I hope this is legible! If not, you can find a better version here. I was planning to write something about being ‘mostly vegetarian’ when I saw this, it prompted me to do it now.
This synopsis makes a plausible case for vegetarianism in humans, but it’s incomplete. It doesn’t mention our need for iron and zinc and our poor ability to convert plant sources into some essential vitamins, as compared to most other vegetarian animals. Neither does it account for our inherent behavioural adaptability. The problem with looking for the definitive case that says we are meant to be either vegetarian or omnivore, based on biology, physiology or our evolutionary development, is that science doesn’t stand still and neither do we. We are always discovering something new, whether it be fossilised remains or something in molecular biology and what is true today might not be true tomorrow, from a scientific perspective at least.
However, if you step back and look around you can see human animals who haven’t been herded into cities, are reasonably well adapted to their local environments, so far as their diets are concerned. The ‘agricultural revolution’ missed the Inuit, who are far healthier when left to their meat and fat diet than they are when transplanted and encouraged to eat their greens. The African herdsman have been the subject of much study, because they are all lactose tolerant due to their natural meat and dairy diets, whereas many of us of European origin aren’t. The “Blood Type Diet’ draws on many studies to conclude that blood type is a good indicator of ancestral origins and that people will be healthier if they follow the diet their blood type shows that they are more generally adapted to eat. The herbivore versus omnivore debate just seems a bit too neat and simplistic.
Human animals are amazingly adaptive, mentally, physiologically and socially. That affords us the have the best chance of being able to eat the food that’s available locally, and therefore to survive, where ever we happen to find ourselves. For example, the fact that human jaws can move from side to side, as compared to the carnivore up and down movement only, does not mean that we can’t eat meat – because clearly we can. Perhaps the fact that we can chew meat, and begin digestion with amylase in our saliva, compensates somewhat for the fact that our intestinal tracts are longer, making us more vulnerable to bacteria than your average carnivore.
I am not making an argument to support eating meat, but I’m not convinced that our physiology makes us purely vegetarian. There are myriad other reasons to be vegetarian. Even as a flesh-eater, unless you are an Inuit, a Masai, or have ancestry of a continuous line of hunters and meat eaters, our bodies cannot cope well with a diet that is more meat than vegetables. That is a physiological fact. (Neither can it cope well with huge amount of fake/processed food; that’s a discussion for another day.) However, there is a huge difference between eating occasional meat or fish, especially if you have caught it yourself and eating meat that is the ‘product’ of the farming industry. Living, breathing, feeling animals are not products or commodities. The cruelty, suffering and suspension of our capacity to empathise with other living creatures, that is the standard modus operandi of the farming industry, degrades our essential humanity; as imaginative, empathetic and adaptive creatures we are easily capable of finding other ways to feed ourselves. Our ability to ‘prey’ on other creatures has been subverted, so that we are now the ‘prey’ of corporate entities that use our adaptability and our faculty of imagination, the by-product of which is self-delusion, for their profits. This does not excuse us as hapless victims, because most of us have the choice to eat something else. There is something very archontic about the food industry.
The core issue here isn’t personal health; what you do with your own body is up to you. However, if your choices contribute to the needless suffering of other living creatures, that becomes a concern for anyone who has reached the conclusion that we need to reduce the suffering on this planet. There is a world of difference between the lives and deaths of the wild boar that wander freely here and are occasionally shot for meat by hunters, than the life and death of a factory farmed pig. The conditions that most ‘food animals’ live and die in are so disgusting, so barbaric and cruel that no one with any empathy or compassion left (ie any humanity) could possibly enjoy eating their flesh, if they knew about it. That is why so many people choose not to know.
So, anyone who comes to this site must have at least a passing interest in living a natural life and reducing suffering. If you are a Kalika, then I’d like to know what you think about meat eating and the suffering of animals in the meat industry.
I like the taste of meat but we choose to be mostly vegetarian because I don’t want to support the suffering of animals in any way AND it’s healthier. Sometimes we eat fish and very occasionally, if we visit some one who has cooked meat, or we have flesh-craving visitors, we will eat it ourselves. If I was starving and there was nothing else, I would kill and eat meat, but just because I can doesn’t mean that I will.