History of Meat and Meat Consumption: Part I

We eat meat… as human beings we eat substantial amounts of meat, and there are reasons for this.  Many of these reasons are steeped into history, and in this series, we will begin to cover all of the points that led to our meat consumption and our meat culture.

It is true… with the exception of vegetarians, humans eat meat in substantial quantities.  This is a grand total of 78% of the world’s population eats meat.  While that might not seem like much, keep in mind that India makes up nearly a full fifth of the world’s population, and due to philosophical and religious reasons, almost 38% of this nation is vegetarian

            So, India aside, all other nations in the world have less than a 15% vegetarian rate, with many countries (like the US) have rates that are below 3%.

            Basically, if we remove India, about 10% of the world’s population is vegetarian.  If we consider this, then easily 90% of the world eats meat in one capacity or another. 

            And no, before someone asks, we are not picking on India.  Someone’s creed, culture, religion, and philosophical bent means a vast majority to them and their society.  That being said, we say…


Now... if we go back to our regularly scheduled program here…

For the sake of argument, we will say that 90% of the general population eats meat, which we know we have already stated.  But this should raise a question…

Most of us love animals.  In the US, most homes have cats or dogs, and even more have smaller pets, fish, birds, and rodents or reptiles.  Bearing this in mind, we should really ask ourselves a question:

If we love animals so much, why are we willing to let them be slaughtered and eat them?

The thought here is interesting, and so we at the Wayside Market decided that we wanted to find the answers to this… and what we found was absolutely shocking. 

Meat, meat culture, and the different ways to prepare, store, and consume meat has actually been a major driving force for thousands of years, possibly even longer.  Having mentioned this, we decided it was time to delve into why we love meat as much as we do.

That “why” comes with a few more points that should be considered…

·       How did needs and culture change the meats that were hunted and how they were prepared?

·       How do different cultures choose which meats to eat?

·       How did butchering become a profession?

·       When did we start cooking meat?

·       Why did we start eating meat in the first place?

There are so many other questions that could be asked in this regard that relate to food, meat, food culture, and meat culture.  So many questions could be asked, and some of the answers have probably been lost to history.

Hmm, history…

History seems like the best point to begin on this journey.  We decided that we would describe when and why humans began eating meat in general, and we would move into the various developments in technology, food development, and meat culture that occurred over the years.

Without any further preamble, let’s really dive right into this.

When and Why did Humanity Start eating Meat?

            This is something that I have been dying to say (or write) since I found out this lovely tidbit of information.

            I am actually tingling with anticipation… so here it goes.

            Humans have always eaten meat!

            (This is where some people immediately say we are crazy, try to discredit us, and say that we must have eaten plants first because ancient animals were too big and fierce to hunt…)

            Now, this is interesting… by human, we mean Homosapien, the definition of the modern human. 

            There was a study that was done in 2016 that indicates very clearly that Homosapien never would have happened if meat had not been a part of the diet of what we will simply call “early man” (its hyperbolic… its not accurate… but we are just trying to get the idea through simply).

            So, the picture is this… a little less than 3 million years back, early man was hanging out in the trees, really not much different to the modern apes.  They were swinging from branch to branch, just grabbing whatever fruit they could get their hands on, and they would sit up in the safety of the trees and consume.

            That was basically their entire life – safe, well fed, and able to easily populate their treetop home with more early man.

            The result of this was, given enough time, there just was not enough food to feed all of the early man that were hanging out (see what we did there?) in the trees.  The result coupled with climate changes (which have happened numerous times over the course of our world) and the evolution of diseases resulted in scarcity in certain areas.  This caused specific sections of early man to come down from the trees and go looking for food.

            Now, think back to the idea of survival in what the pre-stone age era would be.  There was no morality, there was not right and wrong.

            It was a matter of nothing but survival.  That meant if they saw anything at all that they think that they might be able to eat, they tried to eat it.

            This may have started with easy to capture and kill things like bugs and rodents and moved on to larger prey as time went on.  Science is still sketchy on the exact facts, but what is certain is that there came a time when there was a great divide. 

            Some of those ancestors went back up into the trees and stayed there, but carried the gene to be able to eat meat (these would be modern chimpanzees), while others had become comfortable on the ground and stayed there.

            These became Neanderthals, or they evolved to become another type of archaic man… and they had one key thing in common:

            They ate whatever was available, and the result of this was that, as of around 800,000 years ago, meat was common in these early humans’ diets.  The result of this was a change to our body chemistry, and there was also a change in our brain chemistry as time went forth.  Then, from these changes, about 200,000 years ago the first version of the modern human evolved

            The study from 2016 and the study talking about the chimps clearly explain that modern science believes that these changes never would have happened without the regular consumption of meat. 

            In short, we are human, and we are human because of the consumption of meat.  That being said, while there are exciting vegan and vegetarian options, the fact is that we are designed to consume meat because that is where we came from.

            We exist as we are now, with the ability to read and write, do math, build technological wonders, and develop new and innovative ideas year after year because our ancestors were brave enough to climb down from the trees and regularly consume meat.

            If you consider that, then we should continue to adhere to this concept – we should eat meat.  We might not need to get every single easy calorie we can as our ancestors did, but why deprive ourselves of something that has proven to make us, as a species, better at everything that we do?


            This particular topic is something that we always thought was very interesting – those who are vegetarian because it is supposedly bad for us can only think that way because the consumption of meat eons ago gave them the ability to think that way.

            That is ironic, isn’t it?  The very thing that they are condemning for being unhealthy has made us intelligent, cognizant, and put us at the top of the food chain.  This is not to say that we are for animal cruelty, as we are definitely not, but the fact is that we are who we are because of meat.

            Now, that raises more questions… how did we keep growing, changing, developing, and becoming better in lean times? 

            That, and other questions, will be further addressed in our next articles.  We do not know how long we will carry on with this series, so stay tuned in, and we look forward to educating and entertaining you!

            As always, leave any and all comments below – we are thrilled to have a conversation with you in regards to all things meat!

            Until next time, eat well, live well, and be well!