Interview: The voice of reason

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As a professor of philosophy and environmental studies at Vermont’s Green Mountain College — and something of an authority on animal ethics — Prof. Steven Fesmire found himself at the epicenter of the recent activist-driven flap over the college’s plans to slaughter and serve the meat from two working oxen that toiled on the college’s on-site farm.

The idea was to align the school’s farming operations with a robust concept of sustainability. The result of what seemed to many as a pragmatic—if somewhat controversial—decision was an outcry ginned up by members of VINE, a local animal activist group that operates a sanctuary its members lobbied for the college to consider as an alternative destination for the pair of aging work animals.

Both Fesmire and William Throop, the college’s provost who also specializes in environmental ethics, were caught up in an aggressive campaign to demonize the college and threaten the owners of a local packing plant where school officials had planned to send the oxen. The plant owner balked after receiving numerous threats, and due to an injury, one of the oxen eventually had to be euthanized.

That was hardly the end of the controversy, however, which continues to reverberate across the rural campus, as students, activists and Green Mountain’s leadership grapple with the fallout of a highly charged, media-driven food fight.

To set the record straight about “Oxengate”, and to discuss the larger issue animal agriculture, Prof. Fesmire spoke with Contributing Editor Dan Murphy.

Q. Let’s start at the obvious place: What happened with the protests against the college’s plans to turn its oxen into meat, and what’s the situation there currently?

Fesmire: It’s become a serious dispute. What we’re dealing with here are vegan abolitionists, the folks who think that animal agriculture itself has to be abolished. The vitriol and the harassment against us on this issue is coming from these people, diehard animal rights abolitionists. From their perspective, any aspect of animal agriculture is analogous to human slavery. Thus, there’s no such thing as a “better master.” From their standpoint, even small-scale animal operations, such as we have at Green Mountain College, are no better than the concentrated feeding operations you find in the industry.

Q. You have gotten some very critical comments directed at you, as I have, despite Green Mountain’s attempts to be even-handed about this issue.

Fesmire: Yes. To these folks, any type of animal use is a violation of the fundamental rights of the animal, so it all has to go away. These folks are organized, and with social media, they have a big international network they can mobilize, so that’s where the heat’s coming from.

Q. And there’s been quite a lot of heat, as I understand.

Fesmire: Yes. It’s interesting. Most people—regardless of their diet—might agree or disagree about our decision about the oxen. But this [controversy] has almost nothing to do with Bill and Lou [the two oxen]. They’re merely props. However, the activists see them as mascots for the animal rights movement. This [dispute] isn’t about the vegetarian agenda; most vegetarians are used to living with the [meat] industry. Many of them eat dairy products. This controversy is about the vegan agenda.

Q. How is that different from being vegetarian?

Fesmire: Most people—even vegetarians—can accept that there is a plurality of different diets. For instance, a recent graduate of nearby Middlebury College, who is a vegan, emailed our president and said, “I’m so sick about what these [activists] are doing to you guys, I’m going to send you a contribution.” And he mailed a check for $250. That attitude is pretty prevalent at our college, and that’s what we’re used to.

Q. But that’s not where these protestors are coming from, eh?

Fesmire: No, not at all. The people who are protesting against our college believe there is only one right diet—a vegan diet—and it must be imperialistically forced upon everyone else. To them, that’s the only possible “ethical” diet. It’s not a matter of accepting there are lots of dietary choices out there. They believe in the PETA concept of meat is murder. They’re the ones who blocked off our slaughterhouses, they’re the ones who have threatened our local businesses, they’re the ones who are harassing us daily, and they should not be confused in any way with “typical” vegetarians or vegans.

Q. Let me ask you this: In your writings, you have raised concerns about industrial farming. How do you talk about that issue with your students, especially as it concerns ethics?

Fesmire: Well, that’s a semester-long discussion . . .

Q. Can you boil it down to 60 seconds?

Fesmire: [Laughs]. Okay, how about this? My goal is to take all the periods people want to put into their conversations, and turn them into question marks. Philosophy critiques the assumptions we hold about the world, from wherever we got them. It’s a threshing machine, separating wheat from the chaff. So the goal of ethics is really to make people feel uncomfortable, uncertain about their assumptions, because that’s when we can have a discussion. In doing so, however, there is a risk involved.

Q. The risk being that people’s fundamental viewpoint might change?

Fesmire: Yes, exactly: The fundamental beliefs, the basic assumptions we take for granted, might shift. That’s the risk of engaging in real thought, but that’s what we need to do culture-wide.

Q. Without condemning industrial agriculture, or exclusively touting small-scale farming, how do we get to a more balanced approach to food production?

Fesmire: Well, on the issue of animal agriculture, you have to get past thinking that the only choices are business as usual or abolition [of all livestock]. If you get past that, you can have an intelligent conversation and people have some flexibility to think about alternatives. But these pompous, sanctimonious abolitionists are utterly incapable of shining a spotlight that can lead us forward. They block the road on that kind of dialogue.

Yes, the industry does need to change, but right now, there’s not a lot of room to have the dialogue that we need to discuss how we might do that.

Dan Murphy is a food-industry journalist and commentator.


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bill    
Nebraska  |  November, 21, 2012 at 09:52 AM

Part 2? There are many questions on the philosophy of this ethics prof that would be interesting to ask and have answered on the current battle in animal husbandry between cheap food production (or feeding a hungry world), and "ethical production practices" (what ever that means). America is blessed to be able to have this debate. The debate in Vermont has more to do with the right of some folks to disrupt acceptable commerce without legal fallout for them.

Donald Dukes    
Bronson, IA  |  November, 21, 2012 at 10:38 AM

The vegans are not realistic. The apparently don't know anything about agriculture. What a waste of good meat. This is a God-given right to eat meat. We do not force the vegans to eat meat, therefore They should not force us to eat nothing but vegetables. The world would starve without meat. A lot of the plains is suitable for grass only to be eaten by livestock.

Lisa Viger    
Brooklyn, MI  |  November, 21, 2012 at 11:02 AM

Mr. Dukes, as a vegan, I don't care what you eat. I care that you kill animals. I care that your taste preferences are killing the planet. I care that we're feeding billions of animals while millions of humans starve. And the world is starving because animal agriculture is inherently unsustainable. From an entirely practical standpoint, you can grow one beef cattle over two years on two acres, resulting in about 500 lbs or so of meat. That same two acres over two years could easily grow about 30,000 lbs of kale and quinoa, which are also superior foods nutritionally. Those are the facts ... you can't get around them.

Andrew    
Oregon  |  November, 21, 2012 at 11:49 AM

Well reported and necessary conversation well done.

Larry    
St. Louis  |  November, 21, 2012 at 11:50 AM

What a warped mind you have. If the world is starving it's because folks like you are not concentrating on birth control rather than meat control.

Larry    
St. Louis  |  November, 21, 2012 at 11:50 AM

What a warped mind you have. If the world is starving it's because folks like you are not concentrating on birth control rather than meat control.

Janna    
South Dakota  |  November, 21, 2012 at 11:57 AM

Those may be the facts as you see them, but those 2 acres may not be suitable to growing crops. Those 2 acres may be best suited for native grasses, to be processed by animals, which in turn are fed to people. Believing that ALL acres are suitable cropland is a familiar misconception. And, realistically, is it better to make ALL acres cropland, or is native prairie a better alternative in many places? Do we really want to farm ALL available rural acres in our country?

Ben    
Michigan  |  November, 21, 2012 at 12:02 PM

Most livestock feed comes from land that will NOT grow kale or quinoa and while corn is often fed to livestock during part of their growth periods, it's optional, not manditory. Grazing livestock, the domestic version, or wild graziers like bison, wildebeest, etc have been and ARE a part of the evolution of our planet. That's the facts no matter what your diet choices.

Bill    
Middletown CT  |  November, 21, 2012 at 04:11 PM

So Lisa, its OK if I find something already dead and eat it, just as long as I don't kill it, myself. Somehow, that does not sound too appetizing.

Steven Fesmire    
Poultney, VT  |  November, 21, 2012 at 04:19 PM

For the record, my default diet is vegetarian, and I'm a critic of the status quo in livestock agriculture. I believe in its transformation, not its abolition. From my standpoint, Animal Welfare Approved offers an excellent model. There's a misquote in this interview regarding mascots (we don't regard the oxen as mascots), which is in the process of being corrected. In response to the discussion thus far: There are many ways to pursue more responsible lives in relation to food, and no diet exhaustively deals with all of the often-incompatible factors inherent in agriculture and eating. That is, there’s no such thing as the correct, best, or “natural” diet, determined in advance of the situations that require us to make dietary choices. Nor is there any SINGLE right way to reason about dietary choices. The main problem we all face isn’t the lack of a dietary compass; it’s that conventional dietary choices and farming methods don't help to move us toward a more humane, just, and sustainable food system.

PAUL COUPLAND    
Canada  |  November, 21, 2012 at 04:44 PM

The main problem with the live food industry is the method that they use to kill the creature that is being converted into food. If the method that they use to kill each creature for food was absolutely humane, then there would be no concern. The concern arises when it takes 11 tries to effectively kill a horse or a cow, & when that does not work, the idiot then piths their brain - which is disgusting!

Larkin    
Dayton, OH  |  November, 21, 2012 at 05:34 PM

My comment speaks directly to the notion of the slaughter of oxen for meat. We are used to eating beef from young cattle. Beef from oxen, which are mature cattle (and in this instance "aging") would be very tough and stringy, rather like mutton. (And like mutton, probably a bit "gamey") Who would want to eat that? We're talking thousands of pounds of beef. I can see feeding it to dogs or zoo animals, but I believe the average human would not find it very palatable. It's surprising to me that the college did not consider this before thrusting themselves into the middle of an unnecessary controversy.

Bill    
Middletown CT  |  November, 21, 2012 at 06:12 PM

So what becomes of the animal if it is cared for all its life and dies a natural death? At this point, the beef is still edible (slow cooked over a long period of time :) ) and fit for human consumption. It feeds people. The hide is presumably worth something as leather, and the remainder of the animal is used in some form or another as a food stuff for humans, i.e. bones for stock, or as animal feed, etc. Every bit of the animal is used for something to benefit human beings, in some way, shape or form. If animals are allowed to die of natural causes before humans can consume them, odds are, the uses for the remains would be much less versatile.

Marty    
Alaska  |  November, 21, 2012 at 07:00 PM

Abolitionists, vitriol and harassment? I disagree. I was involved in contacting the school, writing on FB and VINE discussing Lou and Bill. There were students at GMC who contacted others outside the school when they heard GMCs plan for retiring Lou and Bill, it was not about veganism or vegetarianism. Lou didn't need to euthanized, he wasn't treated for his injury, the excuse was then the meat would not be edible for consumption. No one eats 10+ year old meat, GMCs excuses to slaughter Lou and Bill fall short of reason. My suggestion all along because of their age, was to be a leader in the husbandry field to send them to a sanctuary when their "teaching" was done. I'm vegan, my husband is a hunter and carnivore, he does not hunt and eat animals that age. I would be interested to hear from the following scholars their feelings and insights about perhaps being labeled an abolitionist or radical for their animal welfare, vegetarian or vegan lifestyles: Pythagoras, Plato, Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, George Bernard Shaw, Nikola Tesla, Shopenhauer, Thoreau, Leonardo Da Vinci, Voltaire, etc. They all knew there could be no spiritual growth while nourishing the body from cruelty and the exploitation of others. One in 5 children in the U.S. today are starving today. Janna, not all grasslands are used as grazing land nor are suitable for livestock. Most factory farm livestock don't graze but are held in barren fields and fed out of troughs. Donald, the world would not starve without meat, vegetables are healthier. In the U.S., 8.3 million people are vegetarian or vegan for various reasons. If fed another diet than a carnivores as a child, I might then have believed there was another option.

Neal    
MO  |  November, 21, 2012 at 08:34 PM

Where do you think Taco's come from If 1 in 5 children are starving why do we have a childhood obesity epidemic. In 1972 the average U.S. citizen ate approximatley 120 lb's of beef now consumption is about 60 lb's and the incedents of Diabetes has increased 600%. Destroy the planet an acre of well managed pasture fixes more CO2 than an acre of forest with less runoff let alone how much an acre of corn fixes. Everyone cares about animals would you like take a shift in the calveing barn some nightbe prepared last year there was a ice storm some of us spent all night in the barn 11 trys to kill an animal, in this country the goverment inspector would have shut you down long before that. 8.3 million out of a population of 300+million If you do not want to eat meat that is your business but do not manipulate statistics to convince the uniformed of you agenda. There are thousands of us out here that you will fly over some day that bust our tails every day regardless of weather, profit or loss,sometimes even our personal safety to provide compassionate care for our stock so that we can provide for our fanilies and a rapidly growing world. The farmers of America have done more for peace and prosperity in this world than all the polititions combined . Most of us are don't qualify for workmens comp unemployment or even a 401K, If you think you can do a better job of feeding the billions of people on this planet and leave it in better shape than you find it put your money and you butt were your mouth is. I and thousnds like me care about thier stock thier families and thier world

Roger Herman    
Barnesville MN  |  November, 21, 2012 at 09:35 PM

Very good points! I for one enjoy raising livestock. I work 8-10 a day at another job so I can afford to come home and take care of my animals. Most of the time they get feed and taken care of before I go in to eat. I think they have it pretty good. They are feed a proper diet and someone makes sure they have water and a good place to sleep. No one in animal agriculture, with half a brain, will abuse the animals that are in there care and expect to make a profit to continue in business. As you said, if you think there is a better way to use unproductive rangeland without creating total environmental damage, please tell us.

Geoff    
November, 22, 2012 at 01:10 AM

First - the world is not starving BECAUSE of animal agriculture. Ask anyone working in Africa. A lot has to do with unstable in-country markets resulting in overproduction/crashed prices followed by underproduction due to perceived low prices --- throw in a drought year and boom. Crisis. No animals necessary. Second - you can raise a steer on ground that could never raise kale or quinoa. In fact there's a good portion of the land mass of earth unsuitable for crop production but still with grazing potential.

Geoff    
November, 22, 2012 at 01:14 AM

"when it takes 11 tries to effectively kill a horse or a cow" Where are you coming up with this? Youtube? Those big slaughteplants move the line so quickly that "11 tries" would get that person fired on the spot. And how would you pith a steer or horse? They aren't frogs in science class!

Geoff    
November, 22, 2012 at 01:49 AM

Marty - First - "No one eats 10+ year old meat" How would you know what others eat? It is likely that this would have been ground beef but there is nothing that says that a 10yr old steer can't produce palatable meat. How old are the animals your husband kills? One or two years old. Hardly a full life for a free-living wild animal yet you go after GMC and its livestock. Hypocrisy. Wow - eleven well-known people as vegans in what? 2000yrs? "1 in 5 children in the U.S. today are starving today. Janna, not all grasslands are used as grazing land nor are suitable for livestock. Most factory farm livestock don't graze but are held in barren fields and fed out of troughs." Are1 in 5 kids starving because of animal ag or because of poverty? Also much of the land on earth is unsuitable for growing crops (veg) but is suited for grazing. And "factory farmed" livestock do graze for most of their lives and are only in feedlots (barren fields withtroughs?) for the finishing period. Marty - "If fed another diet than a carnivores as a child" You were fed an all-meat diet as a child as that's what a carnivore diet is.

Kenneth Jasmer    
Texas  |  November, 22, 2012 at 08:24 AM

I don't like kale or quinoa. So good luck with that theory.

Kenneth Jasmer    
Texas  |  November, 22, 2012 at 08:27 AM

Thank you for the common sense of reason. Look what happened when we tried farming prairie prior to the dust bowl days.

DUTCH    
nm  |  November, 22, 2012 at 11:25 AM

I AM CURIOUS TO KNOW YOUR RELIGOUS BELIEFS . DO BELIEVE IN THE GOD OF THE BIBLE? OR WHAT IS IT THAT SETS YOUR MORAL COMPASS AND YOUR ATTITUDE AND STANCE ON THE TREATMENT OF ANIMALS ?

eric    
wyoming  |  November, 22, 2012 at 12:21 PM

Lisa, Please reread Donald Duke's comment. You can't grow 30,000 lbs of kale and quinoa on most of the plains in the western states. Feel free to come out yourself and cut native grass for your diet. I guarantee you will not survive on that type of diet. This is where livestock can convert grass into a food that can be digested by humans. Animal breeding has helped in the past 3 decades to develop livestock that are better converters of this plant source. I encourage you to talk with people who live their lives in agriculture. My sole source of income comes from agriculture. I have everything on the line to make a living on the land. I will not abuse this great blessing. Our cattle eat better and are taken care of better than some children in this free country. That is sad to say, but when you are responsible for these animals you put everything you have into them. Food, Shelter, and health. I hope this sheds light on the subject. Try to put yourself into shoes of people who are actually doing the job. thanks.

eric    
wyoming  |  November, 22, 2012 at 12:32 PM

You can go and look at video put out by Temple Grandin. I'm a beef producer. I don't like to see animals suffer, but one comment I would like to make is on horse slaughtering. It was brought to a halt in this country, because some people like yourself came up with the inhumane comments of slaughter. Well I'm here to tell you, present day those horses are shipped to either Mexico or Canada now for slaugher. Resulting in a more relaxed slaughtering guideline. The US had the best slaughtering process in regards to humane treatment of horse slaughtering. When the slaughtering in the country was halted more problems arose. Horses are left to just die a slow death since some owners can't afford the feed, or they turn them loose on BLM lands in the western states. Essentially left to die on their own. How humane is this. The US needs to have horse slaughtering brought back. That way slaughtering can be monitored and the best process can be used. this goes for all animal slaughtering. The vegan radicals need to study up on what slaughtering is and how we need to best use our food resources in the world, or we will run out of food in the next 40 years, due to population growth. what would you rather have world hunger, or sensible and regulated slaughter of animals which we have today. thanks, eric

maxine    
SD  |  November, 23, 2012 at 07:50 PM

Excellent comments from many on the 'meat eating' side, and the usual ill-informed or outright false statements by some of the anti-meat folks, unfortunately. Much of the beef in the USA is raised in pastures grazing grasses and forbs, much of it native grasses until they are a year to 16 months old, then some go into feedlots (which are roomier and cleaner than many believe) and are fed a balanced diet of forages and grains until they are ready to process, almost all by the time they are twenty months of age. Cattle for breeding are raised almost entirely on grass pastures or paddocks, and begin producing calves at about two years of age and continue bearing calves annually as they would if running wild. They usually are retired from breeding between ages 10 and 16 in my experience with range raised beef cattle. The 'retired' or culled cattle are processed as hamburger, minute steaks or other mechanically tenderized meats, sandwich meats, or even roasts which are cooked by braising, or roasting at lower temperatures for tenderness. My family usually eats such cows culled from our herd and get many compliments on our beef from guests in our home. That beef is generally naturally leaner, but in any case, most beef is trimmed of excess fat during processing, giving us the far leaner beef than in 'the olden days'. Because consumers told us that is what they want! Breeding animals are culled from the herds

Annon    
November, 24, 2012 at 09:13 AM

To the question of the long term sustainability of agriculture and the role of livestock in that agriculture, in 2010 the National Academy of Sciences published the report "Toward Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the 21st Century" One of the co-chairs stated that, for long term sustainability, livestock need to be integrated back into the midwestern crop production systems so that the "waste" from one production system becomes the input of another, much as occurred in the past. He indicated that this re-integration was necessary for long term soil health, such as increasing organic carbon content and increasing water holding capacity, and improving nutrient management, reducing problems such as the nitrogen plume from runoff. The final report is on-line or the pdf downloadable for free from https://download.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12832

Dr. G    
Sullivan, IL  |  November, 24, 2012 at 11:00 AM

Marty: One in 5 children in the U.S. are starving today?? Are you crazy? Look at pictures of children in the Sudan. Have you EVER seen a child that looked like that in the US. No, you have not. The problem in the US is an abundance of calories (usually poorly chosen) in most childrens' diets resulting in an epidemic of obesity. This is especially true amongst the poor that you would say are starving. When I start seeing children with large protruding abdomens from chronic protein deficiency as I drive down the streets, I will start believing children are starving in the US. Also, I hope you relize the cruelty of your vegetarian diet. The number of animals killed during harvest of plant products can be staggering. You should see the vultures circling after a field is harvested to pick up the tasty tidbits of dead mice, snakes, birds, etc. that didn't get out of the way.

moomama    
SE MN  |  November, 24, 2012 at 03:58 PM

Tell me, are there statistics that show how many vegans put anything back into the soil or water that feeds them? I seriously would like to know. If the individuals that so harshly criticize animal agriculture are not directly contributing to soil fertility, structure, and the careful nurturing of biological components needed to grow plants that feed us all, it amounts to their raping of the land. Do you know that manure is natural fertilizer? Animal agriculture takes livestock excreted waste, also known as "brown gold", and carefully uses it to fertilize and rebuild the soils. We very hard to plan crop rotations that benefit the soil. As stewards of this precious land that we are blessed to use for the good of humanity, we, as farmers, use excellent management practices to protect soil, air, and water. We are the ones most directly impacted if our soils & water aren't conserved. County or state laws even regulate how the rain water (which is also termed as "waters of the state") is to be conserved. Consumers, make an effort to learn from farmers and ranchers where your food comes from and do not accept as fact everything you read in print - especially if it comes from a non-producer source! If you have a full belly thank a farmer. Fellow farmers and ranchers, reach out and take every opportunity to engage and teach the public about modern agriculture. Volunteer to teach for a day (or more) in your local schools. Use social media. Get creative and tell your story!

Paul Duncan    
central Texas  |  November, 24, 2012 at 04:31 PM

It irks me that states like Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, R.I., Mass.... etc send 2 senators each to screw up our country with this New England mindset that PETA and the vegans are a force to be recognized as legitemate. Those groups want to push the" all animals have rights" agenda on all of us. That is man is not created in God's image , man is just another animal with no more importance or rank than the ox, the pig , or the earth worm. They are atheists and anarchists and if we ever put them in command: the the population or the earth will starve in one year.

Rosa Goldman    
Americas  |  November, 24, 2012 at 09:14 PM

What exactly is Fesmire's problem with "the industry"? Has it not evolved precisely to provide "more humane, just, and sustainable" meat for the masses? Small-scale boutique beef can't do that. Or is he in fact a secret abolitionist himself, because what else could his "transformation" be toward? Why else would he try to hide his own pompous sanctimony by lashing out at those who are also working to transform the food system? Perhaps he is playing with "the industry" because his real allies already know he's a fraud.

Randy    
Colorado  |  November, 26, 2012 at 01:53 PM

And your definition of moving toward a more humane, just and sustainable food system comes from where. What makes this definition the only one? What makes you think that livestock are not sustainable? What makes you think that eating animals is inhumane? Are you and others like you the only ones that have the inside information about food and the lack of or abundance of?

Kate    
November, 27, 2012 at 01:07 AM

How would you respond to this Fesmire? http://james-mcwilliams.com/?p=2701

Kristen    
November, 27, 2012 at 01:22 AM

Steven, you make an assumption when you say..."you have to get past thinking that the only choices are business as usual or abolition [of all livestock]. If you get past that, you can have an intelligent conversation and people have some flexibility to think about alternatives..." I ask you to just stop at that first sentence, and please just try to understand how this is viewed by an "abolitionist," so you can better understand the validity of our argument. "you have to get past thinking that the only choices are business as usual or abolition of [human slavery] If you get past that, you can have an intelligent conversation and people have some flexibility to think about alternatives..." The entire point of veganism is to prevent sentient beings from being killed for no reason. You keep talking about people's dietary choices and rights but there are limitations, your rights end where another living being's begins. Deconstructing the argument contains its own assumptions and flaws. You are entirely dismissing the core belief of many vegans, that all animals have a right to their own bodies. Therefore, you insult all of us.

Erin    
Ontario  |  November, 27, 2012 at 10:47 AM

That's a really good point, which hasn't been made yet. Also it's not argumentative. I liked, so I wanted to reply :)

Erin    
Ontario  |  November, 27, 2012 at 10:50 AM

Hear hear, Marty!

Erin    
Ontario  |  November, 27, 2012 at 10:59 AM

@Paul Duncan Sorry, but what does atheism really have to do with this discussion?

Kamal S. Prasad    
Planet Earth  |  November, 27, 2012 at 02:16 PM

"Fesmire: My goal is to take all the periods people want to put into their conversations, and turn them into question marks. Philosophy critiques the assumptions we hold about the world, from wherever we got them. It’s a threshing machine, separating wheat from the chaff. So the goal of ethics is really to make people feel uncomfortable, uncertain about their assumptions, because that’s when we can have a discussion. In doing so, however, there is a risk involved. Q. The risk being that people’s fundamental viewpoint might change? Fesmire: Yes, exactly: The fundamental beliefs, the basic assumptions we take for granted, might shift. That’s the risk of engaging in real thought, but that’s what we need to do culture-wide." Professor Fesmire would do well to take his own advice. What bigger assumption than "animals are for us to use" lies in this discussion? That is the assumption that people having been making for hundreds of years. How about questioning our assumptions to use non-human animals without regard to their sentience?

Anthony    
Bryan, TX  |  November, 27, 2012 at 08:40 PM

Awesome story. More please.

dan    
Kansas  |  December, 07, 2012 at 12:51 PM

Where ever you all are from please stay there - I have read allot of your comments and realize many of you Have seen a video, read a article, or watched Oprah and now you are experts. It is totally unbelievable what you are venting here. 2 acres equals one beef every two years -Ahh. Eat what ever you feel meets your nutritional needs - I will do the same. If you want to save the animals then buy acreage and Deem it a "Safe Haven for Animals" you can have farmers and ranchers drop off old horses and you can feed them. Oh wait - people Have tried that and now want the Government to fund them cause they are out of money. Stay in the City and solve your crime problems !

Kit    
December, 13, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Ok I will bite. We are to prevent sentient beings from being killed for no reason. That animals have a right to their own bodies. Animals - As in every living breathing creature on this planet - has a right to their own bodies. So we are compelled by our morals and ethics to find another sustainable food source that does not involve killing other species. We are to separate ourselves from the rest of the Animal Kingdom/Food Chain and place ourselves at a higher level. What about the rest of the food chain. How can we go on with our morals and ethics and still watch the rest of the food chain act out under how nature intended it to act. By living by the core belief of many vegans, we would be compelled to stop all sentient beings from being killed for food. Coyotes eating Rabbits -Hawks eating Prairie Dogs - Wolves eating Elk - Sharks eating Fish. In essence we are to Play GOD to determine that every living being lives out its life without fear of being eaten for food. Where does it end. Where does your vegan morals and ethics take the place of Nature.


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