Homo sapiens is a predatory species, in fact the apex predator on the entire planet: we eat bears and sharks. The apes who preceded us were opportunistic feeders who ate small animals when they could catch them, but we began to differentiate ourselves from the other ape species when we developed the Paleolithic technology of flint blades. This allowed us to become productive scavengers, scraping the meat off of the bones left by the predators. This increase in the protein content of our diet supported the evolution of larger brains. (Maintaining brain tissue takes a lot of protein, which is why dogs, who evolved to be omnivores, have smaller brains than wolves, who are still hunters.) Larger brains accelerated our invention of new technologies, and before long we had the spears and other tools to become true hunters. Eating meat instead of leaves led to a tremendous shortening of our intestinal tract, which no longer needed the symbiotic bacterial culture for digesting cellulose that is the hallmark of herbivorous mammals. This was a sweet life. Herbivores spend most of their time finding food and eating it. Meat is a much richer source of nutrition and hunters spend most of their time sleeping. It takes about three hours to get a day's supply of nutrients by chewing up raw meat, but eventually we learned the technology of controlled fire and began cooking our meat, which made for much shorter meals. It's estimated that at the zenith of the Paleolithic Era, the average human spent only 25 hours a week "working"--hunting, dressing meat, cooking it and serving it up, plus a little time gathering herbs, nuts and fruits. This is more than you ever wanted to know about cavemen, but I want you to understand how ingrained hunting and eating meat is in our species. We've spent a couple of million years evolving and passing down the instincts that make up a predatory lifestyle. This only changed twelve thousand years ago, an eyeblink on the evolutionary timeline. The Agricultural Revolution was the development of the twin technologies of farming and animal husbandry, so we no longer had to go out and chase down our dinner. But twelve thousand years is less than a thousand generations for our slowly maturing species, hardly enough time for genetically programmed instincts to mutate to match the development of our rapidly-changing civilization. Deep down inside, every one of us is still a caveman, and cavemen are hunters. So the proper question is not, "Why do so many humans still like to hunt?" (Especially men, since it's assumed on the basis of flimsy evidence and a lot of chest-beating that we were the hunters while the women gathered.) What we should be asking is, "Why have so many of us lost the instinct to hunt, or at least learned to ignore it, in such an amazingly short time?" Until very recently, it was assumed that dogs self-domesticated because wolves and humans hunted the same territory and kept running into each other's packs, and we both quickly realized that we had different strengths and weaknesses that would make our efforts much more efficient if we cooperated: their speed and their sense of smell, our planning and our ability to make and throw pointed sticks. In this version of prehistory, humans and dogs have been hunting together for millennia, so it's a venerable old relationship. But new archeological information tells us that dogs in fact self-domesticated after the Agricultural Revolution, at the dawn of the Neolithic Era in Mesopotamia. They were attracted to our villages by our bountiful, fragrant garbage piles, and we were happy to let them clean up after us. Their night vision helped keep us safe from prowling beasts, and the young of both species had more fun playing together than perhaps any animals had ever had in the history of this planet. Nonetheless, agriculture was slow to develop and hunting was an important source of food for a long time, so even in this version of prehistory humans probably took their dogs on hunting trips. Yeah, but if you want to talk about abusive treatment of animals destined to be eaten, "factory farming" and kosher and halal slaughtering make bow hunters look like angels of mercy. As I said, we have to practice cognitive dissonance in order to eat the meat we buy in the grocery store without crying. California recently passed an initiative measure requiring commercial meat producers to increase the amount of space each animal has. This is a step in the right direction. Otherwise it's pretty difficult to take a stand against the vegans--my only genuine problem with them is that I simply can't stand the food they want us to eat. I'm a carnivore and I have the teeth and pathetically short intestine to prove it.