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STUDY SHOWS EATING MEAT HELPED HUMANS EVOLVE INTO WHAT WE ARE TODAY
Source: blog by Jeffery Kulger as it ran in Time magazine

Science doesn't give a hoot about your politics. Think global warming is a hoax or that vaccines are dangerous? Doesn't matter, you're wrong.

Something similar is true of veganism. Vegans are absolutely right when they say that a plant-based diet can be healthy, varied and exceedingly satisfying, and that-not for nothing-it spares animals from the serial torments of being part of the human food chain. All good so far.

But there's veganism and then there's Veganism-the upper case, ideological veganism, the kind that goes beyond diet and lifestyle wisdom to a sort of counterfactual crusade. For this crowd, it has become an article of faith that not only is meat-eating bad for humans, but that it's always been bad for humans-that we were never meant to eat animal products at all, and that our teeth, facial structure and digestive systems are proof of that.

You see it in Nine Reasons Your Canine Teeth Don't Make You a Meat-Eater; in PETA's Yes, It's True: Humans Aren't Meant to Eat Meat; in Shattering the Myth: Humans Are Natural Vegetarians. (Google "humans aren't supposed to eat meat" and have at it.)

But sorry, it just ain't so. As a new study in Nature makes clear, not only did processing and eating meat come naturally to humans, it's entirely possible that without an early diet that included generous amounts of animal protein, we wouldn't even have become human-at least not the modern, verbal, intelligent humans we are.

It was about 2.6 million years ago that meat first became a significant part of the pre-human diet, and if Australopithecus had had a forehead to slap it would surely have done so. Being an herbivore was easy-fruits and vegetables don't run away, after all. But they're also not terribly calorie-dense. A better alternative were so-called underground storage organs (USOs)-root foods like beets and yams and potatoes. They pack a bigger nutritional wallop, but they're not terribly tasty-at least not raw-and they're very hard to chew. According to Harvard University evolutionary biologists Katherine Zink and Daniel Lieberman, the authors of the Nature paper, proto-humans eating enough root food to stay alive would have had to go through up to 15 million "chewing cycles" a year.

This is where meat stepped-and ran and scurried-in to save the day. Prey that has been killed and then prepared either by slicing, pounding or flaking provides a much more calorie-rich meal with much less chewing than root foods do, boosting nutrient levels overall. (Cooking, which would have made things easier still, did not come into vogue until 500,000 years ago.)

To read the entire article click here.


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