Those who wish to not be involved in animal cruelties and who are vegetarians/vegans show greater empathy towards animal suffering. But if we think about it, it’s quite simple… if you saw someone crying from being bullied and you empathized with that person – you yourself wouldn’t become a bully. The same applies with animals. If you saw them crying just before getting slaughtered – you yourself wouldn’t be a meat eater.
When we feel a certain way, it may be possible that our brain functions in the corresponding way as well. For example, when we feel anger, certain parts of our brain are activated, and when we read the text that we’re reading now, another part of our brain is activated. But what about feeling empathy?
Studies have shown that the degree of empathy we feel towards animals and humans can be measured on a neurological level.
The main findings were:
- Compared to omnivores, vegetarians and vegans showed “higher activation of empathy related brain areas (e.g. Anterior Cingular Cortex and left Inferior Frontal Gyrus)” when they observed scenes of BOTH animal and human suffering.
- There are certain brain areas which only vegetarians and vegans seem to activate when they view pictures of suffering, particularly human suffering. Additional areas in the brain were particularly active when viewing photos of mutilation.
“These results suggest that empathy toward non conspecifics has different neural representation among individuals with different feeding habits, perhaps reflecting different motivational factors and beliefs.”
Besides the differentiating degrees of empathy, what about intelligence? Does it require higher intelligence to feel empathy? Does it require higher intelligence to understand that to stop the killing of animals, we have to remove ourselves from the equation…? Apparently, it does.
The article below describes a study done showing how vegetarians and vegans have higher IQs than meat-eaters!
“Among the British respondents in the National Child Development Study, those who are vegetarian at age 42 have significantly higher childhood general intelligence than those who are not vegetarian at age 42. Vegetarians have the mean childhood IQ of 109.1 whereas meat eaters have the mean childhood IQ of 100.9. The difference is large and highly statistically significant.”
(Extracted from: http://veglov.blogspot.com/2011/03/why-vegetarians-are-more-intelligent.html)
There was another study done in 1970, where 8170 men and women aged 30 years participated. The results were:
“Vegetarians were more likely to be female, to be of higher social class (both in childhood and currently), and to have attained higher academic or vocational qualifications, although these socioeconomic advantages were not reflected in their income. Higher IQ at age 10 years was associated with an increased likelihood of being vegetarian at age 30. IQ remained a statistically significant predictor of being vegetarian as an adult after adjustment for social class (both in childhood and currently), academic or vocational qualifications, and sex. Exclusion of those who said they were vegetarian but ate fish or chicken had little effect on the strength of this association.”
(Extracted from: http://www.bmj.com/content/334/7587/245.abstract?hrss=1)
How interesting. Do take a look at the article below.
Are you smart?
Why Vegetarians Are More Intelligent than Meat Eaters
Published on May 30, 2010
Another evolutionarily novel value is vegetarianism. It is exceedingly unnatural for humans to be vegetarian.
Humans are naturally omnivorous. We are evolutionarily designed to eat both animal meat and plants. Anyone who eschewed animal protein and ate only vegetables in the ancestral environment, in the face of constant food scarcity and precariousness of its supply, was not likely to have survived long enough and stayed healthy enough to have left many offspring. So such a person is not likely to have become our ancestors. On the other hand, anyone who preferentially ate animal protein and fat in the ancestral environment would have been much more likely to live longer and stay healthier. They are therefore much more likely to have become our ancestors.
Vegetarianism would therefore be an evolutionarily novel value and lifestyle, as well as a luxury of abundance. The Hypothesis would predict that more intelligent individuals are more likely to choose to become a vegetarian than less intelligent individuals.
This indeed appears to be the case. Among the British respondents in the National Child Development Study, those who are vegetarian at age 42 have significantly higher childhood general intelligence than those who are not vegetarian at age 42. (Childhood general intelligence was measured with 11 different cognitive tests at three ages before 16.) Vegetarians have the mean childhood IQ of 109.1 whereas meat eaters have the mean childhood IQ of 100.9. The difference is large and highly statistically significant.
The relationship holds both among women and men separately. Among women, vegetarians have the mean childhood IQ of 108.0 while meat eaters have the mean childhood IQ of 100.7. Among men, vegetarians have the mean childhood IQ of 111.0 and meat eaters have the mean childhood IQ of 101.1, a 10-point difference!
The fact that the difference in childhood IQ between vegetarians and meat eaters is larger among men than among women makes sense in light of the historical division of labor between the sexes. Throughout evolutionary history, men have traditionally hunted animals for their meat while women have traditionally gathered plant food. So vegetarianism – a complete and total eschewal of animal meat – should be even more evolutionarily novel and unnatural for men than for women. Women are 60% more likely to be vegetarians than men are (3.33% vs. 2.07%).
Childhood general intelligence has a significantly positive effect on the likelihood of vegetarianism at age 42, even net of a large number of social and demographic factors, such as sex, whether ever married, whether currently married, education, income, religion, religiosity, social class at birth, mother’s education, and father’s education, both in the full sample and among men and among women separately. There appears very little doubt that more intelligent children are more likely to grow up to become vegetarian as adults in the United Kingdom. One standard deviation (15 points) increase in childhood IQ increases the odds of adult vegetarianism by 37% among women and by 48% among men.
Interestingly, the strong association between childhood intelligence and adult vegetarianism is not replicated in the US. Vegetarians in early adulthood do have significantly higher childhood intelligence in junior high and high school, but the difference is not large (101.5 vs. 99.3). And it is only significant among women (101.4 vs. 98.5), not among men (101.7 vs. 100.1). This is very strange given the historical division of labor noted above. The significant effect of childhood intelligence on adult vegetarianism among Americans disappears entirely once mother’s or father’s education or religion is statistically controlled.
It is not at all clear to me why the difference in childhood intelligence between vegetarians and meat eaters is so much larger and stronger in the United Kingdom than in the United States. Apart from the national differences between the UK and the US, the two samples also come from different generations. The British NCDS respondents were all born in March 1958, whereas the American Add Health respondents were born between 1974 and 1983. I am not sure if it is the national differences or generational differences, or something entirely different, that account for the observed difference in the association between childhood intelligence and adult vegetarianism.
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