Saturday, October 25, 2014

James McWilliams telling vegans to eat insects

“At the risk of being a total bore, I have a few more thoughts to shake out on the proposition that vegans are morally obligated to eat insects. ...” —The Life and Death of Insects

[previously:
Insects As Food: Hard Fact Versus Possible Fact
Are Vegans Obligated To Eat Insects?
Starting Over]

Rucio says:
October 24, 2014 at 8:34 am

You are indeed becoming a total bore here. Everything you argue about insects has already been said about other animals to justify their mass exploitation and slaughter. Even about other humans.

And telling vegans what they are “morally obligated” to do is as offensive coming from another vegan as it is from a grass-fed beef proponent.

James says:
October 24, 2014 at 10:25 am

I’ve offered a number of arguments for why cows and crickets do not deserve the same level of moral consideration. I’m open to having those arguments proven wrong. But you need to do that. Rather than make blanket statements without substantiation, I urge you to avoid insults and make arguments.

Rucio says:
October 24, 2014 at 10:52 am

The argument is simply that cows and crickets DO deserve the same level of moral consideration. That is the vegan ethic. It is not a question of sentience or whatever other anthropocentric rationalization you want to apply.

I really don’t have a problem with anyone eating insects, although I don’t see any good coming from “farming” them. It’s just absurd to suggest that it should be a part of veganism. Your very language in this post has devolved into that of “humane meat” advocates.

(As for insult, you set yourself up for the confirmation.)

James says:
October 24, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Your logic is circular. To say that a behavior is wrong because it does not adhere to a preexisting definition (in this case, veganism) is to subsume the demand for a real argument (which you still won’t provide) under the guise of a label that may or may not best accomplish the goal that we both seek–to reduce the suffering of animals who can suffer. My argument is that veganism may not be the best approach to reducing the harm humans do to animals. My previous posts on insects have laid out why I think that is the case. Thus, in the interests of having a genuine and fruitful discussion (and possibly getting me to change my mind), you must do more than say, in essence, “veganism does not allow for eating crickets.” I really don’t care about the insult, honestly, so no worries there. But I do care about logic.

Rucio says:
October 24, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Any circularity is in your framing the question as one of “animals who can suffer”. In other words, you’ve already asserted the conclusion in the premise.

Furthermore, if, rather than arguing that veganism may not be the best approach to reducing harm to animals (other than insects), you are attempting to redefine veganism to include eating insects, then the burden is yours.

unethical_and_speciesist_vegan says:
October 24, 2014 at 7:07 pm

“It’s just absurd to suggest that it should be a part of veganism.”

Thankfully deontic vegans don’t get to decide who is and is not vegan. Many utilitarian (see vegan action and vegan outreach position on insects and honey) vegans accept the ambiguity of insects and insect products (shellack, honey, silk etc).

Moreover, many deontic vegans are not at all consistent when it come to their own avoidance of insect “suffering”: honey is verboten but shellack is “don’t ask don’t tell”.

Rucio says:
October 24, 2014 at 10:11 pm

“Vegan” is generally understood to mean no animal flesh or products. It is not a “deontic” or utilitarian or pseudo-religious proposition, but just a simple definition. Nobody’s a perfect vegan, but if everybody’s a vegan by their own definitions, than the word means nothing.

unethical_and_speciesist_vegan says:
October 27, 2014 at 3:42 pm

“Vegan” is generally understood to mean no animal flesh or products.

Generally understood as “NO” by deontic vegans but not by many utilitarian vegans:

http://vegan.org/frequently-asked-questions/

“Again, it depends on one’s definition of vegan. Insects are animals, and so insect products, such as honey and silk, are not traditionally considered vegan. Many vegans, however, are not opposed to using insect products, because they do not believe insects are conscious of pain.”

http://www.veganoutreach.org/advocacy/definingvegan.html

“This may sound odd coming from a co-founder of Vegan Outreach, but it doesn’t matter what label anyone places on me, or what label anyone places on themselves. For example, if Peter Singer (author of Animal Liberation) were to eat a dish that contains hidden dairy when at a colleague’s house, or if Carole Morton (who runs Green Acres Farm Sanctuary and is a humane agent in a rural PA county) were to eat the eggs laid by the hens she has rescued … do I want to cut them off, shun them from our vegan club?”

Rucio says:
October 27, 2014 at 5:11 pm

That’s essentially what I already said. Many vegans fudge the line with invertebrate animals. But asserting that vegans are “morally obligated to eat insects” is a lot more offensive than asserting that they shouldn’t. As I also pointed out earlier, that’s not much different than Alan Savory asserting that we are morally obligated to eat free-range beef to save the planet. Even if his evidence were sound, we are certainly not obligated.

(Regarding evidence, James McW stacks his a bit by ignoring the tremendous land use required for animal agriculture feed. Switching to a vegan diet would reduce that land use to an eighteenth. Whereas farming insects would add a new land use, since it would obviously replace non-insect meat, not plants, in the diet.)

Later post: Consciousness

Rucio says:
November 1, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Moral consideration that relies on the resemblance of a being to oneself would not seem to be very deep.

It may turn a few people away from eating other vertebrate animals, but it’s a shaky foundation to build on. After all, humans easily rationalize brutality towards other humans. The hierarchic ladder of being is an easily manipulated fallacy.