Being an anthropology student (and also a vegan) the question “Are humans designed to eat meat” has always been a particularly intriguing question for me.
It’s also really important to know this stuff because it stops a lot of people – in their tracks – from embracing diet high in plant food (the key for radiant health!).
A person came right up to me last month, almost dismayed, saying,“Can you honestly tell me that humans aren’t designed to eat meat? We’ve eaten meat since our early days as prehistoric humans!”
Here’s what I said:
“It’s not that I think eating meat is inherently wrong – I don’t.
Yes, there are tremendous problems with the scale of animal cruelty present today, but I don’t think that eating a cow or chicken you tended to with loving care is inherently bad or wrong.
And I won’t deny that – without a doubt – humans ate meat in our early days. We did!
What I find important is how much. How much meat did humans really eat?”
Most likely early humans ate very, very little meat.
In fact, their main subsistence was likely lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds (a mostly raw diet coincidentally).
Meat was something to be enjoyed on occasion. Why do you think there was such a great celebration over that successful hunt? (That probably happened every couple months at best).
I recently picked up a paleo diet cookbook (where we are supposed to eat like our early ancestral humans did) and I was astounded by recipe after recipe of different meat dishes!
Where’s the truth in that?
Now – just because we ate small amounts of meat in our early days – does this mean that humans are “designed” to eat meat in the same way a carnivore is?
I still say a resounding NO.
Anthropologists suspect that, in truth, humans are herbivores by design.
Why? The digestive tract of a true carnivore, say a tiger, is about 3 times the length of the animal. Do you know how long that of a human’s is? About 10-12 times the length of the human. A carnivore – like a tiger – eats and digests a piece of meat in less than 1 day (because the meat is rapidly decaying).
The same piece of meat takes us (humans) double to triple that amount of time (2-3 days!) to digest that same piece of meat.
Have you looked at your teeth lately? Do they compare to that of a tiger?
How about your jaw? Not much compared to the chomping power on a tiger is it? The teeth and jaws on a tiger are clearly designed to tear and rip apart flesh, whereas ours…not so much.
Our closest living ancestors, the great apes, are almost always herbivores, with very few exceptions.
So: Humans do not need meat to live healthy, vibrant lives!
But – you say – what if I LOVE meat?
Then you love meat!
For my clients who simply can’t live without meat, I suggest enjoying a small piece (like that of a side dish or smaller) of meat every once and awhile – bought from a reputable, grain fed, local source. And load the remaining 75% (or more) of your plate with some delicious raw, vegan recipes (that I coincidentally teach about in my classes).
As for eating meat (or other animal products) every day, three times a day? No thank you.
This meat stays in our guts for an extended amount of time (mingling at body temperature no less) causing constipation and oxidization within your digestive tract (among other ailments).
Done in excess over the span of a lifetime, it takes a great toll on the body (colon cancer, a most popular cancer, has a high correlation to meat consumption levels and very low levels of fibre – go figure) – and it’s very hard on the environment too.
So tell me about your thoughts on our human design – did I convince you? Do you enjoy meat every once and awhile?
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