I turned vegetarian recently. My main reason for the change was realising that there is nothing about humans that makes us intrinsically better than other animals. Of course, we have all manner of bells and whistles granted us by evolution that make us more advanced mentally, but unless you want to invoke the concept of a soul, or some kind of spirituality, there's nothing you can really point to in humans that isn't simply a better-developed version of something you can find elsewhere in the animal kingdom. So I drew the conclusion that humans don't in fact have any kind of automatic authority over other living creatures.

But then it occurred to me that the same principle can be applied to animal testing, which can often be lethal for the animals involved. Going by what I just said, I should stay consistent and support bringing the practice to an end. Trouble is, my gut reaction to that point is that it's ridiculous. Animal testing is vital to medical research which has saved countless lives. Whenever I encounter animal rights fundamentalists like PETA, who would sooner allow lethal diseases to run rampant through the human population than support animal testing, I want to beat them with occasional furniture. Yet by my own reasoning, I've wound up agreeing with them.

So what should I do? The main thing I'm trying to do is avoid contradiction. I can't possibly deny the intrinsic superiority of human beings while cheerful waving animals into a vivisectionist's lab for the good of my own species. But to stubbornly refuse those same animals access to the lab while people die of aids, cancer and hundreds of other diseases seems just as immoral. It seems that I can either support animals dying in laboratories, or humans (possibly including myself) dying in the streets of disease. But if I accept that both types of life are equally valuable, how do I decide who to side with?

What do you folks think? Am I just being too rigid with my principles? Is there an easy way accept both animal welfare and animal testing that I haven't thought of? I suspect this is a problem which has been debated hundreds of times before, but I have to admit, it's got me stumped.

Tags: Animal rights, PETA, animal testing, animal welfare

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A lion eats a wildebeest. Does that imply that a lion is intrinsically better than the wildebeest?

Consider, if people didn't eat animals such as cows and sheep and pigs, those animals may well become endangered or extinct. With the exception of dairy farmers, who is going to maintain vast amounts of land to breed cattle if they can't sell them for meat? The same applies to sheep. How many people are likely to keep a large pig as a pet? Some, I know, but not enough to keep a healthy population of pigs. Generally, animals raised for food lead pleasant lives and are killed humanely.

I believe the best choice is to continue to eat meat (perhaps in smaller quantities, given the effects of cattle on global warming) and take care to choose products which are farmed and killed humanely. One easy change to make is to buy only certified free range eggs and chickens.

The issue is complex and I really don't believe you can make a choice which doesn't entail some contradictions. Personally, I am far more concerned about the treatment of animals in medical research than I am about the killing of well-treated farm animals.
I always buy food which is guranteed to 1) ensure the welfare of the animal before death as well as a humane death and 2) ecologically grown vegetables when possible. Also, a lot of the protein you get into your daily meals can be replaced easily with beans.

Kirsty, did you know though that a majority of the cattle in USA at least, is not used for domestic food production? As a matter of fact, most of the cattle is never slaughtered at all, so the question is then, why do these farmers keep this huge amount of cattle for? According to a journalist who had written a speech, it is only because there is a romanticism with the cowboy image. The boys and girls who live in such areas where farms are commonplace want to grow up to become cowboys only because of the romantic picture of an American cowboy. Also, the land they own is also worth more in itself than all the cattle they own.

Anyway Kirsty, I would suggest you to look up Edward Abbey, his essay is called A Cowboy And His Cow. While the main interest of Abbey is the issue with overgrazing, it also touches this topic. Also, I don't really support genetic modification of animals (plants are ok because they cannot suffer in the same way), esp not in the way it is currently done in USA where they get steroids and whatnot without really reflecting much of what consequences this might lead to. I read somewhere that the use of steroids has been connected to Mad Cow Disease. Ultimately, if we as humans also eat such infected meat, it is our own fault for dying.
You said most cattle is never slaughtered. Considering cattle is an entirely domesticated species, what you've said makes no sense. The only thing i can think is that you are talking about dairy cows. And they certainly don't die of old age in a grassy field some day.
I'd be interested in some references and clarification


Typed with thumbs
As a matter of fact, most of the cattle is never slaughtered at all,

Wow, yeah... I'd also love to see some references and clarification.
Sorry Kristy, but you are flat wrong when you say "animals raised for food lead pleasant lives and are killed humanely". This is simply not true. They are severly confined and treated inhumanely for profit. Please visit PETA's or the HSUS' sites, and do a search on YouTube for animal farming videos. It is not humane.

Also, I don't think there is any evidence that domesticated animals would perish without our care. It is possible, but not likely. Domesticated dogs and cats quickly and easily revert to a feral state (cats moreso than dogs) when abandoned by their human caretakers.
DG, you misquoted me. I said, "Generally, animals raised for food lead pleasant lives and are killed humanely". There are, of course, exceptions.

This is certainly the case in Australia where animal welfare is severely policed. Of course there are always exceptions - battery farming of chickens for example - but beef roaming in paddocks, sheep grazing in pastures are not leading terrible lives. I was brought up, partially, on a farm and have been around farms all my life.

And, if we stopped eating beef, I can assure you that cows would not be allowed to go feral. What remained would be shot, the ranches turned over for some other purpose (housing?) and the billions of cattle which currently exist would soon phase out.
Kristy Venson wrote on November 29 I can assure you that cows would not be allowed to go feral.

There are some who think that the declining population in a band of the Great Plains that runs down the center of the United States shows that it is in the process of economic failure. They think that we should abandon the area, return it to wilderness, and repopulate the great herds of bison.
RE: Animals raised for food: Depends on where the animals are raised, and by whom.

Domestic cats and dogs abandoned by their humans often lead short brutal lives; dying from malnutrition, disease, injury, accident, etc... A friend who moved from a very poor area of Kentucky told me there were packs of feral dogs... that he wouldn't let his cats out of the house because the dogs would kill them. They also had depleted the local deer herd, as well as any other wild animals they could bring down.

Both of my cats were on the road to starvation when they came to live with me. The elder cat is a good hunter, but still... she was just short of being too thin. Also, it really pisses me off when people think its o.k. to dump their dogs and cats in the country because it's "more natural". Our local humane society is often bursting at the seams. and occasionally can't take on any more animals because they've run out of room.

We also have predators large enough to carry away some dogs and most cats. I also don't blame a farmer when s/he shoots some dog that's attacking her/his sheep. Ultilmately, the idiot that took on that dog is responsible, but they are long gone.
I am an omnivore because I have accepted my place in the food chain. I prefer to eat meat from humanely raised animals, but when invited to someone's home, I don't query the pre-death conditions of my food.

Kristy: There are billions of domestic cattle (Bos primigenius), but their wild ancestors died out/were hunted into extinction in the 1600s. While some once domesticated cattle may be able to go feral (there's a population on Hawai'i that's causing great damage to native flora) many breeds would die out or be lost to predation in a natural environment. I'm thinking of overbred dairy cattle with huge udders.

Also there are wild (pre-domestication)sheep and pigs still in the world. Some of the same issues apply to domestic-gone-feral sheep and pigs as applies to feral cattle. A local sheep farmer tells me that many domestic sheep breeds need human intervention with lambing.
This is a hard question for myself as well too, as I share your belief system that humans are not better than animals in any whatsoever way. The very notion of this belief I find silly. However, I do find a solution in changing the test subject into humans instead of animals, but then again, it's humans that suffer for the suffering of humans instead of animals. I am not sure here either which would be a better outcome. However, there IS also a lot of reserach which involves animal testing but adds nothing to actual science, such as cosmetic testing. This is something you can take active stance for (why do women need cosmetics anyway? Look good as you are!) and which I have done as well. I thus refuse to buy any form of cosmetics and if I must, I try to ensure if it not tested on animals. Unfortunately, I have found very little support in the cosmetics industry regarding this matter. Walk into a general cosmetics store and ask for non-animal tested product. They will just look at you a little strangely (as if you are stupid) and say, "no."
LeaT: I don't know where you live, but there are cosmetics produced without animal testing, and labeled as such. Still... they won't be getting any money out of me. I'd rather spend my money on books.
In Sweden, there is only Body Shop that openly supports cosmetics not tested on animals :) All other companies that sell cosmetics on a varying level cannot gurantee that the cosmetics is not animal tested (and by cosmetics I mean even such simple things as hygiene products, because yeah, we need to wash ourselves sometimes too).

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