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 Karen Diggs Tuesday, 03 December 2013 00:08 posted by Karen Diggs

      Wow, such heated passion! Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is the definition of a "face". Nematodes are no less sentient then a cow or chicken, and they are killed or ingested unknowingly by vegetarians and meat eaters every single day.
      Our perception is limited by our attachment to norms, but if we crack open our consensus reality, we will see that everything has life, and that life and death co-exist mutually, at all times. When we die, worms will have a lovely feast on our decaying flesh, and ecologically speaking, it's a very good thing that they are not vegetarians or vegans.

    • Comment Link Peter Monday, 02 December 2013 20:35 posted by Peter

      A lot of you pro-veganism folks are probably also evolutionists and atheists, ignorant of the fact that God told Noah in Genesis, that every animal that lives on the earth shall be food for him. Of course, you probably view yourselves as "enlightened" and beyond belief in "fairy tales" such as the Bible. I bet your ignorance goes so far as to
      also believe in Darwinian Evolution, in spite of the ever increasing mountain of scientific evidence that the living cell could not possibly have originated ex nihilo by natural means, and that it functions on a set of instructions that resemble an extremely complicated and advanced computer program. I am totally opposed to the CAFO treatment of animals, but you bleeding hearts ought to realize that whether or not you eat animals, other animals will eat them. This feigned kindness and love for nature does not become you and is hypocritical to say the least.

    • Comment Link Diana (Veganzeus) Monday, 02 December 2013 19:41 posted by Diana (Veganzeus)

      Bottom what is morally right. You know deep down that breeding, raising and killing animals for food and other uses is wrong. There is nothing that will make it right. There is NO humane killing...that is an oxymoron... Your cravings should have nothing to do with this... There are millions and millions of healthy vegans who prove that living vegan is not only possible, but is the best choice and the most compassionate choice for animals, our planet and our health/peace of mind. We have infinite compassion stored within us...we just need to allow it to come to the surface and guide us in our daily lives..... Do the right thing always. No animal wants to die for you... Would you choose to die for them?

    • Comment Link Don Robertson Monday, 02 December 2013 17:25 posted by Don Robertson

      Ending the needless violence and terrible waste of resources of animal agriculture (our existing farmlands could feed at least five times as many if we grew only crops to feed people) that could be used to feed the hungry is more than enough reason for me to take this issue very seriously. Then add to the mix - the fact that livestock produce more climate changing greenhouse gases than all combined forms of transportation... and the fact that we could virtually eliminate the top cause of mortality - cardiovascular disease - by shifting to a plant-based diet... What thinking person would not see the wisdom in changing the way we eat?

    • Comment Link Lisa H Monday, 02 December 2013 17:23 posted by Lisa H

      Going Vegan has been the best decision I have made for the animals, health, environment, etc...

    • Comment Link Barb Monday, 02 December 2013 17:12 posted by Barb

      As someone who was quite unhealthy prior to changing to a plant-based diet one year ago, I can speak from experience that a well-balanced plant-based diet is much healthier than one that contains meat, eggs, and dairy. Physically, I feel better than I have in ages. I've lost a lot of excess weight, my blood pressure & cholesterol are at healthy levels, and I have so much more energy than I had before.

      But.... none of those great 'perks' were why I adopted the vegan lifestyle. I just simply decided to stop ignoring what I already knew to be true... humans are not meant to consume animals. Animals have the same emotions and feelings, the same capacity for love and the desire to live, as humans. They may look differently, communicate differently, and behave differently than humans... but that does not change the fact that they have just as much right to be here as we do. Just because it is acceptable by society and technically 'legal', does not make it morally okay. So, not only do I feel better physically, I also feel MUCH better mentally, knowing I'm no longer a part of the cruelty towards animals.

      Although the animals were my number one reason for going vegan, I also did it for the environment. I am an Environmental Management major, so I have spent a lot of time researching Environmental Issues. There is significant evidence that places Animal Agriculture in the number one slot for the industry that contributes the most to anthropogenic greenhouse gases.

      When one looks at the evidence supporting animals' sentience, the evidence placing animal agriculture as the number one contributor to global warming, and the immense data supporting a plant-based diet being the healthiest diet, it is really hard to imagine why intelligent people would fight so hard against veganism.

    • Comment Link Cass Williams Monday, 02 December 2013 16:57 posted by Cass Williams

      I dare all you meat eaters to eat a hamburger and watch .. Vegans are healthier then meat eaters.. We are saving the environment and if all the idiots stopped stealing the grain from Africa to feed cattle in the US to feed an overweight population there would be no starvation.. come on, research and dont be commenting on things you are ignorant about.. and of course the cruelty in consuming animals .. we are the pioneers of a better world to come, your children will look back on you in disgust and ask how on earth could you do this to us.. The planet, the starving and the animals.. Heavy sigh..

    • Comment Link Ellen Monday, 02 December 2013 15:30 posted by Ellen

      Junk eh? Mom, aunt, both sisters: breast cancer. For starters. As the youngest in my family and an Emmy-winning TV investigative reporter for 18 years, dodging our family history became the investigative reporting job of my life...about the time I almost died of a colon blockage from a no-fiber, meat-rich diet. My cholesterol on Atkins: 203. Vegan: 150 or less. Currently 7th for my age group in the US in the 1500 meters. Just placed yesterday in a half marathon, making a total of 59 5K races or longer that I've placed in since '06 "just" on those weak aminos in plants. ;) Wish I had a dime for every person who does a double-take when they hear my age. I'd be a gazillionaire like the meat/dairy industry corps who pay big bucks for misinformation. Yup, no money in broccoli. No corporation, lobby or association. Which is why you have to be your own broccoli rep as I am, and do the investigative reporting job to figure out the truth about food. Follow the money. Or lack of same.

    • Comment Link Rob E Monday, 02 December 2013 15:29 posted by Rob E

      It's easy to confuse the different questions here. There is not much dispute that humans are designed to eat both plant and animal products; it is an evolutionary fact. If you eliminate all animal products, you either need to take a ton of supplements, or you will eventually suffer adverse health consequences. Does this mean that factory-farmed meat is a good thing for the planet? Of course not; raising animals on pasture, eating grass, as they were designed to do, is best for both the planet and for human health. Can we feed the current world population using only meat from grass-fed animals? No, we can't. So perhaps the basic issue here is human overpopulation of the planet. I understand that not everyone has access to grass-fed meat (and many never will), but I for one will continue to consume it, as I understand it is beneficial to my health.

    • Comment Link Krista Monday, 02 December 2013 15:12 posted by Krista

      I don't think anyone can argue that overconsumption of animal products leads to diseases like colon cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc. What then, does overconsumption of whole plant foods lead to? Well, you can turn orange if you eat too many carrots! I've not heard much of any other side effects. Logically then, I think it would make sense that we're not intended to have animal products be a staple in our diets. My belief is that we're adaptable, so in the event of another ice age, when plants are not readily available for us, we can kill something to survive. In the mean time, I'll go down to my corner grocery store and pick up some plants. For the record, I don't believe we're meant to eat processed "vegan" foods either. As close to nature as possible is healthiest.

    • Comment Link beth Monday, 02 December 2013 12:26 posted by beth

      this will be interesting...I hope there is a differentiation between humanely raised meats and CAFOs.

    • 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.

      - See more at:

    • 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.

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