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All News Updates & Public Comment => Live Export News Updates => : WA Export News March 24, 2006, 01:40:22 PM

: Red Meat, Red Herring - Must Read..
: WA Export News March 24, 2006, 01:40:22 PM
Red meat, red herring :// ://  (

March 24, 2006

The ad seems at times to tacitly suggest not eating meat may be dangerous.

An ad for meat tries to bypass morality by appealing to evolution, writes Richard King.

Amid the superhuman feats taking place in Melbourne this week, a lesson in human evolution has been doing the rounds on our TV screens. This is part of a marketing campaign by Meat and Livestock Australia, a company representing the interests of livestock producers, processors, exporters, food service operators and food retailers. Timed to coincide with the Commonwealth Games, the campaign includes the following tag line: "Red meat - we were meant to eat it."

The advertisement takes us on a whirlwind tour through 2 million years of human evolution - all the way from the African grasslands to a family meal in the Australian suburbs. Our guide on this tour is the actor Sam Neill, who, according to David Thomason, marketing manager at the company, brings "trust and credibility" to the role. Whence Neill's credibility comes Thomason doesn't specify, but I imagine it might have something to do with his performance as Dr Alan Grant in Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park. Grant knows his herbivores from his carnivores.

Here is the spiel from the company's website, an expurgated version of which appears in the current TV ad: "To understand the importance of red meat you have to go back millions of years to the time when our ape ancestors came down from the trees and moved to open grasslands. During this time, only the fittest species of early man would survive. Those who adapted to the new surroundings lived on. The big leap came when our ancestors started to eat red meat. The nutrients in red meat helped our brains grow. Hunting forced us to think. We learnt how to shape tools, communicate and work together - we were turning into human beings. Over thousands of years, our bodies adapted to a diet high in red meat. In fact, our bodies and nutritional needs are very similar to our early ancestors. This is why your body instinctively desires red meat for health and wellbeing."

Thus the advertisement tries to "position" red meat as a "foundation food". Far from being a rearguard action aimed at assuaging recent fears that red meat may be linked to bowel cancer, the marketing campaign is a proactive affair, seeming at times to tacitly suggest that not eating meat may even be dangerous.

My objection, however, is not to the science, but rather to the philosophy underpinning it. For it becomes apparent before very long that the question of what is or isn't natural is a red herring of immense proportions. The real issue is a moral one - and it is as moral beings, not animals, that we must endeavour to deal with it.

Most vegetarians do not object in principle to eating meat, but rather to the disgusting way in which animals are treated before slaughter. Sows confined to narrow stalls for the term of their reproductive lives; the trade in the live export of sheep and cattle; the systematic extermination of the majority of male chicks at birth; the appalling condition of battery hens - these are immoral practices perpetrated by the meat industry. The company tries to bypass morality with a direct appeal to evolutionary science. But to justify eating factory-farmed meat by reference to human evolution is a moral and intellectual cop-out. What if I tried to justify rape by reference to human reproduction? I'd be cast, quite rightly, as a moral imbecile.

Man is a moral being first. That is why an increasing number of people are choosing not to eat meat - and why even Sam Neill, fine actor though he is, will not convince them to change their minds.

Richard King is a writer based in Western Australia.
: Red Meat, Red Herring - Must Read..
: WA Export Info March 24, 2006, 03:40:12 PM
Most vegetarians do not object in principle to eating meat, but rather to the disgusting way in which animals are treated before slaughter.
and of the sheer wanton slaughter on an incomprehensible scale.

Thank you Richard for your excellent article pointing out that although humans are supposedly a "natural" meat eater, the question of whether or not we should be exporting live animals is a moral one, one that brings into question our humanity. It is our compassion for others that defines our "humanity";  and if we don't extend that compassion to all creatures, then we are not fully expressing our humanity.

Below is some more food for thought.

Official UN figures for all countries ( for 2003 show 46,000,000,000 (yes 46 billion) animals were slaughtered; 45 billion of them were poultry (chickens, duck, geese etc) - that's 7 chickens, and a piece of cow, pig or other sentient animal ( per year for each man, woman & child on Earth - and it is so un-necessary; the existance of hundreds of millions, of healthy vegetarians & vegans is self evident proof of that - eating meat is choice, not necessity.

So; apart from the question of morality and ethics in meat production, there's also the question of nutritonal necessity (as constantly quoted in all advertising by the meat industry - big dollars at work here).

Perhaps Meat & Livestock Australia's "cruelty advocate" Sam Neill should have done some more extensive scientific research instead of presenting information that is based on mythology, culture, random observations and the incorrect assumptions based on them.

Many "industry" nutritionists also determine human dietary needs based on human physical structure; i.e., humans are made of meat, therefore we should eat meat - not very scientific really. The most numerous animals on Earth are herbivores & frugivores, and they too are made of meat – are they suggesting that these animals too should eat meat? Don't think so; we've all become very aware of the problems associated with herbivorous animals being fed meat; i.e. Mad Cow disease.

A more relevant and accurate assessment can be made by examining the anatomy of humans; as is done with other animals, either living or extinct. An excellent insight is provided by Milton R. Mills, his article “The Comparative Anatomy of Eating” click here to read article ( - other related articles can be found here ( and here (

Further nutritional & health information can also be found by browsing the site of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (

No Sam, we weren't meant to eat meat!

"The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That's the essence of inhumanity"

George Bernard Shaw

For as long as Man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of the lower living beings, he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed he who sows the seeds of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.

Pythagoras c. 580 - 500 BC

see also An ethical diet: The joy of being vegan (,2023.0.html)
: Re: Red Meat, Red Herring - Must Read..
: mellowswish July 29, 2010, 07:09:05 PM
I agree, eating meat is A CHOICE, not a necessity on the human diet. Soy products in combination with green vegies provide much better iron & nutrition.

The evolution of mankind thing is a this kind of logic, you could claim that any animal with 'canine' teeth is a carnivore which in fact is completely inaccurate. There are many species of animal that are equipped with the necessary biological parts to consume & digest meat, but they do not.

And more importantly, as human beings we know this to be true as we are omnivirous. (

This article explains IN DETAIL the many nutrients that soy products offer, which are far superior to what non-vegans are eating. Beef cattle are fed unnaturally, (yet they survive on this unnatural diet...more proof that just because you CAN EAT IT doesn't mean that YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO). They can barely move & are treated incredibly inhumanely.

As most of us know, veal comes from Dairy Farms & these baby cows are chained down for their whole short lives, again fed unnaturally. Same again for chickens & pigs.

So the question remains...maybe thousands of years ago mankind needed to eat meat, red meat. But if that WAS the case, mankind was eating NATURAL MEAT. Hunting animals that were eating their natural foods, exercising as they were supposed to etc.

Genetic Engineering of the primarily battery farmed animals means that you could not possible prove that TODAYS MEAT would have even been consumable to early man.