On Eating Flesh

February 2010

 

There are many reasons both for and against eating the flesh of animals. Let's expose some of the more common ones to the light of reason.

    I need to eat meat and fish to be healthy: 
    Who says so? There is no independent organization or agency which says a human absolutely has to eat flesh in order to stay healthy. Yes, non-flesh eaters do need to work a little harder in order to make sure they are consuming enough of all the Macro and micro nutrients they need. But, other than non-ALA Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin B-12, this is no sweat. For non-ALA Omega 3 fatty acids, they can now take pills derived from algae. As we go on, you will see that eating flesh to stay healthy is actually just a myth. Eating Meat is actually dangerous to your health in more ways than most people imagine. Recently, the National Cancer Institute published their findings from a huge study. They examined the diets of 500,00 people. The data lead them to say that the risk of dying over 10 years was roughly 30% higher for the group that ate the most red meat (about 5 oz./day) than for those that ate the least amount of red meat (about 6 oz./week). Those who ate the most processed meats (about 2 oz./day) were about 20% more likely to die than those who ate the least amount (about 1-2 oz./week). Actually, those who ate the most "white" meat had a slightly lower risk of dying than those who ate the least (I have not data about pure vegetarians).
    Humans were made to eat meat. 
    Actually, maybe we were made to eat meat is a truer statement.After having done extensive on-line research, I have found that you can make the data prove either point of view. My belief is that humans are dietary opportunists. We will eat whatever won't make us sick. However, we must remember, humans have two natures. The grosser of the two requires animal flesh to nourish it; the higher nature requires a purer diet in order to reach its full potential. Each of us should keep that fact in mind when making our dietary choices. Of course, whichever choice you make will be absolutely right for you. So in the end, it all boils (no pun intended) down to who or what you are or want to be.Humans hunt.Yes; but only with our brains. If we could not make tools, we wouldn't be able to kill anything much larger than a rabbit (which we could never catch). We can not kill even medium sized animals using our speed, size, strength, nails or fangs. As carnivores we would starve to death using only our physical skills. And since there is no evidence that our intestines became shorter (carnivores have very short intestines) as our brains grew in size, we cannot say we evolved as hunters. Truthfully, we are not much better at digesting plants than we are at hunting animals. Without the use of of fire to breakdown plant foods, we would not do very well on a raw plant diet in the wild.

So where does that leave us? Sort of neither fish nor fowl. Looking at this subject from a scientific point of view does not get us a definitive answer.

So, let's look at the eating of flesh from other points of view. 

Moral and Ethical:

Regardless of what we were designed to eat, it is now an indisputable fact that we can flourish on a vegetarian diet. The brain we used to make tools in order to hunt our meat can now be used to make whatever we need to give us a nutritionally complete diet. IMHO, like it or not, this reduces the decision to kill a living creature one of choosing between its pain and suffering and our personal enjoyment of its flesh.Is this justifiable? Sorry, you have to answer that question for yourself. However, I will point out one passage from the Bible which states that God made us Lord over animals. If you are one of those people who believe a Lord can do whatever you wish to your subjects, you would probably have been beheaded in revolutionary France. If you are someone who believes it is the lord's duty to put the welfare of his subjects before his own, then killing and eating your subjects is not something you would do. 

Spiritual:

Every religion I am familiar with has their gods eating some kind of special divine food. It is never flesh. Only demons eat flesh. I believe this is because people understood that you are what you eat. Eating flesh ties you more strongly to the Earth than eating plants because animals have a conscious will to live and (as far as we know) plants do not. 

Energetic:

When animals are killed, their bodies are saturated with the stress hormones produced by fear and, possibly, anger. When you eat their flesh, you are eating these hormones also. On the other hand, eating the flesh, especially the Heart, of a brave, strong or fast animal was long considered to a good way to acquire some of those traits. Even in ancient India, warriors were supposed to eat flesh because they needed the strength and spirit it would give them.

Environmental:

The producing of animal flesh for human consumption is the world's Single Biggest contributor to pollution and green house gasses. It is also one of the biggest, if not the biggest, consumer of oil, water and antibiotics. It is the single largest cause of erosion; and, it is responsible for 33% of the pesticides used. There is no question that husbandry is bad for Mother Earth. 

It seems to me that whatever we as a species used to do just because of the way things were, is no longer applicable. The old rules no longer apply. We have to examine the facts as they are today; and make a choice which will define us as a person and as a species. We already know that as a species we are defined to a large extend by big business. Who makes your decisions for you?

Now before you think I was setting you up to ask you that question, there are other factors to consider. If you are a person whose job or life style sometimes requires aggressive behavior, eating flesh may be appropriate. So I do not think this subject is as cut and dry as you may think. 

It is up to everyone to make the right decision for themselves. For many people, the problem is who or what is actually making the decision for them. All too often, it is only their taste buds.  

As I said earlier, there is no question that whatever decision you make regarding what you eat will be the right one for you. The question then becomes who and what are you. Who or what governs your values and decisions.  

Who and What you are is one of the issues this web site will help you deal with.