Saturday, April 7, 2012


From time immemorial there has been a persistent question whether human beings are designed to eat meat and it continues to be a raging debate even to day. Looking back in history eating of animal foods got established only after the advent of Christianity while vegetarianism ruled the world during millennium preceding this era. If one probes further back man was transformed into a hunter with omnivorous instincts millions of years ago. Vegans and thorough bred vegetarians swear by the non-essentiality of animal based food products as plant kingdom provide adequate nutrition and health protecting substances for a long life of high quality. In contrast meat foods with high density of nutrients like iron, proteins and many micro nutrients but have the handicap of containing high levels of artery clogging saturated fat. Meat is also devoid the much needed dietary fiber for which humans will have to fall back on plant foods.If these are the stark realities what should be the choice before an intelligent consumer? it may be too much to expect a simple consumer to understand the complexities of the situation and take a life-time decision. Many campaigns and organized programs across the world have not made much of a dent on the extent of meat consumption though there are significant converts to vegetarianism during the last few years. 

One of the tenets of peace on this earth is non-violence, be it against fellow humans or co-inhabitants that live along with them and if this philosophy takes hold on the lives of people, it is possible that one day the whole planet will adopt vegetarianism. But for this to achieve there are a number of interconnected issue which are to be sorted out. Under such an environment what will happen to the trillion dollar industry that piles money killing billions of animals including poultry bird, cows, buffaloes, sheep and goat and pigs? Is it logical to expect these "high muscled" players to give in so easily to the demands made by vegetarian champions? Take the example of a country like India where killing of cows is considered a crime and there are millions of cows with no economic value sought to be protected at enormous cost while the very same cows are slaughtered in millions every day in many countries predominantly beef eating in nature! If governments all over the world are subscribing the view that jungles, forests and wild animals need protection why not the same principle apply to domesticated animals also? A clear dichotomy indeed!

During these days of so much hype generated over climate changes taking place due to many human activities and unlimited burning of fossil fuels, a little noticed aspect is the role meat eaters play in further aggravating the present intolerable situation. There have been high pitch noises coming out of climate control conferences held periodically which any how do not serve any useful purpose with developed countries demanding "sacrifices" from poor developing countries to cut down emissions thus tramping on latter's aspiration to achieve economic prosperity for their citizens. It is unfortunate that these countries where meat eating practice is omnipotent, do not introspect the damage meat consumption is doing for the health of their citizens as well as that of the environment. According knowledgeable experts if Americans can switch over to vegetarian diets, the reduction of green gas emission will be far more substantial than that managed by changing their fossil fuel cars to hybrid versions. It was in 2008 world realized that meat based diets contribute seven times as much green house gas emission as vegetarian diet does!     

According to diet and health experts across the world "a properly planned vegetarian diet is healthy, nutritionally adequate and provides health benefits to prevent diseases" and it has been proved beyond doubt that vegetarian population has lower Body Mass Index, lower cholesterol, lower incidence of blood pressure and hypertension and fewer cases of disorders  Ischemic Heart Disease, renal damage, diabetes and metabolic syndrome. International Vegetarian Union, started in 1908, relentlessly works for convincing people to shun meat foods and become healthy without most of the diseases associated with meat consumption. why is that meat is not good for humans? Because raw meat, it has been confirmed by a number of studies, can reduce the life expectancy by 13%, increase the chances of death from CVD by 18% and that by cancer by 10%. The risk factors get further enhanced if processed meat consumption and its consequence are critically assessed. Processed meat consumption can decrease life expectancy by 20%, by CVD by 21% and cancer by 16%.  

An innocuous piece of news which appeared recently which caught the attention of many critical observers about the loss of sweet sensing ability among some carnivorous animals, domesticated as well as in wild due to gene mutation over a long time which may have some implications in human evolution. The two sweet receptor genes Tas1r2 and Tas1r3 if do not find expression the ability to taste and enjoy sweetness is permanently lost. Disturbingly such mutation has taken its toll due to predominant consumption of meat. What could be the implication of these findings on humans on a long term basis? Is it possible that humans who are non-vegetarians also lose their sweet tasting ability in future over a long period? Or will the drug industry come out with a prescription drug that can make the sweet receptor genes redundant? Can such a situation bring down the incidence of diseases associated with too much consumption of sugar? May not be practical but not impossible!     

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your conclusions about a non meat diet providing all of the nutrients necessary is dubious at best. There are many nutrients needed by the brain, as an example, that are only available in substantial density in meat. That includes tyrosine and tryptophan amongst other amino acids that are precursors to proper brain functioning and hormone levels in the body.

Humanity ate meat for millions of years. If meat presented a problem, we would have seen the effects by now. In fact, there is scientific evidence that the massive and rapid growth of the human brain in early humans and pre-humans was only possible through the amino acid density of meat.

Your intimation that eating meat is unethical has absolutely no merit. There is no truth in moral relativism. There is only truth and nontruth. Other self-aware animals including dolphins, whales and other primates, eat meat. Who stands in judgement of their ethical lapse in judgement?

Meat is presented by Gaia, God or nature as sustenance for humanity. It is a gift that sustains our life force. Moral relativism and ethical arguments present absolutely no truth. There is no malicious intent in eating meat.