Don't Eat Anything With A Face

Previous Debate
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

See Results See Full Debate Video Purchase DVD

Read Transcript

Listen to the edited radio broadcast

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Listen to the unedited radio broadcast

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Subscribe to the Podcast
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.

Learn more

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.

Learn more

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.

Learn more

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.

Learn more

Declared Winner: For The Motion

Online Voting

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

About This Event

Event Photos

PrevNext Arrows
    PrevNext Arrows


    • Comment Link Chad G Wednesday, 04 December 2013 22:54 posted by Chad G

      When I was about 9, my uncle took me with him to work his rice field with the combine. I was raised around hunting and fishing, but I was shocked by the death that I witnessed. I remember snakes, mice, rabbits, and "marsh hens" as he called them being raked and I suspect killed by the combine. To those who say that a vegan diet is without harm, I respectfully disagree. Don't just take my word, ask any farmer if what I am saying is true. Namaste.

    • Comment Link Mike B. Wednesday, 04 December 2013 22:49 posted by Mike B.

      I have 3 grandparents, 2 aunts and 3 uncles who died of heart disease and both my parents have had multiple heart bypass surgeries, so it seems I should have heart disease by now. I don't and my blood tests including cholesterol, c-reactive protein, homocysteine, testosterone, and calcium are all optimum/near optimum from eating a vegan diet and very little refined grains and sugar for the past 3 years.
      I haven't been sick, had allergies, indigestion, heart burn or tight joints since I switched.
      There are those who want to "eat like our ancestors", but we don't really know what they ate, and they probably ate whatever they could in their region depending on the climate and what was available. Even if they did eat meat, so what? I want to eat healthier than that.
      I also don't want to contribute to the 40 billion animals a year born into suffering.

    • Comment Link Julie Wednesday, 04 December 2013 22:28 posted by Julie

      I've spent the last ten years studying sustainability; and can assure you that the impact livestock has on the environment is profound. From soil degradation to water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, the meat and dairy industry is causing more devastation than any other human practice.

      It is true that there are people on this planet who need animal products to survive, but I am certain they don't include anyone reading this post. It is also true that many people adopt veganism without bothering to learn about nutrition. Unfortunately, they give the rest of us a bad name. Many of the healthiest, strongest, fastest and longest-lived people on earth do not eat anything with a face. Others have cured themselves of the most common illnesses plaguing the western world today.

    • Comment Link Juicy T bone steak Wednesday, 04 December 2013 21:48 posted by Juicy T bone steak

      So Mary Smythe I hope you don't use leather goods like shoes, belts, bags, car seats , furniture the list goes on and on !! Better check your cosmetics as well they are loaded with animal products! And do you go into grocery stores that sell these "Murdered" souls ?? I hope not ! And if these animals are being murdered are you doing everything possible to save them ? Or is this your effort put forth in saving these "Murdered" souls ....writing a comment ?? Better go and set some cows free to tonight or chickens Maybe they can move in with you

    • Comment Link Suze Wednesday, 04 December 2013 21:37 posted by Suze

      I agree with Ryan. I don't think it was a total sham, but it was apparent from the very beginning that the moderator favored the pro-vegan side. And when he cut off Chris Masterjohn on his analysis of the claims of one his opponents and stated that this was an ad hominem attack, it became abundantly clear that the debate was not really about science. Too bad. I do think several things could have been mentioned by Chris and Joel that would have laid to rest the debate once and for all, at least from a health perspective, including some of Dr. Price's findings of the exceptionally healthy and disease-free "primitive" peoples he studied almost a century ago, all of whom coveted animal fat and all whom ate animal fat and meat in varying amounts, but all in all I thought the "against" side was very strong. And I commend them for pointing out that we are all *individuals*. Whoda thunk? Some of us cannot live healthy lives without animal meat and fat in our diets. Some of us can. Many of us have tried to live without and have become unwell as a result. The pro-vegan side did not seem to recognize individual differences in human nutritional needs. Although it's possible they mentioned it and I missed it since the video stopped and buffered for long periods a few times.

    • Comment Link Dinh Tran Wednesday, 04 December 2013 21:24 posted by Dinh Tran

      I now feel great switching to a pure vegetarian 'vegan' diet from a Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian (including Dairy and eggs in my diet) not long ago. I take a high strength Vitamin B12 supplement every few days and also Algae DHA for Omega 3 regularly. A pure vegetarian 'vegan' diet helped me achieve my ideal healthy weight. I have never felt better; all thanks to following the advice in Dr. Neal Barnard's books and reading 'Diet For A New America' by John Robbins.
      We can all look forward to a future where people will be sitting together around camp fires and telling fascinating stories of when humans sickened themselves by consuming the corpses of dead animals.

    • Comment Link Berenice Wednesday, 04 December 2013 21:18 posted by Berenice

      for those talking about ancestral diet and traditions, one of the problems with eating meat, fish or any animals is that is NOT sustainable any more, regardless of health, the planet just cannot afford it any more, meat production is among the top causes of global warming, and causes hunger too! 70% of the crops in the US go to feed livestock, perhaps, regardless of my ethical veganism, 'before' we could afford to eat animals... Do your homework, the UN and NASA have studies that show that 2038 the oceans will be dead as ecosystems because of commercial fishing practices, the land is growing dryer, hotter, so eating as our grandparents did is not an option anymore! Humane meat is not sustainable either. Again, I am an ethical vegan, I stopped eating animals for personal moral reasons, but I later I learned that there are powerful environmental reasons to NOT eat meat... We must evolve as species and find ways to respect nature, animals, the planet, and ourselves.

    • Comment Link WCW3 Wednesday, 04 December 2013 21:15 posted by WCW3

      Buzzards and vultures don't follow the tractors that till the fields for nothing. To produce enough plants to feed the same amount of people that two cows would feed, 55 other types of animals are KILLED. Or do vegans not care about the rabbits, woodchucks, groundhogs, mice, snakes ect ect. that the tractors blitzkrieg when they till the land? Not to mention the bugs!

      And if everyone was vegan, um... How many more forests would we have to clear to produce enough plants to feed us all?

      I AM an animal lover and steak is my favorite animal.

    • Comment Link Eve Wednesday, 04 December 2013 21:01 posted by Eve

      Thank you, Chris and Joel

    • Comment Link Sherri Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:50 posted by Sherri

      GregWoolhouse 30 thousand rabbits on 30 acres is ridiculous even if you were farming rabbits. I had 14 acres in Kansas on the river and never saw close to a thousand rabbits. Just in the last two weeks you planted blueberries but two years ago they were doing fine? Is this the new math or did your deer time travel from the past to eat your berries. I submit you live in DC in an apartment.

    • Comment Link UTL Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:50 posted by UTL

      @Bova - Fun fact about Masterjohn: he's a contributor/writer for the Weston A. Price Foundation - a meat and dairy/anti-soy lobbyist group.

    • Comment Link Paula Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:47 posted by Paula

      Question for the 21st century: If aliens came here and saw us as "meat" would we then be "meat:"? ANIMALS ARE NOT MEAT. They are beings in their own right who deserve what we want for ourselves ... to live in peace, unharassed, and free from bodily harm.

      I wish the consciousness and therefore the language would change. Animals are not meat.

      And what we do to the animals we do to ourselves. It's karma. And karma is moving very fast now.

    • Comment Link George Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:43 posted by George

      Some bizarre comments here.
      I eat meat, fat, fruit, green veges and some starchy roots.
      Basically I eat what my ancestors ate. Here we have people of a privileged class, who have lost contact with their own ancestral cultural identity, telling the rest of the world not to eat their ancestral diet, with no science except pseudoscience to back up that this is a good or even a safe idea.
      The vegan experiment amounts to 1% of the population of Western countries, and people who can and do drop out and eat meat whenever it suits them. Not to mention supplements, imported superfoods, easy access to blood transfusions and medicines, and the other accouterments of privilege. And from this they can dictate a plan for everyone? Some reality checks should be cashed before this goes further.

    • Comment Link Ryan Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:43 posted by Ryan

      Quite frankly this debate was a total sham. When Chris Masterjohn began to question the science Dr Barnard was using, the moderator told him this was 'a personal attack'. IF a scientist is not allowed to question scientific studies and look at the details, then this debate is simply not about science. I, for one, prefer to include a deeper and detailed look at science when making health based decisions

    • Comment Link Jenny Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:42 posted by Jenny

      Where do you find these healthy vegans all the ones I know are pale and limp and weak?

    • Comment Link Ahmad Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:39 posted by Ahmad

      Neal Barnard is an amazing scientist; I've read lots of books about nutrition (not necessarily with a Vegan view) and the most credible and well referenced works I've ever seen were written by him.
      I congratulate him on winning this debate tonight and wish him success in bringing his message to more and more people.

    • Comment Link Jenny Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:35 posted by Jenny

      Vegan eating was a big fail for me! I am now a healthy omnivore!

    • Comment Link Erica Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:34 posted by Erica

      Nothing is more "specist" (believing that our species is superior to others) than believing humans don't have to be part of the natural cycle--that somehow we are exempt, and can "do better" than that. Saying that "well animals do [x] but we don't have to" is the ultimate in "specism". Talk about hubris.

      When we try to override, or work around, the natural cycles of life and death--which include animals in the process--the results aren't sustainable, and are often disastrous.

      For example, they sited "vegeganic" farming. But where are those nutrients coming from? All plants need nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium to grow (the basic "NPK" you find in plant food). Phosphorus comes from two sources: animals (e.g., lots in bone) or rock, which has to be mined. There isn't a lot of phosphorus left in the ground on this planet--we're going to run out of it soon, just like topsoil and water--and where it exists, it always runs next to radioactive ore. So to get it out requires major mining operations, which leave HUGE piles of radioactive tailings behind, which then leaches into the water and particalizes into the air. EVerything--animals, plants, native peoples, get sick and die, for miles around.

      So to say that "vegeganic" farming is more humane and allows us to grow food without killing is shortsighted. It can't be done without causing all kinds of suffering and death--it just isn't in your backyard, so you think your hands are clean.

    • Comment Link Seth Pajak Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:33 posted by Seth Pajak

      Humans do not need to live on the flesh of animals. It is more efficient and more healthy to live on a plant based diet. Most of the plant product that is fed to animals turns into manure and not food. This is a total waste and pollutes the rivers and wells. Plant based agriculture is clean and kinder to the animals than is livestock agriculture. It's nice eating your food knowing that no animals were killed so that you could eat. I hope everyone enjoys that feeling.

    • Comment Link Gill Jacobs Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:33 posted by Gill Jacobs

      How can the proposers of the motion say that animals encourage soil degredation? That is ludicrous! Animals actually sequester carbon into the soil when eating grass, and help the planet. What doesn't help the planet is the deforestation of land to grow soya to feed vegetarians unhealthily, and feedlot animals, equally unhealthily.
      How are you going to persuade the Inuit to be vegan or vegetarian? They eat/ate a diet appropriate for their climate and what is available there, (before a Western diet of high carb/high sugar was introduced) which does/did not include enough year round plants to keep them alive or warm. They need a high fat diet which they get/got from fish and animals.
      Its ridiculous to say that most diabetes is because of meat eating.
      More and more research is showing that diabetes is high because of high carbohydrates, including the ubiquitous corn syrup in the US, which turns into sugar. OK, so animals fed grains are unhealthy because of their bad ratio of omega 3 to 6, but not grass fed animals. Also, all traditional societies that rely on animal protein have some form of spiritual connection with those animals that expresses gratitude to them for their gift of life, and for our interdependence. Have you ever met a vegetarian lion? The animal world is 'cruel' for survival, and when we acknowledge our gratitude for what animals provide for us, when treated humanely, we also are able to deal with the complexity of life, and refuse to stoop to the moral high ground so often dished out by vegetarians and vegans.

      Finally, where are the two, three or four generation studies on vegetarian and vegan diets? We know from Weston A Price that many generations of indigenous people were healthy over many generations with animal protein and fats. If vegetarians did not have artificial B12 supplements what would they do? Yes, meat eaters can get ill if they overdo factory farm meat which is bad for you, along with overdosing on sugar and not enough healthy vegetables. But I have come across too many tales of vegetarians who succumb to sickness after a while, and are forced to change their diet to get well. And this on a diet of fresh and organic plants. Maybe they eat too many unhealthy carbs and grains without the healthy animal fats?

      With more and more studies revealing how cancer cells are sugar dependent, they show that a nutrient dense diet (ketogenic) is one way to starve them out. As most carbs turn to sugar, and vegetarians are more dependent on carbs, how can they say that less vegetarians have cancer? It just does not stack up.

      I respect vegetarians for their principled stand on what they see as a more considerate approach to animals, by choosing not to eat them. But that implies that I am cruel and unthinking. I am not. I feel connected to animals, and am deeply grateful to the farmers who tend them, on my behalf. I refuse to project onto animals my own inability to deal with complex emotions. I refuse to anthropomorphise animals in the way that the Animal Rescue Sanctuary debater did when he told us about the happy rescued turkey who gave him hugs! That is pure Walt Disney to my mind. Or as Joel Salatin puts it the Bambification of animals, which sentimentalises animals and is partly responsible for the problems we now have over what constitutes a healthy diet.

    Leave a comment

    Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed.