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Face Off! A Debate About Eating Anything With A Face

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Is it healthier to be a vegetarian? Or an omnivore? And how much of an environmental impact does livestock really have? These questions can spark a lively debate and that’s exactly what happened last week when Intelligence Squared presented Don’t Eat Anything With A Face. Clinical researcher and author Dr. Neal Barnard and Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, both in favor of the motion, faced off against farmer and author Joel Salatin and nutritional sciences researcher and blogger Chris Masterjohn.

Here’s what they had to say:

It’s possible this debate could soon extend to include meat without a face. Over eighty years ago, Winston Churchill predicted, “Fifty years hence, we shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium.” Although it has taken 30 years more than Churchill estimated, his dream might soon become a reality.

In August of this year, the world’s first lab grown hamburger made its debut in London. Scientist Dr Mark Post created the burger using about 20,000 muscle fibers that were grown from stem cells of cows, then combined with some other ingredients, including beetroot juice, saffron, and breadcrumbs. This burger may have ethical and environmental plusses; since it was grown from cells, there was no animal suffering involved and methane production was also avoided. These are aspects to consider for the future–for now, it isn’t quite ready for the market but it seems test tube meat is past its embryonic stage.

Where do you stand on this issue? Sound off on the face off!

Image Credits: Illustration by Thomas James, Mike Licht


Layla Eplett About the Author: Layla Eplett writes about the anthropology of food. She has a Masters in Social Anthropology of Development from the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies and loves getting a taste of all kinds of culture--gastronomic, traditional, and sometimes accidentally, bacterial. Find her at Fare Trade. Follow on Twitter @LaylaEplett.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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  1. 1. Uncle.Al 11:30 am 12/10/2013

    Culture human meat. That will proceed at a profit. When the Scots cloned Dolly, they certainly didn’t pick an ugly sheep to replicate.

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  2. 2. tuned 7:25 pm 12/10/2013

    I tried the soy thing and got allergic to it too.
    Chickens have so little brain they can run around for awhile with their head cut off like a cockroach. That’s little enough for me. I eat almost no other meat at all than chikkin’.
    Fish are are fear of mercury now, etc. Inland waterways are too polluted.

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  3. 3. jonhuie 9:11 pm 12/12/2013

    The best benefits of artificial chicken would be freedom from antibiotics, growth hormone, and rampant salmonella.

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