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 Seth Pajak Saturday, 07 December 2013 10:51 posted by Seth Pajak

      It takes a lot more energy to make animal protein for food than it does to make plant protein for food. The reason is you have to feed animals plants in order for them to build muscle. A large portion of the food we grow in this country goes to feed animals instead of humans. Most of the plants we feed animals does not turn to animal protein, it turns to manure, a lot which is unprocessed and pollutes rivers. It would be more efficient and cleaner if humans lived on a plant based diet. A plant based diet is no less healthy than a diet with meat in it. Look at athletes like Brendan Brazier, Venus Williams, Aaron Simpson, Jake Shields, Rich Roll, Laura Kline and several others.

    • Comment Link Joel Friday, 06 December 2013 23:20 posted by Joel

      The Pro-meat arguments were stronger in every way. The No-meat arguments were irrelevant and unsupported by actual science. The only real argument they have is that you animals have to die. Which i am okay with because i believe its more ecological, sustainable and I feel healthier. Factory farms, non pasture raised animals are another story. Eat meat just make sure its coming from a sustainable healthy source.

    • Comment Link Joachim Friday, 06 December 2013 18:54 posted by Joachim

      Who cares what we ate once upon a time? Have we really not learned - after all our history with racial, gender and sexuality segregration and discrimination - that we don't have to be slaves of our past beliefs and habits?

      Now, if our past eating habits signified any necessity in eating animals, then the non-vegans would have had a point. But there is none. We can even disregard Neal Barnard's strong scientific case that eating meat is actually dangerous for us. The key point is that we don't need to cause misery for animals. So why do it?

      So we live in an age, where it definitely is not necessary to eat animals. We also live in an age, where scientist has erased any doubt that animals are sentient beings with consciousness, feelings and preferences - all animals; pigs and chickens just as much as dogs and cats.

      Most people recognize that animals have emotional lives, can be deeply miserable when treated like commodities, and very happy when they are treated with kindness and allowed to follow their natural urges.

      Most people care about animals. Not as much as they care about humans, and I am not arguing they should. The key point for me is not animal equality, power or rights. The key point is that with our superior intelligence and power comes responsibilites. When we have the choice in how to treat the animals - when we don't need to eat meat - we should choose kindness and compassion, rather than violence. We should treat them as we would have wanted to be treated, if someone had the power over us.

      It is actually kind of obvious.

    • Comment Link beth aaron Friday, 06 December 2013 16:38 posted by beth aaron

      How in the world can any thinking person consider that the worlds poor people can even feed the farmed animals when they require so much grain, or grasses to be healthy? We feed a WHOPPING 70% of grains grown today to farmed animals. THAT is obscene and disrespectful to poor children starving while fattening animals takes the lions share of crops.
      I hope those who voted against the motion have a good look the films, Earthlings, and , The Ghost in Our Machine, as well as visit the slaughterhouse where all those "happy" animals end up , another form of a concentration camp that turns feeling beings into products. HOW SELFISH!
      For me, it doesn't even matter whether people feel better on a vegan diet, and those that do not are DETOXING from years of poisons leaving their cells. What matters is that finally, after ten thousand years of brutal domination of sentient beings, we leave them in PEACE and stop abducting their young, and body parts . The violence we do to them, we do to US!

    • Comment Link Justin Credible Friday, 06 December 2013 16:13 posted by Justin Credible

      Dead Doctors Don't Lie --->

      Dead Athletes Don't Lie--->

      I have a severe problem with this debate. The narrator seemed quite bias to the vegan side. We have hundreds and hundreds of different disease that are directly linked to a number of different things not discussed in here.

      Was the question was about eating things with a face because of health reasons or because you don't want to hurt their feelings.

      You can’t make your argument for the health aspect with the justification of not eating meat because 1. it has a face. and 2. you’re going to hurt their feelings. So basically the vegans answer to the question is not a matter of health or because it has a face. There aspect is to justify their delusional rational of personifying the animals. I am not saying that there answer is wrong. It may very well be true to them, in there reality, from their perspective, but it is an answer to an entirely different question. The question the vegans are answering is not about health, it’s about feelings.

      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.

      Going back to the health aspect there are so many issues with health that are linked to nutritional deficiencies that you can only get enough nutrients from with meat. (IE. vitamin A, cholesterol, ext.)

      This debate seemed more like an attack on those who eat animals rather than trying to justify there reason for vegan-ism. I believe because subconsciously the vegans in this debate fundamentally know they are wrong and that is why that cannot come up with a rational logical answer to being vegan. If it is a spiritual reason, or a something along those lines, that’s one thing, it’s a personal choice. But based on our physiological nature eating a purely vegan diet expecting to live a longer and better quality of life physically is fundamentally wrong.

    • Comment Link John Beemer Friday, 06 December 2013 14:43 posted by John Beemer

      Joel Salatin states that "The China Study has been
      debunked by so many experts".

      Is he talking about the 23 year old elementary school Denise Minger? Campbell responded to her which I was actually surprised.

      People always like to hear good things about their bad habits.

    • Comment Link shawn Friday, 06 December 2013 13:22 posted by shawn

      The China Study critically questions meat eating, plain and simple. And Neal Barnard is clearly the scientific winner in this debate.

      In terms of health, eating very little meat has been shown repeatedly to be preferable by so many peer reviewed studies, including the China Study.

      In terms of an ethical debate, a farmer-thinker like Wendell Berry in lieu of someone like Joel Salatan, who I do like at times, but seems incapable of balancing the arguments, would have been more stimulating. As a grower, I can say that Salatan doesn't understand crop-based agriculture very well.

      Also, the irritation, volume and desperate sarcasm from the "meat side" is itself irritating and rather telling. They turn it into a lame CNN or Fox News style debate at times.

      Interesting but could've been better!

    • Comment Link SharonH Friday, 06 December 2013 11:24 posted by SharonH

      It seems the argument centers more on the emotional aspect of killing an animal, rather than what is the proper diet for homo sapiens. That's not what it is supposed to be about.

      Our ancestors ate whatever plant food they could find. They also hunted, and enjoyed chunks of fresh meat. Period. What is bad today are all the starches and processed junk. Eat mostly veggies with the occasional meat and you should be good to go. I heartily recommend range fed bison as the best choice. Approximately 10,000 years is not time enough for us to have evolved away from this basic diet. It is but a second in time.

      Don't forget that meat provides many nutrients that can never be obtained with a vegetarian or vegan diet. And hopefully the real truth about the low-fat BS will come to light. I have visions of construction workers, farmers etc. trying to work after eating a low fat breakfast of yogurt and fruit. Get real!

    • Comment Link JohnF Friday, 06 December 2013 10:50 posted by JohnF

      Let's see, how did humans evolve eating? Oh yeah...

    • Comment Link Ron Swanson Friday, 06 December 2013 10:37 posted by Ron Swanson

      "There's been a mistake. You've accidentally given me the food that my food eats."

    • Comment Link Dave Brown Friday, 06 December 2013 05:57 posted by Dave Brown

      Given that 99% of modern animal agriculture is accomplished through factory farming, the debate became irrelevant if not absurd the moment that the opponents to the motion conceded that factory farming is wrong.

    • Comment Link Young Friday, 06 December 2013 04:44 posted by Young

      All the meat eaters are respectfully invited to watch these films/documentary:
      1) Earthlings: (FREE)
      2) Forks Over Knives:

      Good starters to touch and hopefully win hearts and minds.

    • Comment Link jenny Friday, 06 December 2013 04:38 posted by jenny

      Great debate! Well done Chris and Joel, very intelligent, logical and scientific arguments. Unimpressed with Neal and Gene unscientific and emotional arguments!

    • Comment Link George Friday, 06 December 2013 03:57 posted by George

      @ John Beemer, the US govt actually subsidises wheat, corn and soy, in order to flood the world with junk made of flour, cornflour, corn syrup, soy protein, corn oil and soy oil. Yum! Vegan foods!
      That's why "we're big and fat" and in need of free healthcare, not from eating animals. NZ, which exports meat and dairy all over the world, has no farming subsidies at all.

    • Comment Link George Friday, 06 December 2013 03:30 posted by George

      Some questions - is it sustainable for everyone in the world to keep eating anything at all, even vegetable foods?
      Is it sustainable to produce B12 supplements for billions of people?
      Is it sustainable to convert pasture, which is an environment found in nature, to rows of grains and legumes, which are not?
      What about the fossil fuel used by tractors to grow crops, much more than that needed to herd sheep?
      The extra pesticides used?
      The unnatural fertilizers - including billions of dead fish - used to replenish the soil after growing crops?

      If factory farming is an argument against all meat farming, it is also an argument against all vegetable farming.

      Neither side of the debate approved of factory farming, so it was a massive red herring.

      P.S. "undecided" means "I am still not a vegan".

    • Comment Link Moalt Friday, 06 December 2013 01:59 posted by Moalt

      I raise cattle organically. We preserve 90,000 acres of land in such a way that it is sustainable for generations to come. We would never profit if our goal was to ruin the land. We provide refuge for wildlife in greater numbers than most areas in our province. We have a serious wolf problem too, which should be an encouraging sign to many of you that our ecosystem is "healthy". We fertilize with chicken shit and ash. We refuse to use GMO seed. We don't drive to work on a freeway filled with single-occupant vehicles. We drive horses to work and feed them the healthy grass that's in our yard or the hay we grow here, without shipping it in. We sell to intelligent consumers who vote with their dollars for us to not use steroids or antibiotics instead of with their boycott of the wrong problem. The real problem? Too many people who are too detached from food production, looking for answers in the wrong place. Grass-fed, pasture rotated cattle actually tamp the ground as they use trapping gasses produced by their manure. Do your research by talking to a local producer. Quit listening to governing bodies and marketing ploys. Oh, and quit eating corn. If you want to find a culprit, there's a good start.

    • Comment Link Lynn Friday, 06 December 2013 01:46 posted by Lynn

      I respect vegetarians (even though the rabid "animals = people, meat is murder" types are frankly scary). But to state that people shouldn't consume anything they can't eat raw is to deny evolution. Scientists have concluded that eating meat and cooking our food is what allowed our brains to grow so large. One of dozens of articles on the topic:

      I was vegan for over a year, but I'm deathly allergic to soy, tree nuts, stone fruits, and (oddly) carrots and green beans. I'm talking instant, full-blown, moments-from-dying anaphylaxis, not mere hives or digestive upsets. Even following a diet that my RD customized for me, I lost too much weight, my hair started falling out, and I developed memory and immune problems. So the RD had me add some locally, responsibly raised animal products back into my diet. I've never been healthier or clearer-headed, and my cholesterol is "phenomenal" according to my doctor.

      I respect people who choose veganism for whatever reason(s), and they are lucky they CAN select that option. After much research and self-examination, I've made peace with my diet. My farmer's animals are raised with kindness and care and slaughtered (at a small local butcher) with respect and appreciation, as humanely as possible. Maybe those animals would prefer to die of old age if their understanding went that far, but there's no doubt they'd choose the kind of life and death my farmer provides over the short, merciless existence and brutal killing of a factory farm.

      Oh, and tell my 104-year-old grandmother that vegetarians are healthier and live longer - but prepare for a debate, because she's still as sharp as a tack.

    • Comment Link Jerilyn Greenfield Thursday, 05 December 2013 23:32 posted by Jerilyn Greenfield

      I have been a vegetarian for over 35 years, and am extremely healthy, much healthier than when I ate meat. I have been going vegan because of the cruelty in the dairy industry, and brought my cholesterol way down. No animal should ever have to suffer. They have intelligence, feelings and emotions just like people or like our pet dogs and cats. I am also against buying products with fur and leather. The stories I hear about animal cruelty break my heart!!!

    • Comment Link Bea Elliott Thursday, 05 December 2013 23:10 posted by Bea Elliott

      I'm so thankful that I live in a time and a circumstance where I have the choice to be as compassionate as I'm moved to be. I appreciate that there are others in different situations who do not have this luxury. This debate wasn't to address those individuals who absolutely must use nonhumans for the sake of survival, but rather to appeal to us who have every option in the world to extend kindness to other animals. It is a gift of abundance that I have every intention on sharing with others. No... I won't be eating anyone with a face, a family or an equal desire to live.

    • Comment Link Kevin Tran Thursday, 05 December 2013 22:30 posted by Kevin Tran

      "If you go to the real data, there is no correlation between meat intake and cancer. If you read T. Colin Campbell's book, what he does is makes a convoluted argument that something is associated with meat intake, that thing is associated with cancer, and so on. And the actual data doesn't show a direct correlation." ~ Chris Masterjohn.

      Insufficient science, nutrition, evolution, etc; are some of many important points the con-side debated about, yet probably almost half of the debate focuses on the environmental and ethical considerations which the pro-side seemingly debated strongly about. I wouldn't be surprised if the 21% increase between the pre-debate and post-debate polls were due to Gene Baur's repetitive use of the word 'relationship' and/or the apparent fact millions of animals are slaughtered, when in fact, both sides already agreed factory farm is atrocious and should be removed. Are they just too convinced something with a face is too terrifying to eat? I don't know if our hominid ancestors would be proud or approve of this. Also, I wouldn't be surprised those people turned vegan as a result of this debate.

    Leave a comment

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