Eating meat has been part of the human identity for 2.5 million years, but according to science, what exactly is meat?

SeekerPublished: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018
Published: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018

What is meat? Our human ancestors have been eating meat for 2 and a half million years, but while you may think meat is the flesh of an animal used as food (as Merriam Webster suggests), for hundreds of years it meant something else.

Until the 14th century, “meat” just meant “food.” In the 1200s, to express that you wanted food, you would just ask for "meat". Even in the Bible, in Genesis 1:30, God says “I have given every green herb for meat and it was so,” causing some modern-day confusion about whether Adam and Eve were in fact vegetarian.

Eventually, sometime after the 1300s, we decided that meat meant "animal flesh." But what exactly does animal flesh entail? Most would say it’s the muscles, but the American Meat Science Association says otherwise. They stipulate that biochemical reactions at the time of death are what actually turn muscles into meat. Then come the differences between red, white, light and dark meat, which can be explained by biological science.

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