A Bone to Pick: Vegetarian and Vegan Proselytizing

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“I was a vegetarian until I started leaning towards sunlight.” ~Rita Rudner

Vegan Proselytizers: Cognitive Dissonance Much?

I’ve grown weary of the growing number of proselytizing tirades from vegetarians and vegans; especially when they try to make eating meat a moral issue. Vegetarianism is a dietary preference . . . that’s all it is. Vegans take vegetarianism to its illogical extreme and invariably attempt to make it a moral issue. When they do, they are, at best, confusing compassion with morality. At worst, they’re food fascists wielding the scepter of moral superiority.

Go ahead and cite all the reasons why humans are herbivores. Yeah, list them to your heart’s content. Done? Now, get in your car, drive around, open your eyes and mind, then soak in the reality: McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, Wendy’s, Sizzler, and other chain restaurants that purvey meat. How many restaurants don’t purvey meat? Barbeque, seafood, Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Japanese, Thai, French, Cuban, whatever: they all prominently feature meat. It’s even hard to find an Indian restaurant that doesn’t begrudge meat on their menu. Now don’t you feel silly, standing there with your list of reasons why we’re herbivores? There’s no denying we’re omnivores. Period.

If you’re more of an abstract kind of person, unfazed by practical evidence, maybe physical proof might persuade you. Herbivores are adapted to eat only plants. Omnivores are adapted to eat both plants and animals. Vitamin B12 is produced by bacterial symbiosis in both plants and animals but can only be consumed from meat; not veggies. According to the FDA, the USDA, the CDC and their counterparts in other countries, vitamin B12 is not available from plants: you can only get B12 from meat or from synthesized B12 found in artificially fortified foods and pills. This is proof that we are not adapted to eat only plants: it’s proof that we’re not herbivores. Close, but no cigar. We are not herbivores. Period.

And, by the way, calcium can only be found in a select few dark green leafy veggies, such as: collard greens, turnip greens, bok choy, mustard greens and a few varieties of seaweed. The USDA warns vegetarians that: “Consuming enough plant foods to meet calcium needs may be unrealistic for many.” Humans are, and always have been, omnivores. It’s not a matter of opinion: it’s a simple matter of fact – and thus, not subject to debate. “Humans are herbivores” is a ridiculous claim from the get-go regardless of how many vegan propaganda publications you want to cite to the contrary.

Then there’s the “primates are herbivores” variant of the argument. It’s hard to tell if those who make this argument are ignorant, stupid or lying. The fact is: some primates are herbivores and some are omnivores. Chimps, for instance, will eat meat. More to the point, humans are evolved from a primate species that began supplementing their diets with meat. Homo sapien sapiens have ALWAYS eaten meat: we’ve always been omnivores. It’s in our genes.

Another argument that flies in the face of reality is the “vegetarian diets are healthier for you” claim. I will concede that it is possible to eat a strictly vegetarian diet and remain healthy. But the fact is, you need to eat a wide variety of plants – augmented by B12 and calcium fortified foods or pills – to meet your minimum dietary requirements. And that means you need access to those plants and fortified foods – the full complement of which are only available in well-stocked grocery stores. Even then, doctors recommend dietary supplements to make sure vegetarians get all the nutrients they need. If you’re in the U.S., then you can likely find everything you need at the grocery store (assuming you can afford it). But if you’re in the third world somewhere or in a remote area, you might not be able to sustain a healthy vegetarian diet.

I did try a vegetarian diet, many years ago, when I was young. I never felt satisfied and my jaws frequently ached from chewing, chewing, chewing. Soon meat became too tempting and I quit after about a month or so. There was no sense in denying what I am: an omnivore.

Vegetarian diets are not the healthiest diets. Authoritative dietary experts agree that the healthiest diets include a wide range of foods, including meat and veggies. Research indicates that fish and white meat are normally healthier than red meat but red meat is fine in moderation. Claims to the contrary are pure poppycock.

Many vegetarians started eating a veggie diet because they were turned off by the sight or experience of eating meat. The grease and juices and sinew; the idea that it was alive and kicking just recently. Not much can be said about these subjective reasons. If that’s the way you feel, that’s the way you feel. I don’t begrudge you your vegetarian dietary preference.

Most vegetarians believe it is wrong – as in, immoral – to kill animals for food. If they really believe this, they’re confusing compassion with morality. There’s just one thing they need to keep in mind: morality can’t deny reality and remain valid. The indisputable fact that we are omnivores is a fundamental human reality. My morality accommodates this reality. What about yours?

Mother nature is a zombie. She’s red in tooth and claw. Life can be ugly and survival is, more often than not, violent. I don’t feel sorry for livestock because they’ve filled an evolutionary niche, in service to humanity, that has guaranteed their genes will be passed on indefinitely. Livestock are prolific because of animal husbandry – which dates back to the first domestication of animals. Not only are their large populations assured . . . they no longer have to face predators, draughts or famines. When slaughtered legally, a sheep, cow, pig or chicken led to slaughter dies without the panic and adrenaline terror that accompanies the pursuit, capture and tearing of live flesh, by predators. You think the slaughtering of livestock is inhumane? It’s immensely preferable to what Mother Zombie has in store: death by starvation, dehydration, disease or predator.

The most annoying vegan claim is the claim of moral superiority. I am repulsed by claims of moral superiority for the same reasons I’m repulsed by claims of racial superiority: it’s totalitarian, fascist and intolerant. Give me a break! It’s ridiculous to pretend that morality hinges on eating meat. Morality has multitudinous considerations that we adhere to by varying degrees relative to each other and relative to other people. Diet is just one of those considerations. Even if eating meat were a moral issue (and it’s not), not eating meat doesn’t make you morally superior. It’s just one of many facets of morality: are you morally superior in every way? How naive can you get for Christ’s sake!?! Such a clueless claim serves only to reveal a deep-seated insecurity: the same as with neo-Nazis and skinheads. Superior my ass!

The three monotheistic, Abrahamic, religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – all claim possession of the one true God and, by extension, the moral truth. Because they worship the one true God, their morality is, naturally, superior to all others. It’s these claims to superiority that has made the Abrahamic religions THE most persistently divisive influence in the history of mankind. By claiming moral superiority, vegetarians and vegans are making the same mistake. Morality doesn’t hinge on which God you worship and it sure as hell doesn’t hinge on what you eat.

Vegetarians and vegans should consider the possibility that they’re confusing morality with compassion. I will readily concede they have more compassion for livestock than I do. But so what? Compassion, like morality, has multitudinous considerations that we adhere to by varying degrees relative to each other and relative to other people. For instance, animal rights and women’s reproductive rights are both embraced by liberal-minded progressives – not that you have to be liberal or progressive to embrace them. It’s been my experience that many of the same liberals who bemoan the plight of livestock also endorse late-term abortions – even up to the end of term.

Now, keep in mind that late-term abortions are abortions performed after fetal viability (i.e. the fetus could survive outside the womb, given appropriate postnatal care). Claiming that reproductive rights trump fetal viability all the way to the end of term is the same as claiming it’s okay to kill a fully viable fetus! A fully viable fetus needs only to be removed from the womb to instantly become a baby: a person. Whether it’s internal or external is a mere technicality.

So what we have here is a person who cries out for the plight of livestock, yet has no problem with killing a fully viable fetus. How, exactly, does this person define words like ‘inhumane’, ‘compassion’, ‘humanity’, ‘morality’, ‘progressive’, or ‘reason’?

Cognitive dissonance much?

And finally, there’s the “toxic to the environment” argument. Well, insecticides, fungicides and synthetic fertilizers are also toxic to the environment. They are necessary to protect harvests and feed the world’s 7 billion mouths. It would be more accurate (and less biased) to say that food production – both veggies and meat – are toxic to the environment. But of all the environmentally harmful factors we must deal with, it ranks well below vehicular and industrial pollution (not that this means we can safely ignore the problem). ‘Green’ farming is a nice idea but can’t yet achieve the production levels necessary to meet demand.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot . . . the reason our predecessor species suddenly developed bigger brains is because they began supplementing their fruit, veggies, legumes, tubers, grains, nuts and seeds with meat. It wasn’t just our brains that got bigger; so did our bodies. Vegetarians and vegans need to ask themselves, if a vegetarian diet is so good for us, why did it take meat to make the difference in our intellectual capacity and physique? The switch from herbivore to omnivore is a major milestone in our evolution.

Vegetarianism/veganism is not a proper topic for proselytizing. If you prefer to just eat veggies, then good for you. Implying we are less moral or less humane because we eat meat is simply ignoring the facts in a futile attempt to foist your personal preferences on us. We don’t appreciate it. Humans are omnivores: we eat meat and most of us love it. That’s not going to change any time soon.

Get over it.


© Copyright 2012 AtheistExile.com

eMail: AtheistExile@AtheistExile.com


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Leftist, Politically Correct, Apologists for Islam

(Originally posted at http://AtheistExile.com)

Mormon (LDS) missionaries, who come knocking at your door to proselytize for their church, all receive formal training to ensure they provide approved canned answers to questions and objections from prospective converts. This tactical training previously came from a book called ‘The Uniform System for Teaching the Gospel’. I once had a couple of doorknockers visit me to tell me all about the Mormon faith. Whenever I asked a tough question, they would refer to what they both called ‘the brown book’ for answers, which, I now presume, must be The Uniform System for Teaching the Gospel. In 2004, this book was replaced by ‘Preach My Gospel’, which shifts tactics to ‘teaching by the Spirit’ (designed to cater to ‘individual needs’ of potential converts). I’m not sure if the brown book is so named because it has a brown cover or because it’s contents are derived from the works of Scott Kent Brown (who edited the Encyclopedia of MormonismJournal of the Book of Mormon Studies and the Historical Atlas of Mormonism). I’ve never actually read the brown book . . . it’s not, after all, intended for popular consumption.

It seems that leftist, politically correct, apologists for Islam have developed their own version of the Mormon brown book. In forum and group discussions and debates all over the Internet and other media, you see the same tactics used; as if they’ve all been prepping from the same apologist brown book. I’ve never read this book either but it must be out there somewhere; secretly passed around from apologist to apologist.

Political correctitude, over the last few decades, has evolved to become a leftist, totalitarian, dogma. We all know the routine by now. Criticism of Islam is racist (even though Islam is not a race). Alarm at the consequences of Islamism is fear mongering. Pointing out Muhammad’s questionable morality is hate speech. Anger or frustration at Muslim rioting is intolerance. Support for the anti-burka law in France means you’re a misogynist. The mere mention of the abject failure of multiculturalism in Europe makes you an ultra-conservative wingnut. By impugning your character, apologists for Islam often walk away from an argument without ever rebutting a single point made.

But in order to succeed with these tactics, apologists must shift the target of your criticism away from ideologies and doctrines by, instead, emphasizing the adherents. Be wary of this ploy. Always return focus to the ideas – not the people. If you don’t, they will label you a bigoted hater (ad hominems are okay if they’re politically correct).

Apologists for Islam bend over backwards in an ostentatious display of accommodation and inclusion of Muslims. It’s very nice to accommodate and include people: even when they tend not to accommodate or include you in return. Accommodation and inclusion are among the finest of liberal ideals. Human rights, equal rights, anti-discrimination and all that. But Islamism is different. In order to explain the difference, you need to keep focus on Islamic ideology and doctrine, not on the adherents. Do we really want to accommodate and include Sharia and Jihad? Of course not! But neither do we want to single out Muslims in any way . . . including extending them special treatment.

Which brings us to the difference between pluralism and multiculturalism. America has traditionally been a ‘melting pot of nations’. Ours is a pluralistic society which encourages immigrants to blend in while still embracing their own cultures, if they choose. Nobody gets special treatment. In contrast, Europe, for many decades, has adopted the approach of multiculturalism; partly to accommodate the special demands of Muslim immigrants. This policy has led to Muslim enclaves in Europe’s cities – entire areas dominated by a culture and values foreign to their host countries. By extending them special treatment, Europe has not succeeded in integrating Muslims into their societies and is now waking up to the abject failure of their multicultural experiment. From restrictions on the height of mosque minarets to banning the burka: we are witnessing, in Europe, a backlash against a multiculturalism that has failed its main goals to include and accommodate.

European multiculturalism has failed because it doesn’t understand just how alien the Islamic worldview is to their own. European culture and worldview is rooted in (reformed) Christianity and Greek philosophy. Islamic culture and worldview is rooted in the Quran and Arab philosophy. Everything about Islam: it’s hadith, traditions, culture, Sharia law and Jihad is based on the unerring truth of the Quran. Logic takes a back seat to Allah’s will: if Allah willed it, it’s right: end of discussion. Islamic culture precludes questioning or challenging its sources and, thus, does not evolve – much less, reform itself.

I should, belatedly, distinguish Islamism from Islam. Islamism is not just the religion of Islam; it is also a political (Jihad) and legal (Sharia) ideology. I criticize the religion of Islam as a rabid dogma. And it is. But MOST adherents are like most of us — they just want to live their lives with as little drama as possible. I know this from the 6 months I lived in Kuwait.

But the Islamic fundamentalists are another matter entirely. They are the pawns of Islamism: manipulated by callous and calculating leaders who hate everything we stand for. Islam is a rabid dogma that provides Islamism with the fanatics and license for violence needed for Jihad.

Apologists for Islam want to deny this. They want to embrace those who hate us, in some sort of holier-than-thou vision of an uber-liberal utopia. They don’t understand that Islamists see this cumbayah vision as a weakness. Islamists laugh up their sleeves at these clueless apologists while thanking them for helping to undermine our values and way of life.


© Copyright 2012 AtheistExile.com
eMail: AtheistExile@AtheistExile.com

Overcoming Childhood Indoctrination

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Let’s see: people who are centuries old; immaculate conception; resurrection after 3 days; transubstantiation; efficacy of prayer; miracles . . . need one be stupid to believe these impossible things? Hmmmm. It sure as hell can’t hurt! Statistically, it’s more likely to believe these things because you were ignorant — just a child — when you were spoon-fed these lies. Either way, you weren’t born believing impossible things. You had to have been taught, indoctrinated, brainwashed. Children readily believe these kinds of things. Especially when people they trust tell them it’s the truth. They then believe it, without ever evaluating it. It gets internalized as a normal, accepted, part of their identity. Later, as we reach intellectual maturity, the dissonance between fact and fiction prompts many of us to finally examine those unexamined ‘truths’. Many of us manage to sort out the lies. But, apparently, many more of us don’t.

Since we’re basically talking about THINKING here, what could account for the relatively low percentage of us who figure out what the lies were?

Is a lot of intelligence required to sift out the lies? I don’t think so. I think confidence in one’s own relative intelligence is more important. If you think yourself intellectually weak or stupid, how can you dare have the hubris to say all your friends and family and 2 billion other people are wrong?

And that’s exactly what the anti-intellectual scriptures of the Abrahamic religions want you to think. In the Garden of Eden, curiosity cost us our immortality. God comes down hard and decisively against using the brains he ‘blessed’ us with. God is threatened by human understanding, so it won’t do to have us thinking for ourselves and taking credit for our own accomplishments. All praise goes to God. None goes to man. It’s self-reinforced brainwashing. These religions would never have survived if people had confidence in themselves. They want you on your knees and supplicant — not standing upright and proud, thinking for yourself. Excessive pride is vanity but contrary to what the Bible would have you believe, pride is not a sin. Pride is a natural, human, emotion that recognizes achievement in ourselves and those we love.

We’re only human; we have limits. But that doesn’t mean you should accept that ‘born into sin’ crap. If you believe you’re an unworthy wretch, you probably will be. The fact is, people make mistakes. But they’re just mistakes — not ‘sins’. We can learn from our mistakes and correct them. That’s how we improve and grow as human beings. You can’t improve by offloading accountability onto anyone or anything else. You’re responsible for, and accountable to, yourself.

René Descartes is famous for his quote: “Cogito ergo sum” — I think, therefore I am. The most real thing you can possibly believe in is yourself. The most unreal thing you can possibly believe in is the impossible. Believe in yourself . . . not in impossible things! Don’t let religion twist things around. You can do it.

There is no God higher than truth.

 


© Copyright 2012 AtheistExile.com
eMail: AtheistExile@AtheistExile.com


 

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Moral Issue, My Ass!

ImageThere is no objective moral standard in nature . . . and there sure as hell ain’t none in the supernatural. So morality is subjective. If people had their way, just about anything could become a moral issue: pet ownership, consumerism, relative wealth, divorce, transgender surgery, capitalism, alcohol, tobacco, meat, wool, fur, accommodationism, inoculations, drugs, hunting, firearms, free speech, sexual orientation, on and on. I say, don’t preach to me unless I’m personally culpable . . . and you’re not.

There seems to be many ideas of what constitutes a moral issue. To some, it’s a matter of belief (as opposed to preference). To some it’s visceral: they know it when they feel it. To some, it’s a matter of avoiding harm to others; possibly including animals or even plants. To some, it’s a matter of the greater good. To some, it’s a matter of consensus or majority opinion. To some, it can be any combination of these things.

My own idea of what constitutes a moral issue is personal culpability when it can be reasonably avoided. Could I have avoided causing harm? If so, crossing that line is a moral issue to me if I’ve crossed that line. My reason for this is to preempt being pulled into every personal or political agenda that grabs the fickle limelight of the public. Like veganism/vegetarianism, for instance.

My idea of morality separates moral issues from other kinds of issues: humanitarian issues, political issues, environmental issues, legal issues, health issues, social issues, national sovereignty or security issues, economic issues, personal issues, religious, ethnic or racial issues, or whatever. It’s not a moral issue to me, unless I am personally culpable of reasonably avoidable harm.

World hunger is not a moral issue to me. I’m not personally culpable for it. It’s a humanitarian issue. So is birth control, slavery and overpopulation. Abortion? A legal issue. So is murder and animal cruelty, unless I’m the one committing them. Pollution, strip mining, deforestation and global warming? Environmental issues.

As in murder, other kinds of issues can become moral issues when you are personally culpable. If you dispose of used motor oil in your local lake – knowing it’s illegal and environmentally hazardous – it becomes a moral issue for you as well as a legal and environmental issue.

What I particularly hate is intolerance masquerading as morality – you know, when people turn their personal preferences into beliefs they then foist upon others. These pseudo-issues and their advocates can go to hell as far as I’m concerned. This intolerance is easy to see when it comes to religions. People born into one religion or another often prefer it over others and might even believe theirs is somehow better or more valid. Well, they can believe what they want but as soon as they try to advocate or discriminate against some other religion(s), they are practicing intolerance – not pursuing morality. The same goes for veganism or vegetarianism: as soon as it is wielded as some sort of moral billyclub, it becomes intolerance: and when advocated publicly, it becomes political. A personal preference is not and should never be a political issue: not even if it’s the majority view.

If you’re a bleeding heart charter member of the Moral Issue of the Month Club, I ‘m not interested in your latest cause célèbre.


© Copyright 2012 AtheistExile.com
eMail: AtheistExile@AtheistExile.com