Comedian, director, and activist Jon Stewart was recently a guest on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast. Rogan and Stewart discussed politics and factory farming.
“Do you have any moral qualms about meat or […] is it purely a health issue?” Stewart asked, referring to Rogan’s discussion with James Wilks, the former mixed martial artist who had a leading role in James Cameron’s 2018 documentary “The Game Changers.”
Rogan acknowledged that “it’s both things.”
“There’s a moral qualm with factory farming,” he said. “There’s not a moral qualm with hunting.” The podcast host explained that this is because deer can “either die quickly by the hand of a person—you will respect that life and it will nurture your body and the bodies of your family. Our problem is a disconnection more than anything.”
Stewart transitioned to a plant-based diet around five years ago. He now cares for rescued animals alongside his wife, Tracey Stewart, offered his perspective.
“It became untenable for me to make that decision,” he said, referring to the belief that animals are “better off” being killed by a hunter, rather than a natural predator.
‘They Are Bred to Be Sick’
The discussion led back to factory farming. Rogan acknowledged that there’s “nothing natural” about farming animals for food. He added:“That’s part of the problem, it’s an animal prison.”
Stewart likened caring for domestic animals as running a nursing home: “You can’t believe the fragility of factory farmed animals. They are bred to be sick. […] Genetically designed to gain too much weight for their legs.”
Rogan maintained his stance on hunting, adding that factory-farmed animals are the “worst version of what human beings are capable of. We’re capable of ignoring suffering to the point where we lock them all in warehouses […] It’s horrific.”
‘It’s Impotent Rage at a Certain Point’
Stewart and Rogan not only discussed the treatment of animals, but also other social injustices.
The conversation between the two kicked off with politics, particularly the feelings of burnout that led the former “Daily Show” host to depart the satirical news series in 2015. Stewart described his feelings of frustration with the political climate that eventually led to burnout. “Charleston happened while I was hosting that show, Ferguson happened, the Iraq War happened, 9/11 happened,” he said. “You started to feel like you were expected to say something profound about that. And you knew that you didn’t really have that in you at the time.”
“These events would come up and the weight of feeling like you had to say something meaningful in that moment for people,” he continued.
Stewart brought up 2015 Charleston church shooting in which a 21-year-old white supremacist shot nine Black churchgoers dead. “By the time Charleston happened, by the time Eric Garner happened, I had nothing in the tank comedically,” he said. “All I could do was stare into the camera and just express sadness and… You know what it is? It’s impotent rage at a certain point.”
The events that wore Stewart down are still relevant today. It has been just over one month since the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. The killing sparked thousands of Black Lives Matters protests across the world and calls to defund U.S. police forces.
Stewart’s recently-released film, “Irresistible,” starring Steve Carrell, also addresses politics. The comedy follows a Democratic campaigner who tries to get a left-leaning candidate elected mayor in a right-wing Midwest town.