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Thread: Distinction between species and making a connection.

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    Default Distinction between species and making a connection.

    I have been vegan for over two months now but I can feel some old ways wanting to creep back in. Things like meat, milk, cheese and eggs I don't worry about, I won't be eating those again as the link between those products and animals is still in my head. What I'm having trouble with is are the things I find trivial (I use this word for want of a better term). I also understand the hardcore vegans out there will probably want to pounce on me for saying this but I'm posting this for advice on making the connection rather than receiving abuse.

    I still wear my leather trainers I've had since before I made the change and I will until they are worn out. My issue is that when I look at them I don't see an animal, I don't know the process from cow to leather and I can't see any connection there even though I know where it comes from. Foods that contain extracts from insects in the manufacturing process also aren't an issue to me. A cow, a pig, a chicken, they all have aspects we can connect with, you can look in their eyes, you can tell they share a lot of the same emotions as we do but I can't say the same about insects. The final one is honey, not a jar of, never been a fan but for example 9bar, I think they are great but they often contain honey and that doesn't really bother me.

    I hope you understand I don't mean any offence by this, I'm just trying to understand how I can make it more ingrained in my head rather than, for example, seeing honey in the ingredients and not wanting it rather than choosing not to have it but not really being bothered by it and being tempted to buy it anyway.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    Hi dxt1, well done for making the transition to veganism.

    As far as leather is concerned, you might find it helpful to remind yourself that it is a byproduct of the meat and dairy industries: the cow's skin is removed as part of the same process that sees it carved up into meat (and various other unpleasant things). It's up to you whether you feel you should get rid of your leather products or wait until they wear out (opinion is kind of divided on this matter), but it's not, in my opinion, really consistent to not eat meat but continue buying leather. The vegan society have produced quite a good leaflet on the subject, which you can view here. They also produce this one about wool.

    As for bees and other insects: to be fair, there's still quite a lot of debate between animal rights theorists as to whether (at least some) invertebrates should merit the same moral consideration as vertebrates, hinging on the perceived difficulty of establishing that they feel pain. My own opinion on the matter is that insects certainly do suffer (and bees certainly suffer from being farmed for their honey) - however, I think that that debate is a bit of a red herring. All animals (with the possible exception of really simple animals like sponges or bivalves) pursue their own good. I know that when it's tucked away on a list of ingredients, the harm of crushing a cochineal beetle isn't really very vivid, but what I remind myself of is that the beetle represents an individual, that it had its own little world that has been destroyed to create something we don't really need, and that the beetle would prefer not to be crushed, given the choice.

    Another way of looking at it was suggested to me by a Citizen Radio interview I heard recently with vegan MMA fighter Erin Red (it's pretty sweary, in case that sort of thing bothers you). She was discussing the morality of keeping one's own hens in order to eat their eggs, and her response was that the moral issue here is caused by the fact that the eggs aren't ours to take. I think you could make a similar argument in the case of honey, wool and similar products that sometimes seem 'incidental' to the really egregious damage caused by the meat industry. If we could contract with the animals concerned to negotiate the use of their honey or whatever the it might be a different story, but we can't.

    Anyway, I hope this has been helpful (and not too patronising): just a couple of suggestions of ways you might want to look at the questions you've raised. I've got to say, it's great that you're giving serious consideration to these issues at all: I drifted along for about a year after I first decided I wanted to go vegan without really giving honey, wool, leather, etc. that much consideration.
    "Eventually, I realised that the reason I was so angry was because I want people in the world to be well." - Ian MacKaye

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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    Quote Wraithling
    I know that when it's tucked away on a list of ingredients, the harm of crushing a cochineal beetle isn't really very vivid, but what I remind myself of is that the beetle represents an individual, that it had its own little world that has been destroyed to create something we don't really need, and that the beetle would prefer not to be crushed, given the choice.
    Wow, that does make me sad. Good quote.
    I would suggest, to the OP, that you do a little research, maybe watch some videos depicting how these things get to where you are. It's hard sometimes, but it can help to remind yourself of why you don't take part in these things.

    For whatever reason, I don't have a hard time connecting us two. I see insects' eyes when I look at them.
    I see them trying to live, just like us. I see them having families and growing up, and dying.
    I see them with lives.
    And I don't like remembering the times I've beat them to death with a fly-swatter.
    "There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle." -Robert Alden

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    Bad Buddhist Clueless Git's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    Hi Dxt1 and nice posts there by Wraithling and ShadowTears, if I may say so

    Something I post frequently. It's the opening lines from the chapter 'Violence' in the Buddhist Dhamapadda ..

    All beings tremble before violence.
    All fear death.
    All love life.

    See yourself in others.
    Then whom can you hurt?
    What harm can you do?

    He who seeks happiness
    By hurting those who seek happiness
    Will never find happiness.
    I never (yet) met anyone who didn't know that (compassion brings happiness) to be true within the limitations of their own 'sphere of compassion' (compassion for family, freinds, pets, 'cute' things that aren't edible etc ..), btw.

    At the same time precious few can grasp the concept that the trick to experiencing the happiness of compassion more frequently and more deeply is simply to expand their sphere of compassion to encompass as much within it as is humanly possible.

    A cow, a pig, a chicken, they all have aspects we can connect with, you can look in their eyes, you can tell they share a lot of the same emotions as we do but I can't say the same about insects.
    Possibly all we need ingrained in our heads is simply that the same desire that we feel to just live out our lives is shared by all living things. That that one thing, that one emotion, connects us to all other living things without exception?
    Last edited by Clueless Git; Dec 3rd, 2012 at 11:54 AM.
    All done in the best possible taste ...

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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    Hello - I can't really connect emotionally with fish (and for a while used this as a reason to go on eating them :/) but from the scientific writing I have read there is good evidence that they have evolved with the same urges as we have to go on living and avoid pain etc. The fact that I can't empathise with them much is probably a defect of my imagination, if anything. Same goes for insects...we can't avoid harming them sometimes but that doesn't mean we should use them for our own purposes regardless of their interests.

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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    I, too, can not really connect with bugs, bees, mussles, shrimp or similar.

    Nevertheless, I simply choose not to consume their products, that is not really a big thing IMO.

    Best regards,
    Andy

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    Bad Buddhist Clueless Git's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    Quote Andy_T View Post
    I, too, can not really connect with bugs, bees, mussles, shrimp or similar.
    It's fun Andy.

    Try it!



    Anyways, little story ..

    When my own kids were little some of their freinds came over during our 'flying ant season' and started a game of ant squashing. Wasn't too happy but decided to deal with it gently. Minor distraction technique of calling them indoors for drinks and biscuits to tell them about what the flying ants were and what they were doing. Then back outside to watch the ants so they could see a bit of what I had told them.

    The ants seemed to give the kiddies a different kind of amusement after that. They trod around them carefully which made me very happy
    All done in the best possible taste ...

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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    I went camping in August and came across this little insect pictured below. It (for lack of knowledge of whether it was a female or male) flew by my head and landed on a tree trunk. My husband reached his hand out and the insect gingerly stepped on to it. He said he had seen those before and they are very friendly and curious. At first I was afraid of it, but I found the courage to reach my hand out and let it step into my palm which it did on its own. We made eye contact for what seemed like forever. Eventually the insect flew away. It was an incredible experience. I guess you had to be there lol. I don't fear spiders the same way I used to. I have a healthy respect for their space, and if they invade mine, I gently move them somewhere else. Mosquitos on the otherhand I have a harder time connecting with...

    [IMG][/IMG]

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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    Your pal looks like a mini dinosaur, Robin I've always liked spiders, not so keen on the less photogenic insects but that's my problem more than theirs

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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    Quote Robinwomb View Post
    Mosquitos on the otherhand I have a harder time connecting with ..
    Me too Robin. I can react badly to mozzie bites to the degree that I have a hard time not connecting with them (in the wrong way) out of self protection instinct.

    The Dali Lamma is said to have said this when questioned about he extends non-violent loving kindness to things like mosquitos; "If a mosquito lands on me I brush it away. If it lands on me a second time I take that as a sign that I am meant to be the instrument of it's Karma."

    The DL is also reported to have said "I'm a buddhist monk, not a vegetarian. I'll have the veal please waiter." But that's another story.
    All done in the best possible taste ...

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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    Try watching "Finding Nemo", "A Bug's Life", etc... it might help

    Quote harpy View Post
    Hello - I can't really connect emotionally with fish (and for a while used this as a reason to go on eating them :/) but from the scientific writing I have read there is good evidence that they have evolved with the same urges as we have to go on living and avoid pain etc. The fact that I can't empathise with them much is probably a defect of my imagination, if anything. Same goes for insects...we can't avoid harming them sometimes but that doesn't mean we should use them for our own purposes regardless of their interests.

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    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    In case I wasn't clear enough, my point is really that it doesn't matter whether you empathise with something or not - either way, you don't have the right to exploit it.

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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    I totally agree Harpy
    Tanya

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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    Quote Edu View Post
    Try watching "Finding Nemo", "A Bug's Life", etc... it might help
    How is that going to help?

    Bugs, fish etc. do NOT behave like humans, although Hollywood animation artists might find it cute.
    I do not believe in using animals, but I do not believe either in attributing human thoughts (at the level that those movies show) to animals, either.

    Best regards,
    Andy

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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    Quote harpy View Post
    In case I wasn't clear enough, my point is really that it doesn't matter whether you empathise with something or not - either way, you don't have the right to exploit it.
    Nicely put

    Unfortunately if you scratch the surface of omnis the very fact that they can exploit other living things is all part of the appeal of eating meat.

    To some it seems hugely important, of paramount importance to some of them, in my experience.

    Think that one has it's roots in the fact that capitalist societies are, by default, exploitative societies. You are either predator or prey, as it were.

    Thing that irritates me about me about that is this; Too many people seem to be easily placated over being preyed upon so long as the true apex predators allow them some prey of their own.

    Whites used to be allowed to 'prey' upon blacks. Men of any colour upon the womenfolk of their own kind. Men and women of any kind upon animals.

    It's a kind of if you want to kick the cat then give him a cat to kick of his own thing going on there I think. Animals being pretty much the last cat left in the kicking chain.


    Can't articulate what I'm trying to say here very well it seems ..

    Think what I'm trying to say is something like this: I think people fear losing their clawless kicking cats. Take those (animals) away and you either have to be strong enough to take lifes beatings at the bottom of the chain or, even worse, start becoming strong enough to start kicking back in the infinitely more dangerous direction of 'up'.
    All done in the best possible taste ...

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    Quote harpy View Post
    In case I wasn't clear enough, my point is really that it doesn't matter whether you empathise with something or not - either way, you don't have the right to exploit it.
    That's true... but it makes it a lot easier to go the extra mile if you CAN! I can't connect with some animals either but it's easy for me to not eat fish etc. But when it comes to decrypting E-Numbers and endless ingredients lists it requires a bit more effort. I only recently found out that a lot of cupcake decoration products contain shellac. Now the question is, do I need that product desperately or can I find an alternative short noticed? If you can manage to create a connection between you and those animals this question is much easier to answer. Try watching animal documentaries... watch "The living desert" for example... you become so much more aware of how important insects are to the functioning of the planet!

    Sent from my GT-I9100 using Tapatalk 2

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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    I think it's much easier to think of bugs and insects for environmental reasons, insects pollinate plant life, which feed humans and animals, they are preyed upon by other bigger insects, birds and animals, birds also pollinate, animals eat each other and this prevents species becoming rampant and too dominant, the bigger animals with fewer predators have fewer babies and longer gestation periods so the eco balance works quite well when man doesnt interfere with mother nature. I imagine the sea works in a similar way, making sure the eco balance is good and providing water for everything. Without bugs and insects and fish and every minute bit of nature working in harmony together, the planet will die...

    @cupid stunt, are you trying to say that people like the idea of everyone and everything being equal, until it comes to giving up the power they have over someone/something else?
    "when the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace" Jimi Hendrix

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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    Try watching animal documentaries... watch "The living desert" for example... you become so much more aware of how important insects are to the functioning of the planet!

    I know they're important, I just don't think their importance depends on their relationship with human beings. To me being vegan is about respecting other creatures regardless of whether you feel an affinity for them or get anything from them. But I can see from this thread that others find feeling an affinity is helpful, and that's fine of course.

    ETA Actually I also think creatures' entitlement not to be exploited doesn't depend on their ecological importance - as I see it, everything is entitled to do its own thing unmolested regardless of whether it's "useful" or not (although if it was doing me harm I would no doubt prioritise my own interests over its ones )
    Last edited by harpy; Dec 6th, 2012 at 11:54 PM.

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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    I like the way that Gary Francione puts it ... we should be ready to attribute to nonhuman animals an inherent value of their own.
    Not just their value to us (e.g. bees pollinate our plants -> so they are important and we should respect them etc.)

    Best regards,
    Andy

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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    Quote Andy_T View Post
    How is that going to help?

    Bugs, fish etc. do NOT behave like humans, although Hollywood animation artists might find it cute.
    I do not believe in using animals, but I do not believe either in attributing human thoughts (at the level that those movies show) to animals, either.

    Best regards,
    Andy
    It is called the disney effect Andy....I hear it all the time when people claim that is why people become vegan. Completely ridiculous.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Cupid Stunt View Post
    Think what I'm trying to say is something like this: I think people fear losing their clawless kicking cats. Take those (animals) away and you either have to be strong enough to take lifes beatings at the bottom of the chain or, even worse, start becoming strong enough to start kicking back in the infinitely more dangerous direction of 'up'.
    Never thought of it like that before Cupid but I really think you may be on to something......
    Tanya

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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    Quote Andy_T View Post
    How is that going to help?

    Bugs, fish etc. do NOT behave like humans, although Hollywood animation artists might find it cute.
    I do not believe in using animals, but I do not believe either in attributing human thoughts (at the level that those movies show) to animals, either.

    Best regards,
    Andy

    Well, at first, it was kind of a joke there.

    But being serious about it: if you don't feel a connetion to them AND YOU WANT to feel it, your imagination can be of good help. You don't need to tell people about it, but you can imagine that that fish is like Nemo. You wouldn't like to eat Nemo, would you?

    The imagination approach can be useful in many ways in our lives and I learned it from Olivia Fox Cabane's "The Charisma Myth".
    A couple of examples: you're driving your car and an apparently madman drives fast by you, cut you up almost causing an accident and then goes away. After the incident, you can't do anything more, so the best you can do is to forget about it. But you can't. You keep having negative thoughts about that bastard.
    What can you do? Use your imagination. Think to yourself: his kid got involved in a fight at school and is hurt, so this caring dad is desperate to get there as quickly as possible.
    Is it true? Probably not. Does it help? Absolutely. In the next moment you will find yourself sending positive thoughts to that guy.

    Another quick one: You are going to a party and you want to get in a warmer state. Being warm to people is great to make them like you and you want those people to like you. But it's difficult to fake it if you don't feel it. It could look artificial and backfire. Again, you can use an imagination trick: while you're there, imagine everybody with angel wings. Suddenly everybody is pure of heart to you and your inner consciousness truly wishes them all possible happiness - imagine those wings on yourself also for better results

    Summarising: whenever you want something to pass from the rational level to your mental state/emotional level, you can use your imagination to play a trick on yourself. It works! But don't tell people you are using it, unless you also want them to believe you are crazy.

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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    Excellent post, Wraithling.

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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    Edu, great suggestion with the angel's wings

    It's a very interesting - and important - subject. Not only from the point of view how we can make the connection for ourselves (if we need to), but more importantly how we can make others (omnivores) see it and act upon it.

    On one hand, veganism should be an absolutely logical choice (that is also something that Gary Francione argues – to hell with “empathy”, we owe animals those rights, on a moral basis, not because we find them cute – my summary, not his words of course).

    On the other hand, people seldom do what they do solely because of logical choices.

    I guess nearly everybody who has heard where meat comes from knows that - on some level - it is wrong that animals have to die so that humans can enjoy meat, fish and all the other animal products. On the other hand, that normally does not offset the "but they taste so good" claim, so people continue to eat meat and decide not to think too much about where it comes from. (I am starting here with eating meat vs. being vegetarian, because it is more obvious and immediate than understanding why milk and eggs also harm animals).

    I myself used to reason that during my teenage years, since when I can remember that I understood where “meat” comes from – yes, it was not right, and I totally admired “those vegetarians”, but I *knew* that I myself could never do without it … until I saw a documentary (not earthlings, but along similar lines – a documentary where our food comes from that also included animal transport and slaughterhouses) and - out of a "spur of the moment" - decided to try for myself how long I could do without meat. And. lo and behold, after a month, I realized that I did not crave meat anymore, but during that time, of course, there were moments when I had to remind myself of the images of cattle being beaten to walk into transport trucks, killed on the killing floor and cut apart (which I always found quite grisly and not very appetizing). Point being, I had to *want* to do it …

    And that is the heart of the matter for me – how can we get people to *want* to go vegan (or even vegetarian as an interim step)? How can we make them understand – not logically understand, but empathically understand and accept – that animals should not be used as food. And I guess that is where Disney movies (Bambi possibly more so than Nemo) might come in and help.

    Best regards,
    Andy

    PS: Sorry if I have taken the thread off-topic.

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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    I did think you were joking, edu. FWIW, the car thing works for me because the maniac driver actually might be trying to get to an emergency, but the fish one doesn't because I know animals aren't like cartoon characters (or humans). I prefer to try and understand a bit about how they actually think and behave, and that helps me "connect" with them if you like (although as I have already said I don't find the idea of connectedness that relevant to the reasons for being vegan).

    But obviously everyone should do what works best for them. ETA re Bambi etc as ways of getting people to go vegan, I feel the main problem is that while people suspend disbelief during the film and maybe for a while afterwards, they really know that animals aren't really that much like cartoon characters and when the effect wears off are likely to decide it's perfectly OK to eat them after all. But it could be a way to get people to start thinking about whether animals are more than just objects, I suppose?

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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    Harpy - I agree.

    On the other hand, I guess that there are lots of stories / movies where animals that are behaving "normally" are treated badly and make you empathize with them.

    I remember that there is a German (actually Austrian) story from around 1880 (so considered "literature", often part of the German reading curriculum) named "Krambambuli" about a hunter and his faithful hunting dog that used to be notorious in the way that no normal person could read it without coming to tears (thus it was feared quite a bit as reading assignment for German classes, everybody - at least the boys - eager to tell that it was "not bad, but really not *that* tearsome" ). Don't know if "Black Beauty" and "Lassie" count here, as far as I recall they all have happy ends, making for less of a rememberance effect...

    Best regards,
    Andy

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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    Interesting about Krambambuli...suppose it might have made people nicer to their dogs, at least. The trouble is so many people have watched/read these things and not gone vegan, haven't they, but maybe it makes some of us more receptive to vegan messages later. (I think there is a thread on here somewhere where a load of us confessed to having been traumatised by Bambi etc at an early age, but for proper scientific research we'd have to have a control group of non-vegans... )

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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    Ah, indeed ... a setting for a Vegan "Clockwork Orange" experiment comes up in my mind....

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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    Quote harpy View Post
    I know they're important, I just don't think their importance depends on their relationship with human beings. To me being vegan is about respecting other creatures regardless of whether you feel an affinity for them or get anything from them. But I can see from this thread that others find feeling an affinity is helpful, and that's fine of course.

    ETA Actually I also think creatures' entitlement not to be exploited doesn't depend on their ecological importance - as I see it, everything is entitled to do its own thing unmolested regardless of whether it's "useful" or not (although if it was doing me harm I would no doubt prioritise my own interests over its ones )
    Very well said harpy! This is a difficult concept to grasp in a western culture that values money, hard work, status, winning, education, athleticism, beauty, etc as measurements of how worthy or valuable one is. Unconditional love and respect is indeed an elusive concept.

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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    I think this is completely off-topic, but I think this guy gives us a good light on the mind of a meat-eater. I just didn't see yet how we can use it to our favor. Anybody?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOlJFs2dgzY

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    Bad Buddhist Clueless Git's Avatar
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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    Quote Edu View Post
    I think this is completely off-topic, but I think this guy gives us a good light on the mind of a meat-eater. I just didn't see yet how we can use it to our favor. Anybody?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOlJFs2dgzY
    Just an insight into the human mind, I think, EDU.

    On another forum I conducted a little bit of a buckshee experiment (which is undoubtedly the key reason I got banned from that forum) to the effect of this: Started a topic "Can you be vegan without also being pro-life?" and set about critiquing the taking of unborn human lives using arguments that vegans all agree upon when it comes to taking the lives of animals.

    All I am going to say about the outcome is that 99% of all involved in the ensuing blood bath were completely oblivious to the fact that they were passionately <ahem!> exhorting the exact same 'moral' and 'logical' arguments that they would usualy equaly passionately refute.
    Last edited by Clueless Git; Dec 9th, 2012 at 12:03 PM.
    All done in the best possible taste ...

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    Default Re: Distinction between species and making a connection.

    Quote tickled onion View Post
    @cupid stunt, are you trying to say that people like the idea of everyone and everything being equal, until it comes to giving up the power they have over someone/something else?
    Hands up to not being able to articulate the picture I see in my mind on that one Tickled.

    Something more along the lines of people being prepared to accept their role as prey to those above them in the food chain in return for the deception that they are in fact predators. A little bit of the mice being kept happy by being allowed to believe that they are the cats.

    One of my rambling and self indulgent stories that may, or may not, shed further light on that ...

    Guy called 'Carpet Chris' (he sold carpets) and myself having a conversation. Chris rumbles that I am vegan and goes into defensive onmivore mode. Chris expouses his belief that chickens are stupid (no argument there!) and that there is nothing wrong with eating/predating stupid creatures particularly ones that are 'bred for purpose'. Conversation moves on to how much Chris resents being taxed to the hilt. Chris is not impressed by my idea that that (paying taxes) was the purpose those in charge bred him for on the basis that neither he nor his parents consented to that. Chris is 'confused' when I point out that his consent and awareness are as irrelevant as is the awareness or consent of those chickens who's 'purpose' is to become his weekly KFC.

    Conversation proceeds in the direction of Chris being as much unwitting prey (to be milked/fleeced/egged to death for his money) by those above him in the food chain in the same way that he milks/fleeces/eggs to death (more literaly) those in the food chain below him.

    Chris gets the screaming hump as his delusion that he is APEX predator gets harder and harder to maintain, calls me a "Cupid Stunt" (I think that's what he said) and gives away a free bathroom carpet in order to get me off of his case.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote BellaTanie View Post
    Never thought of it like that before Cupid but I really think you may be on to something......
    Definitely think I am Tanya.

    Problem being that I can't define exactly what that something is ..
    All done in the best possible taste ...

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