Vegetarians vs. Omnivores: A Soho Forum Debate

Listen to journalist Nina Teicholz face off against David L. Katz, MD, the founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, at an event in New York City.


There is little or no rigorous evidence that vegetarian/vegan diets are healthier than diets that include meat, eggs, and dairy.

That was the topic of a public debated hosted by the Soho Forum in New York City on May 13, 2019. It featured Nina Teicholz, author of The Big Fat Surprise, and David Katz, the founding director of Yale University's Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center. Soho Forum director Gene Epstein moderated.

It was an Oxford-style debate, in which the audience votes on the resolution at the beginning and end of the event, and the side that gains the most ground is victorious. Katz prevailed in the debate by convincing 13 percent of audience members to change their minds.

Arguing for the affirmative was Nina Teicholz, whose 2014 book, The Big Fat Surprise, challenged the conventional wisdom on dietary fat. Teicholz's writing has also been published in The BMJ, The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalThe AtlanticThe IndependentThe New Yorker, and The Los Angeles Times among others. Teicholz is the Executive Director of The Nutrition Coalition, a non-profit group that promotes evidence-based nutrition policy.

Reason's Alexis Garcia interviewed Teicholz in 2018.

David L. Katz, MD argued for the negative. He's the founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, which practices community and alternative medicine, and is founder/president of the True Health Initiative, a non-profit organization established to promote a healthy diet and lifestyle. The holder of five U.S. patents, Katz has authored roughly 200 peer-reviewed publications and 16 books to date, including textbooks in both nutrition and preventive medicine.

The Soho Forum, which is sponsored by the Reason Foundation, is a monthly debate series at the SubCulture Theater in Manhattan's East Village.

Music: "Modum" by Kai Engle is licensed under a CC-BY creative commons license.

Produced by Todd Krainin.

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  1. The only evidence I need is that my brain is happier when it gets some meat after an absence of just a few days, and that I wonder what drove evolution to give me the teeth I have.

    This is sure a strange debate topic. It’s a personal choice. What next, creamy or chunky peanut butter? Dark or milk chocolate?

    The only relevance to politics is those idiots who want to ban meat to save the planet. Fuck them anyway.

    1. What next, creamy or chunky peanut butter?

      Creamy, you peasant! “Chunky” peanut butter isn’t FINISHED GRINDING.


  2. Honestly – whether or not its ‘healthier’ is irrelevant. Its not the mere presence or absence of meat that makes a diet ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’.

    Its how much you eat. And in what proportions. If half your calories are coming from twinkies, wheat-thins, and soda then you’re going to die fat even if you eat a salad for each meal.

    They need to stick with the ‘its more moral’ angle.

    1. “Honestly – whether or not its ‘healthier’ is irrelevant.”

      It’s ethics.
      Slaughtering and eating animals for difficult to justify. A lot of frivolous reasons are bandied about as to why we eat meat, but the moral angle seems the most powerful argument.

      1. “Slaughtering and eating animals for difficult to justify. ”

        What’s to justify? Meat is delicious. Go cope.


  3. alternative medicine,

    The technical term for which is “hogwash”.


  4. I’ve known a lot of vegetarians over the years and, in general, their health is worse than the general population.

    Endocrine and weird ass autoimmune issues seem pretty common. As a group, they are generally weaker and more prone to what I can only describe as delusional theories regarding an abundance of things.

    Biologically we are designed to be omnivores, as our need for vitamin B12 which is only available from animal sources attests to.

    To the degree that following a vegetarian diet allows some people to control their body mass, I’ve seen some health benefits there.

    But over the long term, I’ve never seen an otherwise healthy person benefit from this diet. And more frequently than not, I’ve seen it cause a lot of problems.

  5. First, Dr. Katz refutes the premise of the argument, then wins the argument? What?

    And don’t get me started on the part where he said that he promised to not bring up the environmental impact of raising animals for meat, then bringing it up.

    Finally, I loved how that questioner tried to trap Ms Teicholz on conflict of interests and her answer. I guess the conflicts lie with Dr Katz.

  6. Killing animals for food could be morally wrong for us – some humans. But I don’t see any unique pros in vegetarianism over veganism. Even Pets like dogs and cats would not be in a sound health without animal source in their part of the diet.

  7. I think people from south asia are mostly vegetarian. As such in future every food will be artificaly made. I found it on

  8. I think that when people hear one in three deaths could be prevented that its hard to believe the magnitude of this, noted Ginger Hultin, a dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

  9. The people, for example, that applaud the Green New Deal and the simultaneous outlawing of nuclear power on the basis of some crap about Western Imperialist Patriarchy etc. So if you’re the first type, you just lie and if you’re the second type you’re too stupid or brainwashed to see the bigger picture

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