carnivore hobbits

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carnivore hobbits

Postby redrobot » Sat Aug 20, 2016 2:32 pm

very tiresome for this vegan to have to listen to sam's pathetic enthusiasms for a brace of coneys, salt for the chicken he hopes to find, the pans of sausages and the bag end larder stuffed with meat and fish. seems likely to me Tolkien roughly based the hobbit on rabbits - hop it + rabbit = hobbit. they have big feet and live in burrows and are characteristically timid and gentle. rabbits and hobbits both eat all the time. so why not take the likeness one step further and make hobbits herbivores (instead of / as well as the elves) just like rabbits? because it was necessary to characterize the idyllic life of the shire as being rather epicurean. theyre all a bunch of drunks obsessed by food down that way. smoking, drinking, eating too much, stealing as a matter of habit... rather like a cross between a rabbit and a pre war country peasant.
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby heliona » Sun Aug 21, 2016 10:52 am

The hobbits were meant to represent ordinary English country-folk (nothing to do with rabbits), hence the enthusiasm for pipe-smoking, gardening, and pubs. Being a vegan or vegetarian wasn't something that would have in the public consciousness when Tolkien was writing like it is now, and eating fish, sausages, and wild rabbit would have been something that English-folk living in the country would done.

There is also no evidence that the elves were vegetarians (at least, not in the books). They hunted, and I'd like to think that they're not the type of people to hunt for sport, but rather for food.
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby redrobot » Sun Aug 21, 2016 8:28 pm

i disagree. you are ignoring the evidence. hobbits are a cross between english country folk as you say and rabbits. if they were just english country folk they wd not live in burrows or have big feet or graze. as ive said the name hobbit is a cross between hop it (something rabbits do) and rabbit. rabbits are also placid creatures. so are hobbits (at least in the shire).

when the dwarves arrive at the city of the elves they are fed. one dwarf lifts a large leaf from his plate and says 'i dont eat green food' and another asks 'where's the meat?' the english vegetarian society was founded in 1847. the vegan society founded 1944 - 10 years before publication of LOTR. well informed people like Tolkien wd have been well aware of these movements. do you have an elf hunting quote?

it's worth a thought that somewhere in hobbiton (a very terrible name) there must be a butcher sticking a knife in the throat of a pig to keep all those hobbits in bacon. blood all over the floor of the hobbit butchers shop, the carcass hanging on a hook. not idyllic. very far from idyllic.
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby heliona » Mon Aug 22, 2016 2:58 am

I am not ignoring the evidence. With regards the inspiration of hobbits being rabbits, here is what Tolkien had to say on the matter (my bolding):

Tolkien wrote:It all began when I was reading exam papers to earn a bit of extra money. That was agony. One of the tragedies of the underpaid professor is that he has to do menial jobs. He is expected to maintain a certain position and to send his children to good schools. Well, one day I came to a blank page in an exam book and I scribbled on it. 'In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.'

I knew no more about the creatures <sic> than that, and it was years before his story grew. I don't know where the word came from. You can't catch your mind. It might have been associated with Sinclair Lewis's Babbitt. Certainly not rabbit, as some people think. Babbitt has the same bourgeois smugness that hobbits do. His world is the same limited space.

- 'The Man Who Understands Hobbits', Charlotte and Denis Plimmer, early 1967; Daily Telegraph Magazine, 22nd March 1968, pages 31-32


There is also evidence from gatherings of folk-tales and myths that a variation of the word 'hobbit' appears before Tolkien wrote the word down, so he may have unconsciously got inspiration from them. There is a lot of evidence of Tolkien constantly writing letters dismissing any idea of hobbits and rabbits being etymologically related or in fact rabbits being any kind of inspiration.

Regarding the elves, the quote that you mention is from the films, in which Peter Jackson and his team made the elves vegetarian, making assumptions about what Tolkien did (or did not) write. Quotes on elves hunting and having/eating meat (any bolding is mine):

The Hobbit wrote:They dwelt most often by the edges of the woods, from which they could escape at times to hunt, or to ride and run over the open lands by moonlight or starlight; and after the coming of Men they took ever more and more to the gloaming and the dusk.


The Hobbit wrote:There were many people there, elvish-looking folk, all dressed in green and brown and sitting on sawn rings of the felled trees in a great circle. There was a fire in their midst and there were torches fastened to some of the trees round about; but most splendid sight of all: they were eating and drinking and laughing merrily.

The smell of the roast meats was so enchanting that, without waiting to consult one another, every one of them got up and scrambled forwards into the ring with the one idea of begging for some food.


The Hobbit wrote:In fact the subjects of the king mostly lived and hunted in the open woods, and had houses or huts on the ground and in the branches.


The Hobbit wrote:Then the elves put thongs on him, and shut him in one of the inmost caves with strong wooden doors, and left him. They gave him food and drink, plenty of both, if not very fine; for Wood-elves were not goblins, and were reasonably well-behaved even to their worst enemies, when they captured them. The giant spiders were the only living things that they had no mercy upon.

There in the king's dungeon poor Thorin lay; and after he had got over his thankfulness for bread and meat and water, he began to wonder what had become of his unfortunate friends.


The Hobbit wrote:Companies of the Wood-elves, sometimes with the king at their head, would from time to time ride out to hunt, or to other business in the woods and in the lands to the East.


Well, you get the idea. There are lots more.

I also know when the Vegetarian Society was founded in the UK. However, the idea of vegetarianism wouldn't have been so widespread then as it is now. Anyway, it does not matter how popular it was when Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings as the stories were meant to be taking place in the distant past.

The hobbits are of course not actually English country-folk, they are a fantasy humanoid creature representing English country-folk. Folk who live in the country, growing their own food (gardening and animals) tend to be more practical regarding animals, certainly in bygone times. Certainly vegetarianism is often something that only people who have access to food that has been imported can choose to do (in the past poor people are often forced into vegetarianism because meat is expensive, but once they do have meat, they stretch it out as much as possible.) I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with vegetarianism, but it is not unexpected to say that the hobbits, as representing country-folk, English in particular, but in an undetermined distant past, would eat meat and be practical about it.

The name "Hobbiton" is fact etymologically-speaking, accurate, as the suffix "-ton" comes from Old English meaning "homestead". There are a lot of English place-names with the suffix "-ton" often with the first part being either a personal name or type of farm. So "Hobbiton" is in fact perfectly understandable as a name, and is not in fact a 'very terrible name' as you say. Certainly Tolkien, with his background in linguistics, would have put a great deal of effort into every name he wrote down.
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby redrobot » Mon Aug 22, 2016 5:19 am

very comprehensive. so the bookish elves were carnivores of the most enthusiastic kind, the miovie elves, leaf eaters. i suppose this was jackson adding a detail to the picture of the elves as the epitome of civilized culture

Anyway, it does not matter how popular it was when Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings as the stories were meant to be taking place in the distant past.


hmm, no. the stories are told about a fantasy world so there is no way you can say 'in the distant past' as tho it was a part of human history. it is not our distant past. it is not their distant past...
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby heliona » Mon Aug 22, 2016 6:07 am

redrobot wrote:hmm, no. the stories are told about a fantasy world so there is no way you can say 'in the distant past' as tho it was a part of human history. it is not our distant past. it is not their distant past...


Actually, no, you're wrong. Tolkien wrote the stories to make a mythology for England as there really isn't one. So yes, it is meant to be our past.
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby redrobot » Mon Aug 22, 2016 7:57 am

an english mythology... never thought of it like that. at what point in our history is it supposed to have occurred?
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby heliona » Tue Aug 23, 2016 10:45 am

At least a couple of thousand years ago, I believe. There is a mention somewhere of what Age we are meant to be in now - I'm sure someone else might be able to find it. But bear in mind that it was meant to be a mythology, like that of Arthurian legend, which in itself is difficult to narrow down to a time period. The Silmarillion was the original mythology (it is a world creation story, followed by stories not long after creation) and Lord of the Rings is merely one story set in that world. However, Middle-earth is not a fantasy world in the traditional sense, as it was originally meant to be England-inspired (and Europe).
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby redrobot » Tue Aug 23, 2016 11:44 am

the thing about a 'legend' is that it could feasibly have fitted into actual history. at what point do orcs, trolls, dragons and the like fit into enlish history? they dont. it's a mythology. stories without evidence. i dont see how middle earth cd have existed even in theory 2000 years ago. the middle earth societies are scattered in their references between viking and medieval, say 600AD-1400AD. you dont get fancy castle building 2000 years ago in england. you get large mud piles with wooden fences round them. the greeks got round their mythology by using legend and the invisible god trick. shd i suspend disbelief and enjoy the thought that there may have been orcs and trolls ravaging norman england? cant do it. ravaging iron age england where there were fancy castles and intricate catapults? cant do it. complicated and messy and not convincing at all.
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby heliona » Tue Aug 23, 2016 1:04 pm

Sorry, I had my working slightly wrong. It is not an English mythology, but a mythology for England. Since Scotland have their brownies and selkies etc, Tolkien felt England should perhaps have one. It's a mythology, it's not meant to be taken as gospel truth. They're stories, not meant to actually be taken as history.
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby redrobot » Tue Aug 23, 2016 2:00 pm

you were trying to tell me it was supposed to have happened 2000 years ago. this was the problem - putting it into actual history. if tolkien had written that in viking times (actual history) a warrior such as aragorn found a gateway into middle earth, it cd have the believability of legend (i'm still ready to believe gateways are possible). he didnt i assume. and i find it difficult to see how it is a mythology rather than a fiction. mythologies are supposed to have a truth factor for populations - greek mythology was believed to be true by the ancient greeks. who believes in orcs?
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby heliona » Tue Aug 23, 2016 2:13 pm

Well, I did say "I believe". I also said that it was mentioned somewhere what Age of Man we're meant to be in, but I can't remember where it is mentioned.

Look, all I know is that that is what Tolkien had in mind when he wrote the stories that became The Silmarillion. Nobody believes in orcs now, but I'm pretty sure that people believed in fairies and selkies and dragons in days gone by. That's the point I'm making. Just because we don't believe in something now, doesn't mean people in the past would not have done. A mythology is fiction! Dragons aren't real, neither are fairies, or brownies, or hobgoblins, but they appear in stories. (And in fact some people in Iceland still believe in elves and dwarves.) Orcs are mentioned in Beowulf, so I'm pretty sure people believed in them at some point.

I think you're looking at this whole thing from a different point of view from Tolkien, me and lots of other people, and I don't think we're going to converge on an answer. To truly understand Tolkien's mind, one has to read what he's written (the movies just don't do it justice at all - you have proven with your questions that there are some things that just don't come across in the films) and if you're not prepared to give the books a go, there's only so much I can tell you.
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby redrobot » Tue Aug 23, 2016 3:49 pm

youre right, i wd be much better informed if i read the books but that wont happen so i'm going with what ive got. cant i ask a few questions of tolkien nerds and hope to get some enlightenment? or maybe show them something new...

A mythology is fiction

no, the greeks believed their mythology was real, that gods actually walked the earth. no doubt ancient norsemen believed in sea monsters. a fiction is something we understand to be made up. mythologies are complicated things. you seem to be labouring a little under the illusion that because you know more tolkien facts than i do, something i dont dispute, that your reasoning is better than mine. if you find my questions tiresome, dont answer them. if theyre interesting , answer away but dont complain that your patience is limited. it's just a conversation about hobbits.
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby heliona » Tue Aug 23, 2016 4:15 pm

Ask away by all means. Unfortunately, TORC is very quiet at the moment, so there's not many people to come up with ways of explaining things better than me.

Regarding the mythology, I don't know what Tolkien was thinking, but I know that originally the stories (not Lord of the Rings but the creation story and other much older ones that won't make it onto film) were written and dedicated as a mythology for England, because Tolkien thought that England didn't have one (which it doesn't, really). That is a fact. Whether or not it is believable as one or not is up to an individual's interpretation. Discussing what can and cannot be a mythology doesn't change that (and although that is an interesting discussion, it shouldn't be in this forum, but in the philosophy forum, Manwe).

The films are of course not a true representation of the books themselves, and are not the mythology itself, because that is stuff that he wrote before Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. The entire work of Tolkien is just too complicated, complex, and big to explain in its entirety, even for someone better at it than me! Most stories went through lots of revisions, for starters, and thus even metaphors and names changed lots of times. (Tolkien wasn't writing to be published for the most part.)

What has come to light, and is something I never thought of, because I read the books long before the films came out, and most people here have read the books (often directly after the watching the films) is that there is a lot left out of the films in terms of people's motives etc. You've brought that to light with your questions - clearly a major fault in the films. One to be expected I suppose when the source material is so vast.
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby RoseMorninStar » Tue Aug 23, 2016 4:23 pm

Tolkien was a philologist-a professor of philology. A philologist is not 'just' a linguist who studies ancient languages but a person who delves into history, mythologies, literary texts, and written records of a people to determine authenticity/original form, purpose and determination of meaning. For example, Tolkien translated 'Beowulf' from it's original ancient language. His interests took him deep into the Finish Kalevala, Old English, Norse Prose Edda and sagas, Scandinavian myths, history, & language, just to name a few. Inspired by these great tales of old from various nations he was saddened that England had 'lost' it's mythology due to being over-run and absorbed by other cultures that he decided to create his own mythology for England.

That said it is 'history' but not a literal factual interpretation of history as one might study in primary school. It includes fantastical beings just as other cultures had Zeus and Thor or Leprechauns and centaurs. It is a 'cultural history' with a fanciful turn. As heliona (and Tolkien himself) have stated earlier, hobbits are not intended to be 'rabbits' but an earlier type of human.

Tolkien etymologized the name hobbit as the regular Modern English outcome of a hypothetical Old English *hol-bytla "hole builder". Within the linguistic fiction of The Lord of the Rings, the English etymology of Old English hol-bytlan → Modern English hobbit is the supposed translation of an "original" etymology of Rohirric kud-dukan → Westron kuduk.

Tolkien did mention a few characters that were vegetarian (like Beorn) so I would think that if other beings/characters were, he would have mentioned that as well.
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby redrobot » Tue Aug 23, 2016 5:52 pm

hobbits are not intended to be 'rabbits' but an earlier type of human.


i didnt say they were intended to be rabbits, just that they were partly based on some features of rabbits and some features of country folk. rabbit + hoppit still seems far more convincing to me as an etymology for hobbit. big feet, burrows, placid nature, grazing tendencies. JRRT was clearly too embarrassed to admit the charge and came up with some academic OE hocus.

It includes fantastical beings just as other cultures had Zeus


ive said this before but i'll say it again. to the ancient greeks, zeus and all the other gods were real, walking about on earth in different forms, sitting on olympus. this is where there's an interface between legend, mythology, belief, literature, history... does the tolkien world feel like english mythology? not to me. it feels like it's own place with no trace of englishness. i get a sense of vikingness from the rohan hall and medievalness from the gondor soldiers armour. but other than that... pure orc.
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby RoseMorninStar » Tue Aug 23, 2016 6:34 pm

You have said you don't read much, so I'd easily guess that 'The Professor' (as Tolkien is known by most of us) knew a bit (quite a bit) more about entomology than either you or I. You also have said you haven't read the books so you've missed a great deal about what makes the story a 'mythology' which would be needed to give an informed opinion. What you see as 'rabbit' would appear much different to someone who is learned in the root meanings of words. 'Hob/hobbe/hobi' being used as a diminutive term for many English folklore words, as intended in this case, but definitely of the human variety. The story started out as a vehicle for languages Tolkien invented and language was his passion


Are we based on rabbits because we have eyes in common? That we can hop? That some of us have hair on our toes? You also attempted to make a case for vegetarianism -- this is no different. While rabbits may live in holes, people have also done so for millennia.. dug-outs and caves, that doesn't make us rabbits. I'm not sure where you get 'grazing tendencies' from. Hobbits do not graze as a wild animal would. If you are referring to their love of food, I'd say that applies to a great many people.
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby redrobot » Wed Aug 24, 2016 5:08 am

The Professor' (as Tolkien is known by most of us) knew a bit (quite a bit) more about entomology


entomology is the study of insects. you mean etymology.

i understand that tolkien was a linguist, that he liked nordic and OE language. i also think the connection between a rabbit and a hobbit is stronger than the OE etymologies ive seen despite what tolkien himself said in denying the rabbit claim. maybe it's a little poetical but the word 'graze' has been used for people who eat a lot and while you say many people eat a lot with the hobbits it is institutional and constitutional - ref pippins complaint about aragorn denying him second breakfast
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby redrobot » Wed Aug 24, 2016 5:21 am

going back to the original title of this thread, what i was trying to illustrate is the big gap between our vision of the placid, genial hobbit and the necessary consequences of their carnivore way of life - the slitting of pigs' throats, the strangling of chickens and ducks, the blood all over the floor of the farmer's barn or the butcher's shop (hobbits dont seem to have shops). it's a contradiction which applies to our own reality. normal everyday people standing in line at the supermarket checkout with cartons of pink mince, chicken fillets, burgers and the like on the conveyor belt. the nicety thinly disguises some absolutely barbaric practice. we are really slavvering dogs in TK Maxx finery. i say 'we'. it doesnt actually apply to me. i'm vegan.
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby truehobbit » Wed Aug 24, 2016 6:19 am

What you are forgetting, however, that it is only you who have a problem with this. I can understand that it hurts your vegan sensitivities to think of slaughtering animals, and I would agree that too many people, who only know food from the supermarket, are unaware of where it actually comes from and ridiculously iffy in wanting to be kept in the dark, eating only meat that doesn't look like meat anymore etc.

For those of us with a more down-to-earth attitude to life, though, killing an animal for food is part of the whole big, messy give-and-take of the real world. The Hobbit world is NOT placid, idyllic, out-of-this-world or anything paradisical when it comes to the basics: it's every bit as gritty and rough in everyday life as the real world. Where it is somewhat better is in the lack of greed and ambition that Hobbits have compared to our world. This does make it look like a bit of Paradise to us. Also, we don't hear much of illnesses etc, which is indeed a bit of a euphemistic representation of any society. But otherwise, Hobbits are like pre-modern farmers (admittedly how we imagine them, but also how, I think, many actually were): doing their duty without asking questions, not asking undue things from life, and not thinking twice about wringing a chicken's neck if that means a nourishing dinner for the family. This is not messy or icky or 'barbaric' to anyone except people with modern inflated sensitivities.
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby redrobot » Wed Aug 24, 2016 6:26 am

inflated sensitivities


yes, i'm cultured

For those of us with a more down-to-earth attitude to life, though, killing an animal for food is part of the whole big, messy give-and-take of the real world.


this is the proud, self congratulatory myth of the callous and the glib. it is cruel to kill and farm animals. we dont need to do it. let's not do it. auden talked about 'necessary murder'. think about it.
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby redrobot » Wed Aug 24, 2016 6:34 am

The Hobbit world is NOT placid, idyllic


no, it's not. pig killing for bacon goes on somewhere. but that's beneath the surface. on the surface hobbiton is played out as idyllic. all that sweeping the doorstep, fireworks on birthdays, full larders, cute homes, cancer free pipe smoking, friendly neighbour stuff, sam and frodo's wistful rememberances of the shire is all there to offset the horrors of the orc armies. it is 'good' versus 'evil' and the fact that good likes to get drunk and steal from his neighbour is just the friendly foibles of the lovable hobbits. like hypocritical christians versus the muslim hordes.
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby siddharth » Wed Aug 24, 2016 7:07 am

The Shire is far from an idyllic place. It's just as gritty as some of the more well-off countrysides in Europe perhaps. The difference is only that Tolkien chose to focus on the resilient and optimistic nature of hobbits.
The Shire faced adversities such as the Days of Dearth, the Fell Winter, the Great Plague or the invasion of the White Wolves. Neither are they invulnerable to accidents - Frodo's parents themselves died drowning.

Neither are all hobbits simpletons, fluffy and kind. Ted Sandyman,Sackville-Bagginses, Smeagol and Deagol. All the other hobbits who talked about Bilbo being a crackpot behind his back. Hobbits have their goods and bads.
Sure, Tolkien chose to ignore descriptions of the meat and fish industries - were they important for the story? Nope. Were they important in defining hobbit-culture? Not really (since the majority of the world - this one as well as MIddle-earth - follows that. Men, Elves, dwarves - they are all non-vegetarians.)


this is the proud, self congratulatory myth of the callous and the glib. it is cruel to kill and farm animals. we dont need to do it. let's not do it.


In my opinion, despite their claims, I'm pretty sure there is not a single true vegan existing right now.
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby redrobot » Wed Aug 24, 2016 8:39 am

In my opinion, despite their claims, I'm pretty sure there is not a single true vegan existing right now.


i do quite well. the only compromised things are prescribed medication which may have been tested on animals and the incidental killing of wildlife during the agricultural process. does that negate my efforts? of course not. i havent eaten an animal or any animal product in a decade. i dont wear animal products. if people like you got out of the way my ability to become the absolute vegan you say i shd be wd be a whole lot easier.
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby RoseMorninStar » Wed Aug 24, 2016 9:21 am

I agree Sid. Studies have shown that plants feel pain and that trees communicate. Tolkien had a reverence for nature, trees in particular. I'm not certain that he could consider the harvesting of trees/plants 'superior' to the harvesting of animals. The Smithsonian channel has a fascinating series of videos on this subject.

I'm not sure if troll food is vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore, but in keeping with the subject of this thread, hobbits were omnivore no matter if it is found 'tiresome'. It's not unique to The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and Tolkien, it applies to most life, history, & stories.
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby redrobot » Wed Aug 24, 2016 10:29 am

the vegan argument is best done elsewhere. it can flame. i know who the animals wd vote for.
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby RoseMorninStar » Wed Aug 24, 2016 9:44 pm

Ents may disagree.

"I speak for the trees!" From the wisdom of Dr. Seuss (via the Lorax.)
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby siddharth » Thu Aug 25, 2016 2:32 am

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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby redrobot » Thu Aug 25, 2016 4:19 am

and i am scratching them off one by one as and when i find them. if you dont want to call me a vegan call me a progressive anti animal products individual. you are implying that i'm a hypocrite but if i cd stop animal slaughter today i would. killing animals is not necessary. some people just think it is because they like to think of themselves as realists.

you cd also say that it is not all my responsibility what i consume. if i need things to survive and society does not provide me with an animal friendly producy=t becaus eso many people dont care about animals, i either use the animal sourced product or dont survive. what do i do about the housing association supplied linoleum on my kitchen floor? the fertiliser used on my vegetables? in a totally hostile environment i can do so much without dying.
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Re: carnivore hobbits

Postby RoseMorninStar » Thu Aug 25, 2016 12:05 pm

Unfortunately (for hobbits or for ourselves) there is no easy answer for sustaining an ever growing (and in my humble opinion, too large) population; vegetarian, vegan, omnivore/opportunist, or obligate carnivores (like cats), it's part of life. An article I read this morning warned about the looming extinction of orangutans within 10 years due to deforestation caused by the demand for palm oil (a vegan product). Turning forests/natural habitats into farmland (or grazing land) pushing wild/native animal life to the fringes is nothing new.
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