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Sorry, Animal Rights Activists -- Nature Reports on Meat's Importance for Brain Development

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On the nutritional properties of meat, animal rights activists are fooling themselves and others. We are told that human beings are natural herbivores, which is a crock. We are told that meat is biologically bad for us. In moderation, that is also a crock. We are told that children can safely be forced into being vegans. No, that is potentially perilous.

Now, Nature reports that meat is important in the development of the brain:

There is a clear, but underappreciated link between meat and the mind, says Charlotte Neumann, a paediatrician at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has studied meat eating in Africa and India for the past three decades. Deficiencies in the micronutrients found in meat have been linked with brain-related disorders, including low IQ, autism, depression and dementia. Iron is crucial for the growth and branching of neurons while in the womb; zinc is found in high concentrations in the hippocampus, a crucial region for learning and memory; vitamin B12 maintains the sheaths that protect nerves; and omega-3 fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) help to keep neurons alive and to regulate inflammation

Not only that, but the scientists believe that getting destitute children to eat more meat will have an important salutatory effect:

The typical diet in rural Kenya is subsistence-based and does not include many nutrients that help the brain to grow. The challenge now is to get people to consume more meat, which is widely regarded as too expensive. What people don't realize, Neumann says, is that to nourish the brain, pretty much any animal matter will do: "Meat can be a worm, caterpillar or termite. It doesn't have to be butcher meat."

I have great respect for people who refrain from a consuming tasty, healthy, and natural food for ethical reasons. That is the epitome of human exceptionalism. No other species would so altruistically sacrifice. But stop pretending that eating meat in proper portions is bad for us. It isn't.

Image credit: Ernst Vikne [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Cross-posted at Human Exceptionalism.