I watched a horrific and eye-opening YouTube video titled “Earthlings” last night. Earthlings is a powerful and informative documentary about society’s treatment of animals, narrated by Joaquin Phoenix with the soundtrack by Moby; this multi-award winning film by Nation Earth is a must-see for anyone who cares about animals or wishes to make the world a better place. I must warn you though – it is graphic!

Of course the raw footage would even turn a connoisseur of filet mignon into a herbivore in an instant. It got me thinking – did humans need to consume meat to evolve to where we are today? Along the road of research I found some interesting tidbits. Did you know humans have been eating meat in some form for over 2.5 million years? Still, we began our transition to meat-eating humans from herbivores. Interestingly enough, primitive humans had much larger mouths and teeth for chewing plant-based foods. As we evolved and became clever enough to fashion tools for slaughtering and eating (IE the fork), our mouths slowly shrank over time but our teeth did not. That is why there is not enough room for the now evolutionary defunct wisdom teeth. Still, in the primate world we see anomalies in creatures very similar to humans. In the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda, africa gorillas are plant eaters yet their cousins the chimpanzees are meat eaters – both living in the same environment.

Research has also shown that it’s unlikely that proto humans could have secured enough energy and nutrition from the plants available in their African environment at that time to evolve into the active, sociable, intelligent creatures they became. Receding forests would have deprived them of the more nutritious leaves and fruits that forest-dwelling primates survive on. If eating animals was a necessary catalyst into homo-sapien development what implications does this have on vegan beliefs? It seems evolution required a high-protein based diet for humans to develop large brains, and therefore great intellect.  Still, I have seen arguments go the other way as well. What defines evolution and so on? I mean Christians believe that the Earth was created in a week so go figure. Basically it appears a plant-based diet supplemented by meat on occasion was the norm for millions of years.

The true horror here is not evolution or even people who eat meat but the way modern society and big money food dishes it up.  The process by which animals are bred, abused and slaughtered is what is atrocious. Chemicals and hormones, inhuman slaughtering – a lot has changed from the small farm model of the 1800s and what is going on across the world from puppy mills to chicken processing plants to leather manufacturers. The video Earthlings asks us to remember that animals have emotions; they feel pain and yes they do suffer. If we are all energy and in many ways symbiotic in our existence here on Earth, then all living things it seems are Earthlings and maybe should be treated as such. The Buddhists figured this out a long time ago…

John C. Bader