Eat a Steak and Further the Human Population, Study Says

New research shows that eating meat helped human evolution

We can't think of a better justification to order the beef or lamb tonight. Researchers from Sweden have recently unveiled that a meat-eating diet, especially when early humans became carnivores, helped the human population grow.

The reason for the human population "explosion" was that the higher-quality diet helped mothers wean their children earlier — and consequently, have more children. And it's not just humans that showed this effect; the researchers from Lund University studied 67 mammal species and found the same correlation between meat-filled diets and earlier weaning times. Lions, tigers, killer whales, and other carnivorous species showed the same growth in population. Humans beat out other herbivore or omnivore species in breastfeeding times — about two and a half years, compared to an average of five years in species like chimpanzees.

This meat diet had a huge impact on the human population, said researcher Elisa Psouni to LiveScience. "We are suggesting that this has had a very big impact on the survival and spreading of the species and the way it happened," she said.

So the key to keeping the human population at a booming 7 billion? Lots of meat. Said Psouni, "The access to a diet that is rich with animal protein is what makes it possible for that species to [over many generations] shorten the time between births... You wean faster, you can become pregnant faster, and give birth to more offspring."