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 kevin Thursday, 05 December 2013 18:44 posted by kevin

      animal rights fanatics need to get a life

    • Comment Link Teri Penn Thursday, 05 December 2013 17:22 posted by Teri Penn

      I am 60-year-old female who was feeling like a 70 year old. I really did not eat red meat, mostly chicken and salmon from Alaska. I felt my diet was pretty healthy. My diet was more like the South Beach diet. Over the years, I tried all sorts of diets just to loose weight, and only to gain most of it back, the roller-coaster ride. Well, just two months ago, I signed up for a 7-week PCRM diabetic’s class, which I thought was just a way to learn healthy ways to cook. I am not diabetic, however I took the class because of our nurse at school who over the years would always recommend this class. I liked taking this class because I felt we needed to be deprogrammed about animal protein, dairy and the processed foods out on the market. Two weeks into this class, my joints quit aching and I started to loose weight and got more energy. My workouts at the gym intensified due to this increase in energy. I am continuing to loose weight, along with my husband who also attended this class. He has lost 28 lbs in two months. Some would say that this is a lot of weight in a short time, however we are not feeling anything but a good well-being. I think the weight loss was more of a surprise to us, which is welcomed. I did find out after we finished the class that my husband was told he was pre-diabetic. He is 63 years old and now he looks great, feels great and I continue to tell him that his complexion is radiant! He plans to go in to get his blood results done next week…I know they will have dropped! I just which more people would not turn their nose on the word "vegan", think "plant based"...give it a try, I guarantee it will change your life for the good.

    • Comment Link Brian Thursday, 05 December 2013 15:46 posted by Brian

      I only have one problem with this debate (and I'm speaking in the broader sense, not just this specific instance) - what is ultimate goal of those who are for the motion? To eliminate meat from our diets completely?
      Because if that's the goal, then they've already lost. I'm an omnivore and I don't care what any research says. As a species we've been omnivores since we learned to stand upright and make stone tools. And after all those THOUSANDS of years, we seem to have done pretty well for ourselves. I don't think 50 or so years of research is really going to stand up in the face of the aforementioned thousands of years of unbiased evidence to the contrary.
      If it's to modify the practices of the food industry, I'm fine with that, but then let's have THAT debate.
      This is the question I have for all the modern "movements" from the past 20+ years: what is your ultimate goal? Is it to eliminate someone or something? Then you're simply being selfish and you're no better than the people you fight against. Is it for improvements in the system? Then that's fine, but accept that some people won't want to change.
      While this world isn't perfect, it would be positively awful if people were unable to eat meat because we had legislated out choice.

    • Comment Link CanAmFam Thursday, 05 December 2013 15:44 posted by CanAmFam

      The statistics before and after the debate show that twice as many meat eaters refused to change their minds after a compelling argument against eating meat. And many of the comments here reflect that dogmatic refusal to admit the flaws in their argument. One would think we were conversing with a bunch of Fox News loving, science-eschewing, climate change deniers by the lack of recognition of proven cause and effect impacts of our egregious meat consumption and health degradation/animal cruelty/environmental damage.

      The science is in. Humans do not need meat. Yes, our human ancestors hunted and consumed meat with little to no resemblance to the meat we consume today, nor did they consume meat anywhere approaching the amounts we eat today. Our human ancestors also practiced cannibalism, slavery and rape. The truth is most people choose to consume meat simply because it tastes good. It’s a purely selfish decision, and given today’s unsustainable, inexcusably inhumane and environmentally destructive system of industrial, meat-centic agriculture, one that is damaging not only to human health, but also the environment.

      I’m not saying everyone needs to be vegan. Only that people need to recognize that meat isn’t necessary in the human diet and that reducing one’s meat consumption is better for your health, the planet, and the welfare of farm animals.

    • Comment Link Darris Thursday, 05 December 2013 15:06 posted by Darris

      Vegans can also eat poorly if they're eating 'fake' meats. It's interesting that the meat eating camp tells us about Weston Price research. Currently, most of the Weston Price information circulating has been bastardized. In addition, Weston Price did not live in the 21st century where meat and dairy is toxic and tainted. Are you serious?! "Plants are sentient beings." Come on, plants do not have a brain or a central nervous system. I thought this ridiculous argument was passe.

      As a vibrant 59 year old vegan, much of what has been said about lacking health is so far from accurate it's amusing. I live surrounded by ranches raising cattle ~ dairy and beef. The environmental impact of these family farms is destroying our ocean from manure runoff. Additionally, the stench from spreading and shooting manure from massive sprinklers on the fields 10 months out of the year. I and millions of others who eat a healthy, plant-based diet are proof that a vegan diet is the path to vibrant health ~ my health, the animal's and the environment.

    • Comment Link Howard Berkowitz Thursday, 05 December 2013 14:42 posted by Howard Berkowitz

      Hello.. I have not watched this video yet. I just wanted set an opinion before I watch it..If you eat meat, why? Because it taste good perhaps?,,,If it tastes good why do you cook it??? Because , it is not healthy to eat it raw, perhaps?,,,It might make me sick or worse? Perhaps??Well, do you not think we should not be eating anything with a face then???? Now I will watch the video.

    • Comment Link JRZGRL1 Thursday, 05 December 2013 14:36 posted by JRZGRL1

      Eating meat is not a "personal" choice. In the process of eating meat, a living, sentient being is killed, usually at the end of a horrific life. And in the case of dairy/eggs, sentient beings live in many ways even more horrific lives because they die when they are used up. If omnivores/carnivores want to be blind to what they are doing, I guess that is a personal choice. But the act itself? Nothing "personal" about it.

    • Comment Link donna zeigfinger Thursday, 05 December 2013 14:28 posted by donna zeigfinger

      Plants are not sentient beings. Please show proof before making statement

    • Comment Link Robert Grillo Thursday, 05 December 2013 14:21 posted by Robert Grillo

      In my opinion to have someone like Joel Salatin, who has a vested financial interest in promoting an "alternative" animal agriculture, is highly cynical of the organizers of this panel and in bad faith, since it connotes an inherent conflict of interest. The other panelists have no financial ties to their position, as far as I know, except for charitable donations or grants they receive. Joel is a commercial farmer who makes money off of the slaughtered bodies of animals. Why would anyone expect him to have an enlightened view on the ethics of eating animals when the very pretext of his enterprise is to use them as commodities?

    • Comment Link Amy Noble Thursday, 05 December 2013 14:21 posted by Amy Noble

      I've been vegetarian for 20 years and have just become vegan. I'm healthy, full of energy and people always tell me I look about 21 (I'm 32) Human adults are not supposed to consume milk, and definitely not from another species! The body is able to easily get protein, calcium, omega 3 etc from beans, nuts, seeds and vegetables. There is no reason to consume animal products. Animal based diets come with a multitude of health risks from heart disease, cancer to obesity. You never see a fat vegan!

    • Comment Link Jamie Thursday, 05 December 2013 14:00 posted by Jamie

      I went vegetarian at age 15, vegan at 30. I love it! I would NEVER go back. I used to have terrible asthma and allergies, which are now completely gone. My skin is clear, I have tons of energy and am VERY HEALTHY! Try it, you won't regret it when you see how amazing you feel!

    • Comment Link Lisa Lou Thursday, 05 December 2013 12:11 posted by Lisa Lou

      You know what would be nice? If all these folks could be AGAINST factory farming together, rather than fruitlessly fighting amongst themselves. Personal anecdotes about how your particular diet made you healthy is nice, but that doesn't mean the diet that worked for YOUR body will work for everyone else. Why is it so difficult to just respect each others choices if its done so mindfully? I don't believe that one diet will work for everyone. Hence why there are the stereotypes of vegans being sickly and pale, and on the flip side meat eaters who are overweight and struggle with health problems. Mindful eaters likely will not fall into either of these stereotypes because they will eat right for their bodies. Some people simply do no digest meat well and thrive on a plant based diet. That's okay. Others get sickly and weak without some good red meat in their diet. THAT'S OKAY TOO. And if you are vegan mainly based on you moral conviction that all death is cruel and wrong, realize that you basing that on emotion and not science and therefore should be willing to accept that people will disagree with your opinion based on their own moral convictions. Kind of like how religious folks disagree.

    • Comment Link Robert Grillo Thursday, 05 December 2013 11:33 posted by Robert Grillo

      I continually hear from people that “choices” must be respected. “You eat what you want and I’ll eat what I want.” And don’t judge other’s for what they choose to eat.” This comes from both vegan and meat eaters alike. If eating animals is a choice, then we must believe in at least the following six absurdities:

      1. that we as humans have some sort of unspoken and inherited “right” to kill and eat animals no matter how trivial our reasons and just because we can;

      2. that humans are “superior” to all other species and that somehow that superiority translates into a justification for doing whatever we want to animals. In this way, human interests always “trump” animal interests, even when the human interest is trivial and the animal interest is a matter of life and death;

      3. that all animals conveniently exist only to serve one species — our own (even though most have existed in some form for millions of years before homo sapiens);

      4. that just being a member of another species somehow justifies exploiting someone;

      5. that we can turn animals into objects without making them victims;

      6. that the victim does not exist or does not care what happens to him or her.

      On the other hand, If you take the interests of animals at all seriously, then you recognize that eating animal products violates their most fundamental interest in living as free agents, staying alive and avoiding pain and suffering. A choice necessitates ownership over the options. While we may legally treat animals as property, no one has a moral “right” over the sovereignty of others who were designed by nature to be free agents as we are.

      “If we believe in absurdities, we shall commit atrocities.” Voltaire’s famous words could not be more fitting here.

      - See more at:

    • Comment Link Mark Shields Thursday, 05 December 2013 11:27 posted by Mark Shields

      so all these people that voted in favor of not eating animals with faces, after watching this debate... wonder how many will follow through with that long-term

    • Comment Link alison Thursday, 05 December 2013 11:07 posted by alison

      to vote for either side, it would have been nice to have the button for that side under a picture of the people presenting that side of the equation. 'against' is obviously a negative position and it would be interesting if the results would be in any way different if one were voting for a side and not a for or against position.

    • Comment Link Edward Cummings Thursday, 05 December 2013 10:45 posted by Edward Cummings

      I remember doing a similar debate when I was studying for my Animal Science BSc degree. “This House believes that Animals are Fundamental to the Future of Food Supply for the World” and the for side won but maybe the voters were fellow animal science students and this degree might not exist in a vegan world? Some pointers I raised during the debate include that food aren't the only products we get from animals as this link shows- and there are vegan alternatives to these products but said alternatives might be worse than the animal product they are replacing in relation to the environment and/or human health. Personally I would go with the product which is best for example before the 1980's insulin for diabetics came from cows and pigs but it is now made from genetically modified microbes- Two more pointers I found was that 65% of the land type fond on our planet can be considered to be too wet, dry or mountainous for use in arable farming and In 2009 Helmi Risku-Norja, Sirpa Kurppa, Juha Helenius discover that an individual persons dietary choice has little effect on the environment and if the whole world where to change to a vegan it will only reduce greenhouse emissions by 7% which is small compared to if we were to decrease are use of fossil fuel (• Helmi Risku-Norja, Sirpa Kurppa, Juha Helenius. Dietary choices and greenhouse gas emissions -- assessment of impact of vegetarian and organic options at national scale. Progress in Industrial Ecology An International Journal, 2009). Such information might be out of date now so here is some recent research- If the information I have posted have changed your mind then that's OK if it hasn't then that is OK as well I'm not going to force you to change.

    • Comment Link Jaime Thursday, 05 December 2013 09:58 posted by Jaime

      To people saying it's "natural" for us to eat animal products, let me just that first, there is nothing natural about today's farming practices and production. Second, if it's so natural, why are we the only omnivores that need some process to interfere with our consumption? When was the last time you just took a big bite out of a live animal and started eating?

    • Comment Link Patricia Massari Thursday, 05 December 2013 09:10 posted by Patricia Massari

      To address a couple misconceptions of recent person said this talk to be more scientific...Dr. Barnard has conducted dozens of peer reviewed studies, was granted $350,000 from the NIH to conduct a study regarding diabetes and is often asked to be a peer reviewer of other studies. His work is often consistent with the work of Dr. Caldwell Esseltyn, T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Joel Furhman and others...further unlike Mr. Salatin, whose livelihood depends on exploiting and killing animals...Dr. Barnard has nothing to sell except books, and to suggest what he says is not backed by science is inaccurate.

      Another person drug out the (yawn) old argument that vegans are "pasty and sickly". I would say look around and advance your argument to this century. Just google Rich Roll, Brendan Brazier, Scott Jurek, Vegan Bodybuilding and fitness, the list goes on...I guess Natalie Portman, Carrie Underwood, Emily Deschanel, Patrik Baumbomian (world's strongest man), etc.., etc...are pasty and sickly? I am 46 and an athlete and dominate my omnivore competitors...your argument is old and unstudied and has no bearing in reality...Further, I can tell you as a cardiac nurse the number of overweight, obese and ailing omnivores I see. The get wheeled in and out daily to get their cardiac catheterizations, stents, bypass surgeries...they are often on 10 meds because many of them have type 2 diabetes and hypertension as well..their cardiac and diabetes issues have been proven to be able to be prevented and reversed with a strictly plant based diet...

      Bottom line...animal agriculture is extremely cruel, makes us more unhealthy, is unsustainable/is killing the earth (accounts more more greenhouse gas emissions than ALL forms of transportation combined), takes food and water from people who could use it to fatten animals who will die for our plates to continue this unwise cycle and is completely unnecessary..Species are decimated as more land is cleared to inefficiently raise animals who are no different than our dogs and cats...Anything we wouldn't want done to our companion animals is not "humane". On the other end billions of animals are tortured in labs to try to cure disease we often bring on ourselves with diet choices..Most people can not even bear to see a slaughter video or learn the truth...that is not the behavior of a "predator" or carnivore?

      The world is changing...I know it's tough because people are used to the institutionalized suffering of the animals and eating foods that ultimately make them sick oftentimes. But if one cares about animals, has children that they want to inherit a livable earth and are concerned about driving down healthcare costs (Kaiser Permanente recently sent out a suggestion that doctors should be recommending vegan/strictly plant based diets to their patients)'s never been easier to do the right thing on so many levels...

    • Comment Link Young Thursday, 05 December 2013 08:46 posted by Young

      The reason we used to or still are eat everything or anything with a face is because we were/are too comfortably unaware. We may hold strong opinion as to why we should continue to do so, but if and only if we are open to feeling less comfortable, we could then explore genuinely to become aware, of all the facts, then we could all make an informed, educated and enlightened decision.

    • Comment Link mark rogers Thursday, 05 December 2013 08:20 posted by mark rogers

      the "for" argument is assuming that all meat eaters are eating meat from animals that weren't allowed to be animals. Barnard kept talking about the dangers of bologna and hot kidding. We agree on that. It's eating meat from animals that were allowed to live in their natural environments, and cutting out grains and sugars...meat eaters who eat cake at the end of every meal are not healthy.

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