The Moral Vegetarian

I came across a blog post today requesting moral arguments against vegetarianism. There were many interesting points and counter-points, many of which were simplistic. The author gathered the answers as fodder for writing longer rebuttals on her blog.

I have a response which I have been forming for several years, since I find moral vegetarianism to be trite and irrational and I have more than once been confronted with it I have had cause to think about my response more than once. Here was my response to K-Rina.


As far as I know plants don’t feel pain. As far as I know pain is purely an “animal” construct. This doesn’t mean that plants don’t have their own survival strategies however. We place a great deal of concern into pain and suffering, naturally, since we are animals and can empathize with pain and suffering. However pain is simply an adaptation for survival, different from plants but plants have their own similar adaptations. For a very interesting example read about the Acacia tree. When giraffes begin eating it, it will begin to produce a toxin that will make the leaves poisonous to giraffes. Therefore giraffes will approach the trees from down wind and only eat on them for a short period of time. There are many other examples of offensive and defensive mechanisms that plants have evolved as a means of surviving in their various habitats (thorns, poisons, colors, pine cones that open after fires, etc.)

Furthermore some animals have formed a co-evolutionary relationship with humans, where their existence as a species is completely dependent upon humans wanting to eat them. Many breeds of modern cows, for example, would probably not live long if they weren’t also eaten by humans. This is a similar relationship that bees have with orchids, corpse flowers have with flies, dairy ants have with aphids, etc.

The concepts of pain, suffering and personal death all have no meaning evolutionarily other than how it affects the adaptability and ultimately the survival of the entire species.

So plants are just as alive as animals and we humans tend to apply our anthropomorphic bias’ towards animals since we are ourselves animals. I think the moral vegetarian is simply showing a conceit and a overly simplistic understanding of evolution and the circle of life.

If I went into a forest right now and chopped down an old oak tree and left it there to rot would that be immoral? I think so. The moral wrong is the act of unnecessarily killing anything. Humans cannot photosynthesize therefore anytime we eat we must kill for that food. This is totally morally acceptable as long as what we eat improves our long term survival as well as the long term survival of other life forms. It’s ok to eat a few leaves off of a plant in the same way it’s ok to eat a few cows out of a herd.

As the most intelligent species on Earth it’s our duty to understand this and attempt to promote the largest diversity, continual evolution, and maximum habitation of life on this planet.

Pew Research Science Poll

This quiz was surprisingly easy for the results listed below. How much do you know about some of the most current science topics?


These results are very interesting. The question on Stem Cells seems to have the worst success rate overall. I find it interesting that women out score men on questions about over the counter drugs (#1 & #10) but not on any of the other questions except stem cells. Also, I’m really surprised about people Ages 65+ not doing much better than this. The results of #9 are also very surprising, that one sounds like a no-brainer to me but it seems a lot of people have no idea how lasers work.


Xbox speeds up research results

There is an interesting article on the BBC today about some researchers using the Xbox GPU for parallel processing.

This would actually be fairly easy to do with XNA, though I would be really interested in seeing the types of HLSL they write for the algorithms. The only difficulty, as I see it, is that XNA doesn’t have a generalized API for data transfer to a server. The networking API’s allow you to communicate between other clients in multi-player games but they do not let you upload results to a server. They might let you upload top scores and a few other minimal stats but certainly not the large datasets these researchers are looking for. It would be really cool if the XNA team created a complimentary server client that would allow 3rd party indie game developers to create server software to enable this type of application as well as ones that might involve persistent worlds and things like that.

I would be very interested in something like that.

Structured Procrastination

I was in a big argument on last friday at Pracna where I took the position “laziness is a virtue” (I’ll save that for another post).

This article on Structured Procrastination might be a better way of expressing what I was trying to say, or a least an alternate way.


“Procrastinators often follow exactly the wrong tack. They try to minimize their commitments, assuming that if they have only a few things to do, they will quit procrastinating and get them done. But this goes contrary to the basic nature of the procrastinator and destroys his most important source of motivation. The few tasks on his list will be by definition the most important, and the only way to avoid doing them will be to do nothing. This is a way to become a couch potato, not an effective human being.”