The organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals entreats individuals to adopt vegetarianism as the "healthiest and most humane choice for animals, people and the planet." But don't stow away those carving knives just yet. Our carnivorous proclivities go back a long way--and our ability to cope with the drawbacks of meat eating (elevated cholesterol, parasites and infections) may derive from certain genes.
Meat eating, in fact, may have a lot to do with the sapiens tag that follows Homo. For our ancestors, meat supplied a more concentrated package of calories and nutrients than weeds and berries. Not being the biggest and strongest members of the food chain, however, Homo carnivorous also required more cunning and wile to bring down that mastodon. One theory holds that a bigger brain and a longer period of nurturing and apprenticeship had to evolve to master the hunt. These changes also selected for extended life span, as prehistoric hunters were not thought to have achieved mastery of their skills until comparatively late in life.
This article was originally published with the title Homo carnivorous.