Human cognition and non-vegetarian food.


On a Sunday afternoon, my wife was preparing a non-vegetarian dish and the spicy aroma had filled the air. My son, who was glued to his computer screen, got distracted for a while and asked me “dad, how come we humans are able to gain upper hand over other animals, capture and disembowel them, and eat their flesh?”.

I thought for a while and asked him to figure out the differences between humans and other animals. He said, after pondering over for a while, that humans can walk upright on two legs and other animals can’t. Okay, but what is the most important quality that distinguishes humans from other animals? This time he appeared clueless.

I told him, albeit with my limited knowledge, that humans have superior cognitive capabilities, and animals, whose cognition is certainly inferior, are no match for humans. My son, who is ever curious, asked “but dad, how did humans develop superior cognitive abilities? I once again thought for a while and said “among all animals, only humans can exhibit complex levels of manual dexterity. They can move their hands in different directions. And their opposable thumbs, which can move quite opposite to the other fingers, gives them the capability to grip a variety of objects and have a close look at them. This ability to have a close look at various objects and analyze them had resulted in the evolution of their brains. This evolution conferred on them a talent for creativity and innovation. And that is how humans managed to outsmart other animals and birds.

After listening to me, my son came up with another question. What if the birds and animals also acquire as much cognitive capabilities as humans have. Then we can’t certainly have non-veg food. They also invent various weapons and go with all guns blazing at we humans, when we try to capture them with an intention to slaughter.

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