Intelligence Squared Debate

Intelligence Squared is a forum for debates of the current day issues. The speakers are smart, well-respected and eloquent. As I have learnt, it’s a great forum for some smart discussions.

A couple of months ago a debate happened in Melbourne.The title of the debate was “Meat Should Be Off the Menu”. One of the proponents, Philip Wolleen, a man I had never heard of before did a stirring speech for his segment. This went round the veg blogosphere like crazy. When I watched it, I had goosebumps and it moved me to tears. The passion with which he delivered his argument was incredible. I could almost feel the atmosphere in that debate room.

If you only have a short amount of time, please listen to his stirring speech.

I finally watched the whole debate. I was interested to see what the people opposing the issue would say. Would they have some fair points? Spoiler alert. They didn’t.

If you are a behavioral omnivore looking to see both sides of the debate and see whether the smartest people out there who can debate this issue are able to convince you that what you are doing is right or if perhaps there is another way.

The opposition’s arguments are weak to say the least. So incredibly weak even I can argue them conclusively. I wish they had to produce their sources for their arguments as if they did I am convinced they would be blown out of the water. In fact, one of the questions from the audience at the end asked for the peer-reviewed source for one of the speakers against the proposition who was talking about methane being required to keep the bacteria in the soil in a good state which was her ONLY argument. Could she produce it? No… The reason? The research hasn’t happened yet.

1. They referred several times to countries that still rely on animals such as the Hmong people in Northern Vietnam or the Mongolians raising yak. This arguments always makes me laugh and it is usually meat-eaters from the west. OK. I will concede that it will take some strategizing to help these people find a different way to support themselves but is that reason for YOU to keep eating meat. If that’s all you’ve got, then you need to look carefully at yourself and look at the arguments for taking meat off the menu.

2. One of the people against the motion states that there is not enough land for growing crops for the world. For me this absolutely doesn’t make any sense. Given that half of the world’s grain is grown for livestock the maths doesn’t add up.

3. “It would be unAustralian to take meat off the menu”. I mean… Seriously? Using our ethics of the past to explain what we do in the future. If we continued to follow this argument to its logical conclusion then we’d still be beating our wives, women wouldn’t have the vote and we’d still be keeping slaves.

4. “It’s natural.” This is a joke. There is no conclusive evidence to say that we know exactly what it was that our distant ancestors ate so this argument should be taken off the table until such a time it is agreed by researchers that we DID actually eat considerable amount of meat as caveman. I always thing it is hilarious that the ONLY time we like comparing ourselves to cavemen is when we want to continue eating meat.Don’t we pride ourselves on how far we’ve come?

5. “It’s my choice” Yeah… It’s your choice to choose what book to read, wear your hair and what you study. But as soon as your choices start impacting someone else then we have a problem. It’s our choice to drink alcohol, but it is not our choice once we decide to drink and drive.

6. “My grandparents are alive and well at 92 and they ate meat.” Anecdotal evidence of a couple of individuals is not the yardstick to measure the amount of cardio vascular disease or cancer in our society. He needs to read Bad Science.

7. “In order to keep them alive, we need to kill them.” Seriously? They are referring to rare breeds  that were bred and created by us. I have no problem if these creatures become extinct. Would it really matter compared to all of the other arguments?

I especially liked the questions from the audience. The people in the audience were obviously a smart bunch of people. And you know what? The poll taken from the members of the audience at the end? 76 % agreed that animals SHOULD be taken off the menu based on the arguments put forward.

When it comes down to it. Behavioral omnivores eat meat because they want to and because they can. You might not know HOW to make the change to a plant-based diet, but there are so many resources to help you do it. Give me a bell. I’ll help you and it won’t cost you a cent.

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