Can anyone be rational and not vegan?

post by Sophivorus · 2016-11-23T20:16:33.940Z · score: -13 (16 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 25 comments

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comment by Vaniver · 2016-11-23T21:07:49.364Z · score: 19 (19 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The word 'rational' is typically used to refer to a property of a belief system that leads to increased map territory convergence, or of a planning system that leads to increased degree of goal achievement.

The question of whether or not to be vegan instead mostly looks like a question of how much moral weight to put on various classes of entities, which doesn't seem like it's deeply related to either of those properties. There's probably a better adjective to use.

comment by MrMind · 2016-11-24T07:53:44.512Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Unless there was an argument (which the OP is not making) about the use of resources or the insurgence of an x-risk, in which case rational would be the probably correct adjective.

comment by kithpendragon · 2016-11-24T23:16:59.680Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

The very structure of the article suggests somebody wrote the bottom line first. I strongly doubt a rational agent examining the intersection of {ecology, economy, nutrition, morality} would arrive at veganism as the optimal solution.

comment by Zarm · 2017-06-26T23:18:44.079Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I know this is an old comment, but I still wanted to address it.

Yes, you strongly doubt that, as you should doubt everything, but you're offering no addition to the conversation. You're just saying, I see this, but I doubt it. Would you like to discuss the topic in greater detail? I think I know quite a bit about it and when it comes to economy, nutrition, and morality, there are very strong arguments in favor of veganism.

comment by RowanE · 2016-11-27T00:43:29.114Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

It's not actually an article, rather a structured debate formatted after a wiki, so that particular problem is kind of inherent.

comment by MrMind · 2016-11-24T08:16:00.740Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Are we sure that going vegan is the most rational solution to the problem? If we had a magical button that would instill a value in all human beings at the same time, would vegan be the best to install to solve the problem?
Since "going vegan" usually hand-waves the solution to a massive coordination problem, couldn't we just extract the hand-wave and apply it to something which is more effective?

comment by Pimgd · 2016-11-24T09:13:49.513Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I feel like growing meat is a better solution because you can get rid of most of the problems with regards to inefficiencies, without losing things like eating meat (which is tasty).

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2016-11-24T12:56:52.802Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I think grown (as in a vat) meat does count as vegan, or?

comment by Pimgd · 2016-11-24T13:37:54.052Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't know if it is being counted as vegan, now that you ask. But in the link I saw it being given as a counterargument, and the reply was "it's too expensive right now" instead of "you're right but that's not being vegan".

To me, though, veganism is about "not eating meat". (I am not a vegan though) That's what the whole movement seems to be about. But then again I didn't check in a dictionary, so maybe it means something different. Google gives me "a person who does not eat or use animal products." for "Vegan", which I guess means that vatgrown meat is vegan because it didn't include animals (large animals) in the process.

... What doesn't help is that the word seems, well - "vegetarian" -> something to do with vegetation -> eater of PLANTS - like a word that means "does not eat meat". Not "does not eat animals". I suppose someone with more time on their hands might tell you that vegetation means "that which does not move" or something like that, and thus vegetation doesn't mean plants but "non-movables" e.g. "not animals".

So I don't know. Depends on your definition of "vegan".

comment by Sophivorus · 2016-11-27T22:07:29.963Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

"Vegan" has a fairly clear definition and Google got it quite right. It's about not treating animals like property. Not eating meat is just a consequence of being vegan. Vatgrown meat is vegan, in fact many the people behind SuperMeat are vegans.

comment by MrMind · 2016-11-24T09:35:13.803Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I would totally support that, for instance.

comment by Sophivorus · 2016-11-24T23:07:24.646Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by DataPacRat · 2016-11-23T21:05:11.215Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Of course anyone can.

My thinking is different enough from the norm that I can't apply super-rationality, and as a single individual my individual efforts in eating or not eating meat have approximately 0% effect on animal suffering. Plus, as I mention here and there, my moral system is based around me being a selfish bastard (just not a /stupid/ selfish bastard, and a selfish bastard interested in the long-term fulfillment of my values, which tends to lead towards nearly the same behaviour of a rational altruist), and I have values I have a stronger wish to be fulfilled than eliminating non-sophont suffering (like spending my time trying to think of ways to ensure the continued existence of sophonts).

comment by Sophivorus · 2016-11-23T21:59:53.875Z · score: -1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by ignoranceprior · 2016-11-24T02:24:30.068Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)


comment by Dagon · 2016-11-24T21:15:49.148Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

No. Nobody can be purely rational - we just don't know how to construct minds that are free of bias, or if it's even possible.

Thus, we don't know if vegan diet is what a rational mind would choose.

[edited to clarify that this mixes 2 points] 1) Nobody is rational, so nobody is rational and non-vegan. Nobody is rational and vegan for that matter.
2) More importantly, we don't even know what the math looks like for the calculation of what to eat. Especially for farmed animals, where you first have to solve the existence-value question (is it better to exist and then be eaten, or not to exist at all).

comment by James_Miller · 2016-11-23T22:54:06.530Z · score: 0 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Since rationality requires going paleo, Yes.

comment by MrMind · 2016-11-24T07:51:30.065Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I don't think it does. The most common error in this field is confusing adaptation with optimization.

comment by James_Miller · 2016-11-24T20:57:21.516Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

But bacon!

comment by scarcegreengrass · 2016-11-25T15:43:50.093Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I'm not familiar with this idea. What are the advantages of the paleo diet? Or is this a joke?

comment by James_Miller · 2016-11-25T18:56:38.570Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Half joking. I am on a mostly paleo diet. The idea behind paleo is that evolution optimized our bodies for what our caveman ancestors consumed and hasn't had time to adjust to agriculture. High consumption of wheat (and other grains) and sugar are thought to significantly contribute to cancer and heart disease because hunter gatherers eating their traditional diets supposedly had very low rates of these two diseases. Many paleo people practice fasting to promote autophagy. I practice bulletproof intermittent fasting.

comment by Sophivorus · 2016-11-23T22:02:03.424Z · score: -4 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Given the huge effect of the meat an dairy industry on the environment, if humanity doesn't go vegan soon, we will probably go extinct. Can a rational agent behave in ways that advance its own destruction? Isn't self-preservation a necessary condition for maximizing any other goal?

comment by ChristianKl · 2016-11-23T23:46:19.333Z · score: 6 (8 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

Given the huge effect of the meat an dairy industry on the environment, if humanity doesn't go vegan soon, we will probably go extinct.

That a far-out claim and you provide no argument to back it up. It looks like you don't estimate the size of the involved effects.

comment by NatashaRostova · 2016-11-23T22:36:27.440Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

My utility from eating meat is b(X=1) My utility from the world not being destroyed is Y So...

Utility = X + E[Y|X=1] vs. Utility = E[Y| X=0]

Obviously you're able to disagree with my model. But in my self-consistent model of the world the benefit I get from eating meat is greater than the utility I achieve from lowering the likelihood the world is destroyed (in any given timeframe) by not eating meat.

I strongly suspect you will have a hard time convincing me I'm wrong without appealing to moral imperatives. Obviously there isn't some mathematically elegant and clearly distinct line between rationality and moral imperative, but hey, if there was Less Wrong probably wouldn't exist.

comment by RowanE · 2016-11-27T01:01:53.647Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW(p) · GW(p)

I accept that meat is more environmentally damaging per calorie (or similar such measures), and with the scale of the meat and dairy industry I'd accept saying it has a huge effect on the environment, but there are several steps between that and "if humanity doesn't go vegan soon, we will probably go extinct".