Skip to content

Sorry, vegans: Eating meat and cooking food is how humans got their big brains – The Washington Post

November 28, 2012

Vegetarian, vegan and raw diets can be healthful, probably far more healthful than the typical American diet. But to call these diets “natural” for humans is a bit of a stretch in terms of evolution, according to two recent studies.

Eating meat and cooking food made us human, the studies suggest, enabling the brains of our prehuman ancestors to grow dramatically over a few million years.

Although this isn’t the first such assertion from archaeologists and
evolutionary biologists, the new studies demonstrate that it would have been biologically implausible for humans to evolve such a large brain on a raw, vegan diet and that meat-eating was a crucial element of human evolution at least a million years before the dawn of humankind.

Calories to grow our brains

At the core of this research is the understanding that the modern human brain consumes 20 percent of the body’s energy at rest, twice that of other primates. Meat and cooked foods were needed to provide the necessary calorie boost to feed a growing brain.

One study, published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined the brain size of several primates. For the most part, larger bodies have larger brains across species. Yet humans have exceptionally large, neuron-rich brains for our body size, while gorillas — three times as massive as humans — have smaller brains with one-third the neurons. Why?

The answer, it seems, is the gorillas’ raw, vegan diet (devoid of animal
protein), which requires hours upon hours of eating to provide enough calories to support their mass.

via Sorry, vegans: Eating meat and cooking food is how humans got their big brains – The Washington Post.

Advertisements
No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s