When a WAPF fan posted this essay on our facebook page, I just knew it needed to be published. The New York Times must have been flooded with entries, and the finalists all made some cogent points, but this essay is just so true to Weston Price principles, just wanted our readers to see it. We all need to equip ourselves to defend meat eating, as the vegan point of view is being ever more aggressively promoted. I am convinced that we need to win this argument, to save many young people from doing serious long term damage to their health. If, as Dr. Weston A. Price discovered in his travels and studies around the globe, animal fats are vitally important to human growth and development, we can’t afford to be silent on this subject. And, perhaps we need to hold an essay contest about the ethics of intimidating other people away from their natural and normal diet!
On the Moral Good of Omnivory
by Dawn Gonano
For years, vegetarians have co-opted the moral high ground in the controversy surrounding diet and ethics. Meat-eaters are forced to apologize for their choices, but most don’t seem to have thought about the ethics of their decision. This situation is unfortunate, since compelling arguments can be made for the moral superiority of a meat-containing diet for humans. Chief among them is the fact that humans are omnivores, and meat-eating is an important part of the role we play on the planet.
From the beginning of time, the human diet has centered around animal products. There is no known case of a primitive society which solely survived on grains and vegetables. In fact, scientists have established that humans are omnivorous predators, with our large brains and our digestive tracts designed for a varied diet including animals. Humans can’t synthesize–well or at all–certain elements necessary for optimal health. A diet of plants doesn’t provide these elements. Early humans didn’t know biochemistry, but they did understand the importance of meat in the diet, and they made great effort to include it.
In fact, our big brains are made possible by our nutrient-dense, animal-based diet. If we ate only grass, like ruminants, we would spend most of our time eating vegetable matter and chewing our cud. We would have less time for building complex social structures, internal combustion engines, arguments about the morality of what we eat, etc. On the other hand, herbivores have digestive systems that synthesize all needed compounds from a grass-based diet. To accomplish this task, they have diverted a lot of neurons and other resources from the brain to the gut.
The bear is another higher-order omnivore like us. He eats a varied diet that in all cases includes some meat. No one questions the ethics of the bear eating another animal–certainly not the bear. He is being true to his biology. He knows that there is nothing morally superior about denying his nature, feeding his body substandard food, and pretending to be something he’s not.
As predators, we fill an important role in the life cycle. In situations where there are no natural predators, prey animals become overpopulated. This leads to destruction of habitat, disease, and starvation. Predators help control the populations of these animals and eliminate the sick and the weak. This is a moral good, for it increases the well-being of all. Humans serve this purpose when we cull the herds of the animals that have co-existed with us for millennia. By removing the sick, the old, and the genetically inferior from the gene pool, we improve the species generally.
In addition to this traditional predator role, we also provide protection and help assure the continuation of the species we have domesticated. At this point, when they have come to depend on us for their survival, we would do them a grave disservice if we cut all our fences and let them roam freely. Some might die out, but others just might thrive–and if they did, it just might be worse. These animals entered into a de facto contract with us: protection in exchange for the harvesting of individuals for food. We should not renege on that contract now.
In nature, all living things play an important role. Each life form brings something of value. We must acknowledge the moral goodness and necessity of our role and carry it out with the respect and honesty it deserves. No one benefits if we abdicate that role and dismiss our biological heritage.
Dawn Gonano is a registered nurse and also a farmer who raises grassfed beef and pastured broilers and some eggs, along with a couple of Jersey cows for personal use on the family farm near Martinsburg, West Virginia. I have one son and a lovely granddaughter, who also work on the farm, along with my retired parents and my brother. Dawn is a past member of Weston A. Price Foundation, a nutrition education non-profit whose members support small scale farming. Click here to visit the Back Creek Bend Farm website.
Click here to see the winning and runner up essays in the New York Times Ethics of Eating Meat Essay Contest.