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TOK Presentation

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by

Christopher Pei

on 19 February 2013

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Transcript of TOK Presentation

Emotion Perception We often only see the glossy labels and packages at the supermarkets, unaware of the process by which final products are manufactured. Language "It's part of our culture." Examining the role of language, emotion, and perception in our social and cultural perspectives in regards to eating meat. TOK Presentation Food choice: why we eat what we eat The taboo against eating dogs in the U.S. The Spanish don't eat their horses, but sometimes eat their cows. The French don't eat their dogs, but sometimes eat their horses. The Indians don't eat their cows, but sometimes eat their dogs. Why do people go vegetarian/vegan? the Environment Animal agriculture is responsible for 37 percent of anthropogenic methane, which has 23 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide emissions. Furthermore, it is responsible for 65 percent of anthropogenic nitrous oxide, which has 296 times the GWP of carbon dioxide. Plant-based diets are associated with lower blood cholesterol levels, lower risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure levels, and lower risk of hypertension and type 2 diabetes. Plant-based diets tend to be lower in saturated fats and cholesterol, and have higher levels of dietary fiber, magnesium, and potassium, vitamins C and E, folate, carotenoids, flavonoids, and other phytochemicals. "You are what you eat." "The belly rules the mind." ? "We need the protein that meat provides. "It's the circle of life - animals eat other weaker animals. "Factory farming is inhumane and needless cruel." "Animals are sentient beings and therefore feel just like us." "Plant-based diets are better for one's health." Personal health Ethics Because of... "Cage-free" and "free-range" mean little in terms of the factory farming industry, often guaranteeing only "window access" to the outdoors. By perceiving all other species apart the human race as "animals," we have in essence desensitized and detached ourselves from our own "animal" nature, developing a "we are not them" mentality - ironically the basis for both sides of the argument. "Cruelty" is not only the causing of unnecessary suffering, but also an indifference to it. Cruelty depends on an understanding of cruelty and the ability to choose against it. Corporations, via CFE laws (Common Farming Exemptions) define "cruelty" - allowing industry to make any practice legal as long as it's common. "In short, if I keep a pig as a pet, I can't kick it. If I keep a pig I intend to sell for food, I can pretty much torture it."

-Mark Bittman Emotion, and the lack thereof, allows us as humans to domesticate certain animals for food, and others for companionship. (e.g. the pig and the dog) Michael Pollan notes that there is a sense of "table fellowship" derived from eating meat, seen as many as a strong vote against vegetarianism. (e.g. Thanksgiving)
This also ties into the idea of meat being a deeply ingrained part of our culture. Both Franz Kafka (vegetarian) and Abraham Lincoln (not a vegetarian) had famous episodes of compassion for animals wherein each man felt shades of pity and shame for these so called "lesser-beings." According to a study conducted by the United Nations and the Pew Research Center, the livestock sector is responsible for 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, around 40 percent more than the entire transport sector is responsible for. More than 250 million male "layers" are destroyed every year - tossed into plastic containers to suffocate, sent through macerators, sucked through pipes onto electrified plates. On one plate of sushi, seemingly small in scope, can hold thousands of other lives - lost via "bycatch." (not "by accident") Shrimp trawling operations result in 26 lbs of other sea animals thrown overboard, dead or dying, for every 1 lb of shrimp harvested. Typical cage for egg laying hens allows each 67 square inches of floor space, less than the size of a sheet of printer paper. In this day and age, less than one percent of meat produced for human consumption in the U.S. comes from privately owned "family farms." Two generations ago, virtually all farms were "family owned," though now, this is not the case. The "inherent" problems with a vegetarian lifestyle - cost, accessibility, time - are based in the fact that food culture is a predominantly omnivore-centric realm with accommodations to non-meat eaters seen as a catering to a very specific, niche way of life.

In the U.S, we choose to eat less than .25% of the known edible food on the planet, with our factory farming industry having grave consequences for society. While our food culture is ultimately dictated by tradition and societal perceptions, individual choice can change that. Sources: Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. New York: Little, Brown and, 2009. Print. Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001. Print.
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