Saturday, January 06, 2007

Vegetarian diet

Assuming humans can survive on a vegetarian diet, the best argument for doing so isn't what is ethical or what we were designed for. Every time you move up a link in the food chain, only 10% of the energy of the prey is absorbed by the predator (the rest is lost as heat). So, a cow gets 10% of the grass' energy, and by eating the cow we get only 1% of the grass' energy. Eating a bird who eats bugs who eat plants, we're only getting .1% of the plant energy. Vegetarianism would be an easy way to create an abundance of food for the entire population.

I would appreciate it if you mentioned this, because this argument is rarely brought up (and I know no one else will read this comment). Thanks for the entertaining blog.

No study will ever prove or disprove the meat contention. The random, unaccountable differences between individual humans make strict science and human nutrition mutually exclusive fields.

In order for a study to say anything conclusive, the scientists would have to do something like grow 100 genetically identical clones, and then make sure each one got exactly equal amounts and types of water, sleep, stress, excercise, exposure to illness etc etc etc. Feeding half of this group a carefully controlled omnivorous diet and the other half a carefully controlled vegetarian diet with identical levels of macro and micronutrients for 12 months and then measuring their resultant "health" would be somewhere APPROACHING scientific.

Present nutritional studies typically do not have this level of rigour. Now my declatation of bias: I really like meat. Therefore I eat it.

For all the discussion on teeth, I saw a lecture on skull bones once.

From it, I learned that human teeth are:
-Not like dogs - some of their teeth are for gripping, some for chopping up bones to get at the marrow, and some for ripping flesh
-Not like cats, large or small - their teeth are mostly for ripping and slicing flesh
-Not exactly like baboons - males have huge canines for fighting other males
-Not like horses - front teeth for tearing and back teeth for grinding with a gap in between
-Not like rodents - front teeth for gnawing, always growing

-A lot like bears and pigs - people have mistaken their skulls for the skulls archaic skeletons because of the similarities between the teeth

Bears and pigs eat a lot of the same things that humans like to eat, basically everything. In fact, a certain grizzly bear in Yellowstone really liked an entire case of beer he found in a camp and was nicely drunk at the camp when they found him. But then again, when I think of bears eating meat, I think of them clawing at salmon...

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