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Three million years ago, all of us were vegetarians. We subsisted on tree bark, nuts and berries. We were just another animal, amongst a host of other animals. The evidence is the cut-marks that have been discovered on fossilized bones, indicating butchery using sharp tools. It was only after we started consuming animals that human civilization began to develop, beginning with animal husbandry and agriculture, and culminating in the iPhone. Thus non-vegetarianism, like the wheel, is one of the most important inventions in human history. However, cooking was invented around 8, 00,000 years ago.

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Meat contains high-quality proteins, as well as essential amino acids and micro-nutrients. Today, there are vegetarian foods that can provide these, like beans and tofu, but agriculture was only invented 12,000 years ago, and without bigger brains, we might never have invented it. No one knows when tofu was invented. The inventor chose to remain anonymous. The combination of meat and cooking was the key to our development.

Cooked food takes less time to digest. An adult gorilla spends nine hours a day digesting his food, leaving him little time for painting or composing sonnets. The quick energy provided by cooked meat left us free to focus on other things, such as Candy Crush, and trying to understand why Arnab is angry.

Who we eat and how we eat them varies widely from culture to culture. Caution is called for while travelling. For example, if an Eskimo offers you ice cream, you should avoid the escamole, which is made from ant larvae. While accepting an invitation to dine in Japan, tell them you have a ‘no nakji’ policy. Nakji is a small, whole octopus, eaten live. The suckers often stick to the mouth and the throat, causing several deaths every year.

You might think these habits are restricted to the peculiar inhabitants of strange countries, and that you can relax with white people. This is not true. Fried brain sandwich is delicacy in large parts of central United States, and tongue is a favorite in classy establishments from coast-to-coast. Haggis is freely available in Scottish supermarkets. It consists of the liver, heart and lungs of a sheep cooked in a sheep’s stomach. They add onions, herbs and oatmeal for flavor.

The consumption of sex organs is common across cultures. Rocky Mountain oysters, for example, are not oysters. They are deep-fried bull calf testicles, also known as criadilas in Mexico. Apparently they make men more virile. By now your non-veg friends must be looking far more inoffensive than you had originally thought, with their shami kababs and their chicken nuggets.

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General Contributor
Janice is a writer from Chicago, IL. She created the "simple living as told by me" newsletter with more than 12,000 subscribers about Living Better and is a founder of Seekyt.