06. Beef – is it natural and ethical to eat it?

Hello again! Great to see that you’re still following our investigation.

Is eating beef natural and ethical? Our quest is to investigate different foods that humans eat, to see whether it is natural to eat them, and also, is it ethical.

It’s interesting to me that some people will happily eat the meat of cattle, but react in horror if anyone mentions eating horse. To be honest, I don’t see the difference. Meat is meat isn’t it? How can a person feel sentimental about one type of animal but not another?

Another fascinating thing about some people who eat meat is their reaction to images of animals being killed. They cry out: “How cruel!” and carry on chewing on their steak.

However, let us stay on track.


Is it natural?

Can we (human primates, equipped only with our bodies and natural items such as rocks, sticks, soil, fire, etc) catch, prepare and eat beef. We’ll include animals such as horses and large wild animals in this category.

In the wild, none of these animals would let you get close enough to catch them. However, if one did, and you managed to catch it without being injured, gored, kicked or bitten, then what?

Watch this video to see how cattle protect themselves (graphic).

You would need to tie the animal, and, in our scenario, there are no ropes. But, if you managed to subdue it, how would you kill it?

The only way to kill a large animal is to cut through its incredibly thick skin to slit its throat, and, since we have no knives in our human primate scenario, this would prove impossible. But, even if you did somehow manage to kill it, how would you get through the skin to the meat, and how would you eat the meat?

Human primates are not equipped with the right teeth, as are wolves and lions, to be able to call this natural food.

Is it ethical?

a) Has it suffered the least harm?

As we said with chicken, even if you did manage to catch and restrain an animal without causing it harm, you would have to kill it to eat it, which then makes it unethical.

b) Has it had the best life possible?

Only if the animal has been living a completely natural life would you be able to say yes to this. In our modern world, many cattle are forced to stand in one place their whole short lives, and are fed unnatural foods and drugs.This is not ethical.

c) Is this food good for us?

Eating beef or other red meat has benefits and disadvantages which proponents standing on either side continue to debate.

However, animals suffer stress when they are killed, especially in abattoirs, and this infuses the meat with adrenaline. An excess of adrenaline in the human body can cause premature ageing, ADHD, increased heart rates, high blood pressure, and aggression, among other symptoms.

In this video, you can see how terrified this animal is while it waits to die.

And, if the meat is not wild, it could be infused with antibiotics, growth hormones, vaccines and other chemicals, absorbed through their environment, treatment (1) and food, with potentially disastrous effects on those who eat the meat (2).

Final verdict in my opinion

Beef or the meat from any other large animal is not natural food unless it has been found already dead. And, even then, without the right sort of teeth, human primates wouldn’t even be able to start eating any of these large animals.

Baboons and chimps are known to catch and eat meat, but they have formidable fangs which allow them to do this. Humans, however, have teeth like gorillas, which are largely vegetarian. I say largely, as they do eat insects, a category we will discuss in another post.

And, neither is beef ethical unless, again, it has been found dead due to natural causes and has lived wild since birth.

So, beef is off the list.

What do you think?

Next post: pork


  1. http://blogs.wsj.com/corporate-intelligence/2013/08/08/the-drugs-in-our-beef-bigger-cows-more-worries/
  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/31/hormones-in-food-should-y_n_815385.html

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