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I read a bumper sticker the other day. It said: "PETA - People Eating Tasty Animals." I thought this was kinda funny. A female accomplice of mine didn't agree.

I could go on for hours about how this accomplice of mine is a nutjob that cares more about her ego than anything else, and I could rant for days about how we should all throw things away as opposed to recycling them and how global warming is actually bullshit, but I don't think that would accomplish anything. The people that do feel 'strongly' about these issues are just going to ignore me or call me biased and nobody else really gives a damn. I will make one small statement about "guilt-free" diets and such:

Vegetarians are just as "cruel" as the rest of us, and perhaps even a bit more, because plants are defenseless. If you want to be completely fair and "preserve life" and what not you should only eat animals because they can at least run away. Besides, wouldn't you rather extinguish one life, as in the life of a cow or a chicken to feed a whole family, or would you have us mercilessly consume tens or even hundreds of fruits, vegetables and grains? Just think of all the unborn corn or unborn pea plants that we've essentially "aborted". This is a holocaust nobody talks about.



Why do I have to explain to people that this isn't a serious argument?

If man's meat consumption was limited to that which he could capture in the wild, the title of this node might better reflect an accurate moral position; but the predominant element of the modern fast-food-fed Western diet draws from animals that enjoy no such fortune in practical reality. The picturesque farm tableau that might grace a restaurant placemat is relegated to fantasy land. Today's farm is an animal factory, especially when it comes to those two most deeply ingrained and poundingly marketed staple meats, beef and chicken.

The cows are well corralled, herded about by the hundred-thousand head in solidly-fenced fields, healthy and sickly side by side and knee deep in their own excrement day in and day out, they have no true opportunity to evade the butcher's hook. The mass-produced chickens are worse off even, bred and genetically tinkered with as they have been, they may as well be plants -- biologically incapable of walking more than a few steps on thinned bones under the weight of absurdly enhanced breasts and wings, bodies naked to the warehouse elements as their ability to grow feathers even has been engineered out of them. Blinded and debeaked at birth to keep them docile and harmless, their lives are pain, brought about by hormone infusions scheduled to artificially hasten their growth to a salable weight, followed by prompt and efficient infliction of death.

And as for the number of plants eaten by a vegetarian to compensate for the lack of dietary meat, this suggestion is blind to the vegetable volume needed to plump those cows and chickens to their selling weight. Your hamburger required that the cow be fed ten times as much to produce that patty as what ends up on the plate. And because crop growers are economically bound to respond to competition for the use of their space, more of them are raising food to feed cows and chicken then to feed people directly -- which drives up the cost of other foods in the chain, especially fruits and vegetables not also raised for animal feed.

To be sure, the economic effects of this system are not limited to what is fed to the animals; the massive scale of manufacturing for corn and wheat for animal feeding has driven those product prices down so that corn syrup has crept ubiquitously into more processed foods than can be imagined!! And then, naturally, there are the ever-more aggressive bacteria bred by the conditions in which cows and chickens are raised (resulting in a regimen of chemical treatments for the meats just to stave off those invaders). And there is the massive methane outpouring and other hazardous wastes generated by an industry that has magnified the presence of the bovine species to an extent far greater than Earth has ever before witnessed or been called upon to support.

But, on a closing note, lest ye be concerned for the vegetables we would eat in lieu of meat, if you're eating fast food you are getting them anyway. That fast food burger or chicken nugget or meatball or chicken sandwich is a deception all its own, for its makers have mixed in all sorts of vegetable matter to heft up the stuff you think is merely meat, anyway.

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I acknowledge that the original author of the node wasn't trying to make a serious argument -- but believe it or not I have in my experience heard people try to earnestly argue things not far off from this sentiment, eg that we may as well eat meat because if not we'd have to farm and eat more veggies!!

Where would either the animals or plants 'run' to? One of the wonders of modern economics is that we are totally myopic about the needs of other species. If plants and animals do not have a direct economic value their lebensraum is endangered; wiped to make way for species or activities which do have an immediate exploitable human economic value.

Modern land use rarely makes use of coherent ecologies. We most often use single species or very limited sets of species. We reduce the complexity of habitats to create circumstances which we feel we can understand and control. We maximise single outputs to the exclusion of any underlying ecological context and purposes. We distort the breeding and genetics of the species we do value to maximise profits and are happy to foster variants which cannot reproduce by themselves. Many Indian farmers committed suicide after being caught with rice and cotton variants which made them dependent on multinational seed and herbicides. More than 199,132 farmers have killed themselves since 1997.

There is much we do not understand about the interrelated needs of species we depend on. Hopefully we will graduate to more sustainable and systemically viable forms of plant and animal husbandry and to manage human population numbers.

Or perhaps the virii are breeding battery humans. The grasses we tend as lawns keep us as staff. Yeasts frolick in our drinks and guts. We are substrate, noisome fodder; fast food, we deliver. We farm ourselves and stack ourselves in bulk packs. More and more species adapt to this abundant resource. Microbes and insects, stroll down the aisles of humans looking for bargains. Plants hunger for smoked femur. Bunnies use us for blood sport. And after all we can always run.

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