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Myth: It’s in our genes to eat animals

May 2, 2013

It is in our genes (to eat animals).

“It is in our genes” is a statement that is beyond my scope to answer and my guess is that it is most likely beyond anyone’s scope.  I know that our two closest relatives with whom we share more than 99% of our DNA, the bonobo and the chimp, eat an all plant based diet for the most part.  Chimps are known to kill and eat other animals but this accounts for less than 3% of their diet.  The bonobo primarily eats fruit and other plants with the occasional insect.

The Paleo Diet is a subject of huge debate.  I have read several articles that suggest the bulk of our nutrition came from nuts and fruits and these things are typically part of the Paleo diet fad.  Most of the articles I have read talk about what our ancient ancestors ate.  But in the end all of them concede that no one is really sure what we ate.  There is no definitive answer.

If it is in our genes, which to me means it is a natural instinctive inclination and not learned or taught then why do I not salivate when I see bird?  Why do I not smell a cow and think it smells delicious?  Why do I not see an animal that I could easily kill with my bare hands even when I am really hungry such as a chicken or a baby pig or more likely a squirrel or small bird and think “I would like to snap its neck and eat it”?  I have never felt this way when looking at an animal and yet some animals instinctively do feel this way for it IS in their genes.  But these feelings and instincts are not in mine.

If you put a child into a room with two ‘foods’ such as an apple and a rabbit or chicken or baby pig, why does the child eat the apple and play with the animal?

I have pondered all of these things without bias.  I have no scientific proof that it is or isn’t in my genes.  I only know how I feel and what I have observed.  I have never in my whole 45 years of living seen a friend, relative or stranger tell me they are hungry and then a small animal crosses our path and the person goes after the animal and eats it.  I haven’t seen it happen even at a petting zoo with hungry people and chickens or other farm style animals around and I haven’t seen it when the occasional turkey around here crosses our path while going for a walk.

You can Google ‘meat gene’ and get a ton of hits that say “Meat eating is genetic” but none of them are conclusive.  All I know is that my observations of myself in the natural world do not seem to indicate that the eating of an animal is an automatic first instinct but rather a learned behavior, a cultural norm, and something we might turn to when in pure survival mode.  And even then, I will bet that you would eat the berries off a bush and the fruit off of a tree long before you would find a squirrel roasted over a fire as appetizing.

Peace ❤

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