Humans As Meat Eaters

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
Meat became a predictable part of the human diet beginning around 9,000 years ago, when early peoples in the Middle East managed to tame a handful of wild animals—first dogs, then goats and sheep, then pigs and cattle and horses—to live alongside them. Livestock not only transformed inedible grass and scraps into nutritious meat, but constituted a walking larder, a store of concentrated nourishment that could be harvested whenever it was needed. Because they were adaptable enough to submit to human control, our meat animals have flourished and now number in the billions, while many wild animals are being squeezed by the growth of cities and farmlands into ever smaller habitats, and their populations are declining.