Don't Eat Anything With A Face

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Food FinalCleanWeb Illustration by Thomas James

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

According to a 2009 poll, around 1% of American adults reported eating no animal products. In 2011 that number rose to 2.5%--more than double, but still dwarfed by the 48% who reported eating meat, fish or poultry at all of their meals. In this country, most of us are blessed with an abundance of food and food choices. So taking into account our health, the environment and ethical concerns, which diet is best? Are we or aren't we meant to be carnivores?

  • Barnard 90


    Dr. Neal Barnard

    Clinical Researcher & Author, 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart

  • Gene Baur official 90px final


    Gene Baur

    President and Co-Founder, Farm Sanctuary

  • Masterjohn official 90


    Chris Masterjohn

    Nutritional Sciences Researcher & Blogger, The Daily Lipid

  • Salatin 90


    Joel Salatin

    Farmer & Author

    • Moderator Image


      John Donvan

      Author & Correspondent for ABC News

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Barnard 90

For The Motion

Dr. Neal Barnard

Clinical Researcher & Author, 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart

Neal Barnard, M.D., is Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., who guides numerous clinical trials investigating the effects of diet on body weight, chronic pain, and diabetes. Barnard’s most recent study of dietary interventions in type 2 diabetes was funded by the National Institutes of Health. He has authored dozens of scientific publications, 15 books for lay readers, and has hosted three PBS television programs on nutrition and health, ranging from weight loss to Alzheimer’s prevention. As President and Founder of the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Barnard has been instrumental in efforts to reform federal dietary guidelines. He also leads programs advocating for preventive medicine, good nutrition, and higher ethical standards in research.

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Gene Baur official 90px final

For The Motion

Gene Baur

President and Co-Founder, Farm Sanctuary

Gene Baur, President and Co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, has been hailed as “the conscience of the food movement” by Time magazine. Since the mid-1980s, Gene has traveled extensively, campaigning to raise awareness about the abuses of industrialized factory farming and our system of cheap food production. His book, Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food (2008), a national bestseller, is a thought-provoking investigation of the ethical questions surrounding beef, poultry, pork, milk, and egg production. It describes what each of us can do to promote compassion and help stop the systematic mistreatment of the billions of farm animals who are exploited for food in the United States every year.

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Masterjohn official 90

Against The Motion

Chris Masterjohn

Nutritional Sciences Researcher & Blogger, The Daily Lipid

Chris Masterjohn pursued a career in health and nutrition after recovering from health problems he developed as a vegan by including high-quality, nutrient-dense animal foods in his diet. He earned a PhD in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Connecticut in 2012 and currently researches the physiological interactions between fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He has published six peer-reviewed publications and has submitted one manuscript for review. He also writes two blogs. The first, The Daily Lipid, is hosted on his web site, Cholesterol-And-Health.Com. The second, Mother Nature Obeyed, is hosted by the Weston A. Price Foundation at The opinions expressed in this debate are his own and do not necessarily represent the positions of the University of Illinois.

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Salatin 90

Against The Motion

Joel Salatin

Farmer & Author

Joel Salatin is a full-time farmer in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. A third generation alternative farmer, he returned to the farm full-time in 1982 and continued refining and adding to his parents’ ideas. The farm services more than 5,000 families, 10 retail outlets, and 50 restaurants through on-farm sales and metropolitan buying clubs with salad bar beef, pastured poultry, eggmobile eggs, pigaerator pork, forage-based rabbits, pastured turkey, and forestry products, using relationship marketing. Salatin holds a BA degree in English and writes extensively in magazines such as Stockman Grass Farmer, Acres USA, and Foodshed. He is the author of eight books, including Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer's Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World (2012). The family’s farm, Polyface Inc., achieved iconic status as the grass farm featured in the new New York Times bestseller The Omnivore’s Dilemma, by food writer guru Michael Pollan, and the award-winning documentary film Food Inc.

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Declared Winner: For The Motion

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Voting Breakdown:

59% voted the same way in BOTH pre- and post-debate votes (19% voted FOR twice, 36% voted AGAINST twice, 5% voted UNDECIDED twice). 41% changed their minds (2% voted FOR then changed to AGAINST, 3% voted FOR then changed to UNDECIDED, 12% voted AGAINST then changed to FOR, 4% voted AGAINST then changed to UNDECIDED, 15% voted UNDECIDED then changed to FOR, 5% voted UNDECIDED then changed to AGAINST)*breakdown for those voting the same way twice adds to 60% due to rounding | Breakdown Graphic

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    • Comment Link Robin Wednesday, 27 April 2016 19:35 posted by Robin

      In response to the so-called ethical omnivore, Lana Salant, there is an obvious flaw in your logic. A 1200 pound cow eat 24 to 30 pounds of grains, corn products or other foods that rats love to invade every single day. I don't know about you, but I have yet to see a human who consumes that much grain on a daily basis. In addition, the land needed to feed organically raised cows for human consumption is unsustainable. This is of course according to the United States Department of Agriculture (but I'm sure you know more Lana Salant). In addition to the millions of acres of rainforest (over 40% is now gone) and other lands that are cleared of oxygen giving trees and plants, it takes thousands of gallons of water to produce even a pound of beef. Studies indicate that the average meat eater consumes over 4000 gallons a day (this accounts for crop irrigation, drinking water, cleaning the animals, etc.) when you count in the costs for meat production, whereas a vegan only consumes 300 gallons in the same time frame. Energy consumption is through the roof when it comes to "livestock." The cost to house the 60 billion animals we eventually murder for food each year is staggering. To top it all off, more and more countries are choosing the Americanized diet, which means they are consuming more animal products. The cost is environmental destruction, rampant disease, human starvation, horrific animal cruelty, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, and overall climate change. The worst part of this though is the myth of humane murder. There is no such thing as humane killing. If you pet an animal and then kill it, do you think it suffers less? Murder is murder. And this idea that we need to breed livestock animals to maintain the balance in our soil is absolute bunk. The earth has been around for 4.5 million years, and humans have only been on the planet for a few hundred thousand at best. We have not made it better, but have destroyed it with every poor decision we make. So people, if you are swayed by her flowery words and seemingly educated knowledge base, please think again. She is wrong. People who continue to eat meat are wrong. It is not only cruel and unjust to use other species as a commodity, but it is unsustainable practice that we no longer need in a world where we have access to so many other food sources.

    • Comment Link EdFaulkes Saturday, 02 January 2016 09:33 posted by EdFaulkes

      Bloodletting, whether of humans, animals, insects or fish - is wrong.

      The dinosaurs were wiped out because they became too greedy and they were not, by whatever power exists up there, wanted life to evolve into. Unfortunately, it looks like we are headed that way again.

      Blood is blood. Its colour is red because it serves as a warning sign when it is spilled.

      You cannot say you were not warned.

    • Comment Link Peter Tuesday, 27 October 2015 12:07 posted by Peter

      We all have known for years that high amount of process meat diet is bad for you. It is all about moderation.

      The research on how diet affects health, the research on the link between meat and cancer has enough ambiguity that it’s possible to cherry-pick a research list that supports either position.

      What we have is a classic ivory-tower mentality: a group of academics who hole up in a room, make proclamations to the world, and ignore the chaos that consistently ensues.

      The best explanation to the WHO's findings and one that is not so lopsided can be seen here.

      Will I change my diet to not eat meat? No, not really. I will probably cut out hot dogs, sausages, and hams; as those tend to be the mostly highly processed and contains much more contaminates. I feel my diet is balanced with vegetables, fruits, and organic meat. I also stay active and workout daily and minimize my sitting down to periods of no more than an hour.

    • Comment Link Raghunatha R Thursday, 22 October 2015 08:48 posted by Raghunatha R

      Science Tells us only after invention of Fire as means of cooking food, humans started eating unnatural food , including meat. Before that humans were primarily vegetarian and some insect eaters. All animals on this planet eat only natural and uncooked food, except humans who have become unnatural animals on this planet.

    • Comment Link shanavaz Sunday, 04 October 2015 23:00 posted by shanavaz

      Humans and pre-humans have been eating meat for millions of years. Most chronic, Western diseases are relatively new.

      The heart disease epidemic started around 1930, while type 2 diabetes started increasing rapidly in the late 20th century. Cancer has also been on the rise for many decades.

      Vegans like to blame meat and animal foods for these health problems.

      However… meat is an old food and these health problems are relatively new. Blaming new health problems on old foods makes absolutely no sense.

      Our bodies are well adapted to meat consumption and we are perfectly capable of making full use of the nutrients found in meat.

    • Comment Link Cynthia Xerogianes Sunday, 27 September 2015 13:52 posted by Cynthia Xerogianes

      Proof? The only proof I need is knowing that I am not participating nor supporting the misery torture nor cruelty of any innocent sentient. Vegan for going on three+ years, I have never felt or looked better nothing tastes as good as cruelty free feels and that's all the proof I need.

    • Comment Link philipcs Monday, 08 December 2014 23:01 posted by philipcs

      Do not eat anything that has survival mechanism , they simply want to live...

    • Comment Link kat Wednesday, 03 December 2014 23:32 posted by kat

      I am an american and I am close friends with a farm family who raises chickens for their eggs, raises pigs and cattle for pork and beef they raise them from babies and butcher them and package them into their freezer to feed their family through out the year. maybe most people dont want to take and live off the land but there are those who do it to survive.

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    • Comment Link Sander Gusinow Thursday, 29 May 2014 00:38 posted by Sander Gusinow

      My father was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin ten years ago. The doctors told him he would need chemotherapy in three years, again in eight years, and his average life expectancy would be twelve years.

      He switched to a whole foods, plant based diet after seeing 'Forks over Knives.' We as a family were upset. We loved meat and ate it almost every meal.

      My father is thriving, and has not needed chemotherapy even once. At this rate he could live to be a hundred. I was highly skeptical until I saw the results. I decided to become vegetarian.

      It was hard for me. I had always been the one quick to point out that 'vegetarian' was a Native American word for 'Bad Hunter.' After many attempts I realized how addicted I was to meat. Eventually I cut out everything but fish. Now I'm full-on veg and feeling better than ever.

      I'm an extremely skeptical person. I have subscription to Skeptic Magazine AND Scientific American. But I can't fault the science or the results. Go veg. It's difficult, I know. You, like me, are addicted to meat. When you eat it, it dulls your taste to other flavors. Trust me though, it's well, well, well worth the investment.

      Also, pretty much all non-rodent mammals are sentient. (And I'm not counting out rats and non-mammals by any means) So if you are a moral person who thinks that we should treat sentient Aliens morally, if follows we should treat animals the same way.

    • Comment Link Will Egan Friday, 02 May 2014 10:47 posted by Will Egan

      To EJ Diaz,
      You're arguments are even more invalid than those you try to revoke. To your point that everything has carcinogens, that is like saying that the sun and an enriched rod of uranium-235 have the same effect on your health because their both radioactive, the point is meat has far MORE carcinogens which lead to the health concerns mentioned in the debate such as heart disease. Also there is adequate scientific evidence to support that arterial degradation occurs based on meat consumption that factored in other variables like overall diet. Also veganism has been documented as early as the 5th century A.D. practices by yogis in China, who thrived based on the diet despite their ethnic differences between the contemporary Anglo-Saxon descendants who adopted the practice. Also reinvention of a dietary practice is anti-evolutionary? Would you also say that the polar bears change in diet faced with shrinking ice caps is also anti-evolutionary, because I think you might not know what evolution is.

    • Comment Link EJ Diaz Wednesday, 09 April 2014 03:52 posted by EJ Diaz

      It was an enlightening debate.

      Here's what I learned about the vegan position in contrast to the omnivore position:

      Close-minded: Inherent in the title is "[no one] should eat anything with a face". There's no room for omnivores.
      Anti-evolution: Imposing a one-diet-fits-all model even though it is unnatural for our evolutionary system based on

      VARIATION. Yet, with no historical or anthropological evidence, the vegans assume that all peoples everywhere will

      have the same nutritional needs genetically. Wishful thinking.
      Ethno-centric: Not every culture has access to the vast array of pills, powders and produce that wealthy westerners

      take for granted.
      Weak science: Fallacy's abound! Avoid meat because it has carcinogenic elements? Bollocks. False-dichotomy.

      Carcinogens are everywhere. Toast is carcinogenic! The question is, do the benefits of a particular food/diet

      outweigh the carcinogens that you will ingest regardless? And that overly-simplistic blame-meat story of the

      patient with bad arteries, not a word about his overall diet. Interesting. Also, no historical/anthropological

      evidence that veganism even works long-term because there has been no documented culture that has ever been purely

      vegan for generations. And there are no farming methods of significance to point to either, unless you count the 2

      vegan farms mentioned, the older one having been around for a mere 3 decades. *sigh* No tangible, long-term working

      models; only theories.

      This shoddy evidence seems more an excuse to simply promote their ethic, "killing animals is wrong". Of course it's

      noble, but this is not a position empirically provable with science. It is ultimately a BELIEF.

      So ...

      In short, the vegans use weak scientific arguments to promote a belief system that is ultimately close-minded,

      anti-evolution and ethno-centric.

      WOAH! Is it just me or does that sound familiar?

      I don't know what's more alarming, that such faulty belief systems get a pass, or that they were able to convert

      the audience with their rhetoric and come away the winners in the debate (even though the opposition had an open-

      minded, pro-evolution, non-ethnocentric position with solid current, historical and anthropological evidence: a

      working model farm based on millennia of farming tradition, Weston Price's multicultural research highlighting the

      benefits of an omnivore diet, and an ethic that treats animals as sacred in the harmonious way of the Native


      An enlightening debate, indeed.

    • Comment Link dara wedel Sunday, 06 April 2014 22:06 posted by dara wedel

      Compassion is delicious! FOR THE MOTION!! xxx

    • Comment Link Nathan Friday, 14 March 2014 14:22 posted by Nathan

      The research the vegetarians presented are false. Meat does not cause heart disease as proof that I am a paleo dieter, eat meat at every meal, eat lots of butter and cheese, and yet I lose weight AND have reduced my cholesterol levels.

      The studies mentioned did not take into account carbohydrate intake, which causes inflammation.

    • Comment Link Jan Friday, 14 March 2014 13:02 posted by Jan

      I grew up in South America, Buenos Aires, and as it is a huge meat eating country, so did we eat dead corpses which would be barbecued on the huge grill under our pool I never thought anything of it well into my older years... I became veggie in my 30's but still did not see the link that animals have souls, have the same organs, blood, feelings, emotions etc as we do. It's only by seeing films like and meet your meat, and listening to Phillip Wollen that helps educate one towards a more compassionate way of living.... to me a dog is a cat is a cow is a chicken, all animals feel pain, and as ex rancher The Mad Cowboy Howard Lyman turned vegan says... Sure, certain methods of production are more ‘humane’ than others, but never forget, there’s no such thing as humane slaughter. I never saw an animal clicking its heels going to the slaughterhouse, saying, “Yippee, skippy, I’m going to be a McDonald’s burger tomorrow!” There is always fear in their eyes. They know exactly what’s going to happen"... Giving up meat or cutting it down is kinder all round as mostly everyone is beginning to learn these days!

    • Comment Link josh Wednesday, 12 March 2014 03:59 posted by josh

      Dr. Barnard and Mr. Salatin provided the better arguments of the night, however I was not swayed from any party. We kill local plants when we mass farm, therefore ecologically we are morally corrupt. We can not study all human life and diet, so any study could and should only pertain to the United States, and the ethnic diversity would still be an issue. To be truly Vegan, moral, and sustainable we would need to eat localized plant life only. True, maybe we should not all eat meat, but at the same time NO ONE has the perfect diet and we all are different.

    • Comment Link craig castanet Thursday, 06 March 2014 21:56 posted by craig castanet

      absolutely brilliant carnivores. beautiful, rational argument by darwin's top tier species. like it or not, we're at the top of the food chain.

      social justice? oh, you're in that crazy crowd. imagining injustices, usually, to justify stealing taxpayer property. it always boils down to justification for stealing private property, or blaming someone else for someone else's lot in life.

      i have respect for my ancestors- they ate meat and we evolved bigger brains and smaller guts.

    • Comment Link Meena Tuesday, 04 March 2014 20:03 posted by Meena

      I am encouraged by some of the comments, and I'm also saddened by others. "wow" said to "let the human animal live the way it evolved to"? This same person argued that superior intellect came from eating meat. The sentence he wrote did not even make sense or make a complete thought.

      Quite honestly, I came to this debate with an open mind. Clearly, the side for the motion was better prepared with science and evidence, and presented a much clearer and stronger case for the motion. There was little question in my mind that you could make a case that eating other animals was healthier for you, and no there is absolutely no doubt. Do a little research outside this debate, ask your doctor, read the resources available. All point to a meat free diet.

    • Comment Link Tim Friday, 28 February 2014 01:08 posted by Tim

      Very interesting debate. I came in believing that a vegan diet can and is a very healthy diet and I believe that one day I will switch to it. But I feel that the work that Joel Salatin was over looked by those arguing in favor of the proposition. I like the philosophy of his farm and approach, building his farm around an ecosystem and wish there were more studies around the overall impact of his ecosystem solution on the environment and human health. I was not overly persuaded by Gene, he kept correctly pointing out that most of our meat comes from factory farms but then compared that with local organic produce where most of our vegetables do not come from. Both sides made points but weren't always arguing the same thing.

    • Comment Link C.R.MacDonald Wednesday, 26 February 2014 09:07 posted by C.R.MacDonald

      Great job from all participants, including the moderator. Great to see both sides represented well and personally, I'm pleased that the majority of the people sided with the Vegan argument. It's difficult to debate against the motion on the health, environmental, and ethical positions of Veganism. This was an enjoyable debate.

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