Sunday, August 19, 2007

What do the top brains eat?

What do some of the smartest people in Britian eat? Out of the 6 people interviewed, 2 of them are vegetarians, 1 is a non-committed vegetarian, 1 of them might be a vegetarian(it wasn't clear in the interview). But for one of the non-vegetarians, his young daughter is a vegetarian.

Some excerpts from the interview:

Professor AC Grayling - Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck University, London (vegetarian)
"I am a vegetarian now and have been for about 30 years. I must have become one in my late twenties, and it was quite a process. I spent a long time thinking about it, considering the pros and cons, before I came to a decision that, for me, is part ethical and part aesthetic. For a short while, smoked salmon was an honorary vegetable; I found it a little bit difficult to give that up. But when I became completely vegetarian, about two weeks after I last had any meat or fish, I was going for a walk in Regent's Park and feeling absolutely wonderful, full of energy and clarity and light. And I was thinking to myself, 'What's going to go wrong now?' But that feeling of energy and lightness has stayed with me ever since."

Professor Steve Jones - Professor of Genetics at University College, London (vegetarian)
"I'm also a vegetarian now and have been pretty much since I went to teach at the University of Botswana in the mid-Seventies. On my first day in the country I ended up with a group of students at the largest slaughterhouse in the southern hemisphere. Botswana is a very big cattle-rearing country and we went to this very well-run place - these poor cows going 'Moo' and getting shot and then opening them up to look for gut parasites. I am a biologist, I've cut up plenty of animals, so it doesn't really worry me - I was splitting them open, pulling out tapeworms. But I kept hearing these heavy thumps and, I turned around, it was the students fainting: donk, donk, donk. I suddenly thought, 'You know something, I don't think I'm going to eat meat again', and I never have."

Radha Jain - under-9 chess champion (not clear from the interview, though I thought Jains should be vegetarians)
"There are also lots of vegetarian dishes, which is good because of my religion - I'm a Jain, and we do not believe in killing animals."

Professor Robert Winston - Emiritus Professor of Fertility at Imperial College, London (non-vegetarian whos daughter is a vegetarian)
"My daughter, Tania, has been a vegetarian since she was four-and-a-half - I served her fish fingers and she turned around and said, 'I can't eat that. Fish swim' - and she is very strong-willed. So I will be barbecuing some meaty thing for the family and Tania will have her own vegetarian section. And she will come and be a shomer too, to make sure that I am handling her vegetables with different utensils. She really is very strict."

Dr Alice Roberts (She says she is a vegetarian, but isn't too committed from what I see)
"They are great proponents of the Slow Food movement and organic produce, and there are loads of options if you're a vegetarian, which I have been since I was 18. After I made up my mind to become vegetarian, I went on holiday to Greece and ate a lot of lamb - because I absolutely love the way they cook lamb in Greece - and then I came home and gave up meat.

However, in May, Dave and I found a deer on the road that had been knocked down and killed. We rang some friends who turned up and we lifted it into the boot. The following day, we went around to Nick and Miranda's, where they had hung the deer in their garage. Using my anatomical skills, and being careful to avoid the hundreds of ticks, we gutted the deer into a wheelbarrow. Some days later we went back to skin it and cut it up, so there's now a pile of venison in Nick and Miranda's freezer, and we're planning a roadkill dinner party. I'm wrestling with the idea of eating this meat, as there doesn't seem to be any ethical objection: I wasn't responsible for the animal's death and I have always enjoyed the taste of meat. But I'm worried that I might like it too much.

Although the process of converting the dead animal into joints of meat was a messy, mechanical business, there was also something quite moving about it. At the moment, I have no idea if I'll eat it. I imagine I will decide on the day."

News source:,,2149132,00.html


Edanator said...

Great! We need more smart and/or educated vegetarians/vegans. I've been looking for people like this for a long time, but all the "famous vegetarians" lists seem to focus mostly on Hollywood celebrities.

We need more vegetarian/vegan athletes and geniuses on these lists to combat the most persistent myths about us and our diets.

"Where do you get your protein?"
"You don't get enough omega-3 in your diet" (implying that you'll become stupid)

Another clever vegetarian scientist is Brian Green, author and string-theory legend (physics so advanced most other physicists have no clue what's up).

Edanator said...

Have to add:
As a scientist, I can tell that vegetarians are a sad minority. I've been to huge conferences where I'm the only non meat-eater. (I'm sure the same heavily meat/milk-centric food would be served at a climate change conference which is kind of ironic.) Fortunately, the rise of Indian economy has led to a new generation Indian scientists coming up, and many of them are vegetarians.

Anonymous said...

My child is a vegetarian by birth and had identified as gifted in the gifted education programme screening test in school (among the 550 of out of est. 50000 children born in that year, in the range of top 1%)

Shvetha said...

Hi Dreamy,
Wanted to add my 2c on the Alice Roberts issue- (I might be wrong here)- the fact that she considers eating venison from the deer that they found dead on the road does not really go against veganism since as she mentioned, she didn't kill the animal. As vegans the last thing we would want to condone is eating meat but in this scenario I guess it probably wouldn't be ethically wrong.
Or is it?

Edanator said...

Well, first of all, eating roadkill is gross. Second, if people start to eat roadkill as some kind of "vegan sympathetic meat" it won't be long until reinforced cars will speed along the roads in hope of a high-speed impact with nature. Car-hunting!

urban vegan said...

We need to start our own mensa society.

Anonymous said...

My friend who's a certified mensa member is vegetarian :)

dreamy said...

Eda, we are counting on you to win the nobel prize :)

That is great anonymous, another addition to boost smart vegetarians.

Shvetha, roadkills die of accident, so I guess ethically it's not wrong, but Eda had a good point on car hunting too. Sometimes we hear questions such as "when u are trapped on an island and there's some animal who died naturally will u eat it?" I must say though it is tempting, I probably will not eat it, just like if it was a human who died naturally we probably dun eat their flesh.

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