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 Eng Wednesday, 11 December 2013 11:47 posted by Eng

      The arrogance of the moral position on "not eating anything with a face" is staggering.

      You would arbitrarily place a higher value on life which has a form and experience more similar to yours and place a lower value on life which has a form and experience different from yours. You would say one form of life is ok to kill and eat without guilt and another is not.

      You would deny your equal position in the ecology of the planet to that of a bean sprout or a worm because you have arbitrarily defined your own central nervous system and sensory organs and cognition as special or important enough to place you outside of it. You imagine special responsibilities for yourself because of this imagined special position, you choose forms of abstinence from your evolved place in the ecosystem as a form sacrament for your moral philosophy. This moral philosophy is simply another presentation of the spirituality of self-worship.

      Maybe this is what you need to do to feel personally fulfilled. Then do it and be happy. But, just like other evangelicals engaged in self-worship disguised as moral philosophy, you feel compelled to make others like you to validate your feelings. Just like young earth creationists and intelligent designers, you deny evolution, you deny that humankind is mundane, you cherry pick studies and anecdotes, you use the language of science to describe philosophy, you attempt to obfuscate the broad variation in lifestyles, genetic makeup, and complexity of the real world and environment, all to persuade others to be more like you.

    • Comment Link Trae Palmer Wednesday, 11 December 2013 10:10 posted by Trae Palmer

      Hey, I think that's Victoria Moran I see in the background at 01:08:15...I love her podcast !

    • Comment Link Damian Stoy Tuesday, 10 December 2013 12:38 posted by Damian Stoy

      I've been vegan for 9 years. I run 100 miles races competitively and have perfect health. Not a single issue, no injuries, no headaches, no digestive issues. 7 months ago I went to a diet of JUST fruits and veggies and I am THRIVING. The key is eating lots.

    • Comment Link Natalie Tuesday, 10 December 2013 04:36 posted by Natalie

      For those of you who say a vegan diet is unhealthy:

      Any diet (vegan or non-vegan) can by unhealthy if not done properly. Just because someone is vegan does not mean they are eating only processed sugar, corn, soy, etc. Many vegans are whole food vegans, meaning they only eat fresh fruit and vegetables and whole grains (not the processed stuff). If you eat a balanced diet of plant-based food, you can obtain all the nutrients you need, including vitamin B12. Even the ADA has stated that a vegan diet, if done properly, can be perfectly healthy.

    • Comment Link Natalie Tuesday, 10 December 2013 04:22 posted by Natalie

      To Justin Credible:
      You wrote the following: "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"
      You may have never studied animal behavior and evolution in college. I did. I earned my degree in evolutionary biology. I have also spent years working as a veterinary nurse and have attended multiple seminars on animal cognitive behavior and emotions. You are flat out wrong when you say that animals have "no knowledge of sorrow or regret." Just ask a veterinarian (who has a doctorate degree) and they will tell you that animals not only experience sorrow and regret, but they also experience grief, gratitude, and both physical and emotional pain. As Charles Darwin said: "There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher animals in their mental faculties... The lower animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery."
      "The idea of difference is a human conception for man's own advantage..."
      -- Sri Aurobindo,
      We used to justify slavery by saying that blacks were inferior to whites (ie: conception for our own advantage). We justified this cruelty because it "benefited" our economy. Well, raising animals in crowded pens and boiling them alive (pigs and chickens) without proper stunning is cruel and it does NOT benefit our health. There are plenty of healthy vegans out there. I am an ultra runner and know plenty of other ultra runners who have been vegan for years and we run 31 mile plus races in the mountains. We thrive on this diet. Others may "thrive" on a factory farm animal-based diet, but their diet directly contributes to suffering, and it is not ecologically sustainable in a planet with over 7 billion people. Don't presume to know what animals are thinking or feeling. After all, you are an animal yourself.

    • Comment Link Joseph Martinez Tuesday, 10 December 2013 02:47 posted by Joseph Martinez

      Without going into Ecological and ethical issues and just approaching this issue from a scientific perspective, as a nutritional scientist (I am an assistant professor, teaching Clinical Nutrition and nutritional biochemistry) I find that the claims made that a vegan diet is better than an omnivorous one and that meat is the cause of various diseases are not supported by the literature. And it really doesn't matter the speaking skills and knowledge of the people in the debate. What really matters is what good research shows. As so I would like to bring some points to the discussion:

      1) The fact that a vegan/vegetarian diet improves various health markers in the short term doesn't say it is a better diet than a well balanced omnivorous diet, because when you do a trial where diet A is a vegan/vegetarian diet and diet B is the typical SAD (which is a nutritional nightmare) or even the recommended AHA one (which has been shown to be scientific incorrect by multiple lines of evidence), the only thing you can say is that quitting a SAD diet is beneficial. But this happens with many diets and not just vegetarian ones: low carb, low glycemic index diets, Zone diet, Med diets, etc. for instance, there are already 2 trials with a Paleo diet (which includes meat) showing good results in diabetic patients when compared to a Mediterranean or prudent diet. And there are many high protein, low carb diets (that obviously include meat) showing these diets improve various metabolic markers when compared to a prudent diet.
      To really now if a vegetarian/vegan diet is better than all omnivorous diets you have to put it to test and very few studies have actually done that. Bottom line: almost any diet that puts away from the SAD will improve your health (at least short term);

      2) when someone goes on a vegetarian/vegan diet not only changes the diet but also the lifestyle, which makes it very hard if not impossible to draw conclusions about the single variable that explains their health status. This is supposedly one of the reasons why red meat has been associated with some diseases in epidemiological studies and whole grains inversely associated. People who eat more red meat also smoke, are physically inactive and eat fewer fruits and veggies. On the other hand those who eat whole grains do the opposite. Is it the red meat then? Is it the whole grains? Or is it the whole lifestyle?

      3) various prospective and retrospective studies observe that vegetarians do not live longer than omnivorous and many omnivorous follow a SAD, so how can this be? This is enough to make me skeptical.

      4) it is very well known that a vegan or even vegetarian diet can lead to various nutritional deficiencies/insufficiencies not because plant foods do not contain it, but because their bioavailability in plant foods (especially whole grains) is low: B12, B6, DHA, Iron, Zinc, Cysteine, Taurine. A diet composed of meat, fish, eggs, dairy, fruits, vegetables, tubers, nuts is much more nutrient dense and the bioavailability of most nutrients in these foods is better than in whole grains (which form the basis of many vegan/vegetarian diets)

      5) many researchers have analyzed the health status and dietary habits of various populations around the world and have found that non western pre-agriculture populations are virtually free of modern diseases and that none is totally vegetarian - there's always some animal foods in their diets. Even Okinawa that has a fair amount of very old healthy people includes some animal food in their traditional diet. Many of these researchers have implicated grains, refined sugars, refined vegetable oils, processed foods, meat from feedlot obese animals as well as lifestyle as possible explanations:

      6) to better understand the poor quality of the research and arguments used to support a vegan diet here's a link to a debate:

    • Comment Link Nathan Monday, 09 December 2013 13:20 posted by Nathan

      Whether or not you agree with the FOR side, you have to admit they did a much better job than the AGAINST. The FOR guys were well armed with knowledge, data, and facts, and delivered them with confidence. The AGAINST guys seemed hesitant, didn't have any facts to back up their arguments, and resorted to ad hominem attacks. FOR wins!

    • Comment Link Phil Lapp Sunday, 08 December 2013 17:36 posted by Phil Lapp

      My father was born Amish and we grew up Mennonite in Lancaster County, PA, eating meat and potatoes literally every day. My grandfather died of a heart attack at age 40. At age 33 I went in for a routine physical and found my cholesterol was hovering around 300, even on statins. With the council of my doctor, I started eliminating all red meat (still eating fish occasionally) from my diet and over the course of a year my cholesterol dropped 100 points (without medication), and I lost 30 lbs. The elimination of red meat, and the introduction of nuts, beans, and fruit was literally the only dietary change I made. Just began to feel great. Today I'm a competitive long-distance runner fueled exclusively on plants and am in the best shape of my life.

      Everyone has a personal story. As runners, we need to focus on "soft" foods that our bodies can digest efficiently. Red meat is obviously not one of those foods. But personal stories aren't enough. I think there are two primary questions missing from this debate, outside of ethics and sustainability, and purely from a nutritional standpoint. 1 - everyone focuses on the positives of what's in red meat, protein obviously is one. But if you consider the total picture (such as excessive l-carnitine and iron for examples) what impact does the total ingredient deck have on health? And 2 - fairly simple, what impact does eating red meat have on digestive health? Exploring these questions openly and honestly leads away from the polarization topic of meat, and more to it's effects, which trickle out much further than taking a bite.

      Caveat - my wife and I co-founded a meat alternative called "neat". And while we're not taking a combative position on this topic as a brand, we try to simply equip people with the information to make a informed decision - producing an alternative, and letting people decide for themselves where it fits in their diet.

    • Comment Link Griffin Sunday, 08 December 2013 11:10 posted by Griffin

      Assuming we don't buy into the health concerns of "eating anything with a face", or that we don't nutritional have to include animals in our diet, then why do we shun eating horses & dogs that are commonly consumed in other parts of the world?

    • Comment Link Cyd Saturday, 07 December 2013 17:09 posted by Cyd

      I was vegetarian for a very long time, close to vegan except for fish; I ate a lot of soy as well. I slowly added poultry back into my diet, and then two years ago I was diagnosed with Hashimotos Thyroiditis. I also became Pre- Diabetic. To my dismay as I began to do finger sticks regularly I found that all carbs including fruit raised my blood glucose a lot. Now I am working hard to keep my carb intake very low. I eat a fairly high fat diet, good fats, moderate protein and low carb. It is the only thing that works...obviously to keep my BG low. As it is I still wake up with a BG level of around 100mg. I don't believe that vegetarianism can work for me and I am dubious about any diet that cannot provide all the nutrients, i.e, B12. I don't believe that we are meant to take supplements. That has always been something that has stayed in my mind since I started vegetarianism about over 40 years ago. So I venture into this new world of the Paleo diet with most of my colleagues and friends thinking I'm crazy. I look forward to more debates on vegetarianism, veganism vs the Paleo diet. Thanks. Cyd

    • Comment Link JC Saturday, 07 December 2013 12:30 posted by JC

      The percentage of vegans is up higher than posted here. 7% now claim to be vegan or roughly 22 million. This is a social justice movement that is getting stronger and stronger. People opposed will some day look like racists do now!

      Here's a video to help everyone understand why so many people are making this life affirming choice:

      Join the revolution! 21-Day Vegan Kickstart

    • 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...

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