How did our family traditions become centered around eating meat?
Think about it. When we think of Thanksgiving, we think of turkey. If we eat pork, then New Year’s celebrations often revolve around pork and sauerkraut. During Christian Easter, the traditional meal is ham. And in the summer, we wait for that first hamburger or steak on the grill.
How did that happen to a species that was designed to eat vegetables and fruits, nuts, berries and legumes?
We can imagine that eating meat was initially an opportunistic event, born from the need to survive. The taste of cooked meat, plus the sustained energy that came from eating high-fat meat products made primitive sense even to earliest man.
Initially, finding cooked animal meat from a forest fire was a good reason to celebrate. The whole clan would eat the animal together. When mankind started to learn how to hunt, they would go hunting in groups: killing animals to feed themselves was a group effort. The animals weren’t killed for just one individual but for the whole clan, and everybody celebrated when the hunters brought food home.
When the latter brought the dead animal back to the clan, everybody participated to carve the beast up. Sharing the meat all together was then a reward for their hard work.
Even though nowadays we don’t need to hunt for meat, we still feel the need to eat meat when we gather with friends and family to celebrate an important event. This ritual is deeply rooted in our culture since prehistory.