By Heidi Pashman
Updated: July 25, 2013

Vegetarians, be warned: The reason that we're not just another species of monkeys may be thanks to our consumption of (dun, dun, dun!) meat.

That's right, anthropologists and scientists have contributed meat-eating to be one factor in why we have such highly developed brains.

The recent discovery of a skull fragment unearthed in Tanzania shows that our ancestors were actively hunting and eating meat as many as 1.5 million years ago!

This is yet another stepping stone in solidifying that meat could have contributed to our significantly more-developed brains. In fact, chimpanzees, our distant cousins, consume small amounts of meat and have much smaller brains than humans. Charles Musiba, Ph.D., associate professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado Denver and one of the researchers, also confirmed in a press release that meat-eating is associated with brain development.

But just because meat was so vital to our evolution doesn't mean it has the same place in our diets today. It's widespread knowledge that meat has received a lot of rap, but the jury is still out on whether or not complete elimination of meat is the healthiest option for everyone. Some say flexitarianism, or a semi-vegetarian diet, allows you to be nutritionally conscious without going cold-turkey (ba-dum ching!).

If you are thinking about joining (or already belong to) the meatless club, here are a few more tips on how to stay healthy and stave off the pounds on the diet from nutrition expert Cynthia Sass.



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