64 thoughts on “Potty-Trained Cows

  1. This actually makes some sense, but unless you can get them to poop in the latrines too I don’t know how much good it will do. I live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and they have been working hard to improve the water quality of the bay. A lot of the problem is caused by agricultural runoff, both fertilizer from fields, and cow manure, washing into the bay and fueling algal blooms that choke off everything else.

    One effort has been to get dairy farmers to fence off streams and riverbanks, so the cows can’t hang out there. If they could train the cows on where to poop, they wouldn’t have to worry about maintaining fences!

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  2. Well, if it reduces greenhouse-gas emissions and groundwater contamination, I suppose it’s a good idea, but I really doubt it will do much good on a large scale. This “team” of researchers trained 16 cows to use a latrine 77% of the time, but the number of cows worldwide is probably in the billions, and most farmers aren’t going to make that kind of effort. Besides, the biggest greenhouse-gas problem from cows comes from, well, gas, and there’s no practical way of trapping that.

    The real problem is the very fact that we maintain so many cows to provide meat for humans when our digestive systems are clearly herbivorous (not omnivorous) and all that cow flesh gives us nothing but insulin spikes and clogged arteries, but that’s a separate issue.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Your statement that “we are herbivores” is NOT universally agreed upon, Infidel. It is not that simple. (A Google query on the question brought up an amazing web of contradictory websites, all with FACTS.)

      Nor am I convinced that the modern propaganda for “plant based” diets makes sense. How is industrially manipulated pea protein with all its additives that much healthier than a piece of lean meat?


      • There are several things to consider. Land usage for grazing is one. Water needs to raise a beef cow. Grain grown. The numbers are astounding.

        Ethics is another area. (though if one eats meat I doubt this is much of a concern)

        If we include fishing in this argument then you might appreciate the devastation our eating habits are causing.
        Of course the way the oceans are being fished out in a few generations perhaps humans won’t have the option of ”Fish or Meat?”
        And Surf n’ Turf on menus might read ”??? and Turf”

        I suppose if one really wants to defend the consumption of animal flesh, be it land borne or water borne then any number of arguments/excuses can be made.

        The Chinese eat dogs and have no qualms.

        But I’ll bet you might balk at eating a roast leg of Rover!
        Maybe eating whale meat might make you pause as well these days?

        Anyway, the most salient point is this: if you don’t have to eat animals, why would you?


        • There’s a couple of points that might (should?) be considered, Ark. First, most importantly, not everyone has the opportunity to “grow their own” as you do. Most folk must visit the local food market to obtain their “fruits and vegetables.”

          Further, as you undoubtedly have heard/read, much of the planet is currently experiencing drought conditions — which is scientifically embraced as being due to climate change. Since many (most?) humans in general are not taking this conclusion seriously, little to nothing is being done. And it doesn’t look like things are going to change anytime soon. So what this could mean is plant-based foods may very well become short in supply for the average consumer.

          Thus, the question becomes … if the several million people on this earth all turned to plant-based food, would there even be enough to go around?

          I DO understand and appreciate your point of view on this, but when one considers the BIG picture, is it truly the answer?


        • Well, I grow some veggies but not enough… Yet.
          More grain – (wheat?) is grown for animal feed than for humans.
          More water is required to raise a kg of beef than the equivalent to raise an acre of wheat ( I stand under correction on this)
          Sadly you have skipped over the depletion of the oceans. A major catastrophe in the making.
          And the ethics issue wasn’t even raised.
          I suppose if the local butcher ran out if chicken and beef one could eat fido. And I’m sure there are plenty of abanded animal/pet shelters one could find all the animal flesh one could ever wish for.
          As I said, if one wants to eat animal flesh one will find any reason to do so.


        • You’re missing my point. I’m NOT defending the eating of animals (any or all). I’m simply bringing up the fact that the natural resources of this planet are eventually going to be in short supply. So simply turning to fruits and vegetables in place of animal consumption will very likely result in its own disaster.

          Let me (again) make myself clear. I’m NOT advocating for people to continue eating meat. I’m asking what happens to the world’s supply of “natural” foods once everyone supports vegetarianism?

          IOW, when one considers the BIG picture, isn’t it about more than just animal consumption vs. vegetarianism?


        • I disagree. The evidence supports switching to vegetarianism and the few examples I offered should tell you why. Not just for health or ethics but for the ‘health’ of the planet. You can easily search for more accurate figures if you feel like it.
          If a farmer can grow an acre of corn for the same cost in water etc of raising 1kg of beef then the answer is a no brainer.

          If thousands of acres of rain forest are destroyed just to graze cattle then surely the solution is straightforward.

          If the oceans are thoroughly depleted the entire ecology of the planet go for a ball of chalk.

          Arguing against the obvious on this issue is like arguing against evolution with a YEC.


        • Again, you’re missing the point. Please read this next sentence very carefully: If the population of the entire planet stopped eating animals, that’s fine with me.

          What I’m trying to get across is the BIG picture (apparently I’m not doing it very well). Climate change/global warming is affecting the natural resources of this planet. This includes the corn, the wheat, the potatoes, the carrots, the tomatoes, the peaches, the berries (need I go on?) and all the other natural foods this planet produces.

          Now, having said that — look closely at the article. The whole idea behind “cow latrines” is not related at all to the consumption of animals. It’s an attempt, as the article states … “to keep water and air cleaner, improving health and welfare for both humans and animals”. AND … to reduce global warming.

          Are we on the same page now?


        • I understand you fine, Nan, believe me.
          But improving the welfare of the animal is first, an arbitrary term and second, will have a minimum effect on the environment.
          Consider, the larger the population of humans , the greater demands for food.
          So let’s be brutally honest.
          How much concern for animal welfare do you thing the average Texas cattle rancher has when his beef is in huge demand from Walmart and Costcos and the like?
          What do you think is his number one concern?
          Also, consider if he finds himself in competition with imported beef?
          This could already be a reality?
          Maybe someone who knows more about such things can chip in here?
          Anyway, the obvious answer regarding his concerns for the overall welfare of his his beef is, …not that much.
          Furthermore,, and once again, the oceans are being devastated by overfishing.
          Rain forests decimated for grazing land … and for crop growing, much of which is to produce animal feed.

          So , yeah, it’s a good idea to not have cow crap washing into our rivers and into our water supply, but if animal farming per se was a minor concern rather than a major one – read billions and billions of dollars involving even more billions of animals we probably wouldn’t even be having chats like these.

          Liked by 1 person

        • We are having eating / digestion /allergy issues with Ella and , funny you should ask, having a go with a veggie based diet. ( getting off kibble) Starting this evening in fact.

          Though to be perfectly open we are adding some ostrich fillet.

          If a more plant based diet helps her and we can ‘okay ‘ it from a vitamin and mineral POV then I’m happy if she is.
          And Ems has said she will consider getting the cats off kibble/dried food as well.
          And remember, my crew are all meat eaters.

          Are you perhaps playing Devil’s advocate here, my dear? Hmmm

          Liked by 1 person

        • No … no devil in me!! 😈

          Actually, it was a serious question. Since most dog food does contain meat by-products. I was curious to know if your vegetarian philosophy extended to them. It also prompted me to do a bit of google research and apparently plant-based diets aren’t all that good for dogs or cats.

          While it’s strongly suggested that veggies be part of a dog’s diet, I couldn’t find anything that talked about a strictly vegetarian diet. And apparently, it’s actually harmful to cats.


        • Well the dog’s ‘wolfed’ down their dinner as if they had never seen food ( and our doges eat 3 time a day!
          I’ve read that veggie diets are okay. One article was from a ovo lacto vet. Go figure?
          Depends who you read I guess?
          Anyway, my main concern is with is the dog’s health, so whatever it takes.

          Liked by 1 person

        • The article relates to experiments in Aotearoa New Zealand where cows are grass fed on mostly non-irrigated land. Dairying is a major export but also a major contributer to this nation’s greenhouse gasses, so a considerable amount of research is being put into its reduction (gasses, not herd numbers). This is simply one of many different fields of research under way.

          I can’t locate the source off hand, but I recently read that NZ can produce a kilogram of milk fat AND ship it to Europe, and still produce less greenhouse gasses and consume less energy than the same amount of milk fat produced in Europe.

          The same article also mentioned that it takes four times as much energy to produce a kilogram of beef in the US as it does in NZ.

          I’d dispute that humans are naturally herbivores. We cannot survive on a plant diet unless much of it is processed (ground, cooked or otherwise modified before it is consumed). The consumption of herbivores by humans is an indirect means of consuming plants, and I don’t have an issue with eating meat and fish.

          The problem is the human population is not sustainable at the current level – certainly not if everyone aspires a living standards of OECD nations. Unfotunately for much of the world economic reality demands producing enough progeny to guarantee survival into old age. Wealthy countries already have low birthrates and depend on immigration to maintain or grow populations. What is required is an economic system that allows all peoples to live well with declining numbers.

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        • Hi Barry.

          and I don’t have an issue with eating meat and fish.

          I stopped eating meat and fish for ethical reasons.
          I looked at my dog one evening and thought: I couldn’t eat you so why would I eat a pig or cow?
          So I stopped there and then.,
          The suffering almost all animals go through that are bred for our dinner plates is simp,y too terrible to describe.
          If you thought the Holocaust was bad, spend a day in an abattoir., or Google.
          I have never looked back or missed animal flesh for a second.
          My health hasn’t suffered a jot. In fact I suspect it has improved.

          As for you having no problems eating fish … well , at the rate the oceans are being fished out and polluted, one day, that may not even be a choice.


        • Yes I have been through an abattoir and it seemed more humane than descriptions I’ve heard of executions in US prisons. The animals are totally unaware of what is about to happen to them. It was a new “model” plant so I don’t know how typical it is.

          As for fish, if properly managed then they are sustainable. For example here large areas of ocean around NZ are now marine reserves where fishing is prohibited. The idea is to expand them over time so that they can can replenish fish stock in areas outside the reserves.it will mean that the reserves will cover more than 50% of the ocean within our 200 Km economic zone.

          I’m more concerned with the fact that the human population is now too large for this planet to sustain long term. Its not just food but also clothing and shelter, not to mention our energy needs.


        • The animals are totally unaware of what is about to happen to them.

          Really? And how do you know this for a fact? It a certainty the animals didn’t tell you.

          As for fish, if properly managed then they are sustainable.

          Yes, well that’s the key, isn’t it?
          Chinese fleets have been fishing off the coasts of South America and Mozambique for some time now and some species are reported to be almost extinct. And this doesn’t even take into account the massive depletion of fish and marine mammals that are caught in nets.

          As I have mentioned before, if someone wants to eat animal flesh then they will find any excuse to do so to justify satisfying their taste buds.

          Like wearing furs or having a zebra rug on the floor or taking powdered rhino horn because some men can’t get an erection.


        • Ark, I personally don’t agree with your declaration that if someone wants to eat meat they’ll find an “excuse” to do so. In this country, at least, people have been eating meat for centuries. It’s not simply a “choice” … it’s part of the culture. The CHOICE comes when someone makes a considered decision to forego, as you put it, “animal flesh.” And their reasons for doing so are rarely related to animal suffering — more often it’s due to their own personal health concerns.

          I do agree with you that animals should not be slaughtered simply to satisfy human aesthetic desires.


        • Practically everything humans do is in some form related to culture. I gave up smoking for health reasons but I began largely because of ‘culture’.
          To give you an interesting example of cultural norms.
          On the original cover of the Beales’ Abby Road album Paul McCartney is seen holding a cigarette. However, new versions of this album have the cigarette edited out!
          So while most people accept the eating habit f other animals ad the norm, cultural attitudes can and most certainly DO change. Consider eating whale meat.
          Cultural change is driven by a variety of things, you mention slaughtering animals to satisfy human vanity, yet do far few people sem to get upset wearing leather, an animal skin that is barely even considered.

          Therefore, when the consumption of animal flesh is considered ‘bad culture’ you can bet the drive to eliminate it from society will gain momentum, especially when it becomes more economicaly viable to do so.
          Of course, this raises the question that, if we can see that culturural norms do change why wait until the ‘herd’ have accepted it before one makes the decision to do do?


        • There is nothing to see or hear to indicate to the animals that they are about to receive a massive electric shock that instantly renders them unconscious. No other animal witnesses it. No blood. The actual slaughter occurs further down the line.

          No, animals haven’t told me they are unaware of what will happen to them, but stress levels of animals are monitored as part of animal welfare. Stressed animals do not produce as good a product as unstressed animals. Therefore it’s in the interests of the producers to ensure the animals are not stressed or afraid. I’ll concede that animal welfare is abismal in many parts of the world, but that also applies to animals that are supposedly pets.

          Cruelty to animals is unacceptable. It makes no difference whether it’s the family dog or cat, a cow or sheep, or a rat, possum or stoat. However their lives do not have the same worth. The first two mentioned are companion animals. The second two provide food. The last three need to be eradicated and I’m willing to bait and set (humane) traps to achieve that goal. The same fate applies to feral dogs and cats.

          As an autistic person unaware of gendered social expectations until well into adult life, I have been subjected to cruelty and violence that I wouldn’t dream of inflicting on a rat let alone a fellow human being. If a cat, dog or cow was subjected to some of the treatment I received in my youth, people would be up in arms over cruelty to innocent creatures, but when it occurred to me, it was my fault for appearing to be odd, weird, strange, creepy, avoiding eye contact, saying the wrong thing, or any number other “reasons”. Cruelty isn’t in the farming of animals per se, just as it isn’t when interacting with someone very different from yourself, but frequently it is.

          I think we won’t be able to agree on this topic. I happen to think animal protein (herd mammals, fish and/or insects are a natural part of the human diet. Clearly you don’t.

          Liked by 1 person

        • As I already stated, if you are determined yo eat other animals merely to satisfy your taste buds then you will find any excuse to allow their slaughter, a fact which you have demonstrated perfectly.


        • Merely to satisfy my taste buds? Aren’t you are being overly simplistic and assuming too much? Culture plays a significant role as does hypersensitivity to textures. The textures of many foods are unpleasant to me, so much so that it requires considerable effort to suppress a gag reflex. Even after eating solids for 70 years. And that includes many forms of animal products. So please don’t make assumptions based on incomplete information.

          I am not determined to eat animals to satisfy my taste buds so therefore find any excuse to allow their slaughter. Instead, I would say that I do not have the same ethical issue with it as you, so therefore see no reason not to consume meat occasionally. For your information I don’t include meat, fish etc if I’m preparing a meal just for myself. It doesn’t have that much of an appeal. I usually do when I’m preparing a meal for others, and do eat it in limited quantities when it’s offered to me.

          These days the reasons I continue to eat some meat is much more nuanced – probably more to avoid standing out from the crowd, to avoid conflict with the wife, and to keep the cost of living within our means. I have a granddaughter who is vegetarian and heading towards veganism. She does still have limited quantities of dairy and egg at her mother’s insistence. Her decision is based entirely on the grounds that no animal deserves to be eaten, be it by predator or human, and although I don’t agree with her viewpoint, I have defended her decision to hold it (to her mother’s annoyance at times).

          There was a period (perhaps 12 or 18 months) when I didn’t eat meat. I don’t think I really missed it too much. But I found the stress of social situations and needing to explain why (it wasn’t for ethical reasons, but that’s irrelevant) was just too much for me. I already have a hard time being accepted by “normal” society and deliberately choosing to go out on a limb for a cause I don’t find particularly compelling would use up more spoons than I have available (See Spoon theory for an explanation of “spoons”)

          I pick and choose which battles with society (and the wife) to take on. My efforts are elsewhere where I see greater moral and ethical concerns. Should those become less of a priority (in other words resolved, or mostly so) I may consider re-evaluating the accepted societal attitude to the farming and consumption of animals that I have inherited through the society I live in.

          In the meantime, I refrain from consuming grain feed animal products, meat and products that are not freerange, where pastures are irrigated, where waterways are not fenced off, products that are not produced organically or products from animals subjected to growth hormones or antibiotics. If i’m not able to trace it from farm to my door, I don’t purchase it. I buy milk produced on a farm where cows are free to visit the automated milking shed at a time of their choosing, not the farmer’s. Our eggs come from a friend with a lifestyle block where the hens are free to roam, and where finding eggs takes on the nature of a scavenger hunt. These things are important to me. They may not be to someone else who holds a different ethical viewpoint. For similar reasons I avoid all products containing palm oil. Now there’s a long list of taste bud stimulating products I really do miss – a lot.

          Your notion that I justify animal slaughter just to satisfy a personal whim, based on the fact that I hold a different ethical viewpoint to you sounds very much like the fundamentalist who insists I choose not to believe in the Christian God in order to validate a “sinful” lifestyle. Neither are true.

          Liked by 1 person

        • So please don’t make assumptions based on incomplete information.

          Then perhaps it would be best in future if you were up front and clear from the word go?

          Instead, I would say that I do not have the same ethical issue with it as you, so therefore see no reason not to consume meat occasionally.

          Again, it is choice. Choice that is not governed by need, but rather from your description to ‘save face’.

          If you have problems with your missus regarding eating meat then maybe the lines of communication are a bit crossed?


        • Ark, your “divided” household works for you but this doesn’t mean it can work for everyone.

          Also, since I recognize this is a VERY important topic for you, I do allow most of your comments. But please try to be a bit more tolerant of those who haven’t “seen the light.” 🙏 Thanks!


        • I look at this is a similar vein as justifying religious belief.
          It is culture and culture changes.

          Sometimes this needs to be pointed out.
          No biggy.
          I am not usually a betting man, but I’d wager the animals would be on my side in this discussion.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Further … this post is about Potty-Trained Cows — not whether they should be used as food.

          Hey, I initially made a single comment about not consuming cows.
          Most of you lot are just mean carnivores who just want to pile on.

          Liked by 2 people

        • My personal circumstances are not relevant. I only brought them up because of your black and white assertion that those who don’t oppose the eating of meat do so out of a personal and selfish desire to pleasure their senses. I shouldn’t need to do so. I feel just as strongly about society’s treatment of neurodivergent people as you do about animal slaughter for human consumption, but I don’t make the claim that parents of autistic children consent to having their children undergo intensive ABA “therapy” because they get perverse pleasure out of seeing their children being tortured.

          Actually the topic of Nan’s post does bring up something dear to my heart: when is behaviour modification appropriate, how does it differ from cruelty or torture, and why is some forms of behaviour modification considered torture or cruelty if applied to animals or humans unless that human is autistic?

          But before we take this any further, if you’re interested, there are your comments re the wife and choosing to ‘save face’ that I cannot leave unanswered.

          The easy one first. The wife enjoys seafood. Yes, it’s a cultural thing implicitly tied up with her being Japanese. If you were to persuade her that it was morally wrong (which I very much doubt) she would have a very miserable existence in much the same way that that a gay person would if they were persuaded that homsexuality was immoral. By this I don’t mean being gay is a choice – it clearly isn’t. And while one might argue there is an element of choice in being aligned with a culture, effectively denying one’s culture can be as harmful to a person’s wellbeing as denying one’s sexuality.

          There are no lines of crossed communication. She has a ‘need’ for seafood while for me it’s just another food group. My lack (for want of a better word) of moral outrage over animal slaughter is not based on pandering to the wife nor to ‘save face’ as you so crudely put it.

          Now to the ‘saving face’ comment, which I find highly offensive. I think I can safely assume you have not lived in the shoes of an autistic person for seventy plus years. Perhaps you don’t understand the ‘spoons’ metaphor. It’s not a matter of ‘choice’, it’s a matter of survival. But perhaps you consider survival merely a choice instead of a need?

          Being perceived as “different” can be exceedingly dangerous, even in this so called enlightened age. I have been subjected to forms of extreme violence, including being forcibly stripped in public, homophobic messages inscribed in lipstick all over my body and multiple objects forced into my anus because I exhibited traits that were considered “socially unacceptable” – traits that are exhibited by many neurodivergent people.

          As a child I was deemed devious and a liar by one teacher because I avoid eye contact. My medical records describe me as being “deliberately uncooperative” because I am unable to rate pain levels on a scale from 1 to 10. My inability was assumed to be a conscious decision to be uncooperative. Subsequently, all medical intervention is proceeded on that basis that I am willfully uncooperative. It places medical intervention in a very different light.

          As the saying goes, “once bitten, twice shy”. If you prefer to view how I respond to a hostile world as a “choice” instead of a necessity, then you are part of the problem that I and most neurodivergent people face every day. While I can explain my experience in the calmness of the written word (although I shouldn’t have to), having to express it “on the fly” in spoken communication is very traumatic, only made worse by my inability to gauge the response of those listening.

          Back the “toilet training”. If these cows had been subjected to intense electrical shocks to change their toileting habits, I think we can agree it would be cruelty in the extreme. Certainly in this nation, anyone who carried out such torture in the name of “training” should expect the wrath of the public and the law of the land.

          So where should the line be drawn between between “reinforcement” and “cruelty”? In the early stage of the experiment, the cows received positive reinforcement by providing them with a treat. Later in the experiment, it was augmented with negative reinforcement by way of the water spray. A carrot and stick approach. Is that acceptable? How about if it was humans instead of cows? Would it be okay for a parent to spray their child in the face if they soiled their clothes before making it to the toilet?

          To put it in context, the SCOTUS has deemed it lawful to inflict painful electric shocks to autistic children and adults for soiling themselves, and even for avoiding eye contact. Many autistic people including myself have little awareness of bodily needs. I’m 72 and still have only a few minutes warning at best of the need to use the toilet. It’s a sensory issue, not a cognitive issue. The same applies to making eye contact. No amount of water spray or electric shocks will make any difference to that. What it would do would be to set up extreme levels of stress and anxiety any time I was more than a minute away from a toilet. In the case of eye contact, it would make any social contact terrifying. Does the toilet training of cows produce a similar response? Will toilet training in cows result in 50% – 80% of them suffering PTSD as happens to autistic people when given aversion “therapy” (aka ABA)? These are questions I would like answered.

          @Nan, I apologise for the length of this and the previous comment/rant, but when people assign dubious motives to other people who have a different perspective or experience from their own, my sensibilities are awakened.

          Liked by 1 person

        • While I can sympathise with your autism . though I would never presume to to claim I understand what you went through/go through, that you would try to compare it with the slaughter and consumption of other animals is, quite frankly nonsense, and comes across as somewhat like whining.

          That you would suggest your wife could not accept that eating fish was ‘morally wrong’ comes across as more than a little condescending toward your wife, who I’ll bet is intelligent enough to understand perfectly why the consumption of fish will, in the long run , be ruinous for the oceans.
          If the mercury and other levels of toxicity rise to the point where eating certain fish species could kill your wife would you still refuse to challenge her diet on the grounds of ‘culture’?
          Once upon a time Japanese culture would have frowned on her marrying a gaiijin.(Maybe even forbidden it?)
          And what if your wife was Chinese and her family had a cultural history of eating dogs?
          ”Sweetheart, where’s Rover?”
          ”Well it’s time to celebrate the annual Chinese dog festival. And as it’s my culture ….” she says looking wistfully toward the oven.

          So, I reiterate, we are all products of our various cultural backgrounds, and as such can, and do change.
          Just as attitudes toward homosexuality and yes, autism, change as society gains greater understanding, and one hopes a little more compassion so we can work toward the time when we find the eating of other animals abhorrent and unnecessary.


        • Ark, you know I appreciate you and enjoy your blog … and often your “pointed” comments on various topics. However, in your avid desire to “convert” others to vegetarianism, I feel you are ignoring the personal circumstances of others who choose not to alter their diet.

          Every person has to live their life the way that works best for them. … even the religious. Certainly it’s human nature to want to “show them a better way,” but there comes a point when, as the “Good Book” says, we need to “shake off the dust from our feet” … and move on.

          Oh — and compassion towards humans is pretty important too. 😍


        • You put up an interesting post. I respond the best I feel I can.
          I don’t really consider my responses are necessarily any more ‘pointed’ than what most non religious respond to Believers when the topic of religion is raised.
          Living the life that works best for them is not the same as living the best they are able to within the limitations of their circumstances.
          Most people were eventually fully behind the drive to ban trade in ivory, animal skins, rhino horn and the like, but tragically that hasn’t saved many species from going extinct.
          You would probably be up in arms if your neighbour began collecting stray dogs and cats for slaughter to sell in their take-away restaurant, yet for some reason we pussy foot around killing cows and pigs, etc mostly raised in the most horrendous conditions solely to satisfy our taste buds under the banner of culture and for this reason it is somehow sacrosanct?


        • No comparison was intended. I apologise if that is how it seems. Comments relating to autism were intended to be a response to your “saving face” comment and pertain only to that. I found your “whining” comment equally offensive but I’ll excuse it on the basis that there has been a miscommunication due to our differing perspectives.

          I used to process indifference, disregard or rejection of my experiences as validation that I was in some way defective: everyone’s experience was exactly the same as mine, but I was the only one who couldn’t cope with it. Now I know better, so when someone dismisses an experience as inconsequential, I tend to “info dump” why it’s not inconsequential. In this case, you’re on the receiving end.

          Further, I don’t require your sympathy for being autistic any more than an african-American requires your sympathy for having dark skin or a female requires your sympathy for having two X chromosomes. Each of these “conditions” is part and parcel of who we are. We need to be treated with due respect and be given the opportunity to develop to our full potential as human beings. That is currently being denied us. I will say no more on this matter.

          The wife and I have been married for a month short of fifty years, and she, like everyone else is both an emotional person and a rational person. Sometimes, as it can be in anyone, the rational and the emotional can be in conflict. I spent more than ten years helping her navigate through what was then viewed as “homesickness” and “culture shock” but today would be recognised as severe depression brought on by living in a very “alien” culture. Had either of us foreseen the difficulties and heartbreaks that would arise, I doubt very much that either of us would have contemplated marriage. But having gone through all that, I think I’m in a better position than you to know when to defer to her emotional “needs” over her rational “needs”.

          And yes her parents forbade her to marry me and threatened to disown her if she did. I eventually won them around, but it wasn’t because I accused them of bigotry or racism or holding on to a concept of “racial purity” – that would have alienated them even further. I won them over by demonstrating in action and deed how even though I was a gaijin I was a better match for their daughter than every available Japanese male. Given that most marriages in that region were arranged (and I believe remains so today, although in a modified form) it was a tall order. But well worth the effort.

          I don’t see the relevance of mercury and other environmental pollution to this particular discussion. Such pollution causes far greater harm to ocean life than it ever will to humans. That harm (and subsequent suffering in ocean life) is of more concern to me right now than is managed, sustainable fishing.

          I’m not sure if your “Where’s Rover” quip was meant to be humorous, an attempt at tugging on the emotions , both or something else entirely. But from a purely rational perspective, if it has been mutually agreed that Rover was being kept specifically for consumption on some specific date, then I don’t see any difference from if the animal in question was Bambi Deer or Roger Rabbit or Percy Pig. I acknowledge that cultural conditioning has made me adverse to consuming Rover – an example of where the heart and head don’t necessarily agree.

          On the other hand it would take a particularly callous person to unilaterally decide to dispatch a dearly loved family pet regardless of whether it was Rover, Bambi, Roger or Percy.

          I agree we’re all shaped by the cultures we are immersed in and prevailing attitudes change over time. But I’m not of the view that anything is intrinsically good or bad. Value judgements such as good, bad, evil or abhorrent are just that – value judgements based on the norms of our social group. You and I can probably agree on a great many things that seem to us as being “self evidently” good or bad, but who is to say that future generations will assign the same “self evident” values as we do now?

          Here’s my perspective in a nutshell and would render any discussion of “cow loos” moot. Around 95% of all products produced from plants and animals in this nation is shipped overseas – all on land modified for that purpose. I personally would prefer to see 95% of that land returned to native forest, eliminate all predatory mammals and invasive plants, and allow what’s left of our indigenous birds, reptiles, invertebrate and plant species to thrive. If such a scheme necessitated the elimination of all herd animals from these shores, then I’d willingly sign up for a meat free diet. In fact I’d probably be first in line.


        • I was not meaning to offer sympathy for your autism but rather the treatment and difficulties you have had to navigate.

          Oceanic pollution is relevant because of the increasing levels of toxicity in fish and you were insisten that eating fish is an intrinsic part of your wife’s culture.Therefore there is increased risk of absorbing poisons such as mercury. I can’t think how else to explain this?
          ‘Rover’ was used to try to demonstrate that while you have few qualms about eating other animals the Chinese, culturally, also have few qualms about eating dogs and have an annual dog eating festival.
          You respect your wife’s cultural tradition of eating fish, what if that culture included eating dogs?

          Herd animals are farmed because traditionally they have been part of our diet.
          If you want that to change as you have indicated then, as they say, change begins with ‘you’.
          The answer surely should be obvious – stop eating them!


        • No apologies necessary, Barry. Although it shouldn’t be necessary, in this instance, I think it was good that you shared your personal circumstances. Not only did you offer defense for your personal stance related to vegetarianism, you shared a part of your life that, hopefully, will make us all more understanding of those who suffer from autism. ❤


        • Thanks Nan. But please, we don’t suffer from autism any more than females suffer from having two X chromosomes. Any suffering comes from the way we are treated by the cultural norms of the day, not from our genetic makeup. ❤

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        • If climate change really deeply cut down our ability to grow food, then a switch to a universal vegan diet would be the only option for survival. Meat production is a hugely inefficient use of food-production capacity. On a given amount of land, you can grow 1,000 calories of plants to feed humans directly, or 1,000 calories of plants to feed to animals to produce 10 calories of meat for human consumption. The latter option is a massive waste of capacity which we only have the luxury of doing because, right now, the world’s food-production capacity is far greater than what global population could consume.

          Even allowing for some reduction in output because some of the land used to produce food for meat animals would have to switch to growing different crops due to human food preferences (so, for example, you might get 500 calories of plant foods for human consumption instead of 1,000 calories of plants for animal consumption to produce 10 calories of meat), universal adoption of veganism would allow us to feed far more people than we currently do, using far less land, water, and other resources.

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        • BTW this has nothing to do with natural vs unnatural. The option of feeding the world with “natural” foods probably expired 13,000 years ago with the beginning of plant domestication (modifying plants, via unintentional selective breeding, to be more useful to humans). Genetic engineering, fertilizers, etc are just an elaboration of method.

          The point was to respond to your question about whether there would be enough to grow around. Right now, global food production capacity is so large relative to global population that we can afford the waste and inefficiency of meat production. If climate change really started damaging food production capacity, shifting to a meat-free diet is the only way there would be enough to go around.

          As to dogs and cats, dogs are omnivores and have the omnivore physical features (very short digestive tract, large stomach, very strong stomach acids, etc, etc — there are a huge number of differences) which distinguish omnivores/carnivores from herbivorous animals like humans. I’m no expert but it seems unlikely that they could be healthy on a completely meat-free diet without elaborate supplementation. But the aggregate food consumption of dogs and cats is small compared to that of humans (due to smaller numbers and smaller body size), so it wouldn’t really impact the overall equation much.

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        • I think I get your point, Infidel, but I still tend to think global warming could play a major role in food production capacity — even if meat consumption ended. But I’m no scientist. And I haven’t spent time studying the topic to any degree. I’m just going by things I’ve read here and there.

          In any event, I don’t think most of us reading this will be around if/when either of the scenarios come about.

          P.S. I agree about what you wrote about the dogs, so what happens to them if meat products were eliminated? Or are we just discussing the human aspect?

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        • I still tend to think global warming could play a major role in food production capacity

          That’s certainly possible. I’m just saying that if it ever comes to that, abandoning the waste and inefficiency of meat production would be an obvious way to continue providing enough food for everybody even with global farming capacity damaged by climate change. We’re nowhere near that point at the moment, though — I see no sign of food shortages even beginning to put a dent in the obesity epidemic yet, even in poor countries. The main argument against meat-eating remains the devastating effects on human health (there’s also the animal suffering caused by the meat industry).

          about the dogs, so what happens to them if meat products were eliminated?

          In the real world, change happens gradually, not suddenly and absolutely. Nobody expects meat production to be suddenly eliminated entirely. It’s a similar issue to smoking. Over time, awareness spread that smoking, too, has devastating effects on human health, and so the practice has gradually declined (at least in the countries where awareness of the problem is widespread). I would expect meat consumption, and thus production, to follow a similar pattern. It may never decline entirely to zero, just as smoking hasn’t. As for dogs and cats, meat-eating isn’t unhealthy for them, and is probably even necessary — so the same arguments simply don’t apply. (Well, the argument from animal suffering due to meat production still applies, but the wild cousins of cats and dogs hunt for food, which also causes suffering in prey animals, which is unavoidable. Humans care more about their dogs and cats than about the animals which must be killed to create food for them. If meat-eating were healthy for humans, I’d accept the suffering caused by the meat industry as an unfortunate necessity too, but that isn’t the case.)

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        • It is unfortunate that, for the time being many people simply will not even acknowledge this.
          Somewhat like trying to have a rational discussion with a thoroughly indoctrinated religious person.
          And like religion, or more specifically its demise, it is done in baby steps.

          And what was unthinkable a decade ago is now considered acceptable.
          For example: One of my nephews has a vegan restaurant in Chester in the UK. Does very well according to my folks who eat there at least once a week.

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        • There is more to it than just eating meat which is completely ethical by any reasonable, historical standard. Were the plains Indians unethical, or the Choctaw in their deer hunts?
          Btw, there is a host of cow and pig parts that you may not even be aware of. Rendering facilities don’t let any part of a slaughtered cow go to waste. Even the nasal septum is processed to make chondroitin sulfate, a drug used for the treatment of arthritis.
          At first glance many of the undesirable pieces these cows seem like lists of parts that could have very little use. But heparin, a frequently prescribed anticoagulant drug, is made from the lungs and bovine mucosa. The adrenal gland is used in making steroid drugs. The pancreas and the thymus gland are better known to diners as sweetbreads, and the pancreas itself is used to make insulin.
          Ranching May not be your cup of tea, but the cascade of human health is more than just a ribeye.
          Love the vegan restaurant idea. I hope they weren’t wearing synthetic clothing that clogs our landfills and plastics that never die. Who’s to say which is most harmful? You have a soft spot for creatures which is normal, but their is more to it than than having a queasy belly.

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        • I haven’t eaten meat in 3 years next month and don’t really think about it anymore. It appears even the ice-age human societies revolved around the Woolley mammoth 🦣 and other meat creatures.
          Have you ever seen the series “Alone”? What really left an impression on me was the enormous amount of resources it takes for one person to scratch out a meager existence. Timber, firewood, shelter, and food. It’s a lot! Pretty sure meat will need to be a continued part of that sustainability.

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        • The point is for the most part we (western civilisation) doesn’t (currently ) need to scratch out a meagre existence. where meat is a crucial element. And certainly not factory farmed meat.

          And even those that choose to live off the land or off grid if you prefer still have access to modern amenities if they want.

          For the most part, culture governs how we behave and evidence shows this can be modified or changed by education,

          More often than not it is simply a question of finding the right motivation.

          Financial gain is usually a good one!

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        • Because the technology is there we should be forced to use it? The USA produces the most gmo crops which is the future of feeding more and more people. We’re also getting fat likely because of it. Or cutting waste could save animals too. 108 billion pounds (in the USA nearly half of the food produced) is thrown away. The most vegetarian country in the world is India (for religious reasons) and worldwide it’s about 8%. Convert the world to Buddhism. Save lives.

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        • Because the technology is there we should be forced to use it?

          Which technology are you referring to, Jim?

          We’re also getting fat likely because of it.

          Hmm… unlikely but I’ll allow you the opportunity to produce evidence to show this.


        • Which technology are you referring to, Jim?” The amenities you refer to.
          We’re also getting fat likely because of it.”
          As I pointed out we can produce more food than we can eat (through technology) and expend no caloric output to get it. Would that not equal fatter?
          Also gmo crops may be another culprit. “ Therefore, we were able to demonstrate a novel link between the consumption of corn products and rising obesity trends that has not been previously attributed to the obesity epidemic. This correlation coincides with the introduction of bioengineered corns into the human food chain, thus raising a new hypothesis that should be tested in molecular and animal models of obesity.”—https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3133759/
          Although there is a bit to learn about this, the correlation between the introduction of gmo crops is in direct correlation with the biggest spike in obesity ever, in the 80’s and 90’s


        • Ah … fair enough. However, I did not say one must be forced to use the technology, merely that it is available so as not to scratch a living.
          Though I suspect we may still be talking a little past each other here?
          Apologies if I’m getting all barseackwards on this?

          Re GMO crops. Interesting and a bit disconcerting.
          Of course such products are ALSO fed to animals, which are, in turn eaten by humans.
          I am sure there is already pushback on this ( though I haven’t checked – you can be the super sleuth if you like?)

          Some of this article might make the hairs on your neck stand up, especially regarding the toxins / pesticides in grains and corn fed to animals!

          So it seems it’s a bit like damned if you do damned if you don’t?


          But as with all things, baby steps.

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        • As a gardener you know it is a full time job if you decide to grow all your own food. To me a good future would be the urban farms that are using ecologically sound practices and technology to grow their own food. But to have enough to support a family is a full time job. I really like this idea, but I’m not sure most people are willing yet to put it into practice



        • I don’t have the wherewithal to grow all our food needs, but I am having a go at growing a few of the more basic veg we use, especially potatoes.
          I’ll be more than happy if I can produce a seasons’ worth and have enough seed for the following crop.
          I’ll have a squizz at your link after lunch.
          The grand prix is also a distraction!

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        • Since my daughters family moved next door we have a total of 4 acres. We have a goal to grow all our own food for a year—as soon as I finish my house we’re building a greenhouse. I think the common atheist with become a full time gardener.

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        • In my area, most of the herds of cows we have are dairy cows. And in many parts of the world, those make sense – your land might not be fertile enough to grow crops, or would destroy your topsoil doing it, but will grow enough grass to sustain dairy production. That lets you feed people off otherwise unusable land. In that case, beef consumption is secondary. I agree that the production of beef cattle, where they are fed huge amounts of grain as they are readied for market, is horribly inefficient. The grain that’s feeding those cows could be feeding humans instead.

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        • There are quite a few farmers working to improve soil conditions and get farmers to move away from mono culture crops.
          There’s a specific organisation in the US too, I believe?

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      • The human digestive system resembles that of other herbivores, not omnivores. Most of the other great apes (our immediate relatives) are herbivores — the only exception is the chimpanzee, which eats meat only very occasionally. The popular idea that the increase in size of the human brain over the last two million years was fueled by meat consumption is dead wrong. I have no idea what “industrially manipulated pea protein” is and don’t care. Grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruit are what’s healthy for humans to eat. Meat, all forms of it in varying degrees, is toxic to our systems, and things like cheese and eggs are even worse.

        Pro-meat-eating claims are just rationalizations for what is essentially an addiction, an unhealthy habit which many people find difficult to give up. Like the anti-covid-vaccine “arguments”, they kill only the people who believe in them — so, frankly, I don’t much care. If you want to believe such rubbish and go on eating shit, it’s only going to harm you, not me.

        The horrific cruelty to animals involved in factory farming (which produces most meat for human consumption) is a major issue to some vegans, though my own concern is much more focused on human health. The huge contribution of animal farming to global warming (which is not going to be fixed by cow toilets), and the sheer inefficiency of growing food to feed to animals to produced artery-clogging poison to feed to humans — as opposed to simply growing food for direct human consumption — are more important problems. Also, as long as animals are kept under grossly unsanitary conditions in large numbers all over the world and in close proximity to humans, there will constantly be new pandemic diseases, again and again and again, since this creates ideal conditions for animal diseases to transfer to humans.

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        • Gosh! I hope I interpreted your comments correctly … you’re pro-vegetarianism. Yes? 😄

          Seriously, you make some good points, but as you know, the meat-eaters of the world solidly reject them as they chew on their rare cut of sirloin steak.

          As for the human brain enhancement via animal food, it’s pretty hard to overcome something that’s been drummed into the human psyche for many, many years.

          And you’re correct, potty-trained cows aren’t going to be a significant help to climate change, but according to the article, there may be some benefit since stagnant urine gases … “can cause respiratory disease in animals and humans.”

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        • but as you know, the meat-eaters of the world solidly reject them as they chew on their rare cut of sirloin steak

          Just as the anti-vaxers and anti-maskers solidly reject objective reality as they chow down on horse de-wormer and bleach. Unfortunately for them, reality remains unaffected by whether they believe in it or not.

          The idea that it was meat-eating that fueled brain growth over the last two million years never made much sense. The claim is that it was a source of calories unavailable to other great apes such as gorillas and chimpanzees, so it enabled our brains to grow bigger than theirs. But meat was always available to animals which are naturally carnivorous, so by this argument, it should have been lions or wolves that evolved into an intelligent species with a technological civilization.

          In reality, the brain is powered exclusively by glucose, so the explanation for its increased size in humans starting two million years ago must be sought in some unusual source of carbohydrate calories specifically. The obvious candidate is root vegetables, which are a calorie source unavailable to most animals because they’re too hard to digest, but which became available to our ancestors once they learned to control fire and thus developed the ability to cook things.

          There’s plenty of hard evidence supporting this. We have ways of knowing what the ancient ancestors of humans ate, and there’s a lot of evidence for root vegetables becoming a major part of the diet around the time that brain size began increasing.

          there may be some benefit since stagnant urine gases … “can cause respiratory disease in animals and humans.”

          The filth and disease in which most farmed animals live is almost beyond the typical unaware human’s imagination. That’s why 80% of the world’s antibiotic output is fed to farmed animals to keep them in a barely-acceptable state of health until they can be slaughtered. The conditions are comparable to concentration camps. If you installed proper toilets in a concentration camp, it would indeed be an improvement in the situation, but things would still be horrific.

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  3. Cows and horses are about the same intelligence as a dog. Imagine if you spent as much time with your livestock as you did the house trained family pet? Easy peasy

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