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 calpsu Tuesday, 17 December 2013 01:22 posted by calpsu

      It seems to me that one day our society will evolve and look back at the way we so cruelly inflicted pain, torment and suffering on these animals, who did nothing to deserve this but be born. We live in a society of double standards. Why would eat a pig but not a dog? Pigs are just as socially intelligent as dogs but look at how they are butchered by humans. They have so much capacity to love. One day, I am optimistic we will look back and realize how foolish we were. This is like slavery in the new era where we murder our best friends - for what? Just for something that tastes good? Well, really it does not taste good knowing how much suffering happened to get that food on your plate.

    • Comment Link Daved Wachsman Monday, 16 December 2013 17:23 posted by Daved Wachsman

      VEGCON means "VEGetarian CONscious" VEGCONISM is "The Conscious Choice By Changing Hearts To Changed Minds" Vegconism is the practice of REDUCING animal pain,suffering and death by consciously choicing products that do not contain animal products or by products by reading the labels and eliminating all flesh foods, dairy and eggs. However; there are hundreds of products that contain animal products and by-products to unsuspecting consumers that are not labelled on the ingredients. Commercial and Industrial products we use in the home or office, food products that contain animal by products that are impossible for a consumer who calls themself a so-called vegan cannot excape. That is the difference between VEGCONISM and veganism. Vegconism REDUCES animal pain,suffering and death knowing full well that it is impossible to do so 100% as oppossed to veganism which think they can but impossible to do so in the real world. Therefore, there is no such person as a vegan and there is no such practice as veganism but VEGCONISM there is real true substinent value where as veganism coined by don watson of England back in 1944 which watson used the first 3 and last 2 letters of vegetarian, so what? but VEGCON and VEGCONISM and the above quote authored by Daved Wachsman are words that have substinent value and offers a more common approach to a vegetarian way of life.

    • Comment Link Lydia Stone Monday, 16 December 2013 15:25 posted by Lydia Stone

      It is never a surprise to me when those defending killing animals for food do so in an aggressive and mean spirited manner. That farmer was sarcastic and rude in his arguments. Of course, he kills animals for a living. Even the other guy had to be warned not to engage in personal attacks. His assertion that veganism leads to more incidences of mental health issues than with meat eaters was the most ridiculous argument I have ever heard.

      Gene and Neal were calm and respectful and used facts to support their arguments. The audience results clearly proved that well reasoned arguments delivered by intelligent and reasonable people will win the day.

    • Comment Link D. M. K Monday, 16 December 2013 15:07 posted by D. M. K

      Personally, I think that the vegan/vegetarian diet is a much better one because of several reasons:
      -There are too many people on this planet
      -A huge proportion of these people eat animals
      -These animals consume 70% of crops grown for their death
      -We live in a world where most of our food is processed
      (did you know about meat being sterilized with ammonia?)
      -We could cut down on meat production
      ->so that we can decrease world hunger which everyone complains about
      -There are people that generally eat too much and others too little
      -We are all suited to different diets because we have evolved in such a way that we're all unique
      -Meats take longer to digest because they contain long strains of proteins, which the body needs to use extra energy to break down into amino acids
      ->These are not overly healthy
      -Meat is believed to be the cause of many diseases because
      >we process it
      >it is the carcass of an animal which may have mutated
      >it changes the DNA, which is likely to trigger cancer
      :Moral Issues: (I didn't know what to call this title)
      -Animals have emotions
      -They are intelligent beings (yes, even chickens)
      -They do not want to die
      -The fact that they're cooped together in worse conditions than bottles of wine goes to show that we do not care for their wellbeing
      -Putting them in organic conditions doesn't make it better
      ->you're still killing them in order to satisfy your gluttony
      -Many human beings, even those with a greater demand for energy receive much more beneficial results from the no meat diet.
      -I am one of those people

      Have a good day

    • Comment Link patti Monday, 16 December 2013 13:53 posted by patti

      For people that are meat eaters, go to a dietician and they will educate you on what to eat to get proper nutrition. You have to educate yourselves. If you want to stay obese, take meds, have diabetes, gerd, acid reflux, than continue to eat meat and dairy. It was basically killing my body.....I felt like i was dying, until I found a doctor who actually cared and educated me on food. Within a week I felt better and had more energy.....It is all in your diet, If you don't believe it, then you will get sicker day by day. Vegans don't have high blood pressure, chlosterol and all the other problems that meat and dairy eaters do. That is a FACT....your life is what you make of it. And to eat tortured, abused, downed animals, you are putting that in your body. It is disgusting and morally wrong. Thank you Gene Bauer and Neil Bernard for all your expertise and knowledge, and all you do for our wonderful animals. You rock.

    • Comment Link Kravu Pārvadājumi Sunday, 15 December 2013 14:39 posted by Kravu Pārvadājumi

      I don't eat meat for two years now and I'm feeling great.

    • Comment Link Michael Walkup Thursday, 12 December 2013 09:47 posted by Michael Walkup

      I think you have to look at human evolution to answer this question. Ruminants have four stomachs so they can digest plants by breaking down the cellulose in the cell walls. They also have specially designed teeth for really chewing the plants. Carnivores have much smaller digestive systems and their teeth are not designed for extensive chewing.

      Chimpanzees, with whom we share about 95% of our DNA, eat primarily fruits which have less cellulose in the cell walls as they are designed to break down and release the seeds contained within. Chimps and other apes have about a 30% larger digestive system than humans adjusted for size.

      Humans evolved as apes that were forced out of the jungle into the savanna. There is not a lot of fruit in that environment so they had to eat much more meat. Probably they scavenged dead animals. Their free upper extremities would have allowed them to break open skulls for the brains and break large bones for the marrow, both of which are the most nutritious parts of the carcass and cannot be accessed by other predators and scavengers. Therefore, early humans could have just waited around for all of the dangerous predators to finish eating and then go in and get the leftovers.

      It is estimated that meat accounted for the majority of the diet of early humans, and that period of our evolution extended for about 6 million years. The ten thousand year history of agriculture was not enough time for any significant changes to occur in our digestive systems, although Europeans have developed the ability to use milk as adults and most people can digest grain products. Nevertheless, gluten sensitivity is on the rise which may reflect more awareness of the inability of some to process grains and hence more diagnosis of that condition.

      Overweight people and those with genetically high cholesterol counts could probably benefit from vegan diets as they will fill themselves up with plants that mostly pass through their systems undigested. However, others are probably better off with a balanced diet of meat and other foods, especially if the animals are raised on pasture.

      At my farm we raise heritage chickens and turkey which are fed certified organic feed. It is a lot more expensive to raise them but you get what you pay for.

    • Comment Link Nancy Distler Thursday, 12 December 2013 08:44 posted by Nancy Distler

      For not eating anything with eyes or a mother. The way animals are farmed in this day and age is so very cruel. They suffer a life of misery, filth, and a cruel slaughter. There are just too many people for us to all eat meat. Everything is factory farmed and not healthy because the world is trying to feed to many people. Change is needed and if things don't change then I fear it will be the end for us and our planet. It is a blood=bath out there for animals. Way too much cruelty. Humans have become non human and lost their compassion. With out compassion and accepting so much cruelty, it only stands to reason we are doomed.

    • Comment Link Eric Winter Wednesday, 11 December 2013 18:59 posted by Eric Winter

      They had a similar argument in 1860 -- should black people be held as slaves, or should they not?

      Nowadays we don't care what the pro-slavery idiots said -- they were idiots. There is no pro-slavery argument.

      Today many people are also aware that there is also no counter-argument to veganism. (Watch "The Greatest Speech You Will Ever Hear" by Gary Yourovsky).

      If you currently feel there IS a counter-argument to veganism, you won't admit this in 20 years time. (Just like today you won't admit that 20 years ago you thought all gays were perverts.)

    • Comment Link Eng Wednesday, 11 December 2013 11:47 posted by Eng

      The arrogance of the moral position on "not eating anything with a face" is staggering.

      You would arbitrarily place a higher value on life which has a form and experience more similar to yours and place a lower value on life which has a form and experience different from yours. You would say one form of life is ok to kill and eat without guilt and another is not.

      You would deny your equal position in the ecology of the planet to that of a bean sprout or a worm because you have arbitrarily defined your own central nervous system and sensory organs and cognition as special or important enough to place you outside of it. You imagine special responsibilities for yourself because of this imagined special position, you choose forms of abstinence from your evolved place in the ecosystem as a form sacrament for your moral philosophy. This moral philosophy is simply another presentation of the spirituality of self-worship.

      Maybe this is what you need to do to feel personally fulfilled. Then do it and be happy. But, just like other evangelicals engaged in self-worship disguised as moral philosophy, you feel compelled to make others like you to validate your feelings. Just like young earth creationists and intelligent designers, you deny evolution, you deny that humankind is mundane, you cherry pick studies and anecdotes, you use the language of science to describe philosophy, you attempt to obfuscate the broad variation in lifestyles, genetic makeup, and complexity of the real world and environment, all to persuade others to be more like you.

    • Comment Link Trae Palmer Wednesday, 11 December 2013 10:10 posted by Trae Palmer

      Hey, I think that's Victoria Moran I see in the background at 01:08:15...I love her podcast !

    • Comment Link Damian Stoy Tuesday, 10 December 2013 12:38 posted by Damian Stoy

      I've been vegan for 9 years. I run 100 miles races competitively and have perfect health. Not a single issue, no injuries, no headaches, no digestive issues. 7 months ago I went to a diet of JUST fruits and veggies and I am THRIVING. The key is eating lots.

    • Comment Link Natalie Tuesday, 10 December 2013 04:36 posted by Natalie

      For those of you who say a vegan diet is unhealthy:

      Any diet (vegan or non-vegan) can by unhealthy if not done properly. Just because someone is vegan does not mean they are eating only processed sugar, corn, soy, etc. Many vegans are whole food vegans, meaning they only eat fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grains (not the processed stuff). If you eat a balanced diet of plant-based food, you can obtain all the nutrients you need, including vitamin B12. Even the ADA has stated that a vegan diet, if done properly, can be perfectly healthy.

    • Comment Link Natalie Tuesday, 10 December 2013 04:22 posted by Natalie

      To Justin Credible:
      You wrote the following: "Animals are not like us. They have no history books, no photographs, no knowledge of sorrow or regret. Don't get me wrong, I like animals and all. I just don't see the point in crying over dead animals who never even feared death to begin with"
      You may have never studied animal behavior and evolution in college. I did. I earned my degree in evolutionary biology. I have also spent years working as a veterinary nurse and have attended multiple seminars on animal cognitive behavior and emotions. You are flat out wrong when you say that animals have "no knowledge of sorrow or regret." Just ask a veterinarian (who has a doctorate degree) and they will tell you that animals not only experience sorrow and regret, but they also experience grief, gratitude, and both physical and emotional pain. As Charles Darwin said: "There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher animals in their mental faculties... The lower animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery."
      "The idea of difference is a human conception for man's own advantage..."
      -- Sri Aurobindo,
      We used to justify slavery by saying that blacks were inferior to whites (ie: conception for our own advantage). We justified this cruelty because it "benefited" our economy. Well, raising animals in crowded pens and boiling them alive (pigs and chickens) without proper stunning is cruel and it does NOT benefit our health. There are plenty of healthy vegans out there. I am an ultra runner and know plenty of other ultra runners who have been vegan for years and we run 31 mile plus races in the mountains. We thrive on this diet. Others may "thrive" on a factory farm animal-based diet, but their diet directly contributes to suffering, and it is not ecologically sustainable in a planet with over 7 billion people. Don't presume to know what animals are thinking or feeling. After all, you are an animal yourself.

    • Comment Link Joseph Martinez Tuesday, 10 December 2013 02:47 posted by Joseph Martinez

      Without going into Ecological and ethical issues and just approaching this issue from a scientific perspective, as a nutritional scientist (I am an assistant professor, teaching Clinical Nutrition and nutritional biochemistry) I find that the claims made that a vegan diet is better than an omnivorous one and that meat is the cause of various diseases are not supported by the literature. And it really doesn't matter the speaking skills and knowledge of the people in the debate. What really matters is what good research shows. As so I would like to bring some points to the discussion:

      1) The fact that a vegan/vegetarian diet improves various health markers in the short term doesn't say it is a better diet than a well balanced omnivorous diet, because when you do a trial where diet A is a vegan/vegetarian diet and diet B is the typical SAD (which is a nutritional nightmare) or even the recommended AHA one (which has been shown to be scientific incorrect by multiple lines of evidence), the only thing you can say is that quitting a SAD diet is beneficial. But this happens with many diets and not just vegetarian ones: low carb, low glycemic index diets, Zone diet, Med diets, etc. for instance, there are already 2 trials with a Paleo diet (which includes meat) showing good results in diabetic patients when compared to a Mediterranean or prudent diet. And there are many high protein, low carb diets (that obviously include meat) showing these diets improve various metabolic markers when compared to a prudent diet.
      To really now if a vegetarian/vegan diet is better than all omnivorous diets you have to put it to test and very few studies have actually done that. Bottom line: almost any diet that puts away from the SAD will improve your health (at least short term);

      2) when someone goes on a vegetarian/vegan diet not only changes the diet but also the lifestyle, which makes it very hard if not impossible to draw conclusions about the single variable that explains their health status. This is supposedly one of the reasons why red meat has been associated with some diseases in epidemiological studies and whole grains inversely associated. People who eat more red meat also smoke, are physically inactive and eat fewer fruits and veggies. On the other hand those who eat whole grains do the opposite. Is it the red meat then? Is it the whole grains? Or is it the whole lifestyle?

      3) various prospective and retrospective studies observe that vegetarians do not live longer than omnivorous and many omnivorous follow a SAD, so how can this be? This is enough to make me skeptical.

      4) it is very well known that a vegan or even vegetarian diet can lead to various nutritional deficiencies/insufficiencies not because plant foods do not contain it, but because their bioavailability in plant foods (especially whole grains) is low: B12, B6, DHA, Iron, Zinc, Cysteine, Taurine. A diet composed of meat, fish, eggs, dairy, fruits, vegetables, tubers, nuts is much more nutrient dense and the bioavailability of most nutrients in these foods is better than in whole grains (which form the basis of many vegan/vegetarian diets)

      5) many researchers have analyzed the health status and dietary habits of various populations around the world and have found that non western pre-agriculture populations are virtually free of modern diseases and that none is totally vegetarian - there's always some animal foods in their diets. Even Okinawa that has a fair amount of very old healthy people includes some animal food in their traditional diet. Many of these researchers have implicated grains, refined sugars, refined vegetable oils, processed foods, meat from feedlot obese animals as well as lifestyle as possible explanations:

      6) to better understand the poor quality of the research and arguments used to support a vegan diet here's a link to a debate:

    • Comment Link Nathan Monday, 09 December 2013 13:20 posted by Nathan

      Whether or not you agree with the FOR side, you have to admit they did a much better job than the AGAINST. The FOR guys were well armed with knowledge, data, and facts, and delivered them with confidence. The AGAINST guys seemed hesitant, didn't have any facts to back up their arguments, and resorted to ad hominem attacks. FOR wins!

    • Comment Link Phil Lapp Sunday, 08 December 2013 17:36 posted by Phil Lapp

      My father was born Amish and we grew up Mennonite in Lancaster County, PA, eating meat and potatoes literally every day. My grandfather died of a heart attack at age 40. At age 33 I went in for a routine physical and found my cholesterol was hovering around 300, even on statins. With the council of my doctor, I started eliminating all red meat (still eating fish occasionally) from my diet and over the course of a year my cholesterol dropped 100 points (without medication), and I lost 30 lbs. The elimination of red meat, and the introduction of nuts, beans, and fruit was literally the only dietary change I made. Just began to feel great. Today I'm a competitive long-distance runner fueled exclusively on plants and am in the best shape of my life.

      Everyone has a personal story. As runners, we need to focus on "soft" foods that our bodies can digest efficiently. Red meat is obviously not one of those foods. But personal stories aren't enough. I think there are two primary questions missing from this debate, outside of ethics and sustainability, and purely from a nutritional standpoint. 1 - everyone focuses on the positives of what's in red meat, protein obviously is one. But if you consider the total picture (such as excessive l-carnitine and iron for examples) what impact does the total ingredient deck have on health? And 2 - fairly simple, what impact does eating red meat have on digestive health? Exploring these questions openly and honestly leads away from the polarization topic of meat, and more to it's effects, which trickle out much further than taking a bite.

      Caveat - my wife and I co-founded a meat alternative called "neat". And while we're not taking a combative position on this topic as a brand, we try to simply equip people with the information to make a informed decision - producing an alternative, and letting people decide for themselves where it fits in their diet.

    • Comment Link Griffin Sunday, 08 December 2013 11:10 posted by Griffin

      Assuming we don't buy into the health concerns of "eating anything with a face", or that we don't nutritional have to include animals in our diet, then why do we shun eating horses & dogs that are commonly consumed in other parts of the world?

    • Comment Link Cyd Saturday, 07 December 2013 17:09 posted by Cyd

      I was vegetarian for a very long time, close to vegan except for fish; I ate a lot of soy as well. I slowly added poultry back into my diet, and then two years ago I was diagnosed with Hashimotos Thyroiditis. I also became Pre- Diabetic. To my dismay as I began to do finger sticks regularly I found that all carbs including fruit raised my blood glucose a lot. Now I am working hard to keep my carb intake very low. I eat a fairly high fat diet, good fats, moderate protein and low carb. It is the only thing that works...obviously to keep my BG low. As it is I still wake up with a BG level of around 100mg. I don't believe that vegetarianism can work for me and I am dubious about any diet that cannot provide all the nutrients, i.e, B12. I don't believe that we are meant to take supplements. That has always been something that has stayed in my mind since I started vegetarianism about over 40 years ago. So I venture into this new world of the Paleo diet with most of my colleagues and friends thinking I'm crazy. I look forward to more debates on vegetarianism, veganism vs the Paleo diet. Thanks. Cyd

    • Comment Link JC Saturday, 07 December 2013 12:30 posted by JC

      The percentage of vegans is up higher than posted here. 7% now claim to be vegan or roughly 22 million. This is a social justice movement that is getting stronger and stronger. People opposed will some day look like racists do now!

      Here's a video to help everyone understand why so many people are making this life affirming choice:

      Join the revolution! 21-Day Vegan Kickstart

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