[extropy-chat] what is the upside / advantage of meat ?

Olie Lamb neomorphy at gmail.com
Tue Sep 26 06:55:25 UTC 2006

It's not the source, it's the nutrients!


In pre-industrial societies, there are far more occasions for which having
higher protein components in the diet would be advantageous.  However, for a
good number of pre-industrial people, having more of ANY nutrient,
particularly starch and fat (the Big Health Problems with the Standard
American Diet), would be good.

Protien helps with a number of things: healing injuries, quick energy
release.  Useful for social climbers and, funnily enough, hunters.

Because protien is pretty good for social climbers, there would be
advantages in wanting its most potent sources.  These desires would get
passed on.

However, worldwide, only a small number of crops have protein yields
comparable with meat.  Furthermore, almost all of these crops originated
around the area now called the Middle East.

It's hardly surprising, then, that the vast majority of traditionally
vegetarian societies were located around Southern Asia.  When the Buddhist
meme hit the high altitudes of Tibet, it quickly got modified to take the
Vegetarian bit out... Yaks are definitely the most practical means of
obtaining protiens and fats at Tibettan altitudes.

So, considering
On 9/23/06, Ensel Sharon <user at dhp.com> wrote:

> On Fri, 22 Sep 2006, The Avantguardian wrote:
> > Since by the time eating red meat kills you, you will
> > probably have had whatever children you are going to
> > have, natural selection does not penalize this
> > behavior. Instead it rewards it with greater
> > reproductive success since eating meat in your youth,
> > makes you strong enough to escape predators, beat up
> > your banana-eating rivals, and mate at an earlier age
> > than otherwise.
> Great - this is the idea I was getting at.  You say "(eating meat) rewards
> it with greater reproductive success since eating meat in your youth makes
> you strong enough to escape predators,

Eating decent protein sources rewards you with greater reproductive success,
due to those factors.  This doesn't just go back as far as
hunter-gatherers.  This goes back hundreds of millions of years.

It's not that eating meat has lead to
"increased meat consumption in the developing world has led to
greater average heights, body masses and physical robustness",
 it's full access to the nutrients found in animal products.

Meat just happens to be one of the most readily available sources of some
nutrients, and dairy for others.

In New Guinnea, the protien content of most plants is so low, and the
availability of megafauna for hunting so limited, that eating bugs and
spiders has become somewhat culturally ingrained, where it is absent in many
societies.  Bug eating is pretty normal to a lot of other partial carnivores
- wild cats eat a lot of them.

Cats raises another parallel: while rhenal failure is a much bigger issue
for old cats than for just about any other animal (what with cats having
such an unusually high protein diet), it only affects them when they're
old.  Young, they're still (amongst) the most effective solitary hunters

Stepping back a bit, the same is applicable to fats, starch, salt... most
humans were raised in environments deficient in these essential nutrients.
So they developed a preference for them.  Now, their progeny love foods high
in these nutrients a little too much, to the detriment of their health.

(As an interesting parallel, if you let many seed-eating birds have access
to a teaspoon of salt, they will devour it... and die.  They have such a
strong, genetically cultivated desire for salt, and have never had
sufficient access to it that there would be an advantage in developing a
sense of "when!")

Although a number of studies have concluded that a high-proportion-meat diet
has a distinct deleterious effect on long-term health, these studies are
typically looking at consumption levels far higher than what would be
available to your typical hunter-gatherer.  When they had access to
all-they-could-eat, like Henry VIII, our ancestors still got fat and died
younger than necessary.

-- Olie
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