Biodiesel: A new dilemma for vegetarians

Biodiesel is safer for the environment because it produces lower emissions and is made from renewable sources, say supporters. But the snag for morally motivated vegetarians is that those renewable sources can include cows, pigs, and chickens.

Biodiesel is an alternative to petroleum diesel and can be used to power cars, trucks, and buses. It is usually made from soy bean oil but can also be made from beef tallow, pork lard, and chicken grease. According to Render Magazine, animal fats may be a cheaper and better raw material than soy bean oil.

So not only will morally squeamish green consumers worry about whether the soy product in their tank is genetically modified, but they will also worry about whether they have contributed to the suffering of animals.

David G. B. Boocock, professor of chemical engineering at the University of Toronto, has suggested making biodiesel from ‘mad cows.’ According to Boocock, the spread of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, or mad cow disease) has left many countries with cow carcasses they are unable to use. Render Magazine is already assuring the public that "The possibility that humans could develop vCJD from the use of biodiesel is extremely small"

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Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

What about Aboriginal petrol sniffers?

wmmbb
2022 years ago

Don:
I assume you are not a vegetarian?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Come to think of it, this idea lends a whole new dimension to those old Esso ads that said “put a tiger in your tank”.

wbb
wbb
2022 years ago

Don – that is an incredibly difficult post to parse. And I don’t think it’s merely the late hour.

Is this a dadaist commentary on the culture wars?

If it’s some sort of semi-sincere dig at vegetarians then it’s pretty weak. A fuel engineeer might also note that biodiesel could also be made from the carcasses of recently deceased human beings.

A polemical rhetorician might extrapolate that thought to narrow down the class of rdhbs to inflammatorily consist of human beings deceased in politically controversial ways. The effect would then be to take a semi-sincere dig at pro-this’s and pro-thats.

A most un-Arthturian post. Whence sprang the animus?

Ken – you seem to be pissed as well.

Manas
2022 years ago

Um, Ken – What the?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

wbb

No I wasn’t pissed, although I’d had a couple of cleansing Tooheys Olds. Like you, I figured Don was probably getting at something subtle, but I couldn’t work out what it was. So I decided to adopt a crass persona instead. Being deliberately oblique invites that sort of response as the only real alternative to bafflement if your attempt to tease out subtleties fails.

And Manas, the petrol sniffing comment was VERY seriously intended. When you live in Darwin, you witness this dreadful, brain-damaging phenomenon very frequently. It’s depressingly widespread in the Aboriginal community (although not strictly confined to it). Even if there is a credible research basis for “Render” magazine assuring readers of the improbability of infection with Mad Cow Disease from “biodiesel” (apparently they injected it into the brain of a mouse!), I’ll wager they weren’t thinking about a large population of people who deliberately inhale the fumes in large volumes on a daily basis to get stoned.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Mind you, I’ve got no idea whether it would be possible to get stoned from “biodiesel” fumes (you certainly can’t from ordinary diesel AFAIK), but it would be a very good idea to find out before introducing the stuff, because you can guarantee some people will have a crack at it.

Dan
Dan
2022 years ago

Of course, ethical vegetarians like me would have no particular problem with ex-mad cows being used for fuel, since doing that would contribute nothing to their suffering. Come to that, I’d have no particular problem with human carcasses either (and let’s face it, if this obesity epidemic keeps up, we’ll be able to power the whole globe with processed spare tyres), although I acknowledge that it might not be politically saleable.

Oh, and the only bit of this post I object to is “morally squeamish”. And the conflating of GM concerns with animal suffering concerns, speaking as one who has the latter but not the former.

wbb
wbb
2022 years ago

I was pissed. Hece understood neither Don’s gentle satire nor Ken’s reference at all. Brain nearly back in gear – enough to admit my error anyway.

Andrew Bartlett
2022 years ago

I assumed Don’s post was just some mild whimsy, so I wasn’t going to get worked up about it, but like Dan I thought the “morally squeamish” description was unreasonable – there’s nothing ‘squeamish’ about the ethical arguments.

… and never admit your error, wbb! You’ll be assumed guilty of every other allegation anyone feels like making about you.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

I didn’t assume Don was “parsing” anything, but just providing a report on some dilemmas.

I suppose the squeamish word might be a bit misleading, but I thought it was a back handed word association based on the idea that the concept of using dead cows for fuel makes squeamish people like me feel a bit ikky.

What makes me really feel ikky is the concept of a magazine called “Render”. A bit like a friend of mine who was a journalist and a punk musician who got a job in New Zealand for the “Meat Weekly”. At first we thought it could have been a trade journal or a music mag, though when we got sober, the answer was a bit obviously sad. “Prices for fat lambs sent farmers gambolling in their paddocks this week as…”