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Vegans, Notables, Celebs and the Abolition of Suffering

Posted: Tue, October 30, 2012 | By: Joern Pallensen

I am about to write a few lines about veganism / vegetarianism, for two concrete reasons: I recently read an interview with English utilitarian philosopher and transhumanist, David Pearce, called Feeling groovy, forever.. - I knew a bit about him already, but it was time to google a bit.. – how else would I have a chance of understanding expressions like “utilitronium shocknawe” scenarios.. ?!

So did I find out ? –  I’m not quite sure..,   but I did discover - among others..  

that he – David Pearce – is a vegan, and since I’ve been a vegetarian myself for 38 years and was strictly vegan for about 10 years, it always pleases me when I hear about or meet other veg’ns. This was no exception, and I was inspired to take another look at one of the numerous lists of notable vegans / vegetarians.


Apart from Pamela Anderson, I have been delighted to see Leonardo Da Vinci, Charles Darwin (!!!), Issac Newton, Abraham Lincoln to name but a few on the list, – less pleased to see someone named A. Hitler listed.., but above all, I found it extremely amusing to see the name of none other than ex-World heavy-weight boxing Champion MIKE TYSON  !

That is when I thought to myself: wouldn’t it be fun to write a few lines and have Da Vinci and Tyson side by side..

Now, as with so many other ideas, this one was about to get stuck in my head, but then, – and this is my second concrete reason for writing this – an old friend sent me a video , “The Dairy Cow”, – (below).

Great, I thought to myself, that will be an easy post to write, – a few lines about Da Vinci, Tyson and maybe one or two others, throw the video in, provide a link or two, and you’re done..

“Problem” is though.. my mind has a habit of wandering off in all directions, and the simplest task becomes a headache. I reviewed the root-causes of suffering from various perspectives, –  religious, biological, existential.., (self-attachment, ignorance, karma, sin, angst..), – I reconsidered ways to abolish suffering, for my own sake and for the sake of all sentient beings, – I thought about the pleasure-pain axis in a biological perspective: should intelligent humans refrain from tampering with a system clearly tuned to our own survival..

In other words: Say it really is just a question of bio-chemistry: You had identified the molecular signatures of aversive experience  and were able to edit the relevant code out of the genome.. – should – and would  - you go for it ?

A voice in my head says: Give yourself a break, otherwise you’ll never finish writing this, and it is not required to know all the answers, – there is a lot you can do, and there is a lot you know you shouldn’t do..

Now watch these two videos, – the first showing our mistreatment – (to put it mildly !) – of the Dairy Cow, – the second explaining motives behind veganism.

If you are curious about Mike Tyson, you can easily check out his story for yourself. When it comes to Leonardo Da Vinci, it is not as easy. I have done a little research, and found this a very good article. It turns out that all we have is circumstantial evidence, to the effect that in claiming he was a vegetarian, one is “possibly to probably (although not definitively) correct“. The author dismisses any talk of Leonardo being a vegan, due to veganism being a lifestyle and not just a question of what you eat, and points to “what he wore and what he used to create art”, e.g.  ”he drew on vellum, which is the specially-tanned skin of calves, kids, and lambs“.

Anyway,  what about it.. – does it matter what notables and celebs do and don’t ? – Not really, – at the end of the day we all have to come to terms with our own conscience, – right ?

Leonardo Da Vinci is rumored by many to be the author of the following words, and.. although he almost certainly is not, is doesn’t really matter, does it? who the author actually is… the words are still so very true: 

“Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds theirs. We live by the death of others. We are burial places! I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I will look on the murder of animals as they look now on the murder of men.”


“Nothing more strongly arouses our disgust than cannibalism, yet we make the same impression on Buddhists and vegetarians, for we feed on babies, though not our own.” - Robert Louis Stevenson


This essay was originally published at Joern Pallensen’s website,, HERE

Additional Comments Below are by David Pearce:


...Flesh-eating is not H+, but H-. “Back to the Paleolithic” is not a transhumanist message - and inconsistent with a transhumanist commitment to the well-being of all sentience. But evolution “designed” male human primates to be hunters/warriors. So anyone adopting a strict vegan diet should mug up on nutrition to maximise emotional, physical and intellectual well-being. From a purely self-interested perspective, it _is_ safer to be a lazy meat-eater than a lazy vegan.

Here is a concrete example. How can we explain the fact some people report feeling psychologically healthier on a vegan diet whereas others feel more subdued? A typical meat-based diet has a higher protein content than a typical vegan diet. A high-protein, low-carb meal allows more neutral amino acid precursors of the activating catecholamine neurotransmitters dopamine and noradrenaline into the brain. By contrast, a high-carb meal sweeps competing amino acids out of the bloodstream and allow more l-tryptophan into the brain: l-tryptophan is the rate-limiting step in the production of serotonin. _If_ you’re the kind of person who does well on a high-protein diet, and generally prefers uppers to downers, then one can still lead a cruelty-free vegan lifestyle and enjoy an arbitrarily high protein content to one diet: the food selection involved just takes a bit of effort. Of course, other people feel healthier and calmer when they go vegan (cf. )

….Can one safely be a “lazy” vegan and focus exclusively on other issues? IMO studying optimal nutrition is likely to make one more cognitively effective in doing whatever one cares most about.

However, let’s consider the “lazy” option. If you worry that you might be one of those folk who does best on an extremely high-protein diet, then simply buy tubs of protein isolate from your nearest health food store and sprinkle the protein isolate on everything. You can thereby enjoy a higher protein intake than the most rampant meat-eater. My reservation in suggesting this course is that it implies some vegans can flourish only on pills and potions - whereas a “natural” high-protein (gourmet) vegan diet is feasible too:



One reason eating meat is near-universal is that peer pressure, familial pressure, is enormous. If we bring our own bags of food to Holiday gatherings and say:

“I brought my vegan main course
organic steamed vegetables
mashed potatoes w/ vegan gravy
and dessert sweetened with fruit juice.”

Hosts might well see it as rejecting their tastes, their hospitality, even perhaps them. They might think:

‘then eat at some other godammed house, a vegan one if it’s so goddamned important to you’

[over] Reactions are unpredictable yet all too predictable!

By Alan Brooks on Dec 02, 2012 at 9:30pm

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