Invisible Voices

a voice for the voiceless

Daily Archives: October 17, 2008

does eating meat lead to violent behavior?

A connection between meat eating and violent behavior? I’ll start by saying that as often as I’ve heard this kind of statement tossed around, I’ve always passed it off as unsubstantiated and unscientific. I’d be interested if anyone does have some medical/scientific information that would back it up, however. It does seem at least somewhat possible that the chemicals released as the animals go through the horror that is slaughter could remain in the muscles and organs, and thus be absorbed into and impact our systems, were we to eat those muscles and organs. (That is so gross to even think about.)

Then again, how likely is it that these chemicals would survive exposure to air, heat, and just plain time?

These are things I don’t know.

But the question has been asked, quite seriously, by my vegan friend Jesse, who I wrote about recently. The guy who went vegan in prison. I mentioned that he is thoughtful, didn’t I? I did. He is.

So I happened to get a letter from him last week. He asked whether there is a link between meat consumption and aggressive behavior. He has observed what appears to be a correlation among the people around him, as well as a remembered change in behavior by his ex-wife when she went on the Fatkins diet.

Correlation does not necessarily equate to causation, but it is still interesting to tease out what might be at the root of this. He even comes up with a couple of his own ideas, and says,

I happen to notice that those people who eat a lot of meat tend to be more violent. Meanwhile, vegans and vegetarians are more pacific. Is their temperament the result of their diets, or does their temperament influence the diets they choose? Perhaps compassionate people are more open to the idea of a vegan diet. I believe in some cases that could be true, but in my case I noticed that I’ve become less aggressive.

Personally, what has made me less angry and less reactive is bike commuting. However, I do remember when I first went vegan feeling more at peace than I ever had before. I think that it was the relief of moving away from the consumption of animal products, of not having to suppress ugly knowledge of my complicity anymore. That’s exhausting, and disruptive. Much easier to just align your life with your ethics.

At least that is how it worked for me, and I have a feeling that it is true of many of us. I also expect that as we learn about the exploitation of animals (and all the ways it comes into play, and thus all the ways we must research and educate ourselves so we can make informed decisions to avoid that exploitation), we also become sensitive to the myriad ways that our fellow humans are exploited. As we learn these things, don’t we continue to make the more compassionate choices? Does that lead us further and further along a pacific path?

I’m sure this doesn’t apply to all of us, but I don’t think Jesse is far off base in his observations. The root cause is what is not clear.

Jesse also asks if I know of a good vegan bodybuilding/weightlifting book. I forgot to mention yesterday that Jesse is always busy with vegan advocacy, so when he talks to these guys in prison who are convinced that they need to eat as much red meat as possible to get strong, he researches so he can go back to them with real information that refutes those assumptions.

I have a feeling that there are no books out there, yet, on this topic, but if anyone has ideas on a book that would do a good enough job for what he needs, let me know!