Mr. Bakerstein wrote:Perhaps you can provide some credible citations for the assertions you've made that:
- Eating "herbivore-meat" is associated with increased cancer and health risks (compared to what, exactly?)
Google it. "Meat cancer risks" produced 20,000,000 results. I assumed this was a well known fact.
I did Google it. I found a lot of references to a study that looked at red meat (beef, pork and lamb) and processed meats, which is not nearly comprehensive enough to support a general statement about the consumption of animal product. I found references to studies that were even more specific. The one study I came across that seemed more general was looking at Seventh Day Adventists who were and were not vegetarian, but then I located the study
and saw that its non-vegetarian group ate about five times as much beef as poultry or fish, and its strongest conclusions do not extrapolate well to the question of all animal products.
And even if we look at beef, what do we know about the beef they were eating? What was it fed? How was it produced? What was its nutritional content? Was it fed hormones, antibiotics or other additives that remained in the end product? None of these questions are answered in the paper. I also found interesting this bit:
It is important to note that vegetarians may have lower disease risk because of their lack of meat consumption, but it is equally possible that this protection could be due to increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, or nuts. Upon multivariate analysis, the latter often appeared to be the case.
...as well as the part about the relationship between the combined consumption of beef and legumes, and risk for disease.
In a nutshell, this is an issue that's not clearly understood; while the study concludes that the absence of meat in the diet along with increased amounts of vegetables reduced the vegetarian population's risk for heart disease and certain cancers, I think they were overstepping their bounds a bit, based on the evidence they outlined. If you can find a better study, I'd like to read it, but I'm not going to put much faith in the citation of common knowledge alone.
I meant that any toxin bio-magnified is magnified by an additional order of magnitude one step of the food chain. And so the effects of bio-magnified toxins are an additional order of magnitude. I didn't mean to imply as a fact that the total cancer risk is an order of magnitude greater. Although who knows? It very well might be.
You've outlined a very basic concept of bio-magnification, here. When you start to look at the concept in some depth, it gets a whole lot more complicated. The concept of a linear food chain is of limited use given that it doesn't accurately represent the flow of energy in most ecosystems; better to talk about trophic level, though even that can be tough to define; at least then we can make distinctions between apex predators instead of treating them all the same. Of course, a carnivore might occupy any one of a range of trophic levels, just not the first or second ones.
Anyhow, when we look at bio-magnification of toxins, we have to remember to consider how we're defining the toxin, which is usually by its effect specifically on humans. It's not necessarily toxic to the rest of the organisms involved, and it doesn't necessarily behave the same way in their bodies. Orders of magnitude are used in the classroom because they are handy rules of thumb; but we can't assume that "any toxin" necessarily behaves this way, only that we might expect a given toxin to behave this way, in the absence of existing data. When there's quite a lot of existing data about a toxin, as is the case with methylmercury in seafood, risk can be quite effectively mitigated by careful selection of species where accumulation is not a concern. The connection to trophic level is there, but it's not as simple as you're implying.
My point with all this is to question whether the strength of your convictions is based on a solid scientific foundation. Because really, it takes an overbearing volume of evidence to make a really solid scientific foundation for just about anything. Nutrition is one of the areas of science with the most exposure in the realm of popular media, which is probably why it's a field that's so notorious for saying one thing one year and another thing the next. It's not that the science is necessarily contradicting itself, so much as that data is interpreted more broadly than it really should be, in order to pique the interest of an audience that has no background in science nor desire to actually read even an abstract for a study. My impression is that your convictions are based predominately on personal philosophy, which you seem to confirm by saying, "I care because of moral concerns." In which case, let's stick to the subject of philosophy rather than health.
I actually agree with you about the probable motivation for eating lion - that it's more about posturing and image than the desire for a unique culinary experience. And I agree with nowfocus re: environmental and/or utilitarian arguments against making a habit of eating any carnivore. But if you want to limit what people perceive as their inalienable rights, you need to make a pretty compelling argument, and "I don't see any good reason to want to eat carnivores" is barely an argument at all.