People who eat meat argue that it’s “natural” for humans to consume animals. But is this true or just an excuse to ignore the horrific ways in which animals are killed for food? Are we really supposed to eat meat?
We Don’t Like Blood
Most humans are revolted by the sight of blood, intestines, and raw flesh and can’t tolerate hearing the screams of animals being ripped apart. The bloody reality of killing and eating animals is innately repulsive to us.
We Don’t Have Carnivorous Teeth
Humans have short, soft fingernails and small, dull canine teeth. All true carnivores have sharp claws and large canine teeth that are capable of tearing flesh without the help of knives and forks.
Real carnivores’ jaws move only up and down, enabling them to tear chunks of flesh from their prey. Humans can move their jaws up and down and from side to side, and we also have flat molars (which carnivores lack), allowing us to grind up fruit and vegetables with our back teeth like herbivores do.
Dr. Richard Leakey, a renowned anthropologist, says, “You can’t tear flesh by hand, you can’t tear hide by hand. Our anterior teeth are not suited for tearing flesh or hide. We don’t … have large canine teeth, and we wouldn’t have been able to deal with food sources that required those large canines.”
Our Digestive System Doesn’t Like Meat
Carnivores have short intestinal tracts that allow meat to pass quickly through their digestive system. Humans’ intestinal tracts are much longer, like those of plant-eaters. This gives the body more time to break down fiber and absorb the nutrients from plant-based foods.
Meat May Cause Food Poisoning in Humans
True carnivores gulp down chunks of raw flesh, relying on their strong stomach acids to break it down and kill the dangerous bacteria in meat that would otherwise sicken or kill them. Humans have much weaker stomach acids that are similar to those found in animals who digest pre-chewed fruits and vegetables. Without carnivorous stomach acids to kill the bacteria in meat, dining on animal flesh can give us food poisoning. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, meat is a significant cause of foodborne illness. Every year in the U.S. alone, food poisoning sickens more than 48 million people and kills more than 3,000.
Because of this, we must cook meat to make it easier to digest and to destroy bacteria, but there may be a link between cooking meat at high temperatures and the development of colon cancer.
Meat Can Cause Heart Disease in Humans
Carnivorous animals in the wild virtually NEVER develop heart disease or suffer from strokes—ailments that humans can suffer an increased risk of developing due to their consumption of the saturated fat and cholesterol found in meat.
Heart disease is the number one killer in the U.S., according to the American Heart Association. If humans were meant to eat meat, why do meat-eaters have a 32 percent higher risk of developing heart disease than vegetarians?
We May Be Getting Too Much Protein
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most Americans get plenty of protein without paying special attention to what they eat. We’re actually more likely to consume too much protein, resulting in nutritional deficiencies or insufficient fiber.
Eating too much protein may also increase your risk of developing heart disease and may worsen kidney function in people with kidney disease because the body can have trouble eliminating all the waste products of protein metabolism.
Colin Campbell—director of the Cornell-China-Oxford Project on Nutrition, Health, and Environment and author ofThe China Study—says, “In the next ten years, one of the things you’re bound to hear is that animal protein is one of the most toxic nutrients of all that can be considered.”
Didn’t Our Human Ancestors Eat Meat?
During most of our evolutionary history, we were largely vegetarian: Plant foods, such as yams, made up the bulk of our ancestors’ diet. The addition of modest amounts of meat to the early human diet came with the discovery of fire, which allowed us to lower the risk of being sickened or killed by parasites and bacteria in meat. This didn’t turn our ancestors into carnivores but rather allowed early humans to survive in areas and during periods in which plant foods were unavailable or scarce.
Modern Meat Consumption
Until fairly recently, only the wealthiest people could afford to feed, raise, and slaughter animals for meat, but with the rise of the modern middle class,consumption of meat in the U.S. has almost doubled over the last 100 years.
Now, animal flesh is relatively cheap and easily available because of factory farming and government subsidies, and heart disease, strokes, cancer, and obesity are increasing worldwide.
Are Humans Supposed to Eat Meat?
Numerous studies have shown that meat is not ideal for the human body and may actually be making us sick and killing us. The human body is intended to function on plant-based foods that are full of fiber, antioxidants, unsaturated fat, essential fatty acids, phytochemicals, and cholesterol-free protein.
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