Sam Neill on Red Meat Evolution

Sam Neill, winemaker and actor known for his role as Dr Alan Grant in Jurassic Park I and III, was the frontman for the Meat and Livestock Australia red meat campaign in March this year. The “Foundtion” campaign, designed to coincide with the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, argues that humans are designed to eat red meat. The tagline, “Red Meat – We Were Meant To Eat It”, is used in the context of anthropological, archaeological and evolutionary nutrient studies. With a style reminiscent of his role in the 2002 BBC documentary Space, Sam Neill appears in two television commercials, ‘Evolution’ and ‘Library’. Predictably, vegetarians have not been impressed by the Red Meat campaign.

Sam Neill in Red Meat Evolution television commercial

Sam Neill in Red Meat Evolution television commercial

The 60 second “Evolution” ad begins with Sam Neill jumping down from a bare tree in a white desert. As he walks through the barren landscape he gives us a lecture on meat eating. “Over two million years ago our ancestors took a giant leap. They jumped out of the trees and started to eat red meat. The natural proteins helped our brain grow. Hunting forced us to think. Red meat was helping us come to be.” Neill enters a portal into the twenty first century, a door opening into a butcher’s shop, to observe two women choosing their red meat. “We instinctively desire red meat for its nutrients. Omega 3s, zinc, iron, B12 provided us with vitality and wellbeing.” The next scene has Neill emerging from the bushes to the sounds of ominous music. A touch of Jurassic Park perhaps? He walks up to the window of a family dining room to observe a family feasting on lamb chops. “Lean red meat three or four times a week is still an essential part of the diet of the most highly developed species on the planet.” In a close up Neill says, “Red meat. We were meant to eat it.” The spot finishes with Neill dancing in the desert with actors from the commercial in a scene reminiscent of the dancing butchers.

This 30 second “Library” spot features Sam Neill in a school library. “When our early ancestors Homo Habilis started to eat red meat our brains began to grow. Today lean red meat is just as important. Its nutrients, Omega 3s, iron, B12 are still essential for brain development. If Homo Habilis hadn’t eaten red meat our brains wouldn’t be the size they are today.” A girl who has just walked over to the bookcase, and brought back a book, says, “But here it says Homo Rudolfensis.” Neill looks into the camera knowingly and says, “Red meat. We were meant to eat it.” The ad finishes with Neill dancing the mambo with schoolkids on the school steps.


The advertising series was designed by advertising agency The Campaign Palace/Red Cell, Sydney, by creative director Paul Fishlock, copywriter Yanni Pounartzis, art director Dean Hunt, agency producer Meredyth Judd.

Filming was directed by David Deneen via Filmgraphics, Sydney, with producer Anna Fawcett and director of photography Peter Tischhauser. Editor was Sue Schweikert.

Music was produced at Nylon Studios.

  • Wayno

    Thank you so much for posting all of this information here. Ever since I first saw the “Library” ad I thought “What the hell is that girl saying?”. It sounds like she’s saying “But here is says homerudellfrancis”. What the hell is homerudellfrancis? But now thanks to this page, I’ve found out exactly what she was saying. Damn it’s hard to understand some kids.

  • Ldog

    i couldn’t agree more with Wayno, that girl is damn hard to understand! i din’t know what the hell she was saying. thanks

  • P-man

    I hate those ads, they are ridiculous. My respect for Sam Neill has evaporated.

  • ackinz

    I love these ads…. I heart Sam Neill forever.

  • Combine_Dave

    I love these ads.

    It helps that they are scientifically accurate (to an extent).

    Sam Neil also manages to play the knowledgable and intelligent guy so well.

  • wendy

    exactly what is it arguing against?
    or healthy eating?

    i dont like these ads.

  • Hannah

    These adds are great! Sam Neil is brilliant.
    There is actually another add called ‘Instinct’.

  • Sarah

    These ads are garbage. They mislead consumers in the same way cigarette advertising once did.
    Many carnivores have been hunting and eating red meat for millions of years and have not experienced any significant growth in brain size. Our brain size is a matter of genetics – like the other physiological developments which make us distinctively human.
    In any case, human brains started to grow one or two million years ago. Because meat eating doesn’t come naturally to us, unlike other meat-eaters, humans need control of fire to consume significant amounts of meat. We gained control over fire about 800,000 years ago – leaving at least 1,000,000 years, maybe double that, of human brain growth before we began hunting on a widespread basis.
    In fact, over thousands of years, most human beings most of the time had very limited access to meat. This only changed in the last 50 years.
    Since World War II, when high volume meat consumption became available to the masses, meat-related diseases like heart disease and colon cancer have skyrocketed – precisely because over thousands of years our bodies have still not adapted to this diet.
    If our bodies were adapted to a diet high in red meat, then eating red meat wouldn’t produce colon cancer. It’s really that simple!
    The fact is, our physical characteristics are shared with other plant-eaters and distinctly different to those of meat-eaters.
    Like other herbivores, we have flat teeth for grinding, not sharp teeth for ripping flesh; fingernails, not claws; and long intestines in which – frankly – meat has time to go rancid. Just compare our teeth and claws to those of cats, dogs, lions and tigers and ask yourself if our bodies are “made for meat”.
    “This is why your body instinctively desires red meat for health and wellbeing.
    If your body “instictively desires red meat for health and wellbeing”, then like other carnivores, you should desire your meat raw.
    And why do we prefer eating cows or pigs than dogs or cats – as a great source of red meat, shouldn’t our furry friends have us salivating?
    If your body desires meat instinctively, then you should come out of an abbattoir feeling appetised.
    Actually, given that meat-eating is a habit ingrained for generations and fostered in most of us since we’re babies, it’s amazing how quickly this acquired taste dies out. After being vegetarian for as little as 5 or 10 years, most people find the taste, smell and texture of meat disgusting. Quite amazing how quickly we revert to our instictive tastes.
    “Today, red meat still remains an important part of the diet. Lean red meat has an impressive bundle of nutrients: Omega 3s to help keep the heart in good shape and to support brain function Zinc to help maintain the immune system Vitamin B12 to help protect DNA and the nervous system Iron to carry oxygen in the blood for energy and vitality Protein to help satisfy the appetite for longer and help control hunger pangs.
    Yes, Omega 3s, Zinc, Iron, Vitamin B12 and Protein are vital to human health. And yes, they are contained in red meat.
    However, the ads neglect to mention that all of the above are readily found in meatless diets – which don’t, however, share the nutritional negatives of meat – such as cholesterol, saturated fat and high levels of oxidants. By the way, animal protein has been directly linked to cancer- a very interesting study can be found at that is worth a look. The only safe form of protein is that derived from vegetable sources.
    In fact, there’s more iron in 100g of raisins than there is in 100g of beef steak. (Yes, contrary to popular belief! It pays to check your facts!)
    And it’s not just a numbers game. Nutrients which are found in high quantities in a meat-based diet, such as protein and iron, can cause serious health problems if you eat too much. And most people in Western countries, because of their high meat consumption, do eat several times too much.
    It’s also the form of the nutrients which matters, and which differs in meat versus plant foods. For example, the iron in red meat produces compounds which cause DNA damage which leads to cancer.
    Trying to meet your dietary requirements for things like iron, protein, omega-3, vitamins and zinc by eating meat can be very dangerous!
    “It’s no wonder the Australian Dietary Guidelines continue to recommend we enjoy lean red meat 3-4 times every week. After all, that’s the way nature intended it.”
    The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend that Australians choose LEAN meats, because of the serious health risks associated with the cholesterol and saturated fats in meat. Recognising that most Australians do eat meat, the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend quantities which represent a reduction of meat consumption for most people.

    Remember, all that is aside from the obvious ethical considerations of meat eating.

  • howard

    The above comment is greatly appreciated. Thank you, Sarah. I’ve been a vegetarian for about 2 years and feel that this is the greatest lifestyle one can have, both for health reasons, as was intelligently evidenced above, and for animal rights. I used to enjoy some meat in my diet, and thought that it tasted good. But simply examining my actions and motives, I soon realized that a little pleasure for myself is greatly outweighed by the enormous suffering of animals.

    Before I was a vegetarian, I ate red meat quite rarely, chicken or fish a few times a week. I had fairly good blood pressure and fairly good cholesterol (albeit, not as good as now). But i have no doubts that my health was impaired as a result. Among other negatives, I’m certain that I was consuming regular doses of bacteria and toxins when i consumed meat in my diet.

    I agree that the human is not designed to be a meat eater. This is evidenced by our digestive tracts, teeth, nails and jaw which is designed for grinding( look at the dog or cat jaw for comparison). I also don’t think that most people can slaughter their own animals, but they still have no problem having others do it for them. These people, although inherently kind are being dishonest to themselves. As for those who regularly hunt for their food, these people are, to me, more primitive by nature. Hunting animals for food, although wrong, is still many orders better than supporting the factory farm in which animals live out a miserable existence.

    I think that the evolution of man and the human mind will tend toward a plant based diet. Unfortunately, I doubt vegetarianism will catch on substantially in my lifetime. I do believe, however, that it is the enlightened path.

  • katy

    the little girl says homo rudolfensis, google it and look in the wikipedia!!

  • mike

    Thanks Kate though I believe we got that from the word for word quote supplied on this site :p I believe what Wayno was thanking the creator of this page for was supplying the quote. It does sound like the little girl is saying ‘homerudellfrancis’ or similar. I googled 20 variations of what it could have been she was saying but didnt get anywhere (my first try was homorodelfrances). It wasn’t until I typed word for what Sam Neil said that I thankfully came across this page.. and could finally go to sleep. Even if that little girl could pronounce the name correctly what layperson would know what the hell it means… I’ve been eating meat for 30 years and I didn’t know (not eating enough maybe?). Come on… Seriously!! We aren’t all Archaeologist (or want to be). When was the last time you used ‘Pliocene’ or ‘Phylum Chordata’ in a sentence?

    Thanks for your comments Sarah. My previous understanding was that the ‘thumb’ (allowing us to create tools and write) and then eating ‘fish’ (rich in DHA and iodine) us what caused the development of our brains. In 500 years do you think they will say the reason for the next evolution of the brain was due to google? Or maybe from eating raisins 🙂

  • Marie Carew

    Predictably hunters will deny the fact that you do not need fish or meat to enhance your brain power but it is true.
    The Science Daily Journal announced that the Omega-3 fatty acids — found in walnuts and kiwi fruit — provide many benefits, including improving learning and memory and helping to fight against such mental disorders as depression and mood disorders, schizophrenia, and dementia while green leafy vegetables, whole grains, dry roasted nuts and seeds, Avocados, fresh coconut, and extra virgin olive oil are also good sources of fat for optimal brain health.