Mail Bag – Episode 28
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The Bearded Vegans finds hosts Paul and Andy in a discussion dissecting all things vegan. News, reviews, interviews and in depth discussion of issues within the vegan community are regular features of the show.
This week The Bearded Vegans dig into the mail bag to answer listeners’ questions, comments and concerns. Topics covered include whether or not vegans should have cats, where do we include insects in our moral sphere and a follow up to our episode “Should Atheists Be Vegan?”
Episode 20 – Should Athiests Be Vegans?
Episode 23 – Does The Most Ethical Diet Include Meat?
Long Term Vegetarian Diet Changes DNA Raising Risk of Cancer and Heart Disease
How The Media Got A Study About Vegetarianism Wrong
Response: Long Term Vegetarian Diet Changes DNA Raising Risk of Cancer and Heart Disease
I really enjoyed the discussion regarding pets. My animal companion has been with me for 15 years, through marriage, interstate and cross-country moves, divorce, brief couch-surfing-living, cheap dog food to grass fed beef dog food, to plant-based dog food, and has been my most dear friend throughout. We love each other unconditionally. I woke up to veganism years after I adopted my dog, whom I purchased after seeing him advertised in the newspaper. I “loved” animals then, but I actually love animals now. I think when people say they “love” animals, they may mean to say that they love how animals make them feel, and they love having animals in their lives to enjoy, just as one might “love” their car or fur coat or other prized possession. That is different than the love you feel for a being. The love I feel for my dog now includes: respect, compassion, empathy, equality, listening… Much more than simply enjoying how cute, cuddly and furry he is. I believe we are not meant to “own” animals as “pets”. Animals should not be bred to serve humans. I regret having contributed to the system, just as I regret that I haven’t always been vegan. We should adopt the animals who need homes and not perpetuate the system pet-creation. We should also not use the slogan “If you love animals, don’t eat them”, because there is some ambiguity for some people about what it means to “love” something. Thank you for addressing such complex topics! It helps me think more deeply about how I feel about the issues that surround veganism which helps me develop ways to communicate my feelings about these issues more effectively.
Just wanted to say that this was a fantastic episode. There were some great questions brought up, and as a listener I really appreciate you taking the time to address our comments. One of the aspects I enjoy most of your podcast is that you deal with difficult questions, which you answer in an honest way (such as your admission that perhaps there does exist a more ethical diet than veganism, one that includes meat). I think the most interesting discussions are the ones that don’t have easy answers and that may not have any answers at all; in depth conversations regarding veganism usually fit this mold, as things are never as black and white as we’d like them to be.
Thank you for taking the time to discuss my original question regarding atheism and veganism; I know my original posts were lengthy, but I enjoyed your assessments of the main points. At the risk of belaboring the point, I have some things to add:
1. I agree with Andy’s opinion of not trying to talk people out of their religion as a means to promote veganism – that would most certainly make for a stick wall to climb! It’s not an approach I would ever use in practice, but I do think it makes for an interesting discussion. However, I do believe that it’s difficult, at root, to reconcile the Abrahamic religions with animal rights, but I acknowledge that many adherents of these traditions find a way to make it work for them, and ultimately that’s a good thing since it makes veganism more inclusive.
2. I have some responses to your comments regarding the question at hand: should atheists be vegan? Paul’s response to this is that he knows several atheists who do not take the time to question where their morals come from and they go about living life never giving it any thought; therefore, atheism has nothing to do with veganism since these individuals don’t even take the time to consider where they derive their morals. My response to this is that the question at hand is *should atheists have a basis for morality (and consequently should they be vegan), not *do all atheists have a basis for their morals. Whether or not atheists give this matter any thought does not make the assessment any less or more true. The fact is that the question exists: if I am an atheist and I reject the idea of god as the purveyor of morals, then what, exactly, is driving me to adhere to any given set of morals? Once the atheist is made to confront this question, the manner in which they answer will have its implications for animal rights – this is the foundation of my argument. I suppose it can be argued that there are some atheists who do not believe in morals, and really the only thing keeping them from committing horrible atrocities is fear of punishment. Obviously, anything I’m saying would not apply to these individuals, but I think we can agree that they are not representative of the whole.
Perhaps it’s all just semantics. Does atheism EQUAL veganism? I guess it’s hard to confidently say it does, but SHOULD it lead to veganism since there are these extrapolations to be made? I think so. Another fascinating discussion is whether or not Darwinism (evolution) logically leads to animal rights. In one of my original posts I included a link to James Rachels’ “Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwanism. I’ll include a link at the end if you’re interested in digging a bit deeper.
At any rate, thanks again for the discussion and I look forward to future episodes and future discussion.
Keep ’em comin,
Excerpt and Link to James Rachels’ writings:
“The religious implications of Darwinism are often discussed. From the outset, churchmen have worried that evolution is incompatible with religion. Whether their concern is justified is still debated, and I will have a good bit to say about this. But Darwinism also poses a problem for traditional morality. Traditional morality, no less than traditional religion, assumes that man is ‘a great work.’ It grants to humans a moral status superior to that of any other creatures on earth. It regards human life, and only human life, as sacred, and it takes the love of mankind as its first and noblest virtue. What becomes of all this, if man is but a modified ape?”
Love this episode! I really enjoy the sometimes really uncomfortable honesty from y’all. I think many of us are afraid to say some of these things out loud, but I its important that we’re real with ourselves. And thanks for the “shout out”! See you at the NYC Veg Food Fest!