Meat’s Biological Value

After our class discussion regarding The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol Adams, I did some research into opposing views regarding the consumption of meat and meat products. I came across an interesting article in the Washington Post pertaining to the biological value involved in the consumption of meat. Scientist Christopher Wanjek shows how humans are only the humans that we have come to recognize because of the biomedical importance of meat in our diets. “Both extremes of the meat argument — the unapologetic meat-eater and the raw vegan — should remember that few of today’s so-called natural foods were around as little as a few hundred years ago, from the modern invention called corn-fed beef to genetically altered strains of Queen Anne’s lace called the carrot. There are many reasons to go vegetarian, go vegan and even go raw, but evolution isn’t one of them. (http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-11-26/national/35510270_1_vegan-diet-big-brains-brain-size)” Vegan, vegetarian, or even raw diets are undoubtedly more healthful than the high-fat, high-cholesterol alternatives that most Americans are used to, but simply referring to them as “natural” is a misconception in the most primal and biological sense. Often, a lack of meat in one’s diet, or a protein-filled substitute contributes to low levels of dietary iron and vitamins B9 and B12. Humans have always required these nutrients, and it is important to realize that meat has historically been a crucial part of human evolution. Many critics of the consumption of meat would highlight the treatment of animals and the ethics behind it, and this must be taken into account when making proper dietary choices, but as this article shows, it is unwise to simply dismiss it as unnatural. The issue of eating meat in today’s society is a complicated one, and Carol Adams highlights a departure from seeing meat as a living organism as partially to blame: “We live in a culture that has institutionalized the oppression of animals on at least two levels: in formal structures such as slaughterhouses, meat markets, zoos, laboratories, and circuses, and through our language. That we refer to meat eating rather than to corpse eating is a central example of how our language transmits the dominant culture’s approval of this activity. (Adams 77: 2010)” However, this is largely a recent invention, and in the biological sense, there has historically been no separation between the vernacular of the animal and its consumed form. Meat was consumed as a result of its biological and evolutionary importance, and is in many ways natural. Our society has created this distinction, and animals being prepared for consumption are treated far worse than their historical counterparts. It is vital to consider the source of meat when making a conscious decision regarding whether to abstain from its consumption, but it being “unnatural” should not be one of them. The major ethical objection to meat concludes that consuming meat is not a necessity for most people living in the developed world, therefore the slaughter of animals to please human taste buds is not morally justifiable. If you do choose to go vegan or vegetarian, be sure to simply find protein and iron-rich alternatives to satisfy our basic biological need for these essential nutrients. Eating meat is good for humanity in a few ways provided the animals are treated with care and our eating them ensures their survival. “Humans no longer need high reserves of protein and fat, and modern livestock raising has become in many places harmful to the land, the animals, and the workers who tend to them. (Ruhlman from first article)” In my own opinion, if we choose to make the conscious choice to consume meat, it is our “ethical duty to eat it in significantly smaller proportions than plant products (Ruhlman)” and to ensure that all animals are cared for with thoughtfulness.

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