Food and values

Question for today and next week?
• Is it wrong to eat meat?

A plea for open-mindedness
• Strength of conviction might reflect the depth of family and cultural influence rather than plausibility.

Comment #1
• Absolutism vs contextualism
• Is it ALWAYS wrong to eat meat?
– What if the animal is dead? eg roadkill
– What about your own flesh?
• •

Laboratory-grown meat
• Nothing wrong in principle?

Our discussion
• Is it wrong to KILL animals for meat?
– Non-human animals
– Most of them produced in factory farms

Why do you eat meat?
Some typical reasons
• “Meat is tasty.”
• “I love eating meat.”

Two types of reasons
• “Why did you hit him?”
• Causally explanatory reason
– X is the cause of Y
– “I hit him because I was angry.”

=/= it is right
• Moral reason
– X explains why Y is the right thing to do.

A good moral reason?
• Why is it acceptable to eat meat?
• “Because meat is tasty.”
• Let’s think some more
– What if meat is NOT tasty?
– What about dogs, dolphins, chimpanzees?
– What if YOU are tasty?
– What about Dracula / super-alien?

Prudential / self-interested reason X has a reason to do Y because Y benefits X

• “I eat meat because meat gives me the nutrients I need.”
• “I eat meat because meat gives me energy.”
• “I eat meat because it makes me healthy.”
But are prudential reasons good moral reasons?

An actual email from a HKU student Could you please set up another assignment for me? Please! Because i REALLY REALLY DON’T want to disapp int my parents. And i seriously don’t want to leave this black mark in my academic life and hate myself; it is such a shame. Please, please, please. I know it might not be fair to other students, but please.

Some comments
• Is eating meat NECESSARY for our survival?
– Is vegetarianism really viable?

• Suppose it is. What follows?
– How much meat do we need?
– Does it entail that it is ok to eat meat?

Not enough energy?
• A matter of balanced diet.
• Many athletes are vegans.

Some facts: vitamins B12 & K2
• B12 not in plants; very few plants have K2
– Present in dairy products, eggs, supplements
– B12 can be stored by the body for years
– K2 present in sauerkraut, kimchi, natto beans.

• Minimal requirements cannot justify the extent of meat eating  Some facts about plants • Plants have all the proteins we need – Even bananas and beans have protein.

• Not all proteins are good for us
– Eating meat linked to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, …
– Example: Casein is the main type of milk protein
(87%). Has been linked to cancer.

World Cancer Research Fund

• Max. 500g red or processed meat per week
(beef, pork, lamb, sausages, ham, bacon …)

HK: 2kg pork & beef per week

• HK Life expectancy: 78.4 (male), 86.7 (female,
longest in the world)
• Multiple factors at work
– Generational effect, wealth, size, technology
which may affect the life expectancy compared to other countries

Cancer in HK

• “Hong Kong people have been urged to change their diet, after the city’s cancer registry projected the
number of new cancer cases to increase by nearly onethird by the end of the next decade. • … new cases of uterine cancer is expected to double … • female breast cancer … to rise about 81 per cent …

• colorectal cancers by half.
• Clinical oncologist Anthony Ying Chi-ho, chairman of the cancer detection and prevention subcommittee of the Hong Kong Anti-Cancer Society, said the increase was due to people’s diet.
Some books to read

Global meat consumption rising
• Intensive factory farming needed

Myth vs Reality

Impact on public health
• Health of workers
– Air, diseases

• Contamination
– Salmonella, mad cow disease

• New epidemics
– Superbugs: Multidrug-resistance bacterium S. aureus contaminates ¼ of supermarket meat samples. (US 2011 study)

• Average Chinese consumes 10x more antibiotics than counterpart in US.
• Half of antibiotics consumed in China given to farm animals (about 80% in US). In terms of quantity, China 4x higher than US.
• Antibiotics are often poorly absorbed, and ended up in manure used as fertilizer, affecting soil bacteria, water, farm workers chain reaction long term consequence.

Animal suffering
• A spectrum of farming practices
– Humane animal farming
– Modern meat production creates a lot of suffering solely for our pleasure eating meats is not only about moral level but the related to health concerns, as they are not giving us nutrients only, but also bring along with health issue, i.e. the consequence of intensive farming.

Life on the farm
• Stressful
– Confined, crowded, and unnatural.

• Dirty
– Waste products, untreated diseases

• Pain
– Injuries from handling, diseases, unnatural growth – Standard procedures: de-beaking, castration,
– Brutal slaughter

Can animals feel pain?
• Descartes: Animals are machines
• Not a popular view these days
• Observations
– Animals have sensory receptors, nervous systems
– Bodily damage affects behavior, respiration, heart rate, stress hormones.

– There might be unclear cases i.e. fishes, octopus express the feelings as human being.

• See
• Think about the AMOUNT of pain involved and what might be a good moral reason to justify the existing system.

Evolutionary explanations of food preference explain individual’s food choices in based on the diets of our earlier ancestors and also based on cultural transmission which is the spread of skills, technologies and ideas through communication and modelling rather than genes. The …

Today we know that too much of a certain type of food can have harmful effects on our health and well being, and we are learning that diseases such as cancer, are caused in part by our dietary choices. In …

1. ) Hormones- are chemicals that are naturally produced in the bodies of all animals, including humans. 2. ) Diethylstilbestrol(DES)- the cancer causing anti-miscarriage drug, in two shipments of American beef. 3. ) Estrogen- Any of several major female sex …

Also as mentioned, maintenance of tight controls on required temperature in the slaughterhouse should be encouraged to ensure that chances of food poisoning are reduced. Some micro organisms survive only on given set of temperatures beyond which they die. Implementation …

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