I hate to even mention B12 because it just seems like one of those topics that comes up a great deal more than it ought to, but hey. The 'found in nature' argumentation is a real popular go-to for a lot of other vegans I know, but why is B12 that cheeky little exception? Everyone here wants it, but it's nowhere to be found in fruit. Can we really have it both ways? Genuine question, I know little about B12 because it bores me as a topic.
While I'm here, I'll say that the nature argument is a poor choice of ammunition for the vegan if it's conversions we're after. Someone could, quite legitimately, retort that humans are not exempt from nature and therefore whatever we do is 'natural'. Natural is a problematic word in general. It attempts to defer to some kind of ultimate truth. The first Aborigines were in to cannibalism, and it was natural for them as ordained by their culture.
What I find a healthy practice is coming up with the best possible counter-arguments to your own positions, and then mentally shaving off the excess until you've carved something mighty and worthy of pride and presentation.
I agree that the natural argument is lame. Prad started a good discussion about this.
Supplementing B12 is an admission that our lives are removed from nature and we need to adapt. Supposedly we should be able to synthesize B12 in our gut, but that doesn't happen with many people anymore. Plus, the food we eat is pretty sterile compared to what primitive humans would be chomping on.
Well it's actually not really a cheeky exception. B12 is produced by bacteria and can be found in soil and water naturally. It is also produced in the gut by intestinal bacteria. That is the 'natural' argument for B12.
Also I think that "natural" in any legitimate sort of argument would have to mean what we've evolved for as a species - what we're biologically designed for. Yes, we are still "natural" creatures on the earth, and eating pizza is "natural" in our culture, but it makes no sense to use the word in that sense when arguing about diet.
'Natural' is actually diametrically opposed to 'cultural'.
What a people consider natural is determined by their culture..
I'm talking about the word natural in its original sense: opposed to culture. This acception is used when people argument the naturalness of raw veganism.
I don't think that's a constructive way of viewing the definition of "natural". If you use it that way then of course it will introduce a fallacy into the 'veganism is natural' argument. But that is not what the natural argument is saying; you are focusing too much on the word natural. Try thinking about the argument without using that word at all and you will see that that definition is obviously ridiculous.
Like Marco said, the word natural here should exclude cultural practices.
marco and nathan,
i'm not sure what you guys are getting at. are you really trying to argue that humans left on their own without any development of culture were or would be vegan?
the etymology of natural stresses the idea "of nature" or "inborn character" and even "opposed to man" (sometimes). that doesn't change the fact that when a culture practices something for a while, they consider it to be natural (at least to that culture).
"veganism is natural" is a fallacy because there is nothing natural about it since some people went around munching corpse parts and some didn't. if you really want to risk the genetic fallacy, you need to look at paleontology and then you'll find you're in serious trouble.
and humans aren't "biologically designed" to be vegan either. they just process corpse parts really poorly for various reasons and have developed certain physiological equipment over the years which enable them to process certain items more efficiently than corpse.
be vegan because it's a good idea healthwise, not because it is natural because such a statement has no basis in reality.
What I'm getting at is that the proper use of the word natural corrects the semantic distortion you and Craig are pointing out and which is used to legitimate diets such as SAD: that 'natural' equates to 'culturally endorsed'. We don't do this regarding HCRV, we don't say "it's natural 'cause people have been doing it all time'. In any case, you're getting things mixed up with here making it a debate about the validation of veganism in general.
What I actually say is that it's natural to eat raw because it is a way of eating which requires no cultural framework whatsoever: animals do it all the time. The counterargument to this is the B12 issue ("animals don't supplement, so it can't be natural to eat HCRV cos you can't get by without supplementing"). That one's been addressed by Peter below.
that 'natural' equates to 'culturally endorsed'. We don't do this regarding HCRV, we don't say "it's natural 'cause people have been doing it all time'.
oh i see your point now, marco! thx for clarifying.
and i can agree to some extent specifically the idea that it could be incorrect to say:
HCRV is natural because people have been doing it all the time.
however, are there any grounds by which we conclude that HCRV is natural by your claim that 'natural' is defined as being 'opposed to culture'? (i don't know if you say HCRV is natural or not, so my question may be irrelevant here).
What I actually say is that it's natural to eat raw because it is a way of eating which requires no cultural framework whatsoever: animals do it all the time.
additionally, the 'animals do it all the time' isn't a correct observation if by such you are implying that animals have no culture. nor do i see how eating raw has any connection to not requiring a cultural framework. can't one eat cooked without a cultural framework too?
i just don't think 'natural' is an effective word to use in dietary arguments.
I agree that the term is probably not most suited for dietary arguments -since those tend to be about 'right/good' and 'wrong/bad', which don't have anything to do with 'natural'- :D Also, by "animals", I meant non-human, should've been more specific. I do believe that those are not bound to culture, and can provide a much more accurate indicator of what occurs in nature. I personally wouldn't inluce eating cooked food into this, since the only animal you have for reference is the human being, and the process of humanization has always been deeply intertwined with culture.
Also, with "animals", I meant non-human, should've been more specific. I do believe that those are not bound to culture, and can provide a much more accurate indicator of what occurs in nature.
i understood you meant non-human, marco. i was referring to non-human animals when suggested that animals do have a cultures.
however, of course you are completely right about humans and cooked food! the phenomenon actually is deeply entwined in religion as per this saying:
"god made food. the devil made cooks." :D
nice talking to you and see you around!