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Should vegans avoid avocados and almonds?

Discussion in 'General' started by Lou, Oct 13, 2018 at 12:03 PM.

  1. Lou
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    Lou Active Member

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    This is a good article. Full story linked at the bottom.

    It is definitely worth reading yourself. There were a lot of things I liked about the article. And it gave me a lot to think about. I am interested in what you guys think of it.

    BTW, the author very carefully avoiding stating an opinion. He did a very good job of explaining other's opinions. And I don't feel he took any sides. Plus I felt he did a good job of looking at the question from several points of views.

    The argument that vegans should not eat avocados and almonds (and a bunch of other crops) is really part of the old "is vegan honey?" argument, but stood on its head.
    If vegans should avoid animal exploitation
    and if many of our crops are dependent on commercial bees
    Then vegans should avoid those crops dependent on commercial bees. (avocados and almonds).

    He then goes on describing several ethical rationales. He even describes my favorite rationale - but in different words.

    One thing I didn't like is that he suggests a new label: Vegantarian. IMHO we don't need a new word and I'm pretty sure what he describes as a Vegantarian is just an average vegan (one who eats avocados and almonds). I did like his conclusion - that in allowing vegans to find their own " personal ethical balance" may allow for more people to choose to be vegan.


    Full Article Here.
    https://phys.org/news/2018-10-vegans-avocados-almonds.html
     
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  2. Vegan Dogs
    Thinking

    Vegan Dogs Member

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    eeeek.shocking revelations...now i consider this even more important an "ethical" issue for vegans than palm oil !

    certain crops...abuse billions of commercial bees ! fact ! and those crops are ?

    avocados, almonds, melon, kiwi or butternut squash from California !

    eeeek

    Now i am very anti any suggestions that insects are not sentient beings...they have central nervous sytems eyes breath make decisions have families etc etc

    Humans "using" bees to pollinate crops grown is to my mind unethical. These bees in california are hugely abused...moved around thousands of miles...killed off end of season...forced to overwork...all that jazz of animal abuse.

    I hope this short list is the only list to "boycott" ! I would say..this come into the same category as dairy products...where it is not actually eating the body of the dead animal involved...the calf...but it is killing other animals deliberately by humans. Bees.

    https://www.honeycolony.com/article/california-almonds-killing-bees/
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2018 at 2:47 PM
  3. Lou
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    Lou Active Member

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    @Vegan Dogs

    good points. and thanks for the link to the article. Haven't watched the video yet - but will. I have a lot of respect for Michael Pollan.

    The crops you included are just some of the 90+ crops that are fertilized with bees. (1)(2)

    There is a bit of controversy over how important commercial bees roles are in the USA's crop production. I've seen some inflated numbers of 70% or more. but the truth is that the number is much lower(3)

    However, if you were to boycott all the foods that are pollinated by commercial bees your list would include:
    kiwifruit, passion fruit, rowanberry, watermelon, squash (includes pumpkin, gourd, and zucchini), macadamia nut, and brazil nut. And probably should also include: cashew, starfruit, turnip, coriander, cucumber, durian, cardamom, loquat, buckwheat, feijoa, fennel, apple, mango, avocado, allspice, apricot, sweet and sour cherries, plum, almond, peach, pear, rose hips, raspberry, blackberry, naranjillo, and blueberry. (1)



    1. https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/which-crops-plants-are-pollinated-by-honey-bees.html
    2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_crop_plants_pollinated_by_bees
    3. https://geneticliteracyproject.org/...-third-global-food-heightening-crisis-like-7/
     
  4. Sax
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    Sax Active Member

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    I don't agree that this is in the same category as dairy or honey. When bees pollinate they are behaving autonomously - they are freely acting according to their natural drives, and we aren't taking anything away from them by consuming the fruits of their labor.

    It's possible to harvest almonds and avocadoes without ever exploiting bees. With meat, dairy, eggs, wool, honey, etc the "harvesting" is the exploitation. That's an important enough distinction to be separate categories IMO.

    Yet while it's possible to harvest almonds and avocadoes without exploiting bees, in reality we can't enjoy these crops without knowing bees were exploited.

    I think exploiting bees is wrong, and I would like to see the practice end. I'm not ready to give up avocadoes however, or squash, or the several nuts listed above. I actually have been avoiding almonds and almond milk because I know they are particularly reliant on commercial bee operations, but extending that to 90+ crops is too large a demand. I guess I can't really square that with my ideals - I can hear the excuses and deflections whispering in my mind: "I'm doing the best I can" even though I know I can do better. "This isn't where vegans should be focusing our energy right now" even though we're capable of dealing with a lot of issues simultaneously. I can't resolve the cognitive dissonance.

    So in summary, Lou, you broke my brain and ruined avocadoes for me. Thanks a lot.
     
  5. Nekodaiden

    Nekodaiden Active Member

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    The article linked in the original post and like minded videos such as the following:



    are in my opinion written by people who are exploiting the natural ethics of unnecessarily doing harm to animals for our consumption and taking it to extremes so that it makes identifying as Vegan so ridiculously difficult that no one even tries. Might as well eat meat. That's the point they're trying to drive.

    Glad I know that Veganism originated as a diet, a diet that has wide impact on ethics and environment and health - but just a diet and not some quasi religion that elevates all species above humans as if we don't have a place here.
     
  6. Lou
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    Lou Active Member

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    Oh, noooo. I'm sorry I broke your brain. But think of it as strength training for your brain. Overnight your brain will repair itself and tomorrow it will be a stronger bigger brain. All those neurological pathways get smoothed over with use and those impulses will just go faster. When we use our better judgment - our better judgment gets better.
    :)

    Anyway, no matter what you decide, your decisions will only improve with more knowledge.

    Oh, and why I said this is related to the "is vegan honey?" argument, is because the proponents of eating honey, bee-gans, often state that us "real vegans" are hypocritical. since a lot of crops are pollinated by honey bees, vegans are exploiting the bees just as much as Bee-gans are. I have even heard the argument that small time beekeepers who just sell their honey but don't rent out their bees are actually helping out the bees.

    And in an almost completely irrelevant news article. Here in California, organized crime has entered into the orchards. When beekeepers leave their hives in the orchards overnight, mobsters or perhaps we can call them bee rustlers, pull up in big trucks and steel the hives. The story below is about a guy who got caught.
    https://www.kqed.org/news/11465076/nearly-1-million-in-stolen-bees-recovered-in-fresno
     
  7. Sax
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    Sax Active Member

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    I agree that some people use this angle as a "gotcha" against veganism. But they bring up a good point. Why is it wrong to enslave and exploit birds and mammals, but not bees? If we're going to be okay with exploiting bees we should have an answer for that. No offense, but saying veganism is just a diet, while valid, is a sidestep to avoid the ethical contradiction.

    I guess we can construct an argument based on realism. "Exploiting bees isn't okay, but it's so deeply embedded in agriculture that we just need to accept it." It doesn't resolve the contradiction, but it at least acknowledges it. I'm not satisfied with that though...it's virtually the same argument "animal loving" carnists make when pressed on why they aren't vegan. Plus, we don't need to accept it...we choose to accept it.

    Supporting animal rights through veganism is inherently idealistic, but I'm okay with that. Movements based on idealism are far more likely to change the world than those based on realism.

    If veganism is just a diet then what is or isn't in accordance with veganism's original conception is irrelevant to ethical decision making. We would need a different ethical guideline...I'd suggest "animal exploitation is wrong".

    You seem to subscribe to an amoral veganism (correct me if I'm wrong). And I can respect that. You may be right that veganism would be better off if we disentangled the diet from the ethics. But what's best for veganism and what's best for animals are two different things, and if they diverge I'd rather pursue the latter.

    TL;DR:
    I don't think that someone should have to eliminate commercially pollinated crops from their diet to be considered vegan. But I think that vegans - and all people - should oppose animal exploitation, and strive to be ethically consistent in that opposition.
     
  8. Lou
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    Lou Active Member

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    I think that could be something but I would rather put it like this. "Exploiting bees isn't Ok and I will strive to reduce my consumption of bee-pollinated foods as much as possible and practical."

    I think that statement is in full concordance with vegan principals.

    I also think that vegans themselves individually have to decide how ethical their lifestyle can be. the definition of veganism includes the words "practical and possible". IMHO it's up to the individual to decide what is "practical and possible". Some people would consider "boycotting" almonds (or avocados) to be an easy step. Some vegans would consider it too difficult.

    Me? I think to reduce (to a large degree) my consumption of almonds and avocados to be a very easy step. But I shy away from the thought of reducing apples, peaches, and berries.

    Darn! I just got back from the Farmer's Market. I wanted to ask the guys with apples, peaches, and berries what roles bees had in their farms (do they have their own or do they rent them or do they not use them at all). Maybe next week. There is also a guy who sells honey that I sometimes chat with. He might have some ideas, too.
     
  9. Lou
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    Lou Active Member

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    Just watched this video. I still think Michael Pollan is great.

    I know that the Bee Colony Collapse Disorder has focused a lot of attention on honey bees. But we still don''t even know what causes it.
    From Wikipedia
    Several possible causes for CCD have been proposed, but no single proposal has gained widespread acceptance among the scientific community. Suggested causes include: infections with Varroa and Acarapis mites; malnutrition; various pathogens; genetic factors; immunodeficiencies; loss of habitat; changing beekeeping practices; or a combination of factors.[10] A large amount of speculation has surrounded a family of pesticides called neonicotinoids as having caused CCD.
     
  10. Nekodaiden

    Nekodaiden Active Member

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    I may have a limited knowledge of what goes on, but if I understand it right, they aren't killed or eaten, they are simply managed in a certain way to do what they would do anyway, but at a benefit for commercial farming - ie: for those of us who do not grow all of our own produce.

    If someone has a problem with this, then to avoid cognitive dissonance, grow all your own food and/or make sure anything you buy doesn't involve humans using any kind of ingenuity to take advantage of nature without destroying it or harming animals in the process. This latter consideration is going to be very difficult for some people as any kind of farming kills some animals and/or removes them necessarily from the farmed land. So um...don't eat I guess for these folks.


    There are some animal rights vegans (in saying this I point to no one in particular, just generally speaking), who I'd personally like to see thrown into a jungle with a hungry tiger. Let nature take it's course. Wait? What's nature? A human in such a situation has no "natural" advantage. No claws or teeth or brute strength to ward off the tiger. They'd quickly be killed and eaten, and I might be tempted to clap. Nature prevailed, just like they wanted, and the poor tiger got a meal.

    Or - it is part of the natural order for humans without obvious "natural" advantage to seize upon what they do have - bigger brains and ingenuity. Now a vegan in the jungle with a hungry tiger can have the advantage - whether that be a trap, a cage, a tranquilizer gun or other weapon.

    In any case, this is where "animal rights" falls on it's face, imo. There are plenty of situations where one must choose between the animal's life and the human's life. Whether that be the tiger, the lion, a venomous snake, a diseased rat or just plain farming land to produce food to survive. Displacing animals and removing others who would eat that food becomes necessity for survival - of humans. It seems to me that some animal rights people just don't consider these things and are somewhat/partially blinded by their hate of humanity. This is also what turns many people off from Veganism in my opinion.

    If for food and unnecessary clothing, I'd agree. We aren't designed to eat animal flesh, it causes them unnecessary suffering and death, it enslaves us, and causes havoc to the environment.

    But I personally would have no problem riding a horse or using oxen to plow land to feed lots of people. It's animal exploitation, but it has allowed us to explore the world and feed lots of people - vegetarian or vegan food.

    Amoral means "without morals". My views on animals rights differ from yours, but I hardly think that qualifies as having none. I have 0 qualms of conscience for displacing/removing (including killing if necessary) for farmland so I and others can eat, keep my home/business safe and other practical considerations.

    The other day I saw a fat woman risking her life (and the lives of other people) trying to save a bird stuck in the road. In doing so, she puts herself and other humans at risk for a single bird. Some vegans may applaud, but this disgusts me, and I certainly don't see it as anything approaching "higher morals". Lesser morals, in my view - because of the people put at risk by her behavior.
     
  11. veganDreama

    veganDreama Active Member

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    I agree with that so I won't be giving up Avocado or almond's soon.
     
  12. Sax
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    Sax Active Member

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    The queens have their wings cut off so they can't fly away. They are artificially inseminated with a syringe while immobilized in their own special rape rack. Sperm collection involves crushing the drones in a particular way; sperm from 8-12 drones is required for each insemination, but some of the crushed drones turn out to be immature, or their semen is contaminated, or the syringe collects mucus instead. The queens are killed and replaced every year or two despite having a 5 year lifespan. The pollinators are exposed to agricultural pesticides, which have been linked to colony collapse disorder. Commercial bees reduce the viability of wild bee populations. Entire colonies may be culled whenever a cost/benefit analysis dictates...it is often cheaper to kill the hives (using cyanide gas or fire) than to provide for them over winter.

    The fact that we can't be perfect isn't an argument against trying to be better.

    I don't see how this says anything negative about animal rights. If both lives are equal according to animal rights then the ideology is neutral on this decision. Are you going to fault an ideology based on the equality of all life for not being able to answer which life is worth more? You seem to expect animal rights to contradict itself, and then say it falls on its face when it refuses to do so. If one had to choose between a black person's life and a white person's life then civil rights would be neutral on the topic - that's no argument against civil rights.

    In any case people aren't going to die if they don't eat almonds. The stakes are pretty low here.

    I'm still trying to decide what is "possible and practicable" for me with regards to commercially pollinated crops. More than half of all US honey bees are used to pollinate almonds, so avoiding them seems to be the least I can do. I don't think everyone else has to come to the same decision as me. But I do think everyone should make a conscious decision, based on an understanding that bees are exploited with the exact same indifference as every other animal that is reduced to a commodity and means of production.
     
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  13. Lou
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    Lou Active Member

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    Great reply! nice job. Excellent conclusion.
     
  14. Jamie in Chile

    Jamie in Chile Active Member

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    Good discussion.

    Almonds and avocados also have serious water issues.

    I drove through the central valley of California last month (world's top almond country) and there are signs everywhere about water use and campaigns and it is even a top issue that politicians have to campaign on.

    Avocados here in Chile have also let to local residents in the area running out of water or having poor quality water in the area where almonds are growth.

    I eat both, but they are not the most ethical foods. I have been reducing somewhat in recent years.
     
  15. Lou
    Spooky

    Lou Active Member

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    I don't know about avocados, but yes, almonds do use up a lot of water.
    But let's keep things in perspective.
    A gallon of almond milk requires almost 1000 gallons of water.
    But it takes 2000 gallons to make a gallon of cows milk.

    However, it takes only 300 gallons of water to make a gallon of soymilk.

    Back when California was in a drought the State increased the cost of water to everybody. but agriculture paid lower prices than everyone else. Even so, the cost of water rose and some dairy farmers went out of business. One interesting news story had a dairy farmer bulldoze his dairy and plant almonds. At the time I applauded.
     

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