IEET > Vision > Bioculture > Contributors > Joern Pallensen > HealthLongevity
Vegans, notables, celebs and the abolition of suffering
Joern Pallensen   Apr 3, 2012   Trans Humanisten  

I am about to write a few lines about veganism / vegetarianism.  There are two concrete reasons: A week ago I read an IEET 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.”

Joern Pallensen studied psychology at University of Copenhagen and has had a lifelong interest in philosophy of mind, in particular ontology of self. He blogs at He was introduced to IEET when he was interviewed for the 2011 article, "Happiness, Freedom, Equality, Rudeness - welcome to Denmark!"


“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)

Stories of healing and “just” feeling better, physically as well as mentally, as a result of a Vegan diet, appear frequently, and do take note of the video with none other than Bill Clinton, whom I should also have mentioned.

I was wondering.. what do Mormons eat.. - (I take it you can figure out why that came to mind..)

I saw an interview with George Dvorsky, who WAS a Vegan, but became a Paleo “Caveman”, resulting in increased strength and energy-level. A most interesting personal story, but so far I haven’t heard any similar stories.. - I guess I’ll have to check that out.., not that I would dream of trying it myself..

“I saw an interview with George Dvorsky, who WAS a Vegan, but became a Paleo “Caveman”, resulting in increased strength and energy-level.”



But seriously, how can you ever “go back” to eating the flesh of animals? What excuse is there really?

it’s all me, me, me, me, me!



Indeed. 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. )

However, as CygnusX1 points out, obsessive self-monitoring can make one to lose sight of an unimaginably worse source of ill-being in our factory farms and slaughterhouses.

OK I’m hereby announcing the Wicks Challenge: kudos to anyone who can finally convince me to turn vegan.

I’ve thought about it for a while, even experimented briefly (until my wife, friends and doctor ganged up and told me I was getting dangerously thin), but fear the protein deficiency of “lazy veganism” and/or distraction from issues that are more immediately important to me.

Call me selfish, a cannibal, regressive or whatever, as you will…...or alternatively, try to find effective ways to convince me 😊

@ Peter Wicks

you won’t hear any complaints from me 😊.  Oh, and sorry for not responding to your posts on the posthuman brain thread, I’ve been backed up with college work.

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: the Wicks Challenge. 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:

Thanks David! That’s three good suggestions there (read up on optimal nutrition,get some protein isolate, look at Might well follow up on some of these!

@Christian 😊

I am certain that the seven deadly things can be overcome and it heartens me to see others who agree.
My formula: plenty of raw vegan nutrition with plenty of hydration, the best most affordable supplement regime, plenty of superfoods, regular cleanses through scientific partial fasts, long term chelation with agents such as edta (rectal), zeolyte and fulvic acid (oral), and regular gentle exercise to stretch the mitochondria, with as much rest and recreation as possible. I am sure there are lots of things i have missed that you can suggest for me to consider adopting as well. It’s like coming home somewho to finally make the connection with this network. John Green.

YOUR COMMENT Login or Register to post a comment.

Next entry: Bill Clinton became a vegan, lost 24 pounds, and healed himself

Previous entry: Anne Frank, Risk Assessment, and Israel’s Foreign Policy