The Meat Question:
Animals, Humans, and the Deep History of Food
Historian and anthropologist Josh Berson studies the ecology of peripersonal space and what we put on or in our bodies and how we encounter other living things. The Meat Question: Animals, Humans, and the Deep History of Food is Berson's second book. Here Berson takes aim at the idea that meat eating played was crucial in the evolution of the human species and the whole idea of the paleolithic diet and in the process gives us a whole new way of thinking about food. Berson walks us through human evolution and makes the case that hunting is no where near as critical for human evolution as our popular conceptions have led us to believe. Foraging provided a larger percentage of food than hunting throughout human evolution. He also disconnects us from the widely held belief that meat eating is an indicator of affluence. Berson argues that meat eating is a mark of poverty and makes the case that if we give up meat eating we will have no problems feeding the world's current population with a fulfilling, nutritious diet. Berson argues that attempting to feed the existing world's population on animal protein places an unsustainable stress on the Earth's biosphere. He documents this by discussing the enclosure of the American plains to feed cattle and the current destruction of the Amazon basin and parts of Australia to produce beef. He provides an eye opening discussion of the violence of meat eating and argues that the growing demand for meat signals growing inequality and oppression rather than affluence. Berson argues that the spread of livestock remakes the land and remakes the lives of people. Berson argues that framing the crisis of meat as an individual choice is part of the problem. This is a larger scale political problem. In his discussion Berson gets a bit granular at times and he fires way too many abbreviations at the reader that many will have trouble keeping track of but this should not diminish the importance of this eye opening, thought provoking book. Berson may not convince you to go vegan but he will cause you to think.