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Earth Science

Eating Meat Helped Early Humans Reproduce 487

PolygamousRanchKid writes "If early humans had been vegans we might all still be living in caves, Swedish researchers suggested in an article Thursday. When a mother eats meat, her breast-fed child's brain grows faster and she is able to wean the child at an earlier age, allowing her to have more children faster, the article explains. 'Eating meat enabled the breast-feeding periods and thereby the time between births to be shortened,' said psychologist Elia Psouni of Lund University in Sweden. 'This must have had a crucial impact on human evolution.' She notes, however, that the results say nothing about what humans today should or should not eat."
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Eating Meat Helped Early Humans Reproduce

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  • Vegan mums today. (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 22, 2012 @07:12AM (#39761461)

    Indeed it doesn't seem to indicate much at all as regards what mothers should eat today. I know two vegan mums and their (vegan) kids weaned off early and are very bright, healthy little 5 and 9 year old kids.

  • by recrudescence ( 1383489 ) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @07:21AM (#39761491)
    I like how the researcher feels the need to close off with a "don't antagonise vegetarian groups" political-correctness statement, lest she risks being eaten alive (pun intended).
  • by G3ckoG33k ( 647276 ) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @07:51AM (#39761585)

    Some feminist psychos will nuts of those results, and not over the mens' nuts. Here is an example of meat and sex, gone wrong... Seriously and dangerously wrong:

    "The sexual politics of meat: A feminist-vegetarian critical theory" (

    "First published in 1990, The Sexual Politics of Meat is a landmark text in the ongoing debates about animal rights. In the two decades since, the book has inspired controversy and heated debate. The Sexual Politics of Meat argues that what, or more precisely who, we eat is determined by the patriarchal politics of our culture, and that the meanings attached to meat eating are often clustered around virility. We live in a world in which men still have considerable power over women, both in public and in private. Carol Adams argues that gender politics is inextricably related to how we view animals, especially animals who are consumed. Further, she argues that vegetarianism and fighting for animal rights fit perfectly alongside working to improve the lives of disenfranchised and suffering people, under the wide umbrella of compassionate activism."

    That book can be seen as part of the ongoing degradation of general observations and science into something very dangerous - views and opinions based on random whims, often with a feminist, religious, sexual or otherwise subjective world-view.

    One can hope these new results will help raising the arguments to a decent intellectual level.

  • Re:Vegan mums today. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @09:20AM (#39761987) Homepage

    Well, dogs are kind of naturally predisposed to eat meat. That's why they have forward-facing eyes (better depth perception for hunting), big sharp pointy teeth (good for biting big holes in prey) and strong jaw muscles. It just so happens that they can prtty much survive on vegetables alone, but it's pretty miserable for them.
    It's worth pointing out that you *cannot* feed cats a vegan diet at all; all felidae are unable to synthesize taurine and can only get it from meat. Without taurine, cats gradually go blind. Many spiders have quite a lot of taurine, which is presumably why cats eat them so readily.
    Feeding any animal a diet that is unsuitable for it is nothing short of abuse. It is hypocrisy in the extreme to criticise feedlot livestock production for feeding cows an un-natural diet and at the same time force domestic pets to eat a diet they simply cannot make use of.

  • by Hugh Pickens writes ( 1984118 ) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @09:56AM (#39762217) Homepage
    For a long time, humans were pretty dumb doing little but make "the same very boring stone tools for almost 2 million years," says Philipp Khaitovich of the Partner Institute for Computational Biology in Shanghai. Then, 150,000 years ago, our big brains suddenly got smart. We started innovating. We tried different materials. We started creating art and maybe even religion. To understand what caused the cognitive spurt, researchers examined chemical brain processes known to have changed in the past 200,000 years. Comparing apes and humans, they found the most robust differences were for processes involved in energy metabolism []. The finding suggests that increased access to calories spurred our cognitive advances although definitive claims of causation are premature. In most animals, the gut needs a lot of energy to grind out nourishment from food sources. But cooking, by breaking down fibers and making nutrients more readily available, is a way of processing food outside the body. Eating (mostly) cooked meals would have lessened the energy needs of our digestion systems, thereby freeing up calories for our brains. Today, humans have relatively small digestive systems and allocate around 20% of their total energy to the brain [], compared to approximately 13% for non-human primates and 2-8% for other vertebrates. While other theories for the brain's cognitive spurt have not been ruled out, the finding sheds light on what made us, as Khaitovich put it, "so strange compared to other animals."
  • Re:Brain sizes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Brian Feldman ( 350 ) <.gro.DSBeerF. .ta. .neerg.> on Sunday April 22, 2012 @10:03AM (#39762259)

    Great point. I like how the study apparently holds it to be self-evident that faster brain development is inherently beneficial. There is a tremendous amount of activity, especially development of language processing, that occurs during the infancy phase of humans. We cannot possibly have controlled studies to adequately gauge the overall effects of this -- for ethical reasons alone.

  • Re:Vegan mums today. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Sunday April 22, 2012 @10:06AM (#39762277) Homepage Journal

    My lady was once a raw food vegan fascist. One day she had the revelation that a carrot was alive and she couldn't bring herself to kill it. This led directly to the concept that all the food is alive, so fucking eat it. (or as I like to put it, THIS IS NECESSARY. LIFE FEEDS ON LIFE FEEDS ON LIFE FEEDS ON LIFE FEEDS ON...) A few years ago we were in the habit of eating a lot of chicken sausage. One day she asked me "Why is this sausage so good?" The answer was "because it's made out of pork". The moral is, people can change.

  • Re:Vegan mums today. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Sunday April 22, 2012 @10:17AM (#39762343) Homepage Journal

    So you know they are in denial? How? Do you know them personally?

    There's a long list of reasons why veganism is stupid, but chief among them is that throughout time, nobody ever lived that way. Anyone who may have lived that way was probably eaten by someone else, because there are no vegetarian indigenes, let alone vegan. It's simply grossly inefficient. We did not evolve to eat plants alone, which you can tell by looking at our teeth or at our stomach, let alone at both of them. As for the moral argument that killing for food is wrong, tell that to a polar bear — or to a sparrow. Or to my parrot, who loves to eat chicken, and yes, she knows what it is. So if it's stupid in the front and stupid in the back it's probably stupid in the middle.

    Far be it from me to force anyone to eat anything they don't want to eat, but don't ask me to believe that they're intelligent or moral because they're making ridiculous choices unsupported by any logic.

  • by slackware 3.6 ( 2524328 ) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @12:02PM (#39763147)
    I buy my beef from a farmer two miles away, there are no growth hormones and they eat grass and oats. My eggs come frome another farm 8 miles away and yes I can actually see the chickens running around the yard eating gross bugs, mice and other nonsense, funny thing the yolks are orange instead of yellow. Milk I buy from the store because I do not have a cow and it is illegal to sell raw milk, my mom even has a cream seperator we use sometime when we can get a few gallons of raw milk.
    The biggest problem with vegans (yes I ran into some in the city at a little girls birthday party) is what obnoxious, self-rightous little twits they are. They are all urban dwelling smug turds that think they are better than everyone.
  • Re:Malnutrition (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @12:11PM (#39763227)

    Milk is vegan, if the animal you obtain it from, consents to give it to you ...[snip] But since non-human animals can't give us consent to take the milk they produced for their own offspring, that stolen cows' or goats' milk is not vegan.

    The problem with these arguments is where you stop. Many strict vegans I know won't eat honey, because the bees aren't consenting to give up their honey. I've even heard vegans argue about whether we can eat yeasted bread -- or is it "exploiting" the yeast to make it rise for us?

    And, of course, once you're getting to the level of yeast, the whole animal/plant thing starts to break down. Why not talk about exploiting the lettuce by tearing off its leaves, exploiting the carrot by stealing its roots. These are essential parts of the plant. Even if you eat only fruit, you should be sure to protect the scattering of the seeds to be sure you're not interfering with natural reproduction.

    I'm not at all saying there is anything wrong with being vegetarian or vegan. But everyone has to draw some sort of line somewhere, and it's always going to be arbitrary. Everything below that line is open to exploitation, and everything above that line should be protected.

    I don't mean to be cynical, but the vast majority of vegetarians I've talked to don't have any depth to their philosophy. It's usually about some sort of worry about cuddly things; hence, many are happy to eat fish. Others (usually more principled) extend it to all vertebrates, some go down as far as bees and silk worms. In the end, many discuss things like "sentience" and ability to "feel" pain, but even most plants will react (slowly, admittedly) to any significant damage -- isn't that proof that they don't "like" what we are doing to them?

    In the end, all of this talk about "consent" and "sentience" and "exploitation" and whatever usually goes out the window the moment an ugly (but often harmless) spider is crawling up your kid's back, and you swat the damn thing down and step on it.

  • Re:Vegan mums today. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by voidphoenix ( 710468 ) on Sunday April 22, 2012 @01:39PM (#39763947)

    And what about our teeth says we evolved to eat meat?

    They're not all flat grinders. In fact, they're mostly shaped for cutting and tearing. Only 3 out of 8 are grinders.

    Please don't say canines because if you look at real canines and then look at a humans canines they are totally different. Same name, but functionally not the same. Real canines tear through flesh a lot easier than the human canines can.

    That's because we don't chase down our still living (and running) food and try to bite them to death. We have omniovore canines.

    Look no one can predict what we are supposed to eat...

    We don't need to _predict_ it, we _know_ what we're supposed to eat. Our teeth, digestive systems and metabolism tell us what we should eat. Our history tells us what we eat. Our pre-history has left us evidence of what we eat and how we evolved to eat it.

    ...but to assume that being vegan is a stupid diet isn't logic speaking, that's culture speaking.

    Veganism is also a cultural artifact, driven by emotion, not logic, and by your logic, stupid. "Aw poor cute animal, I have to kill it to eat it. I'll eat plants instead." Guess what? You have to kill most plant foods to eat them, too.

    Not sure why you get offended by veganism, but you should look into it more before you criticize it.

    I have looked into it. It's a denial of human nature, an attempt to feel morally superior and an arrogant deceit of one's self. It's like self-flagellation, which is almost as offensive as veganism. The truth is simple: all things that live, eat. And for all living things to eat, something must die. This is the cycle of life.

    You should ask a nutritionist about the vegan diet and how healthy it is. Get a professionals point.

    So you consulted a professional vegan nutritionist for this objective, balanced point of view?

    Like I said, I've been a strict vegan for 12 years (no honey or processed sugars).

    Ah yes, avoid the evil animal-based processed sugars to be a strict vegan.

    I don't know if it's contributed to my health, but it definitely hasn't hurt it.

    Based on your post, I rather doubt both those statements.

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears