When it comes to whether to eat meat or not, humans fall into two very firm camps – the Herbivores or plant eaters (vegetarians), and the Omnivores who eat meat and plants. There is a third camp, the diehard Carnivores, who would prefer not to ever see a veggie on their plate. But even they probably have the odd beer or potato chip, which puts them back into the omnivore category.
There shouldn’t be any debate about food preferences. Each to their own, I say. But herbivores seem intent on defending and promoting their choice. They really shouldn’t be surprised by the sometimes irritated responses they get in their blogs and forums. As my daughter used to say, “Don’t poke a tiger”, or in this case, don’t tell a carnivore not to eat a steak.
Many people choose a vegetarian type diet because they think it is Healthier. There is no doubt it will be healthier than a ‘cheeseburger and fries every day’ diet. But there is no evidence to say that a vegetarian diet is any better for a person than a diet of meat and vegetables, as long as both diets take into consideration the guidelines for good nutrition.
Many vegetarians point to Food Safety as a reason to not eat meat. Improper handling, storing or cooking of meat can certainly cause sickness or death. But improper handling of fruits and vegetables can cause similar problems, as demonstrated by the recent deaths in Germany caused by E.coli – a bacterial germ carried in the intestinal tract of humans and other warm blooded animals.
Some vegetarians point to Environmental Degradation as the reason they don’t eat meat. Water quality, waste disposal, and overuse of antibiotics are just a few of the issues they are justly concerned about. However, grain and vegetable farming also has an environmental cost caused by the fertilizing, watering, harvesting, processing and transporting of crops.
Animal Rights issues are often at the heart of a persons decision not to eat meat. Some people object to any animal being killed for food, which is a good reason why they shouldn’t eat them! Of course, even cereal and vegetable production kills animals – insects, birds, and small rodents are sacrificed so that a farmer can maximize crop production. (Rabbits would have to be sacrificed too, I guess. A single rabbit ate my entire garden last summer.)
The other objection to the use of animals for food is the aversion people have to high density modern factory farms. Knowing what mankind is capable of, I expect there are some deplorable instances of how food animals are raised and slaughtered.
People concerned with this issue should source meat that is raised the way they would like, and become an advocate for better farm practices in their area. In this case, not eating meat at all is really just a cop-out.
Now, a bit of Carnivorian history for the Omnivores: Early man was scavenging and eating meat about 2.5 million years ago, and over time meat was the fuel that allowed the growth of larger and larger brains. It is believed Homo erectus learned to control fire about a million years ago, and it is possible he used it to cook his diet of meat, tubers and roots in order to make them more edible. The oldest largely accepted evidence of fire (used by an ancestor of modern man to cook meat) is burned bones from about 500,000 years ago. 400,000 years ago, man started hunting, rather that just scavenging.
Modern Homo sapiens appeared about 150,000 years ago. Sometime shortly after that, Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble started cooking up Woolly Mammoth on the BBQ…