TED Conversations

Sham Yemul

Managing Director, Intellisoft Computer Consultants Pvt Ltd

This conversation is closed.

Drinking Cow/Buffalo or any animal's Milk is Ethical ?

I feel, we are doing UN-justice to animals getting milk from their for day-today food needs. Right from schools and child-hood, we have been taught to drink milk of animals, specially in India we have cow & buffalo milk.
When I realized that its meant for animals(their new born babies) and not for human beings, we are really doing un-justice. Should not we find an alternative for milk ? should not we teach children that its not ethical to grab milk of new born babies for human beings.
We modern science, and techniques, adding the automation, it has really became a life like living machine for animals

should not be there a right to the animals to refuse giving their milk for human beings for their day-today consumption ?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jul 2 2013: It doesn't have to -- we only need plants. My point was that with crops, no one needs to die for us to live, we have enough food.
    • thumb
      Jul 2 2013: Kelly, you seemed to refer to "do unto others" commandment below which comes from Christianity which, in turn, is based on the idea of dying for others to live. Yet, now you say "no one needs to die for us to live".

      Sacrificing others so that we can live is immoral. Sacrificing ourselves so that others can live is the acme of morality.

      Curbing our own needs is moral. Telling others what they need seems to contradict the "do unto others", "do not judge", and many other commandments. Does it not?

      These morality discussions seem to always go in circles. Unless we turn into plants, we inevitably consume living organisms for food. And even plants use products of death and decomposition of other organisms.

      I have posted this story before, but I can't help posting it here:

      "A wise Zen frog was explaining to the younger frogs the balance of nature: "Do you see how that fly eats a gnat? And now (with a bite) I eat the fly. It is all part of the great scheme of things."
      "Isn't it bad to kill in order to live?" asked the thoughtful frog.
      "It depends . . ." answered the wise frog just as a snake swallowed the Zen frog in one chomp before the frog finished his sentence.
      "Depends on what?" shouted the students.
      "Depends on whether you're looking at things from the inside or outside," came the muffled response from inside the snake."
      • thumb
        Jul 2 2013: Telling others to stop hurting others contradicts no moral rule, only repressive Victorian "respect" (which means subservience to authority). The golden rule is about not being a hypocrite, is about not hurting others because if you would want them to not hurt you if they had the ability. Plants are not sentient, they don't kick and struggle and cry and scream when they are being beaten and slaughter, like you and a cow do. We do not live in a pre-agrarian society that involves a "circle of life", we have agriculture, we have enough plants to eat that we do not have to hurt other fully sentient beings as we would NOT have them hurt us were they the ones in our dominant position.
        • thumb
          Jul 2 2013: The golden rule seems to work only when others like what we like. What if they don't? Listen to Rihanna:

          "Sticks and stones
          May break my bones
          But chains and whips
          Excite me

          Na na na na
          Come on
          Come on
          Come on
          I like it"

          It may be OK for Rihanna to say that she likes whips and chains. It does not seem to be OK for her to whip another person quoting "do unto others" and claiming that the other person must enjoy it. Unfortunately, that's how people often use the golden rule.

          I'm trying to illustrate the absurdity of the moral reasoning. Morality is based on feelings and emotions - not on reason.

          Reason always finds the way to justify what we like:
          "Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them."
          - David Hume

          "When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion."
          - Abraham Lincoln, (attributed)

          Another couple of quotes that I posted, perhaps, dozens of times on TED.

          Humane treatment of animals seems to be not about the animals. I don't think, animals have any rights. Animal rights seem to be about how we feel about OURSELVES.

          I don't think, cows have any opinion about being milked. Cows may enjoy being milked http://www.livestrong.com/article/124991-remedies-decreasing-breast-milk-/

          You see how reason can be used whichever way we like.

          It's fairly easy to know who enjoys what. It's not through science and reason as Sam Harris suggests. We have a faculty called empathy which is purely emotional.
      • thumb
        Jul 2 2013: Otherwise you are just trying as hard as you can to justify hurting others when you are smart enough to know it is wrong to do so when such violence is not necessary for your survival (much less your health). Animal rights = human responsibility. Just like racial, gender, or sexuality within-the-homo-sapiens-species-designation rights. Look up "Meat Video" or "From Farm to Fridge" or "Earthlings" or just YouTube "dairy farm" and tell me that their screaming and struggling is a sign of how much they love being your slaves. Remember how in the 1800s, rich pale-skinned slave drivers insisted that people with decidedly sufficiently dark pigmentation WANTED to be subservient, even couldn't survive without being slaves to the white folk? When you say "empathy is purely emotional" (in an opposition to reason) it seems you have yet to acknowledge that we evolved empathetic capacities as NECESSARY to our formation of social bonds, which are necessary to our survival as we are social animals (like all the animals we enslave and brutalize ans slaughter for our taste habits).
        • thumb
          Jul 2 2013: Kelly,

          I know, it's very controversial. And that's my point. I'm not saying that you are wrong, but you seem to adopt an extreme point of view. And it's extremism that I oppose - not veganism. Your point about slaves and racism was exactly my point that I tried to make quoting Rihanna's song. But don't you see yourself in your own words? You suggest that everyone else would benefit from your idea of healthy diet and would like to convince people that that's what they need and want.

          To prove your position, you appeal to emotions. Using emotionally charged imagery is a very known technique which has been used for centuries. It was used by Goebbels to portray Jews as filthy and evil people; Soviet propaganda portrayed capitalist countries as greedy war-mongers; images of beheaded people and women with burnt faces are used to portray Muslims as evil; atheists tell stories of Inquisition, witch-burning, and religiously motivated atrocities to "expose" evils of religion; jihadists depict Americans as baby-killers. I'm sorry, but when I see someone holding up bloody pictures to prove their point, it tells me that there is an agenda behind the message. These techniques are often *causing* violence and are used to justify violence rather than prevent it.

          I prefer to judge myself, not others. Not judging others is not the same as approving their actions.

          I agree with what you say and I do see how my own words can be viewed as judgmental. I just want to point out that not everyone shares your viewpoint and that does not mean that people are cruel.
        • thumb
          Jul 2 2013: Kelly,you almost had me until you lamented about the slave owners. A despicable situation but had some truth.
          It seems in those days when one African tribe attacked their neighbors and won, they would killed the warriors of the defeated tribe and take the women and children as slaves. The rational was dead enemies, no counterattack. It seems that some smart Arab traders figured out they could broker the sale of the defeated tribes into slavery. Out of Africa, out of mind for the victors and some really good trade goods. Of course, those sold for the most part didn't survive the trip and those that did were treated like livestock. Now some did escape, some where treated well, most were just alive.
          So, with that ancestory, you are thinking that people would be overly concerned about where or how their next steak is being prepared for them except with a touch or seasoning
        • thumb
          Jul 2 2013: Kelly, this talk shows very well how images causing fear and disgust are used for not so noble purposes


          The video is one of the reasons I am wary when someone uses them.
      • thumb
        Jul 3 2013: Oh, and Rihanna's lyrics about S&M imply CONSENT.
      • thumb
        Jul 3 2013: Dude it's really simple: If you want protection and justice against those more powerful than you should they desire to hurt you (if you would hope that someone would save you if you were being stabbed to death or if you would call the police should someone rob you), you must be merciful to those powerless to you. Otherwise for what reason should those more powerful than yourself not exploit you?
    • thumb
      Jul 3 2013: Kelly,

      I wonder, what do you do when you have rats in your house, or a wasp nest under your deck with wasps biting your kids or termites munching your house?

      I am not a great fan of the South Park cynicism, but it does a pretty good job exposing hypocrisy.


      Milking cows is, perhaps, not the greatest of the evils in this world. If you ask me, feeding a hungry child with a steak made from a ruthlessly murdered and butchered with a bloody axe helpless cow seems perfectly moral.
      • thumb
        Jul 3 2013: As previously stated, when necessary to survival (and even health), it is hard to argue. For you and I, the consumption of animal products is utterly unnecessary. No one needs to die for us to live. If I had rats in my house, NO FRAKKING WAY would I use arsenic or traps that would hurt them just because their paws threaten my health, because I could find a way to coax them out, probably by leading them somewhere else with a trail of breadcrumbs (or lure them to one spot with food and wait to trap them in a box and then immediately take them outside to the bushes -- basically what I do with spiders). If you want to feed starving children, stop feeding the metabolisms of your carcasses instead. YOU do not need anyone to die for YOU to live, and by continuing to consume animal products, you are redirecting food and water resources that could go to the children you mention, and you are contributing more emissions than transportation (1 cow carcass burger = 20mi + soil erosion and water pollution and ps antibiotic-resistant superbug breeding), AND you are forcing others to live out painful brief lives before they die violently when such brutalization is of ZERO necessity to your safety or even health.
      • thumb
        Jul 3 2013: So all of your animal products are from holistically managed ranches? And even if they are, do the cows still want to be slaughtered for your utterly unnecessary taste habit?

        Easy =/= just. Racists find it easy to reduce people into one of two categories based on their skin colour and hate the one they don'r cram themselves into, that doesn't make the harm they do the other "race" acceptable.

        You are forcing others to die for you "beliefs" (for your utterly unnecessary (and ps unhealthy AND eco-destructive) HABIT). My "belief" is that I should treat those powerless to me as I would have those to whom I am powerless treat me. If I hurt others merely because I feel like it, I must concede that same justification to anyone who tries to rob, rape, or murder me.
        • thumb
          Jul 3 2013: You have a valid point. Historically, moral laws apply to "neighbors" - family, tribe, village, etc. Even now people tend to apply different moral standards towards people they associate with than towards outsiders. http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_ariely_on_our_buggy_moral_code.html

          As we realize that we are a part of larger communities and systems, our moral beliefs extend to people of different sex, race, religion, nation, etc. But where do we stop? It appears that the natural extension of this process would be to extend moral beliefs to other species and living organisms as well.

          Where do you draw the line? Is it OK to eat a carrot? Does the carrot want to be eaten?

          Here is another Zen story:
          "One day Chuang Tzu and a friend were walking by a river. "Look at the fish swimming about," said Chuang Tzu, "They are really enjoying themselves."
          "You are not a fish," replied the friend, "So you can't truly know that they are enjoying themselves." "You are not me," said Chuang Tzu. "So how do you know that I do not know that the fish are enjoying themselves?"

          So, how do you know that the carrot does not mind to be eaten?
      • thumb
        Jul 3 2013: One more time: A carrot does not respond to pain stimulus like you and a cow do (you and a cow respond to pain stimulus identically (and entirely recognizably as such) because you are both mammals, you are both vertebrates, you both have brains, you both have the same neurological structures for and neurochemical reactions to experiences of pain and pleasure stimuli). When a cow is in pain, unless you are a psychopath, your mirror neurons fire up and your empathetic responses kick in and you know she is in pain, just as you can recognize pain in other humans. If a brainless carrot experiences some form of feeling that we have no way of empathizing with... we can't empathize with it (we have no way of knowing -- the same can ABSOLUTELY NOT be said of another mammal, nor of any other vertebrate, unless you suggest that a fish on a line is writhing and struggling because it enjoys suffocation and mutilation). We draw the line at SENTIENCE.
        • thumb
          Jul 3 2013: What about predators? Are they evil? Dogs can feel empathy yet, they are carnivores.

          If eating flesh is acceptable for dogs, why is it not acceptable for humans? Our closest relatives in animal world - chimps are known to hunt.

          Is it acceptable to eat eggs? Eggs don't feel pain, do they?

          What about honey?
      • thumb
        Jul 3 2013: Again! Wild carnivores require meat to survive, while you do not, because you have agriculture. (Also, companion dogs can be vegan, it's the healthiest option for them just like it is for us (see V-Dog.com for the best kibble on the market)). Again, you evolved to consume [skinned, cooked] carcasses when necessary for your survival, but now such violence is not, now no one needs to be brutalized and killed for you to live (and it is in the interest of your health to NOT consume animal products and in the interest of ALL EARTHLINGS INCLUDING HUMANS INCLUDING YOU AND ALL YOUR LOVED ONES for you to not consume animal products as they produce more greenhouse gases than transportation (and are RIDICULOUSLY easy to replace with healthier, more ethical, more sustainable alternatives... like vegetables.))

        Eggs come from hens crammed into ages smaller than a piece of typical printer paper, stuffed with hormones to grow so quickly they can't hold themselves up. If "free range organic", they are not pumped with hormones and antibiotics and instead of individual cages, they are crammed into one big dark feces-full cage without enough room to open their wings, and they are STILL debeaked (beaks have nerves) because the conditions are so traumatizing that they become so psychologically disturbed that they begin to peck at one another. Their brothers were sent through grinders or crushed and suffocated in trash cans immediately after hatching.

        To retrieve honey from the nest, bees are inevitably killed in the process, and the handling of farmed honeybees facilitates the spread of diseases, which even we humans cannot afford since they are already dying off at an extremely fast rate (and will take 1/3 of our food variety with them).
        • thumb
          Jul 3 2013: I would say, feeding dogs with vegan food is cruel and unusual treatment. But we are entitled to our own opinions.

          I use all-caps occasionally to emphasize a word which I might say louder in a normal speech. Using all-caps on a whole sentence feels like shouting into my ears. It doesn't have any additional meaning other than "drumming words into my head". So, if you are a fan of "do unto others", you might consider softening your tone. Words like "Again!" and "One more time:" also carry no meaning other than implying that I'm dumb not to get it from the first time. I'm just sharing my perception of what and how you say. I believe, you may have a better chance of persuading people if you take this into account. And, again, you use imagery of those poor chickens treated in a cruel way. How chickens are treated is a different question. You shift the point of discussion. I'm discussing sentience as criterion. I may have my own personal hen and treat it like family. Is it still immoral to eat an egg?

          Back to chimps. This article http://www-bcf.usc.edu/~stanford/chimphunt.html says that meat diet has impact on survival of chimp's offspring: "William McGrew (1992) has shown that those female Gombe chimps who receive generous shares of meat after a kill have more surviving offspring, indicating a reproductive benefit tied to meat-eating."

          The article also suggests that chimps hunt not only for nutrition and survival, but for social reasons as well - hunting encourages cooperation. Can it be that weaning from a vegetarian diet towards hunting served an evolutionary purpose and, actually, set humans apart from other apes?

          Hunting, fishing, and herding also seems to make human survival possible in environments where they otherwise would not survive (deserts, steppes, far North, many islands). In many areas, people still rely on animals to survive. Are they evil?

          And if you say that for survival eating meat is OK, is cannibalism OK for survival?
      • thumb
        Jul 4 2013: Based on research, or preconceived societal notions? Opinion has no value here.

        You are not a chimpanzee. Also, you have agriculture. Do your own research on plant-based diets if you don't like my resources (and keep in mind that Kaiser Permanente (a major health insurance company in the States just in case that is not where you are) has advised all of its doctors to recommend plant-based diets to EVERYONE because they are the healthiest option). Evolution =/= justification (rape and murder are in your genetic programming, and even the seeds of racism, yet we do not invoke their evolutionary history to justify hurting others). Again again, survival is one thing, but this is not the case for you. Humans definitely cannibalize when they are desperate. Morality has little place in arguments of self-preservation. So one more time: No one needs to die for YOU to live. Also, again, the ecological costs, the costs to poorer homo sapiens than yourself.
        • thumb
          Jul 4 2013: Kelly,

          With all due respect, when we repeat what already has been said, it means that one of us is not listening. Unless you noticed, I am trying to respond to your arguments, but you switch to new ones instead answering my doubts.

          I'm not against vegetarian diet, and you have a chance to convince me, but not with bloody pictures and appeals to authority like Kaiser Permanente. 200 years ago doctors recommended blood letting to cure many diseases. Dietary recommendations change like fashion. The policy can be written by a vegan administrator and have 0 data behind it. Do you have a reference to original research?

          Your main argument is "no one has to die for me to live" and that it is immoral to hurt sentient beings to satisfy my habits. OK. Eggs are not sentient so, this argument does not work against eating eggs. You switched to cruel conditions in which eggs are produced. But it's a different matter - eggs can be produced in humane conditions. It seems, the "sentient" argument does not stand.

          Yes, I'm not a chimp. And I am not you. Chimps have DNA 98% common with humans. Chimps can survive on fruits. Yet, they hunt. Why? The social and evolutionary reasons I quoted come from a web article by a university researcher quoting other researches who observed chimps in the wild. You are not responding to this either.

          As for the "no one needs to die for me to live" - there are other dogmatic beliefs that can be used, e.g. "Jesus had to die for us so that we may live". These statements cannot be argued - they can only be repeated over and over, just as you do.

          I'm still interested to see references to scientific research showing that excluding meat, eggs, honey, dairy, and all other animal products from the diet has significant health benefits for a wide variety of people regardless of age, race, culture, sex, health condition, life style, etc. Otherwise, I think, we are done.
    • Comment deleted

      • thumb
        Jul 4 2013: (This comment was in response to someone who observed that being vegan means killing insects due to pesticides.)

        Except that every 1lb of beef requires 7-13lbs of grain so that means 7-13x as much insect or rodent death as just eating 1lb of grain in the first place. Also a great reason to go as organic as possible! Just by existing on this planet we due damage in our role in its complex ecosystem, the point is not to deal in absolutes of trash-the-planet or commit-suicide but to do the minimum harm necessary for us to live.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.