View Full Version : Roadkill, dogmatism and cannibalism

Pages : [1] 2 3 4

Sep 30th, 2004, 12:12 AM
I recently read this (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=426) very interesting thread concerning the ethics of eating unwanted and unfertilised eggs.

Now I would like to ask, in the same vein, what are the ethical considerations on eating, for example, roadkill? Or animals that have died of old age?
Before the flaming starts - I have no plans to do either, and I understand the responsibility borne by humans in the creation of roadkill. I also understand that "VEGANS DO NOT EAT ANIMAL PRODUCTS". That isn't the issue though, is it? I mean, do you not eat animal products because you don't eat animal products (i.e. is the not-eating the goal of your veganism), or do you not eat animal products because you refuse to partake in the exploitation of animals? If the latter, it would seem (to me) somewhat difficult to use that to forbid the eating of the carcass of an animal that died of old age. And please don't use the "that's gross" argument, as that always reminds me somewhat of the purile tone of the omni argument of "if animals weren't meant to be eaten, why do they taste so good".

I am also interested in a hypothetical situation of consuming cow's milk (another bad habit I have rid myself of). Now, obviously, the issue is once again the exploitation of the animals. As we all (rightly) view animal keeping as slavery, I will take an analogy from slavery. It is obviously unethical to use a shirt made by a slave. Yet if the slave is freed, and continues making shirts, for a good wage, in good working conditions, of his own free will, it is clearly entirely acceptable to use this shirt (once you've paid for it). The Indian philosophy of "a'himsa" (sp?) claims that cow's milk is a gift given by the cow, and as such not the result of doing harm to the cow. Again, we would all agree that this is incorrect, as nobody can claim that were able to make the cow understand all the implications of these actions, as well as getting full buy-in from the cow.
So my second question is, if the cow were able to clearly and unambiguously communicate to us her desire to share her excess milk with us, would veganism allow us to partake of this gift?

Sep 30th, 2004, 12:41 AM
Actually, not only is there the issue of exploitation and harm to animals, but also the unhealthiness of eating animal carcass and secretions. Plant-based foods are nutritious; that's all my body needs to thrive. I have no reason to even THINK about consuming animal products; it's not necessary for my survival, regardless of the circumstances.

And yes, it's disgusting, and that's not an "argument," as you stated; it's an opinion shared by many of us here.

Sep 30th, 2004, 01:29 AM
Yes, I agree with the disgusting, and I agree with the unhealthfulness, however, neither of those (in the end) played any role in my conversion to strict vegetarianism. That was because I wanted to stop the harming of animals in my name.
Either way, I'm just wondering if a) what I mentioned originally would be an issue, and b) if it's even relevant.
I'm trying to examine the boundaries, I guess, of veganism as a life-ethic. I am fairly new to this ethic, and haven't yet completely formed my foundation, if you see what I mean. By exploring the shadowy areas of my understanding, I hope to more clearly see where the boundaries lie, or where I want to place the boundaries myself.

Sep 30th, 2004, 01:58 AM
Driving home from work, another, more reality-based thought crossed my tiny mind, and almost escaped me. Luckily it got stuck in my earwax, and I am now able to store it here in this forum for all posterity (please excuse any remaining earwax).

What about animal manure? Is it veganically ethical to use this to grow your crops, assuming it was collected from free animals, living in the wild?

Sep 30th, 2004, 03:45 AM
Listen, if you want to eat roadkill, eat it. No, you won't have to feel bad about it. It is not the same as keeping an animal enslaved and torturing that animal untill you feel like killing him or her to eat. However, if you do eat roadkill or discarded eggs or meat out of a garbage can, don't call yourself a vegan. It isn't that vegans are part of an exclusive club. It is that we are proof that you can survive, be healthy, and thrive off of a diet which contains no animal products. So, if you call yourself a vegan and eat animal products, meat-eaters look at you and say, "See, I knew people couldn't survive without meat."

Does that answer your question?

Sep 30th, 2004, 04:06 AM
Omni's seem to love to throw the 'what if it died of natural causes, would you still eat it?' question at me and my response is always that, in theory, yes I could eat roadkill or animals that died of old age. Purely from the point of view that I became vegan because animals shouldn't suffer for me to live. Obviously, I would never dream of eating something like that because, as John said, we don't need meat to survive.

As for the milk thing, I can't imagine that a cow that got pregnant by choice and fed it's calf as long as it naturally needs to, would actually produce excess milk that it would like to share with us. Isn't the whole point of it that a mother (of any species) produces enough milk to sustain her baby and so wouldn't have excess anyway? I'd have to say that, no, I would never drink the cow's milk. Besides, if we lived in a world where the cow could talk to us, we probably would never had started eating them or drinking their milk in the first place..... :rolleyes:

Sep 30th, 2004, 04:38 AM
John - your response doesn't directly answer what I asked, but I think it does address what I meant. Between what you and Artichoke47 said, I get something like:
Vegans (attempt to) live their lives in a way that does not cause harm to any living beings. This includes themselves. Eating meat, no matter how acquired, causes harm to the eater.
Does that sound like a reasonable extrapolation?
I don't agree with the "we are proof..." thing, though. My vegetarianism is a manifestation of my belief that I should harm no others, not an "I told you so".

Leigh - some humans produce excess milk, at least as far as their own children are concerned. In some African tribes, the grandmother might help feed a baby, with her own breast milk, even when she hasn't recently been pregnant (ain't hormones a wonderful thing?) So she is now providing milk for someone other than her own child. The same is sometimes done in the West by adoptive mothers of newborns.
Either way, the milk question was stoopid of me - sorry.
Although it would be cool if the cows could talk to us - I bet we could learn a lot from them...

Sep 30th, 2004, 04:43 AM
Do you want to know what we think or do you just want to argue with our views? What's the point of posting in this thread? You ask a question, you get answers, and then you tell us you disagree. Well, I don't really frankly care if you disagree with me; my opinion won't be changed by you or anyone else. Thanks.

Sep 30th, 2004, 05:03 AM
I'm sorry that I'm not as intelligent as most people on this forum.
I do want to kow what you think, but more than that, I want to understand it. I am certainly not trying to change your opinion, rather I am trying to learn from those who have already had time to think things through, and form their opinions, so that I might see which ideas "click" with me, if you see what I mean.
I got most of my questions answered by existing threads, both in the old forum and now in the new, but some questions were still bothering me. I do appreciate your input on these issues.
I apologise if I'm coming across as obnoxious.

8 winks
Sep 30th, 2004, 05:20 AM
this is really messed up. i saw some poor dead creature on the side of the road tonite and was wondering the same things. i couldn't decide.

Sep 30th, 2004, 09:15 AM
Question 58 from the manual of animal rights, see HERE. (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=68&highlight=manual+animal+rights)

What if I made use of an animal that was already dead?

It is not the eating of meat that is wrong but the killing of animals unnecessarily. As meat eating is unnecessary and generally requires the killing of an animal, it usually follows that meat eating is wrong. If, however, you managed to obtain some meat without killing an animal (or by paying someone else to kill it for you) -- for example, by stumbling across an animal that was already dead -- then I can see no moral objection to your eating it. Of course this also applies to human meat. Recent archeological evidence suggests that early humans were much more inclined toward scavenging than hunting.

The manure thing, theres several threads floating around about that.

"Either way, the milk question was stoopid of me - sorry". I respect your honesty.

Sep 30th, 2004, 10:12 AM
Question 21 from www.animal-rights.com

What if I made use of an animal that was already dead?

There are two ways to interpret this question. First, the questioner might really be making the excuse "but I didn't kill the animal", or second, he could be asking about the morality of using an animal that has died naturally (or due to a cause unassociated with the demand for animal products, such as a road kill). For the first interpretation, we must reject the excuse. The killing of animals for meat, for example, is done at the request (through market demand), and with the financial support (through payment), of the end consumers. Their complicity is inescapable. Society does not excuse the receiver of stolen goods because he "didn't do the burglary".

For the second interpretation, the use of naturally killed animals, there seems to be no moral difficulty involved. Many would, for esthetic reasons, still not use animal products thus obtained. (Would you use the bodies of departed humans?) Certainly, natural kills cannot satisfy the great demand for animal products that exists today; non-animal and synthetic sources are required.

Other people may avoid use of naturally killed animal products because they feel that it might encourage a demand in others for animal products, a demand that might not be so innocently satisfied.

This can be viewed as a question of respect for the dead. We feel innate revulsion at the idea of grave desecration for this reason. Naturally killed animals should, at the very least, be left alone rather than recycled as part of an industrial process. This was commonly practiced in the past, e.g., Egyptians used to mummify their cats.

Sep 30th, 2004, 10:35 AM
Weathering the "What Ifs"

What would be the "official" vegan stance on the consuming of meat from an animal that died of natural causes (i.e. old age, natural predator, etc.)? I was asked this question, and found it difficult to answer, save the rather uneducated, "Ick! But it's meat!" By Joanne Stepaniak, HERE. (http://www.vegsource.com/jo/qa/qawhat.htm)

Sep 30th, 2004, 10:41 AM
Ha! I just used the "stolen goods" analogy on another thread and here it is. I thought that I had been the first to think of that.

Sep 30th, 2004, 11:47 AM
I'm sorry, Mysh. It just seemed that you were waiting for answers to argue with. I misinterpreted your intent. :)

Sep 30th, 2004, 02:49 PM
Reading through the above mentioned thread on manure brings one to Soilman's website:
I guess I have my reading materials for the next week or so!

Sep 30th, 2004, 11:52 PM
This may be stupid but, I don't consider a switch from farmed animal meat to "naturally deceased" animal meat to be more vegan because there are other species that actually rely on those dead animals to survive and they would end up facing starvation if there were alot of humans consuming those animals.

Oct 1st, 2004, 12:11 AM
Yeah - I believe I mentioned that in one of my responses in the honey thread. But I only realised it after posting this one. Disturbing the ecological balance is a bad thing... :(
Where I live, the turkey vultures are very efficient at scavenging, and they keep the roads pretty clean.

Oct 1st, 2004, 11:10 AM
Hi, prepare yourself for a long post, which partially also is a reply to a message in another thread (I'll post a link there...)

In an attept to answer your questions, Mysh, I think it's important to understand that veganism is not a religion. It's a definition that covers a group of people who have decided that they are against killing or harming animals, and therefore ie. don't eat animal products. Veganism was born out of the need to go a step further than those who called themselves vegetarians: it was essential to establish a defintion, a word, that covered people who did not want to eat animal products at all and use animal products as little as possible in general.

Now, even water from a well or tap water normally contain traces of animals, so if we want to make it complicated, we could say that you can't drink water and be a vegan. Humans need water...

But we want to make it simple, not complicated. Language is language, and words are meant to make communication simpler. If I go to a cafe and a meal is desrcribed as vegan, I know that there there are no eggs, meat or milk of any kind in it, wherever I go. Even if I travel to the Northern parts of Europe or Alaska, in the winter, where they can't grow vegetables for months... if someone offer me a vegan meal, I want the definition 'vegan' to always mean that there are no animal products in the food - in the real-life sense of the word, not the complicated 'even-water-contains-traces-of-animal-products-so-you-can't-eat-or-drink-anything' interpretation.

I was travelling in Sweden a month ago, and found a few really small veggie- or semi-veggie cafe's that was very clear about what was vegan and what was not. The vegan desserts had 'Vegan'-stickers on them. The people who worked there knew the definition of vegan, and avoided milk, butter, cheese and so on in the vegan meals. This was around the birthday of 94 year old Donald Watson, who invented the word vegan, and when I saw these little 'vegan'-labels, I caught myself thinking that his decision in 1944 to create a word that, when used on food, always implies that there are no dairy products, egg or meat in the food... his 'little' idea 60 years ago makes my life a lot easier when I communicate with people today.

Imagine vegan organizations, websites or cafe's throughout the world now when veganism is being spread much faster than before. IF someome chould change the common meaning of 'vegan food' into 'food that contains no products from animals unless the animals were not harmed or killed on purpose in the process of obtaining them', we would immedieatly need to, again, try to repeat Donald Watsons brilliant idea from 1944: we would need a word that, when it comes to food, always meant that there were no animal products in it.

An extremely small number of people insist that they are vegans and still allow animal products in food under given circumstances: 'the animal died a natural death', 'the egg wasn't fertilized', 'I killed the animal myself, I didn't buy it', 'I live in an area where it's so cold that I need to eat meat to survive', 'I live in an area where there are lots of wild animals in the neighbourhood, and I can't see anything wrong in hunting'.... Try to imagine what would happen if the definiition of veganism should change, and from now on include animal products under these or other conditions:

1) Vegan cafe's in cold, areas/climates would have animal products in them.
2) There would be a need to distinguish between meat 'approved by vegans' and other meat.
3) In parts of the third world/rural areas/cold climates, vegan cafes and cook books would have recipes containing animal products.
4) Vegan webistes, run by, say people in the third world in cities near areas where 'vegan hunting' would have recipes containing meat, unfertilized eggs (and possibly milk from cows that could talk :) ).
5) Being invited to a dinner with a vegan could in some areas mean that the meal he offered you contained meat from roadkills, or from his neighbour's dog, that died a natural death last weak.... :-(

We don't want that. Eating the meat of animals or even humans that dies a natural death doesn't mean that these animal or humans have been harmed or killed for food purposes. If veganism was a religion, and the word 'vegan' should be redefined to include meat, eggs, dairy etc. on under given circumstances, the word would loose it's meaning: communication about vegan food would much more complicate. Being vegan would be something different than it is and always has been.

Veganism was born out of the wish not to harm or kill animals, including not keeping them captured for leather, eggs and other animal products. Today, since many people eat only plant based food even if they are not vegans, it's more important than ever not to change the definition of 'vegan'. Since the word 'vegan' always means no eggs (of any kind, fertilized or not), no meat (not even from roadkills or animals who died of old age) and so on, all kinds of people who don't want to eat animal products can ask for a vegan meal and know what they get. If you ask for 'vegan food', it means plant based food, and not meat, eggs or dairy - everywhere: in 'primitive' cultures, in all climates and in all countries, for rich and for poor.

If you are stuck on the North Pole and need to eat fish to survive, then you need to eat fish to survive, but fish is still not vegan food!

(Talking of fish, I just read that Norwegian anthropolgists got a surprise when analyzing stone age findings along the coastal line of Norway (well, Norway IS a coastal line, sort of). This wasn't even Southern Norway, but from an area which has really cold and long winters. They seem to have found out that they didn't eat fish at all, but a lot of raspberries and hazelnuts (just like me! :) ), and only food 'from the soil'.)

You may say that since some people insist that they 'go vegan for health reasons alone', the definition of 'vegan' is alread washed out. My opinion is the total opposite: as I said, since many people want plant based food for many different reasons (special diets, taste, milk allergy or lactose intolerance, ethical reasons, or general health concerns), let's make life easy for all of us and just continue to use 'vegan' about food that does not contain animal products, period. If someone wants to discuss the ethics concerned with eating dead animals in certain situations, they discuss ethics, not vegan vs. non-vegan.

Oct 1st, 2004, 11:31 AM
Bloody brilliant Korn! My thoughts exactly. (I would have said all of the above but I'm too tired / lazy / old!)

Oct 1st, 2004, 03:03 PM
Korn, beautifully articulated and expressed in a compassionate, non-judgemental way (as always). ;)

Oct 1st, 2004, 03:13 PM
Korn - thank you for your detailed and thorough response. As with all your responses, this one has been very helpful to me.
Just to prove Artichoke right about my argumentative nature ;) , I would like to add some things. You use the term 'vegan' to define a dietary choice. The way I understood it (after several months of calling myself vegan, and through reading Jo Stepaniak's definitions, plus others), was that the dietary choice that vegans make is strict (or total) vegetarianism. Veganism goes beyond simple dietary choices. It adds things like not wearing leather or wool, not buying beeswax candles, and so on. This is why I started referring to myself as a strict vegetarian (or sometimes a dietary vegan, or veganish). I still wear (old) leather, my car (bought used 4 years ago) has leather covered seats, I still kill stinging and biting bugs, etc. Veganism, as a general concept, is clearly an ethic, not just a dietary choice.

I agree that using the term "vegan" for food is clear and (fairly) unambiguous, and should stay so. I used to piss off waiters at restaurants by asking for vegetarian suggestions, and rejecting everything that they suggested because it contained dairy, eggs or fish(!). My wife explained about language being there to communicate, so it's irrelevant if I'm technically right if the other guy doesn't understand me. So I'm on-board now with the use of "vegan" to describe food with certain properties. Although even here there are discrepancies - for example methods of preparation of sugar and alcoholic drinks. I buy "vegan" sugar, yet would still accept food sweetened with non-vegan sugar in a restaurant. I do not buy vegan alcohol, yet stil consider myself having a vegan diet. I do understand your "best effort" definition, which is why I allow myself the above exceptions, and don't beat myself up too badly when I miss an ingredient.

As an aside, did the restaurant you went to in Sweden use the V-label (http://www.v-label.info) to identify the vegan food choices? I wish that were used in the US - it would make lots of things much easier! You can see how much I liked it - it's even in my avatar.

I guess the upshot of all my incoherent ramblings is, consuming already dead animal flesh is not part of a vegan diet. Conversely, as long as this act does not remove food from the food chain of other animals, it is not necessarily at odds with a vegan ethic (although it probably is for most vegans). It is, however, at odds with just about any definition of good taste... :eek:

And I still wish cows could talk - they're such cool animals! :cool:

Oct 1st, 2004, 03:19 PM
Eating animals or their secretions goes against any sensible Vegan's ethical code, reguardless of how or why or when the poor creature expired or secreted said substance; This has nothing to do with removing it from the "food chain"of other animals. Eating animals or their secretions under any circumstances violates the code of ethics and the beleifs and convictions that have gathered and been integrated into one's consciousness and create the desire to become and stay vegan.

Oct 1st, 2004, 03:50 PM
CC - I don't really understand why. If I haven't understood it after 3 pages, I doubt I will anytime soon... :confused: *sigh* Obviously I wouldn't eat any flesh, regardless of how it was obtained, so maybe I don't need further understanding. I understand that everyone on this forum feels that way, but group-think doesn't impress me all too much. Thanks anyway for trying to explain.

Oct 1st, 2004, 04:37 PM
Under "normal" circustances, not stranded in the Arctic or after Nuclear War,

Would you eat a dead human?
I would be just as likely to eat a dead human as a dead animal.
That's 'cause I'm Vegan and regardless of how or why the animal is dead, I don't consider it to be food, just as I don't consider a human to be food.