Do Human’s Need Meat?

              =              ?
Source: The West Ranch Beacon                                                           Image credit:

I just came across an interesting NY Time’s “Room for Debate” post by Dr. Drew Ramsey, of Columbia University and co-author of “The Happiness Diet,” entitled, “Meat is Brain Food.”  He makes an interesting argument that some  degree of meat-eating (at the very least, consumption of certain animal products like dairy, eggs, and mussels or oysters) is essential to human health and that a totally vegan diet is inherently unhealthy for man as it lacks (either completely or adequate amounts of) essential vitamins/nutrients like B12, vitamin D, omega-3 fats, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).

This dovetails with the evolutionary argument proposed by many anthropologists such as Dr. Loren Cordain (and filmmakers like CJ Hunt) than the human brain evolved to its current size and capacity due to the caloric jolt obtained with the introduction of meat-eating roughly 2.5 million years ago.  The introduction of meat selected for a larger brain (and smaller GI system) and allowed man to become the dominate species on the planet.

The key question emerging from this meat-brain hypothesis is: Assuming that a paleo diet and high meat-consumption is ideal for most people, how do we nutritionally support the Earth’s 7 billion people on a paleo diet?  The inevitable future battles with the USDA aside, if everyone on the planet woke up tomorrow and said, “Mmm-kay, I’ll go paleo,” how would enough meat and vegetables be produced to sustain them?

I think Robb Wolf and/or Mark Sisson has an interesting podcast on the logistics of turning all agricultural fields into grassland for buffalo/cattle grazing and I’ll try to find it.  I would be curious to see if any academic or lone-wolf paleo researcher in their basement has computed the land, water, feed requirements, methane output and ultimate carbon footprint of such an endeavor and compared it to the current system of U.S. agricultural production.

It would be pretty cool to drive across the U.S. and see open grassland with roaming buffalo compared to the fields of corn and wheat we now see.  Maybe Ted Turner could be converted to paleo?  He’s got a lot of buffalo after all…


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