Debate team, PETA talk meat-eating ethics


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Photo by Isabel Moriarty |

Vice President of policy and government affairs for PETA Bruce Friedrich argues the ethical and environmental effects of consuming meat products.


Bruce Friedrich, vice president of policy and government affairs for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), paid a visit to the University Wednesday to face off against Rutgers Debate Union on the ethics of eating meat.

Friedrich, a long-time vegan, said making the choice to become vegan will not only help torture less animals, but could also reverse the effect of global warming and help end world hunger.

"This is one of the most hotly debated issues of our time," PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said in a PETA press release. "Nearly one in four college students is demanding vegan meals at school, and if anyone can hammer home the arguments in favor of a vegan diet, Bruce can."

Frierich said to make the transitioning into a vegetarian or vegan easier, there are plenty of recipes and meat substitutes.

"I turned vegetarian for a while, but it is hard because you [are still part of] the culture and family that eats meat," said Betty Tran, a School of Arts and Science sophomore. "Coming to this is very informative and really makes you think about either converting or even just looking into the simple decisions we make."

One of Freidrich's main concerns with eating meat is the cruelty animals face by large meat industries.

"If you would not [torture animals] yourself, do not pay someone else to do it" he said. "If you would not cause cruelty yourself, why pay others to do it [to animals]?"

Freidrich gave a presentation with several images and videos demonstrating acts of animal torture, including documentaries such as "Meet your Meat," narrated by actor Alec Baldwin.

"Chickens and pigs are kept in small confined cages where they cannot even turn around," Friedrich said. "Chickens get their sensitive beaks cut off without anesthetic, and pigs have their teeth cut with wire cutters, also with no anesthetic."

But members of the Debate Union were not convinced a few people becoming vegans and vegetarians would have an affect on the meat market.

"Sometimes it is culturally a part of our lives to eat meat," said Bomeisl, a School of Arts and Sciences senior. "Are humans unique burdens to animals? If they were in the wild, would other animals eat them?"

Debate Union president David Reiss said this event could help people think about their decisions as vegans, vegetarians or meat-eaters, and whether to change their choices.

"An event like this is important because you see both sides and get a lot of information, and leave here thinking a lot about the decisions you take," said Reiss, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

An experienced debater, Friedrich has faced off against representatives of the fur, meat and animal-experimentation industries for more than a decade, according to the release. He also won a top spot while competing on the Showtime reality series "American Candidate."

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