A big-name PETA representative sparred with the Philodemic Society over the ethics of eating meat in Lohrfink Auditorium Tuesday evening.

A vegan since 1987, Bruce Friedrich, vice president of policy and government affairs for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has engaged in debates at nearly 35 schools across the country. Aiming to bring the organization’s vision — PETA holds that animals are not for eating, clothes, experiments or human amusement — to Georgetown students, Friedrich faced off against Philodemic member Stephano Medina (SFS ’12).Friedrich’s resolution, the eating of meat is unethical, was not affirmed after it failed to achieve a majority of the 75 voting philodemic members. Overall there were 37 affirming, 34 negating and four abstaining votes.

Friedrich’s opening address cited the resource inefficiencies and the environmental toll of sustaining a meat-based diet.

“It takes about 20 calories [in feeding] a chicken, a pig or a cow to get one calorie back out in the form of meat,” Friedrich said.

He also emphasized the cruel treatment that animals are subjected to in order to produce meat.

“The things that happen to farm animals both on factory farms, and on organic farms and on free-range farms, a range of things happen to animals that would warrant felony cruelty charges were dogs and cats similarly abused,”  Friedrich said.

He asked if anyone would eat the gray cat pictured on the screen behind him.

“OK, four or five people are willing to eat Gracie, she’s my cat,” Friedrich quipped.

Medina countered that while humans do share some similarities with animals, the differences are far greater, diminishing humans’ abilities to wholly understand and fully empathize with the experience of animals raised to produce meat.

“Although we can measure serotonin levels and we can measure stress levels, I ask you to have a little bit more respect for the spectrum of human emotion and say ‘I know what pain is to me, and I can’t understand fundamentally what pain is to any other organism,'” Medina said.

Medina also emphasized the distinction between animals and humans.

“Are we obligated to treat animals with respect and compassion because of rights the animals have? No. If that were true, then every single time a lion ate a zebra in the wilderness, some immoral action would be occurring,” Medina said.

After opening statements, Philodemic Society President Nicholas Iacono (COL ’12) opened the floor to approximately 90 minutes of dialogue. The debate was dominated by members of the society, although a few nonmembers also had the opportunity to express their reasoning.

However, both keynotes failed to bring up an important topic according to Sam Dulik (SFS ’13), the vice president of Philodemic Society.

“A quote is missing from this debate, and that is one that says ‘there is room for all of Alaska’s animals out there right next to the mashed potatoes,'” he joked.

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