Humans are not herbivores

 

An image that constantly circulates in various places is this:

 

05_Humans_Are_Frugivores_750

As much as I agree with veganism, distorting facts to make a point is not the way to go. In fact, it’s counterproductive.

Definitions

 Herbivore

An herbivore is an organism that feed exclusively or mainly on plants. Herbivores typically have adaptations towards a specialization of eating and digesting plant matter. This could include but is neither limited to nor has to have flatter teeth to grind plant matter, long intestines, gut microbiome to digest cellulose and other hard-to-digest parts of plants.

 Carnivore

A carnivore is an organism that feed exclusively or mainly on animal tissue. As herbivores they typically have adaptations towards specialization of eating animal tissue such as sharp teeth, short gut and some way of capturing prey, such as claws, ability to sprint or venom.

 Omnivore

Omnivores are organisms that feed on both animal tissue and plants. There is no strict definition of how large portion of the diet that has to be, to be classified as omnivore. Omnivores typically lack specializations to either animal or plants, and have more intermediate traits.

Classifications

Class of diet is not a taxonomic taxon – that is a unit in biological classifications (the science of taxonomy) such as genus or species. Carnivora however, is a taxon; it includes among others felines and bears. Not all members of Carnivora are carnivores. It includes carnivores, omnivores and herbivores.

The herbivore, carnivore and omnivore diet classifications is a classification based on what diet an animal generally have, not what it could have. Neither does it reflect evolutionary relationships, even though they might correlate in some instances.

A clear example how this is true is that you’ll find carnivores that are cats, fungi, worms and even plants.

Within biology, humans are clearly regarded as omnivores (Ley et al., 2008).

Evolution

Before we get into evolutionary arguments. Let’s just get some common misconceptions clear first. Humans did not evolve from the chimpanzee or any other now-living primate. Humans didn’t evolve from great apes to be something else; we are great apes – or Hominidae. Humans share a common ancestor with chimpanzees, actually humans share common ancestors with every single organism ever existed if you go back long enough. Since chimpanzees and humans are closely related, humans share a much more recent ancestor with chimpanzees than for example a horse.

phylo

In the image above, the species A, B and C is different species. A and B is more closely related than A and C, and B and C. Where the arrow points is the most recent common ancestor between A and B. That doesn’t mean that A evolved from B, but that A and B evolved from an ancestral species that diverged into A and B. This species didn’t look neither like A nor B. At the very root of the tree lived a species that is the common ancestor between A, B and C. One important point though is that A, B and C are equally distant from the species at the root of the tree.

Lastly, and this might be the most important one: Evolution is not teleological. Evolution does not have a purpose, aim or goal. There is no such thing as more evolved or de-evolution. Humans are not more evolved than chimpanzees; we just diverged in different direction. The quantitative unit of evolution is time, and as far as I know humans has not evolved longer than chimpanzees. Evolution is the change of living organisms over time that depend on many factors, but a lot less chance than some people think, and no planning ahead what so ever. No are created to be food.

Human evolution = loss of sanity

What I mean with that subtitle is that, when people reflect over human evolution to construct an argument, often they lose the ability to view the human species objectively and transform humans into something completely separated from the rest of the vast number of species on earth. Humans are unique, but so are every single species on earth. Some people even claim that human evolution has stopped, and that of course is utterly ridiculous.

I’d like to present something I’d like to call the ‘Alien David Attenborough thought experiment‘: Imagine that you are an alien biologist travelling from a distant planet to study life on earth (I like to use David Attenborough’s voice to narrate this, that’s all). You study all the different species, describing behavior, diet and appearance. When you start describing humans, what diet would you assign humans to have? What behaviors would you ascribe humans? If I would do it, I would certainly not say: “Homo sapiens diet has for thousands of years included meat in some populations, and less in some, but really, they are made for fruit” neither would I say: “Humans live in artificial buildings and wear fabric clothing, this is however a very unnatural state for the Homo sapiens species”. I think that this could be a nice strategy to get away from an anthropocentric prison of mind.

The ancestors of Homo sapiens cooked their food, cooking has been around for approximately a million year (that is around 500 000 years longer than the human species has existed) (Berna et al., 2012; Organ, Nunn, Machanda, & Wrangham, 2011). Traces of humans eating meat is also ancient and seems to have been around for as long as our species existed (Pobiner, 2013). One of our closest relatives the chimpanzee also eats an omnivorus diet with mainly fruits, but occasionally eats animals (McGrew, 1983).

Reflecting to my previous discussion, saying that meat-eating is unnatural because we need to cook it (which we don’t) is a flawed argument. Likewise is the claim that we need to be able to hunt down grazing prey with our bare hands,kill and eat it raw a flawed argument. Due to our highly developed brain, we don’t need that, we find other ways. That trait is no stranger than a lions teeth.

The whole idea of finding an ancient diet that we are “made” for, is just absurd, we are not exactly the same as pre-historic humans. The changes in our environment have led to several adaptations regarding diet. For example, mammals give their young mother’s milk (that is the very definition of mammal). This stops at a certain age and the offspring is able to eat as their parents. Milk contains lactose and mammals have an enzyme called lactase to digest lactose. When the child stops receiving milk, the expression of this enzyme is turned off. However, in some human populations this enzyme remains active through adulthood, which is referred to as lactase persistence. This is thought to be an adaptation to the habit of drinking milk from domesticated animals (Tishkoff et al., 2007).

A different relatively recent human adaptation is a duplication of the gene AMY1 that encodes an enzyme called amylase that digests starch. Duplication of genes typically result in an increased production of the enzyme, thus this is hypothesized as being an adaptation to the use of agriculture which would increase the amount of starch in the diet (Perry et al., 2007). For these adaptations we are talking about, we are in a time frame of ~10 000 years.

Here I really like to emphasize that the naturalistic fallacy of equating a ‘is’ with a ‘should’, is something we really should avoid. The fact that humans have eaten meat and drinking milk is no argument that we should, unless we had to (we don’t).

Cherry picking

I feel that this deserves an own paragraph to just think a bit about cherry picking. The image this discussion started from is guilty of cherry picking on several points. So what is cherry picking? Usually multiple data sets or data points exists in a particular case. For example, global warming, many research groups around the world has published articles with data measuring the effect of global warming. Since data contains noise and bias in addition to signal, the data will fluctuate in varying degree. If one has a specific viewpoint and then choose only to look at the data that verifies that viewpoint, and disregard data that is contradictory without relating to it is cherry picking. Look at this plot here:

cherry

If a cherry picker chooses only to look at the data points where the arrow points, the cherry picker might miss the general upward trend. The second point is an outlier and might be just due to noise.

This is why we in science do meta analysis and repeat experiments by other groups to verify results before they even come close to be regarded as facts.

Cherry picking is basically confirmation bias in practice, but also it is related to anecdotal evidence, where a person claims something based only on an anecdote. This is bad science, and something that is easy for everyone to fall into if one is not aware of the cognitive biases one has. But it’s a completely different thing to do it deliberately to prove a point. Yes, I’m looking at you alternative medicine promoters who use books by single “Dr”s as proof of ideas completely contradictory to everything we know.

Dissection

I’ve been building a theoretical background now for the case, which should apply for similar claims of humans being herbivores or “made for plants” or whatever, but let’s spend some time on this image:

05_Humans_Are_Frugivores_750

First of all, it is obvious that the point of this image is to try and show that humans are “frugivores” thus, more like the primate (which I really cannot identify the species of, not a primatologist). Please note that just due to shared evolutionary history, we will be more similar to a primate in many cases simply by that.

Secondly, frugivores are basically omnivores. Frugivores are usually used as a term for omnivores that feed on fruit. Most frugivores do not eat exclusively fruit. Anyway, orangutans are usually referred to as frugivorous. Take a look at this orangutan skeleton and look at those canines. Just as a contrast for that – cherry picked – image representing all frugivores.

Orang-Utan_Tournai

So let’s go down the table and just stop and thing at every row.

Physiological food: What the hell is that? A platonic diet?

Hands/legs: Is this reflecting adaptation towards specific diets? I think not.

Walking: Well this is obviously cherry picked to fit the idea. These walking styles are in no way representative of diet. Some primates walk upright, and many primates are omnivores.

Mouth opening: Again, is this evidence for specialization? The image tries to imply that only meat eaters have large mouths, what about hippos?

Teeth: Human teeth look neither like an herbivore or a carnivore. Again, cherry picking away, what would happen if you used a panda as representative of herbivore teeth?

Chewing: This behavior is clearly related to what type of food you are actually eating and not a fixed behavior that is a clear adaptation to specialization of food. Some foods needs to be chewed more to swallow.

Saliva: As discussed above, humans have adapted to eating starch from agriculture. Omnivores are expected to handle both vegetable matter and animal tissue, so this is nothing strange.

Urine: The urine is the body’s way of excreting waste products, regulating water balance and body pH levels. The pH is dependent on what one eats. A high protein diet is causing acidic urine; an animal does not have a carnivorous diet because it has acidic urine (Rose, Parker, Jefferson, & Cartmell, 2015).

Urate oxidase: Humans and other higher apes have this gene, but it’s not functional. Otherwise this is present in virtually all organisms. Apes are outliers in that sense.

Gastric acid: This is simply wrong. Human gastric acid has a pH of 1.5 – 3.5 which is highly acidic (Lehrer, 2014)

Fibers and cholesterol: This might be true, but it’s mainly carnivores that really need these traits. I don’t know if this is representative of the given groups, but from what you might notice, you shouldn’t trust the image.

Sweat: Humans are like omnivores in this sense even according to the image.

Intestines: As one might expect from an omnivore the intestines have an intermediate relative length between carnivores and herbivores.

Short alkaline colon: Here my guess would be that since a bear is chosen as a representative for omnivores – which are closely related to carnivorous polar bears, It might be the reason why omnivorous bears are biased towards carnivoury.

Cellulose: Humans are like omnivores in this sense even according to the image.

Digestion: As one might expect from an omnivore the digestion time according to the image is an intermediate between carnivores and herbivores.

With that being said, there are additional problems one would face if one would claim that humans aren’t omnivores. Humans are not able to synthesize sufficient b12 in the gut, neither can humans acquire b12 from any other source than animal origin or artificially fermented – supplements https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_B12 (accessed: 04/01/2016). Additionally humans absorb iron form heme-sources most efficiently. That food that contains blood (West & Oates, 2008).

I’ve said it earlier and I say it again. This is not an argument for not being vegan. Humans are omnivores, but can live on a completely vegan diet with the supplementation of B12 from fermentation. I think that trying to claim that humans are something else than omnivores are just counter productive since it’s quite easily debunked and we lose credibility. There are plenty of reasons to be vegan and still stick to what is true. This post is mainly focused on debunking the claim that humans are herbivores and should therefore eat only plants, but the post should qualify to debunk anyone claiming that humans are biological meat eaters and therefore should eat meat, likewise.

And hey! This is the longest ever debunking of a meme I ever done, and probably will do. Memes are stupid

References

Berna, F., Goldberg, P., Horwitz, L. K., Brink, J., Holt, S., Bamford, M., & Chazan, M. (2012). Microstratigraphic evidence of in situ fire in the Acheulean strata of Wonderwerk Cave, Northern Cape province, South Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , 109 (20 ), E1215–E1220. doi:10.1073/pnas.1117620109

Lehrer, J. K. (2014). Stomach acid test. Retrieved January 4, 2016, from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003883.htm

Ley, R. E., Hamady, M., Lozupone, C., Turnbaugh, P. J., Ramey, R. R., Bircher, J. S., … Gordon, J. I. (2008). Evolution of Mammals and Their Gut Microbes. Science , 320 (5883 ), 1647–1651. doi:10.1126/science.1155725

McGrew, W. C. (1983). Animal foods in the diets of wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes): Why cross-cultural variation? Journal of Ethology, 1(1-2), 46–61. doi:10.1007/BF02347830

Organ, C., Nunn, C. L., Machanda, Z., & Wrangham, R. W. (2011). Phylogenetic rate shifts in feeding time during the evolution of Homo. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , 108 (35 ), 14555–14559. doi:10.1073/pnas.1107806108

Perry, G. H., Dominy, N. J., Claw, K. G., Lee, A. S., Fiegler, H., Redon, R., … Stone, A. C. (2007). Diet and the evolution of human amylase gene copy number variation. Nat Genet, 39(10), 1256–1260. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng2123

Pobiner, B. (2013). Evidence for Meat-Eating by Early Humans. Nature Education Knowledge, 4(6), 1. Retrieved from http://www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/evidence-for-meat-eating-by-early-humans-103874273

Rose, C., Parker, A., Jefferson, B., & Cartmell, E. (2015). The Characterization of Feces and Urine: A Review of the Literature to Inform Advanced Treatment Technology. Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology, 45(17), 1827–1879. doi:10.1080/10643389.2014.1000761

Tishkoff, S. A., Reed, F. A., Ranciaro, A., Voight, B. F., Babbitt, C. C., Silverman, J. S., … Deloukas, P. (2007). Convergent adaptation of human lactase persistence in Africa and Europe. Nat Genet, 39(1), 31–40. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng1946

West, A. R., & Oates, P. S. (2008). Mechanisms of heme iron absorption: Current questions and controversies. World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG, 14(26), 4101–4110. doi:10.3748/wjg.14.4101

 

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187 thoughts on “Humans are not herbivores

    1. im sorry, but this does not at all proof that humans are omnivores. it merely shows that we dont have a clew if we are omnivores or herbivores, resectively it brings up some questions, why we could not be herbivores.
      about the panda example:
      because some animals that are herbivores look more like carnivores, it doesnt automatically mean that humans are also an exception (look like herbivores but are omnivores)
      it seems more like noone actually has a clew how omnivores or herbivores should usually look like. so how the fuck could you say what we are and what we are not??

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If you’re basing somebody’s intelligence on their spelling, then please just leave. Clearly your education was lacking if you think that’s a fair indicator of intellectual standing.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. You might not have understood the article, because of your stunning lack of intelligence (clew, seriously?) but they didn’t just mention how herbivores and omnivores look. They also mentioned a bunch of other things, but the most pertinent (you could check what that means in a dictionary, except I doubt you know what dictionary, or doubt means) would probably be that thing about B12. Read that part again. Now, chances are you still don’t understand it, so I’ll try and dumb it down for you. Humans need a certain amount of B12. Humans cannot make enough of it themselves. The only way to get enough is either animals, or artificially. Now, when homo sapiens first became a new species, by diverging from homo neanderthalensis 230,000 years ago, do you think they had the means of artificially producing B12? Although the question is rhetorical, I’m not sure you would actually get that, so I’ll specify that the answer is no. So that means the only way humans could get enough of the B12 they needed, they would need to eat animals. That means that animals were an essential part of the human diet. Do you know what that means? Humans aren’t herbivores you fucking moron.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. You might not want to call people morons and so forth when you don’t even know where B12 comes from. It’s not only from animals.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Schkorpio, I would suggest you read the article and do some research for yourself. B12 can only be obtained from two sources for humans. Those are through eating meat, or “ARTIFICIALLY” through fermentation. We didn’t have the ability to artificially produce B12 until quite recently. Also, we most efficiently absorb iron from food that contains blood (i.e. meat). Thanks to our recent ability to artificially produce vitamins that we need, you can live as a Vegan if you so choose. But why waste our evolution on that?

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Nickolas Taylor, I would suggest that you use your brain for its intended purpose. Factory farmed meat is supplemented. Not sure how this translates to you in your justifications but generally that means if you rely on meat for your B12, it comes from supplements. B12 is manufactured by omnipresent bacteria present in soil and water. It is well established that the modern day B12 dilemma is caused by modern day hygiene. In other words, you drink sterilized purified water and wash your hands after scratching your anus. Do think before you accept common misconceptions.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. It seems you are the one with misconceptions. How about you read this post. How about you do some research. B12 for humans is only obtained through eating meat or artificially through fermentation. It’s rather simple information you can find. Sheesh, people who respond without using their brains is annoying.

        Liked by 2 people

      7. For the people nitpicking on his spelling of clue, the fact that you criticize an insignificant typo instead of his actual arguments suggests you cannot debunk him and helps make him more credible. Why would you derail the argument if you could win it?

        Anyway herbivores like cows are also not able to produce B12. So then cows are omnivores too? B12 is made by bacteria which would naturally be on our fruit (or the cows grass). However, those bacteria are removed because we use pesticides and wash our fruit. We are made to eat unpoisoned unwashed fruit directly from the plants that produce them. If we did that then we would get all the B12 we need from the bacteria on that fruit.

        Also nowadays a lot of the B12 in meat comes from supplements. So if you get your B12 from meat you are relying on supplements as well. Making supplements and then eating them directly is no less natural then is making supplements and then putting the supplements in meat and than eating that meat.

        Liked by 2 people

      8. This really isn’t something for debate, thanks to these things called fossils (determining the specific ratio of plant matter to animal matter is another story, and, not surprisingly, it is believed to have varied considerably – part of this basis is the variance in meat consumption with more recent hunter-gatherer groups.) Early ancestors were not herbivores anymore than they were the ridiculous depictions of “Man The Hunter’ as trend diets like to suggest. Stone tools for butchering meat go back more than 2 million years. Fossil evidence of meat consumption goes back around 6 million years. Early humans were scavengers, eating whatever they could find, and cowering in the corner and waiting for a bigger animal to kill something else, and then eating what the higher predator left behind. Early humans were also eaten by other animals.

        https://www.americanscientist.org/article/meat-eating-among-the-earliest-humans
        https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/02/0218_050218_human_diet.html
        http://www.pnas.org/content/109/18/7008.abstract
        http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0032452
        http://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2016-04-28/teeth-marks-evidence-that-ancient-humans-were-eaten-by-animals/7364344

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    2. Basically the writer is confusing vegetarianism/veganism which are human lifestyle goals with philological makeup which is biological design. I have to fight the urge to them an idiot here.

      There are 2 distinct classifications of mammals. Carnivores and herbivores.

      You can feed a cat a diet of plants which would make it vegan, it would be a very sickly carnivore. Its not a question of choice but a question of what 20 billion years of evolution made you.

      So not a very long post to debunk your very long and silly debunking.

      I’ll ad that is you eat a vegan diet for ethical reasons while thinking a human naturally requires meat for a balanced lifestyle thinking you made some big sacrifice giving it up, that you are not only pretentious but also an idiot.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. “Basically the writer is confusing vegetarianism/veganism which are human lifestyle goals with philological makeup which is biological design. I have to fight the urge to them an idiot here.”

        After deciphering this into English, I would obviously disagree. I have not in any sense confused veganism with biology. In fact, I’m in this very post opposing the idea of invoking biology to claim that humans are “meant” or “should” be herbivorous (or carnivorous). As I write in the post (which makes me wonder if you even read it), the only fact that is relevant to ask from biology on this subject is the question: “Can humans live as vegans?”, the answer to this is obviously yes, the rest is a question of ethics (which I touch in a more recent blog post).

        “There are 2 distinct classifications of mammals. Carnivores and herbivores.”

        Not really no.

        You can feed a cat a diet of plants which would make it vegan, it would be a very sickly carnivore. Its not a question of choice but a question of what 20 billion years of evolution made you.

        No it would not make it vegan, even with your own previous definition of veganism. Veganism is an ethics/animal rights lifestyle, cats don’t make these kinds of moral lifestyle choices. You can shove anything down a domesticated animals throat, it doesn’t prove anything. Force feeding a human baby grass does not make humans grazers.

        So not a very long post to debunk your very long and silly debunking.

        You succeeded no such thing. Try again, preferably with some sources to back your claims.

        I’ll ad that is you eat a vegan diet for ethical reasons while thinking a human naturally requires meat for a balanced lifestyle thinking you made some big sacrifice giving it up, that you are not only pretentious but also an idiot.

        I suppose you just wanted to call people idiots, so you made a straw man. I have said no such thing that humans requires meat, I say that humans have and do eat meat. Science is supposed to describe how things work, not how you want them to work.
        These classifications, such as omnivore, is descriptive, not prescriptive.

        Liked by 12 people

      2. I am a vegan by choice and love it yet have no urge to promote the idea that humans are naturally herbivores/frugivores. We all learnt in middle school biology class: giraffes are herbivorous, lions are carnivorous, humans are omnivorous. Its biological fact. I don’t get the insecurity of people out to prove otherwise.

        To stir things up i would add, veganism is a ‘reaction’ to the excessively carnivorous modern diet. So how could veganism be the default state? There would be no vegans if the carnivorous part of our diet were not super industrialized (and deep fried) causing ethical concerns (and diseases).

        Liked by 2 people

    3. “Memes are stupid”. Perfect ending to a perfect article. Apperently, Memes were used by nazis to dehumanize Jews in the 1930’s. I think using memes as vegans is terrible because we can’t give ourselves the luxury of beeing the unreasonable ones.

      I’d like to ask you 2 questions I have regarding this:
      1. What would you have to say about the argument that only herbivores can develop atherosclerosis? (According to Dr. William C. Roberts)

      2. I read (in an unreliable source) that humans produce an amount of pepsin that is enough to qualify us as omnivores. I’d like to know from a biologist if that’s actually true.

      Thank you for your attention anyways. 🙂

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      1. From what I could gather, humans do not normally develop atherosclerosis if given enough exercise.
        A herbivore, if you feed it a diet containing any cholesterol, will develop atherosclerosis regardless of how much exercise it does.
        A carnivore, if you don’t give it enough exercise, will develop atherosclerosis regardless of what they eat.
        A human, on the other hand, has a duality here: on the lower to medium range (this would include a diet very high in meat) will behave as carnivores, but if fed a very high-cholesterol diet (as in, artificially supplemented with cholesterol), will behave as herbivores. So unless you take cholesterol supplements or don’t do enough exercise, you should be fine.
        ***********************
        Pepsin is a enzyme that breaks down any protein of any origin, plant or animal (except keratin, chitin or elastin; more on that later). Each animal has different levels of pepsin to adapt to their different needs (since pepsin is an energetically-expensive to make, and the body likes to use only the bare minimum amount of energy).
        Humans do have higher levels of pepsin compared to other apes and herbivores in general. We also have elastase (to break down elastin, which is what makes up the strands in meat) and a small amount of chitinase (which is used to break down insect shells and intestinal parasites). Keratin is what makes up hair, and cannot be digested by any other mammal (not even obligate carnivores; this is the reason why they throw up hairballs)

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      2. “From what I could gather, humans do not normally develop atherosclerosis if given enough exercise.”
        This is not true, which is why we constantly see marathon runners getting heart-attacks due to ischemic heart-disease.

        Like

    4. First off, loved the article because it challenged what I had been misled to be true. I have used the “we aren’t meat eaters because we have to cook our meat” reasoning before and would enjoy a bit of feedback on why this is a flawed argument. I have always sided with science and enjoy a swift kick in the ass when it comes to the facts, or contradicting evidence. All in all, I will be doing some extensive research into this topic, great write up!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think it’s a flawed argument because, as the author pointed out, humans (and our ancestors) have been cooking meat for long enough to have evolved smaller mouths and teeth – and larger brains. I’ve heard cooking credited as allowing us to have larger brains, in fact.

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      2. We can eat raw meat. Sushi and other raw fish dishes are quite common. Raw non-fish dishes aren’t unheard of either. Just like eating raw meat can pose a larger risk of disease, there are also plenty of plant foods that are a bad idea to eat raw.

        In any case, whether or not we have to in some way prepare a food isn’t all that relevant. “We aren’t supplement eaters because we have to manufacture them through various means”. The question is simply what is the actual end result of digesting a substance to you and the environment.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. almost all the sushi people consume nowadays has been pre Frozen To kill the disease-causing parasites. How long do you think we have had freezers on an evolutionary scale?

        Liked by 2 people

      4. From what I can gather, if you kill an animal and eat it right then and there, it’s perfectly safe. Cooking kills the bad stuff that develops in meat after the animal dies.

        FYI, glad to talk to someone else who actually ‘enjoys’ being wrong. Finding out you’re wrong means you now have updated information and all intelligence is nothing more than conclusions based on the totality of your information. The bigger the information based, the more likely you’re right. This is the internet though, so I’ll throw in an you’re an idiot, and a go back to your mom’s basement for good measure.

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      5. Oh Patrick, you’re getting the big guns out now. Eating meat caused humans to grow brains! Well, this is one theory out of many. Another theory is that our brains were already large BEFORE we started eating meat. Think about it. In order for humans at that time to GET the animals they had to create weapons to hunt them and strategies not only get close enough to animals but also to compete with predators that were after those animals. A human would have had to be, certainly, more intelligent than the average human today. I addition, humans had to KNOW to cook the meat otherwise they could get sick. These early humans must then have evolved a brain (over millions of years) capable of doing this by fuelling the brain with fruit (glucose), since glucose is the main fuel for the brain. So, since humans have started to eat meat, fossil records show that our brains have shrunk about a tennis ball size in the last 30K years. Clearly, all this meat isn’t keeping up to fuel our expensive computer. And when the brain doesn’t get enough fuel it must prioritize the centers that matter for survival. Ironically, those centers that make us human, such as empathy and creativity are not prioritized and it is now apparent that our human brain is reverting toward the standard mammalian brain. To be continued…

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    5. Veganism and maybe even vegetarianism is a luxury trait. I’ve been to the desert in Jordan to visit one of the nomadic tribes and one of my friends told them that she was a vegetarian. She got laughed at by the nomads, wondering about how she is still alive. Afcourse, this is quite an extreme example, but my point is that in the most primitive and core sense, humans do require meat in order for them to stay alive. Watch some survival shows, they are always looking for an animal, either insects or any other class of animals for consumption, because otherwise they would die. Veganism is a first world, elite trait.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “Veganism is a first world, elite trait (sic)” Yes, if by elite trait you mean a social norm found in a sophisticated, highly advanced, and wealthy society. Antibiotics, heart surgery, credit cards, warm clothes, vitamins, traffic lights and supermarkets are also
        “elite traits,” along those same lines. We choose to enjoy those things – or not – because we can and because they make our lives better. The ability to choose, is the thing. Eat meat, don’t eat meat. At least you get to choose, rather than having the threat of immediate starvation as a motivation factor. We get to choose what we eat these days, not because it is somehow “elite,” but because our cultural tendency over time has been towards creating surplus production in order to avoid death, illness and starvation. Our ancestors, who did scramble to find insects to eat and also avoid infections that would kill them in days, would yell at us for being precious about the kinds of choices they didn’t have, but hoped for and slowly created for us over thousands of years.

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      2. You’re wrong, we do not at all need meat. I’ve been vegan for many years and am healthier than I was prior too…and before I was vegan I was “healthy” according to many peoples standards..I ate lean meats, veggies, fruits, greek no fat yogurt, low fat milks, egg whites.

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    6. If you look at fossilized human stool, you will realize 95% is plant matter. Also, all herbivores consume small amounts of animal protein such as cows eating the slugs and insects in the grass. It is in trace amounts which can be handled. You haven’t addressed why, unlike omnivores we produce cholesterol and like herbivores, in sufficient amounts for all our needs. You haven’t addressed the fact that cholesterol and animal protein cause hyperfiltration in the kidney resulting in progressive inflammation and damage which explains why most of my patients have chronic kidney disease. The question of us being able to consume it, consider the following: fish for sushi has to be frozen to kill the parasites, parasites in pork are lead to severe brain damage id not coked properly, those who eat raw beef, consider that restaurants generally sear the outside of the steak before they grind to kill most of the bacteria that would make you ill, consider that raw chicken and eggs cause bloody diarrhea via salmonella (142000 cases in the US per year). Scientists have discovered over time why Kosher and Halal approaches to diet lead to reduced acute diseases. Removing the blood reduced the risk of botulism, not cooking vegetables with meat because meat had to be cooked longer to kill pathogens. Not mixing meat and dairy because the bacteria in dairy fed on the meat and increased risk of acute food poisoning. Also, insulin resistance comes from saturated and trans fats which leads to diabetes which increases heart attacks and strokes as well as amputation and kidney failure. Excluding processed foods which we all know are unhealthy, the only source of trans fats is animal products. It occurs naturally and if you look at the U.S. dietary reference index, the only safe amount of trans fats is 0 mg per day. This is based on several research papers which show that both of those fats contribute to dementia onset. Furthermore, a diet high in trans fats was even show to cause memory issues in 20 year olds. In addition, no animal products reduce osteoporosis (look up the largest longest study Nurse’s Study) and high consumption of dairy actually increases it. The worst cases of osteoporosis I have seen in my practice so far have been high dairy consumers. Phytoestrogens actually reduce osteoporosis. Our healthcare system routinely lies to patients because doctors are purposely misinformed. Walking does not reduce osteoporosis, but strengthening exercises do. Stress is required to create micro-fractures to push your body into bone strengthening and remodeling. Balance exercises can help a bil because of rapid and powerful contractions but mainly they reduce the risk of falls which reduces risk of fractures. Three of the most common surgeries are for appendicitis, cholecystitis, and diverticulitis, all of which are due to lack of fiber in our diets. We are probably asking the wrong questions. Are we naturally adapted to handling animal protein sources, clearly the answer is no. That is why we had to develop ways to avoid acute illness such as cooking and freezing. Now that we have those methods can we avoid acute illness from eating those products, yes. However, if you don’t like chronic diseases such as diabetes, the results of atherosclerosis (impotence in 25% of 60 year olds (thumbs up for viagra sellers), and heat attack, strokes, auto-immune disorders and inflammatory disorders as well as several cancers then the less the better). Some will point to genetics but a predisposition requires fertile ground. For instance, about 8 years ago a study at McGill on people with a genetic predisposition for heart attacks that drastically increased their risk were randomized into 2 groups. The treatment group was asked to increase vegetable portions, 3 more portions on a daily basis. The result, cardiovascular risk was reduced to general population levels. Then, for dementia (MCI and Alzheimers) doctors will talk about the APO-E mutation which, if one parent has it you have a 3 fold increase in risk and if both, 10 fold. However, in North America we have low levels of the mutation and high levels of the dementia while in Nigeria, it is the opposite. The difference is in dictatorships, meat and dairy aren’t subsidized with taxpayer money so consumption is low. In democratic countries meat and dairy are major political donors (in the U.S. 135 million per year) and well as hugely subsidized. In short if your question is can we eat meat, yes. Should we eat meat? Never to improve our health unless nothing else is available. Think of meat as your juice or other processes food, no better, sometimes worse, the less the better.

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  1. I’d also want to add that this type of classification of diets is generally really hard. Few things in nature fits into clear categories, and trying to fit animals into just 3-4 categories of diet is a very simplified system.
    I’m not aiming for classifying humans in to this or that really, my aim here is to explain why I think it’s not really motivated or make any sense to try and classify humans as herbivores, given that you want to use this system.

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    1. I’m not a vegan but I tolerate the movement as a statement and a life style. I do, however, have a problem with people claiming that it’s healthier than everything else. From what I gather, all restrictive diets take a toll in our system, as well as the excess lifestyle that most of us (me included) take part. Being healthy means not being a fundamentalist about anything – restrictive diets are, in my humble opinion, a form of fundamentalism. I try to be healthy by eating enough to maintain my self, and avoid self indulgences (although they’re important, once in a while), and move – practice sports, spend time outdoors as often as I can… We need every nutrient in a specific concentration, so it’s important to be smart about it.

      Loved your post ‘though – very interesting and provided great input on both the vegan and the “omnivorous” lifestyles – I felt you had no bias nor any dogs in this fight.

      Sorry for the long comment 😀

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      1. You might be interested the health centered Google Talk by Dr. Michael Greger. He makes a very good case about how much healthier a wholefoods plant-based diet compared to any other. Link:

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      2. I totally agree…I furthermore believe that humans today have the opportunity to follow the diet they like. As far as ethics, I think this is irrelevant in diet-speaking…As a pagan, I talk to my plants and I think they are also evolved as a species. They are alive and react to fear, talking, music etc. The fact that they don’t have eyes and mouths doesn’t make them less precious, so discriminating against them and considering animals to be closer to humans and more evolved is just that: a discrimination. Of course, I respect all kinds of diets someone may choose, but scientifically speaking, both animal and plant products are necessary for a healthy living. I also agree that many carnivores eat less meat than veggies…Less isn’t not-at-all. I think we should all listen to our bodies and do the best for them…

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      3. Two sexagenarians ran a marathon every day for a year in 2013 in Australia, so their “restrictive diet” – as you put it – clearly didn’t take any “toll on their system” : )

        Liked by 3 people

      4. Rui Almedia, fundamentalism is not what you think it is. Google will give you two definitions of the word:

        1) “a form of a religion, especially Islam or Protestant Christianity, that upholds belief in the strict, literal interpretation of scripture”

        In this sense, what you talk about cannot, obviously, be a form of fundamentalism, because fundamentalism has nothing to do with veganism or diet.

        2) “strict adherence to the basic principles of any subject or discipline”

        In this sense, fundamentalism is not and cannot be a “bad” thing (by itself), as it merely requires to adhering to FUNDAMENTALS of something. So, fundamentalism in this sense can refer to the fact that you respect basic mathematical rules when calculating mathematical equations. Not bad, right?

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      5. You tolerate the movement – wow how very generous of you! Just to be clear veganism isn’t a lifestyle or a diet. It is an ethical stance against animal exploitation and cruelty. If there are additional benefits like better health, greener planet then great but lets not for a second think that veganism isn’t anything less than the absolute rejection of treating the weakest and most vulnerable beings on this planet as if they are nothing. The rearing and killing of 60BN land animals every year not only is an environmental catastrophe, it is a soulless and disgusting abuse of mans power. We commodify them like phones or cars and only consider what we can use them for. Animals are not here for you, they are hear for their own reasons, for this planet belongs to all not one. They do nothing wrong and do not want to die – but if they make a tasty snack fuck them, stab them, skin them, boil them alive, steal their horns and tusks, their milk, their babies. Omnivore, carnivore, herbivore – so what? Do unto others and don’t pay someone else to do it for you. If you don’t believe me watch Earthlings.

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      6. “I do, however, have a problem with people claiming that it’s healthier than everything else.”

        I agree. I’m vegetarian (instead of vegan) because one: it’s just easier plus two; I love dairy, and three; I’ve seen very convincing arguments about the problems a plant-only diet causes. Apparently our gut is a decent amount smaller now than the first humanoids had which means we aren’t able to process the foods 100% as well as we used to. Meat is not on the menu for me for many reasons, but I get a bit of animal protein mostly because I want to hedge my bets. Going extreme is a bit too..uh…extreme for me. I eat 90% plant based, with some eggs and dairy thrown in there plus exercise. I just saw What The Health, a documentary on Netflix that said an egg a day is the equivalent to 5 cigarettes a day. I think people take the extremism a bit too far. People have lived long and healthy lives on mostly meat, and also on exclusively plants, and to deny that is just insane. Humans are very adaptable.

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    2. You are mastodontically wrong on b12, and so naive in believing to wikipedia on this. B12 is found in nature, and for humans, it would come specifically from natural sources of water. We sterilize our water. The image is not 100% accurate maybe but it paints a reasonable picture. I’m still pretty convinced we are just very arrogant and self centric herbivores. It must not be forgotten that cows are fed fish on a daily basis and are currently so much so that they are considered the biggest acquatic predator. Under your logic this makes them carnivores under every sense.

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      1. I wouldn’t say i “believe” wikipedia. It’s just a good summary on the subject. I am of course open to evidence, but have not seen any supporting the claim that humans has ever had a sufficient supply of B12 from water. Algal B12 is not bioavalible for humans.
        But please, feel free to supply such evidence.

        Domesticated animals is of course a special case since animals under human care is restricted to whatever humans allow and does not necessarily reflect natural behaviour, cows are clearly adapted to herbivory, in contrast to humans.

        Liked by 2 people

    3. Actually biology make the classification rather easy. But you obviously are confused and not very well educated in this regard. Biologically there are 2 distinct groups. Carnivores and herbivores. This has noting to do with dietary choice and only deals with physiological make up. A human, being an ape, falls in the biological class of herbivore by biological design. Meaning that we evolved to a diet of plant food.

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      1. One of the earliest and most significant discoveries made by Jane Goodall was that chimpanzees hunt for and eat meat. Prior to this, chimpanzees were believed to be vegetarians. However, meat and other animal products only account for 5%-8% of a chimpanzee’s diet.

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    4. Hello there! I just wanted to say I appreciate this post. By no means have I ever justified the way I eat. I like animals by a products but I own my own farm and to the best of my ability I try to give my animals the best. I just wanted to say I would listen to your view on veganism because I feel as if you would do it right…does that make sense? But thank you for all the information! I wish people actually read your article I feel that they’d be arguing less with you

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  2. You are so interesting! I don’t believe I’ve read through a single thing like this before.

    So good to find somebody with some genuine thoughts on this subject.
    Seriously.. thank you for starting this up.

    This site is something that is required on the web, someone with
    a little originality!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sorry, but this is not a good article. It is replete with typos and grammatical errors and the slovenliness in execution is only matched by the author’s self-contradictory and assumption-based exposition.

    I agree that we should not all claim to be experts just because we’re vegan but the author of this article is guilty of a similar crime: they are writing from a perspective of absolute authority on subjects where their knowledge base is clearly insufficient. Almost every sentence is worthy of criticism but I am in danger of boring myself so I will stick to the more obvious and confounding.

    The author correctly asserts that we are great apes (although note, that it is always Hominidae with a capital H) but then refers to a later image attempting to show humans as “being more like the primate” – a common, layperson error, analogous to saying “Alsatians are more like dogs”. The taxon Primata does not exist as a biological division excluding humans – there are only primates and non-human primates, and, unlike carnivore, there is only one valid application of primate. (BTW, the primate that the author is unable to identify is a Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) with non-representative dentition presumably as a result of captivity, but perhaps because of Photoshop).

    The author arrogantly criticises both cherry-picking and the making of teleological statements on evolution but is then guilty of the same, on both counts. The author uses narrow definitions where it suits their purpose but insists on the existence of broad definitions at other times. At the point the author deconstructs the (obviously flawed) table arbitrarily using an image of an Orang utan skeleton (cherry-picking!), they veer into shockingly bad science and make numerous teleological inferences. I am by no means saying that the table isn’t worthy of criticism, it is clearly flawed: it uses five large mammals (including two primates and two Carnivora vera) to represent the entire diversity of dietary possibility. However, I’m also not sure that it is claiming to be anything it isn’t.

    To say that ‘most frugivores are basically omnivores’ is non-sensical in the context used by the author. Terms like frugivore (carnivore, herbivore, insectivore, granivore) are used as broad categories – certainly no book on primatology would claim that an Orang utan was solely frugivorous. Trophic categories are rarely taken as exclusive and most species are adaptable to some degree in what they can consume. Further, many species (for example, all large herbivores) eat outside their category (presumably) unintentionally – for example, large amounts of snails are consumed by cows.

    The category of ‘physiological food’ is indeed a clumsy subheading on the table but the author flippantly dismisses this as a concept, yet ‘physiologically-appropriate food’ is actually the key to this whole discussion. Humans consistently eat outside a physiologically appropriate diet as a result of cultural evolution (another key concept to which the article author seems woefully oblivious).

    The comments on hands/legs, walking, mouth opening all involve absurd teleological speculation. Evolution is not goal-orientated! The author claims to know this, they said so at the beginning of the article… yet, here, they repeatedly dismiss characteristics which do not show ‘adaptation towards’ or ‘specialisation for’.

    On chewing. Please, author, if you are by any chance reading this, familiarise yourself with carnassial teeth because your statement here, more than anything, reveals your insufficient knowledge base.

    Stomach acid: in humans it is usually around 2 and in Carnivora vera (cats, for example) it is usually around 1. As pH is logarithmic, this is actually a very significant difference.

    Human intestines are very typical of non-ruminating, herbivorous mammals and the vast majority of herbivores are not cellulose-digesting ruminants.

    The statement “what would happen if you used a panda as representative of herbivore teeth?” made me laugh out loud. Well, what would happen is the drawing of incorrect conclusions, in an almost exact parallel to what happens when humans are used as an example of omnivory! In terms of generalising about omnivory, humans play the role of panda except for the very pertinent fact that pandas have undergone profound physiological evolution that accommodates their herbivory over tens of millions of years; humans have culturally evolved as predators of large mammals over mere tens of thousands of years.

    Most humans are physiologically best suited to a low-cellulose herbivorous diet. (I say most because Inuit physiological evolution is something separate and fascinating). However, humans are ‘natural’ omnivores in terms of taking in small soft-bodied animals as we consume our low-cellulose herbivorous diet. Nothing at all about human anatomy or physiology suggests that eating other large mammals is ever necessary or even a good idea (unless you are a cave person in the Palaeolithic exploring new territory where ruminants are plentiful and fruits less so).

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    1. Thank you for your response.
      I can only apologize if there still are typos and grammatical errors remaining from my very brief proofreading. I might have been a bit to eager to get the first posts out. I’m not a native English-speaker so I might have a tendency to do particular grammatical errors. Sorry about that, and I will get a more serious proofreading going.

      Have I claimed to be an expert on this particular subject? As I write in the ‘about’ section, this is my personal blog and thoughts. Now let’s go to the actual content:

      I guess you are referring to this sentence:

      “First of all, it is obvious that the point of this image is to try and show that humans are “frugivores” thus, more like the primate (which I really cannot identify the species of, not a primatologist).“

      I’m not trying to imply that humans are not primates – of course I know humans are primates. With ‘the primate’ I refer to the – by me – unidentified primate on the image. My mistake if I thought that this would be obvious to the reader. I now know that it is actually a Chimpanzee, but I did not recognize the dentition, as you say, which made me confused.

      I think you are missing my point in the case of cherry-picking. I’m trying to show the absurdity of using arguments based on cherry-picked data, illustrating it by showing examples that clearly shows the opposite. The dentition of the Chimpanzee is clearly not representative for Hominidae. The cherry-picking of me is not used to build a case for anything else, It’s to show how it’s wrong. It’s just a case of pointing out inconsistency in the argument, which you seem to miss. Just to be very clear, the orangutan skeleton is NOT to “prove” what humans are, it’s to show that the argument that humans lack large canines and therefore “aren’t made for meat” is an absurd argument.

      If you read my comment to my post, I clarified that these dietary categories are broad and not very exclusive, it’s rather a continuum. Again, this was criticism by me, that the image is trying to claim that humans are in a group ‘frugivore’ that is separated from ‘omnivores’, when in reality, this is no contradiction.

      I don’t touch the medical implications of human behavior; I just state that humans have an omnivorous diet in general.

      “The comments on hands/legs, walking, mouth opening all involve absurd teleological speculation. Evolution is not goal-orientated! The author claims to know this, they said so at the beginning of the article… yet, here, they repeatedly dismiss characteristics which do not show ‘adaptation towards’ or ‘specialisation for’.”

      Ok, now you are knit picking word use that works, but one has to go into explaining adaptive evolution to really have explained this in depth, which I didn’t really want to do, because it takes time. However, this is what I mean with “adaptation towards”. If you perturb the environment for a population, for example changing the diet. You will likely have a new fitness optimum in sequence/phenotype space. Positive selection acts on selecting genotypes that are closer to the fitness optimum, which creates a gradual drift towards the fitness optimum. If a population has lived in a very specific environment for a very long time, it’s not unreasonable to expect adaptations to that environment – i e “specializations”. Please note a distinction between prediction and mechanism. This is not in any way a teleological argument; maybe you think it is by the choice of words.
      Some parts are speculative, but in the sense that I don’t think it’s obvious that upright walking is adaptive in the sense of diet. It might be, but the image is just stating correlation and causation without evidence. It’s not evidence in it self to present a correlation of cherry-picked data.

      On chewing, I don’t see why this is a case against my argument that different types of food requires different amount of chewing – representing phenotypic plasticity rather than deterministic adaptation.
      Stomach acid: The source I used claims that human hydrochloric acid is on 1.5 on the lower end. The image states that humans have ‘weak hydrochloric acid’. I wouldn’t say that a pH of 1.5 is a weak hydrochloric acid. But you are welcome to disagree on this highly subjective use of ‘weak’ and ‘strong’.
      The case use of the panda is again to show the fraudulent behavior of cherry-picking representative organisms that fit one’s model. I obviously do not think that you should use the panda as the single representative for herbivores, that is the whole point of this blog post, one you consistently seem to miss…
      I reference to literature that show evidence of Hominids eating meat way further back than ten thousands of years, actually 2.6 million years ago.
      I don’t think there is sufficient evidence to say that meat is the single common factor that is unhealthy in human diets, but this is again nothing I touch in this post. I’m saying that one shouldn’t base current diets on arbitrary evolutionary arguments; instead one should use medical- and nutrition science. These somewhat arbitrary diet classifications encompass both diet and anatomy, and I think it’s quite obvious that humans have had an omnivorous diet in general for a very long time.

      Liked by 5 people

    2. Well said Andrew. Throughout the article I also became more and more aware that the authors intentions were to prove a point, rather than to find an outcome based on the evidence.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “authors intentions were to prove a point, rather than to find an outcome based on the evidence.”
        What do you mean? That you are shocked that an article that states in the header that it wants to make the point that “distorting facts to make a point is not the way to go” with named sources. and that you expected this to be a sience paper doing a new basic study from ground up without any sources to cite?

        Liked by 2 people

    3. “On chewing. Please, author, if you are by any chance reading this, familiarize yourself with carnassial teeth because your statement here, more than anything, reveals your insufficient knowledge base.”

      I would like you to familiarize yourself between the differences between hypsodont lophodont teeth (herbivores) and brachydont quadrate bunodont teeth (omnivores), and the fact that the later have more in common with carnassials than with the former.
      ****************************************
      “Stomach acid: in humans it is usually around 2 and in Carnivora vera (cats, for example) it is usually around 1. As pH is logarithmic, this is actually a very significant difference.”

      If you take a Carnivoran omnivore (or even a facultative carnivore) and a human, the difference in pH is around 0.1. A dog’s stomach pH is around 1.7 after buffering, and a human’s is around 1.8.
      ****************************************
      “Human intestines are very typical of non-ruminating, herbivorous mammals and the vast majority of herbivores are not cellulose-digesting ruminants.”

      The only similarity is that they are sacculated. Human intestine physiology aligns more with omnivores and carnivores in shorter overall length, lack of cecum, lack of working appendix, higher small:large intestine ration, and microscopic nutrient receptors (both humans and carnivores have heme iron receptors; herbivores don’t).
      ****************************************
      “Most humans are physiologically best suited to a low-cellulose herbivorous diet. (I say most because Inuit physiological evolution is something separate and fascinating).”

      While it is true that Inuit have some genetic adaptations to a high-meat diet, they are still very, very similar to other humans; they are not super-humans as some people make them out to be. They, as a population, do have better ability to process omega-3, and higher vitamin A and dietary cholesterol tolerance; but all of these have been found in specimens of other human populations. Their lifespan is still affected by a high-meat diet in the exact same way that any normal human with a decent tolerance to any of those factors would.

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    1. Thanks for your comment.
      This subject is somewhat controversial. Most cyanobacteria contain pseudovitamin B12 that is not bioavailable to humans (Watanabe, F., 2007). I think that this is the reason that you might measure significant concentrations of B12 in the water, but still, it might not satisfy the human need.

      Additionally, as far as I know, there are not any or sufficient evidence that algae-sources of B12 (non-bacterial) can satisfy human requirements of B12. If there are sources of B12 in drinking water, more research is needed to establish that. In any case, I would not risk not taking B12 supplements.

      Watanabe, F. (2007). “Vitamin B12 sources and bioavailability.” Exp Biol Med (Maywood) 232(10): 1266-1274.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Thank you for the further reference. It is surprising to me that this has not been researched sufficiently. (And certainly, I would not conclude from some links on a vegan forum that we can now do without supplements!)

        Liked by 3 people

      2. One of the only reasons why meat has B12 in it these days is because the animals themselves are injected with B12 supplements. Since their food is as sterile as ours. In the past people would have gotten plenty of B12 from drinking and eating straight from the land, where the bacteria that creates B12 was prominent.

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      3. Nope, it’s true that animals sometimes are given fortified food. However, ruminates are able to utilize the b12 produced in their gut, which eventually is stored in their livers – which of course, humans are able to eat.

        As far as I know, this is basically speculation. But if you have any evidence for that actually being the case – please feel free to share it. I’d say it’s much more likely that humans got their b12 from consuming animals, which we know they did.

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      4. Animal fat is very important to the nervous system, in small quantities, maybe, but useful. The fact that we can digest small quantities of cholesterol shows that we can eat small qualities of animal fat. Most of the articles I have found about veganism only refer to carnivores vs herbivores…and I agree with you! Not all animals fall strictly in one of two categories and even omnivores are not the same. As for bears and wolves taken as an example, wolves eat great amounts of plants in order to digest food properly (as do dogs and cats in smaller quantities) and bears are known to eat plant products, such as honey…Thank you for the article!

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      5. Hello Vegan Biologist,

        These comments are dated so hoping you are still around. I just have two questions about this:

        1: It’s my understanding that B12 is naturally supposed to occur in bacteria that grows in the soil. It’s only because we wash the fruits and vegetables that this bacteria is removed. Is this true?

        2: It’s also my understanding that because we cannot safely eat meat without cooking it, our digestion is not evolved to eat meat. Is this incorrect?

        Thanks very much

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  4. Thanks for your reply.

    It doesn’t read as if you have understood all of my criticisms but I appreciate that this may specifically be a result of my choice of words. Some of the points of disagreement seem to be more to do with semantics than anything else.

    I stand by the content of my first comment – but I also regret posting it. The internet is full of opinion and supposition presented as science and, by getting involved, I am now guilty of the same egoism that irritated me in the first place.

    Apologies and best wishes

    Liked by 1 person

  5. One major error the author makes is around the distinction between ‘what we put in our mouth’ versus ‘what is the most suitable food for us’. Cows are being fed fishmeal in factory farms. Why? Because they get fat on it. Clearly they are taking nutrients from animal-based foods. Does this make cows omnivores?

    If your definition of omnivore is completely dogmatic then the entire division between carnivores omnivores and herbivores is completely silly, because pretty much every animal eats both plants and animals. (e.g. lions eating the contents of their preys stomach).

    Instead, to arrive at a USEFUL distinction between which animals to group into which category you will have to look at physiological adaptations, and examine them as carnivorous, herbivorous or neutral.
    You’re taking the arguments from the meme and perhaps partially dismiss them but you have at best succeeded in moving some of the arguments from “this adaptation is herbivore” to “many animals on both sides have this adaptation, and therefore is neutral”.

    Instead, how about the other way round. How many carnivorous adaptations do humans have? Name me even one? (Nope, not the milk drinking, cows drink milk (gasp) and would continue to do so if continued to be fed milk. Yes, their moms stop providing and then the expression gets turned down).

    Simplifying a little, to group humans into omnivores we need fewer than 2 herbivore adaptations for each carnivore adaptations and simply ignore the neutral ones. I doubt you can succeed in that exercise

    So yes, I believe that ‘statistically speaking’ humans are herbivores. The NEXT question, is if it is a good idea to shout this out too loudly. Some ideas are too far off, even if they are actually correct. It is IMHO similar to comparing factory farms to some of the practices of slavery or nazis. While a comparison does not imply equation, many humans get a red haze over their eyes if they are remotely put in the same sentence as nazis or slave owners and any chance of a reasonable discussion goes out of the window with it, so I do tend to agree it is probably not a useful point. But amongst friends (i.e. fellow vegetarians/vegans) I see no problem with actually mentioning this as fact.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. One major error the author makes is around the distinction between ‘what we put in our mouth’ versus ‘what is the most suitable food for us’. Cows are being fed fishmeal in factory farms. Why? Because they get fat on it. Clearly they are taking nutrients from animal-based foods. Does this make cows omnivores?

      If you mean suitable as in optimal to live a long and healthy life, that is a different question. Here I’m discussing the idea that humans should be described as herbivores, to which I don’t agree. One could ask the same for every animal – what is the optimal diet for this animal to have? Well, I’m not sure that we’ll discover that all animals behave as following a diet that is physiologically optimal. My point is that in biology, describing how animals actually behave and describe traits they have is what is relevant, not trying to figure out an optimal way of living – it’s a different question.

      Yes, we can give basically any type of food to domesticated animals. I question the relevance of that. Domesticated animals represent wild behaviours quite poorly. As if we threw horses in the ocean and kept them swimming, would we call horses a marine animal :)?

      If your definition of omnivore is completely dogmatic then the entire division between carnivores omnivores and herbivores is completely silly, because pretty much every animal eats both plants and animals. (e.g. lions eating the contents of their preys stomach).

      Instead, to arrive at a USEFUL distinction between which animals to group into which category you will have to look at physiological adaptations, and examine them as carnivorous, herbivorous or neutral.
      You’re taking the arguments from the meme and perhaps partially dismiss them but you have at best succeeded in moving some of the arguments from “this adaptation is herbivore” to “many animals on both sides have this adaptation, and therefore is neutral”.

      Instead, how about the other way round. How many carnivorous adaptations do humans have? Name me even one? (Nope, not the milk drinking, cows drink milk (gasp) and would continue to do so if continued to be fed milk. Yes, their moms stop providing and then the expression gets turned down).

      Simplifying a little, to group humans into omnivores we need fewer than 2 herbivore adaptations for each carnivore adaptations and simply ignore the neutral ones. I doubt you can succeed in that exercise

      Yes, I agree. This division is a continuous scale.

      I don’t think I agree with you classification based on having equal or so number of carnivore adaptations and herbivore adaptations. I think the neutral and or lack of specializations is interesting since omvivores should lack specializations for either plants or meat. I reason that if an animal is neither specialized to meat or herbs, but can eat and taking nutrients from both – that would be a typical omnivore. Is a generalistic phenotype in contrast to the specialist phenotypes of carnivory and herbivory.

      I mentioned B12 and iron, that wasn’t sufficient?

      So yes, I believe that ‘statistically speaking’ humans are herbivores.

      I’m not convinced. Literature clearly refers to humans as omnivores but as always that idea is of course subject to change and disproval.

      The NEXT question, is if it is a good idea to shout this out too loudly. Some ideas are too far off, even if they are actually correct. It is IMHO similar to comparing factory farms to some of the practices of slavery or nazis. While a comparison does not imply equation, many humans get a red haze over their eyes if they are remotely put in the same sentence as nazis or slave owners and any chance of a reasonable discussion goes out of the window with it, so I do tend to agree it is probably not a useful point. But amongst friends (i.e. fellow vegetarians/vegans) I see no problem with actually mentioning this as fact

      Well I think it’s most important to be correct and precise. The main issue of stating the humans are herbivores is that (well, that I don’t think it’s true) if your “opponent” would just read up on in a biology textbook, encyclopedia your opponent would see that humans are consistently being referred to as omnivores. You gain nothing from saying that humans are herbivores, but you risk losing credibility. One could say that the textbooks are wrong, well in that case, change them.

      Regarding this question, we only need to know one thing: “Can we live healthy lives on a vegan diet?”
      That’s all you need to know, then turn to ethics.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks for a very-written and thought-inspiring article. May I add another element to the argument? Let me preface this by stating that I am ethical vegan and a very healthy one, thanks to the huge variety of dietary choices available to me as a citizen of a developed, industrialized country. I don’t judge what other people eat because what the heck do I know about their lives and besides, who asked me to? The pseudoscience that supports the theory that humans are designed to be herbivores never seem to tackle the question of why then has our species consumed meat in the vast majority of civilizations and cultures since our earliest days in Ethiopia (or maybe Morocco – up for debate right now)? By mistake? Ruminants such as cows do not accidentally start eating meat because they forget that they’re cows and obligate carnivores do not absent-mindedly begin consuming plant matter. Why would a species of herbivorous primates stubbornly consume meat (sometimes almost exclusively, as in the case of some some traditional Inuit or Maasai societies)? That is not how evolution works. Species are not designed like cars with certain features and then set loose to figure it out. Dietary specificity changes slowly over time through natural selection in response to the changing environment and among sophisticated chordates (especially big ones) adaptability can be a real advantage. The other question that always seems to go unanswered is, if we are indeed herbivorous animals who misguidedly eat meat, why are we flourishing as a species? Why hasn’t our strange preoccupation with eating the wrong food wiped us out? Sure, we have illness and obesity and lots of other health problems, many of which became critical as a result of industrialized farming and its capacity to make too much animal protein so accessible. But there are 7 billion of us, which is a really scary number! So if a species that consumes an incorrect diet for its physiology grows to a population of 7 billion, with steadily lengthening lifespans and increasing brain size, is it an incorrect diet? It’s doing a pretty good job of sustaining us. I am a vegan for ethical reasons, because turning animals into meat causes suffering, significantly increased by high-volume farming to satisfy our huge appetite for a food that was historically difficult to come by (hence those motivated by a big appetite for it tended to do well and become ancestors). I also abhor the impact that animal farming has on the earth, although all human agriculture has a devastating impact on the earth because there’s just so many of us. I am well aware that I am lucky to be able to choose to be vegan. I can walk into my local bulk food store and choose from countless protein sources. I can buy fresh fruits and vegetables in mid-winter when I would (as a citizen of a northern country) be unable to grow them. I can take advantage of supplemental vitamins. Faced with a plate of meat or starvation I would almost certainly do what most animals do when faced with starvation. There is no luxury so great as the opportunity to choose. Please feel free to respond to this. Diversity of opinion and the exchange of ideas are among our species’ best features. Please don’t respond just to say “that’s stupid” or “you’re an idiot” or some version thereof. That’s one of our species most obnoxious features.

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      2. Hi Amanda, you’re right the human race has gotten rather far on eating meat. But I would like to write about how whether we classify ourselves as herbivores or omnivores isn’t really important, it’s just a name – but we know without a doubt that if we eat like herbivores then we live happier, longer and healthier lives.

        Throughout history, most civilizations have eaten very low amounts of meat, and relied typical on plant foods to get their calories and nutrients. We also know from history that the populations which eat the least amount of animal foods, live the longest. Such as the Okinawan’s (who eat only about 3% animal foods).
        https://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-okinawa-diet-living-to-100/
        We also see the reverse correlation – the more animal products people eat, the higher the chances of chronic diseases such as heart-attacks, stroke, cancer, diabetes etc. These days we are seeing the effects of a high animal product diet, as this generation of people will be the first in history to have a lower life expectancy than their parents. Our lives up to this point where extended by better living conditions, reliable sources of food, and advances in science and medicine. But now the increase of animal consumption is even out doing these societal advances.

        With the diets of the Maasai and the Inuits, it goes to show the resilience that our bodies have developed – our bodies allow us to grow to a reproductive age on just about any combination of food sources. However, getting to breeding age, and being an example of good health and long life can be two different things. The Maasai and Inuits have rather concerning health issues. (Inuits have 10x the rates of cardiovascular diseases compared with Dutch population (the researchers were Dutch so they compared it with their home country). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LvGiiZyn-M (And there is new research showing the poor health of the Maasia as well, but people will often refer to the really old study which was not performed correctly)

        We also know that children as young as 5 show signs of developing heart-disease or atherosclerosis (plaque building up in the arteries), and the plaque just builds up more and more as they age (eventually causing a heart-attack as early as 30, or strokes as early as 20) . So that tells us that animal products are harmful to us, but we just manage to outlive the damage, and we are able to raise offspring before the damage kills us. However, on a whole-foods plant-based diet, this plaque never forms, and the heart-attack at 30 or 60 or 80, need never happen. Eventually we die as our cells aren’t able to divide effectively and our bodies become weaker. Of course having a heart-attack because our heart has deteriorate due to old age vs. a heart-attack because we’ve clogged up our arteries with an inappropriate diet are two different things 🙂

        Basically evolution stops once we have created offspring – which happens typically early in our lives, and then that’s evolution’s job complete. Then we can potentially live for another 100 years (on genes that were only evolved to get us to 20-30 years) Our life beyond raising children has nothing to do with evolution because we’ve already passed our genes on at that point.

        Other animals which we would consider herbivores are also able to do this – outlive the damage caused by an incorrect diet. Most factory farmed animals are feed the left overs of their own kind. E.g. cows are fed ground up cow parts, bone meal etc. They live just fine for a short enough period to be bred, and to grow to full size for meat. But, still everyone agrees that cows are herbivores, even though they are fed animals as food.(and this is the case for many many animals, they have a preferred healthy food source, plants or meat, but they can survive off other sources if they have to, but at the detriment of their own health)

        Like the cow, we can survive of a wide variety of foods, but primarily we are herbivores, since eating like herbivores gives us the greatest health, and lowest risk of diseases.

        I hope you can find the time to watch the documentary “What The Health” on netflix, as it does a great job painting the picture that we should certainly eat like we are herbivores (whether we really are or not)

        🙂

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      1. there are two researchers who argued against using the term: omnivore which is being casually passed around as if it is scientific term, but it’s not properly justified as it’s an unscientific and uncomprehensive term:

        “Traditionally the definition for omnivory relies on a species “including both animal and vegetable tissue in the diet. The taxonomic utility of this definition is limited, since the diet, behavior, and phylogeny of one omnivorous species might be very different from that of another: for instance, an omnivorous pig digging for roots and scavenging for fruit and carrion is taxonomically and ecologically quite distinct from an omnivorous chameleon that eats leaves and insects. The term “omnivory” is also not comprehensive because it does not deal with mineral foods such as salt licks.”

        and

        “For the concept of “omnivore” to be regarded as a scientific classification, some clear set of measurable and relevant criteria would need to be considered to differentiate between an “omnivore” and other categories, e.g. faunivore, folivore, and scavenger.”

        Singer, Michael S.; Bernays, Elizabeth A. (2003). “Understanding Omnivory Needs: A Behavioral Perspective”. Ecology 84 (10): 2532–2537. doi:10.1890/02-0397.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. From information that anthropologists have collected, we believe that most humans and the hominids throughout our evolutionary lineage, dating all the way back to the latter stages of the Australopithecus, where omnivores. However, there’s also good reason to believe that certain pockets of the population lived on Plants alone. And biologically and physiologically speaking, we are not true omnivores. We are also not true herbivores. We are very unique species when you look at the GI tract upper and lower. For instance, as I skimmed through this article, and skimmed through some of the comments, oh I see some claims about the pH of the human stomach. The truth of the matter is, and I got this directly from Walter boron’s book of medical physiology, we humans secrete hydrochloric acid after food is ingested to the tune of a pH between 1.0 and 2.0. However, the way our mucous cells and mediately secrete mucus, and that is quite alkaline, it brings the pH right back up to between 3.0 and 4.5, mirroring our resting phase pH. And when consuming animal flesh, we do not break it down in the stomach to the extent that true carnivores and true physiological omnivores do, as their pH stays 1.0 or less until everything is broken down including bone. How that translates into the naturally-occurring endotoxins that exist in animal flesh, moving into the alkaline environment in our small intestine to 5.0 – 7.0, the endotoxins attached to the epithelium and Harvey microbial balance, which of course helps us to, when we have the right balance, to optimally digest and utilize nutrients, absorbing them into the bloodstream Kama as well as optimally excreting toxins. But this is why two very different scenario in the human gut as compared to any true physiological omnivores. So technically, we are not omnivore and we are not herbivore, physiologically speaking. The upper GI tract does most closely resemble the orangutan which does not consume any animals, and of course we know that chimpanzees do it as a behavioral trait. So are we physiologically built to thrive from consuming animals? No. We are not. Throughout the evolutionary history, they ate what they could. It was all based on Survival. You do understand that, right? So unfortunately your article is incorrect in several places as far as I can tell. But I did not read everything.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. From information that anthropologists have collected, we believe that most humans and the hominids throughout our evolutionary lineage, dating all the way back to the latter stages of the Australopithecus, where omnivores.

        So, if humans generally speaking has been adopting a omnivore diet, isn’t it very strange to try and describe humans has herbivores?

        The truth of the matter is, and I got this directly from Walter boron’s book of medical physiology, we humans secrete hydrochloric acid after food is ingested to the tune of a pH between 1.0 and 2.0. However, the way our mucous cells and mediately secrete mucus, and that is quite alkaline, it brings the pH right back up to between 3.0 and 4.5, mirroring our resting phase pH.

        I’m referring to what you would find in any textbook, that human gastric acid is between 1.5 up to 3.5, however, our digestive system is clearly able to digest and utilize nutrients from meat.

        So technically, we are not omnivore and we are not herbivore, physiologically speaking. The upper GI tract does most closely resemble the orangutan which does not consume any animals, and of course we know that chimpanzees do it as a behavioral trait. So are we physiologically built to thrive from consuming animals? No. We are not. Throughout the evolutionary history, they ate what they could. It was all based on Survival. You do understand that, right? So unfortunately your article is incorrect in several places as far as I can tell. But I did not read everything.

        The fact that – even according to you – we are neither herbivores nor carnivores, is a very good reason to describe humans as omnivores since throughout human history, the human niche is to be flexible and survive in many different environments. Yes, it’s about survival, that doesn’t mean it’s a lesser part of biology, quite the opposite actually.

        It’s easy to claim that something is wrong, but I fail to see where you have elucidated that.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Nah, it’s really just evidence for past humans having a high fiber diet. It’s not a contradiction, you could eat too little fiber either on a vegan diet or a diet including meat. However, fibers is not a nutrient, it seems that fibers is important for a health gut though.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Not necessarily. Instead of malnutrition, some herbivores die or get sick from of over-nutrition (especially over-nutrition of the wrong nutrients). For example mad cow disease.Just like humans the cows lived pretty fine until they became sick from it. (Now they just feed them left over cow bonemeal instead of the left over cow meat! pretty good reason to stay away from dairy and beef unless you’ve raised it yourself, not that I’m encouraging any consumption)

        And most people these days are dying from over-nutrition as well. The top #15 disease are from over-nutrition, specifically animal derived nutrients. (Certainly in the western world).

        But to address your point directly, humans will become very unhealthy (like the Inuits) if they eat mostly meat, and depending on the type of meant will die from malnutrition. There is no fibre for starters. At the very least you’d be horribly conspipated and get gout (because we don’t have an enzyme to break down uric acid) and these are problems which no true omnivore ever gets. They also don’t get cardiovascular disease from eating only meat. But humans get it even with a moderate bit of any animal products, grass fed and organic.

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      2. Someone doing something in the past doesn’t really tell us anything one way or another. Native Americans smoked tobacco. Doesn’t mean it’s good for us or “natural” behavior. What’s more interesting is why that behavior took place.
        There were even plant-based neanderthals: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/mar/08/neanderthal-dental-tartar-reveals-plant-based-diet-and-drugs
        So it’s looking a lot the early humans had very varied diets depending on their environments.

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  6. Thank you so much for this article. I have recently become vegan and am getting frustrated with the scientific cherry picking and pseudo science within the vegan community. We don’t need to cherry pick and exaggerate claims as the evidence is already on our side, I feel veganism loses credibility when people inflate statistics and data to correlate with their agenda. For instance I watched ‘Cowspiracy’ and was very moved by it however being the skeptic that I am, I wanted to check the facts- I found out through many sources that the claim that animal agriculture causes 51% of greenhouse gasses is actually false and the real number is around 15-20% which is still more than all of the cars and planes PUT TOGETHER! So why is there need to inflate claims when the evidence literally speaks for itself?

    I am so happy to have begun my vegan journey and as far as ethics goes, there is no valid argument against it however some of the science and health advice talked about by some well known vegans seem to be made up of a lot of pseudo-science and that worries me :/

    Glad to have found your blog 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for the kind words! 🙂
      That is exactly what bothers me as well. People love to shoot themselves in the foot by exaggerating claims, thus lose credibility – when veganism already has a valid case.

      I’m glad to hear that you have become a vegan! I always encourage people to focus on ethics in terms of arguing, so I totally agree with you.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Animal agriculture creates 15-20% of the gasses. BUUUUT that gas from animal farming is not co2, it is methane.

      And methane traps some 30 times more heat that co2. So in cowspiracy they are correct that 51% of the warming effect is caused by animal farming.

      It’s a lot less volume of gas, but it traps a lot more heat.

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      1. This is not correct. For virtually all literature on the subject, different greenhouse gasses are recalculated to carbon dioxide equivalents, meaning that the amount is normalized to as if it were carbon dioxide. If you apply a factor of 30 to that number, you are basically doing the same calculation again resulting in huge over-estimation.

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    3. Zoe, there are many ways to calculate outputs like CO2 and other gases and using different ways does not make it “pseudoscience”. In some cases gas output is calculated only from the metabolism of animals in other cases gas produced while growing feed is included and in some cases output from transportation and slaughterhouses energy is also included. All these different calculations will yield different results and percentages that people are fighting over. The bottom line is that animal agro business is not sustainable and your being a champion for not contributing to this brutal business 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Nice info
    but i’ve read that our urine ph supposed to be 5-7 which is acidic to neutral can u please explain that point.
    thanks

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    1. The image claims that human urine is alkaline. I claim it’s variable but in the range of what you are saying yes.
      The image is trying to make a point that human alkaline urine (which it’s not) is prescriptive of a certain diet.

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  8. So it doesn’t matter if I go vegan. And the case with vitamin B12 supplementation, it alone proves we cannot be fully vegan.
    I’ll gladly continue eating a balanced diet as the omnivore I am.

    Thank you for this amazing article.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bared, vitamin B12 is not produced by plants NOR animals. It’s produced by bacteria present in soils. We used to get vitamin B12 in water and other plant foods before chlorination and overzealous sanitation. Getting B12 through meat and dairy is definitely not the safest way. With your B12 you are essentially getting high saturated fats, cholesterol, IGF1, and many contaminants (metals, dioxins, furanes etc). The safest way to get B12 is through supplementation and fortified plant foods. Also, over 30% of people who eat animals are B12 deficient…

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  9. Oh yeah, your claim and reference to cellulose is not quite accurate either. While the hindgut herbivore utilizes the cecum to Harbor the microbiome utilized to effectively break down cellulose, we humans utilize microbiome throughout the entire colon to do the same thing. So we are not like omnivores, in really any aspect. Sorry

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  10. How come our body rejects meat products? Why are meat based cultures have a low life expectancy? B12 is a bacteria found in soil, we could easily get B12 with consuming meat. Also there’s a difference between being able to eat meat, and is it effecting us positively or negatively. We have adapted a omavorse diet, because of miss information And corporate greed. also what is confusing is that our body produces coloresteral, and adding more by eating flesh is killing humans earlier. Humans actually only benefit from eating plant based diet. Our digestive system is identical to a herbivor. So My question is why are we being told we we are omavorse but eating meat only effects us in a negative way? The reason why we cant watch an animal get slaughtered is because it’s supposed to. It’s like calling a cat a omivore because we have veggies in their food, or that they also like to eat grass But they are carnivores.

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    1. Our digestive system is not identical to a herbivore, that is simply not true.

      Yes, we can easily get B12 from consuming meat.

      Are you saying that corporate greed and miss-information is the reason why early hominids were omnviores?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Wow Shayne our digestive system is exactly like a ‘herbivore’!? Does that mean my stomach has four chambers just like a cow’s – I knew it!!!! – there’s a worldwide conspiracy by the corporations going on regarding this, considering they teach everyone that our stomachs only has one chamber. This conspiracy clearly involves all doctors, surgeons, veterinarians, anatomists, biologists, teachers – even in movies man. Brother we must get radical and let the world know the truth! You, me and Peppa Pig.

      PS . I agree with your B12 statement – I drink 20 litres of unfiltered mountain water a day just to get my dose of Cyanobacteria – don’t believe the crap about analogues and water being bad for you nonsense – it’s a corporate conspiracy man, to get you to buy their B12 supplements man and drink their chemicals.

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  11. To say that human are not herbivores is a very bold statement considering how little research you have done. The B12 thing really especially exposed how limited your research is, and I would like to make the claim that you are the one that is perpetuating myths.

    I suggest you read Power Foods for The Mind by Dr. Barnard, as well as, How Not to Die by Dr. Greger.

    Now, humans might not be herbivores in the same way a horse or a cow is, but after you’ve read those books and understand how poorly the human body deals with animal based food, it becomes crystal clear that humans should only eat be eating plants.

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    1. To say that human are not herbivores is a very bold statement considering how little research you have done. The B12 thing really especially exposed how limited your research is, and I would like to make the claim that you are the one that is perpetuating myths.

      I wouldn’t say it’s bold to make a statement that is in line with any biology texbook or numerous of journal papers. Could you supply a reference when saying that I’m wrong about B12, I have references so simply saying I’m wrong doesn’t do the trick.

      I suggest you read Power Foods for The Mind by Dr. Barnard, as well as, How Not to Die by Dr. Greger.

      Now, humans might not be herbivores in the same way a horse or a cow is, but after you’ve read those books and understand how poorly the human body deals with animal based food, it becomes crystal clear that humans should only eat be eating plants.

      To get an unbiased picture, I wouldn’t recommend pop.science books by people who are promoting a specific idea. It’s a red flag when people are using the same names over and over again. It’s usually a sign of appealing to authority of ones own already established idea.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. FYI “How Not To Die” has a list of references that goes for 150 pages…. it’s anything but pop science 🙂

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      2. Just to be more clear – It’s not an appeal to authority. It’s an appeal to the references contained within those books.

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  12. Chickens, land crabs, sea urchins, crows and pigs just to name a few are omnivores, do they fit the description of an omnivore given on that chart? No they don`t, Humpback whales are among the largest animals on the planet and they are carnivores, do they fit the description of a carnivore given on that chart? Nope, bullfrogs are carnivores too and they don’t fit the description of a carnivore either. Human are omnivores and that’s a fact, just because one day for personal reasons you decided to make a change in your diet and stop consuming animal products doesn`t mean that all of the sudden humans are herbivores. Here`s information from a NON biased vegan site called National Geographic. http://nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/omnivore/

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi,

    Humans have traits of other herbivores. The only way we can consume an animal is if we disect the animal, chose a specific part or it, cook it, extensively chew it or use a sharp piece of steel to cut it, and then later accept the devastating long term affects it has on our health. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been eating meat for a very, very long time, in a desperate attempt to maintain sufficient calories to prolong our existence as every instinctive animal does; if a tiger in a state of starvation came across 10 apples on the floor, they’d be eaten without hesitation. Have you ever tried feeding a cat a piece of banana? It’s eaten as fast as a slice of ham would be – as animals and humans alike are programmed for immediate survival. We mastered immediate survival aloooong time ago, especially in the last 10,000 years of agriculture. We humans (mostly in the developed world) are more concerned about longevity and the long-term affects that animal products have on our health. Veganism is the best option for this.

    The B12 debate… Soya, tofu and most beans contain B12. Most boxes of cereal contain B12, and vegan boxes or cereal contain a lot of B12. I mean even my vegan butter has B12 in it… I get more than enough B12, B6, Iron, Magnesium, blah and blah.

    Be clever, go vegan.

    Like

    1. Humans share some traits with herbivores, since humans are omnivores. We are not clearly specialized for a obligate herbivorous diet.

      “The only way we can consume an animal is if we disect the animal, chose a specific part or it, cook it, extensively chew it or use a sharp piece of steel to cut it, and then later accept the devastating long term affects it has on our health.”

      This is simply not true. Humans are perfectly capable of consuming raw meat (eg steak tartare, sushi etc.), however it’s is safer to eat cooked meat. Cooking has been around since before the existence of the Homo sapiens species. Neither do we have to use steel cutlery to handle meat, since we have eaten meat since before humans learned to cast iron.
      You cannot compare the phenomenon of humans eating meat with tigers eating apples. First of all, how often do you see tigers eating apples compared to how often humans eat meat? It’s not a part of an average tigers life.
      Evolution is partly about survival (it’s mainly about reproduction), thus if selection has favoured meat-eating humans during evolution, it is not surprising if you would find some adaptive traits related to consumption of meat.
      The problem with your reasoning is that you view meat-eating during human evolutionary history as some temporary emergency state, like that of a tiger eating apples in desperation. Are you saying that it was not until 10 000 years, humans could live as they “should”? Thing is, evolution cannot select for environments that the population under selection are not experiencing.

      There is really no reason to distort our history for some silly appeal to nature argument.

      No, soy or any other beans do not contain any B12. There are no vegetable sources of B12 currently known. What you are referring to are fortified food. It’s B12 produced by bacteria that we put into soymilk and other things. It’s perfectly fine to eat supplements, I do it. I’m not using it as an argument for what you should do.

      Yes, I agree that one should go vegan. Not because because any appeal to nature argument based on false information – because of ethics.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. The tiger analogy was misleading, I more meant a species can interchange between diets if it’s a very small amount or needed for survival. I think the definition of omnivore is too broad to define humans. We risk our health living as omnivores when most omnivorous species have no health risks when consuming flesh. Other omnivores like apes, use animals for supplementing their diet; around 10% of their diet is non-vegetarian but the animals they do consume are small, like insects etc. Just because we can eat a 12oz steak without dropping dead does not mean we should (I’m sure you agree, just clarifying) Categories such as omnivore, herbivore, carnivore etc imply the animal is best suited to that lifestyle because evolution has decided it. But humans are an anamoly, as a herbivorous diet is best for our physiology, the same can’t be said about any other species (or so I think).

        I wonder if you supplemented apes with fortified foods if their health would improve slightly.

        Are you saying: before we fortified foods, an omnivorous diet was best for humans. ?

        Cheers for the reply, I’m fairly new to veganism so all this information is great!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. There is typically stronger selection during evolution to get to reproductive age and reproduce rather than living as long as possible. Adaptive evolution only acts on fitness and a person that gets 3 children and lives for 25 years has a much higher fitness than someone who has 1 kid and lives to 90.
        It’s not always the case that we should look to our past to figure out what is most optimal for maximizing longevity and health. I think the problem is that people still view evolution of having an “idea” of how it “should” be. These categories are only human constructions and describe what organisms actually have as a diet.
        If you were a non-human biologist studying humans, would you not include meat in our behaviour in a scholarly article about humans?

        My view is that it’s a little bit uncertain what the optimal diet for humans are, but I leave that to nutritionists to solve. I’m not at all convinced that one cannot live healthy by including at least some meat in ones diet. I always argue for veganism in the basis of ethics ( see my other post about ethics) since veganism is only coherently sensible from a animal rights perspective. I mean, there is really no reason to not wear leather from a health-perspective.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Tl;dr There are too many things wrong with this article to make it right. Do your own research and come up with your own conclusion. What you’ll find will likely surprise you.

    This article reeks of pseudoscience, cherry picking and poor analysis. If you really research Darwinist evolution and look at the facts and evidence, you will find that it does not hold any truth. The only part of his theory that is likely accurate is the idea of micro-evolution: the idea that a species will develop traits based on recurring stimuli or constant situations. There is plenty of evidence to support this, but large-scale evolution and the idea that all species evolved from other species is absurd. Darwin’s theory relies on transitional species connecting one species to it’s evolutionary successor. These transitional species neither exist nor is there any evidence of them ever existing. Darwin himself admitted that this was a huge issue in his theory and hoped people would eventually find these transitional species. We haven’t and we never will, evolution just simply doesn’t exist in this way. Why this theory is still seen as the reigning truth is beyond me. There are just too many holes in it. This article relies on this debunked theory to create some of its argument.

    I find it interesting that this article comits an entire section to explain cherry picking when it is guilty of it. It is claimed that other articles supporting the opposing view use the chart comparing omnivores, herbivores, and carnivores is a case of cherry picking. This really isn’t the case. In fact, the majority of evidence that humans are not omnivorous is in analyzing the diets of other animals and how these animals compare to humans. The graphic represents this necessity and in no way is a case of cherry picking. The article fails to discuss the importance of a lot of what is being compared and tries its best to discredit these comparisons. I’ll discuss the most relevant and re-evaluate them from an unbiased view.

    Physiologic food: The author wrote “what the hell is that”. This statement should make it clear that this person isn’t willing to truly research the subject matter. Physiology is the study of the functions of organisms. So this category simply states the function of eating food for each diet type.

    Hands/legs/paws: Let’s think about this. Extremities directly relate to diet. Carnivores and omnivores rely on claws to take down prey. Animals with hands or hand-like paws use them to gather and hold vegetables, fruits, nuts, et cetera. So yes the nature of an animals extremities relates directly to diet.

    Mouth opening: How does this NOT directly relate to diet? It is the opening in which all food enters, so it is one of the first and most obvious points to analyze. Carnivores/omnivores require large openings as they swallow meat in large chunks without much digestion. Other animals have small mouths as they begin digesting their food by chewing it. This process helps break down the food in order to release nutrients. Oh and hippos probably have large openings because they are massive creatures. Perfect example of poor cherry picking.

    Teeth: Our teeth are specialized for eating fruit, vegetables and nuts. Our canine teeth are useful for tearing open thicker skinned fruits. Herbivores have mostly blunt teeth used for grinding plant matter. Meat eaters require mostly pointed/serrated teeth for tearing chunks of flesh off of prey.

    Chewing style: Meat eaters require strong sturdy jaws with little to no lateral/forward movement so that when they are biting prey their jaws are not seriously damaged. If a human were to chase down a large animal and try to bite at it, the jaw could easily be broken or dislocated due to the high mobility of it. This sort of injury would be detrimental to a carnivore.

    At this point, I think I’ve done enough to show how this article holds little credibility but I’ll touch on just two more points.

    Intestinal tract: The length of intestines relates to how much time is necessary for nutrient absorption. Meat eaters have very short intestines so that meat can pass through quickly. The longer it takes for meat to pass, the more likely a build up of bacteria will occur. This can cause food poisoning and other issues. Humans intestines are much longer than both carnivores and omnivores. This allows the time necessary for plant nutrients to be absorbed. The author states that our intestinal tract length is about halfway between a carnivores and an herbivores “as one might expect from an omnivore”. While the length is about evenly between the two, the length of omnivores is actually much shorter than a humans.

    Stomach acid ph: Here, the author claims that what the chart shows is wrong and human stomach ph is 1.5 – 3.5. While the numbers given are accurate (most sources I’ve read actually say about 1-3 and typically closer to 2), this is not the whole story. These ph levels are only while no food is present in the stomach. During digestion, ph levels rise to about 4 or 5. Meat consuming animals maintain a ph of about 1 or less whether food is in the stomach or not. Much of this is due to the fact that the decaying meat in the stomach will cause a build up of bacteria if not kept in check by high ph acid.

    So it seems I’ve written an article to explain why this article is invalid. In fact, the title of the article is “Humans are not herbivores”, while the graphic being examined is actually making the statement that humans are frugivores. So what the heck is a frugivore? Well it’s essentially an herbivore that maintains a diet high in fruits. The truth of studying animal diet types is that they can change from animal to animal and it is difficult to shoehorn animals into such a rigid system. The creation of the frugivore classification is an example of this.

    As in all things, one should do ample research before coming to a conclusion. I have spent some time looking up multiple sources and the overwhelming evidence is that humans aren’t meant to eat meat. Anyone reading this should do the same thing. Don’t just read this article and take it at face value. Research and come
    to your own conclusion. In the end, humans can have practically any diet they want and still survive. But the argument is what humans are created to eat. Essentially, what is a healthy diet.

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    1. I’m sorry but you are suffering of two delusions.

    2. * You think that if someone does not agree with you, the other person is less educated
      * You seem to be a creationist

    3. Sure I used an example of cherry-picking to illustrate how it can be used to show basically anything.

      “Take a look at this orangutan skeleton and look at those canines. Just as a contrast for that – cherry picked – image representing all frugivores.”

      Here I mean that if one is cherry-picking, one might just as well pick this example and show a very different set of teeth. I was just assuming that my readers would catch that. I’m not saying that orangutan are such a better example.

      Also, I do not claim to write a scientific article, this is still a blog post, I do however try to base my posts in science. Science is published in peer-reviewed journals – period.

      As a matter of fact, I have done quite some researching in darwinian evolution since my PhD is centered around darwinian evolution. They way you talk about evolution reveals that it might be you that need to do some actual research.

      Micro-evolution is not generally a term we use, since there is no clear distinction between micro and macro evolution. Creationists have however embraced the term since denying short term evolution is beyond ignorant. However, how we would clearly define macro/micro evolution is very dubious. One major problem is that, how do you really define a species, it’s not a simple task. Basically all species concepts have major issues.
      Your claim that we lack evidence for evolution is just completely ridiculous. Evolution is a fact, we know for a fact that evolution occurred. One has to bee severely ignorant to deny that. The theory of HOW evolution came about is still of course a matter of research and discussion. But we have a very solid theoretical framework to work with.

      I don’t care what Darwin said. You are simply arguing from authority. We know a ton of things Darwin didn’t.

      I don’t really see how we could have a discussion about biology if you deny evolution. If you believe that humans were created or meant to be whatever, just ask your designer then.
      It’s like having a discussion in chemistry with someone that denies the existence of atoms, it’s problematic to say the least.

      “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution”

      Liked by 2 people

  15. Bullfrogs are carnivores do they have big canine teeth or sharp claws? No they don`t and when it comes to the stomach acid,your stomach secretes hydrochloric acid, but the pH of your stomach isn’t necessarily the same as the pH of the acid!

    pH of the Human Stomach

    The pH of your stomach varies, from 1-2 up to 4-5. When you eat, the stomach releases enzymes called proteases as well as hydrochloric acid to aid in digestion. By itself, the acid doesn’t really do much for digestion, but the proteases that cleave proteins work best in an acidic environment or low pH, so after a high-protein meal, your stomach pH may drop to as low as 1 or 2. However, buffers quickly raise the pH back to 3 or 4. After the meal has been digested, your stomach pH returns to a resting level of about 4 or 5. Your stomach secretes acid in response to food, so first thing in the morning you can expect a slightly acidic stomach pH, but not an acidic level representative of pure hydrochloric acid. http://chemistry.about.com/od/lecturenoteslab1/a/Stomach-Ph.htm

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  16. Some people claim that meat doesn’t get digested properly and “rots” in your colon.

    This is not true at all.

    What happens when we eat meat, is that it gets broken down by stomach acid and digestive enzymes.

    In the small intestine, the proteins are broken down into amino acids and the fats are broken down into fatty acids.

    After that, they get absorbed over the digestive wall and into the bloodstream. There’s nothing left to “rot” in your colon.

    If you want to know what really “rots” in your colon, it’s indigestible plant matter (fiber)… from vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes.

    The human digestive system doesn’t have the enzymes necessary to break down fiber, which is why it travels all the way to the colon.

    There, it gets fermented (rots) by the friendly bacteria in the intestine, which turn it into nutrients and beneficial compounds like the short-chain fatty acid butyrate (1).

    This is what keeps the friendly bacteria alive and many studies are showing that feeding these bacteria properly is incredibly important for optimal health (2, 3).

    So, meat doesn’t rot in the colon.

    We crush food in the mouth, where amylase (an enzyme) breaks down some of the starches. In the stomach, pepsin (another enzyme) breaks down proteins, and strong hydrochloric acid (pH 1.5-3, average of 2…this is why it stings when you vomit) further dissolves everything. The resulting acidic slurry is called ‘chyme’—and right away we can see that the “meat rots in your stomach” theory is baloney. Nothing ‘rots’ in a vat of pH 2 hydrochloric acid and pepsin.

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  17. Is there a point to all this? I mean human lifespans are to short for any of this matter you eat plants fruit and meat or you only choose one or two this is the what you debate and it is such a waste of time!

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  18. I think one logically argument for us being more on the herbivore side than omnivore side would be the fact that if a human killed a mammal or bird and started eating it’s raw flesh, blood and organs. That human would get sick, unlike omnivores or carnivores. Thoughts?

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    1. Well, this is actually not true. Humans are perfectly capable of eating raw meat. However, it is safer and easier to digest by cooking (which has been around since even before homo sapiens).
      Cooking reduces the risk of getting ill by pathogens in the meat, so it’s really microorganisms and not the meat it self that would cause disease. There are plenty of diseases you could get from eating contaminated legumes as well.

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    1. I know there are a handful of MD’s promoting this idea of humans being herbivores. I think this is a typical case of that within a certain subjects there are people promoting an idea supported by articles written by the same 2-3 people – which is usually indicated by people referring to the names of the authors rather than an field of literature. Red flags should be raised when the same few names of people are thrown around frequently. It’s usually a circle fest of self-referral.

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  19. I just cant believe some of the comments Im reading here ot looks like some of the people posting here never took a biology or human anatomy class in high school or college. Saying humans aren’t omnivores is living in denial, you’re basically saying humans never evolved or that evolution never happened when there’s scientific evidence that humans are omnivores but I guess that’s part of the vegan cult mentality which the Vegan Biologist is trying to change through facts and education which is very admirable. Keep up the good work my friend because by the looks of it you have an uphill battle.

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    1. I think what people are saying is that the terms are too broad, and are a human invention. The fact that we’re the only species on the planet who lives longer, healthier and happier on a different diet than what’s proposed, proves we are not omnivores. We CAN be omnivores as we CAN be herbivores. We could survive solely on fish, insects, red and white meat, but it doesn’t mean we’re carnivores.

      Humans are too much of a difficult species to place into such broad categories.

      (The majority of omnivores take 5-15% of their calories from other animals. Just because they have the ability to do so does not mean it’s their most suitable diet. I believe in that sense the term omnivore is flawed, the very definition of omnivore is ‘an animal or person that eats a variety of food of both plant and animal origin’ to which I reply, I, a human, am not the following. Also because of the fact that humans thrive off an omnivorous diet proves we’re either herbivores… or nothing at all because the categories are too broad) (lol).

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    2. Well, in 2.5 billion years of eating meat we have not made 1 single biological advance to meat consumption. Man is an ape and apes are herbivores in biological terms.

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    3. I’ll make is simpler: humans are omnivores because people have lived to triple figures eating lots of meat, and they’ve lived that long eating plants. People’s capacity to deny what’s literally all around them (humans that are very, very old but still alive) is amazing to me. Obviously we can digest meat and extract nutrition since Eskimos eat almost exclusively meat and blubber and survived all this time.

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  20. Have they used a species of bear as their omnivore example which are taxonomy Carnivora. Black bears, Grizzly bears and Brown bears do go into a deep sleep during the winter months, known as torpor. To get ready for hibernation, animals will eat more than usual during the fall to store up body fat. During hibernation and torpor, they will use up this extra body fat to live off of while not losing any muscle. This allows the animal to come out of hibernation thinner and still as strong as it was before winter. Thus since humans don’t hibernate the table of comparisons is inaccurate. Remember its more than just anatomy which decides what an animal should/does eat but also what is in its environment. http://www.bbc.co.uk/earth/story/20150728-chimps-nearly-wiped-out-monkeys

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  21. Eat what you want and enjoy your short time here, none of us get out alive anyway! Personally I think the biggest problem with health and the human diet is our consumption of processed sugar and processed food, not our being an omnivore, herbivore, or other. This was a very interesting article, and in my opinion very well written. I also enjoyed reading most of the comments as well, interesting arguments. I am not vegan or vegetarian, I eat meat. In fact I am an avid hunter and will consume wild meat in place of domestic meat whenever I can. (I’m not interested in any bleeding heart animals are cute; how can you kill them comments, though I am sure they will come any way. I’ve heard them all already, so don’t bother. In my opinion it is my evolutionary and biological right as a omnivorous species on this planet to hunt and consume other species and that is all I will say on the matter). One argument that I was waiting to read was the fact they our eyes are located in the front of our skulls giving us binocular vision for pursuit of whats in front of us, rather than herbivores that have their eyes on the side of their skulls giving them monocular vision and a much wider peripheral view of their immediate surroundings that enable them to avoid pursuit. Any thoughts on this subject?

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    1. I have some thoughts 🙂 You’ve said a lot here, so I’ll try to keep my response short to save us both some time (because I lied, I have more than some thoughts, I have a lot haha!) But I can delve deeper into any of it later on, if you like.

      1) “Eat what you want and enjoy your short time here”
      A: Before I started a vegan lifestyle, I would have said the same thing. But trust me there is nothing boring about it. If anything I’m eating a greater variety of food, and even a greater quantity. And I still eat burgers, pizzas etc and all of the usual comfort foods. The only difference being is that the ingredients are kinder, healthier and better for the environment. I know veganism sounds like you’re giving something up. But once you try it, you realise, not only do not lose anything, you gain a whole lot more (from food, to mindset). Not only am I enjoying everything more than ever, my time here is going to be quite a bit longer 🙂

      2)”none of us get out alive anyway!”
      A: While we all die, our behavior determines how soon we die and our quality of life. Who doesn’t want to live longer and feel younger for longer? The reasons why people are quiting smoking and don’t do heron, are the same reasons why people choose to eat healthy.
      I have a family member who works in hospitals. And there is one thing she always says to me: Not one person in the hospital has ever said: “well all of that _insert unhealthy behavior_ was worth it”. No matter how old or unhealthy they are, they always want to live longer, and the only thing on a patients mind is to get healthy enough to leave the hospital.

      3)”Personally I think the biggest problem with health and the human diet is our consumption of processed sugar and processed food, not our being an omnivore, herbivore, or other”
      A: Processed foods are never great, which is why you’ll often see vegans promoting a Wholefoods Plant Based diet. This is scientifically proven to be the best way to eat for long life, health, and avoiding the common chronic diseases and deaths (Watch: Dr. Greger Google Talk). On this talk he explains that most people are prematurely dying from cardiovascular diseases (heart-attacks, stroke, etc) Diseases caused by the arteries being clogged with plaque. This plaque is caused by one thing only: excess cholesterol. The plaque formation is made worse by processed foods like oils, sugar, or activities like smoking. But without the high cholesterol, the plaque would never form (ref:Dr. William C. Roberts).
      This is a bit long so here is the important bit: Cholesterol is only found in animal products, so by not eating animals products we can easily avoid the disease that kills 1 person every 8 seconds in the USA. The number 1 killer in the world: heart disease. 17 million people world wide die from this annually. All of the wars combined have got nothing in terms of death count on this. It also kind of makes you wonder whether we really are omnivores, since other omnivores don’t get heart disease, even when they drink pure fat and oil ! 🙂

      4) ” my opinion it is my evolutionary and biological right as a omnivorous species on this planet to hunt and consume other species ”
      A: That is what many would call an appeal to Darwinism (The assumption that evolution should steer our lifestyle/future).
      Well I guess in that case you’d have to respect that a bigger male has the right to kill you and take your females? 🙂 But of course that’s not how a modern society works, we don’t live in a Darwinian society (thankfully!) Our society works best when people work together and share knowledge to benefit the whole human race. And our knowledge of the world tells us, that eating animals is destroying the entire planet (a.k.a. the only place we can live haha!). Some 80 billion farm animals, all burping and farting, and pooping. It’s responsible for 1/2 of the global warming effect, tons of deforestation(we need to farm more food for those animals), water pollution and so on. And while being a hunter is on a small scale much more environmental, on the scale required to feed the whole world, all of the mammals on the planet would be hunted out of existence in year or two. Nature cannot keep up with the demand for meat, eggs and dairy, and farmers realized this long ago, hence factory farming – this industrialized abomination is the only thing that can keep up with the demand.

      There is also a lot to say about the “food chain” idea. Scientists these days say it’s less like a chain and more like a web of interdependent nodes. Which means there is no top position.

      In regards to humans being omnivorous, what many people don’t realize is that being an omnivore means that it allows a creature to survive of animals OR plants. It doesn’t mean that they need both to live. So that means that we can choose what we should eat, and of course as above, we should choose to eat what gives humanity the greatest benefit (health, environment).
      I can also argue that humans really aren’t meant to be omnivores, since we don’t seem to have any adaptations for eating animals, physical or psychological. And that we seem to get an awful lot of diseases from eating meat and other animal products(the top #15 killers in fact), real omnivores don’t get these diseases (not even gout! because they aren’t missing the enzyme that breaks down uric acid, like we are). We also die if we only eat meat, we’d be come deficient in several nutrients, but other omnivores happily live off animals alone.

      5) “One argument that I was waiting to read was the fact they our eyes are located in the front of our skulls giving us binocular vision for pursuit of whats in front of us, rather than herbivores that have their eyes on the side of their skulls giving them monocular vision and a much wider peripheral view of their immediate surroundings that enable them to avoid pursuit”
      A: Not only are there a ton of predatory animals that have their eyes on the sides of their head(such as sharks), there are quite a lot of herbivorous animals which have their eyes facing forwards, most notably our close relatives, gorillas! We both got our eyes from a common ancestor(Nakalipithecus nakayamai) who was also a herbivore. There is some more explanation here from Mic the vegan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Upw1st-wqOg

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  22. LMAO, Mic the vegan is your source of information? Talk about being brainwashed by the biased vegan propaganda!! Humans are omnivores and thanks to scientific evidence that’s been proven beyond any reasonable doubt.

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  23. Hey Vegan Biologist, I really enjoyed the article. I’m shifting towards veganism and It’s great to see more people trying to look into it in a scientific way. Not sure I’m completely convinced what we are, but this is a much nicer discussion compared to “we chew sideways, thus we are herbivores, end of story.”

    The point most people fail to see is that to become vegan, you DON’T need an argument such as “We were always herbivores”. If you are able to live on a healthy vegan diet today, why should that even matter?

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    1. I agree Cenk, it shouldn’t matter. The ethical, environmental and health sides of veganism already make a compelling argument to be vegan (individually, and even more so altogether). But I’ve come across so many people that dismiss any and every great reason to be vegan with one sentence: “Yeah but humans are omnivores.”

      And of course, I’m not suggesting we should fabricate or bend facts to combat the “we’re omnivores” dismissal. But I definitely think there is enough evidence that can challenge the status quo.

      The first challenge is getting people (including the author here) to be aware that the difference between carnivores/omnivores/herbivores isn’t a hard line. There aren’t 3 exclusive categories, instead it’s more like 3 areas on a spectrum, with very few species living at either end.

      I used to think that humans would be right in the middle of the spectrum, right next to the omnivore label. But the more I read about how food interacts with our systems then the more I’m starting to shift us over the herbivore side, so much so that even if we don’t eat plants exclusively, we are still within the herbivore realm.

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      1. Thank you Cenk!
        I agree that it has no meaning considering if one should become vegan or not. I also briefly take up this subject in the post Skeptical Veganism

        schkorpio I can’t understand why you want to counter a faulty argument with a faulty argument in the other direction? Why don’t you just point out that this argument is based on appeal to nature and therefore is invalid? Why trying to ‘prove’ that humans are herbivores (which they aren’t) when that too would be appeal to nature. I also discuss this briefly in my post Skeptical Veganism
        Veganism does not depend if humans are herbivores or omnivores. To dismiss veganism with the argument that “humans are omvnivores’ is just as wrong as trying to convince people to become vegans because “humans are herbivores”.

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      2. Well there are certainly better reasons to be vegan.

        (Humour me)But what if the scientific community declared humans herbivores based on good evidence? Would that still make it an appeal to nature fallacy, or would that become a factual incentive to eat plants?

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      3. In that hypothetical scenario I would of course consider it to be an appeal to nature fallacy, everything else would just be intellectually dishonest.
        I argue for veganism from an ethics and animal rights perpective

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      4. So by the same token, would you say that it’s an appeal to nature fallacy to say cats should eat animals because they are carnivores?

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      5. Sure, I mean, what you should feed a cat is a matter of what is the ethical choice. It’s a matter of what type of diet that is healthy for a cat. But It’s always a bit tricky to say what is “natural” for a domesticated animal, I have an issue with the fact that humans are domesticating animals in the first place.
        I would say that it’s appeal to nature to claim that cats should be fed meat because they are carnviores and therefore it’s natural (good). The reasonable path is, if I have responsibility towards an animal, how do I take care of this animal in the best possible way?

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      6. Ok that’s fair and consistent too. But then it means your whole article is also an appeal to nature argument 😛

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      7. If I understand correctly, you’re saying that looking at our bodies, and past behavior is an appeal to nature. But your whole article is looking at our bodies and past behavior as well.

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  24. I enjoyed this blog. I believe it would be beneficial for humans to consume very diverse foods, in order to keep adaptability. Our highest priority is to protect ourselves but also to persist as a species.

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    1. Evolution doesn’t really work that way – you don’t typically lose an adaptation if you don’t use it. E.g. In order for the human race to lose the ability to eat meat, all of the people who are able to digest meat would have not have children. There would then have to be a number of human beings that are unable to digest meat, and they would have to be the ones having children only. A very unlikely scenario.

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  25. So, let’s see:

    You start with a “Humans are not herbivores” and try to proof with that article, that humans are not frugivores. Great.

    First of all: You mix the behavior with physiology and anatomy. Apes hunt for different reasons, conflicts in their pack and food shortage are the two most common one. Even Jane Goodall – who lives with these animals since decades and was the very first in our civilization, who detected that they eat meat at all, estimated about 2-4% meat in their nutrition. In order to make this clear:

    The behavior is one thing, the body another one.
    http://www-bcf.usc.edu/~stanford/chimphunt.html

    The thing with the milk is, that a tolerance is a tolerance. We also develop tolerance to poisons, does this mean they count to a healthy nutrition now?

    The sheet does clearly state, that apes like orangutans use their canines for defense.
    Why did you miss that point?

    I can see issues with each and every point that you state here.
    Answer me, in order to show that this thread is still moderated and i can invest some time to display all of them, including this cherry picked B12 arguments. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So, let’s see:

      You start with a “Humans are not herbivores” and try to proof with that article, that humans are not frugivores. Great.

      First of all: You mix the behavior with physiology and anatomy. Apes hunt for different reasons, conflicts in their pack and food shortage are the two most common one. Even Jane Goodall – who lives with these animals since decades and was the very first in our civilization, who detected that they eat meat at all, estimated about 2-4% meat in their nutrition. In order to make this clear:

      The behavior is one thing, the body another one.
      http://www-bcf.usc.edu/~stanford/chimphunt.html

      Not really, I’m not trying to prove anything really. I’m refuting erroneous claims made in ideologically founded denial and ignorance. What I’m claiming – that humans are omnivores – is the mainstream view in science and what you wound find in scientific literature. I’m not trying to build such a case on my own.

      I’m not actually. Behaviour is a trait as anything else and is tightly linked with physiology and anatomy. However, none of these raise any reasons to reevaluate the notion that humans are omnivores.
      Yes I know, this is an interesting case on it’s own, if humans committed to cannibalism for nutrition or purely cultural reasons – I’m not the one to answer. However, regardless if one consumes meat for conflicts or other social circumstances, the nutrients still end up in your body.

      Did you read your own source that you supply? Like the quotes:

      “Many researchers now believe that the carcasses of large mammals were an important source of meat for early hominids once they had stone tools to use for removing the flesh from the carcass”

      and

      “Since neither humans or chimpanzees are truly carnivorous – most traditional human societies eat a diet made up mostly of plant foods – we are considered omnivores

      We have an observable facts – humans are omnivores. Then we can investigate the evolutionary mechanisms that led to that. None of which will disprove the initial observation – but explain how it came to be. This article you linked is trying to shed light on the evolutionary history of human behaviour, not claiming that humans is “really” herbivores. Some vegans seems to think that if they just could “prove” that human ancestors were vegans, then everyone should be vegan. Well if that would be the case, it would just be a historical fact, not instructions for the present. That the ancestors of whales were land dwelling mammals doesn’t mean that they really should be land dwellers.

      The thing with the milk is, that a tolerance is a tolerance. We also develop tolerance to poisons, does this mean they count to a healthy nutrition now?

      No, that is not at all comparable. Milk is an essential source of nutrients for all young mammals. Later in life, this capacity is turned off by transcriptional regulation of the gene coding for the lactase enzyme. However, the ability to digest lactose in adult in humans is an example of evolution – recognized as a textbook example of natural selection in humans actually. This allows humans to consume milk which is undoubtedly a nutritious product. A poison is a highly toxic substance and does in any everyday context have any nutritional value. Even though – toxicity is just a matter of dose for anything.

      The sheet does clearly state, that apes like orangutans use their canines for defense.
      Why did you miss that point?

      I think it’s you that miss my point.

      I’m writing:
      “Take a look at this orangutan skeleton and look at those canines. Just as a contrast for that – cherry picked – image representing all frugivores.”

      Which is to say that you can “prove” anything by cherry-picking non-representative pieces of information. If I as an example pick a different cherry, the whole vegan meme idea of showing different dentitions as proof that humans are not really “made” to eat meat falls apart. Again, I’m not using this as evidence, I’m trying to show how silly the argument is.

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  26. I enjoyed this article. While I am not vegetarian nor vegan, I can respect when one separates the conflation between what is ethically right versus manufacturing claims to make something “right.” Pretending humans are something that they are not does nothing to further the actual argument that one might actually be making. The question isn’t whether humans can utilize animal sources for survival, it is whether humans “should.” I can engage in that argument all day and respect the other person at the end of the day. When someone makes up claims, then I have an issue.

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  27. Nice read, I really enjoyed it. I have been vegan for 2 months now, stumbled upon that comparison chart doing some research and then finally came here. I’m now convinced that we are omnivores but some questions about the evolutionary adaptations that we’ve made to eat meat/animal products.

    First, let me preface this by saying I am by no means an expert on biology, so please correct anything I’ve said wrong, as I’d like to get my facts straight.

    People with lactase persistence are able to digest lactose after childhood. You said that this was that the expression of the enzyme enabling us to digest lactose continues into adult hood. Is this caused by a genetic mutation or simply because they continued to consume milk?

    Also, how effective our evolutionary adaptations are, in general, in regards to consuming meat? What do you think the optimal diet human is without regard to morals (purely scientific point of view – the diet could have meat/animal products)? I know there is probably no exact answer for the 2nd question but I’d like to hear your own take.

    Thanks!

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      1. Perhaps a better response from you would be to address the science you have a problem with directly by providing actual science as counter-evidence, instead a opinion blog…..

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    1. Joshua, don’t be fooled by this article. Humans adapted to eating meat but never evolved to eat meat. Evolution and adaptation are 2 different things. Evolution happened over millions of years for humans and early humans started to eat it at the end of the Paleolithic Period (-2.5M – 12K years). We still have a pre stone age body that performs better on whole plant fuel. Check Caldwell Esselstin’s clinical trials and how heart disease patients who were circling the drain reversed their diseases completely on a whole foods plant based diet. And, by not eating animal products you effectively reduce your carbon footprint on the environment. The animal agro business is a very brutal and polluting industry any way you look at it…

      Liked by 1 person

  28. that was very informative, at the very end you said this debunks claims we are herbivores but also that we are meat eaters. wouldn’t it be logical to believe we ” became omnivores” when we ventured millions of years ago due to survival, ice ages, etc. ? but if we go back say 3 million years ago ( homo erectus) I would think we were eating fruit, leaves, shoots, seeds, etc. it was in abundance I’m sure. and doesn’t protein come from the plants that animals eat and then we in turn think that ” meat” is the protein?? we are sooo conditioned to think this is normal, the earth provides us with everything – even b12 ( just love mushrooms, and eat them regularly to keep consistent b12 in your body – we don’t need a lot!
    but great article. and I’m sticking to my plants!

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  29. Thank you so much for this post! I am not a vegetarian or a vegan however I do have several friends who are. And I find we often have… debates… on the concept of vegetarianism/veganism. I did not come looking for information to debunk what they were saying but to simply understand more about their view (especially considering I only heard the term frugivore for the first time today). So to find this article has been very helpful in understanding the whole omnivore/herbivore/frugivore debate. It was very clear and concise and I LOVED your paragraph on cherry picking! Very relevant and accurate, seeing how most websites seemed unable to present information for both sides but rather only “facts” that furthered their own beliefs. So thank you 🙂

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  30. Thank you for a very fine article and your honesty. My main goal is to seek long life but combine with best health possible. I also took the time to read the replies which are mostly enlightening. I also learned a little more about veganism. I tend to agree (after reading the entire content (blog + comments) that veganism is a choice more than anything else (ethics) and has to be respected however; I again respect your honesty (being a vegan your self) in debunking some vegan attitude which comes close to be a religion rather than a simple personal choice. FOOD for thoughts: “YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT!” “ALL IS GOOD IN MODERATION!”

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    1. Rene Lecours, how moderate do you like your diabetes? Moderation is a very foolish thing to recommend to anyone. What is moderation? There is no framework for people to gauge what moderation is. We’ve been told “you can eat everything in moderation” for decades now and we are the sickest we’ve ever been. Bottom line, humans don’t need to eat animals; humans thrive when they eat a variety of whole plant foods and bonus, it lightens up your footprint on the environment. Take a look at the amazing clinical trials by Caldwell Esselstin. Pretty amazing stuff never replicated on an omnivore diet…

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Veganism is purely a question of morals. It needs no scientific or pseudo-scientific justification.
    Me, I’m 80% carnivore + 20% herbivore. That’s just me! 🙂

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    1. Vegetarian diet is a completely different story to veganism, milk and eggs are worse for us than meat.

      And even if there is some risk, we know that meat DEFINITELY causes cancer, while many plants stop cancer. Check out nutritionfacts.org or the wcrf.org they paint a very clear picture, and they are a credible source unilke the telegraph.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. NutritionFacts.org is absolutely not a credible source for information. Just take a look at the content, and even the way the website itself is set up. Everything is very eye-appealing and all of the information is in video form. The information is cited, however, the first thing you are presented with below each video is links to other videos on his website. The actual citations are on a different tab that you have to go looking for. As for the cited work itself, has anyone ever actually bothered to click on every single link and read the information through and through? A lot of it would be difficult for the average person to decipher, and much of it is not definitive research, or even supported by other research or professionals. This founder of the website, an obviously biased general practitioner, he pulls some deceitful and manipulative maneuvers to get people to trust his misinformation, and in turn not do their own searching. His website should never be considered a credible source for information.

        As for The World Cancer Research Fund International website, I have found nothing there saying meat causes cancer. But they do have this article on their website (http://wcrf.org/int/research-we-fund/cancer-prevention-recommendations/animal-foods) which only recommends cutting back on red meats and especially processed meats; it doesn’t say that meat causes cancer, and it does not say to cut it completely out of your diet.

        There is actually more science emerging that is on the verge of proving that carbohydrates fuel cancer. This source isn’t quite definitive research but I’m just providing it to give an idea of how it could very well be the case (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3267662/#__sec18title)
        This will definitely become a more heavily researched theory as time goes on. And I’m hoping that people will do their own proper searching for answers. Just try to avoid using confirmation bias while searching. You know you’re doing it right when you are finding some of your beliefs are being challenged.

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      2. Welsh, you must be kidding – you’ve read one bit of research in the recent news about sugar making a protein in yeast (which has bugger all to do with cancer in humans) and you believe it, and yet you dismiss the 10,000 or so bits of documentation actually proving that meat causes cancer. You then downplay the danger.
        I think you’re a shill honestly.

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  32. I think it’s really refreshing to find a Vegan who doesn’t ignore the real scientific evidence behind human biology and evolution. However, I just wanted to question one thing about long term plant based diets because I just can’t come to the conclusion that going for long periods time consuming mostly just a lot of carbs (even if from plants) is healthy. We never evolved eating one type of food for long periods of time, it doesn’t seem this could be healthy for our bodies. We had to eat food based on the season, that would have made our diets very diverse all the time. During winter we had little-to-no carbohydrates, and we survived mostly on what animal meat we could hunt, and we even went periods of time during the winter with no food. But during the summer we were able to eat animal meat, insects, and more plants and berries (edible/non-poisonous fruits for humans were actually pretty scarce back then before genetic modification/crossbreeding). The carbohydrates during the summer helped us retain a little more fat to help us survive during the winter when we couldn’t find food, because fat is a slow burning fuel. So I just don’t think eating just one type of food long term, no matter how you supplement, is healthy for us.

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    1. If we weren’t meant to eat plants only then why are we the only omnivores that need to cook their meat to avoid acute disease…chicken salmonella, eggs salmonella, pork cistercircosis, beef, e coli and other acute diseases as well as chronic for all. Why do we get cancers and disease from these animal polyomaviruses. Eat a raw chicken or raw beef without seasoning and tell me how great it is without seasoning and how great the bloody diarrhea feels, the botulism or seizures from the cistercircosis. We need to add spices, salt or herbs or cook in butter to make them palatable.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Welsh, there is a better method of determining whether a diet is healthy or not than somehow inferring this from what one believes the eating habits of our ancestors to have been. Your method is bound to be unreliable because it consists of lots of guesswork about our evolution plus a logically dubious conclusion (because ancestors ate way A, divergent way B must be unhealthy).

      A much better method would be to conduct a high quality long-term study of living subjects. Such a study still doesn’t exist for vegans although smaller studies do exist, especially such focused on specific health effects (not general ones) of plant-based diets. See first link below. On the other hand, 40% of Indians are lacto-vegetarians, and many of them have traditionally consumed only moderate amounts of dairy. No adverse health effects have been observed. One could argue that maybe Indians have developed genetic adaptations to better suit them to a vegetarian diet, and that other ethnic groups may lack these. It’s possible. But we also have the Adventist health studies and those cover mostly Caucasians, many of whom are vegetarians (not vegans), see first link below. Again, no problems associated with vegetarian eating, and if anything, the health effects have been positive.

      Also, note that plants do not only contain carbohydrates but also fats and proteins, and vegans are not generally at risk of protein deficiency (athletes building and maintaining muscle mass may need to supplement or fine tune their diet to achieve the required intake).

      And of course there are millions of vegans around the world. It would by now surely be well-established if there were very obvious negative health effects of plant-based diets.

      In short, we have no indication that plant-based diets are unhealthy for humans, and plenty of evidence that they come with significant health benefits. The third link may be of use to you should you wish to try for yourself.

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3662288/
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adventist_Health_Studies
      http://veganhealth.org/

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    3. Welsh, we never evolve eating animals, we adapted. There is a huge difference between adaptation and evolution. Human evolution happened over millions of years and early humans started to eat meat at the end of the Paleolithic Period (-2.5M – 12K years). Humans did not evolve anatomy and physiology traits during that period. In short, we still have a pre-stone age body plan designed to eat mostly whole plants. There’s a reason we have to cook meat, we don’t have the instinct to kill prey, and we get sick when we eat too much animal products…

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      1. Quote: “There’s a reason we have to cook meat, we don’t have the instinct to kill prey, and we get sick when we eat too much animal products…”

        You are making too many assumptions. Meat can be eaten raw (e.g. steak tartare and sushi), it just carries more risk, which was less understood in ancient times. Fire was also part of our evolution and none of it was preordained. Also, plenty of people have no trouble killing and do it instinctively. Just because you aren’t one or don’t know many doesn’t negate that fact. I had the hunting instinct as a teen but never needed to do it, living in a city, and later saw that it was unsustainable since livestock have replace game for the most part. I’ve always been against trophy hunting.

        I’m not anti-vegan but I find it unrealistic as a true solution to anything, like denying people chocolate or ice cream. Realistic solutions are the ones that work, but then again we seem destined to trash nature until a die-off occurs. The human species just isn’t bright enough as a whole.

        It’s hard to admit that we’re just a destructive species overall. People prefer to talk about “solutions” and “optimism” as they witness problems getting progressively worse due to sheer human numbers (which we dare not focus on). So-called urban planning is just a way to shift overpopulation to different areas while professionals take big salaries and pretend growthism isn’t the real problem.

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  33. I find militant vegans to be much like those who say climate change is the “only” environmental problem worth extreme effort to solve. In their emotional reactions to the deaths of animals (which other carnivorous/omnivorous species have also caused for ages) they downplay the bigger issue of overpopulation which got us to a point where too many animals are being eaten.

    In other words, there’s no way to stop animals from being eaten on some relative scale, so it’s pure fantasy to use that as a “solution.” Veganism is just too difficult for most people to maintain (like asking them to never eat dessert) and we should really be focusing on degrowth and other approaches.

    Some vegans excuse population-growth for PC reasons (fear of offending prolific ethnic groups) and claim veganism will allow billions more people to happily crowd the Earth, ignoring all the other problems it brings. Monomania, again.

    Single-issue zealotry is also why the world’s landscapes are being ruined by “green” wind “farms” in a futile effort to reduce fossil fuels effectively. Environmentalism has become too shrill in the wrong areas. The real issues are too many people and too much greed, not just specific symptoms of those phenomena.

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    1. A little naive to think that human population will not increase. The answer therefore lies in individual ecological footprint. Your problem is that your greedy and feel the need to use 3 times more than any human needs. Climate change is the end result of this lifestyle. So if we can change it by simply adapting a biologically appropriate lifestyle, humans aren’t over populated. Our inappropriate diet of livestock animals are.

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      1. I see that exact form of overpopulation-denial from many vegans, which is why I brought it up! There are far more things in the consumption-chain than food, and energy is a huge mainstay (the sprawl from faux-green industrial wind power is of particular concern to me; it’s a favorite icon of neo-environmentalist zealots).

        People take up space, and nature loses that space every day. I’ve seen a few mindless vegans claim we can easily feed 10 billion+ billion people if everyone just gave up meat. They should be asking WHY we should aspire to that. It shows they have no real understanding of total impact.

        And don’t call me greedy; that’s a strawman (us vs. them monomania). I’m not a vegan but avoid species that take a lot of range-land to raise, and live frugally in general. Just because someone hasn’t overridden their natural instinct to eat meat doesn’t make them evil.

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      2. And I see the the overpopulation being used an excuse to avoid veganism. They’re both issues, and both need solving. Otherwise you’re just saying two wrongs make a right.

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      3. 7.5 billion humans and 70 billion livestock animals while all other life is lowly eradicated. Nothing is more important, as any semi logic halfwit would be able to reason, than what 7.5 billion (and growing) people eat. It was irrelevant eating a biologically inappropriate diet when we were half our current numbers. It’s not any more. Meat has never been sustainable. Much of habitable land is used to grow food for this inappropriate diet of ours. Wouldn’t hurt you think objectively once in a while.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. FYI, this article says the vast majority of vegans return to eating meat, which should tell you it’s not a natural way to live; too much restraint is required. Fine if you have that discipline, but it’s unrealistic as a mass-solution to anything.

        “84% of Vegetarians and Vegans Return to Meat. Why?”
        https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animals-and-us/201412/84-vegetarians-and-vegans-return-meat-why

        The notion that it’s ever going to be practical to reduce impact very much via veganism is false out of the gate. It’s like telling people they can solve weight problems by simply resisting desserts – for life –
        and labeling them as gluttons if they fail.

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      5. Dude please stop, everything you are saying is based on really poor assumptions. Try a vegan 21 day guided challenge, from veganeasy.org, challenge22.org, pcrm.org/kickstart and many others, then come back when you have an informed opinion.

        Like

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