Vegetarianism Ideological Turing Test!

post by Raelifin · 2015-08-09T14:39:48.951Z · LW · GW · Legacy · 20 comments

Contents

  For Omnivores:
  For Vegetarians:
None
20 comments

I'm running an Ideological Turing Test (or Caplan Test) in my local rationality group on the topic of vegetarianism. (Based on a survey, it's one that splits my community pretty evenly.) If anyone here is interested, you're welcome to participate! I'll be posting the responses I get on LW for judging, and I'm hoping to get responses from a couple people here that I could use for my local group. After I get responses and the community judges them, I'll post here to share the statistics.

You can PM me or rot13 your entry if you're concerned about information leakage, but I'll also accept plaintext comments. The (soft) deadline for submission is the evening of the 15th. If I don't have enough responses by then (for LW or my local group) I'll extend it.

If you're interested in participating, please read on:

First, please write a paragraph or two about what your general position is on vegetarianism. Please make it clear which way you lean for the purposes of answering/judging. This text will be public knowledge (used for the reveal) so include your name if you want to be known, and keep it anonymous if you don't.

Once you've described yourself, please write a paragraph (or two) to briefly answer each of the following questions. If you do not identify as an omnivore, answer the omnivore questions by pretending to be an (aspiring rationalist) omnivore. If you are not a vegetarian, answer the vegetarian questions by pretending to be an (aspiring rationality) vegetarian. When writing responses to the prompts, do not include information that makes it clear who you are (for example: I shouldn't say "Because I am very tall....")

For Omnivores:

 * Do you think the level of meat consumption in America is healthy for individuals? Do you think it's healthy for the planet?

 * How do you feel about factory farming? Would you pay twice as much money for meat raised in a less efficient (but "more natural") way?

 * Are there any animals you would (without significantly changing your mind) never say it was okay to hunt/farm and eat? If so, what distinguishes these animals from the animals which are currently being hunted/farmed?

 * If all your friends were vegetarians, and you had to go out of your way to find meat in a similar way to how vegans must go out of their way right now, do you think you'd still be an omnivore?

For Vegetarians:

 * If there was a way to grow meat in a lab that was indistinguishable from normal meat, and the lab-meat had never been connected to a brain, do you expect you would eat it? Why/why not?

 * Indigenous hunter gatherers across the world get around 30 percent of their annual calories from meat. Chimpanzees, our closest non-human relatives, eat meat. There are arguments that humans evolved to eat meat and that it's natural to do so. Would you disagree? Elaborate.

 * Do you think it's any of your business what other people eat? Have you ever tried (more than just suggesting it or leading by example) to get someone to become a vegetarian or vegan?

 * What do you think is the primary health risk of eating meat (if any)?

20 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Salemicus · 2015-08-10T18:25:19.029Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For Omnivores:

  • Do you think the level of meat consumption in America is healthy for individuals? Do you think it's healthy for the planet?

America has an obesity crisis, but I don't see any reason to think that meat specifically is a major part of it. I'm far more worried about the sugar consumption. If, as part of a general reduction in calorific intake, the meat consumption fell, that would be a good thing, but I worry more about people too poor to afford steak.

Regarding planetary "health" - the damage seems to me to be caused by a lack of property rights and tragedy-of-the-commons situations (see e.g. global warming, fish stock depletion, etc) than meat consumption per se. If reliable property rights could be established, we could all happily consume far more meat than we currently do - and without those reliable property rights, everyone going vegan will make little difference.

  • How do you feel about factory farming? Would you pay twice as much money for meat raised in a less efficient (but "more natural") way?

I would (and do) pay a little more for humanely raised meat, but not twice as much. Regarding factory farming - what alternative am I comparing it to? It's worse than happy animals frolicking in the fields, it's better than those animals not existing. As in my judgement, the realistic alternative is much closer to the latter, I am an enthusiast for factory farming, but not in an absolute sense.

  • Are there any animals you would (without significantly changing your mind) never say it was okay to hunt/farm and eat? If so, what distinguishes these animals from the animals which are currently being hunted/farmed?

It's context-dependent. If I'm starving on a lifeboat, in extremis I'd eat anything that came to hand - even human! - but I wouldn't resort to cannibalism just out of idle curiosity. There are no animals I'd never eat.

  • If all your friends were vegetarians, and you had to go out of your way to find meat in a similar way to how vegans must go out of their way right now, do you think you'd still be an omnivore?

Yes. Meat is delicious and I would seek it out.

For Vegetarians:

  • If there was a way to grow meat in a lab that was indistinguishable from normal meat, and the lab-meat had never been connected to a brain, do you expect you would eat it? Why/why not?

I'd need to know more about the way the meat was grown, and why, but no, I don't expect I would eat it. Partly because the fact that this product is classified as "meat" tells me a great deal about the people it's aimed at, and the sensibilities of the corporation behind it. Partly because this kind of artificial creation is highly suspect. But mostly because it's so unnecessary - when you can live a happy and healthy lifestyle without having any truck with meat, why would you want to go down that route?

  • Indigenous hunter gatherers across the world get around 30 percent of their annual calories from meat. Chimpanzees, our closest non-human relatives, eat meat. There are arguments that humans evolved to eat meat and that it's natural to do so. Would you disagree? Elaborate.

Humans didn't evolve "to" do anything. That's the naturalistic fallacy. We just evolved. And sure, we have certain adaptations that make it easier for us to eat meat, but we have other adaptations (the shrivelled appendix, for example) that make it harder for us to do so. Unlike most other omnivores, humans can't safely eat raw meat - presumably because we have adapted to early technology such as fire. That makes it very misleading to talk about what's "natural" for humans, because there is no natural human state apart from our technology. But sure, there is a sense in which it's "natural" for humans to eat meat - the same sense in which it's natural for humans to murder our stepchildren, which chimpanzees and most other mammals do. The word I prefer is "barbaric."

  • Do you think it's any of your business what other people eat? Have you ever tried (more than just suggesting it or leading by example) to get someone to become a vegetarian or vegan?

As long as governments are pumping billions into agricultural subsidies, as long as corporations are distorting the democratic process and subverting the First Amendment with ag-gag laws, as long as chemicals and pollutants are flooding our rivers, as long as innocent animals are being tortured so you can eat a roast, then of course it's everyone's business. What you put into your mouth may seem like a private decision, but your ability to eat meat rests on a massive industry and supply chain that affects all of us, whether we like it or not. Externalities matter.

Yes, I have encouraged vegetarianism. I have volunteered for Viva in the past. However, there is a time and a place for such conversations. It's better to build trust first, rather than hectoring strangers.

  • What do you think is the primary health risk of eating meat (if any)?

The biggest risk is heart disease and related cardiovascular problems. However, the increased cancer risk is almost as bad.

Replies from: bbleeker, Raelifin
comment by bbleeker · 2015-08-11T21:27:47.836Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Regarding factory farming - what alternative am I comparing it to? It's worse than happy animals frolicking in the fields, it's better than those animals not existing.

This is such a weird argument to me. It seems to me self-evident that happy animals > animals not existing > suffering animals. Or don't you think that factory animals are suffering?

Replies from: Salemicus
comment by Salemicus · 2015-08-11T22:29:24.203Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

With my omnivore hat on:

I don't know what you mean by "suffering." Google defines it as "the state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship." But just because you're going through pain and hardship, doesn't mean you'd rather be dead. You can be suffering in some ways, and still have a net-positive life - indeed, this is the normal meaning of suffering. Do you deny that the inhabitants of the Syrian refugee camps are suffering? Do you think they'd be better off not to have been born?

Do factory farmed animals sometimes suffer? Surely. Is their life such a constant torment that non-existence would be preferable? Surely not.

Replies from: bbleeker
comment by bbleeker · 2015-08-12T12:21:42.495Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

They're not in 'constant torment', I think. But 'unhappy most of the time', yeah. Not the animals you see outside in pastures, those are probably pretty content a lot of the time; but the ones that spend all their life in a cage, definitely.

The Syrians I don't know. Anyone in a refugee camp must be very unhappy, surely. But maybe they were happy before they had to go to those camps, and hopefully they'll get a chance to be happy again sometime. You'd have to ask the people themselves.

But I think most people's lives are net negative, not just the ones living in camps. Just go sit in a mall or something, and look at people's faces, and listen to what they're saying to each other, and in what tones. And it stands to reason. First you have to go to school, and you'd need to be pretty darn happy later in life to make up for that. And then you have to work, which most people hate. You're lucky if your job is just boring and you like your co-workers. Sure, in your free time you get to do stuff that's more fun, but you also get physical and emotional pain, and sickness.

comment by Raelifin · 2015-08-10T19:20:24.753Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I really like this entry. Don't forget to PM me your actual opinion so I can give feedback to the judges and see how you do. ^_^

comment by Daniel_Burfoot · 2015-08-09T15:57:24.984Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

We should do this for software engineering holy war debates, like dynamic vs static languages, IDE or not, or whether open source is mostly good or mostly bad.

Replies from: VoiceOfRa, LessWrong1
comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-08-09T19:09:33.072Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

whether open source is mostly good or mostly bad.

Wait, I'm confused. There are still people claiming that open source is mostly bad?

comment by LessWrong (LessWrong1) · 2015-08-12T12:15:58.165Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
  1. I thought each language performs certain roles better, so it depends on the task involved.
  2. Programming is mostly text, so the debate should be vi and emacs, and it's a fruitless one. Learn both.
  3. Any reason to keep your source code unavailable? I can see a monetary one, and a psychological one (insecurity).

Any time you have to deal with a big field, you should cut it down into human-readable sections.

Replies from: ChristianKl
comment by ChristianKl · 2015-08-12T12:42:08.762Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Programming is mostly text, so the debate should be vi and emacs, and it's a fruitless one. Learn both.

Neither vi nor emacs is an IDE. A good idea can provide for features like online linting that vi and emacs mostly don't provide.

comment by Jiro · 2015-08-10T14:32:39.591Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

It is my impression that most vegetarians are vegetarian for reasons having some connection to animal suffering and morality. As such, asking about health questions is strange. In order to pretend to be a vegetarian answering these (I'm not a vegetarian), I would have to decide how likely a morality-vegetarian is to engage in motivated reasoning on health-related subjects. I would then have to answer the health questions not as a good rationalist, but as an intentionally biased rationalist, applying a bias towards believing meat is bad for health.

More generally, I don't think ideological Turing tests work that well, because in order to be indistinguishable from the other side, you need to imitate a lot of things that aren't really "understanding the other side". I'd like to see a pseudo-ideological-Turing-test where everyone here tried to imitate a creationist. It would not work as a real test because the proportion of creationists here isn't 50%, but it would help make obvious what such a test is actually measuring.

comment by AndreInfante · 2015-08-09T20:43:18.791Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For Omnivores:

  • Do you think the level of meat consumption in America is healthy for individuals? Do you think it's healthy for the planet?

Meat is obviously healthy for individuals. We evolved to eat as much of it as we could get. Many nutrients seem to be very difficult to obtain in sufficient, bio-available form from an all-vegetable diet. I just suspect most observant vegans are substantially malnourished.

On the planet side of things, meat is an environmental disaster. The methane emissions are horrifying, as is the destruction of rainforest. Hopefully, lab-grown meat allows us to switch to an eco-friendly alternative.

  • How do you feel about factory farming? Would you pay twice as much money for meat raised in a less efficient (but "more natural") way?

Factory farming is necessary to continue to feed the world. I don't care about "natural", but I'd pay extra for food from animals that had been genetically engineered to be happy and extremely stupid/near-comatose, to reduce total suffering-per-calorie. This would be more effective and less costly than switching to free-range.

  • Are there any animals you would (without significantly changing your mind) never say it was okay to hunt/farm and eat? If so, what distinguishes these animals from the animals which are currently being hunted/farmed?

Great apes. cetaceans, and a few birds. The range of animal intelligence is extremely broad. I find it extremely unlikely that chickens have anything recognizable as a human-like perception of the world. I think the odds are better than not that dolphins, chimps, and parrots do.

If you're interested, the animal I'm most on the fence about is pigs.

  • If all your friends were vegetarians, and you had to go out of your way to find meat in a similar way to how vegans must go out of their way right now, do you think you'd still be an omnivore?

Yes. I cook most of my own meals, and my meat consumption would continue even in the absence of social eating.

For Vegetarians:

  • If there was a way to grow meat in a lab that was indistinguishable from normal meat, and the lab-meat had never been connected to a brain, do you expect you would eat it? Why/why not?

I obviously no moral problem with that. That would be fantastic. However, I probably wouldn't eat the lab meat. I find the texture / mouth-feel of most meat pretty gross, and lab-grown meat would be significantly more expensive than my current diet. Since microbiome acclimation means that resuming eating meat could make me very sick for a while, I'm not sure I see the profit in it.

I am very interested in synthetic milk, cheese, and eggs, however.

  • Indigenous hunter gatherers across the world get around 30 percent of their annual calories from meat. Chimpanzees, our closest non-human relatives, eat meat. There are arguments that humans evolved to eat meat and that it's natural to do so. Would you disagree? Elaborate.

Obviously, humans evolved to be omnivorous. However, the paleo people are lunatics if they think we ate as much meat as they do (much less of the hyper-fatty livestock we've bred over the last couple of millenia). Meat was a most likely a rare supplement to the largely-vegetarian diets of ancestral peoples.

Regardless, none of this is the point. Today, it's perfectly possible to eat a vegan diet and be healthy (see: Soylent). You can't avoid the obvious moral horror of eating the flesh of semi-sentient animals like pigs by shouting the word 'natural' and running away.

  • Do you think it's any of your business what other people eat? Have you ever tried (more than just suggesting it or leading by example) to get someone to become a vegetarian or vegan?

Only if they bring it up first. I do think we have a moral obligation to try to reduce animal suffering, but harassing my friends isn't actually helping the cause in any way, and might be hurting. I do try to corrupt my meat-eating friends who are having seconds thoughts about it, but, you know, in a friendly way.

  • What do you think is the primary health risk of eating meat (if any)?

Parasites probably. Meat in moderation clearly isn't especially bad for you. It's just, you know, wrong.

Replies from: Raelifin
comment by Raelifin · 2015-08-09T23:34:57.765Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Yikes. If all responses are this good, I'm sure the judges will have a rough time! Thanks so much for your words. At some point you'll need to PM me with a description of your actual beliefs so I can give feedback to the judges and see how you do.

Replies from: VoiceOfRa
comment by VoiceOfRa · 2015-08-11T02:42:06.791Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Really, I think it's pretty obvious which side AndreInfante is on. I can PM you if you're interested.

Replies from: Raelifin
comment by Raelifin · 2015-08-11T13:00:19.125Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

They already did. I encourage you to make your prediction, however (the full judging round will start on Monday or Tuesday depending on my schedule).

comment by gjm · 2015-08-10T01:13:39.566Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

[I haven't read anyone else's entries before posting this.]

My (truthful) general position: I am not vegetarian. I do think non-human animals' welfare matters. I suspect that I "should" be vegetarian in something like the sense in which I "should" give 90% of my income to charities.

Omnivore questions:

  1. I think most Americans eat more meat than is optimal for their health, and I acknowledge that meat production is much less efficient in calories/dollar (or calories per litre of water, or by many other measures) than plant-food production. These facts are not necessarily even strong arguments for eating less meat (we often do things that are suboptimal by one criterion because there's something else we also care about), let alone outright vegetarianism.

  2. I think much factory farming is cruel and we would probably be better off without it. There's much reason to think that happier animals' meat tastes better, too. I am happy to pay more for less cruelly produced meat. I probably would be happy to pay twice as much if (1) I had good reason to think that the cheap option really involved a lot of suffering for the animals and (2) I had good reason to think that the expensive option involved much less. I don't think any of this has much to do with being "more natural", nor with "factory farming" as such; if someone has a way of raising animals less cruelly but still in large numbers and using modern technology, that's as good morally as one that only works for small numbers and that works more traditionally. (Though maybe the latter would produce tastier meat...)

  3. I can't see it ever being appropriate to farm chimpanzees, for instance. This is a matter of degree rather than a sharp dichotomy; eating animals always involves some tradeoff between the animals' interests and our own; if there's a boundary then I suppose it comes at a point where there's no possible way for the animals' meat to be so much tastier than alternatives as to justify farming and eating them. I bet that's true for chimps; it probably is for other primates; probably for whales and dolphins, too; but I don't have any very quantitative way of drawing the line.

  4. If almost everyone were vegetarian, then I expect I would be vegetarian too.

Vegetarian questions:

  1. I'd be absolutely OK with it in principle, but in practice I think I wouldn't want to eat it. I've got used to not eating meat, and the idea of eating anything meat-like just feels icky to me now.

  2. No, I wouldn't disagree. But why should I care what's "natural"? It's natural to have a 50% chance (or whatever the right figure is) of dying in infancy. It's natural to fear anyone who looks too different from yourself. Antibiotics, telephones and charity are unnatural. Why should I do something I think is wrong just because chimpanzees do it and my long-dead ancestors did it? The final nail in the coffin of this argument is that vegetarians in fact appear to be healthier than meat-eaters. I don't think the idea that I should do something that's against my values and bad for my health because it's "natural" is credible.

  3. It's my business what other people eat to about the same extent as it's my business who other people kill. I'm not, as it happens, the proselytizing sort, so I have made very little attempt to convince anyone else to stop eating meat. But I see no reason why I (or any other vegetarian) shouldn't.

  4. I'm not vegetarian for the sake of my health (though that seems to be a nice side benefit) and haven't paid much attention to research on this. My understanding, which may be years out of date, is that vegetarians are less likely to be overweight and tend to have better cardiovascular health. (The health risk associated with meat-eating that I personally find most salient is parasites -- but that's just because parasites happen to freak me out, which isn't much justification for anything.)

comment by pcm · 2015-08-16T02:51:45.235Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

For Omnivores:

  • Do you think the level of meat consumption in America is healthy for individuals? Do you think it's healthy for the planet?

The level is healthy for individuals. But that includes way to much meat that has been processed dangerously (bacon, sausage), and not enough minimally processed seafood.

It's not good for the planet. I want to deal with that by uploading my mind. Some large changes of that nature will make current meat production problems irrelevant in a few decades.

  • How do you feel about factory farming? Would you pay twice as much money for meat raised in a less efficient (but "more natural") way?

Most factory farming (other than for bivalves) produces less healthy meat. I often pay twice as much for pasture-raised chicken/beef. With seafood there's little need to pay extra to get properly raised food.

  • Are there any animals you would (without significantly changing your mind) never say it was okay to hunt/farm and eat? If so, what distinguishes these animals from the animals which are currently being hunted/farmed?

I'm confused about what rules I should use for primates, octopus, and dolphin. But since I haven't had a convenient opportunity to eat any of those for years, I've procrastinated about deciding.

  • If all your friends were vegetarians, and you had to go out of your way to find meat in a similar way to how vegans must go out of their way right now, do you think you'd still be an omnivore?

I would definitely go out of my way for seafood. I don't trust nutrition science enough to tell me how to safely go vegan. Seafood is a good source of B12, high zinc/copper ratios, iodine, and omega-3. I probably wouldn't go much out of my way for chicken, beef, etc.

For Vegetarians:

  • If there was a way to grow meat in a lab that was indistinguishable from normal meat, and the lab-meat had never been connected to a brain, do you expect you would eat it? Why/why not?

"never connected to a brain" doesn't seem like quite the right criterion. I expect there's some technology that would satisfy my ethical criteria (Drexlerian nanotech?), in which case I would eat moderate amounts of meat (if it's not too expensive).

  • Indigenous hunter gatherers across the world get around 30 percent of their annual calories from meat. Chimpanzees, our closest non-human relatives, eat meat. There are arguments that humans evolved to eat meat and that it's natural to do so. Would you disagree? Elaborate.

Evolution creates enormous amounts of suffering. Natural should in most contexts be interpreted as amoral or immoral.

Maybe we've evolved to be healthier if we eat some animals, but most of the evidence I've seen suggests that bivalves are a much more effective way of getting the relevant nutrition than cruelly farmed vertebrates.

  • Do you think it's any of your business what other people eat? Have you ever tried (more than just suggesting it or leading by example) to get someone to become a vegetarian or vegan?

Yes, it's my business whether you are cruel to innocent beings who can't defend themselves.

A culture of cruelty can have widespread effects beyond current nonhuman animals. We're on the verge of creating many new forms of digital life. I want to set good precedents for how they are treated.

I haven't yet actively tried to persuade anyone yet. I feel a little guilty about that, but it seems like a lower priority than x-risks. Also, I've only been vegetarian for seven months. I expect that eventually I'll find a context in which I feel comfortable enough to actively argue for vegetarianism.

  • What do you think is the primary health risk of eating meat (if any)?

Too much of that meat has been processed in ways that create or add new chemicals that we're poorly evolved to handle. E.g. smoking (bacon), and nitrates (sausage).

A less drastic health risk that's harder to avoid comes from mycotoxins on poorly stored grain that factory farmed animals eat.

comment by Irgy · 2015-08-13T23:11:16.215Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Meta comment (I can PM my actual responses when I work out what I want them to be); I found I really struggled with this process, because of the awkward tension between answering the questions and playing a role. I just don't understand what my goal is.

Let me call my view position 1, and the other view position A. The first time I read just this post and I thought it was just a survey, where I should "give my honest opinion", but where some of the position A questions would be non-sensical for someone of position 1 so just pretend a little in order to give an answer that's not "mu".

Then I read the link on what an Ideological Turing test actually was, and that changed my thinking completely. I don't want to give almost-honest answers to position A. I want to create a character who is a genuinely in position A and write entirely fake answers that are as believable as possible and may have nothing to do with my opinions.

In my first attempt at that though, it was still obvious which was which, because my actual views for position 1 were nuanced, unusual and contained a fair number of pro-A elements, making it quite clear when I was giving my actual opinion. So I start meta-gaming. If I want to fool people I really want a fake position 1 opinion as well. In fact if I really want to fool people I need to create a complete character with views nothing like my own, and answer as them for both sets. But surely anyone could get 50% by just writing obviously ignorant answers for both sides? Which doesn't seem productive.

I guess my question is, what's my "win" condition here? Are we taking individuals and trying to classify their position? If so do I "win" if it's 50-50, or do I "win" if it's 100-0 in favour of the opposite opinion? Or are we mixing all the answers for position A and then classifying them as genuine or fake, then separately doing the same for position 1? In that case I suppose I "win" if the position I support is the one classified with higher accuracy. In other words I want to get classified as genuine twice. That actually makes the most sense, maybe I'm just getting confused by all the paired-by-individual responses in the comments, which is not at all how the evaluators will see it, they should not be told which pairs are from the same person at all.

Sorry maybe everyone else gets this already, but I would have thought there's others reading just this post without enough context who might have similar issues.

comment by Dentin · 2015-08-11T14:28:59.231Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Omnivore:

1) This is two questions. I think that lowering the current level of meat consumption would probably improve health in America, but not by huge amounts. I don't have much evidence to back this belief in minor improvement, but there is a lot of evidence against it being a major improvement.

Regarding the planet, no, I don't think its a problem. At all.

2) I don't really care as long as it's cheap, lean, tastes good, and has reasonable quality control. Ideally, meat should be grown in vats so we can tailor it better.

3) Probably not. Issues of consent become important as you get into self-aware creatures, so it's more complicated than just yes/no.

4) Yes. I already have to go out of my way to eat meat because it's ridiculously expensive, and I've been known to go to obscure shops for specific things I can't get elsewhere.

Vegetarian:

1) Lab grown meat: yes, as long as it tasted good, wasn't too expensive, and was satisfying.

2) Natural to eat meat: yes, obviously. We can eat, digest, and draw nutrition from vast quantities of meat without issue, and eating meat regularly is something 90% of all humans can do without problems. To say that it's unnatural is just crazy.

3) It's my business what other people eat to the extent that it affects me: in other words, not very much. I usually suggest people improve their eating habits because it makes my world better. Sick people aren't as awesome to be around as healthy people.

4) My understanding is that it's the calorie density and iron intake that are the primary health issues with meat. People tend to eat a lot of really fatty meat in one setting, which is a pretty serious calorie load. The extra iron shaves a handful of months off overall lifespan via fairly well understood mechanisms.

comment by Emily · 2015-08-10T10:31:32.015Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

Actual position (rot13):

V'z n irtrgnevna (ab zrng be svfu; V qb rng rttf naq qnvel) naq unir orra sbe nobhg 8 lrnef, fvapr zl zvq/yngr grraf. Zl trareny cbfvgvba ba qvrgnel pubvprf vf gung vg'f n fhssvpvragyl crefbany vffhr gung vg'f orfg abg gb vagresrer jvgu bgure crbcyr'f vqrnf ba gur znggre. V qb oryvrir vg'f rguvpnyyl onq gb rng zrng sbe n inevrgl bs ernfbaf, ohg znal rguvpnyyl onq guvatf ner bhgjrvturq ol bgure pbafvqrengvbaf, naq guvf znl nccyl sbe znal bzaviberf. Fvapr V arire qrevirq gung zhpu cyrnfher sebz zrng va gur svefg cynpr naq V'z va gur unccl cbfvgvba gung V'z noyr gb rng n gnfgl naq urnygul irtrgnevna qvrg, nal tbbq guvatf nobhg zrng pbafhzcgvba qba'g bhgjrvtu gur rguvpny ceboyrzf sbe zr. V fhfcrpg vg jbhyq or rguvpnyyl tbbq sbe zr gb tvir hc qnvel naq cbffvoyl rttf, gbb (be ng yrnfg or zber pbafpvragvbhf nobhg jurer V trg gurz sebz), ohg V cebonoyl jba'g qb gung nal gvzr fbba.

Omnivores:

  1. I don't live in America so I don't have direct experience here but my vague impression is that many Americans eat a lot more meat than they need in their diet and I'm pretty sure high levels of meat consumption are correlated with the usual-suspect nasties like heart disease, stroke, etc. I don't know enough about the research to be sure whether this is causative, or has more to do with the fact that a high-meat diet is correlated with other factors that do make for an unhealthy diet, eg lack of vegetables. As for the planet, I think if everyone ate as much meat as the average westerner, we might have a problem, so the current methods probably aren't sustainable. However, it's likely that with advancing technologies and social changes we will be able to keep supplying meat by some means in order to meet demand. If that included a reduction in demand that wouldn't be a bad thing.

  2. Factory farming does seem morally problematic and I believe it would be morally preferable to farm less efficiently. I am not averse to spending more money where I can afford it to avoid the worst of factory farming (I only buy free-range eggs, for example). However, I appreciate that for some people this is the only way they can afford meat and animal products.

  3. I wouldn't want to absolutely ban the hunting/farming/eating of any animals, but for cultural reasons there are several animals I couldn't stomach the idea of hunting/farming/eating myself, eg dogs.

  4. If all my friends were vegetarians I would probably end up eating significantly less meat as I would avoid it when cooking for or with them. However, I'd likely still eat my usual diet when left to my own devices or when in a restaurant with meat options. If vegetarianism became culturally pervasive enough that I would, eg, have to go to a special shop in order to buy meat, that might become a different matter.

Vegetarians:

  1. I'm a bit conflicted on this one, torn between curious to try lab-meat and a bit intuitively grossed out. It's been so long since I've eaten meat of any kind that I'm just not sure it would appeal at all. Beyond being willing to try it as a one-off, I would need to learn more before being ok with incorporating it into my general diet. I wouldn't have an ethical problem with it in terms of animal welfare, but I'd want to know about the environmental costs compared to food I currently eat. I would be most likely to have an interest in fish-meat produced like this, because I suspect that occasional fish would be the single healthiest addition to my diet as it is currently.

  2. I don't disagree strongly. It's fairly obvious that humans are biologically omnivores and meat in reasonable quantities (whatever that means) doesn't harm us. I also find it to be fairly obvious that a meat-free diet doesn't necessarily harm us either. There are plenty of completely healthy vegetarians, including high-performing athletes.

  3. For the most part I don't think other people's diets have much to do with me. I have never tried to get someone else to become a vegetarian or vegan. I accept that many other people get a lot more pleasure from meat than I ever did, or have different health needs, financial situations, cultural contexts, cooking abilities, etc etc that make the trade-offs quite different to how they line up for me. The furthest I go in the direction of interfering with other people's diets is not cooking meat for guests even if they are omnivores (I generally find that omnivores are quite happy and excited to try interesting veggie dishes, anyway). If asked, I'll also happily share how much I like being a vegetarian, tasty recipes, and surprising information about how I don't actually find it difficult to get enough protein.

  4. The primary health risk of eating meat in moderate amounts is probably food poisoning, at a guess! As a vegetarian I'm probably a lot less likely to eat something bad or undercooked and get ill (never have, in fact). Eating meat in excessive amounts is probably correlated with all the usual-suspect nasties like heart disease, stroke, etc, but I don't know enough about the research to know whether that's causative or has more to do with a correlation (at least in developed countries) between lots of meat and poor diet in other ways (eg not enough vegetables).

comment by MrMind · 2015-08-10T08:34:32.296Z · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm omnivore. I was raised this way, and although I have many friends who are vegetarians, and I've thought about the reasons for becoming vegetarian, I've decided to stay omnivore.

Omnivore:

  1. No, it's not healthy. One doesn't need to eat meat every day, or even multiple times a day, to gain the benefits that comes from eating meat. Plus, meat is weakly linked to an increased risk of cancer. Intensive farming is also not healthy for the planet, but probably not more than other global human enterprise. I think it would be possible to reduce bio-emissions or convert them to something usable.

  2. Factory farming is obviously a necessary evil. It's not as efficient or as cruelty-free as it could be, and should be improved. Yes, I would pay twice the present price of meat for meat raised in a less cruel environment.

  3. No, any animals deserves the same amount of compassion.

  4. Yes, I would still eat meat, there's no reason to deprive yourself of the benefits of eating meat.

Vegetarian:

  1. Yes, I would eat it. Meat should not be consumed only in the present form, because its production creates a lot of suffering. But meat grown in a vat is just another kind of food.

  2. I would not disagree that it's natural for humans to eat meat. It's also natural for lions to eat the cubs of another male, but that does not condone us to eat babies. We have the resource and the intelligence to make better choices, including elevating the welfare of the animal kingdom.

  3. Yes, of course it is. As a member of a society that is deeply flawed, it is my duty to at least advertise the possibility of a better behaviour. Yes I have tried to convert others to vegetarianisms, by talking about it in neutral places or supporting campaing to advertise this way of life.

  4. A well documented increase in riks of cancer, although that's just another reason to switch to vegetarian, although not the primary one.