Vegetarian Discussion: The Myth Of Food Production "efficiency" In The "ar" Debate

The Myth Of Food Production "efficiency" In The "ar" Debate
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Rudy Canoza
2008-03-03 10:53:41 EST

The "vegan" pseudo-argument on "inefficiency" is that
the resources used to produce a given amount of meat
could produce a much greater amount of vegetable food
for direct human consumption, due to the loss of energy
that results from feeding grain and other feeds to
livestock.

In order to examine the efficiency of some process,
there must be agreement on what the end product is
whose efficiency of production you are examining. If
you're looking at the production of consumer
electronics, for example, then the output is
televisions, stereo receivers, DVD players, etc.
Rather obviously, you need to get specific. No
sensible person is going to suggest that we ought to
discontinue the production of television sets, because
they require more resources to produce (which they do),
and produce more DVD players instead. (For the
cave-dwellers, an extremely high quality DVD player may
be bought for under US$100, while a comparable quality
television set is going to cost several hundred
dollars. $500 for a DVD player is astronomical - I'm
not even sure there are any that expensive - while you
can easily pay $3000 or more for large plasma TV
monitor, which will require a separate TV receiver.)

What are the "vegans" doing with their misuse of
"inefficiency"? They're clearly saying that the end
product whose efficiency of production we want to
consider is "food", i.e., undifferentiated food
calories. Just as clearly, they are wrong. Humans
don't consider all foods equal, and hence equally
substitutable. As in debunking so much of "veganism",
we can see this easily - laughably easily - by
restricting our view to a strictly vegetarian diet,
without introducing meat into the discussion at all.
If "vegans" REALLY were interested in food production
efficiency, they would be advocating the production of
only a very small number of vegetable crops, as it is
obvious that some crops are more efficient to produce -
use less resources per nutritional unit of output -
than others.

But how do "vegans" actually behave? Why, they buy
some fruits and vegetables that are resource-efficient,
and they buy some fruits and vegetables that are
relatively resource-INefficient. You know this by
looking at retail prices: higher priced goods ARE
higher priced because they use more resources to
produce. If "vegans" REALLY were interested in food
production efficiency, they would only be buying the
absolutely cheapest fruit or vegetable for any given
nutritional requirement. This would necessarily mean
there would be ONLY one kind of leafy green vegetable,
one kind of grain, one variety of fruit, and so on.

If "vegans" were to extend this misuse of "efficiency"
into other consumer goods, say clothing, then there
would be only one kind of shoe produced (and thus only
one brand). The same would hold for every conceivable
garment. A button-front shirt with collars costs more
to produce - uses more resources - than does a T-shirt,
so everyone "ought" to wear only T-shirts, if we're
going to focus on the efficiency of shirt production.
You don't "need" any button front shirts, just as you
don't "need" meat. But look in any "vegan's" wardrobe,
and you'll see a variety of different kinds of clothing
(all natural fiber, of course.) "vegans" aren't
advocating that only the most "efficient" clothing be
produced, as their own behavior clearly indicates.

The correct way to analyze efficiency of production is
to focus as narrowly as possible on the end product,
then see if that product can be produced using fewer
resources. It is important to note that the consumer's
view of products as distinct things is crucial. A
radio can be produced far more "efficiently", in terms
of resource use, than a television; but consumers don't
view radios and televisions as generic entertainment
devices.

The critical mistake, the UNBELIEVABLY stupid mistake,
that "vegans" who misconceive of "inefficiency" are
making, is to see "food" as some undifferentiated lump
of calories and other nutritional requirements. Once
one realizes that this is not how ANYONE, including the
"vegans" themselves, views food, then the
"inefficiency" argument against using resources for
meat production falls to the ground.

I hope this helps.


PinBoard
2008-03-03 15:45:00 EST
Rudy Canoza wrote:
>
> The "vegan" pseudo-argument on "inefficiency" is that
> the resources used to produce a given amount of meat
> could produce a much greater amount of vegetable food
> for direct human consumption, due to the loss of energy
> that results from feeding grain and other feeds to
> livestock.
>
> In order to examine the efficiency of some process,
> there must be agreement on what the end product is
> whose efficiency of production you are examining. If
> you're looking at the production of consumer
> electronics, for example, then the output is
> televisions, stereo receivers, DVD players, etc.
> Rather obviously, you need to get specific. No
> sensible person is going to suggest that we ought to
> discontinue the production of television sets, because
> they require more resources to produce (which they do),
> and produce more DVD players instead. (For the
> cave-dwellers, an extremely high quality DVD player may
> be bought for under US$100, while a comparable quality
> television set is going to cost several hundred
> dollars. $500 for a DVD player is astronomical - I'm
> not even sure there are any that expensive - while you
> can easily pay $3000 or more for large plasma TV
> monitor, which will require a separate TV receiver.)
>
> What are the "vegans" doing with their misuse of
> "inefficiency"? They're clearly saying that the end
> product whose efficiency of production we want to
> consider is "food", i.e., undifferentiated food
> calories. Just as clearly, they are wrong. Humans
> don't consider all foods equal, and hence equally
> substitutable. As in debunking so much of "veganism",
> we can see this easily - laughably easily - by
> restricting our view to a strictly vegetarian diet,
> without introducing meat into the discussion at all.
> If "vegans" REALLY were interested in food production
> efficiency, they would be advocating the production of
> only a very small number of vegetable crops, as it is
> obvious that some crops are more efficient to produce -
> use less resources per nutritional unit of output -
> than others.
>
> But how do "vegans" actually behave? Why, they buy
> some fruits and vegetables that are resource-efficient,
> and they buy some fruits and vegetables that are
> relatively resource-INefficient. You know this by
> looking at retail prices: higher priced goods ARE
> higher priced because they use more resources to
> produce. If "vegans" REALLY were interested in food
> production efficiency, they would only be buying the
> absolutely cheapest fruit or vegetable for any given
> nutritional requirement. This would necessarily mean
> there would be ONLY one kind of leafy green vegetable,
> one kind of grain, one variety of fruit, and so on.
>
> If "vegans" were to extend this misuse of "efficiency"
> into other consumer goods, say clothing, then there
> would be only one kind of shoe produced (and thus only
> one brand). The same would hold for every conceivable
> garment. A button-front shirt with collars costs more
> to produce - uses more resources - than does a T-shirt,
> so everyone "ought" to wear only T-shirts, if we're
> going to focus on the efficiency of shirt production.
> You don't "need" any button front shirts, just as you
> don't "need" meat. But look in any "vegan's" wardrobe,
> and you'll see a variety of different kinds of clothing
> (all natural fiber, of course.) "vegans" aren't
> advocating that only the most "efficient" clothing be
> produced, as their own behavior clearly indicates.
>
> The correct way to analyze efficiency of production is
> to focus as narrowly as possible on the end product,
> then see if that product can be produced using fewer
> resources. It is important to note that the consumer's
> view of products as distinct things is crucial. A
> radio can be produced far more "efficiently", in terms
> of resource use, than a television; but consumers don't
> view radios and televisions as generic entertainment
> devices.
>
> The critical mistake, the UNBELIEVABLY stupid mistake,
> that "vegans" who misconceive of "inefficiency" are
> making, is to see "food" as some undifferentiated lump
> of calories and other nutritional requirements. Once
> one realizes that this is not how ANYONE, including the
> "vegans" themselves, views food, then the
> "inefficiency" argument against using resources for
> meat production falls to the ground.
>
> I hope this helps.
>

This is a straw man argument.

If you want something to play DVD's - you'd buy a DVD player. If you
wanted to watch TV - you'd buy a TV. Two different items with two
different functions. The choice is FUNCTIONAL.

If you want to eat - you eat food. Food has the same function; to
nourish. The choice is NOT FUNCTIONAL. (In many cases, it's an aesthetic
choice).

If there's a non-functional choice of the item being discussed (be it
food or shirts) then it would seem reasonable to raise the issue of
relative efficiency).


Rudy Canoza
2008-03-03 16:14:28 EST
PinBoard wrote:
> Rudy Canoza wrote:
>>
>> The "vegan" pseudo-argument on "inefficiency" is that
>> the resources used to produce a given amount of meat
>> could produce a much greater amount of vegetable food
>> for direct human consumption, due to the loss of energy
>> that results from feeding grain and other feeds to
>> livestock.
>>
>> In order to examine the efficiency of some process,
>> there must be agreement on what the end product is
>> whose efficiency of production you are examining. If
>> you're looking at the production of consumer
>> electronics, for example, then the output is
>> televisions, stereo receivers, DVD players, etc.
>> Rather obviously, you need to get specific. No
>> sensible person is going to suggest that we ought to
>> discontinue the production of television sets, because
>> they require more resources to produce (which they do),
>> and produce more DVD players instead. (For the
>> cave-dwellers, an extremely high quality DVD player may
>> be bought for under US$100, while a comparable quality
>> television set is going to cost several hundred
>> dollars. $500 for a DVD player is astronomical - I'm
>> not even sure there are any that expensive - while you
>> can easily pay $3000 or more for large plasma TV
>> monitor, which will require a separate TV receiver.)
>>
>> What are the "vegans" doing with their misuse of
>> "inefficiency"? They're clearly saying that the end
>> product whose efficiency of production we want to
>> consider is "food", i.e., undifferentiated food
>> calories. Just as clearly, they are wrong. Humans
>> don't consider all foods equal, and hence equally
>> substitutable. As in debunking so much of "veganism",
>> we can see this easily - laughably easily - by
>> restricting our view to a strictly vegetarian diet,
>> without introducing meat into the discussion at all.
>> If "vegans" REALLY were interested in food production
>> efficiency, they would be advocating the production of
>> only a very small number of vegetable crops, as it is
>> obvious that some crops are more efficient to produce -
>> use less resources per nutritional unit of output -
>> than others.
>>
>> But how do "vegans" actually behave? Why, they buy
>> some fruits and vegetables that are resource-efficient,
>> and they buy some fruits and vegetables that are
>> relatively resource-INefficient. You know this by
>> looking at retail prices: higher priced goods ARE
>> higher priced because they use more resources to
>> produce. If "vegans" REALLY were interested in food
>> production efficiency, they would only be buying the
>> absolutely cheapest fruit or vegetable for any given
>> nutritional requirement. This would necessarily mean
>> there would be ONLY one kind of leafy green vegetable,
>> one kind of grain, one variety of fruit, and so on.
>>
>> If "vegans" were to extend this misuse of "efficiency"
>> into other consumer goods, say clothing, then there
>> would be only one kind of shoe produced (and thus only
>> one brand). The same would hold for every conceivable
>> garment. A button-front shirt with collars costs more
>> to produce - uses more resources - than does a T-shirt,
>> so everyone "ought" to wear only T-shirts, if we're
>> going to focus on the efficiency of shirt production.
>> You don't "need" any button front shirts, just as you
>> don't "need" meat. But look in any "vegan's" wardrobe,
>> and you'll see a variety of different kinds of clothing
>> (all natural fiber, of course.) "vegans" aren't
>> advocating that only the most "efficient" clothing be
>> produced, as their own behavior clearly indicates.
>>
>> The correct way to analyze efficiency of production is
>> to focus as narrowly as possible on the end product,
>> then see if that product can be produced using fewer
>> resources. It is important to note that the consumer's
>> view of products as distinct things is crucial. A
>> radio can be produced far more "efficiently", in terms
>> of resource use, than a television; but consumers don't
>> view radios and televisions as generic entertainment
>> devices.
>>
>> The critical mistake, the UNBELIEVABLY stupid mistake,
>> that "vegans" who misconceive of "inefficiency" are
>> making, is to see "food" as some undifferentiated lump
>> of calories and other nutritional requirements. Once
>> one realizes that this is not how ANYONE, including the
>> "vegans" themselves, views food, then the
>> "inefficiency" argument against using resources for
>> meat production falls to the ground.
>>
>> I hope this helps.
>>
>
> This is a straw man argument.

No, it isn't. "vegans" make this bogus "inefficiency"
argument all the time. Here's an example of it in
alt.animals.ethics.vegetarian from just yesterday:

The truth can no longer be dodged. Livestock farming
gobbles up agricultural land, water and energy that
could far more efficiently be devoted to growing
food for people to eat directly. Meat, therefore,
is a rich person's food and those who consume it -
whether in India, Denmark or England - cause
malnourishment and death among the world's poorest
people.

http://groups.google.com/group/alt.animals.ethics.vegetarian/msg/2087ba15c70a9667


This vegetarian extremist site,
http://www.all-creatures.org/articles/tomeat.html, is
one of dozens or even hundreds that belabor the same
*wrong* point. This claim of "inefficiency" reveals
massive ignorance of what "efficient" means.


>
> If you want something to play DVD's - you'd buy a DVD player. If you
> wanted to watch TV - you'd buy a TV. Two different items with two
> different functions. The choice is FUNCTIONAL.

If I were to argue as the people who wrongly make this
bogus "inefficiency" argument, I would say that DVD
players and television receivers both supply
undifferentiated "electronic entertainment". Your
point about different functionality applies equally
well to animal and vegetable sources of nutrition:
meat provides a different function to the consumer than
vegetables.


>
> If you want to eat - you eat food.

No, that's completely wrong. Different foods are not
the same in the personal utility calculations of
consumers. NO ONE thinks, "I just want basic calories
and protein, and I don't care what form they're in."


> Food has the same function; to
> nourish. The choice is NOT FUNCTIONAL. (In many cases, it's an aesthetic
> choice).

The choice *is* functional: the function of consuming
the thing you want.


>
> If there's a non-functional choice of the item being discussed (be it
> food or shirts) then it would seem reasonable to raise the issue of
> relative efficiency).

The functional choice is there. You just want to
ignore it for ideological reasons.

Sam
2008-03-03 16:58:38 EST
Rudy Canoza wrote:
>
> The "vegan" pseudo-argument on "inefficiency" is that
> the resources used to produce a given amount of meat
> could produce a much greater amount of vegetable food
> for direct human consumption, due to the loss of energy
> that results from feeding grain and other feeds to
> livestock.
>
> In order to examine the efficiency of some process,
> there must be agreement on what the end product is
> whose efficiency of production you are examining. If
> you're looking at the production of consumer
> electronics, for example, then the output is
> televisions, stereo receivers, DVD players, etc.
> Rather obviously, you need to get specific. No
> sensible person is going to suggest that we ought to
> discontinue the production of television sets, because
> they require more resources to produce (which they do),
> and produce more DVD players instead. (For the
> cave-dwellers, an extremely high quality DVD player may
> be bought for under US$100, while a comparable quality
> television set is going to cost several hundred
> dollars. $500 for a DVD player is astronomical - I'm
> not even sure there are any that expensive - while you
> can easily pay $3000 or more for large plasma TV
> monitor, which will require a separate TV receiver.)
>
> What are the "vegans" doing with their misuse of
> "inefficiency"? They're clearly saying that the end
> product whose efficiency of production we want to
> consider is "food", i.e., undifferentiated food
> calories. Just as clearly, they are wrong. Humans
> don't consider all foods equal, and hence equally
> substitutable. As in debunking so much of "veganism",
> we can see this easily - laughably easily - by
> restricting our view to a strictly vegetarian diet,
> without introducing meat into the discussion at all.
> If "vegans" REALLY were interested in food production
> efficiency, they would be advocating the production of
> only a very small number of vegetable crops, as it is
> obvious that some crops are more efficient to produce -
> use less resources per nutritional unit of output -
> than others.
>
> But how do "vegans" actually behave? Why, they buy
> some fruits and vegetables that are resource-efficient,
> and they buy some fruits and vegetables that are
> relatively resource-INefficient. You know this by
> looking at retail prices: higher priced goods ARE
> higher priced because they use more resources to
> produce. If "vegans" REALLY were interested in food
> production efficiency, they would only be buying the
> absolutely cheapest fruit or vegetable for any given
> nutritional requirement. This would necessarily mean
> there would be ONLY one kind of leafy green vegetable,
> one kind of grain, one variety of fruit, and so on.
>
> If "vegans" were to extend this misuse of "efficiency"
> into other consumer goods, say clothing, then there
> would be only one kind of shoe produced (and thus only
> one brand). The same would hold for every conceivable
> garment. A button-front shirt with collars costs more
> to produce - uses more resources - than does a T-shirt,
> so everyone "ought" to wear only T-shirts, if we're
> going to focus on the efficiency of shirt production.
> You don't "need" any button front shirts, just as you
> don't "need" meat. But look in any "vegan's" wardrobe,
> and you'll see a variety of different kinds of clothing
> (all natural fiber, of course.) "vegans" aren't
> advocating that only the most "efficient" clothing be
> produced, as their own behavior clearly indicates.
>
> The correct way to analyze efficiency of production is
> to focus as narrowly as possible on the end product,
> then see if that product can be produced using fewer
> resources. It is important to note that the consumer's
> view of products as distinct things is crucial. A
> radio can be produced far more "efficiently", in terms
> of resource use, than a television; but consumers don't
> view radios and televisions as generic entertainment
> devices.
>
> The critical mistake, the UNBELIEVABLY stupid mistake,
> that "vegans" who misconceive of "inefficiency" are
> making, is to see "food" as some undifferentiated lump
> of calories and other nutritional requirements. Once
> one realizes that this is not how ANYONE, including the
> "vegans" themselves, views food, then the
> "inefficiency" argument against using resources for
> meat production falls to the ground.
>
> I hope this helps.
>



'Fraid not,Rudy. You've gone to a lot of trouble to produce
this statement but I am afraid your logic is flawed.

Try looking at it this way:-

One acre of farmland will feed one adult for
77Days
if used for beef

527 days
if used for wheat

6 years
if used for soya.

Furthermore it takes 3 to 4 years to raise beef cattle
from gestation to slaughter,whereas you can get a
soya harvest every year.
So which produce gives the highest yield per acre,
in terms of human sustenance?

Sam.

Rudy Canoza
2008-03-03 17:04:18 EST
sam wrote:
> Rudy Canoza wrote:
>>
>> The "vegan" pseudo-argument on "inefficiency" is that
>> the resources used to produce a given amount of meat
>> could produce a much greater amount of vegetable food
>> for direct human consumption, due to the loss of energy
>> that results from feeding grain and other feeds to
>> livestock.
>>
>> In order to examine the efficiency of some process,
>> there must be agreement on what the end product is
>> whose efficiency of production you are examining. If
>> you're looking at the production of consumer
>> electronics, for example, then the output is
>> televisions, stereo receivers, DVD players, etc.
>> Rather obviously, you need to get specific. No
>> sensible person is going to suggest that we ought to
>> discontinue the production of television sets, because
>> they require more resources to produce (which they do),
>> and produce more DVD players instead. (For the
>> cave-dwellers, an extremely high quality DVD player may
>> be bought for under US$100, while a comparable quality
>> television set is going to cost several hundred
>> dollars. $500 for a DVD player is astronomical - I'm
>> not even sure there are any that expensive - while you
>> can easily pay $3000 or more for large plasma TV
>> monitor, which will require a separate TV receiver.)
>>
>> What are the "vegans" doing with their misuse of
>> "inefficiency"? They're clearly saying that the end
>> product whose efficiency of production we want to
>> consider is "food", i.e., undifferentiated food
>> calories. Just as clearly, they are wrong. Humans
>> don't consider all foods equal, and hence equally
>> substitutable. As in debunking so much of "veganism",
>> we can see this easily - laughably easily - by
>> restricting our view to a strictly vegetarian diet,
>> without introducing meat into the discussion at all.
>> If "vegans" REALLY were interested in food production
>> efficiency, they would be advocating the production of
>> only a very small number of vegetable crops, as it is
>> obvious that some crops are more efficient to produce -
>> use less resources per nutritional unit of output -
>> than others.
>>
>> But how do "vegans" actually behave? Why, they buy
>> some fruits and vegetables that are resource-efficient,
>> and they buy some fruits and vegetables that are
>> relatively resource-INefficient. You know this by
>> looking at retail prices: higher priced goods ARE
>> higher priced because they use more resources to
>> produce. If "vegans" REALLY were interested in food
>> production efficiency, they would only be buying the
>> absolutely cheapest fruit or vegetable for any given
>> nutritional requirement. This would necessarily mean
>> there would be ONLY one kind of leafy green vegetable,
>> one kind of grain, one variety of fruit, and so on.
>>
>> If "vegans" were to extend this misuse of "efficiency"
>> into other consumer goods, say clothing, then there
>> would be only one kind of shoe produced (and thus only
>> one brand). The same would hold for every conceivable
>> garment. A button-front shirt with collars costs more
>> to produce - uses more resources - than does a T-shirt,
>> so everyone "ought" to wear only T-shirts, if we're
>> going to focus on the efficiency of shirt production.
>> You don't "need" any button front shirts, just as you
>> don't "need" meat. But look in any "vegan's" wardrobe,
>> and you'll see a variety of different kinds of clothing
>> (all natural fiber, of course.) "vegans" aren't
>> advocating that only the most "efficient" clothing be
>> produced, as their own behavior clearly indicates.
>>
>> The correct way to analyze efficiency of production is
>> to focus as narrowly as possible on the end product,
>> then see if that product can be produced using fewer
>> resources. It is important to note that the consumer's
>> view of products as distinct things is crucial. A
>> radio can be produced far more "efficiently", in terms
>> of resource use, than a television; but consumers don't
>> view radios and televisions as generic entertainment
>> devices.
>>
>> The critical mistake, the UNBELIEVABLY stupid mistake,
>> that "vegans" who misconceive of "inefficiency" are
>> making, is to see "food" as some undifferentiated lump
>> of calories and other nutritional requirements. Once
>> one realizes that this is not how ANYONE, including the
>> "vegans" themselves, views food, then the
>> "inefficiency" argument against using resources for
>> meat production falls to the ground.
>>
>> I hope this helps.
>>
>
>
>
> 'Fraid not,Rudy. You've gone to a lot of trouble to produce
> this statement but I am afraid your logic is flawed.

Nope.


>
> Try looking at it this way:-
>
> One acre of farmland will feed one adult for
> 77Days
> if used for beef
>
> 527 days
> if used for wheat
>
> 6 years
> if used for soya.

Irrelevant. If a person can't or won't eat wheat or
soya, then it simply doesn't matter.

You're continuing to make the same fatal mistake:
thinking that people want to consume undifferentiated
calories. They don't. The demand is for particular
kinds of food, and the correct measure of efficiency is
to look at a given output and determine the lowest
amount of resource inputs needed to make that output.


>
> Furthermore it takes 3 to 4 years to raise beef cattle
> from gestation to slaughter,whereas you can get a
> soya harvest every year.
> So which produce gives the highest yield per acre,
> in terms of human sustenance?

You're asking the wrong question - as usual.

Sam
2008-03-03 17:35:20 EST
Rudy Canoza wrote:
> sam wrote:
>> Rudy Canoza wrote:


>>>
>>
>>

>
> You're asking the wrong question - as usual.

Whaddya mean?
I've never heard of you in my life,let alone written to you.
Sam

Rudy Canoza
2008-03-03 17:54:36 EST
sam wrote:
> Rudy Canoza wrote:
>> sam wrote:
>>> Rudy Canoza wrote:
>
>
>>>>
>>>
>>>
>
>>
>> You're asking the wrong question - as usual.
>
> Whaddya mean?
> I've never heard of you in my life,let alone written to you.

Irrelevant.

The implicit question you're asking is, "How can we get
the most calories out of the least amount of land,
water, labor, etc." That's the wrong question, because
people don't want to eat undifferentiated calories;
people want specific foods.

The correct question is to take a specific food, and
ask how to get the most *OF THAT FOOD* out of a given
amount of resources; or, what amounts to the same
thing, take a given amount of that specific food and
ask how to minimize the resource inputs used to create it.

I always love pointing out to "vegans" that their
arguments can be completely queered even if we look
only at a strictly vegetarian diet. It's obvious that
not all fruits and vegetables are equally efficient to
produce, and that they don't all yield the same
nutritional output. So, for example, a serving (172g)
of cooked soybeans yields 298 calories, and 29g of
protein
(http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts-C00001-01c218a.html),
while a serving (192g) of durum wheat yields 651
calories and 26g of protein
(http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts-C00001-01c21Ub.html).
So, since soy and wheat yields are approximately the
same - 35-45 bushels per acre in the U.S. - then there
is *NO* excuse for growing soy, because it doesn't
supply as much nutrition per bushel as does wheat, in
terms of caloric content - and your argument assumes
people only want basic calories, rather than particular
foods.

Stop producing soy now. Efficiency demands it.

PinBoard
2008-03-03 17:57:33 EST
Rudy Canoza wrote:
> PinBoard wrote:
>> Rudy Canoza wrote:
snip OP
>>
>> This is a straw man argument.
>
> No, it isn't.

It setup a false position comparing DVD and TV's to equate meat and non
meat foods. A straw man.

>"vegans" make this bogus "inefficiency" argument all the
> time. Here's an example of it in alt.animals.ethics.vegetarian from
> just yesterday:
>
> The truth can no longer be dodged. Livestock farming
> gobbles up agricultural land, water and energy that
> could far more efficiently be devoted to growing
> food for people to eat directly. Meat, therefore,
> is a rich person's food and those who consume it -
> whether in India, Denmark or England - cause
> malnourishment and death among the world's poorest
> people.
>
> http://groups.google.com/group/alt.animals.ethics.vegetarian/msg/2087ba15c70a9667
>
>
>
> This vegetarian extremist site,
> http://www.all-creatures.org/articles/tomeat.html, is one of dozens or
> even hundreds that belabor the same *wrong* point. This claim of
> "inefficiency" reveals massive ignorance of what "efficient" means.
>
>

As I wrote "..it would seem reasonable to raise the issue of relative
efficiency".

>>
>> If you want something to play DVD's - you'd buy a DVD player. If you
>> wanted to watch TV - you'd buy a TV. Two different items with two
>> different functions. The choice is FUNCTIONAL.
>
> If I were to argue as the people who wrongly make this bogus
> "inefficiency" argument, I would say that DVD players and television
> receivers both supply undifferentiated "electronic entertainment". Your
> point about different functionality applies equally well to animal and
> vegetable sources of nutrition: meat provides a different function to
> the consumer than vegetables.

You must be able to see that this is a very weak argument. - No one goes
out to purchase "electronic entertainment" per se, but they do go out to
get "food".

http://www.google.co.uk/search?source=ig&hl=en&rlz=&q=%22food+shopping%22&btnG=Google+Search&meta=

>
>
>>
>> If you want to eat - you eat food.
>
> No, that's completely wrong. Different foods are not the same in the
> personal utility calculations of consumers. NO ONE thinks, "I just want
> basic calories and protein, and I don't care what form they're in."

Ask some one like this person, to dispel that assumption:

http://www.flatrock.org.nz/topics/odds_and_oddities/assets/starving-boy.jpg

(Or me when I've just come back from the pub!)

>
>
>> Food has the same function; to nourish. The choice is NOT FUNCTIONAL.
>> (In many cases, it's an aesthetic choice).
>
> The choice *is* functional: the function of consuming the thing you want.

Weak semantics. - It is plain to see that food's principle purpose, and
hence function is to provide nutrition; not to "consume the thing you want".

>
>
>>
>> If there's a non-functional choice of the item being discussed (be it
>> food or shirts) then it would seem reasonable to raise the issue of
>> relative efficiency).
>
> The functional choice is there. You just want to ignore it for
> ideological reasons.

I understand the different functions, and hence choices; it is you that
are ignoring them, or more correctly, dismissing them.

Rudy Canoza
2008-03-03 18:15:46 EST
PinBoard wrote:
> Rudy Canoza wrote:
>> PinBoard wrote:
>>> Rudy Canoza wrote:
> snip OP
>>>
>>> This is a straw man argument.
>>
>> No, it isn't.
>
> It setup a false position comparing DVD and TV's to equate meat and non
> meat foods. A straw man.

No. First of all, it isn't a false comparison; the
comparison is apt. Secondly, you clearly don't know
what a straw man argument is. It is when you attribute
a position to your opponent that he doesn't hold, in
order to knock it down. That's not what I did. I made
an apt comparison. "vegans" fatuously wish to pretend
that what people want is just "food", undifferentiated.
I have shown that that is *like* saying people want
"electronic entertainment media", undifferentiated.
But we know that's wrong. Radio programs and
television programs are two different entertainment
vehicles. At some level, they are substitutable, but
they are not perfectly substitutable. If you take away
an hour of TV programming from someone and give him an
hour of radio programming in its place, he won't
consider himself as well off.


>
>> "vegans" make this bogus "inefficiency" argument all the time. Here's
>> an example of it in alt.animals.ethics.vegetarian from just yesterday:
>>
>> The truth can no longer be dodged. Livestock farming
>> gobbles up agricultural land, water and energy that
>> could far more efficiently be devoted to growing
>> food for people to eat directly. Meat, therefore,
>> is a rich person's food and those who consume it -
>> whether in India, Denmark or England - cause
>> malnourishment and death among the world's poorest
>> people.
>>
>> http://groups.google.com/group/alt.animals.ethics.vegetarian/msg/2087ba15c70a9667
>>
>>
>>
>> This vegetarian extremist site,
>> http://www.all-creatures.org/articles/tomeat.html, is one of dozens or
>> even hundreds that belabor the same *wrong* point. This claim of
>> "inefficiency" reveals massive ignorance of what "efficient" means.
>>
>>
>
> As I wrote "..it would seem reasonable to raise the issue of relative
> efficiency".

Except it's not reasonable at all, because you're still
trying to say that undifferentiated food calories are
what people want to consume, and that's false.

In fact, physical output isn't even the right measure
of efficiency at all; the correct thing to look at is
value. Say I have a hectare of land, and on it I can
grow wheat that will cost me $500 to raise (including
the imputed rent of the land), and which (for a stated
yield) I can sell for $600, so I realize a 20% return
on my investment. Now let's say I could have used that
same hectare of land to raise cattle, and it will cost
me $1000 (land rental, feed, water, fencing, etc.) but
I can sell the beef for $1300, or a 30% return. It
DOES NOT MATTER if the amount of beef produce will
"only" feed 50 people, while the amount of wheat I
could have produced would feed 100 people; the fact is
that those prices tell me people value beef more highly
than wheat, and in terms of value produced, it is more
efficient to produce the beef.


>>> If you want something to play DVD's - you'd buy a DVD player. If you
>>> wanted to watch TV - you'd buy a TV. Two different items with two
>>> different functions. The choice is FUNCTIONAL.
>>
>> If I were to argue as the people who wrongly make this bogus
>> "inefficiency" argument, I would say that DVD players and television
>> receivers both supply undifferentiated "electronic entertainment".
>> Your point about different functionality applies equally well to
>> animal and vegetable sources of nutrition: meat provides a different
>> function to the consumer than vegetables.
>
> You must be able to see that this is a very weak argument. - No one goes
> out to purchase "electronic entertainment" per se, but they do go out to
> get "food".

No, that's utterly false. People do *not* wish to
consume just "food", without regard to the components
of it. They want to consume *particular* foods.

Similarly, there's a category of goods in the national
accounts called "consumer durables", which includes
refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, home
electronics and more. If a given factory could produce
twice as many washing machines as it could
refrigerators, it would be insane to suggest, "Well,
washing machines are more 'efficient' that
refrigerators, and a consumer durable is a consumer
durable, so no more refrigerators." But that's the
equivalent of what you're proposing with food.


>>> If you want to eat - you eat food.
>>
>> No, that's completely wrong. Different foods are not the same in the
>> personal utility calculations of consumers. NO ONE thinks, "I just
>> want basic calories and protein, and I don't care what form they're in."
>
> Ask some one like this person, to dispel that assumption:
>
> http://www.flatrock.org.nz/topics/odds_and_oddities/assets/starving-boy.jpg

That kid is obviously going to be less picky than
someone who is usually better fed, but even that boy is
not overall indifferent between different types of
nutritionally equivalent food.


>>> Food has the same function; to nourish. The choice is NOT FUNCTIONAL.
>>> (In many cases, it's an aesthetic choice).
>>
>> The choice *is* functional: the function of consuming the thing you
>> want.
>
> Weak semantics.

No, it isn't weak at all. What is utterly weak is your
belief that consumers are indifferent among different
types of food.


>>> If there's a non-functional choice of the item being discussed (be it
>>> food or shirts) then it would seem reasonable to raise the issue of
>>> relative efficiency).
>>
>> The functional choice is there. You just want to ignore it for
>> ideological reasons.
>
> I understand the different functions, and hence choices; it is you that
> are ignoring them, or more correctly, dismissing them.

No, that would be you. A serving of chicken has a
different function to a consumer than does a serving of
potatoes.

Buxqi
2008-03-03 19:00:31 EST
On Mar 3, 3:53 pm, Rudy Canoza <pi...@thedismalscience.not> wrote:
> The "vegan" pseudo-argument on "inefficiency" is that
> the resources used to produce a given amount of meat
> could produce a much greater amount of vegetable food
> for direct human consumption, due to the loss of energy
> that results from feeding grain and other feeds to
> livestock.

Yes. A vegan diet will generally have a smaller ecological
footprint than a meat based one.
>
> In order to examine the efficiency of some process,
> there must be agreement on what the end product is
> whose efficiency of production you are examining.  If
> you're looking at the production of consumer
> electronics, for example, then the output is
> televisions, stereo receivers, DVD players, etc.
> Rather obviously, you need to get specific.  No
> sensible person is going to suggest that we ought to
> discontinue the production of television sets, because
> they require more resources to produce (which they do),
> and produce more DVD players instead.  (For the
> cave-dwellers, an extremely high quality DVD player may
> be bought for under US$100, while a comparable quality
> television set is going to cost several hundred
> dollars.  $500 for a DVD player is astronomical - I'm
> not even sure there are any that expensive - while you
> can easily pay $3000 or more for large plasma TV
> monitor, which will require a separate TV receiver.)

Yes. Meat and grain are not the same product with regard
to their value to the consumer but in terms of the resources
that need to be used to keep a population adequately fed,
they are comparable.

> What are the "vegans" doing with their misuse of
> "inefficiency"?  

There is no misuse. The meaning of efficiency depends
on context. They are not using the definition employed
by economists. That's all.

> They're clearly saying that the end
> product whose efficiency of production we want to
> consider is "food", i.e., undifferentiated food
> calories.  Just as clearly, they are wrong.  Humans
> don't consider all foods equal, and hence equally
> substitutable.  As in debunking so much of "veganism",
> we can see this easily - laughably easily - by
> restricting our view to a strictly vegetarian diet,
> without introducing meat into the discussion at all.
> If "vegans" REALLY were interested in food production
> efficiency, they would be advocating the production of
> only a very small number of vegetable crops, as it is
> obvious that some crops are more efficient to produce -
> use less resources per nutritional unit of output -
> than others.

Information on the relative ecological efficiency of those
foods is not so widely available.
>
> But how do "vegans" actually behave?  Why, they buy
> some fruits and vegetables that are resource-efficient,
> and they buy some fruits and vegetables that are
> relatively resource-INefficient.  You know this by
> looking at retail prices:  higher priced goods ARE
> higher priced because they use more resources to
> produce.

Actually the prices are merely an approximation to the
actual costs of production since we do not live in a
completely free market with perfect information.

> If "vegans" REALLY were interested in food
> production efficiency, they would only be buying the
> absolutely cheapest fruit or vegetable for any given
> nutritional requirement.  This would necessarily mean
> there would be ONLY one kind of leafy green vegetable,
> one kind of grain, one variety of fruit, and so on.
>
> If "vegans" were to extend this misuse of "efficiency"
> into other consumer goods, say clothing, then there
> would be only one kind of shoe produced (and thus only
> one brand).  The same would hold for every conceivable
> garment.  A button-front shirt with collars costs more
> to produce - uses more resources - than does a T-shirt,
> so everyone "ought" to wear only T-shirts, if we're
> going to focus on the efficiency of shirt production.
> You don't "need" any button front shirts, just as you
> don't "need" meat.  But look in any "vegan's" wardrobe,
> and you'll see a variety of different kinds of clothing
> (all natural fiber, of course.)  "vegans" aren't
> advocating that only the most "efficient" clothing be
> produced, as their own behavior clearly indicates.
>
> The correct way to analyze efficiency of production is
> to focus as narrowly as possible on the end product,
> then see if that product can be produced using fewer
> resources.  It is important to note that the consumer's
> view of products as distinct things is crucial.  A
> radio can be produced far more "efficiently", in terms
> of resource use, than a television; but consumers don't
> view radios and televisions as generic entertainment
> devices.
>
> The critical mistake, the UNBELIEVABLY stupid mistake,
> that "vegans" who misconceive of "inefficiency" are
> making, is to see "food" as some undifferentiated lump
> of calories and other nutritional requirements.  Once
> one realizes that this is not how ANYONE, including the
> "vegans" themselves, views food, then the
> "inefficiency" argument against using resources for
> meat production falls to the ground.
>
> I hope this helps.

Not at all. You have pointed out that many people prefer
non-vegan diets and are prepared to pay market price for
meat. You have also pointed out that most vegans don't
always make the least resource-intensive choice either
with food or anything else.

However you have not succesfully refuted the point that
going vegan almost always reduces one's ecological footprint
and that is all vegans mean when they make the efficiency
argument.
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