countries, many of us have plenty of access to complete nutrition via plant based diets. In fact, we tend to get too many calories from fat and protein and not enough fibre etc. There is a reason people are encouraged to cut down their consumption of meat and meat products.

The typical grocery meat also has degraded in quality. The meat industry in the U.S is not healthy. Perhaps you can make a good argument for free range, au natural products but those aren't the ones people are likely to be eating right now anyway.

As some illogical people have replied to me by saying the deciding factor is "intelligence", I submit the following.

Does this mean I get to kill the over 97% of the world who are less intelligent than I and the members of Mensa can kill me?

And does it mean can the members of the higher IQ groups than Mensa can kill all the Mensa members? All justified on the level of intelligence?

Does it mean when computers reach the point of out thinking even the brightest humans, are they then justified in killing all of us?”

This part is more a justification of vegetarianism than an argument against.

Please don't post opinion as fact.

The American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada have stated that at all stages of life, a properly planned vegetarian diet is "healthful, nutritionally adequate, and provides health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases". Large-scale studies have shown that mortality from ischaemic heart disease was 30% lower among vegetarian men and 20% lower among vegetarian women than in non-vegetarians.[25][26][27] Necessary nutrients, proteins, and amino acids for the body's sustenance can be found in vegetables, grains, nuts, soymilk, eggs and dairy.[28] Vegetarian diets offer lower levels of saturated fatcholesterol and animal protein, and higher levels of carbohydrates, fibremagnesiumpotassiumfolate, and antioxidants such as vitamins C and E and phytochemicals.[29]


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_meat good place to start. Check the references for more detailed information.

Comment by Scarlette Blues on June 15, 2011 at 3:58pm

I agree, Kristen! We have enough knowledge about nutrition now that we don't need meat in our diets. We have things like vitamins which our ancestors did not have. I don't see the reasoning behind Neil's assumption that a few generations of vegetarians will cause de-evolution since they can obtain the same nutrients without consuming meat. 


Vegetarianism is a personal choice and is chosen for many different reasons. Kudos to anyone who can live the lifestyle. My sister's new boyfriend is a vegetarian and I've asked him several question about it. His reasoning is simply that he doesn't like most meats so he decided to cut all meats out of his diet. (He's an "off and on" vegetarian). Getting to know him, I see how difficult it can be not to eat meat in our society. My sister always complains about which fast food restaurant they can go to since he doesn't eat most of what's on the menu.


I'd also like to add that I wholeheartedly support free-range farms and it is the only type of egg I will buy. I believe it is the closest way to allow farm animals to live in a "natural" environment. 


With all that said, I do love the taste of a rare steak and one will be resting on my plate in a few hours :)

Comment by oneinfinity on June 15, 2011 at 4:13pm

well Greg, Jillian, Kirsten and Arcus have covered most of what I would have said in response. Thx.


@Jillian thx for linking that other thread. Interesting that title reflects exactly what I was thinking about some of the responses here. Sound just like people desperately trying to defend their faith.


@heather I'm sure you were probably just being facetious but I can't possibly see what relevance your question about whether dolphins are vegetarians has to do with anything whatsoever.


I just think vegetarianism is an issue that a lot of people haven't thought about objectively. If you start out your examination of the issue with the assumptions that eating meat is good and necessary then you're probably going to find exactly what you're looking for, that eating meat is good and necessary. However, if, like a good freethinker does, you challenge your assumptions and look at the issue from a variety of perspectives; ethical, nutritional, environmental, etc. it's just possible that you might find there is a different story to tell. I'm not saying that everyone will reach the same conclusions, because they don't, but the point is that there are a lot of assumptions that people make about eating meat that are just flat out wrong.


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