Hugo Rifkind

Hugo Rifkind: Why isn't eating meat as bad as bestiality?

I eat meat every day. And I don't feel guilty. Perhaps I should

4 January 2014

9:00 AM

4 January 2014

9:00 AM

So what I’ve found myself wondering over the festive period, again and again, is whether it would ever be OK to have sex with a sheep.

I mean, jeez, don’t take this the wrong way. I am not thinking of a particular sheep. There is not one in my shed right now, emitting worried, stricken bleats. Nor indeed am I thinking — that way — of any sheep at all. I’d be lying if I said sheep never crossed my mind at all, in the small hours of a cold and lonely night, but when they do I can only swear it is in a manner both chaste and numerological.

And yet this — sex with sheep — is where my thoughts repeatedly have ended up. Because it’s not OK, is it? Not, really, ever. And yet eating them is. And what I cannot figure out, try as I might, is why one should be so permissible as to be unremarkable, and the other not permissible at all.

It doesn’t have to be sheep. By the time you read this, many, many animals will have been festively and delightfully consumed. Here and across the world, and many of them by me. From the annual American Thanksgiving turkey genocide (45 million, they say, each November) to the endless rollcall of cows, pigs, chickens and everything else slaughtered thereafter. Gutted, stuffed, dressed, roasted, gnawed, binned. Imagine them all, rising up now, as a farmyard zombie horde, dragging themselves limblessly, or at least meatlessly, out of landfill. Reforming themselves like Ted Hughes’s Iron Man, perhaps, out of a thousand discarded sandwiches. And imagine their bleats, gobbles and moos could coalesce into intelligible noise. What would they be saying? ‘Aaat leeeast you didn’t shaaag me instead…’ No.

I focus on sheep, though, because out of all the commercially farmed consumable animals, ethically speaking, they’re probably the least complex. Chickens live lives too grim even to contemplate, pigs have their own grubby, petulant muck and misery, and cows have really bleak winters. Whereas sheep, at least until the bitter end, don’t do that badly out of us. Yet while this might make you feel a bit better about people eating them, it somehow probably wouldn’t make you feel much better about people having sex with them.

I am not suggesting, please note, that we ought to swap our world in which eating animals is fine and shagging them isn’t for one in which the opposite is true. Little point, really. There’s a notable lack of clamour for animal sex, after all, even from people who don’t otherwise seem to be that fussy. What I would like us to do, though, is be more aware of the generally utilitarian nature of our ethics. We eat them because we want to, and we figure out the morality afterwards as best we can. If indeed we even do. To be honest, increasingly I don’t. I just kind of go with it. Tuck in, thinking about something else.

Is this dreadful hypocrisy? Sometimes I think it is. I have killed animals, after all. Quite a few animals actually, with guns and bludgeons and traps and poisons and, on occasion, my bare hands. In the past I have argued — normally to upset people — that this gives me a moral right to eat meat that the less murderous don’t have. But that’s just nonsense, isn’t it? It’s the tip of the iceberg. If I personally had to kill or mistreat every animal which benefits me by its death or misery, I’d never do anything else. I’d go mad. I’d be the Captain Kurtz of the abattoir. I’d never sleep again. And I’d certainly never eat meat again.

Yet I do. Almost every day, and I don’t plan to stop. I suspend any sort of guilt about this, moreover, because I can, and because succumbing to it would just be so damn inconvenient. Morality isn’t what we think it is; I suppose that’s my point here. It’s something far more ad hoc and subjective than we can often honestly bear to think about. Unless I’m missing something. I mean, if you can tell me a good reason why it’s worse to screw a sheep than eat one, do write in. Although please don’t start talking about horrible STDs that only sheep have. Obviously you’d have to wear protection. Otherwise it would just be disgusting. Enjoy your turkey sandwiches.

The Big Society on wheels

Have they found a new sponsor for Boris Bikes yet? As I write this, they haven’t, and I hope they do. Not because I use them often, but just because I so wholeheartedly approve of the idea. And this, please note, is not just because they are bikes, and I’m a smug metropolitan libtard, etc. Rather, it’s because they were a popular, effective collaboration between capitalism (Barclays) and ordinary humanity (on bikes).

If they fold, these non-folding bikes, then it will be seen as Johnson’s own disaster. In fact, though, a corporate-funded, state-delivered, ecologically sound provision of transport to the masses is Cameron all over. Really, it’s the Big Society. Funny how we only notice it when it fails.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Hugo Rifkind is a writer for the Times.

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Show comments
  • I don’t eat sheep on principle. When people tell me they’re having lamb, I think ‘how could you?’ I do eat fish and poultry, in large quantities, because I enjoy them and need the protein and because they are pretty low down in the food chain. I couldn’t be vegan except as punishment: no cheese ever? No eggs? No yoghurt, no butter? I’m not convinced by the vegan argument about unneeded males, and think that they haven’t considered that many animals alive today would not have been born at all if we had no need for their milk or eggs. But mainly, consuming eggs does not make me feel like Vlad the Impaler, and my life is ascetic enough, without adding a monastic diet to my burdens!

    • emily

      Why do you make the distinction between sheep and chickens? Do you eat pigs? Cows?
      The article even stated that chickens have a miserable existence and billions of them are killed every year so people can eat chicken nuggets. You say you ‘aren’t convinced’ by the fact of unwanted males. What on earth do you think they do with them? They can’t produce eggs and they don’t produce enough meat for them to be financially sound to keep. They are killed at birth.

      • The answers you seek are mainly in my original post. I don’t eat pork and rarely eat beef, though I’m not fanatical about it.

        • Count Dooku

          Why are sheep different from chickens? And cattle? Sheep are pure herbivores and at the bottom of the food chain. Chickens at least eat insects!

          • I can imagine having a sheep as a pet. I don’t like eating cows for the same reason (though sometimes I do). Life isn’t perfect. I’d prefer not to kill for food but something must die so that I can live, whether it’s a plant or an animal. If I had to kill a fish or chicken myself, I would, and they are very tasty, so with them all my requirements are satisfied.

            I don’t know what the vegetarian answer is to the fact that dogs are mesocarnivores and cats are hypercarnivores, which means that dogs must have meat as a main feature of their diet, while cats eat meat exclusively. There are about 80 million dogs in the United States alone. What are people supposed to feed their pets if we give up all animal husbandry?

          • Count Dooku

            So you determine your diet on your ability to keep an animal as a pet? All those goldfish owners are screwd then.

          • You’ve got to judge by something. I’ve already said that I’m not prepared to be a vegan. Vegetarianism doesn’t appeal, either. Given that I’m going to eat meat, I’d prefer it to be an animal I can’t imagine having a relationship with. What’s incoherent about that?

          • Oliver Frost

            There are plenty of vegan dogs and cats, one of the oldest living dog was a vegetarian. Your argument is out dated and out of touch with the modern world. You eat meat because you think your better and more valid than an animals life you take. Your argument isn’t based on science or research its based on the way the masses are brought up, and what they’re told… and march along with until they die, fortunately for you probably of natural causes, rather than having your life snatched away. As for the millions of animals that wouldn’t be born if humans didn’t consume them, its better to have fewer animals on the planet than millions of dead ones each and every year.

          • Sorry, you’re wrong. Nature is nature: do yourself a favour and read Dogs: The Fossil Relatives And Evolutionary History by Tedford and Wang. Highly scientific, nothing there about veggie dogs.

            I eat meat because I like it and I feel more comfortable eating certain kinds of lower-order animals. I don’t hunt and wouldn’t kill for sport. I’ve rescued lots of animals and never kill any, however small, if I can avoid them or save them instead. I am not by nature or desire a vegetarian. That doesn’t make me worse than the millions of animals eating each other every day in the natural world.

          • BritishSauce

            Couldn’t have put it any better..Well said.

          • Cheers, mate. I know that some vegetarians want to paint meat-eaters as Werewolves of London or the Hound of the Baskervilles, but we’re actually quite nice people, good with plants, kind to spiders etc. : )

          • Oliver Frost

            Unfortunately you’re wrong. I don’t need to do myself a favour, my dog is very happy eating a vegan diet, in fact the only meat she would eat before was the horrific processed dog food brands you’d buy in foil containers and tins which actually don’t contain half the nutrients that dogs need in their diet. She now has a diet that contains everything an informed dog dietician would say are the most important for optimal health, and she’s thriving on it. Her coat is glossier than ever, she’s lost weight, and has much more energy. Times evolve and so does the development of beings. Were no longer cave men with a limited diet available to us, were supposed to be educated and able to make informed decisions based on the world we live in today. Supporting the meat industry/diary industry, factory farming and the slaughter house (which every edible animals goes through no matter what conditions they live in prior to slaughter) is like supporting Auschwitz, and individuals that actually lived through that period have described the meat and diary industry as that, that’s not me making a sensationalist comment. Not one single animal has ever happily walked to its death. The conditions in which factory farmed (the majority) animals live in today is something humans should be assumed of if they’re part of it. As for your comment “I eat meat because I like it and I feel more comfortable eating certain kinds of lower-order animals” you are wrong again as there’s no such thing as lower order animals on this planet. We all belong here, and we should all respect and let each other live in harmony. If the human insists on dominating this planet, then controlling animal numbers is far better than killing them off. And intelligence isn’t a licence to kill. You wouldn’t kill a mentally impaired human because you deem their intelligence lesser than yours. The idea that there’s a lower pecking order is a human idea and a way of justifying the torture and pain humans inflict on other animals that are unable to fight back. And as for you liking to eat them, well I’d like to punch a few people I don’t like in the face, but I’m not allowed to, just like were not allowed to be racist or homophobic, so why do we get to decide that it’s ok to murder another being because we like the taste of them. I liked the taste of meat when I ate it, but thats not the point here is it? It’s one rule for this and another for that. Cant you see that it’s morally wrong to cause pain and suffering and that it’s totally unnecessary, and something that can stop? or do you just accept it as ok because the masses do, the law says its ok, and the government have vested interests in keeping the industry going. What the law should state is that nobody should cause suffering to another being, no matter what species they are and that things like recycling should be compulsory… things that actually matter and change our world and make it a better place. Not laws that allow selfish humans to continue to be part of the meat and diary industry at the cost of suffering and the cost of the planet. If you want to talk about doing yourself a favour (as you like to put it) then look at the effects the meat and diary industry has on the planet if animal suffering is something you can brush off. Do you not have a conscience, or is it just not that developed? True power/strength is exercising right from wrong not flexing your muscles and saying were better, and more worthy so we will kill and eat the weaker. As for saying “I don’t hunt and wouldn’t kill for sport” well you don’t need to do you as someone else kills for you. If individuals can’t stomach killing the animal then they shouldn’t eat them, wear them, and adorn their homes in them. And if we are supposedly natural meat eaters (especially in todays informed world) then why don’t we sink our teeth into a raw animals, like other meat eating animals do that haven’t evolved and become more informed? They don’t cook and season meat to make it more palatable, yet we do because we know how disgusting it really is in its raw state. Your comment “I’ve rescued lots of animals and never kill any, however small, if I can avoid them or save them instead”. Once again this comment is hypocritical as you can’t say it’s morally right to kill for food pleasure (because its not about survival is it?) or I don’t kill animals I take under my wing, but I will for a dinner, without having double standards. How can you honestly say it’s right to not hurt an animal I have on my lap and stroke, but it is ok to hurt an animal I want on my plate. Its either ok in all contexts or not all all, otherwise it comes back to the notion of lesser being/humans. Your comment “I am not by nature or desire a vegetarian” Education and informed choices is whats important here, not what you consider to be the ‘natural’ position, based on archaic ideas, especially if you continue to tell yourself your superior to other animals. As the world develops, so should the human. And finally you’re closing comment “That doesn’t make me worse than the millions of animals eating each other every day in the natural world.” yes it does, and I’ve addressed that above, so if you find it easier to continue down the road your on or feel you’re better than other animals then continue to live with that blinkered stance and continue to support suffering, torture, pain, misery, and inhumane conditions that these animals live in every single day so that you can tell yourself it’s ok. Its not ok, its never been ok, and it never will be ok, but for as long as the human masses have more cowardly power than those unable to stand up for themselves, and don’t have a voice, then humans will continue (in the majority) to follow whats rammed into them during their upbringing and live without compassion and consideration for those who simply cannot fight back. Just because the majority feel it’s ok to be part of the animal holocaust, doesn’t make it right. It took me a time to realise this, but when I saw the film Earthlings I woke up and saw the fuller picture. And I told myself (amongst other things) that if I don’t feel ok standing in a abattoir, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable watching or working in a slaughter house then I shouldn’t be supporting it. Im not perfect but I’ve seen the horror and suffering (both whilst these animals are alive and when they’re killed) and I made the right choice to not be part in it. And for that yes I do think I’m a better than person who continues to ignore the misery, torture and endless suffering involved in consuming animals and try (but fail) to justify it.

          • ‘We all belong here, and we should all respect and let each other live in harmony.’

            So what would you say to the alligator that’s going to keep eating turtles, regardless of what humans do or do not do?

          • Oliver Frost

            What a weak reply, nothing more than I expected of course, but weak and pointless none the less. The alligator has not evolved, the aligtor is not educated like the human, the alligator is not informed, and the alligator does not have supermarkets, and a choice of food. Your point is pointless. Its like the old come back about vivisection that meat eaters often throw back at non meat eaters. Given the choice not many beings would give up their life rather than consume drugs that are tested on animals (not that animals tests are worth anything, in a documentary I watched it states that over 80% of medical professionals disagree with animal testing and believe stem cells/human research is the way forward, and the history of failed-damaging drugs that have been made available to humans following on from animal tests prove this). The point here is that we don’t need meat/diary to exist/survive. It’s not a matter of life and death is it? It’s about being selfish, and not empathiising with those less able to defend themselves and stand up to the human might and making the right informed choices to not partake in murder and suffering. Recycling is another issue, but to be honest if you can’t see right from wrong with animal rights then theres no point in entering into another topic as your already closed and have your decision made up by the sounds of it. I really am checking out of the conversation now as I’d much rather spend my spare time making a difference and conversing with others that are open to change not those in denial. Keep standing by your statements and keep killing, it’s obviously what your good at.

          • Look Oliver, you seem to be a very good and sincere chap and you do make excellent points, even though I don’t agree with certain particulars. But you might at least acknowledge that the problem of feeding humankind and its dependent animals is not as easily solved as turning us all on to veganism, which surely would create many problems of its own. Leaving aside the poverty of the diet from the pleasure perspective — which, unlike you, I take seriously, food being one of the goods of life — I’m not convinced that a vegan ingredients list could adequately reproduce or replace the benefits of a partly carnivorous diet, either for humans or for their animals.

          • Oliver Frost

            Vaganism is not all the answers no, but its start and a major part of the worlds problems. It’s been said that if all the grain thats produced to feed farmed animals were given to starving nations, world poverty would not exist. As for food variety… It’s not about reproducing or replacing, surely its about being re-educated and being less selfish. Theres nothing wrong with pleasure, but at other individuals expense? I disagree about those on a budget, theres many poor vegans, and endless non animal protein options. I suggest you watch these films and think again. And maybe when something effects you as hard hitting as it effects these animals then you might just reconsider our place on this planet as human beings.



          • Oliver Frost

            Eating Animals (book):

          • You assume for instance with recycling that making it compulsory a) solves the problems you want to solve (it doesn’t); and b) is worth the price of making participation in a society — i.e. living in it — more coercive. I don’t support that.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Why is it better? You assert that, but on what grounds?

          • Fergus Pickering

            Cats do not eat meat exclusively. If you had a cat you would know this.Mine eat grass, like Nebuchadnezzar, though it doesn’t appear to do them much good. I think many birds eat meat exclusively, Robins for instance. And eagles..

          • My dog snacks on grass, too. I wrote about it in my book:

            But they wouldn’t die if they didn’t have the occasional grass. They’d die for sure without meat.

          • Oliver Frost

            Dogs eat grass if they feel I’ll, not as a snack. And considering there are thousands of vegetarian/vegan dogs and cats these days I can assure you they wouldn’t and don’t “die for sure” without meat. The facts are out their amongst the horror stories those unwilling to change bleat on the net as away of protecting their ‘bloody’ bubbles they live in. One word… HOMEWORK.

          • Count Dooku

            Lol @ Vegan cats. What a loon.

          • Oliver Frost

            Count Dooku, they exist and live happy full happy lives, FACT, you’re the loon, or shall I say square, conformist individual who’s well and truly closed to difference and change.

          • Wrong: my dog has always occasionally snacked on grass, not actually chomping it but sort of grazing. I asked my vet about it and he said that dogs seem to do it because they like it. My dog isn’t ill: I know her very well and she does it even when she’s sprightly.

          • Oliver Frost

            The dog who currently lives with us eats grass (and every dog I’ve had in 38 yrs) when they’re feeling a little under weather or have stomach gripes etc. And my vet told me this. I suspect theres many view points rather than a WRONG: and right one. For a so called writer I have to say you’re very juvenile in your expression aren’t you. I’ve had enough of talking to you know your boring me. Goodbye.

          • Fergus Pickering

            You keep doing it. You’re is what you mean, not your. If you are going to write these long, self-righteous posts, you should work a bit on your grammar and punctuation.

          • Oliver Frost

            Fergus if you’ve read my posts you’ll already know that I stated I was leaving the conversation, however as you’ve cowardly decided to make comment on my posts knowing this I though I’d respond to your pathetic post. Firstly it’s a typo error and secondly if you must know I was also diagnosed as being dyslexic whilst at university so if there’s grammar and punctuation errors in my comments then shoot me down why don’t you. Try being a little less assuming about others you do not know as you could come across as being self riotous, and you wouldn’t want that. Besides since when has someone got to have perfect English in order to make a point or have an opinion, stop being such an elitist snob, it’s very unattractive. So are suggesting that if an individuals first language isn’t English and they weren’t word perfect then they shouldn’t have a say… grow up. And please try to be a little less dull if only for your own benefit. I’m not responding to any further comments as I have a life to get on with, and I suggest you do the same if you’ve got nothing better to bring to the discussion. Goodbye.

          • Daniel Carrier

            How would you feel if you met someone who used the same reasoning as you, but couldn’t imagine a sheep as a pet, and could imagine a chicken?

            Would each of you be thinking “how could you” about the other, despite having the same ethical system?

          • Fergus Pickering

            What about oysters? Can we eat oysters?

    • Daniel Carrier

      This seems rather like the idea that you can’t save everyone, so you just work at the soup kitchen. If you can’t save everyone, then save the cheapest ones, so you can save the most with the least effort. Similarly, rather than not eating lamb, you could try to find which animals suffer the most, and avoid them. Also, don’t worry too much about milk products, since a cow produces a lot more milk than it does meat.

      Unfortunately, due to the question of if all animals are equally sentient, it’s not clear which animals you need to avoid. If they’re all the same, avoid the small ones. If not, avoid the large ones. I figure that either way, just eating the medium ones is better than half the people eating the large ones and half eating the small, so go for that.

      Also, you don’t have to stop eating meat. Reducing helps. Or eating meat from a supplier that’s trusted to raise them well. I suggest one that actually lets people check.

      “and think that they haven’t considered that many animals alive today would not have been born at all if we had no need for their milk or eggs.”

      We have. (Well, they have. I haven’t eliminated milk products from my diet yet.) It’s called the logic of the larder. The counter-argument is that wild animals lives aren’t just less than ideal. They actually suck. They’re better off not having been born.

      • It’s clear to me: try not to eat the animals you could relate to (as I’ve said), but eat the ones you really couldn’t or needn’t, such as poultry and fish. I really try not to eat anything higher than a chicken these days.

        • Daniel Carrier

          I could certainly see why you wouldn’t want to eat animals you relate to. You empathise with them. But I don’t like the idea of just relying on empathy. Not everyone empathises the same. It’s not all that hard to keep humans from empathising with other humans.

          I’m against eating animals based on whether or not they can feel their pain, not whether or not we can.

          • Fine, but how do you define pain? A fish is most likely going to be eaten by another fish (or octopus, or whale, etc.). Is it worse for the fish if a human gets it instead? Does the fish care who kills it? Is our manner of killing it more cruel than another animal’s?

            The fact is — and you can see this from human dentition, which is an omnivore’s complete set of molars, premolars, incisors and canines — that we are designed to have meat in our diet. It’s a large part of how our brains got to fulfill their amazing present capacity. Also, I find life difficult, and I’m one of the lucky ones. Eating satisfying food is a reward for keeping up the struggle. A vegan diet would simply depress me. I’d probably die sooner and be much less content than I am now. In short, if it’s a choice between the dumb fish’s longevity and my happiness: the fish loses.

          • Daniel Carrier

            “Fine, but how do you define pain?”

            I don’t know.

            “Is it worse for the fish if a human gets it instead?”

            I am generally much more against factory farming than hunting for pretty much this reason. If you buy farmed animals, they live bad lives that they otherwise wouldn’t. If you hunt wild animals, they fail to live neutral (maybe, this definitely needs to be researched) lives that they otherwise would.

            Also, while I don’t strictly consider hunting fish to be more immoral, it’s far more creepy. It’s one thing to hunt for sport. But hunting for relaxation just seems messed up.

            “that we are designed to have meat in our diet.”

            We are designed to maximize inclusive genetic fitness. Is that what you’ve been doing? Donating sperm and all that? Or have you been having protected sex that in no way puts your DNA into the gene pool, eating cookies in an environment with no shortage of calories, etc?

            They say Hitler was a vegetarian. That seems to be controversial, but let’s assume for the sake of argument that it’s true. I couldn’t use this to persuade you to be a vegetarian. You don’t accept him as a moral authority just because he killed a few million people in the name of eugenics.

            Nature killed hundreds of billions of people for its eugenics.

            “In short, if it’s a choice between the dumb fish’s longevity and my happiness: the fish loses.”

            It’s not just one fish at stake.

            And you’re not increasing its lifespan. You’re avoiding it. There are wild fish involved, but the elasticity of supply of farmed fish is much greater. That’s largely what you eating fish is going to fund.

            How hard have you tried to find satisfying vegan food? Or at least something with less meat?

          • We have alligators around here, Daniel. Lots of them. I’ve been told that dogs are like catnip to them. I am very careful of my dogter when I walk with her, and careful of myself. They’d eat me too, if they could.

            I think humans are very bad at balancing priorities and what I prefer to call ‘goods’ (the ancients spoke of ‘goods’, the goods of life). We seem to be extremists, throwing the baby out with the bathwater and betraying anything like rational judgement. I hate that about humans. It is often a shameful thing to be one of them.

            But I do believe — until something teaches me otherwise — that if there is a nature there is also a human nature (which, to the extent that that is limiting, the modern liberal political project does not much want to know about: read Pierre Manent on how liberal democracies came to be). And human nature will not be satisfied with what a cow eats.

          • Daniel Carrier

            “But I do believe — until something teaches me otherwise — that if there is a nature there is also a human nature”

            I do not like my nature being compared to nature. Humans are capable of compassion. We may have designed our system for getting meat with a ruthless efficiency similar to that evolution uses, but we still are capable of caring enough to stop, and even as it is we do put some effort into making the animals’ lives at least a little comfortable.

            Nature doesn’t care. Animals evolve to maximize inclusive genetic fitness. With few exceptions, they all have a time limit before their body simply falls apart, because biological immortality doesn’t matter enough for evolution. Death is painful. Since the animals won’t be around to make use of this aversion, there’s no reason for it. But there’s also no reason to stop it as far as evolution is concerned, so there it is.

  • Hugo Rifkind’s question strikes me as intellectually interesting and morally distasteful in near-equal measure. I feel compelled to voice a view and yet squeamish at the thoughts it entails. But here goes: I wonder whether the moral reaction created by the thought of bestial activity is based on a mistaken belief by our ancestors (or a fear) that bestiality could lead to inter-breeding.

    • Which ancestors do you have in mind? In most sane humans, animals aren’t capable of arousing desire or being fit objects of desire, just for starters. Nobody thought, ‘hmm, I fancy this ….., but would we end up with a centaur?’

      • chrisdone

        So what humans masturbate it’s because they fancy themselves?

    • dodgy

      I don’t know which ancestors you are thinking of, but this (possibly NSFW) link might be of interest:

      • Great stuff. Gotta wonder though, what sort of mind came up with that one?

        • wolftimber

          The kind of mind that wasn’t full of CLUTTER like the religious rightwingers are today about sex.

  • starfish

    Nonsense argument.

    • Why is an animal’s position in the natural order important? Because humans want to behave morally. I consider eating horses, dogs, and cats immoral. They are, in a way, ‘sacred’ animals.

      • chrisdone

        Is a mosquito immoral for sucking on your blood?

        • Non sequitur.

          • chrisdone

            I don’t think you know what that means. But if you can’t answer a simple question, I’m not sure I care to hear any answers from you, anyway.

        • Daniel Carrier

          Mosquitoes aren’t a moral agent, so arresting them for that would be silly. If I could somehow choose whether or not they exist, choosing them to exist would be immoral because they suck people’s blood, but much more immoral because they cause itchiness, and much more immoral than that because they spread disease.

      • Oliver Frost

        Yet another human myth, all animals deserve to live on this planet without the might of the human hand… sacred, please!

      • starfish

        How do you feel about animals eating other animals?

        • That was the question I put to Oliver Frost.

        • Daniel Carrier

          It’s horrible, and I suggest stopping it as soon as we have good enough biotech to do so without just genociding them. Or sooner. It might not be worth preserving the species if the cost is that the individuals must live in the wild.

      • Daniel Carrier

        “Because humans want to behave morally.”

        That’s the question. Why would some animals be more moral to eat than others?

        “horses, dogs, and cats”

        I don’t see anything natural about that order. It seems pretty arbitrary.

        There are problems with eating carnivores, but the same arguments could be made against keeping them as pets, and that still doesn’t cover the horses.

        • It’s not arbitrary. Those animals are man’s companions. I sleep with my dog. I wouldn’t dream of sleeping with a chicken.

          Chickens and fish are alive but they don’t have a sense of self. Cats, dogs, and horses do. Case closed.

          • Daniel Carrier

            “Chickens and fish are alive but they don’t have a sense of self. Cats, dogs, and horses do. Case closed.”


            How do you even test for a sense of self? There’s the mirror test, but that tests to see if you can recognise your physical self in the mirror, not if you have a philosophical sense of your own identity, which is what people normally mean by the term.

            Whatever tests you are referring to, I’d bet they’re relatively recent, and our cultural taboos precede them. They will not be the same. Which do you use?

            I haven’t seen any of the studies involved, but I’m told pigs are particularly smart. Are you okay with eating them?

          • I never mentioned any kind of test. I use my judgement. I am careful of all life that doesn’t mean me harm. And I don’t eat pigs.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Bernard Shaw lived a long and productive life without eating any sort of meat. So do many Indian Brahmins. Now back to my bacon butty. Is it OK to shag dead people? I mean without murdering them first. like Christie, or Achilles?

    • Daniel Carrier

      “Humans need to eat and some of their nutrients must come from animals”
      No. Vegans exist.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Hear you`ve got some mighty pretty sheep, Britisher pals.

    • dodgy

      I think you need to go to Wales for the best ones…

  • dodgy

    …I mean, if you can tell me a good reason why it’s worse to screw a sheep than eat one, do write in….

    Well – it might be a morality we have imported from the Americans. They think that shooting people is no big deal, but drinking a beer before you’re 21 is the height of obscenity and (if you are caught) will blight your life forever.

    Alternatively it may hark back to some mythic nature religion – not mating with Mother Gaia and all that. I recall a few years ago that a maid disturbed a guest in his hotel room who was screwing a bicycle (in the non-mechanical sense), and the good people of Glasgow promptly had him convicted of some kind of obscenity. You might say our current civilisation worships machinery, and so that could be considered blasphemy. Which, of course, is currently quite all right if you’re slagging off Christians, but not Muslims.

    They say that foreigners find it difficult to learn English because it has such funny rules. I wonder how they manage with our legislation….?

    • You don’t know many Americans, do you? Gee whiz.

      • dodgy

        Well, they do live a long way from civilisation…

        • lionstorm

          The world’s two greatest wars started on a continent much closer to London than to any American city. Who’s farther from civilization?

          • dodgy

            You want defend it – you gotta stay close to it. Otherwise you might turn up late…

          • lionstorm


          • dodgy

            Oh dear! A civilised reply.

            Which shows that you were right all along.

            I apologise unreservedly, of course….

          • lionstorm

            I’ll happily stipulate that a very large part of the civilization I enjoy was imported from somewhere just a bit down the road from you, most probably. And just as happily note that the Special Relationship is one I’d like to continue. Thanks for the enjoyable banter. I’ll get to work on that shooting people thing. 😉

        • Idiot.

    • lionstorm

      I’m an American, don’t live a long way from civilization, and can assure all that the general proscription against drinking alcoholic beverages before age 21 is not remotely considered an obscenity, but has more to do with a (European-derived, I believe) socialist/nanny-state drive to tell others what to do for their own benefit.

  • Michael Gilbart-Smith

    Your post raises the obvious questions as to what solid foundations any utilitarian ethics have. It all ends up as Qoheleth put it in the 1st millennium BC as a massive exercise in ‘chasing the wind’.
    If honest questions are truly asked, it becomes clear (to me at least) that there is no sure foundation for ethics apart from good old deontological theism. It fits with what we naturally feel as human beings made in God’s image: better to eat a sheep than a human, and certainly better to eat one than sh*g one – not so much for the sake of the sheep, but for the sake of preserving the humanness of humanity.

    • Most people recognize that we should not engage in activities that cause pain and suffering to other people. Inherent in that recognition is the knowledge that other people are capable of pain and suffering.

      If an activity causes undue suffering to someone, the activity is morally unacceptable. If we accept that animals are capable of suffering, it is therefore morally unacceptable to cause them undue suffering.

      That’s humanity for me.

      • Fergus Pickering

        Well, I don’t know that I agree with you. I think it is a great part of law to legitimise revenge. Nasty people should have nasty things happen to them. You may be too high-minded to feel that. Alternatively you may not have suffered at their hands.

    • Daniel Carrier

      “Your post raises the obvious questions as to what solid foundations any utilitarian ethics have.”

      Perhaps, but I still think that the idea that, say, torturing an innocent is wrong, is more obvious than the idea that sleeping with an animal is. Just because you don’t have a complete understanding of what exactly right and wrong are doesn’t mean that you can’t ask why a given thing is wrong.

  • The Red Bladder

    On the other hand it is perfectly legal to make love to your wife but the law would take a pretty dim view of it if you ate her. Funny old world innit?

    • Eh?

    • Ricky Strong

      Though you can do the latter while doing the former.

      • The Red Bladder

        I think you might just have invented a new whatamecallit!

    • Icebow

      Should a vegetarian object in principle to cannibalism among consenting adults?

    • Terry Field

      Too much constrained thinking.
      Start thinking out of the box!

  • Simon Fay

    Strange coincidence that this also landed in my virtual in-tray today –

    Presumably what with the valency of societal building-blocks having been so successfully demarked for alteration by the elite (through their joint transnational push for SSM) the next stage in softening us up to accept an elite conception of ourselves as just individual bundles of living tissue bestowed with rights by lawyers has been brought forward, beginning with light-hearted pieces like Hugo’s.

  • What are the chances? Reading a book and had to come on because of a limerick:

    There was a young man from Valparaiso
    Who said ‘About sex, there’s one thing I do know.
    Young boys are fine, fat women divine,
    But the Llama, ah! Numero uno’.

    from Sea Change: Alone Across The Atlantic In A Wooden Boat, Peter Nichols, p. 43

    • Fergus Pickering

      Your first two lines don’t scan, a dreadful crime. And Valparaiso doesn’t rhyme with ‘do know’. It is not a case of never mind.

      • It’s not mine, honey. I’m just reporting it.

  • Eddie

    Ah yes, but what if your wife resembles a sheep? Should you eat her or…? Which is worse?
    This articles reminds me of the dangers of reading philosophy at university. But hey. Maybe Hugo doesn’t exist, or is actually a sheep trying to confuse us, or maybe this is a dream – or maybe academics who write twaddle about such stuff need to be replaced by Romanian immigrants who can sit around waffling all day for a tenth of the salary…

  • serguei_p

    I don’t really understand why bestiality is still frowned upon.
    As we have already discarded most of all traditional religious ethics related to sexuality (sex outside marriage, homosexuality etc.) it is very difficult to explain why shagging a sheep is in any way wrong.

    • chrisdone

      “It is very difficult to explain why shagging a sheep is in any way wrong.” I suggest starting with trying to explain why shagging a human child is wrong.

      • serguei_p

        We don’t shag human children because humans have rights and as children can’t give an informed consent to the shagging it will be the same as rape.
        Animals don’t have rights – we eat them. As far as interest of an animal goes there is nothing that can prevent people from using them for sex.
        The only reason we still argue against this is purely ethical, on the same bases as we used to argue against homosexuality.

        • Daniel Carrier

          Animals are generally accepted to have some rights. You can’t torture a kitten, for example. They’re just a lot less respected than human rights.

          This explains why you can’t rape an animal, but I think the original article was referring to consensual sex.

          • serguei_p

            First – no, you are wrong about rights. We don’t torture a kitten not because the kitten has rights, we don’t torture a kitten because majority of us find it repugnant enough to create a law about preventing cruelty to animals and we believe that the sight of a suffering animal is bad for human society and human psychological development.
            These laws are not “animal rights” laws, but anti-cruelty laws. The fact that some people call themselves “animal rights campaigners” only shows how misguided they are.

            Second – “consensual” when we talk about animals is meaningless.
            We don’t prevent animals having sex with each other and we don’t charge animals with rape, which means that applying human standard of “consent” to animals does not make any sense.

            Consent in sex is a human societal construct that can’t be applied outside human society.

          • Daniel Carrier

            “The fact that some people call themselves “animal rights campaigners” only shows how misguided they are.”

            I think they, at least, try to help the animals for the animals’ sakes. I know I do.

            I would hope that most people are against animal cruelty because they care about the animals, though I would admit that your explanation certainly explains why people stop caring when it comes to food. I explain that by a combination of people getting more emotionally involved with pets, and that laws against being cruel to your pets don’t hurt normal people.

            My theory does explain the laws against animals being hurt on screen. People will actually see the animals on screen, so they’ll empathise with them. Thus, you can kill a cow to feed the actors, but you can’t kill a horse to make the acting better.

            “Consent in sex is a human societal construct that can’t be applied outside human society.”

            We seem to be using different definitions of “consent”. I define it as informing another party that you’re fine with them doing something. Animals consenting is more vague. It’s not like they can talk. But it’s still generally pretty obvious. You seem to define it as informing another party that you’re fine with them doing something in a manner that gives them legal permission to do it.

            Given that, here’s a restatement of my sentence:

            That explains why you can’t have sex with animals that don’t want you to, but the article seemed to be talking about animals that are okay with it.

      • Daniel Carrier

        We should not shag human children because, when they grow up, they are likely to come to believe that shagging a human child is very wrong, and feel terrible about it. I used to think that was contrived, until I ended up feeling like that about something else. Side note: minors should not be allowed to fish.

        If you’re in a society that doesn’t believe that there’s anything wrong with shagging a child, then it’s almost certainly fine. It’s possible that there’s a reason I don’t know about, but if that were the case, cultures where shagging children was okay wouldn’t have lasted more than a generation.

      • wolftimber

        Animals are not small children with fur…

    • wolftimber

      It’s not wrong, the only thing that made it “wrong” to begin with was Western style RELIGION where even masturbation was a “sin” so obviously everything else was too.
      Also, the country bumpkins of the day who believed the earth was flat had unfounded fears of half human monsters and demons being born, something that is impossible.

  • Sarah Parry

    Maybe it’s because we see sex as something that must be consensual where as killing something to eat its flesh is almost never going to be consensual anyway…

    • lionstorm

      If I may restate in a much more general way, I come up with the following: Act A, being one involving two parties each of which can give consent, is one in which consent of both must be obtained, even though, generally speaking, neither party suffers lasting (physical) harm. Act B, being one involving two parties in which only one party can give consent, is deemed right and proper even though the party which cannot consent is harmed by the act.

      I don’t think the rationale holds up well under critical examination.

    • Fergus Pickering

      I hope you are kind to mosquitoes and the wasps that just built a nest in your spare room. Or is it all right to kill animals so long as you don’t eat them afterwards?

      • Sarah Parry

        Don’t know why you’re asking me! I eat animals and doubt I would ever stop. The debate isn’t really about vegetarianism is it? It’s about the hypocrisy of morality. Although your question does demonstrate this hypocrisy. The one I could never understand was how my friends could be vegetarians yet still use products that do testing on animals. That’s animal torture! Surely worse?

    • Daniel Carrier

      I tend to assume consent unless otherwise specified. You can argue that animals aren’t intelligent enough to give consent, but that’s not what I mean. You’re not going to become traumatized because you weren’t smart enough. You become traumatized because you don’t want it.

  • Sarah Parry

    Also I don’t think it’s about what the animal would prefer. Instead of what would the animal prefer to happen we should ask ‘what is it ok to do’. You could argue that morally it’s ok to do anything as long as the animal isn’t being hurt but we know some acts are immoral even if they don’t seem to directly hurt anyone.
    I suppose though the reason bestiality is illegal probably isn’t morally centred…

    • Daniel Carrier

      Asking what the people involved prefer is part of asking what is okay to do.

      • Sarah Parry

        I don’t think we should base our morality around whether the people involved are happy. Obviously we don’t want to make people unhappy and that is a motivating factor for us but I can think of plenty of situations where all people involved are happy but a situation is still immoral. I would argue that morality is beyond just who is happy and who is not. We have a sense of right and wrong beyond that.

        • Daniel Carrier

          How about if the people involved are happy, and do not find it immoral? Would you prefer that, or for people who find what you’re doing to be immoral to stop it, regardless of whether or not you think it’s immoral.

          Also, do you have any reason why it’s immoral, beyond being against cultural norms? There may be more to it than happiness, but that’s not an excuse to claim whatever you want is immoral.

          • Sarah Parry

            No I simply mean that the person committing the act has a sense of morality inherent to themselves irrespective of whether they can justify it by saying other people are happy. If the person committing the act thinks it’s moral then I would say that that is ok as I think whether an act is ok is about intention. But if a person committing an act knows it is immoral then that holds irrespective of whether anyone else is harmed or not.

  • Frank Bath

    Sheep shagging is bad for the sheep and bad for you – probably. If killing comes quick then the sheep feels nothing – we trust – and it was going to die anyway, although it was devised to be born, develop and die.
    I couldn’t kill an animal but I couldn’t be a sewer man either, and yet the latter disability doesn’t stop me from using his services.

    • serguei_p

      Why do you think that sheep shagging is bad for the sheep?
      Although I personally have never seen anybody actually doing it, but I don’t think they completely immobilise sheep in the process, which probably means that the sheep does not mind it more then, say, shearing.
      We should not try to anthropomorphize the animals.

      • Frank Bath

        Hi Serguie_p. I – naively perhaps – assume that unless the sheep is ready for penetration there will be some discomfort but I’m prepared to accept assurances it’s otherwise, from experience.

        • Daniel Carrier

          I don’t have experience or even much research, but I’m sure there are ways to make sure it’s consensual. Also, if it’s not, it seems pretty dangerous for the human. Violence is a common response to attempted rape for humans, and animals are much more prone to violence than humans.

        • wolftimber

          I can’t speak about sheep, but this is fact:

          “They will begin to exhibit estrus when length of day
          begins decreasing. They will come into heat every 16 to 17 days until they are bred or return to anestrus. Thus, the most natural time for sheep to breed in the U.S. and Canada is the fall (Oct-Nov).
          Some sheep breeds are less seasonal. They breed almost year-round or have an extended breeding season.”


          “The normal estrous cycle in the mare is 21 to 22 days
          long. Most mares will come into heat every 21 days. Usually 21 days after the
          day the mare first comes into heat, she will start into heat again, but
          some mares vary anywhere from 18 to 31 days in their heat cycles”

          As long as the animal is large enough physically compared to a human male, there’s no problem, a lamb is too small, and older ewe, dog the size of a Labrador or larger, or any mare.
          With mares- they are built to accomodate a stallion whose member is the size of a man’s arm, “joes” little 7 incher sure isn’t going to harm her! Just watch any of the breeding videos, or any of the veterinary related artificial insemination videos where the vet pushes his entire arm in a mare to his elbow while holding a pipette in his hand while the mare just stands there usually nibbling at some hay and disinterested, certainly not protesting or trying to escape.

          Then you watch a video of a vet castrating a stallion without anesthesia, or very little local with the horse tied up, and see which activity causes pain, fear and more and which doesn’t.

  • Animals have no concept of morality, we should (and are I hope) evolving away from our base instincts. Things like murder & rape are also natural but we rightly condemn them anyway as our morality has changed from our prehistoric days.

    If you feel guilty about eating meat it’s for a reason (It’s like claiming it’s unfair to point out that a murderer has done wrong). I have no problem if you choose to eat meat but it has little defence. An honest meat eater commented earlier saying I know I’m a hypocrite but I like my steak. Refreshingly honest.

    Humans are suffering as is the planet from our over consumption of meat.

    A vegetarian diet reduces the destruction of tropical rainforests, wildlife habitat, and help to save endangered species.

    Rainforests are vital to life on earth – they regulate the global climate and the water cycle, absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and provide humans with medicines, food, and much more.

    Sadly, rainforests are cut down to make room to raise cattle. Every second, one football field of rainforest is destroyed in order to produce 257 hamburgers.

    Two-thirds of Central America’s rainforests have been destroyed, in part to raise cattle whose meat, typically found in hamburgers and processed meat, is exported to profit the US food industry.

    It’s not just about animal welfare it’s about our welfare.

    People who do not care about creatures further down the evolutionary chain often have more distain for humans.

    Psychopathology often starts in childhood with the initial symptom being excessive cruelty to animals.

    In general if we can’t empathise with animals then often we cannot empathise with fellow humans.

    This is why animal rights activists are often also supportive of human rights, minority rights, humanitarian causes such as hunger, poverty, sweatshops, feminism, marriage equality, or civil rights etc

    Most people recognize that we should not engage in activities that cause pain and suffering to other people. Inherent in that recognition is the knowledge that other people are capable of pain and suffering.

    If an activity causes undue suffering to someone, the activity is morally unacceptable. If we accept that animals are capable of suffering, it is therefore morally unacceptable to cause them undue suffering.

    Any creature with sentience deserve respect.

    Sentience is the ability to suffer.

    As philosopher Jeremy Bentham wrote, “the question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?”

    Because a human, a dog, a cow or a chicken etc is capable of suffering, they are all worthy of our moral consideration. That’s not to say humans shouldn’t come first but our actions towards lesser beings is destructive to ourselves.

    “Leading water scientists have issued one of the sternest warnings yet about global food supplies, saying that the world’s population may have to switch almost completely to a vegetarian diet over the next 40 years to avoid catastrophic shortages…

    Humans derive about 20% of their protein from animal-based products now, but this may need to drop to just 5% to feed the extra 2 billion people expected to be alive by 2050”

    • wolftimber

      “A vegetarian diet reduces the destruction of tropical rainforest”

      a ONE CHILD per couple law to get the population of this country down to HALF what it is now- back to the number we had in 1950 goes MUCH farther in saving everything.

    • Fergus Pickering

      The planet is suffering because there are too many of us. The planet could do with some BIG WARS, don’t you think? .

    • Daniel Carrier

      “we should (and are I hope) evolving away from our base instincts.”

      We shouldn’t make all our decisions on instinct, but we shouldn’t reject something just because it’s our instinct to do it. In the end, there’s not really any reason to do anything beyond that at some point, it will satisfy some desire.

      “A vegetarian diet reduces the destruction of tropical rainforests, wildlife habitat, and help to save endangered species.”

      Why do people keep assuming that’s a good thing? I hope wild animal’s lives are worth living, but I don’t see any particularly good reason to believe it. I’m pretty neutral on the issue. It’s important to research the issue, and then depending on the result, either stop deforesting the rainforests or hurry it up.

      “Rainforests are vital to life on earth – they regulate the global climate and the water cycle, absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and provide humans with medicines, food, and much more.”

      They help, but it’s really the algae that does most of that. Well, except for the medicine and food. That’s mostly humans.

      Are you seriously suggesting that cutting down the rainforests to build farms results in humans getting less food? Then why would they do it?

  • tigerlily

    Yes – the suffering caused to animals as part of the meat and leather industry is just as bad as any other form of cruelty – so let’s stop doing it.

  • Raph Brous

    It’s really quite simple. Animals are being tortured in their billions. Do some research about factory farming. The compassionate and morally-consistent response is to boycott the cruelty. And that means going vegan.

    Being vegan is surprisingly easy. The scientific literature agrees that it’s healthier. No cholesterol, for a start. You’ll look better too.

    Mr Rifkind, you advocate the most apathetic, heartless and hypocritical view of animals.

    • If veganism’s easy, I hope you enjoy it. But speaking as one of those that live to eat rather than just the other way around, I can’t imagine a more ghastly regimen. And it must be appalling for a wine fan (which I am).

      • Max

        So you prioritise your taste buds over the well-being of another sentient creature? Nice one.

        • Most people do, I think you’ll find. I have to wonder, for my part, how vegans can be so supremely indifferent to food that is natural to the human being.

          And you might at least give me some credit for being choosy about just how sentient the creatures are that I eat! Jeez. Why don’t you go after the deer hunters, fercrissake?

          • wolftimber

            Humans don’t NEED meat the way cattle NEEDS grass and hay to survive- we are omnivores.

            ” Why don’t you go after the deer hunters, fercrissake?”

            What makes you think we don’t “go after” them too?

            I totally abhor “sport” hunting, it is a sick pasttime with many parallels to serial murderers:

            1) They both enjoy the murdering process.

            2) They both take souvenirs off their victims, body parts, jewelry and other mementos to re-live the killing.
            The antlers, heads mounted on the wall.

            3) They both frequently take pictures and or videos of the whole process or parts of it so they can view them over and over to re-live the killing while fapping off to it.

            4) Both continue murdering additional victims once they start.

            5) Serial murderers with few if any exceptions started out torturing and killing animals FIRST.

            6) Anyone who can look through a scope at an animal peacefully grazing in the woods and happily pull the trigger and then watch and enjoy watching their death throes and hear their screams is an unstable mentally ill NUT who is just one notch away from doing a “Columbine” “Newtown” or a “Holmes” on a theater full of people.

        • bwims

          So let’s get this straight. You don’t eat any dairy products, or eggs, no leather goods AT ALL, you won’t go in public transport that uses leather goods, you won’t buy anything with wool in it, you won’t have woolen carpets in your home.

          I hope you realise that all the synthetic materials you use instead of animal products were created by a technological society that would not exist without meat eating.

          I hope you do not take any medicines either, as they are tested on animals, nor have any truck with people that use cosmetics of any kind, nor use deodarants..

          Shall I go on, you sanctimonious smug little prig?

          • wolftimber

            It’s not about totally ELIMINATING everything animal related, it can’t be done, it’s about greatly REDUCING the consumption of meat and eliminating factory farm practices where animals are jammed into tiny stalls and in the case of pig- often suffocate from ammonia fumes caused by the thousands of gallons of liquified sewage in the building.

            Meat is obtained strictly by KILLING the animal, dairy products, and wool are not obtained by killing the animals, thus I see no issues with non meat eaters consuming dairy products, cheese, milk, and wearing wool as long as the animals involved are treated humanely and not jammed into narrow stalls 24/7.

            There’s a pig confinement not far from me who every morning dumps the pigs and piglets that died in the night on a burn pile, the building is maybe 35 feet wide by 200 feet long behind the guy’s house, and you can smell it all the way from the road.

            Most of the dead come from being poisoned by their own waste creating toxic ammonia fumes inside that closed-up building, the fact you can smell it hundreds of feet away should be a clue how strong it is INSIDE.

            I call these kinds of “farms” the animal version of the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp- the victims are rounded up, jammed into the building alive and they leave the facility DEAD, some of them burned in a way that reminds me of the Nazi ovens, only the species is different.

      • Daniel Carrier

        “And it must be appalling for a wine fan (which I am).”

        Than don’t do it to such a great extent. I’m pretty sure that whatever they use in wine is cheap, and doesn’t significantly fund factory farms.

        • Your comment is not coherent. Try again?

    • bwims

      Name ONE animal in the wild that has a pleasant death, apart from the species of mouse where the male dies of a heart attack after copulating all day.

      They either die of thirst and starvation or eaten alive. If they are lucky, they die after a terrifying chase by getting bitten at the back of the neck. If they are unlucky they die like foxes used to before we banned it because it was “too cruel”.

      Grow up sonny. There are no good endings to life. Just an end to suffering.

      • Daniel Carrier

        The wild sucks. We are not yet capable of doing anything about this, beyond just destroying it.

        Farmed animals’ lives suck. We can do something about this.

        Also, animals spend much more time living than dying, so we should be more worried about that. Not that living is necessarily worth it in the wild, but I think it’s a bigger issue on factory farms.

      • wolftimber

        “They either die of thirst and starvation or eaten alive. If they are
        lucky, they die after a terrifying chase by getting bitten at the back
        of the neck.”

        That’s nature’s way, we humans are supposedly ABOVE all that and cruelty, and we have the unique ability to grow all our own food, grains, rice, vegetables, fruits, nuts etc without having to resort to murdering innocent animals either for entertainment or a meal.
        Lions etc have no choice, they HAVE to kill prey animals to survive at all since they can’t grow food, or eat grass like cows.

    • Daniel Carrier

      “Being vegan is surprisingly easy.”

      I’m pretty sure that varies from person to person. If any of you are having trouble, please at least cut down on meat.

      “The scientific literature agrees that it’s healthier.”

      False dichotomy. It’s healthier than the average American diet. Or at least, the people who care enough not to get severe malnutrition while trying to be vegan eat healthier.

      I’m pretty sure that I, personally, would be healthier if I ate at least a little meat.

  • Graeme S

    I hope all Vegans are eaten by Lions or Tigers …. the delicious irony would be hilarious

    • Delicious for the tigers and lions, you mean.

  • wolftimber

    There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having sex with a WILLING animal who is large enough to not be harmed, a sheep is large enough, so is a large dog or a horse.
    Studies have been done on it and books published on the topic of bestiality and zoophilia, even R.E.L. Master’s book written in the 1950s which devoted the entire first chapter to this topic did not condemn it.

    • Daniel Carrier

      “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having sex with a WILLING animal”

      Why does “willing” have to be specified? If you mention someone sleeping with their wife, nobody assumes you’re talking about spousal rape, but once you mention bestiality or pedophilia, they think rape just goes without saying.

      • wolftimber

        Because some idiots think animals can’t possibly “consent” to sex (but convieniently seem to consent to being killed for meat?) and they consider animals as being small innocent children but with fur.

  • Perseus Slade

    Questions of the “Why is X more acceptable than Y?” type are moral ones that imply the existence of an ethical framework. If one finds the Abrahamic religions etc. impossible to believe in, what might that ethical framework be? It all comes down to The Golden Rule, and a reasonable balance needs to be struck. Otherwise, more is always better (as in health & safety, or feminism) and it all has to end in tears.

  • Jagatheesan Chandrasekharan


    γράψτε σε τοίχους ελέφαντες σύμβολο ελκυστική την διάκριση « Sarv Samaj
    » ( All Society ) χειρότερη από τη φυλή του απαρτχάιντ για να
    προετοιμαστούν για ” Savadhan Vishal Maha Rally ” σε Lucknow για τα
    γενέθλιά της κας Mayawati για 15-1-2014

    κλασική English

    10 . âlavaka Sutta .

    Για να âlavaka το Demon .

    Έτσι άκουσα .

    Σε ένα χρόνο ο μακάριος ζούσαν στον τομέα του δαίμονα Aalavaka . Στη συνέχεια, ο δαίμονας Aalavaka πλησίασε το Ευλογημένος και είπε :

    ßRecluse , πηγαίνετε έξω . ”

    Ο Ευλογημένος είπε : ßAlright φίλος . »Και βγήκε έξω .

    Στη συνέχεια, είπε ßRecluse , εισάγετε . ”

    Ο Ευλογημένος είπε ßAlright φίλος “και μπήκε .

    Για δεύτερη φορά , ο δαίμονας είπε ßRecluse , πηγαίνετε έξω . ”

    Ο Ευλογημένος είπε : ßAlright , φίλος ” και βγήκε πάλι ,

    ο δαίμονας είπε , ßRecluse , εισάγετε . ”

    Ο Ευλογημένος είπε : ßAlright φίλος “και μπήκε .

    Για τρίτη φορά ο δαίμονας είπε : ßRecluse , πηγαίνετε έξω . ”

    Ο Ευλογημένος είπε: « Εντάξει , φίλε ” και βγήκε έξω .

    Και πάλι ο δαίμονας είπε , ßRecluse , εισάγετε . ”

    Ο Ευλογημένος είπε : ßAlright , φίλος “και μπήκε .

    Για τέταρτη φορά ο δαίμονας είπε : ßRecluse , βγείτε έξω ”

    Ο Ευλογημένος είπε : ßFriend , δεν θα πάω έξω , να κάνει ό, τι θα μπορούσατε να κάνετε . ”

    , εγώ θα σας κάνω μια ερώτηση , αν δεν το εξηγήσω , θα μπερδέψει το
    μυαλό σου , ή θα χωρίσει την καρδιά σας , ή θα σας πάρει από τα πόδια
    και να ρίξει στην άλλη όχθη του ποταμού . ”

    αυτόν τον κόσμο των θεών και των ανθρώπων , μαζί με το Μάρας , Brahmas ,
    και την κοινότητα των αναχωρητών και brahmins δεν βλέπω κανέναν που θα
    μπορούσε να μπερδέψει το μυαλό μου , ή να χωρίσει την καρδιά μου , ή να
    λαμβάνονται από τα πόδια μου θα μπορούσε να ρίξει στην άλλη όχθη του το ποτάμι . Ωστόσο , μπορώ να ρωτήσω, ό, τι θέλετε να .

    Στη συνέχεια, ο δαίμονας Aalavaka ασχολήθηκε με το Ευλογημένος στο στίχο .

    181 . ” Από wealths αυτό είναι το κύριο σε έναν άνδρα , τι καλά ασκείται φέρνει τερπνότητα

    Από γούστα τι είναι το πρώτιστο , και ζουν πώς είναι η κύρια προς το ζην . ”

    182 . . «Η πίστη , είναι η κύρια πλούτος για τον άνθρωπο , η διδασκαλία και πρακτική φέρνει ευχαρίστηση .

    Γεύσεων αλήθεια είναι το κύριο Η επιβίωση του ένα καθιστικό σοφά λέγεται ότι είναι το κύριο . ”

    183 . ßHow είναι η πλημμύρα πέρασε , πώς ο ωκεανός πέρασε ,

    Πώς δυσαρέσκεια της εξάτμισης , και πώς καθαρότητα έρθει περίπου . ”

    184 . ßWith πίστη , η πλημμύρα είναι σταυρωμένα, με επιμέλεια από τον ωκεανό ,

    Με δυσάρεστη προσπάθεια παίρνει εξαντληθεί , και με την αγνότητα σοφία έρχεται περίπου ”

    185 . ” Πώς είναι η σοφία που λαμβάνονται και πώς ο πλούτος έμπειρους,

    Πώς μπορεί κάποιος να γίνει διάσημος , και πώς οι φίλοι δεσμεύονται .

    Έφυγε από αυτή για τον άλλο κόσμο , πως δεν υπάρχει θλίψη . ”

    186 . ßPlacing πίστη σε τέλεια κατάσταση και τη διδασκαλία για την επίτευξη εξαφάνιση ,

    Εκείνοι που ακούν το επιμελώς και discriminatingly αποκτήσουν σοφία .

    187 . Όσοι κατάλληλα προσδεμένη με ξύπνησε εμπειρία προσπάθεια Διδασκαλία

    Μέσω αλήθεια το ένα γίνεται διάσημο και δίνοντας οι φίλοι δεσμεύονται .

    188 . Σε ένα ιδιοκτήτη με πίστη , αν υπάρχει ειλικρίνεια , την κατάρτιση ,

    Δεξιά όψη και τη γενναιοδωρία , δεν θα θρηνήσει αργότερα .

    189 . Έλα τώρα , λόγω άλλων recluses και brahmins , να ξέρετε ,

    Είτε υπάρχει πολλή ειλικρίνεια , την κατάρτιση , τη γενναιοδωρία και ανεκτικότητα εμφανής εδώ .

    190 . ßWhat ​​υπάρχει στην ερώτηση τώρα , από αναχωρητές και brahmins

    Σήμερα ξέρω τι είναι απαραίτητο για το επόμενο τοκετό .

    191 ` Είναι για το καλό μου, ότι ο Φωτισμένος ήρθε στην Aalavi ,

    Τώρα ξέρω ότι , δεδομένης της στους οποίους είναι πολύ καρπό .

    192öow θα πάω από χωριό σε χωριό και από πόλη σε πόλη ,

    Η λατρεία του όλα Φωτισμένος και την καλοσύνη της Διδασκαλίας . ”

    193 . Όταν το περπάτημα , όρθια, καθιστή ή ακόμα και ψέματα , είναι λύγισμα και το τέντωμα ,

    Αυτές είναι οι κινήσεις του σώματος .

    194 . Τα οστά και οι φλέβες που συνδέονται μεταξύ τους καλύπτονται με σάρκα και το δέρμα ,

    Το σώμα καλύπτεται με το δέρμα , και η πραγματική κατάσταση δεν έχει δει.

    195 . Το εσωτερικό είναι γεμάτο , το στομάχι είναι πλήρες με το ήπαρ και τα γεννητικά όργανα

    Έτσι, επίσης, με την καρδιά , τους πνεύμονες , τα νεφρά και τον σπλήνα .

    196 . Είναι επίσης γεμάτη μύξα , σάλιο, ιδρώτα και λάδι του σώματος,

    Με το αίμα, το πετρέλαιο των αρθρώσεων , τη χολή και το σκληρυμένο έλαιο.

    197 . Στη συνέχεια, από τις εννέα εξωτερικές πόρτες εκκρίνουν βρωμιά όλη την ώρα .

    Μέσα από τα μάτια και τα αυτιά υπάρχουν εκκρίσεις

    198 . Υπάρχει μύξα που προέρχονται από τη μύτη και από το στόμα εμετό ,

    Έτσι, επίσης, τη χολή ή φλέγμα εμετό , από όλο τον trickles ιδρώτα του σώματος

    199 . Διάτρητο κρανίο του είναι γεμάτη με μυελό

    Ο ανόητος παραπλανημένοι νομίζει ότι είναι κάτι ευχάριστο .

    200 . Όταν βρίσκεται στην πλάτη του νεκρούς , φουσκωμένος και μετατράπηκε σε γαλάζιο

    Και ρίχνονται στο οστεοφυλάκιο του εδάφους , που δεν ανήκει σε συγγενείς του .

    201 . Τρώγεται με τα σκυλιά , τα τσακάλια , λύκοι και τα σκουλήκια ,

    Κοράκια και γεράκια να τρώνε πάρα πολύ , και ό, τι άλλα πλάσματα εκεί είναι .

    202 Η bhikkhu άκουσε τα λόγια του Φωτισμένος , γίνεται σοφός ,

    Αναζητά στο σώμα όπως πραγματικά είναι , και μαθαίνει το καλά .

    203 . . Όπως είμαι τώρα , αυτό το σώμα ήταν επίσης : το εν λόγω όργανο είναι , γι ‘αυτό θα είναι ,

    Έτσι, διαλύει το ενδιαφέρον για το σώμα εσωτερικά και externally1

    204 . Η bhikkhu καταρρίπτοντας το ενδιαφέρον και η απληστία για το σώμα γίνεται σοφός

    Αντιλαμβάνεται αθάνατο κατευνασμού και εμπειρίες εξαφάνιση

    205 . Αυτή δύο footed πράγμα είναι βρωμιά δίνοντας μια κακή μυρωδιά

    Είναι γεμάτη από διάφορα είδη βρωμιά και τους strews εδώ και εκεί .

    206 . Με ένα τέτοιο σώμα , αν κάποιος σκέφτεται αλαζονικά ,

    Ή αν μιλά χαμηλό των άλλων , – τι είναι , εκτός από ελλιπής σε σοφία .



    Ως εκ τούτου, για να συλλάβει το KEY MASTER !
    ΓΙΑ ΤΟΥΣ ΠΡΟΝΟΙΑΣ , ευτυχία και την ειρήνη !
    AS τελικό στόχο την επίτευξη αιώνια ευδαιμονία !

  • Eddie

    According to the Ayatollah Khomeini, (in his ‘little green book’), it is just fine in Islam to copulate with animals – but there is one strict condition: once you have, ahem, ‘done the nasty’, you should slaughter the animal and sell the meat to the next village. So that’s just tickety-al-boo then, inshallah…
    Oh to be an Iranian sheep…
    Must be almost as bad as being an Iranian Christian…

  • One thing that people like Oliver Frost, who has spent his entire time on this blog being highly indignant, should consider is that eggs are an extremely cheap, very high-quality protein. To say that nobody should have access to eggs, especially the poor and those that must budget to feed their animals, strikes me as being both extremist and inconsiderate, to say the least. Bear in mind that Oliver was advocating not merely vegetarianism but veganism, which is to say he wants to impose a very particular diet on the rest of us.

  • John Hawkins Totnes

    Oh dear oh dear, this is just 4th form stuff to shock the adults. The trouble is this thinking has entered the blood stream of what should be normal thinking people. The principle “if you fancy it then fuck it” is the basic moral reference of even our legislators. (please excuse my language but it is in tune with the article)

    Our sexual activity and attitude is very important to us as individuals and to our society. (I know this as someone who has failed in this dept) How about a bit of chastity and restraint?

    • Well said.

    • Eddie

      I congratulate you, reverend, on getting the F word past the Speccie censors.
      Now I shall let you get back to your choirboys…

      • John Hawkins Totnes

        Eddie, what makes you think I am a rev?

  • This seems to be relevant to the discussion:

    ‘…eating shouldn’t be cerebral; it should be sensual. Spend time with toddlers. They eat what they want and have no judgment. Oh, apple slices? YUM! They aren’t thinking, oh I need fiber and vitamin A so I should eat these. You and I are overeducated about food and this excessive knowledge has stopped us from intrinsically eating (and enjoying) from a craving standpoint. Feel your body to find out what it wants and needs. Measuring calories, dissecting food into protein, fat and carbs, and eating what we are “supposed” to be eating doesn’t seem to be working. Cravings are your body’s way of communicating’.

    –Ellen Barrett

  • Terry Field

    The decline of political correctness, together with the collapse of the vestige of the Roman civilisation’s religion should open the way for a paired coupling being offered in our great supermarket social process centres of a shag with a sheep, and a juicy leg of mutton.
    Miley Cyrus is everywhere.
    All is possible.

  • Jeff Evans

    Just noticed this article.

    Here’s another puzzle.

    Why are our politicians happy that we can kill a human being aged minus four months who cannot live without a life-support system (it’s called abortion), but unhappy about anybody helping a person aged plus anything to die, even if they are unable to live without help?

  • bwims

    Simple answer. Eating them is something we evolved to do. It is nutritious and does not give you IBS and Chron’s disease like wheat and other cereal grains will. The lie about saturated fats and heart disease is politicised science Carbs cause the glucose/insulin/hunger cycle responsible for inflamed arteries that take up plaque, cause obesity, diabetes and pancreatic cancer. Modern dwarf wheat has addictive opiate effects too, due to a mutated enzyme that it possesses. Our ancestors lived much healthier on meat, fat, nuts, berries, leafy vegetables, the occasional root and honey if they could find it than we do today. Their skeletons were bigger, with more teeth, than the cereal growers that followed them.

    Animals that live in the wild generally suffer through a long and agonising death from thirst and starvation if they are lucky, or get eaten alive by predators. Domestic meat animals get a quick death, generally.

    Bestiality is a poor comparison. It’s just a sick perversion for people who have lost their way in life.

    • bwims

      Actually, I’m rather sorry I bothered to reply. The author is clearly a prat, and that goes double for most of the commentators.

  • jesus lopez

    Sorry to keep you waiting. Eating meat is morally better because it not only helps with your nourishment, which is needed for your life in a way that masturbating, with or without live animal aids, is not. Furthermore, eating meat gave us the extra strong animal protein that was critical to develop our outsized brain, which is our edge in the survival race against stronger, faster and fitter species. If you stop eating meat, unless you substitute it with a very artificial mix of vegetable proteins, your brain start to underperform and you become a vegan. This could not be a critical impairment if you do not live by your brains, but it is a lot of risk, frankly, and you should not run this risk lightly. As it is well known, if your survival is at stake all manner of behavior that it is usually regarded as criminal or even rude begins to be filed under “self defense” and becomes morally acceptable. Bestiality, on the other hand, will not help you with your reproductive urge, unless several millennia of veganism have already made a sheep of you, and therefore can never be excused as critical for your survival.

  • Malcolm J. Brenner

    Why on earth a sheep? Why not something challenging, like a horny female dolphin?