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 Edward Cummings Thursday, 05 December 2013 10:45 posted by Edward Cummings

      I remember doing a similar debate when I was studying for my Animal Science BSc degree. “This House believes that Animals are Fundamental to the Future of Food Supply for the World” and the for side won but maybe the voters were fellow animal science students and this degree might not exist in a vegan world? Some pointers I raised during the debate include that food aren't the only products we get from animals as this link shows- and there are vegan alternatives to these products but said alternatives might be worse than the animal product they are replacing in relation to the environment and/or human health. Personally I would go with the product which is best for example before the 1980's insulin for diabetics came from cows and pigs but it is now made from genetically modified microbes- Two more pointers I found was that 65% of the land type fond on our planet can be considered to be too wet, dry or mountainous for use in arable farming and In 2009 Helmi Risku-Norja, Sirpa Kurppa, Juha Helenius discover that an individual persons dietary choice has little effect on the environment and if the whole world where to change to a vegan it will only reduce greenhouse emissions by 7% which is small compared to if we were to decrease are use of fossil fuel (• Helmi Risku-Norja, Sirpa Kurppa, Juha Helenius. Dietary choices and greenhouse gas emissions -- assessment of impact of vegetarian and organic options at national scale. Progress in Industrial Ecology An International Journal, 2009). Such information might be out of date now so here is some recent research- If the information I have posted have changed your mind then that's OK if it hasn't then that is OK as well I'm not going to force you to change.

    • Comment Link Jaime Thursday, 05 December 2013 09:58 posted by Jaime

      To people saying it's "natural" for us to eat animal products, let me just that first, there is nothing natural about today's farming practices and production. Second, if it's so natural, why are we the only omnivores that need some process to interfere with our consumption? When was the last time you just took a big bite out of a live animal and started eating?

    • Comment Link Patricia Massari Thursday, 05 December 2013 09:10 posted by Patricia Massari

      To address a couple misconceptions of recent person said this talk to be more scientific...Dr. Barnard has conducted dozens of peer reviewed studies, was granted $350,000 from the NIH to conduct a study regarding diabetes and is often asked to be a peer reviewer of other studies. His work is often consistent with the work of Dr. Caldwell Esseltyn, T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Joel Furhman and others...further unlike Mr. Salatin, whose livelihood depends on exploiting and killing animals...Dr. Barnard has nothing to sell except books, and to suggest what he says is not backed by science is inaccurate.

      Another person drug out the (yawn) old argument that vegans are "pasty and sickly". I would say look around and advance your argument to this century. Just google Rich Roll, Brendan Brazier, Scott Jurek, Vegan Bodybuilding and fitness, the list goes on...I guess Natalie Portman, Carrie Underwood, Emily Deschanel, Patrik Baumbomian (world's strongest man), etc.., etc...are pasty and sickly? I am 46 and an athlete and dominate my omnivore competitors...your argument is old and unstudied and has no bearing in reality...Further, I can tell you as a cardiac nurse the number of overweight, obese and ailing omnivores I see. The get wheeled in and out daily to get their cardiac catheterizations, stents, bypass surgeries...they are often on 10 meds because many of them have type 2 diabetes and hypertension as well..their cardiac and diabetes issues have been proven to be able to be prevented and reversed with a strictly plant based diet...

      Bottom line...animal agriculture is extremely cruel, makes us more unhealthy, is unsustainable/is killing the earth (accounts more more greenhouse gas emissions than ALL forms of transportation combined), takes food and water from people who could use it to fatten animals who will die for our plates to continue this unwise cycle and is completely unnecessary..Species are decimated as more land is cleared to inefficiently raise animals who are no different than our dogs and cats...Anything we wouldn't want done to our companion animals is not "humane". On the other end billions of animals are tortured in labs to try to cure disease we often bring on ourselves with diet choices..Most people can not even bear to see a slaughter video or learn the truth...that is not the behavior of a "predator" or carnivore?

      The world is changing...I know it's tough because people are used to the institutionalized suffering of the animals and eating foods that ultimately make them sick oftentimes. But if one cares about animals, has children that they want to inherit a livable earth and are concerned about driving down healthcare costs (Kaiser Permanente recently sent out a suggestion that doctors should be recommending vegan/strictly plant based diets to their patients)'s never been easier to do the right thing on so many levels...

    • Comment Link Young Thursday, 05 December 2013 08:46 posted by Young

      The reason we used to or still are eat everything or anything with a face is because we were/are too comfortably unaware. We may hold strong opinion as to why we should continue to do so, but if and only if we are open to feeling less comfortable, we could then explore genuinely to become aware, of all the facts, then we could all make an informed, educated and enlightened decision.

    • Comment Link mark rogers Thursday, 05 December 2013 08:20 posted by mark rogers

      the "for" argument is assuming that all meat eaters are eating meat from animals that weren't allowed to be animals. Barnard kept talking about the dangers of bologna and hot kidding. We agree on that. It's eating meat from animals that were allowed to live in their natural environments, and cutting out grains and sugars...meat eaters who eat cake at the end of every meal are not healthy.

    • Comment Link Jharris Thursday, 05 December 2013 08:20 posted by Jharris

      "Should we tell lions in the wild not to hunt?"
      Ridiculous. Wild animals aren't moral reasoning beings they have no concept of ethics they react purely to primal instinct. You prove nothing by comparing them to us.
      A lion doesn't factory farm, a lion doesn't kill more than it needs, a lion doesn't export it's prey internationally, a lion doesn't pump it's prey full of steriods and other drugs.
      Wild animals don't need to answer to human laws an ethics. What's next, you gonna ask if lions ought to be tried for murder or something?
      A lion needs meat to survive. It has to kill.
      We don't.

    • Comment Link Jharris Thursday, 05 December 2013 08:01 posted by Jharris

      The fact that we are 'from a privledged class' is the reason why I choose to be vegan! I live in a society where I can survive easily without killing, so why would I?
      I acknowledge the important part meat played in our evolution and I also acknowledge that being able to choose to be vegan is a luxury many on this planet don't have. If I lived in a third world country I would eat whatever I needed to to survive, likewise if I lived 100,000 years ago like 'our ancestors'.
      Fact of the matter is I live in a modern, first world country. I'm not going to starve, I'm not going to die of a vitamin deficiency. I can get any food I want from the local store and failing that, the internet.
      Just because something's natural or primal, doesn't make it ethical, often times our caveman urges and our ethics are in opposition to one another. It's one of those 'separates us from the animals' type things...

    • Comment Link catherine Thursday, 05 December 2013 06:57 posted by catherine

      I have been vegetarian for over 30 years and in and out of veganism. I am now totally vegan and have never felt better. I feel my contribution to the humane protection of all animals is so minor but I am at least doing my part. I don't feel like arguing the point. We all evolve in our own time. 10 years from now, we will all be vegan.

    • Comment Link KimQ Thursday, 05 December 2013 05:45 posted by KimQ

      Unfortunatley the core of the argument on the For side is based on factory farming, so while the moderator repeatedly announced that niether side was in agreement with factory farming, it was kind of difficult to debate given that's what the For side's argument was built on.

      Additoinally, it was mentioned that some farm animals were sterlized on the Farm Sanctuary, as a woman who was sterilized, trust me that procedure and the resulting aftereffects is neither humane or peaceful.

      I definitely support the Masterjohn/Salitin Against side as they were able to bring to light the traditoinal role of animals in reference to not only our survival, but to our ability to thrive, the scientific and research that supports these assertions, and a new paradiam in farming practices that honors both animals and humans. Well done gentlemen.

    • Comment Link Marty Thursday, 05 December 2013 03:09 posted by Marty

      Bizarre comments indeed George, like yours.
      Privileged you say, lol, like fruits veggies and beans potatoes rice etc are for the elite!
      Get a grip, vegans aren't preaching one and only. It is more for the animals than anything but there is also real science to back up what the likes of the speakers are saying and beyond.
      Want to talk pseudoscience, paleo, low carb and atkins... all debunked by real science. Why not check out plant positive on you tube if you dare where he breaks it all down.

    • Comment Link Sheila Kuhn Thursday, 05 December 2013 03:09 posted by Sheila Kuhn

      I beg to differ with the individual that called "turkey hugs" "pure Walt Disney" We have a rooster that is more physically affectionate than the cats and dogs that live with us and I have photographs to prove it. I am a grandmother, a vegan, I live in one of the unhealthiest and fattest states in the country because the culture of Appalachia still dictates at every turn that people live on cheap, processed or fast food, dairy and animal flesh. I assure you that I don't live in Disney Land! I simply understand that this bird is a very loving sentient being because I have witnessed his behaviors personally. Over the years we have hosted rescue sheep, pigs, and goats that have commonly displayed affectionate sentient behaviors.
      People don't enjoy thinking of their "food" as being "real or feeling" beings because if they did, they would have to stop eating them and they don't want to do that. Some are "emotionally" connected to their hungry desire to unthinkingly consume animals.. In fact, many people wouldn't know HOW to eat a healthy, whole food, plant based diet (on a budget or otherwise) where I live. Education is the key to a healthier more compassionate lifestyle and I am grateful for debates such as this one. Thank you.

    • Comment Link Karen Thursday, 05 December 2013 01:44 posted by Karen

      I used to eat meat, milk, cheese and eggs up until 11 months ago. I felt healthy but my check up proved otherwise. I am a 55 year old female and was surprised to see my cholesterol in the high danger zone. I was told I to fill the prescription of statin drugs with no mention of changing my diet. I started reading on the dangers of statin drugs and got scared. By change, I saw Forks over Knives and it started a title wave of knowledge. I decided to go on a plant based diet and immediately I felt better. After only 6 months, my cholesterol went from 260 to 188. Every morning It took me a good 4 or 5 steps before I could stand up straight because of "arthritis". It's gone!! My skin, which I have always had trouble with outbreaks of blemishes, CLEAR! My depression that would ebb and flow, GONE. I read some of these comments bashing this diet and I just shake my head. People can have such closed minds. I eat what my ancestors ate...blah blah blah. Well they had to eat that to survive. But we have science now and Harvards' new study just said to get all dairy out of your diet. We know o much more than our ancestors and they on average only lived to the early 30's at best. People strongly oppose giving up their meat and it reminds me of a drug addict when you threaten to take their drugs away. Violent opposition! How can someone justify putting 50 billion land animals a year through an inhumane life filled with abuse, confinement, emotional distress, physical distress, mutilation, pain and suffering when we don't need to eat them to live healthy lives. Its not only selfish, it's arrogant that people think they have the right to do such horrible things to animals, just because we can. In addition to my excellent health check up, I also lost my belly fat. I lost about 30 pounds and am considered to be the correct weight for my height. This was major for my self confidence. I feel so much better about myself in every way. i wish everyone would give this a try and prove to themselves, there is nothing to fear, but fear. I will stay on this diet for the rest of my life.

    • Comment Link sundra r allen Thursday, 05 December 2013 01:43 posted by sundra r allen

      I have been a vegan for 26+ years and my health keeps improving.

    • Comment Link Philipp Thursday, 05 December 2013 01:19 posted by Philipp

      Just one book recommondation or two and re-think please:
      The vegetarian myth
      Primal mind primal body
      Human diet Evolution
      Paleo solution
      Epi-paleo rx

      Just some of the most comprehensive books I ve ever read!

      Have an omnivorous day:))

    • Comment Link Alice Thursday, 05 December 2013 01:12 posted by Alice

      I am a vegetarian for 5 years now (occasionally eat fish and sheep feta cheese),. I saw a few harsh comments of people, meat eaters obviously, don't know about their age, who pretend that eating meat happened since the Stone Age, But ever since, Humanity evolved, and we have different social, economic and cultural conditions. I must dare we evolved, am I wrong ? I for one always loved animals, but still ate meat until I found out from a documentary done by Vegan Outreach about the atrocities that are going on in the Factory Farms, and decided right on the spot that I don't want to be part of this holocaust, no matter what. Little I realized that along with my decision, I also received the gift of perfect health. With the meat replacements out there, and great recipes you can find on the internet, vegan eating becomes easier, more fun to cook and more tasteful.. In a society in which indoctrination, lack of moral principles, and empathy toward suffering are norm, these opinions don't come as a surprise to me at all. I am sure of the fact that 99% of the people still eat meat, and they will continue to eat (including my all family members), Mother Nature however has its own way of regulating things in the Universe, and I believe that no matter what eye openers we have around us, what is meant to happen will happen. I just hope that people will wake up in a timely manner.

    • Comment Link Personne Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:06 posted by Personne

      Humans can chose to eat others things than sensitive individuals.
      Statistic studies prove than vegetarians live longer than meat eaters.
      Americans eat three times as much meat per person than the average human (and forty times as much meat per person than Indians).
      UN urges global move to meat and dairy-free diet for ecological reasons.
      GM soy is cultivated in Amazonia in order to feed our farm animals.
      And scientific studies prove than humanity will be globally vegetarian by 2050 in order to be able to feed all humans on Earth.

      Try to learn.

      You can fight with your denial as long as you want. Facts will stay. End of debate.

    • Comment Link Helen Tam-Semmens Thursday, 05 December 2013 00:05 posted by Helen Tam-Semmens

      I became a vegan after I came to the realization that animal farming these days is horrific. We have no right to put animals through such hell. But then I was pleasantly surprised when all my ailments just went away after I became a vegan ... my Rheumatoid Arthritis, my acid reflux, my high cholesterol, etc. And I feel better and full of energy like never before. And I have no need of supplements either.

      I am fully convinced that a vegan diet is what we humans are meant to eat. In our evolutionary history, some of our ancestors ate meat occasionally due to necessity, such as to hold them through harsh winter. But when our body and digestive system were developed, our ancestors' diet were predominately vegan, because our teeth and digestive system today is very similar to those of fruit and veggie eaters, and very different from meat-eaters.

    • Comment Link Robert Les Wednesday, 04 December 2013 23:44 posted by Robert Les

      Wow, some oddball comments from some posters. Murderers?
      Look, those that are vegans are not likely to change their minds any more than most meat eaters are to become vegans.

      It's a personal choice, of course. What's right is what works best for you usually. Some claim religious type reasons for not killing animals while others point out the same examples in their Bible where the "chosen group" ate fish and lamb and sacrificed animals.

      So what's to be believed. This expert says this. Another contradicts that. I can only read many sources and check up on whose paying for the research and try and determine whose lying and biased.

      My family have all been meat eaters and all died in their 90's with no apparent health problems. Others claim the same for their vegan relatives. So, there ya go

    • Comment Link Chris Turner Wednesday, 04 December 2013 23:26 posted by Chris Turner

      EAT YOUR FOOD RAW, AS DO ALL OTHER SPECIES OF ANIMAL, and if you can't eat it as ALL other species of animals eat it then you probably have no business eating it....

      Diet is not rocket science other animals don't have the consul of self professed nutritional dietary professionals within their species, why are humans so confused?

    • Comment Link Marea Wednesday, 04 December 2013 23:16 posted by Marea

      I am a happy, content omnivore. I am 58 yrs. old. Weigh 118 lbs., 5'4". My blood pressure is low normal. I have only ever had one cavity. Nice smile, never had braces. Into my fifties my GYN said she just didn't see uteruses as healthy as mine and was tested positive for having the perfect healthy environment for conceiving and nurturing a healthy baby. Same thing with my eye doctor, she couldn't believe that my eyes were getting better and doing things they shouldn't be able to do for my age. Most people fall out when they find out my age.

      I eat lots of pasture butter, always have. Nothing low fat. Get whole raw dairy when I can. I don't go for lean meat, but better cuts with more fat and grain and pasture raised. Pasture raised chiken, liver, eggs. I eat fish (not farm raised). I love fruits and vegetable and eat plenty of organic ones. I've never smoked, done drugs, rarely drink alcohol. I don't eat chips, crackers, white flour, rarely wheat, I use sprouted spelt mostly, I eat brown rice. stay away from soy, canola oil, vegetable oils, accept for olive, sesame, pumpkin, and coconut. I rarely eat foods with sugar. I do prepare treats using a little rapadura, coconut crystals, maple syrup or unheated honey occasionally. But what I've experienced is that as long as I'm getting plenty of fat in my diet I don't want or enjoy sugary desserts, but when I don't I start craving the sugar.

      Truely, I grew up eating a diet similar to this. Good balanced meals, with lots of variety. Whole milk form the milk man at every meal, a small glass of juice with breakfast Otherwise we drank water. Butter, eggs, meat with fat! Fresh fish because we lived near the ocean. We never had kool-aid, candy (accept at halloween) Cookies (accept rare special homemade ones). Year after year I never missed a day of school. Never remember being sick as a child accept with the 3 day measles.

      And now, I am almost never sick (maybe once every three yrs.) I may get a mild cold or flu. I'm not on any medications. About 2 yrs ago I started juicing every day and I ended up with a kidney infection because the vegetables I was using were so high in oxalic acids. I hadn't had a kidney infection for thirty years before that and only that one time.

      I do not believe it was the meat alone that has made the difference for all those vegetarians and their nonvegetarian ailing friends. There is a much bigger picture to explore. What kind of meat and dairy were you putting into your body? How much refined substance were you or they putting into the body.

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