When we hear about our early ancestors, we hear stories about hunting mammoths, using spears to kill sabertooth tigers, and other wild stories. However, research suggests that perhaps the ancestors of our past were meat scavengers, not hunters.
According to research conducted by Sky History, our early ancestors had strong teeth and jaws, proving they were meat eaters. However, they did not have many things in common with natural carnivores such as tigers.
While they might not share a similar jaw and tooth structure, that didn’t matter because they lived alongside the tigers of their time, saber-toothed ones who could do the hunting and killing for them. Early humans could then scavenge the meat and leftover carcass parts to provide for their tribe and to use for clothing and other purposes.
Nearly two million years ago, when these humans lived, meat was only an occasional supplement to an otherwise plant-based diet of seeds, flowers, tubers, and fruits. This begs the very question, are we supposed to eat meat?
In terms of early ancestors, the big cat carnivores of the time developed the built-in tools and ability to hunt and tear apart their prey, not us. However, our ancestors did find ways to cook and harvest the meat; in the end, their bodies could digest the food. So does this mean we should continue to eat meat?
A lot has changed since our ancestors were scavenging for food alongside sabertooth tigers, but the answer to whether or not we are supposed to eat meat depends on who you ask.
According to PETA: “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.”
Others say it’s not that simple, and our biology could also play a part in it.
“Our digestive tract is not one of obligatory herbivores,” notes Canadian scientist Vaclav Smil in an excerpt of his book, Should We Eat Meat?: Evolution and Consequences of Modern Carnivory, published in Scientific American.
“Our enzymes evolved to digest meat whose consumption aided higher encephalization and better physical growth,” before adding that the development of cooperative hunting also played a role in the “development of language and socialization.”
However, despite these claims, Smil addresses the fact that even though we may not have started as primarily meat eaters, we have evolved into a society that does.
As it stands right now, there are millions of land animals awaiting slaughter. Most come from factory farms, encouraging animal cruelty, deforestation, and rising emissions. But there is a simple solution for those who don’t want to eliminate meat from their diets: alternative proteins.
These types of proteins can take many forms, from lab-grown meat to plant-based meat alternatives. Like plant-based meat, these aim to give the same texture, taste, and experience as traditional meat without the need to farm animals.
Just as we evolved from scavengers and adapted to our new environment, we evolved as well. Whether or not we are supposed to eat meat doesn’t change the fact that meat is ingrained in our lives. The question is whether or not our appetites are worth the cost of our planet.
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