Why “Meat Made Us Smart” Is A Dumb Idea

By The Humane Hominid

Promote a cruelty-free lifestyle long enough, and you’ll eventually bump into the expensive tissue hypothesis. No, it’s not a pet theory about the rising cost of toilet paper, but the claim (usually foisted upon you by paleodieters or some carnist who took an anthropology class once) that meat-eating made humans into the big-brained rocket scientists we are today. How ungrateful and unnatural you are to reject millions of years of evolution. Surely, your brain has shrunk from lack of essential fatty acids, to even entertain such a notion as eating vegan.

To be fair, that last bit isn’t actually the expensive tissue hypothesis (ETH). It’s just the pop culture meme that grew out of an influential idea first put forward by Leslie C. Aiello and Peter Wheeler in 1995. While “meat made us smart” is not, as you’ll see in a moment, actually what Aiello & Wheeler said, it is the message that carnist mainstream society took from the paper and ran with.  It’s been the urban caveman’s naturalistic fallacy of choice ever since.

But as with many things in modern science, things look a lot different in the field today than they did 18 years ago.  The idea that meat-eating was essential to the evolution of human intelligence isn’t holding up as well as your average broscientist thinks it is. What follows is a slightly edited re-post from my usual blog that explains all the details.

Read more…

Ethical Exploits, Vol.5

by featured contributor Matt Lara


Celebrity Roast


It’s been making it’s debut all season. Everyone is talking about it. And if this month is one long headache to you, I can assure you that the Celebration Roast from Field Roast Grain Meat is something wonderful to look forward to. I happen to love the holidays, even though I haven’t been able to avoid sharing the table with dead birds this year. But those who tried my Celebration Roast loved it, and I would be happy to have it on my holiday table anytime. Luckily we still have time this year to impress with this deliciousness.

Caught in the Neti

There’s crappiness and cold in the air. If you’re in a big urban jungle there is smog and pollutants swirling all around you. If you’re like me you’re surrounded my nasty looking air as well all sorts of pollen, dander, and allergens. Add that to winter weather and you have sinus hell. Not Sexy. Rather than jack myself up on meds, I prefer a gentler approach—Neti Pot. I know it sounds gross to rinse out your sinuses, but it has always helped me out a lot. Our pals at Crazy Sexy Life have some really great info on all things Neti.

Stir Crazy

Go ahead, call me a food snob. I freely admit to being one – I care a lot about what I eat. Sorry my fashionisto friends, but I spend more money on quality food than I do on looking dapper at the disco. And when I’m done eating one (or more) of these sandwiches—messy face and all—I reserve the right not wipe my food snob mouth. I just love this dump-and-stir: Snobby Joes. This is from a favorite cookbook I use several times a week, The Veganomicon.

http://www.fithoney.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/buckwheat.jpgA Natural In Bed

I share my bed with a partner who is supportive but soft, warm but not over-heated, and a natural in bed—my buckwheat pillow from Beans72. Our relationship wasn’t always perfect and took some getting used to. I do opt for the softness of a regular pillow at times, but I find these ones great for a number of reasons. A mainstay Asian countries, they are made for comforting support throughout the night. The pillows from this site are made of quality all-natural materials, and are recommended for those with allergies to synthetic pillow fillers. They also don’t get warm like other pillows stuffed with synthetics. I find them to be perfect for when you are reading in bed or watching TV. We don’t necessarily promote rampant consumption of gifts here, but this is one useful gift I have used for years now. (Don’t forget to order the matching cotton pillow case for the Japanese size.)

Gifting To-Go


While we’re on the topic of gift giving, I can’t think of a simpler gift than this set of bamboo to-go ware from Taraluna. As you may know, bamboo is a highly sustainable crop and very durable. It comes with a knife, fork, spoon, and set of chopsticks in a rolling cloth carrier. I keep them with me all the time for meals out. Taraluna is a great resource for products all made from fair-trade workers. Check out their variety of products.



Out of Closet Experience


I needed some last minute do-dads. Being on a tight budget, I decided to hit up the big pink LA thrift shop chain known as Out Of The Closet. Now, I actually like the “charm” of your average thrift store—the laudromat odor, the linoleum floors, the collage of wracks and hangers, the screaming children, etc.. However, this location was a nice change of pace. There was an actual selection of items and not an insurmountable mish-mash of crap. The staff was pleasant, helpful, and conversational. It was one of the few places I have shopped in LA where I felt a sense of community. Perhaps that is because Out of the Closet is owned and operated by Aids Healthcare Foundation with a mission to generate income to fund it’s services. Many locations offer free HIV testing as well.

Sap Anyone?http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/science/gfx/maple-sap.jpg

As we pass from holiday to holiday, I have to say thanks to anyone reading this little grouping of words.  I hope some of it catches your eye. If it does, I truly cherish that there are honest gentlemen (and ladies) out there who are taking action to live as responsible humans. As I count my blessings this holiday season, I’m counting you all in. Merry wassailling!


Vol. 1: I am Nik‘s 1st Blog. Allow me to introduce myself.

NikTerraceHey there. Nik Tyler here… I’m an actor, mixed media artist, writer, filmmaker, animal rights activist, vegan & newly-proclaimed “alkalarian”  who lives in LA and loves chillin’ with his creative friends, spending time with happy canines, watching indie cinema in empty art house theaters, sauntering down the street to an electric iPod beat, dreaming at the ocean, grubbing alkaline food, cooking gourmet meals for vegan girls late at night… No, this isn’t my online dating profile, I promise.This is my first official blog… ever. I’m stoked and honored to be making my cyber-world blogging debut on the prestigious Discerning Brute.  One of the things I value most about the internet is our ability to easily and openly exchange ideas, information and knowledge by the simple click of a mouse and the rhythmic percussion of our keyboards. The Discerning Brute symbolizes that place where ethical gents can go to get a daily dose of new, interesting, mind-expanding insight, advice and knowledge on how to improve their lives and become even more compassionate towards all living beings (including themselves). What could be better than that?

So, in the spirit & hopes of sharing cool, ethical experiences, new-findings, off-the-beaten path advice, gourmet vegan-alkaline recipes/meals, lip-smacking-drool-inducing culinary pictures, and some other random-but cool-related topics I haven’t yet conjured up, I’d like to offer you a free ticket that will never expire, on the ride of my life… There is no height requirement for this roller-coaster, all you need is a computer, open eyes, open mind and an open heart.

I’ve Been Shot!
My first bit of advice is an easy enough habit to start, and it packs an energy punch that kicks caffeine’s ass. I’m beginning everyday with a shot of Chlorophyll – you can’t OD on this awesome stuff – it’s derived from high quality alfalfa leaves and is imperative to the process of photosynthesis. The brand that I really dig is World Organic Chlorophyll. It tastes great and you feel the energy surging through your body immediately. You can pick up a bottle of this green goodness at any Whole Foods, neighborhood co op, healthfood store or at several online retailers.
Photo 69

Stay Tuned for more from Nik Tyler!

WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK: Deconstructed Curry vs. Now Now Every Children

by featured contributor, Troy Farmer


Some things in life need to be torn down and rebuilt to truly reach their most revered state. Sometimes you have to break something into its most basic parts, examine those parts, and then throw everything you thought you knew before out the window, simplifying and revising the whole’s place in the world. Such is the case with the Minneapolis band, Now Now Every Children. The sounds they produce come from the most conventional of sources—guitar, keyboard, drums, voice—but it’s been stripped of its form and any gaudy pretense and built into something more raw, basic, and beautifully simple that does what music is supposed to do: Make a visceral connection with its listener and move them.


At its core, Now Now Every Children is the duo of singer/guitarist/keyboardist, Cacie Dalanger and drummer/multi-instrumentalist, Brad Hale—two now barely twenty-somethings who started writing songs together after marching band practice in high school. This is one of those handy facts that people writing an article on the band or interviewing absolutely love to bring up, so I won’t pretend to be an exception. That said, listening to their songs with that keen bit of knowledge, you can definitely hear a little bit of the marching band influence in the drumming—less in a beginning of Destiny’s Child’s Lose My Breath kind of way, more in that it seems to have fostered a less traditional way of playing. Indeed, Hale lets his drums take the spotlight that would usually be reserved for guitars or another tonal instrument rather than just providing a backbone for the band’s songs. His syncopation and diversion from the run-of-the-mill, 4/4, gotta-get-the-song-to-the-end rock drumming is a welcome change and gives NNEC’s songs a unique vibrancy and life.

The other facet of the duo’s music that gives it an irresistibly enjoyable quality is Dalanger’s voice. Husky, low, and brooding, it seems completely disconnected from her diminutive body and young age. On top of that, she sings with a slight but strange almost-accent that further separates the songs from the usual. The overall result, when built into structures dressed with some sparse, well-cultivated keyboards and guitars, is an interesting, wholly-enjoyable collection of songs that pull you towards them in an often melancholy manner.

Dalanger and Hale followed up the release of their first two EPs last December with their debut full-length, Cars, on local indie superstar label Afternoon Records (http://www.afternoonrecords.com/news.php). The title track is one of the more upbeat tracks and likely the one that will make you fall in love with the band. Sleep Through Summer keeps the beat up, steadily building on meandering keyboards and chunky, shoe-gazey guitars to a lovely wall of noise finale. Have You Tried roots itself in Dalanger’s voice and a gentle, slow organ line, showcasing the group’s ability to rely on simple, stripped-down sound. First two tracks, courtesy of Afternoon Records, third via Bradley’s Almanac, a great Boston-based music blog (http://www.bradleysalmanac.com/).



Sleep Through Summer

Have You Tried

You can purchase Now Now Every Children’s LP and earlier EP’s via Afternoon Records’ site – http://www.afternoonrecords.com/nownoweverychildren.html

To pair with NNEC and the theme of stripping things down to the most bare part to make something new, we have for you a Deconstructed Curry that’s based on the premise that, in between all these rainy, unseasonably cool days, when it actually does feel like summer outside for a split second and we get to grill out, sometimes we want a little more than your basic veggie burgers, tofu pups, and kabobs. So the idea is to create a dish that makes good use of the grill to keep the heat outdoors and away from the kitchen, bases itself in the taste of traditional Thai curries, but attempts to avoid being overly heavy so we can enjoy it without collapsing in a sweaty heap at the end of the meal. Sorry. You likely don’t want to read ‘sweaty heap’ when considering food and the like.


Most of the work for this will be done in prepping the curry paste, which is based on a Massaman curry, a curry that’s Muslim in origin and features warm, sweet spices and rich coconut milk. It’s actually easy enough to make, but it employs a bevy of somewhat obscure spices and ingredients. Most of them should be easy enough to find at your local Asian market. If you’re in New York, I highly recommend a trip to Kalustyan’s on Lex in Manhattan (http://www.kalustyans.com/). They specialize in Indian and South Asian spices and, really, even if you already have everything to make the curry, it’s worth a visit just to be blown away by the sheer number of spices they have there. That place is amazing. And yes, you could always do this on the quick with a can on vegetarian curry paste (watch out for shrimp paste in some brands).


For the curry.
• 1 tbsp fresh Coriander
• 1/2 tbsp fresh Black Cumin (not ground, regular fresh cumin will work too)
• 1 tbsp White Peppercorns
• 2 stalks Lemongrass with the rough outer layers removed, bottom 1/4 inch cut off, divided and thinly-sliced, employing only the tender, fragrant parts
• 6 cloves Garlic, peeled
• 2 large Vidalia Onions, peeled and sliced (can substitute any large sweet onion or an equal amount of shallots)
• 7 dried Red Chilies, sliced in half and soaked in warm water for at least 15 minutes (remove seeds for a less spicy curry, keep them in for a spicier one)
• 1 tbsp Kelp Granules (finely chopped nori sushi wrappers will work too)
• 1 tsp fresh Cardamom Seeds
• 1/2 tsp freshly-grated Nutmeg (already ground works, but fresh nutmeg, in general, is pretty great stuff, so it’s recommended)
• 1/2 tsp ground fresh Cinnamon (again, recommended but can be substituted with pre-ground)
• 1 Bay Leaf
• 5 Cloves
• 2 Kaffir Lime Leaves or (these can be hard to find, but some markets have them in the frozen section, if you can’t find them and see fresh Ngo Om leaves, these Vietnamese leaves can be substituted with the peel form 1/2 lime)
• possibly 2-4 tbsp Vegetable Broth or Water to help blending
• 1 can (14 oz) Coconut Milk

For the rest of the meal:
• 1 large Vidalia Onion, peeled and quartered
• 2-3 large Yukon Gold Potatoes, unpeeled and cut into chunks that will be small enough to eat but large enough that they don’t fall through your grill
• 3/4 lb Green Beans, trimmed
• 2 blocks of Tofu, cut into large triangles or squares
• 5 leaves Basil
• 1/2 package (8 oz) of linguine-size Rice Noodles (size M)
• 2 cups Vegetable Broth


  1. First, the paste. Begin by soaking the chilies.
  2. Next, take the coriander, cumin, and white peppercorns and toasting them in a heavy skillet for about 7 minutes, getting them fragrant and lightly browned, but not at all burnt.
  3. While that’s going on, prep the rest of the ingredients as noted above.
  4. Once that’s done, add everything to a blender or food processor and blend and mix until you have a smooth, uniform paste. I like to try to rely on as few appliances as possible in the kitchen, so I do this in a blender, which usually means adding all the ingredients except for the onion, which I only add a little bit of so that the whole thing doesn’t overflow. It also means using a little broth and a whole lot of mixing to get a good consistency.
  5. Once that’s done, set the paste aside in the fridge to chill. Not that this is really going to make a lot of curry paste, so feel free to either plan other meals around it or halve the recipe.
  6. Now use the basil leaves to rub down the pieces of tofu and then plate and cover them with the basil to get that herb’s essence.
  7. Next, microwave or steam the potatoes for 4-7 minutes to the point that they’re less raw, a little tender. They’re the ones you’ll need to watch on the grill to make sure they’re completely done. Or you can just put them on the grill way, way earlier. I like to then use an oil pump mister to get a touch of olive oil on the onions, potatoes, green beans, and tofu and then salt them, but that’s totally optional.
  8. Now get grilling! I usually start with the potatoes, keeping them over the high heat and turning them often. After about 5 minutes on the grill, the onion quarters should start to fall apart. When they do, gently roll the layers out onto the grill so more of the onion is making contact with it. The tofu can also go over high heat, just watching to make sure they don’t burn and turning the pieces once to crisp. The green beans need the least amount of heat and can go on last, when you’re about 5-10 minutes from plating. I keep them on a sheet of aluminum when I grill them so they don’t just fall into the flames.
  9. The coconut milk can be put in a small to medium cast iron skillet and put right on the grill, not over too much heat, so that it begins to boil and condense. I like to keep mine on the warming rack of the grill the whole time, bringing it down to the main grill once I can watch it and want it to start thickening up.
  10. While you’ve got everything grilling, you can add anywhere from 4-8 tablespoons of your curry paste to the skillet, depending on how you like your spice to milky ratio, stirring it in and letting it continue to thicken but not burn.
  11. Back in the kitchen, while everything’s grilling, you can start to cook the noodles according to the package directions, keeping them just a bit al dente.
  12. Drain them and add them to a lightly-oiled heavy skillet on medium heat. Stir the noodles to keep them from sticking and, after 2 minutes, add the 2 cups of broth and 1-2 tablespoons of the curry paste from the fridge, depending on how flavorful you want the noodles on their own. Cook for another minute, stirring constantly, and remove from heat, covering them until you’re ready to serve.
  13. Once everything’s ready on the grill, plate the noodles, bring ‘em on outside, and top them with the vegetables and tofu.
  14. Now take a serving spoon and dress with as much curry sauce as you like straight from the grill. You’re ready to eat! Feel free to visit your nice, cool kitchen for naps, card games and the like.

Until next time, here’s wishing you a delightfully deconstructed summer!


Troy Farmer Learn more about contriuter, Troy Farmer!

4CV's French Lentil Roulade w/ Macadamia ‘Salata’ and Herb Vinaigrette

by featured contributor, Chef Matteo of 4CV

TableI had the pleasure of attending and documenting one of Chef Matteo’s 4 Course Vegan dinner-events recently. The events have been taking place in Williamsburg, Brooklyn since 2003, tucked away in an inconspicuous loft beneath the Williamsburg Bridge.

Matteo’s food and presentation are meticulous, sophisticated, and delicious – focusing on healthy, local, organic, vegan cuisine. The candle-lit, communal tables are a great way to meet people. Typically, this weekly event sells-out, so you must make reservations if you’d like to attend. I asked Matteo to share the recipe of my favorite dish from that evening. Enjoy!  – DB

French Lentil Roulade w/ Macadamia ‘Salata’ and Herb Vinaigrette (serves 6)


Macadamia ‘Salata’:
2 cups raw macadamias, soaked 12 hours
¼-½ cup rejuvelac
¼ tsp sea salt
Soak macadamias overnight for 12 hours. Drain and place in food processor fitted s-blade. Pulse to gently chop macadamias before adding ¼ cup rejuvelac. Process until macadamias are smooth. Place processed macadamias in a nut milk bag or cheesecloth and inside a colander. Put a 1 or 2 lb weight on top of macadamias and allow to ferment 12-24 hours. In a bowl, combine macadamia ‘salata’ and sea salt. Mix and refrigerate.

½ cup French lentils, sorted and rinsed
2 cups water
2 tbsp wheat-free tamari
pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, diced small
pinch of black pepper and sea salt
1 tbsp minced cilantro
In small sauce pan, combine lentils, water, tamari, and sea salt. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until lentils are tender, about 20-25 minutes. Drain lentils and set aside. Meanwhile, heat extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots, salt and pepper and cook until shallots are soft, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and add cilantro and lentils. Stir to combine flavors and set aside until ready to assemble roulades.


¼ cup buckwheat flour
2 tbsp brown rice flour
2 tbsp tapioca flour
½ tbsp arrowroot powder
pinch of sea salt
1 cup nut milk
½ tbsp minced chives
grapeseed oil for coking crepes
Combine buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, tapioca flour, arrowroot powder and sea salt in bowl. Stir to mix. Add nut milk and whisk until smooth. Stir in the minced chives and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. Over medium-low heat, lightly grease a non-stick 6” sauté pan with grapeseed oil. Pour ¼ cup batter into pan and cook until golden brown, about 1 minute. Flip crepe and cook on other side for an additional minute until cooked through. Repeat with remaining batter. Cover crepes with kitchen towel until ready to use.


½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp prepared mustard
2 tsp agave nectar
¼ tsp minced garlic
pinch of black pepper and sea salt
1 tsp minced oregano
½ tsp minced thyme
Blend extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard, agave, garlic, salt and pepper until smooth and creamy. Whisk in oregano and thyme.

1 oz baby mustard greens, washed and dried
2 tsp toasted sesame seeds


Lay one crepe flat on a clean surface. Evenly spread 2½ tbsp macadamia ‘salata’ on the crepe. Sprinkle 2 tbsp French lentils over the macadamia ‘salata’. Take the nearest edge of the crepe and roll it up using the macadamia ‘salata’ to seal the overlapping edges together. Trim the ends to make it uniform and neat. Slice crepe in half on bias. Set in the middle of a plate with the bias’ opposing each other. Repeat with remaining crepes.

Toss mustard greens with 2 tbsp herb vinaigrette. Evenly divide the greens amongst the plates placing them on top of the crepe. On each plate, sprinkle 1 tbsp of French lentils over the greens and drizzle with 1 tbsp herb vinaigrette. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately.


Chef Matteo aims to bridge communities through organic, gourmet, vegan fare, in hopes of facilitating increased mindfulness and compassion in and of the living.