A firestorm of 1,500 comments later, we knew we had struck a chord and needed to make room for both sides of the story.
Jane Velez-Mitchell is the host of "ISSUES with Jane Velez-Mitchell," airing weeknights at 7 p.m. ET on HLN. As an outspoken vegan and animal rights advocate, she's here for a good old-fashioned omnivore-herbivore throw down - point-counterpoint style.
The bell's about to ring for round two. Let's get ready to rumble.
Five Reasons to Be a Vegetarian: Jane Velez-Mitchell
Jane Velez-Mitchell says: "I would much rather devour a piece of well-seasoned squash than a slice of an animal’s rotting carcass. It’s guilt-free eating, which is ultimately more pleasurable. America’s over-consumption of meat and dairy is largely responsible for our nation’s obesity crisis, one of the nation’s leading causes of preventable illness and death.
We have been brainwashed into craving a diet that is killing us. What we believe tastes good is generally what we have been socially conditioned to enjoy. There are societies that regard worms as a delicacy because that’s how they’ve been raised. Children often naturally shun the taste of meat but are forced by their misguided, although well-meaning, parents into eating it anyway. Eventually, they develop a taste for it and it becomes their 'normal.'
The fact is: America’s obsession with meat and dairy has pretty much destroyed our sense of taste. The average burger and milkshake meal is so overloaded with fat, salt and sugar that it has numbed our taste buds to virtually anything else. When you give up these addictive substances, then your taste buds have a chance to return to their natural state and you will begin to enjoy the subtle flavors of fruits and vegetables, which are lower in calories and have zero cholesterol."
2. Tim Love says: "Because when you walk into a steakhouse, you never hear anyone say 'wow, doesn’t that creamed spinach smell great?' Unless, of course, the spinach is made with bacon."
Jane Velez-Mitchell says: "I actually get quite sad when I smell bacon. Factory farming has made life an unimaginable hell for the billions of pigs raised and killed for food. Sows are kept in gestation crates the size of their bodies and never able to turn around or even scratch themselves. These pigs, which have an I.Q. comparable to dogs, routinely become psychotic.
Stacked by the thousands in dark warehouses, these sentient beings live out their miserable lives never seeing the sky or taking in a single breath of fresh air. Americans are decent people and the only consumers who still enjoy bacon are those from whom the pork industry has managed to hide the truth. I defy anybody to look at those pig gestation crates and walk away with a hankering for a slice of bacon."
3. Tim Love says: "Imagine a restaurant full of preachy vegetarians. Enough said. I’m kidding, of course. Some of my best friends are vegetarians, but even they have a tendency to be a little on the holier-than-thou side. If I want to eat meat, let me eat it in peace. Nobody is forcing you to be a vegetarian, so why are you trying to force us?"
Jane Velez-Mitchell says: "I challenge the idea that anyone can eat meat 'in peace.' It’s a contradiction in terms. How can you talk about peace if your plate is swimming in blood? America raises and kills about 10 billion animals for food every year. The overwhelming majority of those animals – cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, lambs – are raised in hideous, overcrowded factory conditions. Ever wonder why we’re experiencing all those salmonella and swine flu outbreaks? A peak inside these factory farms would give you food for thought.
We’re so darn smart but we can’t figure out that chickens packed in cages so tiny they have to be de-beaked to prevent them from pecking each other to death might be more prone to illness than chickens that have room to stretch their wings? Why do you think the vast majority of antibiotics sold in this country are used on farm animals? Because the way they’re treated makes them prone to illness! If you were stuck for your entire life in the middle seat of a crowded airplane, do you think you might be liable catch a fellow passenger’s cold?
As for us vegetarians minding our own business, well, what people eat is everyone’s business. That’s because meat production is the single biggest cause of global warming - even beyond transportation. Rainforests are being leveled to create grazing land. Methane gas from the animals is rising up into the sky. Don’t take my word for it. The United Nations did a lengthy study and issued a report that’s easily accessed on the Internet.
Also, factory farm run-off – yes I’m talking about all that animal waste - is creating a run-off pollution crisis that is threatening our rivers and oceans.
Finally, there’s world hunger: the greatest health risk on the planet. There are almost a billion hungry people in this world. About one in seven humans do not get enough food.
A lactating cow will consume every year almost six tons of forage dry matter, over 100 bushels of corn, 1,400 pounds of protein supplement, and 225 pounds of mineral/salt. You do the math.
We could eliminate world hunger if, instead of concentrating all that food into meat, we fed it directly to starving people."
4. Tim Love says: "Eating vegetarian may seem like the healthier option (and, probably, often is), but when it comes down to it, meat, in moderation, provides much needed protein, iron and amino acids. As long as you don’t go overboard and eat one of those 15-pound burgers you see on TV, you should be fine."
Jane Velez-Mitchell says: "If huge amounts of protein were the key to perfect health, America would be the healthiest nation on earth because we eat a lot more meat than people in most other countries. But, we’re not the healthiest. Two thirds of us are overweight or obese and the crisis is accelerating. The drumbeat of protein is a selling tool - pure and simple - and we’ve all bought into it. Americans are getting more protein than they need.
There are plenty of plant-based protein sources. Ditto for iron and other essential vitamins. I’ve been vegan for a decade and a half and I’ve never been accused of not having enough energy. In fact, when I went vegan, my energy level shot off the scales. A growing number of professional athletes are going vegan and seeing their performance improve. Just in terms of common sense, look at a horse. It eats grass and hay and is extremely muscular and fast. We like to say, "eat around the animal."
5. Tim Love says: "Because you’d get a lot of funny looks if you tried roasting a pumpkin at a tailgate instead of a pig."
Jane Velez-Mitchell says: "Actually, for all those who feel like they’re sleepwalking through the same old holiday and weekend habits, going vegan is like hitting the refresh button. Suddenly, all those tired traditions come alive with the injection of something new and compassionate. Instead of killing a turkey on Thanksgiving, why not go to a farm animal sanctuary and feed some turkeys? Or whip up a meal using Tofurky? That’s what I call, 'Thanksliving.' There’s no need to celebrate all special occasions with a dead animal front and center. Why not celebrate life? Take it from me. It’s fun to evolve."
What's your take on the great vegetarian debate? The comment section awaits.
Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.