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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dusk: This hostility isn't directed at you, I've just been arguing about this a LOT lately, and it's getting frustrating. ;)

What diseases have been cured by animal research? Well, lessee..Off the top of my head, how about polio? The first vaccines (That didn't work, but led to ones that did) were developed in animals. (Specifically in the spines of monkeys.) That good enough? We'll try another one that virtually no one on here has been within five hundred miles of: Cholera vaccine.
I want you to keep firmly in your mind most areas where cholera pandemics pop up don't have access to fresh water.
Not everyone in this world has a faucet with a bottle of hand soap sitting beside it along with a bottle of hand sanitizer. Basic hygeine and eating healthy aren't an option for a large part of the world. Their lives aren't worth a lab rats?

I hate to come across as hostile, but this is pretty much what the "life = life" movement boiils down to: People that've had access to real medical care and science based medicine and running water have the balls to tell a person that, had they ever seen it, would think indoor plumbing was either a marvel of modern technology or magic "Yeah, I know you just watched your grandfather shit his guts out, but we'd have to hurt a lab rat to make a vaccine for it, and you're not worth it."

I like animals better than I like people. I just realize we're talking about the deaths of millions upon millions of relatively blameless people. Billions of people over time. Slow agonizing deaths, at that.
If we cure ebola, it will be because of animal testing. (Actually, there is a vaccine for it. It was created in animals and shows a lot of promise.) Yellow fever vaccine? Animal testing. Marburg vaccine? Also new, also created in animals. All of these are *horrible* ways to die. And all could cease to exist because of animal research.

Or we could consign millions to agonizing deaths at the hands of preventable disease.
Those are the choices.
Your empathy is praiseworthy, if misguided.

You say we are no better than other animals, merely differently evolved, but that is the same with plants. If we are no better than animals then we are no better than plants.

We have evolved a priority for our own genes, hence most people value themselves above others, their families above other families and their country above other countries. This means we also value our species above all others. It also means we tend to value any species that has human-esque qualities above those that don't, for example we like chimps but not rats, we like koala bears but not spiders.

It may become a moot point as at the rate we are using resources and causing climate change (and population growth) the only way to feed every human on earth may be to become vegetarian.

Animal testing is, unfortunately, here to stay. Even for cosmetics. If we stopped animal testing it only takes one law suit for all the drug companies and cosmetic firms to switch back to animal testing.
Beyond Veg, from what little I've read so far, seems a good website with information about vegetarian, vegan, fruitarian, etc... diets coming from ex-practitioners of those diets, as well as research-based appraisals of these sorts of diets, and the claims that people make who follow them.

Other topics of interest on the site:
Failure to thrive: Your health is more important than raw/vegan/veg...
The Psychology of Idealistic Diets

etc...
Sorry had to skip over the other posts.

I would suggest you read up on the philosophy regarding rights based on personhood, and sentient interests/rights and think about what that has to say.

Or you can go with what the Jains have to say I find their philosophy very consistent on most but not all things.

Message me if you want to look into this further.
Septic-Sceptic is not an active member and has not been for a very long time.
True LeaT, but the rest of us get to benefit from the "wisdom" of others.
Yeah, sorry, I've been busy as hell lately and haven't had a lot of time to even think about this stuff, let alone sit down and post it.

Just to reply to a few points:

Sean: Why should a wolf not be punished for killing and eating a person? Simply because it does not have the mental ability to grasp something like morality, so cannot be held to the same moral standard as a being who can. A very young child is similarly incapable, and children can sometimes do things that seem appalling simply because they don't understand concepts like death at a certain stage- so we make allowances rather than sending them to prison. Even adults can also be considered exempt from punishment if they are found, whether through insanity or mental deficiency, to be unable to take responsibility for their actions.

Joey: I definitely agree with you regarding how easy it is to worry over these decisions from a privileged position in a first world country. Fittingly enough, I received the Yellow Fever vaccine myself a few weeks ago in order to make it safe for me to visit Tanzania. Along with Malaria medication, and research on the symptoms of both diseases, I’m now aware that living in a relatively wealthy nation can make people lose a lot of perspective on issues such as animal testing.

I'm quickly discovering the full extent of ambiguity lying within the whole topic of animal welfare. It's becoming very clear that I was aiming for an unattainably light shade of grey in my initial post.
Consistency can be the hobgoblin of small minds.

Choosing to not eat meat is a personal choice and your way of making the world a bit better for all living things.

Animal testing for medical purposes is something entirely different. By opposing it you are saying that your personal view is more important than the combined judgement of professionals and the welfare of those that the treatments under investigation will help. Cures for childhood cancer, Alzheimer disease, spinal paralysis, and more all depend to some extent on animal research. Imagine walking though a pediatric cancer ward and saying, "Sorry, we've had to stop looking for something to help you. The animals, you know."

I know a bit about research on animals and I can guarantee that every research lab I know of has very strict rules for the care and treatment of animals. Some day, hopefully, such testing will not be necessary. Today, frankly, it's the best we've got.
"Some day, hopefully, such testing will not be necessary. Today, frankly, it's the best we've got."

This is the main reason I can't say yet that I am completely against animal testing. i wish I could refute it on principle, however, I agree with it.
It's a tricky one.

There's this element of humanity, which I suspect has been drilled into us through religion and philosophy over the ages, and that is..we should not have too much pride. IE pride in being a clever and sentient being, that puts it's own achievements above that of less sentient animals. Although I think they are right about pride, as it can lead too foolish and egotistical conclusions, there's nothing wrong with having a certain amount of pride.

And there's nothing wrong with being honest either.

If I am dying of a disease, I will in no way, shape or form, give up a cure because an animal will die in a lab to save me. This does NOT mean, I will not help support groups that try and rid the world of animal cruelty but being honest, I'd rather the cruelty to them, than to myself.

the ways in which we produce meat, is dreadful. MANY things can and should be done in this area, and I hope people like you will continue to support changes.

But at the end of the day, we are sentient beings. This is why I put us first. We know we are going to die, and we know exactly what is happening most of the time when we are suffering. It is my empathy that I feel toward others, that demands of me a solution to their pain. Yes..that may mean pain to an animal. I would love to avoid it as much as possible, but I will not choose another animal over a human.

The only exception I'd possibly make to this are other sentient animals, such as elephants, dolphins other primates and whatever other animal we discover that shows an element of self-awareness.

What makes US different, is that we are aware of ourselves and our lives. Anything that shares that with us in common, I think we should treat equally to ourselves.

I don't think people should beat themselves up about this as much as they do. Whenever I read threads or debates like this, I am so touched by humanities amazing capacity for love and caring. sometimes, it may be a little misplaced(we care about a lab-rat more than a human), but I think this is simply because we are very removed from these humans and cannot empathize.

Our capacity for empathy, is extrodinary however and this thread show's us what we are capable of.

Humans really are, terrific creatures :) (in potential at least :P )
I am quite opinionated when it comes to this issue. I also believe that humans are not any better than animals...but even animals in the wild kill other animals for sustenance. Other animals such as lions or snakes do not care about the animal they are killing, they only know that if they don't kill to eat, they too will die. I think it is senseless for humans to only eat vegetables. We are carnivorous. Our teeth are made to tear into the sinews of meat.

If you have an issue with the killing of animals, buy products that are made with synthetic materials instead of leather and fur, buy vegetables that are grown without pesticides, and buy meat products that are guaranteed to have been kill humanely, but I would never give up meat. You do not eat the animal because you are better, you eat because their death will continue your life. Because it sustains your body. You can be healthier without resorting to denying your humanity...err, your animal instincts.
tl;dr, but the first paragraph.

I don't like to be evil or mean to other living things, but idealism, gentleness, etc. fail in practice. A tiger is WRONG--let me be absolutely clear on this--WRONG--to kill and eat me. But, it's still going to in the right situation, 'cause it can and to do so brings the tiger a benefit.

Well, f*ck that tiger, man, I wanna f*cking LIVE! BAM BAM BAM. Dead tiger. Not a threat any longer. Hey, I'm hungry, too. I'm going to eat it. Oh, delicious sweet irony. ...and tiger meat. Mustn't forget the tiger meat.

Might doesn't make Right... but Right is an approximation used by social animals to figure out what to do or to not do... evolution has shown creatures doing things we'd never do because those things are evil succeeding insanely well. They have the Might and they succeed. Right just doesn't play into it.

Just the same, I'd don't have the "right" to exploit the chicken for food, but I can and I want to and so I will.

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