I'm not sure if it completely fits, but Grizzly Man is a great documentary about (questionable) altruism.Furthermore, the movie focuses also a lot on questions surrounding which view of nature we should have. It seemed to subtly reinforce my emotional stance towards wild animal suffering.
I'd love to have a weekly/monthly open post, where everyone could ask questions and post small ideas. I imagine something similar to LessWrongs "Open & Welcome Thread". This could make some people more comfortable with starting to contribute to the forum.
"Wischedag" isn't really a last name and alliterates with "Waschke". "Hans" is a german placeholder name.
[I just want to clarify that, of the large existing diets, I think that vegans probably have the morally best diet. I also don't want to discourage anyone from becoming vegan or vegetarian. I just want to somewhat push back at the idea that being vegan comes at trivial personal costs.]
Yes, I was vegetarian for around 5 years, 2 of which I was vegan. I've since become what you might call reducetarian (of which no chicken or pork, mainly milk, sometimes beef and eggs).
Personally, I can say that the costs of transitioning are quite high. I guess that during the whole transition it took me around 30 to 150 hours of work, which I wouldn't have had with a standard diet (it's hard to quantify in retrospect and depends on how you define work). But transitioning has also quite some fun aspect, restricting your diet forces your creativity, you get to know new people etc. So I'd say that costs of transitioning are hard to evaluate.
I suspect that I would pay anywhere from $400 to $1200 per year from my non-altruistic budget to keep my standard diet (depending on lots of factors, especially income at the time). The main reasons for reverting were taste, ease and nutritional value. I could well be that my WTP for a standard diet is higher than average. I also suspect that this cost estimate will dramatically decrease over the next years as vegan products become tastier and more available, and this could very well mean I'll become vegan again.
For some people, like Michael, the costs involved appear to be rather small. But it doesn't seem very plausible that 84% of vegans, or so, revert to consuming animal products if they typically perceive the cost of not eating meat to be only $100 per year (let's say adjusted to an average american income).
One bad aspect of the vegan movement is the insistance that personal costs are very small. Claims that are often made circle around "You won't miss the taste of animal products after a while.", or "Having a healthy vegan diet is easy.". I believe that both these points are simply untrue for many people.
I don't think that calling meat-eating frivolous is very helpful. Most vegans revert to consuming some degree of animal products (as far as I understand the research they end up eating meat again, but in lower quantities), indicating that there are significant costs involved.A side-constraint about harm is generally plausible to me. I'm still somewhat sceptical about the argument:- Either you extend this norm to not ommiting actions that could prevent harm from happening, or you seem to be making a dubious distinction between acts and omissions. Extending the norm would possibly give reasons for longtermists to prioritise other ways to prevent harm over not eating meat (and then this should be part of the longtermist cost-benefit-analysis the OP asks for).- There should be some way to account for the fact that in some cases violating the side-constraint is costly, while in other cases complying with the side-constraint is costly. I completely agree that longtermists should take animal welfare into account, and that is not happening to an adequate degree at the moment. I'm far less sure, whether comparing meat-eating to punching your neighbour is going to achieve this.
Assuming the harm of both actions to be equal, this is only really a fair comparison if eating meat and punching your neighbour is equally costly.
I'd argue that not-eating-meat is costly, and not-punching-your-neighbour is cheap (or personally beneficial) in the medium to long run. (That deciding not to eat meat is currently costly sucks and should be changed.)
Quick thing anyone could do, to make this book (or any other book you find valuable) more available.
Most university/city libraries offer the possibility to recommend books to them. I`ve done this myself many times (also for this book) and my university library sofar ordered every book I`ve recommended.