Eating meat made us human. In fact, there is strong evolutionary evidence that the principal reason that humans stood upright with sweat glands (instead of on all fours without sweat glands) is so that we (humans) could run game down in a manner of persistence hunting. As the earth’s landscape changed and dense forest retreated into open savannahs, humans took to running game animals into exhaustion in a highly organized manner known as persistence hunting.
This adaptation may be the primary reason that humans survived and Neanderthals went extinct. They (Neanderthals) had the odds in their favor: they were bigger, stronger, tougher and better conventional hunters, but, humans could run long distances for sustained periods. Game animals can out run us only in a sprint. Our meat eating allowed us to develop large brains which require proportionally more energy than any other animal. Not only do these large brains give us a ballast for balance when standing and running upright, it allowed (and allows) us to develop weapons for more efficient procurement of meat.
Fact of the matter is, we are both anatomically equipped (sweat glands, long distance running) and mentally equipped (large brains which allow technology i.e. weaponry development) for meat eating. We evolved for meat eating and we survived natural selection through meat eating and the adaptations directly associated with meat eating. To deny that fundamental connection to meat eating with arguments of humanity and compassion is anti-humanist. Our connection with meat eating is fundamental to our entire existence as well as part of our social and emotional interactive programming.
This is obviously an entirely different argument than tackling the industrial meat supply, however, the more I encounter arguments that suggest humans are denying our natural instincts and bypassing our anatomic capacity by killing and eating animals, the more I suspect that the industrial meat chain has shot itself in the foot by having removed direct experience with meat. Can you imagine, for example, someone making the “bypassing natural instincts and anatomic capacity” argument to a Native person living in the Arctic Circle? Remove Caribou, Seal, Whale and Fish from the diet and it would have been impossible for people to exist there at any point in history and it would be impossible for them to exists there now. To argue that they are not “honorable” in their time tested existence is entirely dishonest.