Primary Research Question: Do humans need animal products?
Our species has consumed animals and animal products for over 2 million years. Vegetarianism and particularly veganism are newer movements in comparison. There are many reasons people fall into vegetarianism and veganism. I personally chose to be vegetarian because of religious beliefs. But if we have been eating meat instinctually for so long, there should be some negative nutritional consequences for abstaining from it.
Many have argued that meat was essential to our development as modern humans, especially where our brains are concerned. There are theories that meat proteins and the hunting and sharing of meat are what helped develop our neo-cortices that separate us from other animals. But why have wolves, lions, and other carnivorous animals not evolved further doing the same things? Chimpanzees, one of the closest relatives to humans, are omnivores as well. They hunt, eat, and share meat on occasion, but they do not quite match humans in intelligence.
One of the biggest arguments for meat consumption is the need for vitamin B12. According to many nutritional journals, animal products are the only reliable source of vitamin B12, but other sources say this is not completely true. Studies of vegans and vegetarians do conclude that the participants have vitamin B12 deficiencies, but this is all according a certain definition of what concentration is considered deficient. These studies also do not record if the participants are exhibiting any negative symptoms of the deficiency. It is considered that vitamin B12 can be stored in the body and used as needed, and that any symptoms of deficiencies will appear only after many years.
A big argument for vegetarianism and veganism are all the health benefits behind diets high in plant based foods. An important factor in deciding whether animal products are essential is studying the developmental differences, if any, in children raised vegetarian or vegan.
Have there been any major studies done on children on vegetarian/vegan diets?
What was the methodology used in the studies of vitamin B12 in vegetarians/vegans?
Are there other nutrients only found in meat? Only in plants?
What’s the validity of the studies done on people around the world who naturally have to live as vegetarians? What about the studies done on people who live very long in connection to their mostly vegetarian diets?
How valid are the studies done on the relation between diet and the prevention and healing of diseases?