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 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 ;)

    • 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.

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