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 Linda Coom Wednesday, 04 December 2013 03:37 posted by Linda Coom

      I live in England but became much more aware of the need to change to a vegan diet through the information provided by PCRM.
      I gave up meat years ago but this year I stopped eating dairy because I didn't want to be part of the suffering of the animals.
      I was surprised to find that I now feel so much better than ever before, I have more energy and am gradually losing weight, which is a huge bonus for me.
      Now I would recommend becoming vegan for purely selfish reasons, it still reduces suffering and the stress on the planet almost as a bonus.

    • Comment Link Dave Wednesday, 04 December 2013 03:10 posted by Dave

      The more I read these debates, the more I want to move to Europe where meat-consumption is not condemned, and government-policy is backed by publicly-funded science.

      Like how Sweden recently denounced high-carbohydrate diet as well as veganism in order to cut healthcare cost due to rising obesity.

    • Comment Link Lana Salant Wednesday, 04 December 2013 02:07 posted by Lana Salant

      Well you can Vegangelize all you want but the simple fact is we are Omnivores since the beginning of time. Since we could call ourselves human beings. This is a wonderful study if you take the time to read it.. which you won't but I do feel the need to educate anyway. Another good site is the blog of former vegan and "The China Study" famous debunker's blog Denise Minger

      I run a Face book page with some help from some very smart and PRAGMATICALLY COMPASSIONATE Ethical Omnivores called "EOM - Ethical Omnivore Movement. Upcoming website

      One of my favorite EOMers Katherine Mixie Kubicek says "The thing about your total non-sequitur about grain-fed meat is that it does not apply to the thoughtful choice of biologically-appropriately-fed livestock animals. Pointing to the waste, inefficacy, and horrific injustices of one industrial diet does not excuse the waste, inefficacy, and horrific injustice of your own choices.

      Instead of attempting to distance yourself from the responsibility of those choices by eating a horrifically inefficient, biologically inappropriate diet that demands a far higher volume of petroleum-fed, monocultured industrial crops which cost an unbelievable number of lives at EVERY step along the way, you could choose the nutrition and calories in one cow, or the milk and eggs provided by happy, pasture-living animals that comfortably share their corner of planet ...
      Earth with a glorious array of flora and fauna.

      If you object to the body count, I suspect you have never at any point had any exposure to agriculture. I know you vegans imagine that plant foods spring forth from the Earth in a magic, "cruelty-free" fairyland, but in reality... animals die in horrific ways at every. single. step. From defending the seed grain in storage from hungry rodents, to defending crops in the field, to the heavy equipment used all throughout the cultivation process, to the harvesting and processing, drying, shipping, storing for the factory, protecting the factory from infestation, transporting your factory foods, protecting them at the store.

      At every single stop in that chain, animals die, for the sake of grain-foods that we cannot properly digest and which do not contain a single necessary nutrient not found in higher, more readily bioavailable amounts in animal foods and veggies.

      Imagine if, instead of an endless sea of useless grain foods, you chose one ethically-reared cow over all those "insignificant" lives. You'd have helped provide a home for innumerable small animals, birds, reptiles, bugs, and a riot of greenery. You'd have helped defend our Earth from the scourge of industrial grain and soy farming. You'd have saved a lot of rodents from glue traps--and I imagine that if you had the same image stamped in your mind of a denuded animal with four broken legs and its guts spilling out, one eye stuck to the glue pad and shrieking its life away... you wouldn't dismiss those concerns so lightly.

      I don't take it lightly. The cost of every life that goes to feed my family weighs heavily on me. You too could choose food that occupys a natural place in the food chain that welcomes all other life on this beautiful, complex Earth, instead of fighting an endless, horrifically wasteful and unnecessary battle against it.

      And while the cowards who defend their horrifically murderous, inefficient diets stand tall to defend Monsanto and the hundreds of millions of acres currently in use for corn and soy and wheat, hundreds of millions of acres which must be poisoned and torn up and fed by petroleum and defended against all manner of life... those of us in the Ethical Omnivory world wish to see our Great Plains restored, with hundreds of millions of acres of natural prairie and meadow which welcomes all.
      There is no consequence-free choice. The best we can do is to minimize our impact. We don't do that by moving further from the natural world. Every effort we humans make to cheat our way around that reality only results in more death and destruction"

      Lana Joe Salant
      EOM - Ethical Omnivore Movement

    • Comment Link Jennifer Wednesday, 04 December 2013 01:40 posted by Jennifer

      As someone who raises ( and yes eats) her own animals, I just wanted to say it is possible to humanely raise and humanely kill an animal. We do everything in our power to see that our animals have the best life they possibly can and when their life has come to an end we then make sure that their death is as painless with as little suffering as we can provide. I would probably go so far as to say that our animals have better lives and probably suffer way less than the majority of Americans and Canadians right now. I am not trying to feed the world, I am just trying to make sure that I know where my food and my children's food is coming from and that it is safe and healthy to eat.

    • Comment Link Julie Wednesday, 04 December 2013 00:58 posted by Julie

      A Sustainable and compassionate world must prevail for animals people and the planet. The only way this will be achieved is by a vegan lifestyle . There are no negatives to a plant based diet, it is the most natural diet we can consume and the positive evidence is overwhelming. It is a wake up call for all. Our planet is in rapid decline and if the population do not act it will no longer be an option. The meat, dairy and pharmaceutical companies are getting richer, continuity indoctrinating people with their lies, people are getting sicker and our health service has been stretched to its limits and will continue to decline. The immense and unspeakable cruelty of sentient animal beings for peoples' pleasure can never be justified. They are no different to us, have the same right to life and value their lives as much as we do. In years to come people will look back in horror at the atrocities caused by their ingrained and selfish lifestyles. Imagine a compassionate, healthy and sustainable world for all, it is that simple and we all have a part to play. Becoming a vegan and raising vegan children has been the most positive action I have taken .Children have a right not to be deceived and to know where their food comes and to make the right and informed choices. Don't we all want to make history and see a kinder compassionate and healthier world ?

    • Comment Link Rick Bradley Wednesday, 04 December 2013 00:14 posted by Rick Bradley

      I hope that all of you who have chosen the vegan or vegetarian path live well and prosper.
      I also hope that you lose the 'I'm on the HIGH ROAD' schtick.
      Everything which we consume to live was once vested with a life force by our creator. To sustain you it was deprived of that force. That we only relate this to other mammals is an expression of the breadth of our ignorance.
      Say a few words of thanks to the deity of your choosing and stop trying to act like one.

    • Comment Link Michelle Kosik MD Wednesday, 04 December 2013 00:11 posted by Michelle Kosik MD

      The data linking consumption of animal products to a myriad of diseases and premature death is overwhelming. Diseases such as cancer, heart disease, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, obesity (and its intendant comorbidities such as arthritis, degenerative joint disease, reflux, sleep apnea, diabetes, COPD etc.), peripheral vascular disease (including stroke, kidney failure, limb loss, vision loss, impotence, etc.) ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, etc., is well documented in the medical literature. The data confirming health benefits of vegan diet are also clear. When we physicians consider the enormous and detrimental health, environment, and animal cruelty implications of continuing to enable the consumption of animal products, we have no other ethical choice but to endorse, promote and embrace plant based diets.

    • Comment Link Stans Tuesday, 03 December 2013 23:34 posted by Stans

      I've eaten a whole foods plant-based diet for almost a year now and feel better than ever. The planet's health, my health, and the prevention of the cruel slaughter of animals are equally important to me. I am 55 and although I never ate a lot of meat, I don't know how I could have been blind to the horrors of factory farming for so long. Now, the blinders are off and there is NO going back to eating animals, ever! It's truly a no-brainer and if people knew how amazing they would feel, how much better their health would be, and how easy it is to go plant-based, they would do it in a heartbeat!

      If we stopped subsidizing unhealthy foods pushed by big ag, milk, chicken and dairy, and focused on prevention, we would all be so much healthier and happier and we'd balance the budget in no time!

      There is a ton of science behind the health benefits of plant-based eating, but how great you feel says it all!

    • Comment Link Carole Tuesday, 03 December 2013 22:58 posted by Carole

      Have been a vegetarian for 20 years but became a vegan after milking a cow and seeing the life process of the pregnancy and then subsequent need for "disposal" of the calf as an inconvenience, as well as seeing the milking done while the cow was pregnant. And this was an apparently loved cow! Also, I have been studying in depth our current climate crisis and k ow that the actions we need to take require a change of heart, spirit, and lifestyles now more than ever.

    • Comment Link Dr. Newsom Tuesday, 03 December 2013 22:42 posted by Dr. Newsom

      As written, even the "against" argument is a big step in the right direction, but it is not the best answer. If we are aiming to do the best that can be done (for health, for animals and for the environment), then pant-based (Vegan) is as good as it can get. Ironically, if we could merely achieve the goal of the "against" argument, ending agribusiness, that would achieve probably 80-90% of the benefits from going full Vegan. If agribusiness were to end, then meat would become very expensive, family farmers/ranchers could make a good living and the consumption of meat would drop dramatically. At that point the debate of capturing the remaining marginal gains of going completely Vegan would still be valid and worthwhile, but largely academic. Wouldn't that be a great problem to have?

    • Comment Link Mrs. Jane Rita Tuesday, 03 December 2013 20:56 posted by Mrs. Jane Rita

      I am a 70 year old proud vegan! I have been a severely brittle diabetic for almost thirty years and have no diabetic complications.
      For years my average HA1c has been 6.5. I eat the same type of meals daily. My husband is a vegetarian, but he makes the most delicious vegan meals for me. I do gardening, clean a 12-room house by myself, and am a PROUD ANIMAL ADVOCATE. My husband and I also volunteer twice monthly with the St. Mark's Animal Welfare Ministry in Johnstown, PA. The ministry gives pet food to needy families. I tell everyone I meet that I am a vegan.

    • Comment Link Iwona Heymann Tuesday, 03 December 2013 20:19 posted by Iwona Heymann

      With prolification of conflicting dietary advice I heed one expert only: Mother Nature. I ask - she guides me. She talks through the tiny voice of my instinct. What is natural to me? To reach for the ripe, juicy fruit and sink my teeth into it or to rip an animal cadaver apart, through its fur, face deep into the bloody pulsating intestine, ripping the heart out, feasting on wobbly brains (an omnivore best delicacy)?... well, the answer comes crystal clear.. I need no expert pushing the book of the month, no habit straightjacket, no dogma prison. I know what is best for me. Knowing is the product of my intelligence. We all have access to it. Free of charge. Always. Just listen. :-)

    • Comment Link Wardie Ward Tuesday, 03 December 2013 19:51 posted by Wardie Ward

      No amount of debate will sway me from believing that my change to a vegan diet a few years ago has not made me feel better and healthier at the age of 68 than I experienced in my 30's and 40's. I was a hard drinking, flesh eating, overweight poobag until I found and followed Dr. Barnard's and Dr. McDougal's sound advice on diet, exercise and lifestyle.

    • Comment Link Mike Tuesday, 03 December 2013 19:42 posted by Mike

      I have a difficult time digesting greens and other leafy vegetables. I also have issues with tree nuts. I prefer to stick to lean meats and fish, and I honestly don't think I'd be a very happy person eating things I have troubles with. I think some of the comments are pretty extreme, like if you eat meat, you're unhealthy and obese. Last I checked, I have a set of canine teeth, and I intend to use them. Also, last I checked, humans were omnivores.

    • Comment Link Aggie Monfette Tuesday, 03 December 2013 19:37 posted by Aggie Monfette

      I'm living proof that you do not need to eat animals or their by-products to be alive and healthy to boot! I eat a plant based diet for ethical reasons. I do not believe in torturing animals for their flesh or by-products. Good health was a nice outcome from my beliefs. Treating animals inhumanely
      is absolutely unacceptable and not needed!

    • Comment Link Katelyn Tuesday, 03 December 2013 18:50 posted by Katelyn

      Killing should never be allowed, regardless of species. In the US, we praise our cats and dogs and carelessly eat fish or chicken nuggets or burgers. I just ask that more people be more loving and make more conscious choices because the only difference between animals on your plate and pets is a personal connection. Plus, you're just better off without meat regardless of the quality or quantity.

    • Comment Link Em Tuesday, 03 December 2013 18:48 posted by Em

      Coming from being vegan/vegetarian for 7 years, I have to disagree with the sentiment that such a diet will save our planet. There is just as much destruction on the crop side of agriculture. It is a downhill slide on both sides of factory farming and no matter what way a person decides to eat, if they are still going to the grocery store and buying conventional products, they are by no means on a path of saving the planet or themselves. And asking for government to fix it all when they created it and keep it going is the definition of crazy. It is up to you to fix it, not a faceless organization that has no consequence should the outcome not be desired. Kind of like our healthcare, those that enacted it are exempt...
      I have always been interested in food and when I watched Food Inc, was introduced to a different way I had intentionally been kept from by those claiming a vegan/vegetarian diet was the way to go. I decided before going back to eating meat that I wanted to do farming and raise my own food. If not for me, at least my dogs would eat well. But I got to a point that if my products were good and people asked me about them, I had no way to back them up. I took the plunge and ate meat again. I can't describe why or how, but I immediately felt better than I had in years. I had to listen to that.
      Now I raise my own chickens for both eggs and meat and currently support a local farmer for raw milk and produce. Those of you that are vegan might want to reconsider the eggs from pasture raised hens. They come whether the chicken wants them to or not and unless you have a rooster and a broody hen/incubator; chicks won't be developing. So in essence, by refusing to eat eggs, you are wasting resources that came from our beloved planet.
      Other than that, what can you all say for those that require meat to survive. Are they all wrong? Or is it just humans? Are we not smart enough to figure out a way to make the planet thrive? Can we not take control of things in a farm like setting and make things better? Has any vegan/vegetarian on this comment thread actually taken a look at farms that do practice sustainable methods and seen such improvement has happened? Has any vegan/vegetarian noticed any tree near a graveyard wraps itself around the bones of those deceased? It is a give and take system, even your carrots, celery, and corn took nutrients from the soil to provide you with nourishment. It is foolish to not realize the most damaging thing we do as humans is produce products the earth cannot assimilate.

    • Comment Link Sherry Tuesday, 03 December 2013 18:35 posted by Sherry

      I have been a vegan over 16 1/2 years. I don't see how anything that is dead and rotting by the minute can give anyone any nutrients! It is rotting in the stomach and colons once digested! Animals are exploited for entertainment, food, medical research and for work related purposes! What human would actually trade places with an animal? Then why would you contribute to the harming of one! When they are no longer usable then they are killed for one reason or another. It amazes me that on can kill a dog or cat in the shelter then call it euthanasia. Call it what it is! Killing! Killing healthy animals without a reason! Why do man have to kill or murder to survive? They don't! They just don't care! Animals can feel pain as humans do! Just accidentally step on one and hear and see the response! Until we can care about something or someone other than ourselves, then we nor the animals in the world will endure! We are morally corrupt as a nation!

    • Comment Link KellBell Tuesday, 03 December 2013 18:19 posted by KellBell

      Wow! I had NO idea there were so many of you folks out there who are completely deluding yourselves! How many animals with faces have been killed and lost their habitat for the pursuit of your "vegan" lifestyle?! How many millions of organisms have been destroyed because of the pursuit of your vegan lifestyle?! I'm calling bull on your state of health too: compare nutrient density of just about every vitamin and mineral with plants versus animal foods. Don't forget about the protein levels, and just for fun, look up how much protein from plants your human body can actually absorb. Then look up how important animal FATS are to every cell in your body, mostly your brain. No wonder your not thinking so clearly. Oh, and the argument that we couldn't feed the world animal protein without factory farming is absolutely bogus. The reason we can't do it now is because 90 percent of pasture land is killed down to its micro organisms(but you're not sad about that!) and planted with GMO corn and soy, and your gluten wheat. This is sad that so many of you are so ignorant. Please take your emotions, put them aside for just a little bit, do the research. Then, plug your emotions back in and lets really save the planet and ourselves by eating what we were supposed to eat while sustaining our blessed places.

    • Comment Link Jas Tuesday, 03 December 2013 18:15 posted by Jas

      Meat/dairy/eggs is cruel to animals, our planet and not good for our health. We thrive on a plant based diet, so why do people insist on continuing tradition. Regardless of our history, regardless of what 'we were meant to eat', the time has come to make a change for the greater good. I also don't believe you can truely be at peace if you continue to take in such suffering.

      Until you have tried it, how can you realise how great you will feel?

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