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#REPOST@anonymousforthevoiceless “We’re at the top of the food chain, though. We’re supposed to eat animals.” A common justification used by those who consume the flesh of dead beings.
But are we really at the top of the food chain?
To begin with, we are all part of a complex food web—not a pyramid-—which is a tightly interwoven system, meaning that there is no “top of the food chain”. The trophic level of an organism is where it falls on the food web, and it is categorized between 1.00 and 5.00, with 5.00 being apex predators. A 2013 study by Sylvain Bonhommeau was done on food-supply data from 176 of the world’s 196 countries from 1961 to 2009. That means data from 98.1% of the world population.
The study determined that humans have an average trophic level of 2.21. This means we fall between level 2.00, which consists of herbivores, who eat plants and are called primary consumers, and level 3.00, which consists of carnivores, who eat herbivores and are called secondary consumers. Even countries whose diets are comprised of a higher percentage of meat have a low trophic level, such as Iceland, which has a trophic level of 2.57.
Those with the highest trophic level are, in fact, apex predators, who have no natural predators, meaning they are not hunted by other species. This includes killer whales, golden eagles, lions, tigers, jaguars (as pictured above) great white sharks, and others. And so, even if there were an absolute “food chain” we would certainly not be at the top.
This is a complex topic, and there are many ways that humans, and indeed other species, interact with and influence ecosystems. One such example is the feeding of an apex predators body by those with a lower trophic level. However, as we have no biological need to consume other animals and we are not top predators, the “we are at the top of the food chain” argument is invalid.
We have the choice to consume non-human animal flesh and secretions or to consume plants. Neither is an obligation. As an intelligent species with a moral compass, we should always opt for the latter.