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

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

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    • Comment Link Robert Grillo Saturday, 30 November 2013 11:12 posted by Robert Grillo

      Our dominant, animal-eating culture will always find ingenuous ways of defending the most abusive, oppressive and destructive systems of food production and claim, through humanewashing and greenwashing language and messaging, that we can still have our "cake and eat it too." We can still fetishize and consume all the animal products we want and be "kind" and "green" and "conscious." This is a truly an example of Orwellian doublespeak.

    • Comment Link Lisa Shields Saturday, 30 November 2013 08:40 posted by Lisa Shields

      Best thing I did for my body, mind and spirit was to go vegan. I eat mostly raw and I will never go back. The shift in consciousness about animals and the planet is incredible. I believe the entire planet could be healed through vegan eating.

      "If you want to know where you would have stood on slavery before the Civil War, don't look at where you stand on slavery now. Look at where you stand on animal rights." -Captain Paul Watson

    • Comment Link Robert Grillo Friday, 29 November 2013 23:51 posted by Robert Grillo

      The answer is no. Humans are absolutely not carnivores and have no biological need to consume animal products of any kind, contrary to popular belief and myth. In 2009, the American Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, the U.S.’s oldest, largest and foremost authority on diet and nutrition, also recognized that humans have no inherent biological or nutritional need for animals products: “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”

      While a well-balanced vegan diet can easily provide all of the nutrients we need to thrive, that doesn’t mean that all vegans are healthy. Just as people who eat meat, dairy and eggs often suffer from nutrient deficiencies, a poorly planned or junk-food vegan diet can also fail to meet nutritional needs, leading to health problems. Total raw food diets and diets composed of only very-low-fat foods can also make it harder for some people to get all the necessary nutrients. But with the rare exception of someone who suffers from multiple serious plant-food allergies, science now recognizes that a healthy vegan diet is a safe option for everyone.

      With the biological and nutritional issues addressed, the only question that remains is an ethical one: If we can live healthy lives without harming anyone, then why wouldn't we? Why would we instead choose to contribute to the industries that force billions of animals to suffer every year and doom them to a violent slaughterhouse end in their infant or adolescent age? If might does not make right, then right does not make a carnivore.

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    • Comment Link Lori Friday, 29 November 2013 03:12 posted by Lori

      The "against" says the most environmentally friendly, ethically responsible, and healthy diet is a not a meat-free one, but rather a locally sourced, sustainably produced one. It is not meat consumption that must end; it is agribusiness’s factory production of foods.
      With the population of the US it would be impossible to have everyone eating "grass fed" beef grazing in pastures in the US. And we all know factory farming is inhumane and wastes so much water and crops grown to feed the animals. Also the last line saying "are we suppose to be carnivores" is just stupid! Carnivores eat only meat (raw)! Plant based is best for the environment, the animals and us :)

    • Comment Link Sarah Wednesday, 27 November 2013 12:34 posted by Sarah

      The title of the "debate" seems to have presupposed a conclusion. How about calling the debate - "What to eat?"

    • Comment Link Jackie Wednesday, 27 November 2013 10:44 posted by Jackie

      No one is talking about growing our own plant foods as community rather than big ag/utilizing land masses. Wouldn't the impact mentioned about the land use change if it was our own properties being better utilized than for lawns and ornamental plantings exclusively? And definitely better defined information about exactly how to eat for nutrition without bias toward the gain for wealth creation is essential. That is where we are all struggling because almost always, someone is either writing a book/blog for profit or trying to own the world. The comment regarding factory farming "Let's all come together and focus on that. Maybe together we can find a solution to this horrible industry" is as right on as can be and is behind my choice to eat plant based. Can anyone dispute that it is insane and that we are, for the most part walking blindly while it goes on all around us without any personal responsibility toward ending it? Check out Eat Don't Eat on Facebook and let's talk more.

    • Comment Link Bee Winfield Wednesday, 27 November 2013 08:39 posted by Bee Winfield

      The whole argument as usual is that animals are cruelly treated, the environment harmed and human health negatively affected by eating meat. In the case of factory farmed meat this is all true. However in the case of organic pasture fed meat, the argument against animal products is baseless. Dr Michael McGregor, himself a vegetarian, referrs to huge studies, one involving 28,000 vegetarians and vegans, which showed that vegetarians are twice as likely to die of neurological diseases, twice as likley to sustain hip fractures and , get this, live just as long as meat eaters. He concludes that being a healthy vegan is possible but with a whole lot of supplements. Organic local food, particularly grass fed animal products are essential to reverse climate change, The huge biomass of archea, bacteria and fungi create soil ( the biggest carbon sink on the planet) and for at least 3 billion years these soil food web organisms , who need animals (as does grass), have cycled nutrients and sequestered vast amounts of atmospheric carbon and methane and kept everything sweetly balanced but guess what? Since about 1930 they have been decimated on a grand scale by logging, the plough and agrichemicals.Try growing lentils and soyabeans without a plough. The vast acreages that produce grain legumes and vegetables produce far more drained aquifers and far more acid , poisoned, compacted and eroding soil, than nutrition. So ! Enjoy pasture fed meat eggs and milk, our most sustainable food

    • Comment Link Mike in CT Wednesday, 27 November 2013 08:19 posted by Mike in CT

      All these comments about a plant based diet and people speaking on absolutes cracks me up. I think eating whole foods and products that are minimally processed makes sense. It's a silly notion to say that animal protein is inherently unhealthy. I do think you there is a benefit to researching when sourcing you meat, eggs dairy etc.

    • Comment Link Di Wednesday, 27 November 2013 07:43 posted by Di

      As a former vegetarian and vegan I for one will not go back there as I ended up health issues. Fatigue, weight gain, joint pain, digestive difficulties etc. This resulted in doctors visits, which resulted in blood work. The blood work revealed deficiencies, despite having made sure, with help of a dietician, that I would get all the necessary nutrients. I have dug into the whole thing extensively and will not go back there again as I don't want to be ill all the time. I was incapable of working at some point. Not worth it. These days I eat pastured animal products on top of my already organic food intake and avoid soy like the plague. My health is improving tremendously because of it. Some people may thrive on a vegetarian diet, but not all. There is no size fits all solution. I don't like the push for vegetarianism that is happening these days from all corners.

    • Comment Link Mauricio Tuesday, 26 November 2013 15:40 posted by Mauricio

      great debates!

    • Comment Link Head Ov Metal Friday, 22 November 2013 06:36 posted by Head Ov Metal

      Vegan for AHIMSA.

    • Comment Link DW Thursday, 21 November 2013 14:13 posted by DW

      Neither side is correct. Meat is unhealthy, but they are a high energy source in times of need when non-meat options are scarce. Vegan is not necessarily healthy because high fat, high sugar junk foods like donuts, cakes, cookies can be vegan and cause all the bad diseases mentioned associated with meat consumption. One should not eat meat if healthy vegan options are available, but one should not starve to death if otherwise.

    • Comment Link mcdmd Wednesday, 20 November 2013 17:17 posted by mcdmd

      Nutrient rich, fiber packed food that I can eat to satiation without risking obesity, diabetes, hypertension, vascular disease, osteoporosis, diverticulitis seems pretty straightforward to me. And Ph balance with an alkalinizing vegan/vegetarian diet vs acidifying animal based diets leading to calciurea and osteopenia and osteoperosis makes sense to me too. There is plenty of good data our there to support it and if you have any motivation at all you might find yourself shedding those pesky extra pounds that have plagued you all of your life. However, the typical American diet does keep physicians and the pharmaceutical industry in business. So I feed my family well, I am happy to help spread the word, but hey if you want to keep eating yourself into chronic illness go right ahead!

    • Comment Link Rahmat Tuesday, 19 November 2013 18:35 posted by Rahmat

      To be fair, the meats served in the fast food joints haven't been fed their natural diets, so they're not truly natural fats. Also, deep frying forms TRANS FATS, which EVERYONE knows are bad! Some people claim you can force your body to efficiently burn fat for energy if you restrict your carb intake to 50 g / day or less, and that if carbs were truly our body's preferred source of energy, we wouldn't have limited glycogen storage ability.

    • Comment Link Cari Tuesday, 19 November 2013 18:03 posted by Cari

      In response to Josh's comment posted Nov. 15: Reality: Very few farm animals are pasture raised these days. That is the sad reality.Most are raised on factory farms. So your comment about PCRM not reviewing data about non-factory-farm raised animals--whether this is truly an accurate comment or not--doesn't really mean a lot these days. No matter what side of the issue one stands on, most of us (including Josh) seem to agree that factory farming is not a good thing... for the environment, for the animals ... Let's all come together and focus on that. Maybe together we can find a solution to this horrible industry.

    • Comment Link George Tuesday, 19 November 2013 15:55 posted by George

      Does anyone ask what will happen to domestic animals if everyone stops eating them? Will PETA have them euthanased as they do with unwanted dogs and cats?
      Humans being dependent on animals, and vice versa, is distasteful to some, but I don't think this is always a sign of respect for them.

    • Comment Link Kathryn A Tuesday, 19 November 2013 11:25 posted by Kathryn A

      Imagine aliens coming to earth, caging humans in cages so small they could not turn around, inseminating the females so they will have babies only to take those human babies and throwing them into a pile right after birth. Imagine the aliens then hoisted the males by the ankles onto an assembly line while the aliens slit their throats and then had television shows on how to properly store, disassemble and cook them. What would we think of them as a species? Cruel? Evil? Maybe some of them would look sadly upon what they are doing and have an ethical debate. Maybe some of them would make fun of those who dared to even discuss it.

    • Comment Link Carlos Brillembourg Saturday, 16 November 2013 06:04 posted by Carlos Brillembourg

      About forty years ago I decided in whim to stop eating meat,fish,dairy products and eggs. I enjoyed this change and was interested in the newness of eating fruits vegetables and grains; what today would be called a "vegan" diet. About a year later I was in a coral atoll in the Caribbean with a group of friends and they were to eat that night the lobster or langouste locally fished and I could not resist. So I ate my lobster and was very happy to do so without any adverse reactions. This was the turning point in my dietary habits. From that moment on I decided to eat whatever I wanted to and slowly I began to eat cheese, eggs,and soon thereafter crustaceans and fish. So from time to time I am at a dinner and I am served a soup made of chicken or beef stock and I drink it without much of a problem. I make it a habit not to tell my dietary eccentricities to my hosts. So, about 39 years later I don't want to eat birds of mammals--- not for any ethical or ecological reasons. Why does it have to be a binary choice? Are there just two positions? It seems to me that this is too reductive and not the correct frame for this important discussion.

    • Comment Link Holly Goulet Friday, 15 November 2013 16:53 posted by Holly Goulet

      We should be less worried about what we're eating and more concerned with how it was raised and where it comes from, ie. GMOs etc.

    • Comment Link Josh Friday, 15 November 2013 13:00 posted by Josh

      Dr. Barnard and his animal rights organization the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) use deception, fabrication, and junk science to scare people in to believing that animal products correlate with disease and that they are bad for the environment. How coincidental that Dr. Barnard is a former employee of PETA and that his organization collects money from them and is linked to other animal rights groups (

      Dr. Barnard and the PCRM use observational data to correlate meat with disease. This is not based on gold standard science, and somehow Dr. Barnard forgets that correlation does not prove causation in epidemiology. They neglect to inform people about this as well as the fact that their own intervention trials are done on individuals with a Standard American Diet. This means that in addition to meat, these individuals also consume excess sugar, refined carbs, processed food, drink more, smoke more, and have a sedentary lifestyle...... but somehow it's the meat that's making them sick? The PCRM has never conducted any randomized control trial on their own diets or on that of a whole-food omnivorous diet (so in other words, they don't control the numerous variables like a responsible scientist would).

      Randomized control trials done on meat eating do not show that meat is unhealthy. In 2007, such a study was done on the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN Diets; the end result showing that the high meat-and-fat Atkins diet had better weight loss and better overall effects than the other diets ( How can this be if animal products correlate with disease? Dr. Barnard and the PCRM can not answer this question because they rely on data done on a Standard American Diet so that they can extrapolate the results to all meat eaters. This is dishonest, and unscientific.

      On the topic of the environment, such subterfuge is also relied upon. Most data concerning animal farming and the environment are done on factory farms; alternatives (pasture farming) are ignored. There is no question that factory farming animals is bad for the environment. But why are these individuals ignoring the alternative? Pasture farming improves soil health (, prevents erosion ( and also helps with the release of gasses (

      Eating meat provides us with a better, more bioavailable source of amino acids, fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and various minerals. This is what the science shows. If you feel it's morally wrong to consume animal products, that's certainly fine. If you think that farm animals should be treated better, I absolutely agree. Going vegan for health, though? There's no evidence to support this; just observational data and science based on the Standard American Diet. That's not evidence; it's scare science, and that's what Barnard and his colleagues rely on.

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