A BIT ABOUT FOOD
Between 2.6 and 2.5 million years ago, the Earth got significantly hotter and drier. Before that climate shift, our distant human ancestors—collectively known as hominins—were subsisting mostly on fruits, leaves, seeds, flowers, bark and tubers. As the temperature rose, the lush forests shrank and great grasslands thrived. As green plants became scarcer, evolutionary pressure forced early humans to find new sources of energy.
The grassland savannas that spread across Africa supported growing numbers of grazing herbivores. Archaeologists have found large herbivore bones dating from 2.5 million years ago with telltale cut marks from crude stone tools. Our ancient hominin ancestors weren’t capable hunters yet, but likely scavenged the meat from fallen carcasses.
Some scientists argue that meat is what made us human. When humans began adding meat to their diet, there was less of a need for a long digestive tract equipped for processing lots of plant matter. Slowly, over hundreds of thousands of years, the human gut shrunk. This freed up energy to be spent on the brain, which grew explosively in size.
The control of fire by early humans was a turning point in the technological evolution of human civilization. When humans began cooking meat, it became even easier to digest quickly and efficiently, and capture those calories to feed our growing brains.
And after a long time, people in Mesopotamia began to tame animals for meat, milk, and hides. The Neolithic Revolution greatly narrowed the diversity of foods available, resulting in a downturn in the quality of human nutrition compared with that obtained previously from foraging.
Humans continue to eat meat not because we need it, because we love it! And that love came with a cost; an overly meaty diet has been linked to heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers—things our distant ancestors never had to worry about because they didn’t live long enough to fall victim to chronic disease.
Today, first time in history, we can explore the tastiest, healthiest, and most nutritious foods with cultivated meat, without the limits and expense of nature and animals.