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Dandelion
12-23-2004, 02:43 PM
Frankly i'm disappointed in Robbins and the stats that vegans tend to spout off. After a particularly grueling debate over such things as water usage i dug around and found such conflicting numbers that no wonder vegans look like a bunch of crackpots. Erik Marcus addressed this in his last talk here in Chicago saying he too had difficulties in finding concrete evidence these numbers were valid.
Once we start down this road of "it takes 2,500 gallons of water to create a pound of beef" then we have to make damn sure it's hard and concrete and ready to whip out the study at any time. It's a direction that has shaky foundations. I mean that number may sound big but compare it to anything else that uses water and there are also so many other factors that can change that number drastically. This level of detail can just bog us down in the wrong direction wasting efforts.
Why not just talk about the suffering of animals and peace and violence? Is it too abstract and does that bring us into a philosphical arena of which we can get bogged down in the same way?
What do yall think?

jenzie
12-23-2004, 02:50 PM
I've always had an issue with using stats to prove my point about veganism. I see how throwing out big numbers can shock/interest a person, and perhaps make them more likely to listen to more... buuuuut... I guess I just see it like, a person who is going to go and stay vegan, is likely to do it because of what they feel in their hearts, and not that 2, 500 gallons of water make a pound of beef. Of course, this is most certainly not always the case, and several people go vegan for a variety of reasons, impressive-sounding stats included... it's just how I see things.

Sunshine
12-23-2004, 02:55 PM
Why not just talk about the suffering of animals and peace and violence? Is it too abstract and does that bring us into a philosphical arena of which we can get bogged down in the same way?


I agree that that should be a way good enough argument - unfortunately I've run into those bible-thumpin' folk who say that man was given dominion over the animals and that they are ours to do as we please - never mind the suffering and all that and they'll argue and argue about this - but if you throw out stats about water usage for example, they find it harder to argue against those actual facts

Dandelion
12-23-2004, 03:07 PM
there are a whole set of vegan answers for those bible-thumpin folks in the book Dominion. (http://www.plantbasedpeople.com/showthread.php?t=4047&highlight=dominion) I fell asleep reading THAT thing tho so what do i know. :p

grog
12-23-2004, 05:19 PM
I think statistics are important to convince some people, its another arrow for the quiver. Franky, I'd just like to know. Its important to know regardless, since there is a world wide water shortage ( i think) I'd like to know if I'm, perhaps, saving millions of gallons of water, or thousands, so I can consider how else that saved water gets used, and other positive effects.

clickman
01-02-2005, 01:17 PM
Agreeing with what others have said, alot of times stats just don't do it. People don't like just numbers, but usually vivid descriptions appeal to them. Like this:

Chickens come to the slaughterhouse in huge crates (Demonstrate size with arms), piled one on top of the other. They're shackled up by their legs, and dangle upsidedown (Demonstrate putting shackles onto chicken), and their throats are slit, (Demonstrate slitting of throat) and a great deal of them are boiled alive in the feather removal tanks. Workers have been caught on tape stomping on, kicking, and slamming birds into walls. This has been deemed legal and standard by the industry.

Throw in the demonstrations with hands to make it seem more real throughout, of course do it while you're talking.

beane
01-02-2005, 03:48 PM
I think a lot of people's eyes tend to gloss over when you start spouting statistics to them. And, as mentioned, a lot of them are really hard to back up, and "where are your sources?" is usually the first response to any such argument.

I personally find it harder to give a heartfelt, sincere argument based on statistics than simply explaining the conditions animals live in, and die in, and explain in very simple terms why I believe that to be wrong.

Emiloid
01-02-2005, 09:17 PM
Hmmmm, it looks like there are actually two separate (yet related) arguments going on here: 1) the value of statistics, and 2) compassion vs. environmental reasons for going vegan. Personally, I was won over in part for environmental reasons, and statistics were a big part of it. However, they were also important in the compassion-aspect of my conversion. Hearing how quickly animals are made to grow, how much larger they get, how much more milk cows produce vs 20 years ago, and how many pigs have pneumonia at slaughter all helped illustrate how cruel and bizzarre the factory farming industry is.

I think the value of statistics really depends on who you're dealing with and how you present them. Some people appreciate such details--it lends credibility to what you're telling them. Also, since it is an appeal to logic, they may not resist as strongly as an appeal to the heart. (Not that compassion is not logical, of course!)

It's true, the stats themselves can be hard to verify (especially if you're looking for the original studies), but in most cases you won't need to cite original studies anyway. In fact, doing so might be counter-productive, making your listeners' eyes glaze over. In other words, if you can reference a reputable organization or individual that accepts the statistic you probably don't need to worry too much about finding the original source. Plus, it will probably mean more to people to hear you reference a well-known organization like the World Health Organization or the American Heart Association than, say, "Dr Joan I. Urlich's 1999 study of the effects of tannery waste on fish populations in eastern Tennesee." (Not a real study!)

Also, if you are going to use statistics, it can help to round large numbers and to cite them in more meaningful ways: percents, proportions, etc. Make it simple. Be as accurate as possible, but don't sweat it if you can't find primary sources for your information. Also, don't use precise statistics if you're uncomfortable with it or can't find a reference you trust. Use more general ideas. Personally, I won't give up veganism if I find out that cattle only use 9 pounds of grain (rather than 16) to make a pound of meat... the main idea (that using animals for food is inefficient) is the important part.

Here are a few stats I recently cited in a speech for a public speaking class I had to take:

--The Rainforest Action Network reports that 78 million acres of rainforest are cleared per year, primarily for livestock production. (Source: http://www.ran.org/info_center/factsheets/04b.html
Myers, Norman. 1989. Deforestation Rates in Tropical Forests and Their Climatic Implications. Friends of the Earth, 26-28 Underwood St., London NI7)

--The WorldWatch Institute estimates that the animal industry is responsible for 15 to 20% of global methane emissions. (Source: Durning, Allen, and Brough, Holly, “Taking Stock: Animal Farming and the Environment,” Worldwatch Paper 103, July 1991.)

--The EU Scientific Veterinary Committee estimate that around 5 to 10% of cattle are not stunned effectively.(Source: http://www.viva.org.uk/campaigns/slaughter/)

--According to a PETA fact-sheet on the leather industry, tanneries release the following toxins into surrounding rivers: chromium, protein, salt, hair, lime, sulfides, acids, lead, cyanide, and formaldehyde. (Source: http://www.petaindia.com/cleath.html)

Gotta go, but hope this helps. I hope I didn't just ramble....

Husky Corn Star
01-02-2005, 10:46 PM
Not a statistical argument, maybe a testicular argument ;)

Veganism makes you horny as hell !!! ;)

Emiloid
01-03-2005, 12:17 PM
Not a statistical argument, maybe a testicular argument ;)

Veganism makes you horny as hell !!! ;)


Hmmmmm... I've seen this somewhere before. Oh yeah, post #27 (http://www.plantbasedpeople.com/showthread.php?p=55499&posted=1#post55499)!

BTW, when I first saw this thread I thought the title was "Satirical Arguments for Veganism". That woulda been cool!

Husky Corn Star
01-04-2005, 10:29 PM
;)

kkohne
01-06-2005, 10:31 AM
Why not just talk about the suffering of animals and peace and violence? Is it too abstract and does that bring us into a philosphical arena of which we can get bogged down in the same way?
What do yall think?

Well, people are vegans for a variety of reasons. I'm an environmental vegan first because numbers and reason support that. I cannot prove that animals have a soul and so forth so that is a secondary reason for me. So I think it's important (as many have already pointed out) to consider statistics as one aspect of the issue and understand that some who may not buy into the animal rights touchy-feely side of things may, nonetheless, adopt veganism when statistics are brought into play.

grog
01-06-2005, 10:53 AM
Well, people are vegans for a variety of reasons. I'm an environmental vegan first because numbers and reason support that. I cannot prove that animals have a soul and so forth so that is a secondary reason for me.

Heeeheee, can you prove that anything has a soul? :)

Emiloid
01-06-2005, 11:44 AM
...I think it's important (as many have already pointed out) to consider statistics as one aspect of the issue and understand that some who may not buy into the animal rights touchy-feely side of things may, nonetheless, adopt veganism when statistics are brought into play.
I must admit that it was the environmental side (stats and all) that really broke through whatever barriers I had regarding going veg*n. After that, however, I found it a lot easier to feel genuine and open compassion for animals. I think I had stuffed that part of myself away to avoid being seen as sappy/touchy-feey or like I was anthropomorphizing animals.

Now I think the compassion aspect is very important, but I'm sure (like me) a lot of other people could be convinced initially via more concrete evidence that going veg is logical and the right thing to do. They can embrace the more nebulous side later... or never. The result is the same. Also, I think that people expect vegans to have made their decision for compassion, so if they find out there are other reasons, they might be more curious and open to the idea. If it's just about the animals they can brush it off, thinking "well, I don't feel compassion for farm animals..." and IMHO it would be harder to get through to them. It could be done, but it's more of a philosophical argument, and might take longer to sink in.

On the other hand, once it does sink in (basically that food animals are no different than pets) they'll probably be more likely to act on it. Knowing the environmental reasons could result more often in a person cutting back significantly, but not going "all the way". It's easier to think "but I'm just one person, so my actions aren't important!" If you switch for compassion, you're probably more likely to take personal responsibility for your actions every time: if you eat meat you're directly taking part in an animal's death, but just a drop in the bucket of pollution and inefficient use of resources. So the answer is: both approaches/arguments are important!

kkohne
01-08-2005, 08:17 PM
Heeeheee, can you prove that anything has a soul? :)

Good heavens, no! that's why I'm an atheist, though. And also why I don't eat people! Better to air on the side of caution. Though the perverse side of me can't help but think that most Americans would be really tender and well-marbled with all the fast food and sedentary lifestyles. Like buttah! ;)

grog
01-08-2005, 08:19 PM
Good heavens, no! that's why I'm an atheist, though! ;)

whew! religious debate avoided. :silly:

kkohne
01-08-2005, 08:19 PM
Now I think the compassion aspect is very important, but I'm sure (like me) a lot of other people could be convinced initially via more concrete evidence that going veg is logical and the right thing to do. They can embrace the more nebulous side later... or never. The result is the same. Also, I think that people expect vegans to have made their decision for compassion, so if they find out there are other reasons, they might be more curious and open to the idea. If it's just about the animals they can brush it off, thinking "well, I don't feel compassion for farm animals..." and IMHO it would be harder to get through to them. It could be done, but it's more of a philosophical argument, and might take longer to sink in.


Also, people are a lot less defensive about environmental choices than than ethical ones. So stats might penetrate those barriers that folks put up to assuage their own guilt when a guilt trip wouldn't.