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Shout Above The Noise

I'm a vegan. Although I have shot my fair share of ruminants in my lifetime and a great deal of my work is for the meat & poultry industries. I've abstained from animal protein for weight control, no meat or dairy products - net result 108 kg to 87 kg. On the down side, I really do miss lamb vindaloo & KFC !


I'm no Vegan...but I would find it very hard to miss KFC...

It is no business of mine whether one chooses to partake of the meat and dairy or not...but I remain curious as to the reasoning behind the move. Health is one reason, but the arguments surrounding the morality of killing animals for food seem relative, to me.



well i don't know about the pain argument, it's a bit of a strawman argument - we had this debate at, and the below quote shows how it's not as black and white as tranquilising a lamb:

We put lambs through days of trauma. Harried into dusty pens, and beaten in to trucks, they are carted hundreds of kilometres with no water. In concrete yards for the doomed, they are "emptied" for hours without food, then slaughtered terrified. That is after being born in paddocks bereft of natural weather cover, mutilated without anaesthetics a few days after birth, forcibly separated from their mothers and regularly hounded by dogs. We cut off their woolly protection from cold and sun. None of this can be justified by "need". We are already too fat and tonnes of our lamb "harvest" go to over-fed pets. Think of how the Japanese might compare that with whaling. With few exceptions, whales now die in minutes not hours, after lives spent entirely free.

- Stephen Franks

because their deaths are painless is not a good enough justification. if it was essential to eat them to survive then i think that's justifiable (not morally, but out of necessity), if two people were stuck on a boat and one had to eat the other to survive, then i think it's justifiable rather than having them both die. but in this world of vegetables and other edible plants etc. i don't see why we need to eat animals. i know some farmers' livelihoods depend on it but it needs to be gradually phased out


you could use your style of argument to justify racist slavery too, that as long as you're providing the essentials (food) then you can keep someone as a slave. all the other "freedom rights" are only relative

Shout Above The Noise

Relativism is a funny thing isn't it. Is there is a place for 'quasi-vegan ism'?

Since ruminants & poultry are so stupid they genuinely don't know what awaits them as they touch the stunning electrodes, but pigs being much smarter do - they squeal & attempt to copulate in the pens as they await slaughter - maybe eating sheep is OK but pigs is not ? [For non-Muslims, that is]

John Boy

I recall reading a book some years ago (titled Supernature as I recall) and one of its jacket attention grabbers was that they wired a plant up to see what happened in response to what we would see as a pain stimulus. It did react so the pain argument is not a dead end.


Of the 100 trillion cells in the average human body, only 10 trillion are human cells. The remaining 90% belong to the bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites that live in or on us.

Vegans are no different to the rest of us in this regard - like the rest of us, their pheromones are produced by bacteria in their armpits, halitosis by bacteria at the back of the tongue, and the smell of body gases by colon bacteria breaking down proteins.

As Ian says it's all a sliding scale of relativism - how indeed can can the Vegan make a value judgement regarding consumption of another species when the same Vegan is himself a thoroughly mixed bag of species!

Andrew Davies

If these animals were not to be ultimately eaten they would never get the chance to draw breath in the first place.
Furthermore, my cat did not take any notice of me when I explained how naughty it was for catching and eating that rabbit the other day. That rabbit and its millions of potential offspring will never eat another lettuce again.

Ryan Sproull

Well, I'm a Buddhist. The reason Buddhism is vegetarian doesn't stretch quite as far back as the Buddha himself - he and his students weren't strict vegetarians themselves.

The Buddhist reasoning is that all animals fear death and pain, and so we shouldn't hurt or kill them, shouldn't pay others to hurt or kill them, and shouldn't encourage industries that hurt and kill them. Vegetarianism isn't strictly required, but is considered a good practice in compassion to consciously eat food that does not contribute death or suffering of conscious animals.

Another, more recent, argument for vegetarianism is that in terms of edible food per hectare, meat is an inefficient use of land, and tends to be more polluting. Of course, there is no shortage of food in the world, and until there is, such an argument doesn't really hold water.

Matt L

Hi Ryan,

Are you a God believing Buddhist, a reincarnation believing Buddhist, or a self-enlightment believing Buddhist?
(Or a mixture of all three?)

Ryan Sproull

Are you a God believing Buddhist,

Depends on your definition of God.

a reincarnation believing Buddhist,

Nope. I have no reason to believe in reincarnation.

or a self-enlightment believing Buddhist?

Well, there's no self to be enlightened, so... ;)

Matt L

Can you elaborate?

I'm curious to know why you yourself have choosen to follow the principle of compassion towards animals by not eating them.

Also, where is the dividing line between different types of living beings? Eg cow to fish to oysters to seaweed?

Ryan Sproull

Can you elaborate?

I'm curious to know why you yourself have choosen to follow the principle of compassion towards animals by not eating them.

Also, where is the dividing line between different types of living beings? Eg cow to fish to oysters to seaweed?

Morally, for me, the dividing line is the way the animals live before dying, how much I think they anticipate and fear death, and how much I think they suffer pain. I eat oysters and other shellfish. I sometimes eat fish, partly because they live a free life until they are killed, though I'm still thinking that one through. But I try not to contribute to the confined raising of animals for slaughter. Sometimes I screw up, of course, as we all do.

It's also not just compassion toward animals, but compassion in general. A habit of consciously thinking about the consequences of one's actions forms over time, and that habit can be applied to all of the moral aspect of life. Just as purchasing meat has consequences beyond the simple transaction, so does gossip or lying or stealing have consequences beyond the act, not just for other people but on my own future moral habits.

It's a general rule applied to particular situations: if I wouldn't consider it right to be directly responsible for a consequence, I shouldn't consider it right to be indirectly responsible for a consequence. I wouldn't pollute, so I shouldn't purchase products from polluters. I wouldn't break up a friendship, so I shouldn't pass on gossip. Etc.

People, being far more capable of joy and suffering than animals, are more of a focus of Buddhist ethics than animals.


A good friend of mine refuses to eat pigs or chickens (or eggs) because
a) the animals have crap lives
b) the meat quality is not reliable
c) there could be unknown hormones, strange ingredients
d) as an orderly, he's seen a lot of people in hospital after eating that crud

Omar Ghazzi

My Kiwi friend Joe is saying Vegan is people who have sex with cabbage, is true? I think he is playing joke on me!

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