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 Dale Birchett Tuesday, 03 December 2013 13:20 posted by Dale Birchett

      This is interesting reading, too bad so many of the carnivores feel it necessary to be abusive in their comments. I participated in the PCRM 21 Day Vegan Kickstart program four years ago shortly after driving through western Kansas on a business trip and taking time to stop and observe some of the CAFOs. I had read of the filthy conditions but seeing it first hand really made an impression on me and motivated me to become meat free. I researched free range meat but in the end it just makes more sense to stop abusing animals, to stop wasting water and hydrocarbon fuels on raising them, and to stop eating diets that drive up the already untenable cost of healthcare in this country.

      I find the description of early humans as omnivores less than complete. The early humans eating a true paleo diet would perhaps better be referred to as opportunivores, eating whatever they came across in their wanderings; fruits, leaves, insects, rotting carcasses, the occasional bird or small animal if they could catch it. So no one is eating a paleo diet these days. Grubworm anyone?

    • Comment Link CARMEN ROBERTS Tuesday, 03 December 2013 13:20 posted by CARMEN ROBERTS

      We are not designed to be carnivores. From the beginning of the world we were created to be herbivores. It is written in the Bible, the book of Genesis 1:1, 29-31. Not only humans were designed that way but animals , too. Believe it or not.

    • Comment Link Marge Tuesday, 03 December 2013 13:18 posted by Marge

      Nutrition is "Species Specific". Every species has it's natural diet.

      Humans are natural herbivores. Plants are their natural diet. That's what are bodies are designed to eat.

    • Comment Link Beth Tuesday, 03 December 2013 12:48 posted by Beth

      Cognitive dissentient: Doing whatever rationalizing one needs to do to keep a personal believe system alive. One doesn't need to eat animal proteins to be healthy. Killing for pleasure is an example of cognitive dissentient in my book. To be disaffected by the environmental costs of livestock farming and the high cost of health care form eating an animal based diet is to be in denial about the greatest damages to ourselves and our planet of our time.

      I am a working class Jane Doe. I have been eating a plant-based diet for 4 years, and I have come to understand that it is the most radical shift I could have from this culture's downhill run towards that proverbial brick wall.

    • Comment Link Gerry Gospe Tuesday, 03 December 2013 12:44 posted by Gerry Gospe

      A vegan diet, along with prescribed supplements, has cured a loved one from prostate cancer.
      Yes, cured. Repeated MRIs and biopsies confirm as well as blood tests.
      Hard to beat that.


      An Addenda: I marvel at the diet of cows, grass-fed, and the protein they produce.

    • Comment Link Karen Tracey Tuesday, 03 December 2013 12:43 posted by Karen Tracey

      Once upon a time when we lived in a world that wasn't overpopulated and land could be farmed sustainably to feed the population, eating things with a face could be considered sustainable. Today, it is impossible. While people can support local, sustainable, family farms, they will never be able to produce enough to support the entire population with a meat-based diet. If more of our population chose to eat a plant-based diet (if we could achieve say a 50-50% split), then maybe we could avoid factory farming, GMOs, soil depletion, etc. Maybe. Eating vegan is simply the best choice I've made for my health, my planet, and my conscience.

    • Comment Link Dr. Bandana Chawla Tuesday, 03 December 2013 12:40 posted by Dr. Bandana Chawla

      I am an internal medicine physician and I recently became a vegan due to health benefits and factory farming cruelty pointed out to me by my vegan patients.

      I have seen vegan patients improve not only expected areas such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, gout but also improve asthma and allergies. Spirometry on a patient who became vegan and got off all inhalers showed normal PFTs. However, when she restarted her previous diet showed asthma again and causing her to need inhalers again.

      I have been able to get off Nasonex myself since being on a vegan diet the last 6 months :-)

    • Comment Link Robin Everson Tuesday, 03 December 2013 12:29 posted by Robin Everson

      I am for a vegan diet. After being a Type 2 diabetic for over 15 years, switching to a vegan diet helped me rid my body of this horrible life-stealing disease as well as get rid of a host of other health problems, (i.e., diabetic neuropathy, high cholesterol, high pressure, high triglycerides). I am calmer and happier and I've lost weight too.

    • Comment Link John Mooter Tuesday, 03 December 2013 12:27 posted by John Mooter

      I have met and heard Dr. Barnard speak on many occasions. He walks the walk. It is exciting to see so many physicians and health experts moving in this direction; Drs. McDoughal, Esselstyn, Ornish, Klaper, Gregor, Fuhtrman, to name just a few, all of whom are lean and healthy, as opposed to the high fat gurus like Drs. Weill, Sears, Atkins, all of who are or were fat.

    • Comment Link Susana Reid Tuesday, 03 December 2013 12:23 posted by Susana Reid

      May all beings be released from unnecessary suffering.

    • Comment Link JoAnne Rando-Moon Tuesday, 03 December 2013 12:21 posted by JoAnne Rando-Moon

      I have been Vegetarian for 23 years and stopped eating red meat 35 years ago because of the way it made me feel. After finding out how the animals are treated, it was an easy decision. Why would I want to cause such cruelty and eat food that has been tortured.
      Now I am mostly Vegan, sweets can be my downfall, because of the way the animals are treated. I feel great at 66 with more energy and enjoy better health.
      I invite others to try this way of eating and see the difference.

    • Comment Link Lauren C Tuesday, 03 December 2013 12:18 posted by Lauren C

      Plant-based all the way!

    • Comment Link Alison Tuesday, 03 December 2013 12:17 posted by Alison

      I believe that every conscious being on this planet was created equal. I would not eat another human, so why would I eat another being who also think, feel and communicate like humans do?

      The 'meat vs compassion towards animals' debate can quickly become an anti-human protest. We are, after all, the only species to destroy its own habitat.

      The tricky part is that we've been fed lies for generations about the benefits of a flesh diet, and those deeply-ingrained beliefs will take generations more to be exposed. (Most people still believe we were primitive hunters & gatherers as opposed to fishers & gatherers.)

      Then there's the misconception that meat = protein.

      If the "eat right for your blood-type" dietary lifestyle theory is correct, certain humans function better on high protein diets (the O's) and some better on Carbohydrates (A's) (too simplistic, I know nut that's the gist of it).

      As long as we believe meat = protein, there will not be compassion towards any other living being on this planet. Like with everything else, education is needed. And maybe a little karma.

      As people become more 'conscious', there will be less animals abused and murdered (whatever the reason - be it health, compassion, environmental awareness). Until then we'll have to endure the ignorant "but where do you get your protein from?" questions.

    • Comment Link Jane Tuesday, 03 December 2013 12:16 posted by Jane

      We raised our children, who are now Health Care Professionals, as Vegan/Vegetarian. They had NONE of the childhood illnesses: colds, flu, earaches, sore throats, … nothing. My 64 yr old husband easily passes as a 30 yr old friend of my son, and is often confused as being my son. People say the same about my daughter and me.

      Two years ago, we brought my 92 yr old mother in law to live with us.
      Living a couple of years at an assisted care facility, she went from thin and fit, to grossly overweight, and suffered from the expected health issues.
      After slowly changing her over to plant based eating, her weight is back to what it should be. Originally she couldn't walk to the mailbox without my husband and me basically carrying her. Now we walk a full mile. Her skin has softened, and has a beautiful pink glow.

      If you just look at the people who eat responsibly, you will see the difference.

    • Comment Link Tanya Tuesday, 03 December 2013 12:01 posted by Tanya

      I had been vegetarian to flex-itarian (rare meat eating occurrences) and now actively cooking vegan meals. I take my lunch to work and find I don't feel nearly as well when I eat out or in the work cafeteria. There have been two other great benefits as well. I've noticed my sugar cravings have significantly diminished and are almost non-existent. The other benefit is I have been closely working and spending time with several people that come to work sick and, for a change, I have yet to contract the "ick" going around. That's a new one!

      Becoming vegan is a lifestyle change but, it hasn't taken long to get into it. One just has to find a few recipes they like and keep experimenting from there. Now that I have some basic meals to prepare, I now find the experimentation to be a lot of fun.

      Knowing I am having an impact, however small, on the meat industry & the environment (i.e. factory farming boom), gives me great pleasure. The industry itself has become so sick that I want nothing to do with it. Factory farming needs to go away!!

      BTW Recipes from, and the Jazzy Vegetarian's cookbooks (PBS) have worked well for me.

    • Comment Link Juliette Tuesday, 03 December 2013 12:00 posted by Juliette

      All disease is caused by an acidic environment. Whole Plant foods create an alkaline environment, animal foods and processed foods create an acidic one.

      I, for one, want a healthy body. That is why I eat a whole plant food diet as much as possible.

    • Comment Link Myrna Nielsen Tuesday, 03 December 2013 11:57 posted by Myrna Nielsen

      A plant based diet is the best for our health, both mental and physical. Imagine the relief to the psyche when you can say, "Nothing has to die so that I can live". Then there is the relief of not worrying about accidental poisining from dirty, spoiled flesh., diminishing stocks of your favorite flesh food, and the suffering our appetites cause to sentient beings. My physical health is safer, my mental health is too.

    • Comment Link Jesse Tuesday, 03 December 2013 11:46 posted by Jesse

      I became a vegetarian about four years ago and have felt fantastic ever since, both physically and emotionally. My doctors have confirmed that my health has improved significantly!

    • Comment Link Dr Pieter Dahler Tuesday, 03 December 2013 07:54 posted by Dr Pieter Dahler

      A near or total vegan food intake practice DOES NOT SUPPORT the ability to help our INNATE IMMUNITY PROCESSES to keep our bodies from attacking itself with the self (auto) antigens it needs to fight. That can only happen when we eat animal products as the Paleo Age peoples did, and as wild animals do.
      To understand this concept you can write me and ask for the "Innate Immune Alliance Defender" paper I wrote for y'all. (I respect your privacy) I am Dr Pieter Dahler, DDS, MD, ND (HON PROF), PHD

    • Comment Link el Tuesday, 03 December 2013 07:41 posted by el

      * CAUTION *

      To those who oppose the motion ...

      Just REM.Ember - you Have a face too ;)

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