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by David Cantor / December 5th, 2014
Asked how human beings get the Ebola virus, National Institutes of Health
infectious-disease director Anthony Fauci described, in a radio interview, the
scenario of someone in Africa using a fruit bat "for protein nourishment." The
virus spills over to humans from nonhuman animals, to invoke David Quammen's
Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic.
Most authorities share Dr. Fauci's obliviousness to the needless and misguided
animal abuse that gives humans just about every infectious disease we can name,
whether acquired recently or in prehistoric times - AIDS, smallpox, bubonic
plague, anthrax, influenza … the list is long and scary. Understanding root
causes of diseases and our species' biological nature, which is not what we are
generally told, can help us establish best practices and policies for preventing
rather than only reacting to health disasters.
Using nonhuman animals "for protein nourishment" is animal abuse because human
beings are plant-foraging herbivorous apes who evolved on the African savanna,
with no biological need of any direct contact with nonhuman animals. All that
human beings do with and to other animals is abuse in that it injures or kills
them or otherwise prevents them from living according to their evolved nature,
foreclosing their ability to lead fulfilling lives. The vast scope of animal
abuse is not to be confused with cruelty, the small portion of abuse perpetrated
for the purpose of causing pain and suffering.
The pre-eminent nutrition scientist T. Colin Campbell says, "There are virtually
no nutrients in animal-based foods that are not better provided by plants." And
links between meat, dairy, fish, and eggs and widespread non-communicable human
diseases are well established. Campbell's research also links protein from
animals to the growth of human cancers. Thus, Ebola is just one of many serious
hazards of "protein nourishment" from fruit bats and other animals. Such
"nourishment" abuses the human animal as well as the nonhuman primary victims.
Like people on the standard American diet ("SAD" to nutrition scientists),
our fellow humans in Africa either lack plant foods needed for optimal physical
well-being and/or are misled to believe animals are good sources of food for
them. This delusion and related ones - that humans are natural predators and
hunter-gatherers (a cultural development, not a bio-evolutionary one) - gave our
species the 1918 influenza pandemic, believed to have spilled over from a pig in
Kansas, and AIDS, whose trail Quammen traces back to the butchering of a
chimpanzee in Cameroon a century ago.
Consistent with humans' having all of the anatomical and physiological traits of
herbivores, none of omnivores or carnivores, Man the
Hunted: Primates, Predators, and Human Evolution by Donna Hart and Robert W.
Sussman, which received the W.W. Howells Award from the Biological Anthropology
Section of the American Anthropological Association, debunks the "man the
hunter" myth, which nevertheless persists - as in Dr. Fauci's framing of Ebola's
spillover to humans. Science keeps pushing back the approximate prehistoric
moment when humans started to institutionalize animal abuse - by organizing to
kill off our species' natural predators and hunting other animals for food,
clothing, weapons, tools, and other purposes. Whenever it started, the
Animal-Abuse Revolution eventually led to the Agricultural Revolution, because
predators keep prey animals - such as the original naked and weaponless humans -
moving about the landscape.
The Animal-Abuse Revolution and the Agricultural Revolution subverted the
natural relationship between our prehistoric ancestors and their natural
predators as humans became accustomed to living in one place and depending on a
small number of crops - a huge nutritional hit as compared with the estimated 75
varieties of edible leaves, flowers, fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts,
and roots typically available to original humans at any given time. Agriculture
and animal husbandry involve continually killing animals perceived as dangerous
to humans, to enslaved animals made defenseless through breeding and captivity,
and to crops which offer nonhuman herbivores and omnivores much easier pickings
than the natural landscape.
The "founder's of the United States strove to apply the emerging understanding
of human nature to policy-making and the framing of the Constitution. We have
gained far more knowledge since their time, but special interests suppress it
for status, profit, career, and other interests - including just plain old
clinging to conditioned and reinforced belief. We can prevent disease in
ourselves and our descendants by using the brains our species was born with, or
we can continue making ourselves sick with brains informed over thousands of
years by our wild imagination.
David Cantor, founder and director of a http://www.rpaforall.org/
Responsible Policies for Animals, resides in Glenside, Pennsylvania. His
writing appears in many books and periodicals. His essay "Beyond Humanism,
Toward a New Animalism," will appear in the book Circles of Compassion:
Connecting Issues of Justice, due to be released December 2014, edited by Will
Tuttle, author of the bestseller The World Peace Diet. He may be reached at: