As the title says... Lions don't get sick even though they eat raw flesh but it is generally accepted that raw meat is disease ridden and will give humans illness. ... Why?


Humans can eat raw meat without much issue, generally. Raw seafood is common, as is beef. Go to Japan and you'll find sashimi made of pork and chicken too.

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There are great benefits to cooking it, though, so we do. Don't confuse what we are used to doing with an actual requirement though :)

One of the most important pieces of this is the fact that they're eating raw meat from wild animals. Most of our meat comes from factory farms, which pack animals in tightly and result in environments that promote the spread of disease.

Then when you add in that slaughterhouses are not nearly as hygienic as they should be, it's not uncommon to find unpleasant bacteria on the outsides of cuts of meat. The longer it takes for the meat to get to the consumer, the more the bacteria has multiplied and the more potential for it to spread disease.

So essentially, there's a world of difference between raw meat from a fresh kill, and raw packaged meat from factory farm-raised animals. The latter is much more conducive for significant bacterial growth.

But with those examples, aren't we still really careful about picking meat that isn't infected with parasites?

Their bodies have adapted to a diet that subsists largely of raw meat, and it is typically as fresh as raw meat can possibly get... spoilage is at a minimum for them. Humans have been cooking their meat for tens of thousands of years, and at this point raw meat has minimal appeal to us. There are a few small exceptions (sushi is what immediately comes to mind), but they're outliers that don't directly correlate to the typical human dietary experience.

On the other hand, there are foods that we eat and enjoy that other species cannot. I'm sure there are some foods lions would not be able to eat without getting massively sick, that we tolerate with ease. (I'm thinking of what happens to dogs when they eat chocolate as an example for that comment.)

Another thing not already mentioned is that a lion's digestive tract is significantly different than that of a human.

Lions are carnivores. Humans are not. We're omnivores, so we have to have a digestive tract that's adapted to eating both meat and plant matter. A carnivore's digestive tract is significantly shorter than ours, which allows for a much more rapid elimination of digested waste, so it has far less time to spoil or to breed colonies of harmful bacteria. A carnivore's stomach acid is also significantly more powerful than human stomach acid (IIRC, human stomach pH is somewhere around 4, but a carnivore's is 1 or approaching 1), which kills most known food-borne pathogens.

I had discussed this with someone once, but about wolves, not lions. They said the difference in digestive systems, especially that a canine's digestive tract is shorter and almost a straight shot, food doesn't sit there for long periods and have a chance to ferment or for bacteria to proliferate. In humans, what is eaten has to go through a pretty long route and dwells in our intestines long enough to cause problems if what is eaten is contaminated.

humans eat raw meat all the time. its just that when we discovered fire and started cooking meat, it made it easier for us to digest, and also made it less likely to make us sick.

Humans are capable of eating raw meat. Sushi, rare meat, prosciutto (spelling?) are all example of raw meat. Cooking meat is really good in terms of denaturing some of the proteins and increasing the availability of some nutrients to our bodies. Also it tastes good.

True. Though I think the case of proscuitto would be a bit different, since salting and curing achieve some of the same results as cooking: Preventing bacterial growth and breaking down proteins--and making food delicious.

And now I'm thinking of ceviche, raw shrimp or fish that is "cooked" by acid, like lemon juice. The proteins get denatured too, just by acid instead of heat.

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If you believe humans cannot eat raw meat, you probably have never had Mett (raw ground pork usually served with raw onions) or Steak tartare (minced beef filet with raw eggs and pickles). Stuff is delicious and in my opinion much more tasty than bacon.