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 WCW3 Wednesday, 04 December 2013 21:15 posted by WCW3

      Buzzards and vultures don't follow the tractors that till the fields for nothing. To produce enough plants to feed the same amount of people that two cows would feed, 55 other types of animals are KILLED. Or do vegans not care about the rabbits, woodchucks, groundhogs, mice, snakes ect ect. that the tractors blitzkrieg when they till the land? Not to mention the bugs!

      And if everyone was vegan, um... How many more forests would we have to clear to produce enough plants to feed us all?

      I AM an animal lover and steak is my favorite animal.

    • Comment Link Eve Wednesday, 04 December 2013 21:01 posted by Eve

      Thank you, Chris and Joel

    • Comment Link Sherri Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:50 posted by Sherri

      GregWoolhouse 30 thousand rabbits on 30 acres is ridiculous even if you were farming rabbits. I had 14 acres in Kansas on the river and never saw close to a thousand rabbits. Just in the last two weeks you planted blueberries but two years ago they were doing fine? Is this the new math or did your deer time travel from the past to eat your berries. I submit you live in DC in an apartment.

    • Comment Link UTL Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:50 posted by UTL

      @Bova - Fun fact about Masterjohn: he's a contributor/writer for the Weston A. Price Foundation - a meat and dairy/anti-soy lobbyist group.

    • Comment Link Paula Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:47 posted by Paula

      Question for the 21st century: If aliens came here and saw us as "meat" would we then be "meat:"? ANIMALS ARE NOT MEAT. They are beings in their own right who deserve what we want for ourselves ... to live in peace, unharassed, and free from bodily harm.

      I wish the consciousness and therefore the language would change. Animals are not meat.

      And what we do to the animals we do to ourselves. It's karma. And karma is moving very fast now.

    • Comment Link George Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:43 posted by George

      Some bizarre comments here.
      I eat meat, fat, fruit, green veges and some starchy roots.
      Basically I eat what my ancestors ate. Here we have people of a privileged class, who have lost contact with their own ancestral cultural identity, telling the rest of the world not to eat their ancestral diet, with no science except pseudoscience to back up that this is a good or even a safe idea.
      The vegan experiment amounts to 1% of the population of Western countries, and people who can and do drop out and eat meat whenever it suits them. Not to mention supplements, imported superfoods, easy access to blood transfusions and medicines, and the other accouterments of privilege. And from this they can dictate a plan for everyone? Some reality checks should be cashed before this goes further.

    • Comment Link Ryan Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:43 posted by Ryan

      Quite frankly this debate was a total sham. When Chris Masterjohn began to question the science Dr Barnard was using, the moderator told him this was 'a personal attack'. IF a scientist is not allowed to question scientific studies and look at the details, then this debate is simply not about science. I, for one, prefer to include a deeper and detailed look at science when making health based decisions

    • Comment Link Jenny Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:42 posted by Jenny

      Where do you find these healthy vegans all the ones I know are pale and limp and weak?

    • Comment Link Ahmad Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:39 posted by Ahmad

      Neal Barnard is an amazing scientist; I've read lots of books about nutrition (not necessarily with a Vegan view) and the most credible and well referenced works I've ever seen were written by him.
      I congratulate him on winning this debate tonight and wish him success in bringing his message to more and more people.

    • Comment Link Jenny Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:35 posted by Jenny

      Vegan eating was a big fail for me! I am now a healthy omnivore!

    • Comment Link Erica Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:34 posted by Erica

      Nothing is more "specist" (believing that our species is superior to others) than believing humans don't have to be part of the natural cycle--that somehow we are exempt, and can "do better" than that. Saying that "well animals do [x] but we don't have to" is the ultimate in "specism". Talk about hubris.

      When we try to override, or work around, the natural cycles of life and death--which include animals in the process--the results aren't sustainable, and are often disastrous.

      For example, they sited "vegeganic" farming. But where are those nutrients coming from? All plants need nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium to grow (the basic "NPK" you find in plant food). Phosphorus comes from two sources: animals (e.g., lots in bone) or rock, which has to be mined. There isn't a lot of phosphorus left in the ground on this planet--we're going to run out of it soon, just like topsoil and water--and where it exists, it always runs next to radioactive ore. So to get it out requires major mining operations, which leave HUGE piles of radioactive tailings behind, which then leaches into the water and particalizes into the air. EVerything--animals, plants, native peoples, get sick and die, for miles around.

      So to say that "vegeganic" farming is more humane and allows us to grow food without killing is shortsighted. It can't be done without causing all kinds of suffering and death--it just isn't in your backyard, so you think your hands are clean.

    • Comment Link Seth Pajak Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:33 posted by Seth Pajak

      Humans do not need to live on the flesh of animals. It is more efficient and more healthy to live on a plant based diet. Most of the plant product that is fed to animals turns into manure and not food. This is a total waste and pollutes the rivers and wells. Plant based agriculture is clean and kinder to the animals than is livestock agriculture. It's nice eating your food knowing that no animals were killed so that you could eat. I hope everyone enjoys that feeling.

    • Comment Link Gill Jacobs Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:33 posted by Gill Jacobs

      How can the proposers of the motion say that animals encourage soil degredation? That is ludicrous! Animals actually sequester carbon into the soil when eating grass, and help the planet. What doesn't help the planet is the deforestation of land to grow soya to feed vegetarians unhealthily, and feedlot animals, equally unhealthily.
      How are you going to persuade the Inuit to be vegan or vegetarian? They eat/ate a diet appropriate for their climate and what is available there, (before a Western diet of high carb/high sugar was introduced) which does/did not include enough year round plants to keep them alive or warm. They need a high fat diet which they get/got from fish and animals.
      Its ridiculous to say that most diabetes is because of meat eating.
      More and more research is showing that diabetes is high because of high carbohydrates, including the ubiquitous corn syrup in the US, which turns into sugar. OK, so animals fed grains are unhealthy because of their bad ratio of omega 3 to 6, but not grass fed animals. Also, all traditional societies that rely on animal protein have some form of spiritual connection with those animals that expresses gratitude to them for their gift of life, and for our interdependence. Have you ever met a vegetarian lion? The animal world is 'cruel' for survival, and when we acknowledge our gratitude for what animals provide for us, when treated humanely, we also are able to deal with the complexity of life, and refuse to stoop to the moral high ground so often dished out by vegetarians and vegans.

      Finally, where are the two, three or four generation studies on vegetarian and vegan diets? We know from Weston A Price that many generations of indigenous people were healthy over many generations with animal protein and fats. If vegetarians did not have artificial B12 supplements what would they do? Yes, meat eaters can get ill if they overdo factory farm meat which is bad for you, along with overdosing on sugar and not enough healthy vegetables. But I have come across too many tales of vegetarians who succumb to sickness after a while, and are forced to change their diet to get well. And this on a diet of fresh and organic plants. Maybe they eat too many unhealthy carbs and grains without the healthy animal fats?

      With more and more studies revealing how cancer cells are sugar dependent, they show that a nutrient dense diet (ketogenic) is one way to starve them out. As most carbs turn to sugar, and vegetarians are more dependent on carbs, how can they say that less vegetarians have cancer? It just does not stack up.

      I respect vegetarians for their principled stand on what they see as a more considerate approach to animals, by choosing not to eat them. But that implies that I am cruel and unthinking. I am not. I feel connected to animals, and am deeply grateful to the farmers who tend them, on my behalf. I refuse to project onto animals my own inability to deal with complex emotions. I refuse to anthropomorphise animals in the way that the Animal Rescue Sanctuary debater did when he told us about the happy rescued turkey who gave him hugs! That is pure Walt Disney to my mind. Or as Joel Salatin puts it the Bambification of animals, which sentimentalises animals and is partly responsible for the problems we now have over what constitutes a healthy diet.

    • Comment Link Sue Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:24 posted by Sue

      the only variable in the studies everybody is referencing is meat? what about crap foods, they don't have a role?

    • Comment Link Dawn Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:18 posted by Dawn

      OMG _ the pro-kill-it-gut-it-and-eat-it side is so desperate. It's just sad to try to argue when you really have nothing backing you up except money. Science does not support eating animal-products. Period. Look at any valid study and you'll see that whole foods, plant-based diets are far superior to any (factory-farmed or other) animal-based diet.

    • Comment Link Viana Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:17 posted by Viana

      Let nature take care of nature. Let man CARE FOR nature.

    • Comment Link scott Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:16 posted by scott

      joel salatin is awesome

    • Comment Link Tennille Hansen Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:15 posted by Tennille Hansen

      Trim Healthy Mama is a book that is a perfect approach to the fact that eating meat CAN lower blood pressure, balance blood sugars and lower the risk of heart disease.
      You absolutely eat meat & lower risks of all sorts of's all about balancing our insulin levels.

    • Comment Link Sue Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:12 posted by Sue

      so . . . processed foods, including GMO fruits, vegetables, and grains, play no part in the long list of maladies being discussed here???

    • Comment Link Jorge Catalan Wednesday, 04 December 2013 20:11 posted by Jorge Catalan

      All beings feel and I do not think carnivorous animals are bad animals for eating other animals. CAFOs are wrong, YES. But eating other species is just natural.

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