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I know that this topic doesn't necessarily connect to atheism, but I'm sure I can build a connection.

If would have to label myself (which I seldomly feel the need for), I would consider myself to be a humanist, who thinks that belief in god is unnecessary.

Aside from that, I adapted many good things from buddhism, particularly the mindset that sees every living being as being worthy of respect and adoration - especially because we all share this planet, not just humans alone.

We aren't MORE important that other species - we also aren't LESS important, either!

I think this point might appeal to Matt D, who I admire for taking such a strong stand with regards to slavery, saying that it never was and never will be moral to possess another human being.

To the "white" people, "black" black people were nothing but objects. Tools. Property.

At that time, white people didn't even think of those black people as being fellow human beings. They were less than human.

White people were - by their own standards and by fiat - on a higher level than black people. It took a paradigm shift to see that we are ALL human beings.

And I think we need the same reduction of disparity and narcissism when it comes to those, who we (conciously or unconciously) consider to be "below" us. Those, who we consider to be our slaves. Who we use and "own" because it is convenient, not because it is moral!

You probably figured out "who" I am referring to. Animals.

It took a paradigm shift to finally see, that humans all over the world are equal and should be granted a base-level of respect, dignity and freedom. Human A is not better than Human B.

It takes another paradigm.shift to finally see, that all species/animals (including homo sapiens) all over the world are equal and should be granted a base-level of respect, dignity and freedom. Species A is not better than Species B.

We are fellow animals. If you think of treating animals with "respect" as being ridiculous, you should reconsidering your stance, since that would be your own feeling of superiority/narcissism and unwarranted sense of self-importance speaking there.

Our egos want us to be superior to something - anything will do - so that we can feel good about ourselves. But it is never enough. We will always be unhappy, because your egos are never satisfied.

The only way to get rid of this rather high-maintenance "program" (call it "ego", "self-importance", "need to impress", etc whatever you like) is by starving it. How? By becoming humble.

If we become humble, we can see that we not only share this planet with other human beings, but by virtue of being animals ourselves, also share it with fellow animals.

We aren't all that important. At least not that important enough to justify the incarceration and killing of living being that we deem "dumber" than us - simply for our own convenience and lazyness!

As a non-believer (when I'm engaged in a debate with a believer), I like to put forward arguments like "we are both atheists, I just happen to believe in 1 fewer god than you do".

And I can connect this argument rather elegantly to the topic at hand: "I can see that we both wouldn't eat our pets. I just happen to believe that all animals are pets to some degree".

People always seem to make special exceptions, when I confront them with the fact, that they probably wouldn't eat their pets. Of course they think that eating one's pet is ridiculous.

But why do they think of it like that? Because they are emotionally invested in the idea of having a pet, thus granting it - although it is just another animal - some (unwarranted) special status.

To put it more simply: If you raised it for months, gave it food, stroked it, talked to it and took good care of it. Would it be easier or harder to eat a calf?

Thought so.

Those who eat might don't see this "hole" in their perception.

As long as an animal is anonymous and minced until you can no longer recognize as something that was once alive, it's ok to eat it, right?

It's ok to kill and cook fellow animals - just so that we can experience a mere 40 Seconds of stimulation (taste) on our tongue. A taste that can rather easily be created with other food and seasoning.

An animal got raised for months or even years has to die for about 40 seconds of sensory stimulation... how degrading...

I'm aware that nature is brutal - and that in the wild, animals eat other animals all the time. But they never do it "because they can" but "because they have to".

Big difference.

Humans eat meat out of convenience. Animals out of necessity.

We live in times, where incarcerating, breeding and killing animals has become obsolete, due to the VAST amount of other foods.

All it takes is to break that inhumane (truely inhumane...) habit.

And you can be an important part of it.

I know that you get your morals from "within". The next step of our evolution (if you want to call it like that) is to realize that we all have to share this planet and that should treat it as we would like to be treated.

I personally wouldn't want to die, just so that someone else can enjoy my taste for a couple of seconds (which he could also achieve by eating something different). Especially not after having lived for so long.

Pretty long post, but I had to get this off my chest.

I sincerely believe that we can grow as a society, if we take responsibility not only of ourselves, but also of this planet and ALL it's inhabitants as good as we can.

And reducing the pain und suffering of other fellow animals for our own selfish needs is something we can definetly do.

We are living in 2011 for goodness sake!

Answerer, just because something is obsolete does not mean that we should stop. I eat meat because I am a heterotroph. I would question any person trying to keep a staple of my diet from me just because their values dictate they cannot have it. Humans are animals and we eat meat. It seems to have gotten us this far. And I realize that this is not exactly firm grounds for continuing to eat meat, but what about lions, tigers and bears. If it is immoral or obsolete to eat meat then how will we ever convince are animal brethren to stop committing these acts? This would probably not be a problem if the human population were not 7 billion strong. I have a suggestion-- Soylent Green!

"what about lions, tigers and bears."

Do they hold their prey in captivity, effectively making them slaves?

"If it is immoral or obsolete to eat meat then how will we ever convince are animal brethren to stop committing these acts?"

You know the difference between NECESSITY (the reason those animals eat other animals) and CONVENIENCE (the reason "we" eat other animals).

Can you see the problem here?

If you go out and hunt some animals for yourself, because you are truly hungry and only kill them to satisfy your hunger (instead of your boredom, which is a pretty common reason why people eat anything - aside from availability), we're cool.

I also have no problem with Inuit/Eskimos, who don't really have anything else to eat. And they usually use EVERYTHING an animal "offers". Nothing is wasted. Everything is considered precious.

"This would probably not be a problem if the human population were not 7 billion strong."

The fact that we are so many makes eating meat that much MORE problematic. You might not know the data, but have you ever taken into consideration how many ressources have to be pumped into a cow in order to get a silly piece of meat?

And it's not only water that has to be fed to cows and other animals. Corn, Wheat and Soy (among other things) are being used to feed a cow, instead of feeding those who STARVE and give the water to those who die of Dehydration.

Here's a question for you, Kathy...

What makes a cow different from your pet? Nothing. You just pointed at some animal and said it was cute enough to be your pet. Some people have snakes as their pets. Some have dogs, some have cats. Some have Rats and some even have Spiders.

What do all these have in common? Nothing, except for the fact that homo sapiens pointed at them and assigend the label "pet".

If a spider can be pet, why not a cow?

You would probably have problems with eating your pet, or animals that are of the same species. And all because you chose to be more emotionally invested in one animal instead of the other...

I personally love every animal, including humans. And even "ugly" animals have in inherent beauty.

They all went through same process that "we" had to go through: Evolution. They are really just distant cousins.

We are nothing special. And yet we feel entitled to eat them, because we think we are better than them and that we can dominate them.

I would really love to see the world evolve away from this cruelty.

If animals have to be eaten, because there's REALLY no alternative, then that's the way it should be. Eating meat when your life depends on it and when you (ideally) can hunt and kill it for yourself is not a problem in my book.

But keeping them as slaves and simply eating them because they are "there" is insanely immoral.

But in western civilisation there are a TON of Alternatives. Tofu, Seitan, or any other food, when it is just your appetite that wants to be satsified. Look for those things, instead of passively causing Cruelty and acts of violence, just because you were lazy and complicit, or because you felt entitled to eat it.

People usually think that they would have all kinds of problems finding alternatives to meat. It's hard for them to imagine that by removing something that they consider to be a big part of their diet, they can still satisfy their hunger.

And yet millions of people seem to be doing just fine, living with this "unbearable" reduction ;)

Try it. It's MUCH easier than you thought. You have my promise. And you will feel absolutely GREAT. You can really enjoy eating what you eat - without guilt - and find a whole new appreciation for your own life, knowing that all life is valuable and precious.

And yes: this entails that I'm even (ultra-)thankful for every plant that allows me to be alive and that becomes a part of me.

Becoming a vegetarian was absolutely the best choice I have ever made.

It's hard to convey such a thing to other people, if they have all kinds of unreasonable biases against it, or because they perceive it to have some kind of stigma to it.

It's like becoming an atheist. The shift in perspection has to be experienced. It's a new way of looking at the world - and it can be a bit uncomfortable at first.

But the new kind of freedom you'll get out of this makes this short period of time (maybe a week or even less) -very- bearable.

In short: I extend the Golden Rule to other species as well. I treat EVERY LIVING BEING the way I want to be treated.

"just because something is obsolete does not mean that we should stopö. I eat meat because I am a heterotroph. I would question any person trying to keep a staple of my diet from me just because their values dictate they cannot have it."

You probably want to correct that one. REAL FAST.

In case you don't see why, let me apply your statement to different contexts:

"Just because Slavery is obsolete does not mean that we should stop using slaves to do our work. I hold slaves because I'm an imperialistic, immoral person. I would question any person trying to keep a slave off my fields just because their values dictate they cannot have it."

Or... "Just because the subjugation of women is obsolete does not mean that we should stop subjugating them. I subjugate them because I am male. I would question any person trying to make women equal to men, just because their values dictate it."

Want to hear some more examples?

I have a TON of them.

And they all point out that simply feeling some sense of -entitlement- to a certain behaviour (which is nothing but a LEARNED habit, in this case, because you have been brought up in a certain culture that reinforces that meme) is NOT sufficient to justify ANYTHING.

Sometimes it's just a battle of moral choices. And I personally am VERY interested in being as moral as possible - TO EVERYTHING and EVERYONE.

I know that I have to SHARE this planet. Not only with almost 7 Billion People, but also with innumerable amounts of other species!

We CAN be egoistical, but only when it doesn't HURT others (and yes, that's possible).

But when our sense of entitlement to something leads us to act in "inhumane" ways, big problems arise. People once felt "entitled" to hunt witches, burn jews, conquer a whole continent while terminating it's native inhabitants, kill non-believers or those who just had some other beliefs, etc.

The list goes on and on.

And someday, people will look back to "our" era, thinking that we must have been super-primitive for our fellow "distant cousins" out of a sense of entitlement - especially because they were plenty of alternatives to such a behaviour.

And I want to belong to those who brought about this change for the better - who caused that paradigm-shift.

And I hope that this will be the topic of the "Atheist Experience" one day, even though it might not necessarily have a connection with "faith". It still has a connection with "beliefs" and morals - especially when you consider that religion contributed a big part to the inflation of our egos, thinking god has put animals on this planet so that we can exploit them.

"thinking that we must have been super-primitive for EATING our fellow "distant cousins" out of a sense of entitlement"


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