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Book club

"Eating" by Peter Singer and Jim Mason

  • Newsnight
  • 4 Sep 06, 04:22 PM

eating_203.jpg
On Monday's programme Newsnight speaks to controversial author Peter Singer. You can read extracts from his new book, Eating, by clicking here.

Leave your comments about the interview, the book and the subjects it raises below.

You can also watch Newsnight's interview with Peter Singer here

Comments  Post your comment

Good idea, the book club. But where is it on your site?

  • 2.
  • At 11:32 PM on 04 Sep 2006,
  • Nicki wrote:

I was disgusted at the comments made by Peter Singer in his interview with Newsnight where he compares the freedom of a cow to roam in a paddock, to the freeing of millions of slaves throughout history. I don't like cows living their entire lives in a shed, but there is no comparison to a human life spent being owned by another human being! The truth is, a cow has no understanding of the concept of freedom - a human being does!

Any chance that you might extend this book club so that bibliophiles like me may post reviews of any book of our choice?

  • 4.
  • At 12:14 AM on 05 Sep 2006,
  • Peter wrote:

To Nikki, I take it you wouldn't seek to protect infants or those with severe mental illnesses from "ownership" seeing as they have no understanding of freedom?

  • 5.
  • At 12:34 AM on 05 Sep 2006,
  • Chris Johnston wrote:

Peter Singer on Newsnight tonight, described his dream of a "Vegan Utopia" as "a liberation movement for non-human animals on a par with the abolition of slavery".

What a silly silly man.

This attempt at deliberate controversy is all too predictable - nothing more than a vain & desperate cry for attention in the hope of selling some books.

His analogy is completely unhelpful to his cause, and infact only serves to expose a far more sinister, deep-seeded & inherently twisted (perhaps even hateful) mentality within himself that enables him to see the plight of the millions of human beings enslaved during the slave trade as nothing more than mere farm animals on whom he can practice altruism instead of on the humanity to which he belongs.

He would like to be seen as a freedom fighter. What a joke. Seeking to liberate the animal kingdom before your own species shows a serious defect in thought formation and morality, and is nothing to be applauded.

His whole ethical argument is built on sand and gets washed away by the tide of his own betrayal to the human family to which he belongs.

I believe he would do more to win over carnivores like myself, by choosing to give up his ability to walk upright and to think logically, going on all fours and grazing with the cows & goats in the fields. Now THAT would be a "Vegan Utopia" every animal would be proud of...animal ethics just dont get better than that.

  • 6.
  • At 12:39 AM on 05 Sep 2006,
  • Peter's Friend wrote:

Chris, come on. Peter Singer isn't a full professor of philosophy at Princeton University for nothing. You may disagree with him, but he's very far from being a "sily man". He's a brilliant scholar with the courage to pursue the logic of choices many of us take for granted.

  • 7.
  • At 01:09 AM on 05 Sep 2006,
  • tracy o'neill wrote:

I am looking forward to the book being available on 7th September. I am vegan and the author has put into words how I feel. Animals are sentient beings, I have three cats and I wouldn't want to eat them just as I don't wish to eat other animals. It is morally wrong that animals are treated in such barbaric ways, mostly for monitary gain and often for pleasure. I've read many articals on the subject and the author may have highlighted some of them in his book, ie; "animals are my friends, I don't eat my friends", (I think George Bernard Shaw said that). I feel the book will be welcomed by many who would like to see animal cruelty issues being raised, though unfortunately there are many who will scoff at it, mostly being the ignorant who feel that if they ignore it,it doesn't exist; and of course others who just don't care. I wish Peter Singer and Jim Mason every success with the book and hope it makes alot more people sit up and take notice of the cruelty around them.

  • 8.
  • At 10:01 AM on 05 Sep 2006,
  • Chris Allen wrote:

Nothing but logic then from Mr. Singer, who never lets the side down! Would have been nice to see an extract of a part where he almost suggests the acceptability of eating meat...

  • 9.
  • At 12:47 PM on 05 Sep 2006,
  • Chris Johnston wrote:

To "Peter's Friend" - contrary to popular belief, the intellect IS NOT GOD...it IS a mere tool of man to achieve whatever he desires. Like Einstein put it, "We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality."

So the fact that Peter is a full professor of philosophy at Princeton University is in itself not very impressive to me. It is how he chooses to manifest this status/intellect that determines his impression on the minds & in the hearts of others. After all, brilliant scholars created the nuclear bomb - the blueprint for human extinction - are you also impressed by this?

If you can look past the messenger (his reasoning) for a moment and without blinders on, try to SEE the source of those thoughts (his desires/his heart), how impressed do you remain by the image you get?

An image where there are no moral circles between human beings & other species, where humans & animals are free to intermingle without boundaries, and Lions and other predators are free to eat humans (without the guilt) and maintain their position as Kings of the life jungle because all humans could achieve with their gift of logic was to reason that they didn't need the logic in the first place.

I dont know about you, but this is not an image that pleases me. Charity begins at home...let us first strive to perfect human liberation before exporting it to another species...much like trying to export democracy to other nations when your nation is still struggling to get it right...bound to end in disaster.

I dont know if you watch the news & see the suffering of YOUR species, but animals are in ACTUALITY more liberated than most human beings on the face of planet earth in the year of our Lord 2006. If Peter Singer showed & executed just a tenth of his animal liberation dedication to the liberation of humans, then not only would I be impressed by that, but it may just inspire me to extend that liberation to all other species by way of appreciation.

Anybody with half a brain can rationalise anything away, even abominable acts such as paedophilia can be rationalised away because the mind is just a tool in the game of life. So thoughts, logic, fancy words, the ability to reason, are all just slaves to our WILL. And until Peter becomes WILLING to fulfil his obligation both to himself & the liberation of his own species, I WILL remain unimpressed by his love affair with animals.

Good day.

  • 10.
  • At 12:54 PM on 05 Sep 2006,
  • Jennifer Watts wrote:

I have read the column on the way we should or should eat by PS&JM,and must confess as an ex-restrateur,to be slightly bewildered? As well as wanting people to recognise vegan, vegetarians etc., & promote their cause, he seems to bring in some highly unusual examples to define the principles of his book. I have always respected other people's eating habits,and have tried my best to conform to their tastes. I do agree,it would be nice to see cows and goats munching away at our grass, chickens free-range, pheasants, etc. not bred specifically to be killed by affluent people who do not know how to shoot,(thank goodness for gillies).Farming salmon and trout(especially those on pink feed to simulate sea-trout).However is this utopia of his feasible? I think not,unless we have vegan and other restaurants, and allow the public to choose.I am not a vegan, but I was taught in an old fashioned way,to eat what was in season and not fresh-frozen. I cannot agree with his book in anyway. Jennifer W

  • 11.
  • At 12:57 PM on 05 Sep 2006,
  • Dana wrote:

I've been a vegan since I was 16 (now 35). From a young age eating meat felt wrong. I told my parents at 14 but they would not allow me to 'convert' at that age. At 16 I felt I was able to have my choice, and voice, taken seriously and have lead a vegan lifestyle since.

I'm not about to force my views on others, I never have. I'm the only vegan in my family of 7. But I do think its healthy for us to express opinions and debate these issues, without forcing on each other and trying to respect the other persons view, even if you fundamentally disagree. Respect and agreement are seperate.

We live by what we know, as humans we can't know everything. We learn every day and learn a lot from science, which is also our own interpretation. But we don't have the same language as the animal 'kingdom' and therefore cannot truly understand. We decide what we know and beleive, from upbringing, science, religion, society etc.

Some see each life as an individual soul, each an equal just in a different frame.

We dont need to be aggressive or win each other over. Those who try may be compared to terrorists or Hitler.

But I do wonder why we call it meat instead of flesh.

Why did so many viewers complain about what they saw when Gordon Ramsay slaughtered his pigs on Channel 4? Its real, and how those people who complained get to buy their sunday roast.

Personally, for me its playing god. We give life - and take it.

This, and the way we treat animals, scares me beyond nightmares - it has done since I was a child, before I fully understood with an adult mind - it simply felt wrong.

I'm not interested in politics or telling others how they should think, feel and live - but I do wish we were more compassionate, open, understanding and tolerant to every soul on the earth. Human as well as animal.

Sophie (#4)

If you want us to send suggestions for books to cover please feel free. You can email us here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/5317564.stm

  • 13.
  • At 07:04 PM on 05 Sep 2006,
  • Ryta CYN Lyndley wrote:

Let us live simply that others may live.

Go vegetarian and feed the world.

  • 14.
  • At 01:11 PM on 06 Sep 2006,
  • Zen wrote:

If every person was to stop killing animals and eating meat, what would happen to the animals? It's all very well keeping cats and dogs as pets, but who is going to keep pigs and cows if they are not for food (and not all breeds of cow are suitable as milkers)? Are they going to be limited to a number of breeding pairs in zoos? I agree that people who eat meat should think more about their food, but the people who imagine a perfect world where everyone is vegan should also consider what effect that would have on the world.

  • 15.
  • At 02:23 PM on 06 Sep 2006,
  • Liz Poole wrote:

I dont understand why there is always this question of 'what would happen to the animals if we did not eat meat'? What do you think happens to animals in the wild, they live how they should live and then die. This is what would happen to farm animals. Im sure an animal in a factory farm would have preferred never to have been born than to go through the pain and suffering that they do.
and also, how can you say it is wrong to compare animals suffering to slavery? If you have a view that animals are here for our use, then that is the same view that people had over slaves, thank goodness it changed.
Just because animals cannot speak does not mean that they are unintelligent, in fact its quite the opposite. Videos and photos of animals i have seen being abused are disgusting. Animals are not on this planet for us to use and abuse as we please.

  • 16.
  • At 03:25 PM on 06 Sep 2006,
  • Chris Johnston wrote:

Liz Poole: "If you have a view that animals are here for our use, then that is the same view that people had over slaves"

^^That says more about the slave master's concept of morality & state of mind & heart than it does about the slaves. Human beings DO NOT = farm amimals...and if you hold this view to this day, then no wonder nothing's changed since the days of slavery...Imperialism is still the number 1 priority for the so-called "leaders of the free world". So of course torture, death, and mistreatment of "lesser people" remains inevitable. Thank you for making it abundantly clear why the state of human beings and the world keeps getting from bad to worse.

Liz Poole: "Im sure an animal in a factory farm would have preferred never to have been born than to go through the pain and suffering that they do."

^^A sentiment held by the majority of human beings on this planet. What is the defect in ur thought process that prevents you from making this case equally as passionately for ur fellow humans? Are farm animals more important than ur own flesh & blood? I love animals too, but get ur priorities in order lady.

Liz Poole: "Videos and photos of animals i have seen being abused are disgusting. Animals are not on this planet for us to use and abuse as we please."

^^Have you deliberately ignored videos & photos of human beings being abused that's even more disgusting? Once again - get ur priorities in order lady.

  • 17.
  • At 04:48 PM on 06 Sep 2006,
  • Liz Poole wrote:

To Chris Johnston: My priorities are in great order thank you.

Can I ask why you think i have ignored videos and photos of human beings being abused? If i see pictures like this i think they are disgusting also, the reason i did not mention them was because the discussion is about farm animals is it not?
You are completely straying from the point I am making, I care just as much about human beings as i do about animals. What are you saying? That because bad things happen to human beings, that we should ignore the bad things that happen to animals? Why not care for them both?

Animals are being slaughtered on a daily basis for humans and are kept in degrading, horrific conditions. I am a perfectly healthy vegan and believe animals have a right to live freely.

Can I ask, do you think a dog has more feelings than a pig?

  • 18.
  • At 05:52 PM on 06 Sep 2006,
  • Chris Johnston wrote:

If you care about human beings as much as you do about animals, then you're not doing a very good job of putting your point across with comments like: "how can you say it is wrong to compare animals suffering to slavery?". That's like comparing Apples & Cars - it shows a distinct inability on your part to differentiate between the two species, and actually tries to justify the rationale behind slavery - which was far more sinister than viewing so-called "lesser people" as farm animals...that was just an attempt at lessening the burden on the collective conscience of the enslavers. Your perspective in the 21st century says a lot about you lady, and will do nothing to convert carnivores to vegans any time soon.

What I am saying is quite clear - even in one's everyday life, goals MUST be prioritised, otherwise nothing get's seen through to completion and chaos ensues...

Dont ignore the "bad things" that happen to animals, but seek to be an advocate for putting an end to the "bad things" and suffering that happens to HUMANS first, and see that through to completion before doing the same for ANIMALS. You'd get a lot more support that way - It's called prioritisation.

I've never been in the mind of a dog or a pig, therefore I cannot answer your question. But you may want to ask the Chinese seeing as they actually eat dogs.

Oh, and I wonder how healthy you could actually be (without the aid of multivitamin pills) living off leaves as a staple diet.

  • 19.
  • At 10:31 AM on 07 Sep 2006,
  • Liz wrote:

To Chris Johnston: My first point is to ask you to not call me 'lady' as you do not even know me.

My second point is really, who do you think you are that you are so superior to another being that you can do what you will with them?
I believe that animals have just as much right as humans beings to live. DO NOT change what i said e.g 'your part to differentiate between the two species, and actually tries to justify the rationale behind slavery'. I would NEVER ever justify slavery, it was absolutely terrible, so is factory farming. To me a dog and a pig are the same, my point to ask you the question was to say, do you have any animals? if so i would be very worried for the animal, considering you see them as this 'lesser being'.

Why are you trying to change the context of the question, which is mainly regarding animals.

  • 20.
  • At 12:32 PM on 07 Sep 2006,
  • Chris Johnston wrote:

Ok Miss, I wont call you Lady.

And I am not trying to change the context of the question...

...it is infact yourself, Peter Singer, and the rest of the Vegan Animal Liberation Front who changed the context of your argument by trying to piggy back (no pun intended) a ride - on the true suffering of human beings who suffered abominable acts during slavery - to get to your Vegan Utopian destination.

Peter Singer has introduced a new variable into the equation - slavery - which of course changes the whole dynamics of the debate. Choice of analogy & metaphor are just as, if not more important than the point itself one is trying to make bcoz it allows one's audience to quite literally SEE and appreciate what is being said.

You're going to have to find a better argument than human enslavement is what I am saying. It is truly degrading to human beings...which of course will detract from focusing on just the vegan animal liberation point you are trying to make. Until we iron that out, it's going to be hard to focus solely on animals like you suggest.

In short, Peter's and your choice of analogy and examples on which you base your principles, hurt your case more than they help it. I'm sure you mean well...but that is all I'm saying. As long as you pursue the slavery line of reasoning, your cause will remain at a stand still.

  • 21.
  • At 02:08 PM on 07 Sep 2006,
  • Rey wrote:

Very poor attempt to convert omnivores into vegans.

The equivalent grain argument fails to note that grain cannot be grown and havested everywhere, and humans cannot digest grass and many other plants that can grow everywhere. The best argument in a vegan cause is that as omnivores we are eating too much meat, not that we are eating some.

Like all things that are enjoyable (and meat just tastes so much better than soya) it should be enjoyed in moderation.

Liz's point about farmed animals living wild is pure humour. Farmed animals are bred exclusively for certain traits to make them "better" and would not survive in the wild. They are literally born solely to be eaten and would not exist for any other reason. I have no qualms eating them on this basis. Truely wild game animals are another matter.

I do believe all meat eaters should understand what happens at a butchers.

I'm not sure this book (or at least the extracts taken from it) furthers the ethical eating cause that it promoted.

  • 22.
  • At 04:46 PM on 07 Sep 2006,
  • Z Roberts wrote:

What a complete load of tripe. Boring....

  • 23.
  • At 02:29 PM on 09 Sep 2006,
  • Dan wrote:

My word that Peter Singer blokes a bit of a nutter.

  • 24.
  • At 01:52 AM on 11 Sep 2006,
  • Bernie Moss wrote:

I always told my children that if they are really hungry they will eat "Almost anything" !!
Eating Grass makes ur lips go green Though!!
Barnyard Mosses

  • 25.
  • At 12:58 AM on 16 Sep 2006,
  • Dominic Webber wrote:

Peter Singer is the Vice-President of the RSPCA. He believes, as this website's excerpt from his and Mr Mason's book "Eating" confirms, that it is as wrong to eat an animal as it is to eat a mentally defective human baby. Should an organization that appoints such a man as its Vice-President have charitable status? Is it possible that Singer's views about the way human beings should interact with non-human animals are profoundly misconceived, and if so, what does it say about the people who apponted him to this position?

  • 26.
  • At 11:10 AM on 16 Sep 2006,
  • Liz wrote:

Only just read recent posts: Well Chris, my argument for not eating animals is not comparing them to slavery, I was pointing out that Peter Singer had made a good point.
My argument for not eating meat is because I see animals as sentient and beautiful creatures. I see a pig or a cow as I see a dog or a cat. I think it is disgusting how they are treated just so that people can eat meat when there are so many other alternatives.
And to Rey: my point is that animals should be left to their own devices. I dont think a pig should be bred to have piglets so that humans can consume them. If they were left to their own devices the numbers of them would level out, or they may die naturally. Also, animals are bred and grazed on land, land which could be used to grow grain, wheat etc for human consumption, why not cut out the meat?

My question is: why do you feel that you are so superior to animals? Because of the very fact they cannot speak?? Animals are very intelligent and are aware of fear and pain.

  • 27.
  • At 11:31 PM on 17 Sep 2006,
  • Dominic Webber wrote:

I understand the way Liz feels about animals. I was very sentimental about them as a child. When I visited Dartmoor on a riding holiday, the locals thought I was getting a little soppy about the wild ponies. I was taken to one side and it was quietly explained to me that 80% of Dartmoor pony colts ended up as dog food. This was in the 1970s. As a townie from London, I was shocked by this and campaigned on my own for a while to save them, then aged 11.

When I took up bird watching at my secondary school, I had a special interest in wildfowl. I questioned whether it was appropriate to eat mallard, when it was served up at home. An eminent ornithologist and environmentalist, the late Max Nicholson, explained to me that there was nothing wrong with eating mallard.

When the school took me to watch birds on the Ouse Washes, I was shocked to hear that, nearby, wildfowlers were shooting the very birds we were looking at with our binoculars. A nice teacher explained that there was nothing wrong with that because it was good for conservation. I didn't really understand what he meant.

I eventually grew up, and happily eat locally sourced, free range meat and game and fully accept that, as human beings, we are just like other animals; predators and conservationists with a role to play in the animal kingdom.

I wasn't the slightest bit confused when lecturers at university promoted Singer's book "Animal Liberation." I quite happily read it while plucking a mallard I had bought in the feather. I respect your views Liz, and those of Peter Singer, but I wonder whether it is possible for vegans to accept that us conscientious carnivores have also thought it through. I hope you will forgive me for saying this Liz and Peter, but frankly I think you are both a bit potty! PS I still love animals.

  • 28.
  • At 09:35 AM on 19 Sep 2006,
  • Clive Pearl wrote:

I dread the moment terrorism and social bigots take over the world.
It appears to be happening in a very underhand way and I see it coming to the fore with P Singer.

He seems to be generating an army of animal rights extremists bent on a weird idealistic notion of a cartoon world.

There is a natural food chain in this world which does involve the human race. You cannot stop a lion from eating an antelope. Do not attempt to stop me from eating beef. Do so at your peril.

It is now up to our government, god forbid, to stop this insiduous creep towards the abyss and educate our next generation to the evils of the ALF and those of Mr Singers ilk.

  • 29.
  • At 11:53 AM on 19 Sep 2006,
  • Clive Pearl wrote:

Following on I forgot to mention that the idea that Mr P Singer was in any part of the RSPCA responsible for policy decisions leaves me and many others a very bad taste in the mouth. (no pun intended).

The current members of the RSPCA should really have a look at the direction in which the so called charity is being led.

Political aims seem to be the agenda, not animal welfare.

A despicable outcome from an otherwise stalwart institution

  • 30.
  • At 10:50 AM on 20 Sep 2006,
  • Liz wrote:

To Dominic: Well you may think I am a bit potty! But frankly I think you are! How sad to have grown up loving animals the way you did and then just accepting that you had to eat them. I was the other way around, eating animals until I was 12 then finding out the atrocious ways in which they were kept and killed then I stopped eating meat. But my view to not eating animals has grown even stronger. Even if an animal was kept in the most wonderful conditions and had the most wonderful life I would still not eat the meat. This is because I see each animal as an individual with a personality.
And im afraid I have to disagree with humans being 'predators', maybe in caveman days but I dont believe so anymore. I have lots of wonderful food that is all vegan.

It seems to me that you just accepted what people told you, that it was 'ok to eat the birds that are killed' and that you then took this as a way of life. You could have gone the other way and campaigned for birds and other animals not to be shot. I think the animals who you say you love would have been very grateful for you trying to save them as opposed to eating them!!

  • 31.
  • At 11:49 AM on 20 Sep 2006,
  • Liz wrote:

To Clive Pearl: I am a vegan and a campaigner for animal rights but I am a peaceful person who does not agree with violence. What are you trying to say? You call the ALF 'evil', so it is evil to rescue a poor, scared animal from a cage? I dont condone any violent action that any group undertakes in but I think you are being very over the top in your views. In fact you seem to be rather threatening in your post 'do so at your peril', does it make you feel more of a man to eat meat??

You mention the natural food chain, funny that i am a very healthy woman who is a vegan and who does not consume any meat. I am tired of the argument that animals are there for us to eat and that we are the top of the food chain. In this day and age we do not need to eat meat anymore and it is rare that animals are hunted for meat in this country.

  • 32.
  • At 04:31 PM on 20 Sep 2006,
  • Chris Johnston wrote:

Liz: "Well Chris, my argument for not eating animals is not comparing them to slavery...My argument for not eating meat is because I see animals as sentient and beautiful creatures."

^^Just so long as you're not aligning yourself with the very desperate & dangerous ideology of Peter Singer, then all is well.

And yes animals are beautiful creatures, and yet as has been said in this thread several times by several people, do u really believe that a Lion would hesitate to eat a human even for a second?

Can u not appreciate that that lion would savour & enjoy every last juicy, tasty bit of meat right down to the bone?

Are we to believe that this Lion would suddenly be overcome with guilt & consequently alert the rest of the animals in the jungle about how sentient & beautiful humans are, and that they should all convert to veganism?

Come on, I appreciate the fact that u love animals but reality is in the way of all of our dreams.

  • 33.
  • At 07:06 PM on 20 Sep 2006,
  • David Moss wrote:

All those criticising Singer with the ridiculous arguments above would do well to actually investigate his philosophy rather than denouncing his conclusions on the basis that you don't like the sound of them/him.

Singer's statements regarding slavery in no sense assert that a human slave is equal to a farm animal, in that it would be equally acceptable to kill and eat either one. Rather he claims that all organisms are ethically equal insofar that one should not privilage the suffering of one arbitrarily over another. Namely what matters ethically is how much a person suffers, not whether the person suffering is of a given species.

The insinuation that Singer's views are in any way disrespectful to humans is a total nonsense; I can't think of an ethicist more concerned with the suffering of humans, as any-one familiar with his demand for an ethical response to poverty and the developing world would immediately realise.

  • 34.
  • At 12:18 PM on 21 Sep 2006,
  • Liz wrote:

Chris, no Im afraid I have to disagree with you again. Lions kill from instinct, so if they were hungry and they could see food they would kill it to eat.
Humans are not killing from instinct. Animals are bred and farmed for their meat, I tell you I havent seen many hunters in my region going out hunting for their meat. Humans have the CHOICE, I choose not to eat meat and i am a human being. If I can do it so can anyone!! Can you not appreciate that your argument does not really work? Especially to someone like me. I will go back to the point of : why do you think it is humans right to use animals as we want?

  • 35.
  • At 04:37 PM on 21 Sep 2006,
  • Chris Johnston wrote:

What I cant appreciate is your illogical use of logic to reason out that you are a human being (or animal as u like to see urself) devoid of basic instincts, and yet in the next breath say: "animals kill from instinct, humans & animals are one". Well which is it?

The reason u dont see many hunters hunting for their meat is because logic (slave to our basic instincts) was used in the right way, and our most basic instinct to eat & therefore survive was industrialised & fulfilled spectacularly.

Do not get it twisted, it is ur instincts that rule u, NOT ur logic. And since we are all animals, why should Lions have more right than us to eat meat? It makes no sense.

Ur very quick to say just bcoz animals cant talk doesn't mean they cant feel. This is the foundation of ur argument is it not? Well, if they can feel, then is it not also possible that they can empathise & feel guilt? Which would beg the question, why do they keep on killing?

Would it be out of wickedness, or because certain instincts were never meant to be over-ridden, like the one to survive 4 example?

Why do you think it is animals (such as Lions) right to use other animals and any unsuspecting human as they want?

We were given logic 4 a reason...I choose to use it wisely.


  • 36.
  • At 08:00 AM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Dominic Webber wrote:

David, I am a philosopy graduate and a criminal law barrister. I am also a member of Lawyers for Liberty. I have read Singer's recently published book, Eating. I am rather busy so I do not have much time to discuss this further, but "Eating", although it has some interesting and constructive ideas, is based on a fundamentally flawed notion called "speciesism". It matters not whether animals are said to have equal rights with human beings or equal "interests". Baiscally what Singer, Ryder et al are saying is that animals should be treated as if they were less intelligent human beings. Whether you are a philospher or not, we all know that that is nonsense.

  • 37.
  • At 11:07 PM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • James Shepherd wrote:

Whilest many would agree with his attacks on factory farming he systematically attacks all meateaters slurring even Hugh Fearnley - Whittingstall and Roger Scruton and saddles all omniverous humans with culpable "speciesism" - another flagellistic "ism" with which to scourge humankind. With Singer you are either elect or reprobate without eqivocation. This is a major weakness of Singer's book.
Singer, like some religious,revolutionary, or twentieth dictatorial idealogue crucifies mankind on a cross of philosophical purity. His arguments as a result lack the common sense to make them sound even slightly practical. They are also open to ridicule.
My main concern with this book is that it will strike chords on the well tempered clavier of those with litle or no experience or knowledge of animals or food production. It will then become meat and drink (no pun intended) to loopy animal rights activists pimply with zeal and as ridiculous as those who denounced the Gloucestershire cheese rolling festival as "unethical" and called for a dairy free soya alternative!
Peter Singer is the Vice Presidant of the RSPCA. It is unlikely to enhance its reputation if it goes so far outside its remit to endorse this silliness.

  • 38.
  • At 12:13 PM on 25 Sep 2006,
  • Tim wrote:

If we have the CHOICE to not eat meat then surely I have the CHOICE to eat it? Why won't people accept that meat tastes GOOD whereas soya and tofu based products don't?

Militant vegans like some people in this comments page are stuck in the 70s and 80s when describing the conditions that animals live. Today there are very strict laws with regards to how animals are kept which are all humane. If they are kept, fed and killed humanely why is it wrong to eat it?

I accept your views to live as a vegan, accept my choice to eat meat.

  • 39.
  • At 04:21 PM on 25 Sep 2006,
  • Dana wrote:

Tim wrote: "Today there are very strict laws with regards to how animals are kept which are all humane."

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=404159&in_page_id=1770

  • 40.
  • At 08:11 PM on 30 Sep 2006,
  • Daisy the Cow wrote:

Won't free range liberated cows cause chaos on the roads, or will they be entitled to social welfare support and free housing?

  • 41.
  • At 01:21 PM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Andrew P KIRK wrote:

Factory 'Farming' (like vivisection, animal abusing circuses and zoos) is a vile, sordid, abomination that should not be tolerated in self-respecting, educated society, not least of which because whenever, the (the environment and / or ecology and) animal welfare are compromised, then so too, is human health.

  • 42.
  • At 02:25 PM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Andrew P KIRK wrote:

Furthermore, and apologies for this but the public service (library) computer ran out of time and I was unable to finish my comments...

Further to No. 5 from Chris JOHNSTONE, humans are omnivores not carnivores...that much you should have learned in GCE 'O' level biology.

Further to No 28 from Clive PEARL, (according to Counsel representing me at Birmingham Crown Court last year albeit pertaining to anti-vivisectionist actitivites (HLS)in what could only be described as a charade of Justice) NEVER EVER, IN THE HISTORY OF THE ANTI-VIVISECTION AND / OR ANIMAL RIGHTS MOVEMENTS, HAS ANYONE EVER BEEN KILLED , which is more than can be said of factory farming (BSE, bird flu etc) and notably vivisection etc., or indeed the police and prison service.

At the end of the day (like the vivisectors and politicians who are beholden to) the factory farmers (and pharmaceutical drug rackets their) sole interest in life is profit. Man and beast,environment and ecology too alike are all sacrificed on the alter of their vested interests commercial greed.

To conclude, having worked, albeit on Kibbutz Dovrat, Doa Na Jezreel in Israel 19325, resigning in disgust, disillusion and despair, (as I had the Police in 1979 and M.inistry O.f D.efence in 1991) and having since been interned within the 'Great' British Gulag Archipelago at H. M. Concentration Camp (Winson Green Road, Birmingham, 2006) , I can assure you, I see very little difference if indeed any between a prison /jail and a factory 'farm' (or indeed a circus, zoo or vivisectors torture chamber which are all as abhorent as a Factory 'Farm') because at the end of the day, it's all about power, domination, control and abuse, something I have both observed and experienced with my aformetnioned former employers, notably in and / on factory 'farms'.

A P KIRK

  • 43.
  • At 10:46 PM on 06 Oct 2006,
  • Chris Johnston wrote:

I was speaking for myself captain KIRK. I AM a carnivore. Leaves and grass are for grazers. Juicy tasty meat for me all day everyday mmmmm.

  • 44.
  • At 04:11 PM on 10 Oct 2006,
  • Tim wrote:

Dana wrote:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=404159&in_page_id=1770

And, if you noticed, they were prosecuted because it was AGAINST THE LAW. This doesn't mean that it happens everywhere. There are always bad apples, murder is illegal but it still happens. Nothing is 100% in this world.

Five or six years ago I spent a total of 18 months working in a poultry plant and never saw anything that even vaguely approached this. Stop fretting about one-off insignificant matters and tuck in to a nice juicy steak, you know you want to.

  • 45.
  • At 04:04 PM on 14 Oct 2006,
  • Daisy the Cow wrote:

Andrew, I understand your sentiments about factory farming. As a Cow, as you would expect, I don't agree with it. But I do lke being organic and I hope my milk is good for people, even though the Food Standards Agency refuses to acknowledge it. Factory farming was a consequence of food shortages after the War. The British Agricultural Establishment was reluctant to stop it because so many ignorant Brits loved cheap, readily available animal products.

Singer's 1975 book, Animal Liberation, woke many people up. But Peter went a little too far. Animals like me are not abused, dominated or whatever by human beings. We have a lovely life. I am an Ayeshire Cow, (brown and white). I can't speak or be human because I am a Cow, but I like being farmed organically and think you are a bit potty. Are you, perhaps, projecting your personal pain on to me and other animals? The two things that are most likely to cause Brits to take up their pens are matters of social status (class) and animals.

We need to move on. Farming in Briatin needs to become a world leader. Our countryside is a precious resource which well-intentioned potty people like you are destroying with your highly intelligent but misconceived ideas about animal rights. You have been confusing townies for too long, especially Labour MPs. Let's acknowledge the areas where we agree, and respectfully disagree about the parts of your philosophy that are potty! Yours ever, Daisy the Cow...moooooooo

  • 46.
  • At 02:13 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Shona wrote:

This is a discussion about consumerism in a way. What we consume, how we choose to consume, the demand this creates, and the effect this demand had on the world we live in. I think that in today’s world, it is the greatest power we have as individuals. Forget the vote… where do you spend your money? Companies aren’t going to stop keeping factory hens because you vote Labour or Conservative, but they will if no one buys the eggs.

I don’t eat meat because I can cut it out of my diet and it does not degrade my quality of life in any significant way (if any). I.e. It does not constitute some grand or difficult sacrifice. Yet the sacrifice and pain required by another creature, to put a steak on my plate is immense. Although I love the taste of meat, the pay-off just isn’t worth it. I love chocolate too, but I wouldn’t eat it if another being had to live under terrible conditions and then be killed so I could enjoy it.

If giving up meat would constitute a sacrifice, inconvenience and hardship for you, then I respect your choice to eat meat. But do not try and persuade me that you hold the moral high ground. I for instance, do not recycle glass as I should because I’m too lazy. I’m not going to try to justify it and I’m not going to try and persuade those who do, that they are potty and overly conscious about the environment. I hope one day that I may be as motivated as them and I respect and admire their efforts.

I feel good about myself as a vegetarian because I’m doing something which requires so little effort, yet has such a profound effect on the lives of other creatures, and how often are we in this wonderful position in our powerless, insignificant lives? If I was on a desert island and had to catch and kills animals to survive, I would. I’m not sentimental or potty. But eating meat in our society, the way we do, well, I just can’t justify it to myself.

We are omnivores, but don’t have to eat meat “because it is natural”. Are aeroplanes and microwaves natural? Are solar panels and computers natural? Are epidurals natural? Just because nature made me to have children, doesn’t mean I have to have them, mindlessly, and 15 of them into the bargain, just because nature designed me to do that. Nothing we do is “natural” anymore, and what is “natural” certainly can not be used as an argument to justify behaviour or conscious choices. We are able to override our natural instincts whenever we have a good enough reason to.

What would happed to farm animals if no one ate meat? This has to one of the most stupid arguments in an array of prize winners. I know I shouldn’t say that, but I just can’t help it. So you’ve been eating meat all these years because you love cows and pigs and want them around? Give me a break. Yes they would cease to exist, and so they should. Turkeys so deformed the weight of their bodies breaks their legs, pigs so huge they cannot move… these “developed mutants” have their wild cousins- the boar, the buffolo ect. These wild animals could continue to exist if we don’t continue to destroy their habitat, for example, McDonalds cutting down the Amazon to graze beef cows.

The comparison of slavery to meat eating is basically to point out that sometimes a widespread social practice is perceived by the majority as necessary and ethically acceptable because it is ingrained in the status quo. It is an example which reminds us that as humans evolve, they question the status quo, change their social structures and become ever more progressive about certain issues. Their values become ever more sophisticated and enlightened, I e. women’s rights, emancipation, the concept of human rights etc. Some of us feel becoming vegetarian is another step in this evolution, in becoming more civilised. However I agree that slavery may not have been a wise choice of analogy because it encourages people think you are comparing people with animals, and that puts people on the defensive, rather than them having them listen to your viewpoint with an open mind. And I’m not interested in being “right” or in having the most cleverly argued turn of phrase on this message board. My concern is only to lessen to suffering of other creatures, be they human or animal, if that is within my power. As this probably is not within my power, the least I can do is not contribute to its increase.

I empathise with and respect animals. I would not say “I love animals” because this sounds a bit infantile. I do not think animals should be treated the same as human beings, or have the same rights. I believe that human suffering and injustice should be prioritised before that of animals- all fair and good. But it is precisely because as human beings and because we are better than animals, because we are different from them, that we don’t have to act like them. Unlike the lion who has no pity for the antelope, we are capable of reasoning, of compassion. If we have these gifts and insights, we should use them.

Who is more likely to be compassionate towards their fellow human beings? Someone who is concerned for the welfare of animals or someone who cares nothing for their suffering? Compassion is compassion, whether you feel it for humans or animals, these two impulses arise from the one and the same capacity in our hearts and souls to be empathetic, and are not mutually exclusive as some people seem to suggest. I do not have to make a choice, either, or, in fact, that would be impossible. We are all members of the same family of planet earth.

  • 47.
  • At 05:06 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • June Gibson wrote:

These are fellow species we are talking about. No, of course farm animals would not exist if people were vegan. I realise that it won't be a vegan world but we are a long way from our omnivore ancestors who probably ate meat only occasionally when they hunted successfully. People eat far too much meat. That's why they are overweight, constipated and have other ills because of our modern diet, which stores too much protein in our bodies, bodies larded as they are with too much animal fats. People can get away with abusing their bodies when they are young but they all pay later. If we became true omnivores there would be no need for the ghastly hell-holes which farm animals have to endure - not to mention the dreadful journeys to slaughter. There would be more land available for grain, less methane being harmf to the planet. It is people's greed that has brought about factory farms and battery cages for hens. Being ethical is good for people!

  • 48.
  • At 03:19 PM on 28 Oct 2006,
  • Dominic Webber wrote:

Shona and June. As human beings, we are omnivorous mammals with a role to play in the animal kingdom. Whether you consume animal products or not, all of us, whether actively or passively, maintain a role in the animal kingdom as predators. I referred in my second contribution to this discussion to the fact that wild Dartmoor colts are culled. What would happen to these animals and the rest of the herd if human beings did not manage their numbers? Nature is part of all of us; by all means deny it if you want to. If you cannot cope with creation as it is, by all means opt out and revolt against it in the way that you are doing. By all means fool yourselves, but let those of us who accept nature and the world for what it is be who we in fact are...Yes omnivorous mammals with a role to play in the animal kingdom.

That role needs to be monitored carefully. Factory farming and mindless consumerism need to be challenged. We can all thank people like yourselves for doing that. Most thoughtful and sensible people today agree with your starting point. Your purist vegan philosophy, however, is misleading and misconceived. But I respect your views nonetheless. Please respect mine.

Peter Singer is one of the most influential philosophers of our age, but he didn't know very much about animals and the natural world when he wrote his seminal work, Animal Liberation. As I have politely explained to him, he is right to assert that animals are sentient creatures that feel pain and deserve respect. That is a fair starting point. His conclusions, however are profoundly misconceived and unnatural as are your views. Intellectual honesty can be confused! Anyone who knows and applies criminal law, as I have done for many years, will vouch for that!

  • 49.
  • At 04:06 PM on 05 Dec 2006,
  • Annika Ekvall wrote:

I find it very tiring to read all the arguments against living on a green animal and dairyfree diet. I want to look at these issues from another angle, in a more direct way because I don't find them complicated at all. What is hard for me as an ethical vegan is to understand how it is possible for so many people to actually eat meat no matter how it is produced when there are so many other options. Factory farming is so horrible it is hard to believe that it exists. But I guess there are many things we don't want to hear about in order to endure life, but is that a good excuse?would you do the same way if humans were involved? As humans we can make good choices which have a beneficial effect for both the planet, other humans and animals. The main thing is to have an open mind and to be able to make some sacrifices in order to gain something else. Even if I always put the human animals first I always found it absolutely obvious that it is wrong to kill any sentient being or make it suffer only because it's a tradition. Then I would abuse the power I have over others lives. I'm proud I don't contribute to the suffering in animal factories and I'm trying to find other ways to make the lives for the ones who cannot speak for themselves easier. I recommend the opponents of our great philospher Peter Singer to look at the recent dvd Behind the Mask, it will help you understand why it is good to be both curious and sensitive like a child and then take the responsibility of an adult and act accordingly.

Factory 'Farming' (like vivisection, animal abusing circuses and zoos) is a vile, sordid, abomination that should not be tolerated in self-respecting, educated society, not least of which because whenever, the (the environment and / or ecology and) animal welfare are compromised, then so too, is human health.

  • 51.
  • At 02:36 AM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Tom Smith wrote:

I am a recent convert to vegetarianism, and I find it a little embarrassing to read the faulty reasoning used by meat eaters. Peter Singer's argument from marginal cases is a solid one, and the charge of speciesism should be taken seriously. You wouldn't like to have your throat slit - so why should you do it to an animal?

Applying rights to non-human animals is in no way misanthropic, if anything, it raises the moral standing of our species. The relentless slaughter of sentient creatures should be looked upon as a barbaric practice, all the more exasperating when you consider the ethical, greener and healthier alternative.

am looking forward to the book being available on 7th September. I am vegan and the author has put into words how I feel. Animals are sentient beings, I have three cats and I wouldn't want to eat them just as I don't wish to eat other animals. It is morally wrong that animals are treated in such barbaric ways, mostly for monitary

I want to look at these issues from another angle, in a more direct way because I don't find them complicated at all. What is hard for me as an ethical vegan is to understand how it is possible for so many people to actually eat meat no matter how it is produced when there are so many other options. Factory farming is so horrible it is hard to believe that it exists. But I guess there are many things we don't want to hear about in order to endure life, but is that a good excuse?would you do the same way if humans were involved? As humans we can make good choices which have a beneficial effect for both the planet, other humans and animals. The main thing is to have an open mind and to be able to make some sacrifices in order to gain something else. Even if I always put the human animals first I always found it absolutely obvious that it is wrong to kill any sentient being or make it suffer only because it's a tradition.

The patent, numbered 5799071 was filed before RTI's but issued after theirs. Although neither patent specifically call for the VOIP technology, nevertheless they do make reference to least cost routing between two points and that seems to be enough. Now, whether the call is initiated through a switch or a plain old telephone, etc.

thanks

I am a recent convert to vegetarianism, and I find it a little embarrassing to read the faulty reasoning used by meat eaters. Peter Singer's argument from marginal cases is a solid one, and the charge of speciesism should be taken seriously. You wouldn't like to have your throat slit - so why should you do it to an animal?

Applying rights to non-human animals is in no way misanthropic, if anything, it raises the moral standing of our species. The relentless slaughter of sentient creatures should be looked upon as a barbaric practice, all the more exasperating when you consider the ethical, greener and healthier alternative.

thankkssss We need to move on. Farming in Briatin needs to become a world leader. Our countryside is a precious resource which well-intentioned potty people like you are destroying with your highly intelligent but misconceived ideas about animal rights. You have been confusing townies for too long, especially Labour MPs. Let's acknowledge the areas where we agree, and respectfully disagree about the parts of your philosophy that are potty! Yours ever, Daisy the Cow...moooooooo

Factory 'Farming' (like vivisection, animal abusing circuses and zoos) is a vile, sordid, abomination that should not be tolerated in self-respecting, educated society, not least of which because whenever, the (the environment and / or ecology and) animal welfare are compromised, then so too, is human health.

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