Meat the key to life

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Meat the key to life

The following is an adapted excerpt of Should We Eat Meat?: There is no doubt that human evolution has been linked to meat in many fundamental ways. Our digestive tract is not one of obligatory herbivores; our enzymes evolved to digest meat whose consumption aided higher encephalization and better physical growth.

But is it possible to come up with a comprehensive appraisal in order to contrast the positive effects of meat consumption with the negative consequences of meat production and to answer a simple question: Killing animals and eating meat have been significant components of human evolution that had a synergistic relationship with other key attributes that have made us human, with larger brains, smaller guts, bipedalism and language.

Larger brains benefited from consuming high-quality proteins in meat-containing diets, and, in turn, hunting and killing of large animals, butchering of carcasses and sharing of meat have inevitably contributed to the evolution of human intelligence in general and to the development of language and of capacities for planning, cooperation and socializing in particular.

Even if the trade-off between smaller guts and larger brains has not been as strong as is claimed by the expensive-tissue hypothesis, there is no doubt that the human digestive tract has clearly evolved for omnivory, not for purely plant-based diets.

Homo sapiens is thus a perfect example of an omnivorous species with a high degree of natural preferences for meat consumption, and only later environmental constraints need to support relatively high densities of population by progressively more intensive versions of sedentary cropping accompanied by cultural adaptations meat-eating restrictions and taboos, usually embedded in religious commandments have turned meat into a relatively rare foodstuff for majorities of populations but not for their rulers in traditional agricultural societies.

Return to more frequent meat eating has been a key component of a worldwide dietary transition that began in Europe and North America with accelerating industrialization and urbanization during the latter half of the 19th century. In affluent economies, this transition was accomplished during the post-WW II decades, at a time when it began to unfold, often very rapidly, in modernizing countries of Asia and Latin America.

This increased demand was met by a combination of expanded traditional meat production in mixed farming operations above all in the EU and Chinaextensive conversion of tropical forests to new pastures Brazil being the leader and the rise of concentrated animal feeding facilities for beef mostly in North America, for pork and chicken in all densely populated countries.

This, in turn, led to a rise of modern mass-scale feed industry that relies primarily on grains mainly corn and legumes with soybeans dominant, fed as a meal after expressing edible oil combined with tubers, food-processing residues and many additives to produce a variety of balanced feedstuffs containing optimal shares of carbohydrates, proteins, lipids and micronutrients and added antibiotics.

But it has also led to a widespread adoption of practices that create unnatural and stressful conditions for animals and that have greatly impaired their welfare even as they raised their productivity to unprecedented levels with broilers ready for slaughter in just six to seven weeks and pigs killed less than six months after weaning.

Meat is undoubtedly an environmentally expensive food. Large animals have inherently low efficiency of converting feed to muscle, and only modern broilers can be produced with less than two units of feed per unit of meat.

This translates into relatively large demands for cropland to grow concentrates and forageswater, fertilizers and other agrochemicals, and other major environmental impacts are created by gaseous emissions from livestock and its wastes; water pollution above all nitrates from fertilizers and manure is also a major factor in the intensifying human interference in the global nitrogen cycle.

Opportunities for higher efficiency can be found all along the meat production—consumption chain. Agronomic improvements — above all reduced tillage and varieties of precision cropping including optimized irrigation — can reduce both the overall demand for natural resources and energy inputs required for feed production while, at the same time, improving yields, reducing soil erosion, increasing biodiversity and minimizing nitrogen leakage Merrington et al.

Many improvements can lower energy used in livestock operations Nguyen et al. Considerable energy savings can also be realized by using better slaughter and meat processing methods Fritzson and Berntsson Rational meat eating is definitely a viable option. Toward Rational Meat Eating We could produce globally several hundred millions of tons of meat without ever-larger confined animal feeding operations CAFOswithout turning any herbivores into cannibalistic carnivores, without devoting large shares of arable land to monocropping that produces animal feed and without subjecting many grasslands to damaging overgrazing — and a single hamburger patty does not have to contain meat from several countries, not just from several cows.

Meat the key to life

And there is definitely nothing desirable to aim for ever higher meat intakes: Meat consumption is a part of our evolutionary heritage; meat production has been a major component of modern food systems; carnivory should remain, within limits, an important component of a civilization that finally must learn how to maintain the integrity of its only biosphere.Well, me, at one time.

When the truth is laid bare in front of you, all you can do is turn a blind eye and try to forget about it before your next meal; and of course hate the vegan who keeps shoving this truth in your face. Look out for the Pasture for Life logo when shopping for grass-fed meat products, as this guarantees the animal has been fed % on pasture for the whole of its life.

Meat is animal flesh that is eaten as food.: 1 Humans have hunted and killed animals for meat since prehistoric times. The advent of civilization allowed the domestication of animals such as chickens, sheep, rabbits, pigs and cattle.

This eventually led to their use in meat production on an industrial scale with the aid of slaughterhouses.. Meat is . Ski's Meat Market and Grocery the finest steaks, brats, cheeses and more from our families to yours, with lots of love.

Join WIRED for the deepest dive yet into the science of the Impossible Burger, the genetically engineered fake meat on a mission to upend the beef industry. Tourtière, also known as pork pie or meat pie, is a combination of ground meat, onions, spices, and herbs baked in a traditional piecrust.

Should Humans Eat Meat? [Excerpt] - Scientific American