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 Debbie Graham Tuesday, 31 December 2013 15:24 posted by Debbie Graham

      My rule of thumb-if I couldn't kill it myself, I shouldn't be eating it. I am not sure about the 'face' thing--where does that leave oysters? Clearly if I were poor/living in a country with few resources, I would have no choice and to say it is wrong in those circumstances is silly. That said, there are Hindus/Jains in poor areas who somehow manage but clearly they are in a minority and perhaps it is less difficult to find non-root vegetables etc where they live. In any case there is no reason to go passing judgment. The goal should be try not to harm, try not to waste and try to be grateful--and not go around picking on everyone who makes other choices. I don't understand being vegetarian just for one's own health, I am not convinced it is always better.

    • Comment Link Mike Rucker Monday, 30 December 2013 13:36 posted by Mike Rucker

      I promised myself a decade ago I'd drop meat from my diet. Time to make good on that promise.

    • Comment Link Daniel Sunday, 29 December 2013 14:48 posted by Daniel

      Not all animals are raised in deplorable conditions. There are farmers who raise animals with great care. I specialize in mother-hatched, mother-raised chicken. My chickens grow up enjoying life outdoors, spending from dawn to dusk foraging through gardens, pasture, brush and forest. Though many end up being eaten, if they lived in the wild, they would end up being devoured by a fox, coyote, hawk or eagle, and those predators cause more pain and suffering than I do when I butcher them. A hawk or eagle will eat them alive, ripping them apart until they succumb.
      My chickens grow to adulthood and their eggs and meat are so different than that from the large factory farms it's amazing.
      What few realize is that chickens are skillful hunters. They are adept at digging up bugs and earthworms, nabbing frogs, and even catching field mice and the occasional small bird.
      Large, factory farms are horrific in the way they treat animals. But there are small operations which provide a wonderful life for animals.

    • Comment Link Permie Friday, 27 December 2013 15:44 posted by Permie

      The debate is very much more complex than 'one way is right, the other wrong'. There is no one way to live when our human population numbers are over 7b. Have vegans considered how many animals suffer to produce their vegan food? Peter Singer says that more actual numbers of sentient animals are killed to produce grain by land clearing and use of pesticides than cattle raised on rangelands. Some lands are only able to support hardy animals like goats. How else should people who live in arid regions survive? They have to eat animals or they will starve. In organic farming, how should vegies be fertilised if not via animal manures? Through the application of fossil fuel derived fertlisers perhaps? You need animals in the system to recycle nutrients properly. Small scale organics are part of the solution for local food economies but it depends on the level of fertility you have for growing.We need a diversity of ways to eat as ethically as possible while recognising that for some people, meat is an essential part of their diet. It's industrial farming where the real problem lies.

    • Comment Link Frank Monday, 23 December 2013 21:49 posted by Frank

      First, I am not a vegan or vegetarian. On the other hand, I have dramatically lowered my consumption of animal foods over the course of the last few years after spending considerable time researching the subject, as the science points strongly towards this being a positive step in terms of health. Also, there is no doubt that vegetarian or vegan diets are healthy alternatives to the standard American diet - there are just too many examples of people who eat this way and enjoy excellent health. Personally, I think that the middle ground, similar to what Mark Bittman outlines in his "VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good" offers the best of both worlds. As for the debate, Barnard and Salatin were the most convincing, both real experts in their respective fields, and given that they sat on opposite sides of the fence, I would have to call the affair a draw. The moderator was decent but displayed a minor but obvious bias towards the eat no faces position. Just my 2 cents worth...

    • Comment Link Rudy Wednesday, 18 December 2013 23:13 posted by Rudy

      I am vegan, but as matter of principle, I would not vote for a winner in this debate. The format of this debate, as with many political debates, arouses the emotions, polarizes the public, but does not really educate. or offer any solutions. By "voting" one way or the other in this sort of debate, I would be voting for endless war.

      I will therefore cast my vote outside box. I vote that these four gentleman come together in a different setting - one that allows them to recognize their common ground (yes it does exist), as they intelligently present their case, discuss their differences, and really listen to each other, so they can come up with unified plan for educating the public on ways that we can work together to create a cleaner and more sustainable food supply, and a more responsible and humane relationship with the the life around us.

    • Comment Link Robert R Fiske Wednesday, 18 December 2013 21:02 posted by Robert R Fiske

      Great to hear this unending debate keep jogging down the road! Don't know if it's making any real progress towards one side or the other, but I DO think we are seeing more people in the US in particular give more attention to the quality of their food and their health. But the Meat or No Meat argument is still retreading the same battle-lines it has for centuries, and misses too many important emphases to make any new headway.

      Personally, I think the setup of the debate is flawed to start with. We barely heard them get serious back and forth about the quality and sourcing of the foods we eat, and this is simply central to our eating dilemma today, The industrial processes and our consumptive and 'sweet-tooth' culture have us eating in very unhealthy patterns with excessive volumes of Sugar, Fat (Animal and Veg), Starch (more sugar), and ungodly additives, preservatives, colorings, perfumes, various substitutes, etc..

      My family (wife, daughter and me) has been eating with inspirations from the Weston Price diet for 6-8 years, which does include numerous animal products, but also a greater proportion of veg and grain, and then an array of fermented, soaked and pickled foods, looking towards many traditional foods that have been associated with healthy and robust cultures that can still be seen today. We have been drinking Raw Milk, and my daughter, as far as we can remember, has never missed a day of school from illness.

      Over this time frame, I will fry my eggs a few times a week in bacon fat, or butter, or sausage grease, albeit these are all local and known producers of these foods, all organic or better.. and I use considerable amounts of butter and whole milk products around my diet.. along with all sorts of healthy, fresh, local veg. sources. I have no indications of diabetes, cardiovascular issues or any of the other chronic conditions contributors here seem to expect with such diets.

      But I really think it's important to note that for those on the Meat side of the debate, there was no doubt that they are expecting a healthy person to be eating the right balance of veg in their diets, while the Veg camp is taking the absolute view of eliminating this part of the diet entirely. I find that I agree with Salatin in this, and find such thinking to be willfully blinding onesself to the kind of species we are, and how we have historically fit into the mix in the natural world. As much as we like to 'think' we can 'think our way' into a new role in the ecosystem, I find it mainly audacious and a bit silly of us to try to believe that.

      We are scavengers, we are opportunistic omnivores, with intelligence arguably (Pollan) derived for that very purpose, that of identifying and remembering viable food sources, much like the other intelligent omnivores, like the Bear, the Raven, the Raccoon and the Rat. Putting our diet into an absolutist 'either/or' state like this is denying something central about what we are. Still, I don't feel any need to tell Veggies and Vegans that they 'should' be eating animal products. A lot of people seem to make V-ism work well for them.. but I also insist that 'Every we eat was alive'.. and I don't put a higher moral or compassionate value on animal foods over veg,, or molds and yeasts, and so on.


    • Comment Link Erik Wednesday, 18 December 2013 17:01 posted by Erik

      Gene Baur's arguements seem to be mostly emotional based and not based in fact. He comes across as close-minded and irrational. He's not even willing to acknowledge the life force of animals he can't see just because it would negate the basis of his position. He is the portrait of the self righteous animal rights activist.

      Also, Baur and Barnard, keep portraying meat eating through the lens of the factory farm while referring to vegetables farming largely in the organic context. The same is true for vegetables as it is for meat. when you look at how conventional produce is grown it looks just as bad as feed lots.

    • Comment Link Wow Wednesday, 18 December 2013 14:05 posted by Wow

      Can't believe all the logical fallacies, anecdotes and emotional appeals used by the pro-vegan side. Makes me shake my head that they were voted to have "won" this debate. Guess I should be glad I'm alive in a day when I can still enjoy a nice steak without being worried about Big Brother throwing me in Room 101. Humans will go from apex predators to cattle themselves, suppose it's already happening.

      We are omnivores. We adapted our superior intellect because we needed brains to hunt animals. We would not have the mental capacity to stand around debating the morality of eating animals if we hadn't started eating animals. We probably wouldn't even be here, today.

      I'm not forcing you to eat meat. Don't force me not to.

      You want to live and let live, yes? Then let the human animal live the way it evolved to.

    • Comment Link Beverly Slade Wednesday, 18 December 2013 13:56 posted by Beverly Slade

      Don't eat anything with a face:
      Vote YES!

    • Comment Link Ross Tuesday, 17 December 2013 10:04 posted by Ross

      Joel is an excellent speaker! I'd hire him for a farm comedy show. Kidding, really loved this debate, I don't think there is any resolution to 'prove to me that Vegan/Veges get enough nutrients' and lets just shut down factory farms and returning to the simple life of caretaking for our own animals. I'm a Vegan, however don't have a problem with animals dying as long as it is humane.

    • 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.)

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