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A quote from Darwin that should be forwarded to PETA
Our familiarity with the larger domestic animals tends, I think, to mislead us: we see no great destruction falling on them, but we do not keep in mind that thousands are annually slaughtered for food, and that in a state of nature an equal number would have somehow to be disposed of.

From an animal welfare point of view, the question is which is better? The method of "disposal" of man, or of nature? I tend to vote man, as the animals slaughtered for food are well-fed, generally healthy, and the actual death is quick. The animals "disposed of" by nature die of starvation and live with fear, illness and injury. A large domestic animal like cattle, horses, etc, if victims of predation are unlikely to die as quickly once attacked as they would in a modern slaughterhouse.

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As a bit of context, when Darwin wrote that the "modern farms" of today didn't exist. I don't know what conditions were like then, but I imagine that they didn't have as many of the issues you rail against.

Darwin was talking about "larger domestic animals", not humans. To take my comments regarding the lives and deaths of larger domestic animals in farm and natural conditions and bend them towards a supposed position on my part regarding the lives and deaths of humans is fallacious, either a "strawman" or a "false analogy", or both. The analogy is false because humans aren't larger domestic animals with a large geometric population increase arrested by slaughter for food. If small, furry creatures from Alpha Centauri raised humans for food, then perhaps the situation would be analogous. But they aren't, as far as I know.

It's true that the populations of cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, and other larger domestic animals used as foodstock would not be as large (if at all) without the farming system, or domestication in general. But if you wish to eliminate the farming system, you need to specify an "end game". PETA would release into the wild. Darwin points out what has to happen if the populations are to stabilize if released into the wild.

I said it's similar, and I do think it's a similar argument as humans in nature die from those causes as well. And I think it's ethically comparable when talking about this specific aspect of things.

Why do you need to specify an "end game". I doubt PETA would actually suggest you release domesticated farm animals into the wild, but again, I'm not a member and haven't read much of their literature.

IF everyone did slowly become veg over time, ideally towards the end there would be a place much like the current farm sanctuaries where the animals could be cared for by humans until their natural deaths without increasing their populations.

There is no mercy in death in a slaughterhouse. If someone was really so worried about the animals at the end of farming then perhaps the animals, no longer having an environment or instincts to live in the wild would be killed, I think euthanasia without the use of it's body afterwords by humans might be in order.

You believe that humans are equivalent to larger domesticated animals raised and slaughtered for food. Therefore, you believe that preferring slaughter of larger domestic animals for food over letting them starve, get sick, and be preyed upon by wild animals is ethically comparable to preferring the slaughter of humans over letting them starve, get sick, get killed in wars, or be preyed upon by wild animals.

If that is indeed an accurate statement of your position, then we are far enough apart in this discussion that we will never reach common ground and further debate is a waste of both of our times.

No, but I do think that saying that it's somehow merciful to slaughter animals for farming because this somehow reduces their overall suffering is completely false.

And I do think that it's valid to make a comparison to humans to see if such an argument would hold true if its our own species.

I love the idea of a farm sanctuary, but it turns out that, in practice, those are mostly neither healthy nor pleasant for the animals taken in. The folks who run these facilities tend to be underfunded and inexperienced in animal husbandry. I gather the Farm Sanctuary outside Watkins Glen, New York frequently has to call upon nearby farmers (who raise animals for human consumption) for expertise and assistance.

I've given money to these folks because I like the idea behind what they do, and wish they could be more viable at it, but I have no illusion that they, or PETA, will ever succeed in ending the practice of industrial food-animal production. If that practice ever ends, it's far more likely to be because of those of us who participate in and evangelise the locavore movement and do our best to consume only locally and humanely raised meat whenever feasible.

I agree with you, that's why the *IF* is there. I really have my doubts about the long term success of animal welfare advocacy though I think that the numbers choosing different diets will grow over time for various reasons - health concerns/pollution/environment etc.

I don't think we have to ponder the "end game" all that much because it's just not real likely anytime in my lifetime.

I have a community farm share and totally love it... and while I'm not hugely evangelizing I do talk about it a fair amount. I'm fortunate to live in a city/area with a very large locally grown movement.

I do support the movement to make regulations for conditions to be better for animals in farming, while I think it's ideal to be veg (and local) I don't really expect the country (or world) to move to my ideal.

Oh, and I guess I'm slightly biased because I regularly read the blog of someone who currently works at a sanctuary and I've met several people who have been involved in running them. While not perfect - I'm fairly certain they are better off there than in most commercially run farms in the United States.

PETA is an Animal Rights organization, not a Animal Welfare organization.
You should probably keep them out of your discussions. They are a bit extreme.

" I'm not a member of PETA, but an animal welfare advocate wouldn't argue that these animals should be released into the wild, it would argue that they should never be "created" in the first place. "

Logically that means you are in favor of the extinction of domestic animals.

blaisepascal had framed this discussion in terms of PETA which is why I was including them in the discussion.

I am in favor of the extinction of domestic animals raised for slaughter, you are correct. The wild versions of these animals will still exist where there are habitats.

What's the point of keeping an animal alive only to exploit it? How does that benefit that species at all? IMO, it doesn't. I don't expect this to happen btw, but I am in favor of it.

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