Dec 292016
 

As a vegetarian (who doesn’t intentionally go around prophesying) I often encounter the hackneyed old “but we’re evolved to eat meat”. The obvious response is that just because we’re evolved for a certain kind of behaviour does not mean we should necessarily follow it. And of course, it’s not true – we’re evolved to be omnivores not carnivores.

But here’s the thing: Eating certain forms of meat exclusively for a moderately extended period of time can cause death by what is effectively starvation. As a very rough rule of thumb, the wilder an animal is, the leaner its meat is likely to be. So any of our ancestors who ate nothing but meat were likely to be at best severely malnourished and likely to die young.

Of course our ancestors didn’t eat like that or we wouldn’t be here. They ate anything they could get their hands on – animals that didn’t run fast enough, proto-vegetables, grains, fruits, nuts. Anything that wasn’t poisonous.

We’re also evolved to eat more than we need. The idea is that we store fat in reserve for hard days ahead, but these days any “hard days” rarely involve lack of food. Another example of how we should be prepared to intelligently disregard evolved eating habits.

Does this mean we should all become vegetarian? No, of course not. There are plenty of reasons to stop eating meat, but this is not one. It may be a good reason to eat meat less frequently – have high quality meat three times a week rather than junk meat seven times a week.

The New Defence

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