Humans have no killer instincts
This is pretty much the bottom line before heading into ethics. I was at a family gathering this weekend, my first being vegan, and so the inevitable happened. Whilst helping ourselves to some classic British bonfire-night fayre of jacket potatoes and chilli con carne (for me, beluga lentils and kidney bean chilli), I was rounded with the familiar statement of “if we were meant to be vegetarian we would all be out in the fields eating grass.” Fine. I calmly pointed towards a family pet, a lovely little dog called Evie, and said: “if we were meant to eat meat you would be taking a chunk out of Evie’s neck right now.” If you want to prove to me that we are meant to eat meat, go grab Fluffy the cat and bite its head the f***k off. You won’t do it! We simply have no carnivorous instincts whatsoever. Period. Needless to say their wasn’t much of a comeback to that. There was no animosity in the exchange, we are family after all, and the night descended into drunken shenanigans and the questionable practice of handling explosives whilst half-cut. It got me thinking, though, about the widespread misconception that humans are ‘meant’ to eat meat, like the presence of an enlarged frontal lobe and opposable thumbs decrees it.
I used to be in that camp too, but think about it for a second; just stop and really think hard about whether you feel naturally obliged to eat the blood, flesh, veins, and tendons of other beings, not to mention the puss-filled secretion (milk and cheese), menstrual cycle from a chicken’s ass (eggs), and vomit (honey). And you think I’m the freak for eating a plant-based diet? Seriously, I was ‘jokingly’ called a freak for eating a vegan chilli that night. People have got so caught up in the meat and dairy industries’ lies – “you need the protein to survive,” “milk grows strong bones,” “this animal was raised and slaughtered ethically” – that they’ve forgotten that the way that they are consuming this flesh is via the most unnatural means possible: cooked, seasoned and disguised in cellophane-wrapped euphemisms. Bacon? Pig flesh and fat. Steak? Cow muscle and tendon. Leather? Cow skin. Chops? Pig back. Shanks? The leg of a baby sheep. Honey? Bee puke. Sausages? F***k knows what. The list goes on and on with industry-standard word games literally pulling the wool over people’s eyes.
“But Sam, lions, sharks and hyenas eat meat. That’s natural.” Sure, and it’s also natural that lions sniff each other’s asses when greeting each other, it’s natural that they often commit infanticide, and it’s natural that they live in the African savanna without a supermarket in site. Justifying meat-eating with one aspect of a thoroughbred carnivore’s behaviour is simply an unfair comparison, not to mention the obvious anatomical differences – teeth, claws, speed, and the fact our jaws move side-to-side, like a herbivores, not up and down.
I originally left this section blank with just this meme, but decided that that was lazy, and after a brief yet firm discussion with a friend on Facebook about whether or not eating meat lead us to the top of the food chain, I decided to update this.
I could probably just wrap this up by saying that research in to the Paleo diet fad – whereby we should eat mainly meat supplemented by some raw fruits and vegetables and presumably plenty of Ex-Lax – has virtually no basis in archeological record. Studies have in fact shown that paleolithic diets were in fact rich in carbohydrates such as acorns, nuts, seeds, berries and even barley. For those who did eat meat it would most likely have been in last-ditch situations for those living in extreme climates, which was basically everywhere, where regular droughts or frozen landscapes limited the supply of fresh produce, the far easier option for food then going bare-chested against a frigging Smilodon.
The paleo diet does get some things right: it eschews artificial and refined foods and encourages people to eat only foods that would have been available to the Paleolithic person. The only problem is that there are virtually no species of plant or animal alive today that existed back then. Everything we see in the supermarkets today, including fruits and vegetables, have been bred and to a certain degree manufactured by humans. Carrots have been bred to be sweeter and bigger; broccoli wasn’t even a thing until agriculture came along and made it into what it looks like today. This is wild broccoli:
Doesn’t look too appetising. My point with all this is that we cannot simply use the ‘paleo excuse’ to commit mass killings, waste grain that could be feeding other poorer humans, and destroy the environment with the ridiculous amounts of CO2 the meat and dairy industry puts out. This is the 21st Century; right now we have zero natural predators and supermarkets that stock varieties of fruits and vegetables and meats that never even existed in the Paleolithic era. So eat what’s widely available, abundant, cheap, and healthy: carbohydrates in the form human-bred fruits, vegetables, potatoes, rice and pasta.