Friday, March 21, 2008

Are we supposed to eat meat?

I'm at home doing a bit of research online. The office internet constantly gets cut off. I'm trying to access the archives at the national archive website. For some reason or another it's also down. It was working fine the other day. I love digging through old photos, seeing how life was like more than 50 years ago.

Anyway, while waiting for the page to load again, I visited The Dilbert blog and came across an interesting comment by Scott on a debate whether humans are natural meat eaters. I myself eat meat and I think humans biologically are adapted to eat meat. I produce Scott Adam's post below:

Natural Meat Eaters
As a vegetarian, I often find myself drawn into debates about whether humans are natural meat-eaters. I’d have to say “almost.”
Clearly meat is nutritious for humans, our teeth can handle the job, and most meat-eaters love a well-cooked steak. But to say we are natural meat-eaters, I would think two things would have to be true:

1. Eating lots of meat wouldn’t increase your health risks.

2. Seeing a cow would make you salivate if you were hungry.

For now, I will ignore the first point because experience tells me that meat-eaters will argue to the death (literally) that eating meat has no health risks.
The interesting point, to me, is why so-called natural meat eaters feel the need to disguise their food by cutting it into steaks, cooking it, and covering it with barbecue sauce. If eating meat is natural, you would expect it to make you hungry in its natural condition. Looking at a cow should make you salivate when you are hungry.

Am I wrong?

[Update: To answer your rhetorical questions, yes, I do salivate when seeing raw vegetables and fruit. An orange or banana would make most people salivate if they were hungry. But I also like raw peas in a pod, even raw potatoes.]

I think for most urban folks, we've probably never caught or killed our own food before. We're so used to having meat presented to us cooked. It smells and looks good, we immediately identify it as food.

Look at the picture below of a Sirloin Steak I found on wikipedia.

If you've used to eating meat and have eaten a steak before, this picture would most probably make you hungry and want to eat one. Now compare with the cow below:

Does this animal make you salivate? If you've grown up slaughtering your own cow, or actually hunting your own food... probably. I can imagine an aboriginal hunter walking in the jungle looking at a monkey on top of a tree and thinking "mmm, I haven't had roasted monkey in awhile".

The way society has conditioned us is wierd. We see soft toys of cows, chickens and pigs on sale.

Look at this soft toy cow. Looks cuddly doesn't it? Now how are we supposed to eat something that's cuddly? We don't associate this cuddly soft toy with the piece of steak on our plate. Unless of course, we've seen the whole process where the cow is butchered, slaugthered and cooked.

Once I was eating steamboat with Chui Yan and her niece. The waiter came with a plate of prawns. Suddenly, one of prawns which we thought was dead jumped of the plate. They were still very fresh. Her niece didn't want us to cook the prawn as it was still alive. We had to lie to her, telling her it was already dead. I myself felt really bad for cooking the prawn alive at first, but after pouring the poor prawn into the hot water and the prawn turned all red it instantly looked very yummy.

Personally, I'm a Buddhist and Buddha says eating meat is bad karma. I try to eat less meat but it's very hard. Meat just taste so good. I try not to eat beef for health reasons but sometimes its just soooo tempting!

When I go out to eat lunch, I try to eat fish and veggie only. I avoid animals that have been bred in captivity. Yes, some fishes have been bred in captivity but its hard for me to distinguish which ones are wild or bred. I like to think fishes that I have ate had a good life and a fighting chance before they were caught.

I don't mind if my veggies have been 'bred' in captivity. Veggies are not animals, hard to feel sorry for them. Unless of course you see this guy below:

If we start finding vegetables cute and refuse to eat them, that's the end man. We'll have to start eating laboratory grown protein food gunk.

Say no to cute veggies!


Anonymous said...

you lead a horrible argument

Matthew M said...

Though there is plenty of physical evidence to suggest we are far better designed to eat veggies, I think it makes sense that we do not want to eat live food. It doesn't take long to convince a population of something like that raw/live food isn't appetizing. It just has to become uncivilized to do so. In a large population, you can't readily transport live food very easily. And if you want to eat beef you would either have to have a huge party or have most of it spoil attracting large numbers of other animals wanting to eat your kill. If lions found out how to cook their kill, they wouldn't have to worry about hyenas trying to steal it. Cooking meat not only helps kill off some bacteria (not all) but also makes the meat unappetizing for other critters that might otherwise fight you for it. Cook it dry and encrust it in salt and you have a long lasting source of protein for long boat rides. I try not to eat too much meat because I recognize it isn't very good for me, but I have to admit that a raw red beautifully marbled steak looks just as appetizing, if not more so, than a browned one, but I'd get funny looks and told that it's "dangerous" to eat uncooked meat if I indulged.