Are Meat Eaters More Aggressive?

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Dr. Dave Samuel

I know that there are people out there who have said that hunting leads to violent behavior. We’re talking some academic people too. Where that all comes from is a study that showed that some violent criminals were abusive to animals (usually cats or dogs) when young. Those opposed to hunting then take that information and assume that teaching kids to hunt exposes them to abuse of animals (not having a clue that hunters love animals and know more about the animals they hunt than the antis will ever know), and this then would lead to a life of crime. The real truth is that if you expose children to hunting, they have; (1) a greater appreciation of wildlife and nature, (2) better attendance in school, (3) more patience, (4) higher self worth, (5) more punctuality, . . .the list goes on and on.

A year ago something popped up on the Internet that I found intriguing. A person at McGill University in Canada, did a study where they had 82 men who would ‘punish’ (with various volumes of sound) a person who sorted and viewed various ‘neutral’ photos, but mixed in were pictures of meat. It was thought that the 82 men would ‘punish’ the viewer more when he/she was looking at meat photos, rather than the neutral photos.

The expectation was that the meat would illicit more aggressive behavior than the neutral photos. But that did not happen. In fact the meat photos appeared to make the viewers less aggressive, more calm. I must add here that what the press releases do not tell you is that the researcher was an undergraduate student doing a special project. Thus, this isn’t a major research study. It is what it is. And while the project was not published, it was presented at a Symposium, so there had to be some semblance of scientific integrity here.

This fallow buck was excellent table fare, but my family did not consume it to reduce aggression. And yes, we also had vegetables with those delicious fallow deer meals.

I guess the sight of raw meat does, on occasion, stir aggressive images. Football players downing huge amounts of meat (an image, probably not reality. My guess is that football players eat more pizza than huge chunks of meat). Wolves eating raw flesh (of course, that is a real image). As the researcher noted, the idea that an image or photo can stir up emotions is sort of like looking at a gun and thinking that the gun makes one more aggressive. If that were true, then the members of the NCAA champion West Virginia University rifle team (11 times national champions in the past 14 years) are more aggressive than other WVU students. Silliness.

This researcher was testing the notion that there is an innate predisposition to aggression associated with meat. Of course, early man probably used aggression to protect the meat they harvested from other humans. Thus, maybe we evolved with this predisposition to aggression, but it turns out not to be so, at least according to this study. The researcher concluded that for early man, maybe they were calm because they were surrounded by family and friends at meal time and meat was a major part of their meals.

I guess there are times when meat might make one more aggressive. The domestic stuff we eat is plugged full of drugs and chemicals to increase production. Even then, I doubt that those chemicals make us more aggressive. Sick maybe, unhealthy maybe, but aggressive . . . doubtful.

Then there is the huge group of citizens who believe that not eating meat, done to reduce cruelty to animals, makes one more gentle. No question that a large group of vegetarians chose to ignore the fact that all humans are responsible for the death of animals just by living on this planet, and believe that by being vegetarians, they are non-violent, and kind, and become more gentle. Sounds nice, but basically they are ignoring the realities of life on the Earth. Maybe a bit true if they lived in a cave, with no home, no electricity, no cars, no wells for water, etc. Know anyone who lives that lifestyle? I don’t either.

Truth is that some vegetarians or vegans may not be aggressive types, but it has nothing to do with eating meat or not eating meat. They don’t eat meat because they do not want to eat meat. Eating meat does not calm their souls. As someone on the internet pointed out, Hitler was a vegetarian. Oops. There goes that vegetarian/calm theory, but it’s only a sample of one. A bad ‘one’ at that. Whether you eat vegetables or not, does not determine your state of aggression.

Then there are the vegetarians who say that humans are naturally herbivorous rather than carnivorous or omnivorous. From an anatomical point of view, our teeth, the length of our intestines, our digestive juices, we are born to be omnivores. Born to eat meat and vegetables and fruits. And so we do just that. Actually since we don’t have places to store huge amounts of food in our body as herbivorous animals do, we probably lean toward the carnivorous side. You don’t have to be a meat eater, but our bodies are more tuned in that direction.

Don’t misunderstand, eating vegetables is a good thing. No question that the kids I see would be a lot better off eating more vegetables and fruit instead of pizza and poptarts and all that other sugar coated junk they eat. And along with eating more fruit and veggies, throw in a healthy, non-chemical, chunk of deer meat every night and we’d have a healthy society instead of a growing number of heart patients and diabetes patients. Would they be calmer and less aggressive because they ate more vegetables? Who knows, but it would have nothing to do with their diet.

2 Responses to "Are Meat Eaters More Aggressive?"

  1. Zan   2011/11/03 at 3:49 pm

    Well done Dave. True to form, you’ve laid it out as it is. Of course, those who don’t want to know the facts will ignore it any way, but hey, at least the rest of us are better educated. Thanks friend. ~Zan

  2. Jos   2012/03/25 at 1:42 pm

    Yes, this article is reassuring. Putting it down to experience, but I avoided meat for a very long time out of a misguided moral fashion and the; gluten, carbohydrates, sugars, and additives, that fell into its place made me impossibly fat. Social anxiety resulting from this was difficult and truly dangerous. Insulin and Leptin cycles are being studied more closely now. Growing up in a hunter culture, appreciating its wisdom and subtlety is yet more meaningful after enduring this ideological delusion.