Letter to the editor: Speaking on behalf of the hippos, in response to Kavahn Mansouri vs. the World


Written by Dylan Zukswert

When I first read Kavahn Mansouri’s “Making the Case for Carnivores,” I couldn’t help but think of the hippo. The hippo is one of the most dangerous wild animals — yet has a herbivorous diet.

I began weight-lifting at the age of 13.  I ran cross-country all four years of high school, and joined my local fire department at 17.  I am now employed as a recycler on campus, every morning lifting hundreds of pounds of recycling.

My life of heavy physical labor requires lots of strength and endurance.  One would expect me to have a meat-filled, protein rich diet to be able to do all this.  Yet, surprisingly, I’ve been a vegetarian since I was seven.  That was 14 years ago.

I weigh 121 pounds and have never weighed more than 130 pounds.  I rarely get sick—  maybe once every other year. So why was making a change in diet the worst one of my life, when it hasn’t once negatively affected me?

I’m not one to push my diet on other people. My parents tried to push eating meat on me, so I know firsthand how annoying that can be.  However, I do encourage people to cut back on the amount of meat they consume.

Our primitive ancestors didn’t consume as much meat as one would guess.  Humans have few natural offenses in the world.  I dare you go out into the woods, find an animal and kill it with your bare hands.  It’s hard.  Our ancestors were most likely scavengers, eating the bodies that they found.

Even that was risky since there were probably other animals there already.  Meat was rare in their diet and this “meat with every meal” diet we seem to have is not natural for us.  We don’t need that much meat in our life.

Mansouri’s definition of “survival of the fittest” is the most meat-headed definition I have ever heard.  Herbert Spencer coined that term, and it has very little to do with competition between species.

Being ‘fit’ in this context means you have the phenotypic traits to improve chances of surviving and reproducing.  Measuring the survival of a species and its ‘fitness’ is in reference to one’s ability to reproduce and to pass on good genes to the next generation. The way Mansouri uses the phrase just doesn’t make sense.

And Mansouri can only think of one notable vegetarian, Adolf Hitler.  How about Mohandas Gandhi, Paul Mccartney, Jane Goodall, Leo Tolstoy or Leonardo da Vinci?  Are none of these people notable?

I can think of hundreds of meat-eaters like Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Jeffry Dahmer, Charles Manson, Hermann Goering and Ilse Koch to name a few.

And if we bring religion into this, it is best that Mansouri side with Greek mythology.  Vegetarianism is the diet choice of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.

The Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam all have connections to the Biblical ideal of the Garden of Eden, which references a vegetarian diet.

While only sects of these religions enforce it, the references are still there.  Judaism and Islam also forbid the eating of pork products.

So don’t tell me that being a vegetarian is the worst choice in world. There are plenty of worse choices.  And if you think vegetarians are harmless creatures, I highly encourage you to search YouTube for “hippopotamus attack” to see what that vegetarian species can do.

Also, I can’t say that meat tastes gross because I don’t remember what it tastes like, but it certainty smells gross.




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