Don't Eat Anything With A Face

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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

    For

    Dr. Neal Barnard

    Clinical Researcher & Author, 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart

  • Gene Baur official 90px final

    For

    Gene Baur

    President and Co-Founder, Farm Sanctuary

  • Masterjohn official 90

    Against

    Chris Masterjohn

    Nutritional Sciences Researcher & Blogger, The Daily Lipid

  • Salatin 90

    Against

    Joel Salatin

    Farmer & Author


    • Moderator Image

      MODERATOR

      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 westonaprice.org. 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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    285 comments

    • Comment Link Carolyn Bjorkfelt Tuesday, 04 February 2014 06:47 posted by Carolyn Bjorkfelt

      Gill Jacobs, what do you mean by "sentimentalizing" animals? All lives are precious. Of course lions can't be vegetarians. They are obligatory carnivores. Human beings are not. I wouldn't judge you or anyone for eating meat, but it IS possible to be healthy on a plant-based diet.

    • Comment Link Carol Saturday, 01 February 2014 17:07 posted by Carol

      Heard today on WNYC, Feb 1, 2014.

      My experience is similar to other commentaries: many meat eaters are angry and dismissive about vegetarian diets rather than the reverse. (And tend to make bazaar equivalencies such as the comment about killing microbes - just beyond the beyond.)

      Stating that growing plant food uses more resources pound for pound than growing meat - an outright lie, by any standards.

      For me, nothing is more offensive than specious reasoning and gross generalizations.

      Joel Salatin:
      1) (All)Science is subjective. Wrong. Not every study manipulates the data to conform to the hypothesis.

      2) Vegetarians have increased dental decay. Wrong. See NIH and Mayo Clinic.

      3) Forward facing eyes indicate a species are carnivorous. Wrong. Current thinking is this type of eye placement developed in animals living in cluttered (leaves, bushes, etc.) environments. Consider predators without this eye structure: killer whales, orcas, crocodiles, mongooses, tree shrews, snakes…

      4) Going philosophical? could “…trade dead bodies and thin people and heart attacks all night”… what?

      5) Re Jesus and Mohammad eating meat – when speaking of religion, one should always keep the historic setting in mind. In Jesus’ and Mohammad’s time, women were chattel, slavery was the norm, the husband could impregnate another woman if his wife is infertile (the issue was never his infertility), and so on.

      6) Not mentioned: herbivores have longer digestive tract for processing plant material. Carnivores have short digestive tracts. http://dujs.dartmouth.edu/fall-2010/turning-waste-into-food-cellulose-digestion

    • Comment Link Dee Thursday, 16 January 2014 20:22 posted by Dee

      Well,
      After reading an article that moved me, I am embarking on a vegan diet.
      I am not a Buddhist, but came across this across article.
      All it needs is compassion.

      Imagine you stepping on a nail, now imagine what a lobster feels when you dunk it in boiling water.
      They scramble relentlessly trying to get out.

      Now, the following story here made me think.
      One day while cooking an eel in boiling water, this man noticed that this eel kept arching it's body out of the boiling water, but kept it's head and tail stuck to the bottom of the scorching pot. The eel eventually succumbed to death, and it's entire body just sank in. When the man cut the eel open, he found lots of eggs inside. Which tells us that animals are quite intelligent and aware of death and will do anything to save their offspring.

      Also, the death of my dogs devastated me. My love for them made me realize that all animals feel love and pain, so this also greatly influenced me into eating clean for the body and spirit.

      We,the human animal, can make choices.
      That is the difference from other predators.

      It is proven, that vegetarians live longer and a healthier life.
      It just takes a little time to research how satisfying and tasty vegetarian dishes can be.
      You will not miss meat and feel great.

    • Comment Link karlston Sunday, 05 January 2014 23:43 posted by karlston

      When Joel Salatin mentioned Jesus and Mohammed, as wise and as sources of moral that should predict today's environmental questions, he COMPLETELY lost any credibility that he had left in this debate.

    • Comment Link troy Sunday, 05 January 2014 20:23 posted by troy

      I wonder if the panelist FOR the motion (as well as those who voted for the motion) are philosophically consistent and think that an abortion is immoral on the same grounds used in this debate. The two issues may seem unrelated, but each time the team spoke about the moral reasons why killing animals is wrong, I kept feeling like I was hearing echo's of people who would be making a pro-life argument (central nervous system, can feel pain, there are other alternatives, etc)

    • Comment Link andrea Sunday, 05 January 2014 14:49 posted by andrea

      1. if we stop artificially inseminating animals, there won't be so many.
      2. i would ask the pro-eating animal side- would you kill the animal that you were eating before each meal? literally, go outside in the morning, kill the pig and then make it into "sausage", the for lunch, go outside, kill a chicken for your chicken "salad", etc.? why pay someone else to do your dirty work?
      3. the conditions and danger of the workers in the factory farms is atrocious. and most are immigrants. americans don't want to do that job.
      4. i to would ask the pro-animal eaters, would you murder your cat, and then go get another one, and then murder them? or your dog if you have a dog instead? what's the difference, really? to call one a pet and the other dinner is a huge disconnect. intelligence is the ability to make connections.

    • Comment Link Dean Hulse Friday, 03 January 2014 10:18 posted by Dean Hulse

      I heard this debate only on January 2, 2014, via a local NPR affiliate. For a debate beginning with both sides opposing "factory farming," the losing side missed an opportunity to make a key point against vegan agriculture. Namely this: If so-called factory farming is identical to "industrial agriculture," then how is vegan agriculture any different from industrial agriculture or today's version of commercial organic agriculture, both of which rely on food trucked hundreds or thousands of miles? The only true local agriculture--resilient agriculture--is that which regenerates its own fertility forever, and has the smallest possible carbon footprint. As Joel Salatin effectively argued (especially when mentioning the work of Allan Savory), grazing animals, their hoof action and their manure are key components of local foods systems. In short, animals are part of our ecosystem and must be factored in per the contributions they provide. The question, then, is how to do so in the most humane way possible. A animal sanctuary implies merely a kinder gentler zoo.

    • Comment Link Carol Crunkhorn Thursday, 02 January 2014 19:40 posted by Carol Crunkhorn

      Robert R. Fiske states "As much as we like to 'think' we can 'think our way' into a new role in the ecosystem, I find it mainly audacious and a bit silly of us to try to believe that."

      As a species we not only thought our way into a new role in the ecosystem, we have achieved it already. We are the only species that has reproduced to an unsustainable level and in so doing we are destroying life on earth.

      What is audacious and a bit silly Robert, is to believe that we can continue on this path of destruction indefinitely. The United Nations has stated that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger and the worst impacts of climate change.

      The enormous weight of suffering that animals endure in meat and dairy production is important and most people do indeed put a higher moral value on sentient beings than they do on vegetables, moulds and yeasts! Shame on you, Robert.

      http://www.almathefilm.com/

    • Comment Link Debbie Graham Tuesday, 31 December 2013 15:24 posted by Debbie Graham

      My rule of thumb-if I couldn't kill it myself, I shouldn't be eating it. I am not sure about the 'face' thing--where does that leave oysters? Clearly if I were poor/living in a country with few resources, I would have no choice and to say it is wrong in those circumstances is silly. That said, there are Hindus/Jains in poor areas who somehow manage but clearly they are in a minority and perhaps it is less difficult to find non-root vegetables etc where they live. In any case there is no reason to go passing judgment. The goal should be try not to harm, try not to waste and try to be grateful--and not go around picking on everyone who makes other choices. I don't understand being vegetarian just for one's own health, I am not convinced it is always better.

    • Comment Link Mike Rucker Monday, 30 December 2013 13:36 posted by Mike Rucker

      I promised myself a decade ago I'd drop meat from my diet. Time to make good on that promise.

    • Comment Link Daniel Sunday, 29 December 2013 14:48 posted by Daniel

      Not all animals are raised in deplorable conditions. There are farmers who raise animals with great care. I specialize in mother-hatched, mother-raised chicken. My chickens grow up enjoying life outdoors, spending from dawn to dusk foraging through gardens, pasture, brush and forest. Though many end up being eaten, if they lived in the wild, they would end up being devoured by a fox, coyote, hawk or eagle, and those predators cause more pain and suffering than I do when I butcher them. A hawk or eagle will eat them alive, ripping them apart until they succumb.
      My chickens grow to adulthood and their eggs and meat are so different than that from the large factory farms it's amazing.
      What few realize is that chickens are skillful hunters. They are adept at digging up bugs and earthworms, nabbing frogs, and even catching field mice and the occasional small bird.
      Large, factory farms are horrific in the way they treat animals. But there are small operations which provide a wonderful life for animals. amanandhishoe.com

    • Comment Link Permie Friday, 27 December 2013 15:44 posted by Permie

      The debate is very much more complex than 'one way is right, the other wrong'. There is no one way to live when our human population numbers are over 7b. Have vegans considered how many animals suffer to produce their vegan food? Peter Singer says that more actual numbers of sentient animals are killed to produce grain by land clearing and use of pesticides than cattle raised on rangelands. Some lands are only able to support hardy animals like goats. How else should people who live in arid regions survive? They have to eat animals or they will starve. In organic farming, how should vegies be fertilised if not via animal manures? Through the application of fossil fuel derived fertlisers perhaps? You need animals in the system to recycle nutrients properly. Small scale organics are part of the solution for local food economies but it depends on the level of fertility you have for growing.We need a diversity of ways to eat as ethically as possible while recognising that for some people, meat is an essential part of their diet. It's industrial farming where the real problem lies.

    • Comment Link Frank Monday, 23 December 2013 21:49 posted by Frank

      First, I am not a vegan or vegetarian. On the other hand, I have dramatically lowered my consumption of animal foods over the course of the last few years after spending considerable time researching the subject, as the science points strongly towards this being a positive step in terms of health. Also, there is no doubt that vegetarian or vegan diets are healthy alternatives to the standard American diet - there are just too many examples of people who eat this way and enjoy excellent health. Personally, I think that the middle ground, similar to what Mark Bittman outlines in his "VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good" offers the best of both worlds. As for the debate, Barnard and Salatin were the most convincing, both real experts in their respective fields, and given that they sat on opposite sides of the fence, I would have to call the affair a draw. The moderator was decent but displayed a minor but obvious bias towards the eat no faces position. Just my 2 cents worth...

    • Comment Link Rudy Wednesday, 18 December 2013 23:13 posted by Rudy

      I am vegan, but as matter of principle, I would not vote for a winner in this debate. The format of this debate, as with many political debates, arouses the emotions, polarizes the public, but does not really educate. or offer any solutions. By "voting" one way or the other in this sort of debate, I would be voting for endless war.

      I will therefore cast my vote outside box. I vote that these four gentleman come together in a different setting - one that allows them to recognize their common ground (yes it does exist), as they intelligently present their case, discuss their differences, and really listen to each other, so they can come up with unified plan for educating the public on ways that we can work together to create a cleaner and more sustainable food supply, and a more responsible and humane relationship with the the life around us.

    • Comment Link Robert R Fiske Wednesday, 18 December 2013 21:02 posted by Robert R Fiske

      Great to hear this unending debate keep jogging down the road! Don't know if it's making any real progress towards one side or the other, but I DO think we are seeing more people in the US in particular give more attention to the quality of their food and their health. But the Meat or No Meat argument is still retreading the same battle-lines it has for centuries, and misses too many important emphases to make any new headway.

      Personally, I think the setup of the debate is flawed to start with. We barely heard them get serious back and forth about the quality and sourcing of the foods we eat, and this is simply central to our eating dilemma today, The industrial processes and our consumptive and 'sweet-tooth' culture have us eating in very unhealthy patterns with excessive volumes of Sugar, Fat (Animal and Veg), Starch (more sugar), and ungodly additives, preservatives, colorings, perfumes, various substitutes, etc..

      My family (wife, daughter and me) has been eating with inspirations from the Weston Price diet for 6-8 years, which does include numerous animal products, but also a greater proportion of veg and grain, and then an array of fermented, soaked and pickled foods, looking towards many traditional foods that have been associated with healthy and robust cultures that can still be seen today. We have been drinking Raw Milk, and my daughter, as far as we can remember, has never missed a day of school from illness.

      Over this time frame, I will fry my eggs a few times a week in bacon fat, or butter, or sausage grease, albeit these are all local and known producers of these foods, all organic or better.. and I use considerable amounts of butter and whole milk products around my diet.. along with all sorts of healthy, fresh, local veg. sources. I have no indications of diabetes, cardiovascular issues or any of the other chronic conditions contributors here seem to expect with such diets.

      But I really think it's important to note that for those on the Meat side of the debate, there was no doubt that they are expecting a healthy person to be eating the right balance of veg in their diets, while the Veg camp is taking the absolute view of eliminating this part of the diet entirely. I find that I agree with Salatin in this, and find such thinking to be willfully blinding onesself to the kind of species we are, and how we have historically fit into the mix in the natural world. As much as we like to 'think' we can 'think our way' into a new role in the ecosystem, I find it mainly audacious and a bit silly of us to try to believe that.

      We are scavengers, we are opportunistic omnivores, with intelligence arguably (Pollan) derived for that very purpose, that of identifying and remembering viable food sources, much like the other intelligent omnivores, like the Bear, the Raven, the Raccoon and the Rat. Putting our diet into an absolutist 'either/or' state like this is denying something central about what we are. Still, I don't feel any need to tell Veggies and Vegans that they 'should' be eating animal products. A lot of people seem to make V-ism work well for them.. but I also insist that 'Every we eat was alive'.. and I don't put a higher moral or compassionate value on animal foods over veg,, or molds and yeasts, and so on.

      Peace.
      RRF

    • Comment Link Erik Wednesday, 18 December 2013 17:01 posted by Erik

      Gene Baur's arguements seem to be mostly emotional based and not based in fact. He comes across as close-minded and irrational. He's not even willing to acknowledge the life force of animals he can't see just because it would negate the basis of his position. He is the portrait of the self righteous animal rights activist.

      Also, Baur and Barnard, keep portraying meat eating through the lens of the factory farm while referring to vegetables farming largely in the organic context. The same is true for vegetables as it is for meat. when you look at how conventional produce is grown it looks just as bad as feed lots.

    • Comment Link Wow Wednesday, 18 December 2013 14:05 posted by Wow

      Can't believe all the logical fallacies, anecdotes and emotional appeals used by the pro-vegan side. Makes me shake my head that they were voted to have "won" this debate. Guess I should be glad I'm alive in a day when I can still enjoy a nice steak without being worried about Big Brother throwing me in Room 101. Humans will go from apex predators to cattle themselves, suppose it's already happening.

      We are omnivores. We adapted our superior intellect because we needed brains to hunt animals. We would not have the mental capacity to stand around debating the morality of eating animals if we hadn't started eating animals. We probably wouldn't even be here, today.

      I'm not forcing you to eat meat. Don't force me not to.

      You want to live and let live, yes? Then let the human animal live the way it evolved to.

    • Comment Link Beverly Slade Wednesday, 18 December 2013 13:56 posted by Beverly Slade

      Don't eat anything with a face:
      Vote YES!

    • Comment Link Ross Tuesday, 17 December 2013 10:04 posted by Ross

      Joel is an excellent speaker! I'd hire him for a farm comedy show. Kidding, really loved this debate, I don't think there is any resolution to 'prove to me that Vegan/Veges get enough nutrients' and lets just shut down factory farms and returning to the simple life of caretaking for our own animals. I'm a Vegan, however don't have a problem with animals dying as long as it is humane.

    • Comment Link calpsu Tuesday, 17 December 2013 01:22 posted by calpsu

      It seems to me that one day our society will evolve and look back at the way we so cruelly inflicted pain, torment and suffering on these animals, who did nothing to deserve this but be born. We live in a society of double standards. Why would eat a pig but not a dog? Pigs are just as socially intelligent as dogs but look at how they are butchered by humans. They have so much capacity to love. One day, I am optimistic we will look back and realize how foolish we were. This is like slavery in the new era where we murder our best friends - for what? Just for something that tastes good? Well, really it does not taste good knowing how much suffering happened to get that food on your plate.

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