When I took my first steps down the vegan path in August of 2020, I realized that I had entered a new landscape, one that I wanted to learn as much as I could about. Although the primary motivation behind my decision had been compassion for the animals, I knew that veganism was also about health, energy, and a general worldview that I really related to, so I immediately began devouring vegan articles with the same appetite that I devoured my vegan food with. And that’s when I began to learn some very interesting things.
Our Herbivore Nature
Needless to say, I found all of the health and nutritional science fascinating, and I began to take an interest in what I ate in a whole new way. But what I found even more fascinating was the notion that the human body was not designed to process animal products, rather it was actually designed for a plant-based diet. As I watched the experts discuss everything from the human digestive tract to the shape of our teeth, I became enthralled. I realized that veganism was more than just about the animals. It was about returning to true human nature. By becoming a vegan, I had become more human than ever. And that’s when the floodgates in my mind really opened up.
I found myself obsessed with the notion that humans weren’t ‘designed’ to eat meat. Sure, the studies done on digestion and the adverse impact of a carnivorous diet on human health were interesting, but my mind began to explore a different path, one I wasn’t hearing anyone else talk about. Namely, humanity is the only species that can’t eat raw meat. If a person eats chicken, fish, or pork undercooked, let alone raw, there is a very real chance they will get extremely sick. In fact, many people actually die from this sort of thing every year, meaning that meat is essentially toxic to the human body.
Now, I understand that it’s not the meat itself, but the bacteria and other microscopic organisms that are the real danger. Still, every other species seems to have a natural ability to resist those dangers, yet humans don’t. And that’s what I found fascinating. Did the human body evolve in such a way as to lose those abilities? Or did we simply never have them in the first place? As I contemplated this question, I became very aware of another fact; humans are the only creatures who need to fashion tools in order to catch their prey.
While other creatures have claws, talons, fangs, and extraordinary strength or speed, humans possess none of these qualities. At least not in the way that would allow them to hunt animals without the aid of some type of weapon or tool. So, not only do we need to master the use of fire in order to make our food safe to eat, we also need to create tools that enable us to acquire this toxic food in the first place. The more I contemplated this, the more fascinating it all became. And that’s when the real revelation broke through.
Our Nonviolent Nature
As I considered the design of the human body, and how ill-equipped it was for hunting, I suddenly realized that the human body is ill-equipped for violence in general. While other animals have physical attributes to offer protection in a fight, humans are painfully fragile in this respect. We don’t have any natural armor, extra thick skin, or tough fur to protect us from harm. Furthermore, when any other animal engages in hunting or fighting they generally have their most vulnerable regions protected or out of reach from any danger. In contrast, the human body is basically one big vulnerable area, making it the worst possible design for violent confrontation of any kind. If we were a tank, our design would be so bad the driver would be sitting on the outside.
This got me to thinking about the nature of violence itself. As I contemplated the role of violence in nature I realized a very interesting truth. The tools and techniques that animals use to fight are the same tools and techniques they use to hunt. In other words, when two lions fight they use the same tools that they use to hunt, namely their fangs, claws, and immense strength. That said, since humans don’t have any inherent hunting skills, what does this mean? It simply means that humans are inherently non-violent beings. Once I realized this, I began to see the bigger picture.
Violence is a progressive action. If you can justify harming an animal for self-defense, then you are only one step away from harming a person for self-defense. If you can justify killing an animal for self-defense, then you are only a whisper away from taking the life of another person. Now, this isn’t an argument over whether self-defense warrants violent actions. Rather, the question is what happens when you begin rationalizing harm and death for lesser reasons, such as leather shoes or a gallon of milk? Suddenly violence, up to and including lethal force, becomes more and more easily justified, and thus becomes more and more commonplace for both animal and human alike.
But what if you turned that around? What if you decided that it wasn’t OK to kill a chicken for your dinner? What if you started seeing pigs and cows as living beings rather than food or shoes? Simply put, if you can’t pull the trigger on a cow, the chances are you won’t be able to on a person either. After all, isn’t the idea that all life is sacred the very point of it all? Once you decide that life is sacred you eliminate the opportunity for justifying violence of any kind. At least, that was the idea that was bouncing around in my mind. The question was whether or not I was alone in thinking this way.
The answer to that question came quite unexpectedly one day as I was searching for a quote about squares that I thought belonged to Pythagoras, the mathematician and philosopher from Ancient Greece. As I was searching I discovered a different quote, one I had never come across before. Pythagoras basically said that as long as humans freely kill lesser beings (aka animals) they would freely kill one another. So no, I wasn’t alone in this line of thinking. Violence really is progressive, and as long as we kill animals we open the door for all sorts of other atrocities.
In the end, I realized that veganism is so much more than a diet or even a grand gesture of compassion. It is the very path that will restore humanity to its true, nonviolent nature. It is a path that will do what no religion or political movement has ever come close to doing, namely, establish world peace. Humans were never designed for violence. In fact, our inherent shape and posture makes hugging, not fighting, a much more natural act. Humanity clearly lost its way a very, very long time ago, and has been going down a path of ever-increasing violence and cruelty ever since. Fortunately, it seems Nature has called us back to the true path, a path of compassion and peace, a path that veganism is an integral part of.