Meat Fuels Man’s Greatness

5 Apr

The following is an essay submitted to the New York Times ethicist contest on: “Why it’s ethical to eat meat.”

As humans we have always explored. We have built structures unrivaled by other species. We have pushed ourselves beyond what previous generations of humans thought was possible. Ethically speaking, we have an obligation as a species to progress, to push society forward, and to continue using our intellect and brain-power for the highest human achievements.

Without the consumption of animal proteins, early hominoids would have lacked the energy to keep pushing forward. Our brains would have lacked the essential fatty acids that have allowed them to develop to the bodily super computers they are today. Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically DHA (not found anywhere in land-based plants), as well as cholesterol and saturated fat make up a large majority of the fats that fuel and promote cognitive processes. Ketones, from animal fats, supply carbon for brain lipid synthesis. They provide sure source of brain energy when glucose is not present, a far too common problem for early hominoids.

We have an ethical obligation to fuel our brains properly as they are our competitive advantage over all other species. In fact, we have a distinct obligation to continue pushing humanities development forward. Meat, specifically seafood has played a significant role in keeping our brains sharp and ever-evolving. Early civilizations were most advanced (based on fossil records) when near water sources (ex: Lakes Turkana and Lake Victoria). Shore-based civilizations were breeding grounds for early brain development. In addition, iodine, another essential nutrient found abundantly in seafood, leads to intellectual increases. Many anthropologists posit that Neanderthals died off due to iodine deficiency as they left coastal areas to explore new lands.

From a nutritional standpoint, without animal proteins and DHA fats from seafood, our development as humans would have stagnated around 200,000 years ago. We would not have progressed enough as a species and society to be cognizant of the notion that eating meat may or may not be ethical to begin with. Without animal proteins, we would have not only halted our own evolutionary process, short-changing ourselves as a race and society, but we may have suffered a similar fate as our ancestral Neaderthals. Survival, after all, is our ultimate ethical obligation.

Fortunately, brave many numbers of hominoids continue to eat meat, contributing to our continued development, evolution, and survival.



4 Responses to “Meat Fuels Man’s Greatness”

  1. Mijnheer April 14, 2012 at 10:43 am #

    Just to let you know that the theory that eating meat is what allowed us to evolve big brains has recently been called into question. Here’s the original article in Nature:
    And if you can’t access the full article there, here’s a summary:

    • hellbententrepreneur April 14, 2012 at 10:56 am #

      Thanks for sharing this information. I agree it’s not cut and dry and using evolutionary studies such as these prove great points. Clearly, the scope of the Nature study displays some holes in my argument. I would posit that we know for sure early man DID eat meat. We also know where we are today…the smartest species on earth with the most developed brains.

      All questions, such as does meat fuel or evolution, are open for a wide array of studies and interpretations.

      Craig Steinfeld

  2. 8ghred October 25, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

    I think the idea that meat helped fuel cultural and intellectual development 200,00 years ago is interesting, but I’m not sure how it justifies eating meat today and now. Are vegetarians cognitively, intellectually, or culturally impaired? Nearly all the nutrients provided by meat can be supplied by a substantial variety of non-meat foods; meat is just a tasty and convenient way of getting certain nutrients (such as the 9 essential amino acids) necessary to prevent malnutrition.

    I think we can “progress” just fine without meat. Or my personal preference, not give up eating meat at all, just change from eating real meat to eating cultured meat!

    • hellbententrepreneur October 26, 2012 at 8:50 am #

      Respect your opinion and thanks for posting. While we can progress, I just believe we will essentially devolve if we were to abandon meat as a society all together. Omega-3 DHA fats come only from animal sources such as fish as does CLA, creatine, Coenzyme Q10 and most of the iron we get. Many vegetarians suffer from low energy and anemia when not done correctly.


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