B12 is found naturally in manure fertilized soil and synthesized via bacteria which are present in the intestines of animals- yummy ay? However, animals themselves are not capable of synthesizing the vitamin, only the bacteria contain the enzymes capable of breaking it down. Meaning that in order for humans to properly acquire an adequate amount of B12 they must either obtain it from animal sources, fortified foods or multi-vitamins.
While B12 is found in some plant sources including soy, it is highly debated whether or not a reliable source of B12 can be obtained directly through these plants as the traces of it are said to not be effectively absorbed directly due to a lack of the bacterial synthesization process (found in humans). Some alternative sources for Vegans include: Nutritional yeast, flax seed and other fortified foods or multi-vitamins. Basically, animal eats plant and absorbs and breaks down B12 via bacteria which is found in the soil, fertilized by animal manure and (some) people eat animal and absorb already synthesized B12.
Often the above conclusions lead some to a single one: That eating animal products is “natural” to the human diet. However, the evidence surrounding this statement is equally as conflicting as the nature of the absorption of vitamin B12 and the unique progression of the human digestive system as it has evolved over time . So where does this leave those who choose to abstain from the consumption of animal products due to ethics, health, sustainability or any other reason? And is B12 an adequate “proof qualifier” that humans are designed to eat meat? Let's explore some options.
Vitamin B12 was originally absorbed directly through plant sources and for some reason human digestive tracts developed the inability to do this and instead the absorption only became possible via the bacteria found in animals. This means that at some point, our bodies either ceased to carry this bacterium, we never carried it at all and had a method of synthesizing B12 on our own or animals themselves developed this process. Perhaps this strange inconsistency (being that animals only carry the bacteria to synthesize B12) could be due to the introduction of meat into the diet seeing as humans were said to most likely originally be futilitarians and scavengers (consuming “left over” animal parts when they could). Often, as is evident in the obsolete nature of certain dormant organs such as the appendix, the body will intelligently re-design some of its mechanisms in order to adapt and refine itself for efficiency. If it was no longer or never necessary to carry a bacterium in order to synthesize B12 due to the consumption of animals, it is logical to assume that this could be a potential reason why we no longer or never carried it.
Although B12 is indeed absorbed through animal sources, it must be stressed that natural sources of B12 are found in soil fertilized by animals, animals that were here on Earth fertilizing soil long before us. Thus, giving them ample time to perfect the craft of B12 synthesization and leading to a common sense line of reasoning that animals were probably not the original source of the bacteria or B12, they instead became one over time which goes in accordance with the laws of evolution.
So how does this change the idea that eating animals is “natural” to the human diet and body? Currently there exists hardly enough evidence to support this claim, rather a large body of research that tells us a familiar story about human biology and our relationship to the environment. The fact that B12 is only synthesized through bacteria found in animals when taken apart and examined piece by piece seems irrelevant in the face of the true matter: There is no predetermined “natural order” of the Earth, some animals eat other animals, some don’t, some people eat other people, some just don’t eat at all. If we are to solely use nature as a guide for how we live our lives in the modern human world then it will not only leave us confused but also allow for unending contradictions as there are exist multiple natural occurrences in the animal kingdom which our human morality and consciousness may find abhorrent: Such as rape, murder, cannibalism and incest. This is a fact that has been stressed in a multitude of ways, however, it is important to highlight when such examples ( as the natural consumption processes of B12) are used normally just to suit one facet of an opinion or claim.
If there is a way to absorb B12 without eating animals and if B12 and said animals ancestors populated the Earth before we could even sprout a word, it seems illogical to automatically lead to the simple conclusion that animals are natural for us to consume . More likely so, soil is natural for us to eat as we have been ingesting its products on a more consistent basis before we could develop the tools to hunt. We have been ingesting the fruits of the soil long before we started eating the animals which we now eat at a vast percentage more. Today, we justify justifying this mass consumption by using a vitamin as a main point of argument.
While we may have scavenged and stumbled upon the occasional animal carcass in our early evolution, the point is that B12 is in the soil of which the carcass and all carcasses, even ours eventually become a part of. Meaning that when we process B12 we are getting it from the soil of which not only the animals we eat have discentigrated but also other animals which we would never eat such as dogs and even dinosaurs. Therefore, we can conclude that if eating animals is natural because we absorb B12 only from their manure, we must also adhere to the claim that it is natural to eat all of those other animals as well, even including HUMANS since our own manure will produce B12. Obviously, the nature of well-NATURE is that it is dynamic and often void of one dimensional explanations.
Historically and for most animals on Earth they have eaten what they could find and hunt. For humans, unfortunately, the Earth is our buffet which can lend itself to many hardened responses concerning vegan or vegetarianism. While we may have an overage in choices today, that was not the case for most of our past, we may not have had a choice but to eat animals in order to gain access to B12 in the past. Lacking a choice at one point may explain why we started eating meat in the first place but it does not entirely explain the intrinsic laws of nature as being set in stone. We have a hard enough time doing that with a meteorologist and high definition television.
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