“Being a vegetarian will make you extinct.”
~ Christine Steininger, paleoanthropologist.
An interesting article today, from the The National, pertaining to the estimated 1.8 million year-old relic of Paranthropus robustus that recently went on display at Maropeng museum, in the “Cradle of Humankind”, a region north of Johannesburg, South Africa, that is home to the richest trove of hominid fossils anywhere on Earth.
Taken in isolation, this story isn’t much more than just an interesting aside. It’s just another small piece of our historical past (out of many such examples) that conspired, through the forces of evolution, to craft our current genome. It’s not an ethical issue of “right or wrong” that we evolved to thrive best on a protein and fat laden diet, it just is; the proof is there, written by evolution right into our very genome.
Vegetarians will argue this point, of course. But evolution does not care about ethics, and ethics cannot alter millions of years of evolution. We are, ultimately, what we’re evolved to be. My personal stance on vegetarianism is this: I totally understand it from an ethical standpoint; from a human health standpoint, I believe it to be, quite simply, a substandard diet at best — and that’s being giving. People routinely undertake methods and courses of action that are not necessarily healthy in order to realize a “higher cause”; athletes and sports-enhancing drugs, the shear physical toll extracted from some sports, poor eating, sleeping and a the general disregard for overall health that is sometimes endured and as trade-off to achieving loftiness in regards work, business or academia. I’m not here to judge the merits or trade-offs of these issues, I would simply prefer these folks to go into such endeavors with eyes wide open, with a full understanding of the costs involved.
I agree with the vegetarian movement in their contention that the ethical treatment of livestock is, with few exceptions, wholly lacking in the current “government-industrial food complex”. However, I feel that totally eschewing the consumption of animal protein is not the answer — nor do I think it is in any way, shape or form, healthy (ok, vegetarianism is healthier than the standard western diet — but that ain’t sayin’ much). Instead of sacrificing my own health, though, I’d rather bring about change by helping support local farmers who raise animal protein ethically, and under environmentally sustainable conditions. It’s expensive at the moment, yes — especially as compared to the government supported, Big Ag version — but the potential pay-off is immense, both in terms of improved human health and animal quality of life.