Don't Eat Anything With A Face

Previous Debate
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

See Results See Full Debate Video Purchase DVD

Read Transcript

Listen to the edited radio broadcast

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Listen to the unedited radio broadcast

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Subscribe to the Podcast
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.

Learn more

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.

Learn more

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.

Learn more

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.

Learn more

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

About This Event

Event Photos

PrevNext Arrows
    PrevNext Arrows


    • Comment Link Ron Swanson Friday, 06 December 2013 10:37 posted by Ron Swanson

      "There's been a mistake. You've accidentally given me the food that my food eats."

    • Comment Link Dave Brown Friday, 06 December 2013 05:57 posted by Dave Brown

      Given that 99% of modern animal agriculture is accomplished through factory farming, the debate became irrelevant if not absurd the moment that the opponents to the motion conceded that factory farming is wrong.

    • Comment Link Young Friday, 06 December 2013 04:44 posted by Young

      All the meat eaters are respectfully invited to watch these films/documentary:
      1) Earthlings: (FREE)
      2) Forks Over Knives:

      Good starters to touch and hopefully win hearts and minds.

    • Comment Link jenny Friday, 06 December 2013 04:38 posted by jenny

      Great debate! Well done Chris and Joel, very intelligent, logical and scientific arguments. Unimpressed with Neal and Gene unscientific and emotional arguments!

    • Comment Link George Friday, 06 December 2013 03:57 posted by George

      @ John Beemer, the US govt actually subsidises wheat, corn and soy, in order to flood the world with junk made of flour, cornflour, corn syrup, soy protein, corn oil and soy oil. Yum! Vegan foods!
      That's why "we're big and fat" and in need of free healthcare, not from eating animals. NZ, which exports meat and dairy all over the world, has no farming subsidies at all.

    • Comment Link George Friday, 06 December 2013 03:30 posted by George

      Some questions - is it sustainable for everyone in the world to keep eating anything at all, even vegetable foods?
      Is it sustainable to produce B12 supplements for billions of people?
      Is it sustainable to convert pasture, which is an environment found in nature, to rows of grains and legumes, which are not?
      What about the fossil fuel used by tractors to grow crops, much more than that needed to herd sheep?
      The extra pesticides used?
      The unnatural fertilizers - including billions of dead fish - used to replenish the soil after growing crops?

      If factory farming is an argument against all meat farming, it is also an argument against all vegetable farming.

      Neither side of the debate approved of factory farming, so it was a massive red herring.

      P.S. "undecided" means "I am still not a vegan".

    • Comment Link Moalt Friday, 06 December 2013 01:59 posted by Moalt

      I raise cattle organically. We preserve 90,000 acres of land in such a way that it is sustainable for generations to come. We would never profit if our goal was to ruin the land. We provide refuge for wildlife in greater numbers than most areas in our province. We have a serious wolf problem too, which should be an encouraging sign to many of you that our ecosystem is "healthy". We fertilize with chicken shit and ash. We refuse to use GMO seed. We don't drive to work on a freeway filled with single-occupant vehicles. We drive horses to work and feed them the healthy grass that's in our yard or the hay we grow here, without shipping it in. We sell to intelligent consumers who vote with their dollars for us to not use steroids or antibiotics instead of with their boycott of the wrong problem. The real problem? Too many people who are too detached from food production, looking for answers in the wrong place. Grass-fed, pasture rotated cattle actually tamp the ground as they use trapping gasses produced by their manure. Do your research by talking to a local producer. Quit listening to governing bodies and marketing ploys. Oh, and quit eating corn. If you want to find a culprit, there's a good start.

    • Comment Link Lynn Friday, 06 December 2013 01:46 posted by Lynn

      I respect vegetarians (even though the rabid "animals = people, meat is murder" types are frankly scary). But to state that people shouldn't consume anything they can't eat raw is to deny evolution. Scientists have concluded that eating meat and cooking our food is what allowed our brains to grow so large. One of dozens of articles on the topic:

      I was vegan for over a year, but I'm deathly allergic to soy, tree nuts, stone fruits, and (oddly) carrots and green beans. I'm talking instant, full-blown, moments-from-dying anaphylaxis, not mere hives or digestive upsets. Even following a diet that my RD customized for me, I lost too much weight, my hair started falling out, and I developed memory and immune problems. So the RD had me add some locally, responsibly raised animal products back into my diet. I've never been healthier or clearer-headed, and my cholesterol is "phenomenal" according to my doctor.

      I respect people who choose veganism for whatever reason(s), and they are lucky they CAN select that option. After much research and self-examination, I've made peace with my diet. My farmer's animals are raised with kindness and care and slaughtered (at a small local butcher) with respect and appreciation, as humanely as possible. Maybe those animals would prefer to die of old age if their understanding went that far, but there's no doubt they'd choose the kind of life and death my farmer provides over the short, merciless existence and brutal killing of a factory farm.

      Oh, and tell my 104-year-old grandmother that vegetarians are healthier and live longer - but prepare for a debate, because she's still as sharp as a tack.

    • Comment Link Jerilyn Greenfield Thursday, 05 December 2013 23:32 posted by Jerilyn Greenfield

      I have been a vegetarian for over 35 years, and am extremely healthy, much healthier than when I ate meat. I have been going vegan because of the cruelty in the dairy industry, and brought my cholesterol way down. No animal should ever have to suffer. They have intelligence, feelings and emotions just like people or like our pet dogs and cats. I am also against buying products with fur and leather. The stories I hear about animal cruelty break my heart!!!

    • Comment Link Bea Elliott Thursday, 05 December 2013 23:10 posted by Bea Elliott

      I'm so thankful that I live in a time and a circumstance where I have the choice to be as compassionate as I'm moved to be. I appreciate that there are others in different situations who do not have this luxury. This debate wasn't to address those individuals who absolutely must use nonhumans for the sake of survival, but rather to appeal to us who have every option in the world to extend kindness to other animals. It is a gift of abundance that I have every intention on sharing with others. No... I won't be eating anyone with a face, a family or an equal desire to live.

    • Comment Link Kevin Tran Thursday, 05 December 2013 22:30 posted by Kevin Tran

      "If you go to the real data, there is no correlation between meat intake and cancer. If you read T. Colin Campbell's book, what he does is makes a convoluted argument that something is associated with meat intake, that thing is associated with cancer, and so on. And the actual data doesn't show a direct correlation." ~ Chris Masterjohn.

      Insufficient science, nutrition, evolution, etc; are some of many important points the con-side debated about, yet probably almost half of the debate focuses on the environmental and ethical considerations which the pro-side seemingly debated strongly about. I wouldn't be surprised if the 21% increase between the pre-debate and post-debate polls were due to Gene Baur's repetitive use of the word 'relationship' and/or the apparent fact millions of animals are slaughtered, when in fact, both sides already agreed factory farm is atrocious and should be removed. Are they just too convinced something with a face is too terrifying to eat? I don't know if our hominid ancestors would be proud or approve of this. Also, I wouldn't be surprised those people turned vegan as a result of this debate.

    • Comment Link Eve Botelho Thursday, 05 December 2013 22:07 posted by Eve Botelho

      Unfortunately the debate had nearly ignored the fact that most of the food we eat now, which includes plants, is farmed on factory farms. The conditions the animals live( exist in) are dreadful. They are totally exploited, just as slaves were. The conditions for the workerscannot be great either. Imagine the smell, the misery... I think most meat eaters if they allowed themselves to research the conditions would be saddened, no appaulled. Every time we put something in our mouths we make an ethical decision.
      Most people want to bury their heads in the sand and imagine that the animals spend happy lives in pastures. Think again. (male baby chicks are ground up alive, in egg factories.) These farms also cause pollution, run off into streams, and on and on. So healthy eating habits means a healthier planet and a healthy body, and just maybe a more compassionate world.

    • Comment Link Mike Thursday, 05 December 2013 21:19 posted by Mike

      I think we are all our own experts and we all thrive on different diets. I wish somebody in the audience would have drove home the point that processed foods and grains with sugars are probably most of the problem. I also find it interesting that Weston A Price was convinced he would find the healthiest primitive cultures would be vegetarians...he couldn't find any! He had a unique opportunity to find people that were eating the same way for several generations before modern civilization. Can't be done anymore. His findings are mighty hard to argue with because he was the type of scientist that is lacking today. One that is trying to prove himself wrong!!!

    • Comment Link Paola Thursday, 05 December 2013 20:29 posted by Paola

      I am from Uruguay, the country with the biggest consumption of red meat in the world, and if you check the statistics of cancer in our country you could see how high certain types of cancer are there. Just google it, and you will stop eating meat!! We all have family members who have died of cancer. SAD!!!

    • Comment Link xVOSSx Thursday, 05 December 2013 19:36 posted by xVOSSx

      Listen to the losers cry! If we could live a healthy and happy life without causing harm to others, why wouldn't we? If your CHOICE has a victim, that is your karma, baby!

    • Comment Link Carolyn Dean MD ND Thursday, 05 December 2013 19:30 posted by Carolyn Dean MD ND

      It's a shame that someone well versed in the necessity of animal products such as animal fats and organ meats was not invited to the debate. I've seen Sally Fallon of the Weston A. Price Foundation give detailed convincing arguments that counter the vegan agenda. I think a balance of both diets using organic and free range healthy foods is the best approach.

    • 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.

    Leave a comment

    Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed.