Last updated on: 4/5/2017 | Author:

Vaclav Smil, PhD Biography

Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Manitoba (Canada)
Con to the question "Should People Become Vegetarian?"

“Killing animals and eating meat have been significant components of human evolution that had a synergistic relationship with other key attributes that have made us human, with larger brains, smaller guts, bipedalism and language. Larger brains benefited from consuming high-quality proteins in meat-containing diets, and, in turn, hunting and killing of large animals, butchering of carcasses and sharing of meat have inevitably contributed to the evolution of human intelligence in general and to the development of language and of capacities for planning, cooperation and socializing in particular… [T]here is no doubt that the human digestive tract has clearly evolved for omnivory, not for purely plant-based diets. And the role of scavenging, and later hunting, in the evolution of bipedalism and the mastery of endurance running cannot be underestimated, and neither can the impact of planned, coordinated hunting on non-verbal communication and the evolution of language…

[M]eat consumption is a part of our evolutionary heritage; meat production has been a major component of modern food systems; carnivory should remain, within limits, an important component of a civilization that finally must learn how to maintain the integrity of its only biosphere.”

“Should Humans Eat Meat?,” Scientific American, July 19, 2013

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Environment, University of Manitoba, 1996-present
  • Fellow, Royal Society of Canada
  • Professor, University of Manitoba, 1980-1996
  • Faculty, University of Manitoba, 1972-1980
  • Research Assistant, Pennsylvania State University, 1969-1972
  • Consultant, energy and environmental affairs, Board of the Chief Architect (Czech Republic), 1966-1969
  • PhD, Geography, Pennsylvania State University, 1972
  • RNDr (Rerum naturalium doctor), Natural Sciences, Carolinum University (Prague), 1965
  • Recipient, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Award for Research, 2015
  • Appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada in 2013
  • Named by Foreign Policy as one of top 100 global thinkers in 2010
  • Has published 500 books and papers
  • Bill Gates recommended his books in a blog post
Quoted in:
Pro & Con Quotes: Should People Become Vegetarian?