Vegan myth busting: Lions eat other animals… so humans should, too

Read Time:   |  7th December 2022

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Just because lions eat meat, doesn't mean that humans should too. We bust the common myth that vegans are tired of hearing.


Many meat eaters defend their diet to vegans by comparing themselves to natural predators. “We’re at the top of the food chain,” they say. “Look at lions!” they say. Ok, let’s look at lions.

An excellent example–let’s compare the way a natural predator like a lion feeds themselves on meat they’ve killed using their hunting prowess and bare claws– and the way your average westerner will stroll into a supermarket and buy a sanitised pre–packaged, pre–butchered piece of factory–reared animal.

Vegans are not suggesting that lions stop eating meat: they are suggesting people stop eating meat. For a start lions are obligate carnivores–they need meat to live. Humans do not–in fact there is
a huge amount of physiological evidence to suggest we are natural herbivores.

As Dr. Richard Leakey, a renowned anthropologist, said: “You can’t tear flesh by hand, you can’t tear hide by hand. Our anterior teeth are not suited for tearing flesh or hide. We don’t have large canine teeth, and we wouldn’t have been able to deal with food sources that require those large canines.”

The justification of humans eating meat because animals do it in nature is an example of what is philosophically referred to as ‘appeal to nature’. This is the idea that something is assumed to be good because it happens in nature.

But the ‘naturalness’ of an activity has no bearing on its moral virtue–especially the virtues human beings have built as part of co–existing in society. As human beings we have developed the complex moral codes that allow us to co–exist in society.

Lions are obligate carnivores – they need meat to live. Humans do not. Image credit: Cat Bell

Lions are obligate carnivores – they need meat to live. Humans do not. Image credit: Cat Bell


Lions do a number of things humans would find unacceptable. Killing the top lion in a pride before killing the offspring is just one. It is as absurd to say: “Lions eat meat, we should eat meat,” as it would be to say: “Lions kill babies to take over prides. We should kill babies too.”

As American actor and vegan Richie Kul said: “In the animal kingdom, we two legged folk certainly got the long end of the stick, so why not be caretakers of our fellow creatures rather than ruthless exploiters of them?

“When whole swaths of people from Hindus in India to strict Buddhists in Taiwan have demonstrated the ability to live full and vital lives based on a vegetarian diet, why be the perpetrators of needless suffering if it can be easily avoided?

“The lion may need to kill the gazelle to live another day, but humans can survive just fine without butchering Babe, Nemo, or the gang from Chicken Run.”

Basically there is no comparison. Driven by instinct, a lion will use hunting skills to take down an animal. It is a totally natural circle of life, miles away from the unnatural and wasteful system of industrial meat production, where animals are artificially conceived, reared, and slaughtered in their thousands.

Looking for cruelty-free alternatives to meat that have the same taste and texture? Try these vegan seitan recipes!

Featured image credit: Blair Costelloe via Adobe Stock

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Vegan Food & Living

Vegan Food & Living is a magazine dedicated to celebrating the vegan lifestyle. Every issue is packed with 75 tasty recipes, plus informative features.

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