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View Full Version : But humans are OMNIVORES!



dernami
02-27-2003, 09:49 PM
I hate this assertion/question. Therefore, I keep this handy to disarm opponents whenever they make this claim:

The following info comes from "The Comparative Anatomy of Eating", by Milton R. Mills, M.D.

Facial Muscles
CARNIVORE: Reduced to allow wide mouth gape
HERBIVORE: Well-developed
OMNIVORE: Reduced
HUMAN: Well-developed

Jaw Type
CARNIVORE: Angle not expanded
HERBIVORE: Expanded angle
OMNIVORE: Angle not expanded
HUMAN: Expanded angle

Jaw Joint Location
CARNIVORE: On same plane as molar teeth
HERBIVORE: Above the plane of the molars
OMNIVORE: On same plane as molar teeth
HUMAN: Above the plane of the molars

Jaw Motion
CARNIVORE: Shearing; minimal side-to-side motion
HERBIVORE: No shear; good side-to-side, front-to-back
OMNIVORE: Shearing; minimal side-to-side
HUMAN: No shear; good side-to-side, front-to-back

Major Jaw Muscles
CARNIVORE: Temporalis
HERBIVORE: Masseter and pterygoids
OMNIVORE: Temporalis
HUMAN: Masseter and pterygoids

Mouth Opening vs. Head Size
CARNIVORE: Large
HERBIVORE: Small
OMNIVORE: Large
HUMAN: Small

Teeth: Incisors
CARNIVORE: Short and pointed
HERBIVORE: Broad, flattened and spade shaped
OMNIVORE: Short and pointed
HUMAN: Broad, flattened and spade shaped

Teeth: Canines
CARNIVORE: Long, sharp and curved
HERBIVORE: Dull and short or long (for defense), or none
OMNIVORE: Long, sharp and curved
HUMAN: Short and blunted

Teeth: Molars
CARNIVORE: Sharp, jagged and blade shaped
HERBIVORE: Flattened with cusps vs complex surface
OMNIVORE: Sharp blades and/or flattened
HUMAN: Flattened with nodular cusps

Chewing
CARNIVORE: None; swallows food whole
HERBIVORE: Extensive chewing necessary
OMNIVORE: Swallows food whole and/or simple crushing
HUMAN: Extensive chewing necessary

Saliva
CARNIVORE: No digestive enzymes
HERBIVORE: Carbohydrate digesting enzymes
OMNIVORE: No digestive enzymes
HUMAN: Carbohydrate digesting enzymes

Stomach Type
CARNIVORE: Simple
HERBIVORE: Simple or multiple chambers
OMNIVORE: Simple
HUMAN: Simple

Stomach Acidity
CARNIVORE: Less than or equal to pH 1 with food in stomach
HERBIVORE: pH 4 to 5 with food in stomach
OMNIVORE: Less than or equal to pH 1 with food in stomach
HUMAN: pH 4 to 5 with food in stomach

Stomach Capacity
CARNIVORE: 60% to 70% of total volume of digestive tract
HERBIVORE: Less than 30% of total volume of digestive tract
OMNIVORE: 60% to 70% of total volume of digestive tract
HUMAN: 21% to 27% of total volume of digestive tract

Length of Small Intestine
CARNIVORE: 3 to 6 times body length
HERBIVORE: 10 to more than 12 times body length
OMNIVORE: 4 to 6 times body length
HUMAN: 10 to 11 times body length

Colon
CARNIVORE: Simple, short and smooth
HERBIVORE: Long, complex; may be sacculated
OMNIVORE: Simple, short and smooth
HUMAN: Long, sacculated

Liver
CARNIVORE: Can detoxify vitamin A
HERBIVORE: Cannot detoxify vitamin A
OMNIVORE: Can detoxify vitamin A
HUMAN: Cannot detoxify vitamin A

Kidney
CARNIVORE: Extremely concentrated urine
HERBIVORE: Moderately concentrated urine
OMNIVORE: Extremely concentrated urine
HUMAN: Moderately concentrated urine

Nails
CARNIVORE: Sharp claws
HERBIVORE: Flattened nails or blunt hooves
OMNIVORE: Sharp claws
HUMAN: Flattened nails

misanthropy
02-27-2003, 10:30 PM
Very cool. I've already copied and saved it on my computer!

-- Ida :)

Dandelion
02-28-2003, 02:26 AM
Thanks dernami!

Once i had an argument on the street with a person about our 'canine' teeth. i whipped out a piece of paper and dared them to pierce a hole though it in one bite. No, they didn't take me up on the offer...that's ok cause i demonstrated. :)

Halfelf
02-28-2003, 10:18 AM
I hope no one at work sees me here trying to bite through a piece of paper!

:laugh:

Anyway. That's a good one... I'll use that retort next time! :D

Butterfinger
02-28-2003, 12:39 PM
I do too! :banana:

erasmus
02-28-2003, 12:54 PM
I don't think it's clear cut whether we are built as omnivores or herbivores. But we are certainly 99% herbivore.

veganlove02
02-28-2003, 04:49 PM
I heard we started eating meat during the ice age (12,000 yrs. ago) when plant life was scarce. We sorta had to.

Okay, I know it's winter, but I think the ice age is OVER! :rolleyes:

herbi
02-28-2003, 07:02 PM
Originally posted by dernami
The following info comes from "The Comparative Anatomy of Eating", by Milton R. Mills, M.D.

Does it mention exactly how he defined "omnivore" (or herbivore & carnivore for that matter-- how strict were his categories?) and what species he used as representative examples of each category??? Because I find myself wearing a skeptical frown and making disgruntled Marge Simpson-esque sounds as I read this...

For me, an Omnivore is an animal that will deliberately seek out and ingest a variety of foods of both a plant and an animal origin, and whose biology/digestive system is equipped to handle that. Many animals are omnivorous, and it would be pretty easy to skew the statistics... Do you focus on bears, dogs, and raccoons, making an omnivore profile look strikingly like that of the obligate carnivores in the cat & weasel family??? Or do you focus on the pigs, rats, and primates, shifting it more towards the herbivore side of things?

My personal opinion is that humans ARE "naturally" omnivorous, and like virtually every other ape would, in the absence of civilization, ethics, morals, etc... freely take advantage of insects, eggs, carrion, and small game that we came across in the course of foraging for our plant foods (which would probably be the bulk of our diet, I agree). But so what?!?! I didn't choose veganism in an effort to emulate my evolutionary forbearers! I *DO* have a nice big brain capable of all kinds of abstract thought and emotional responses, and as long as I am in fact physically CAPABLE of existing on an herbivorous diet, I CHOOSE to do so as a matter of principle. Bringing biology into it as a justification clouds the issue for me.

Having said that, I think it CAN certainly be shown that humans are by no stretch of the imagination true "Carnivores"!!! You can only imagine the withering stare I gave to some jackass (can I say jackass in this context? I mean, I'm calling the guy a name, but I'm not calling anyone on the Board a name! Hmmm... Well, we'll see if I get Moderated or not...) who, when I was a waitress and said I couldn't particularly recommend the steak b/c I was a vegetarian, said, "Whaddya think THESE are for, Girlie?!" and bared his pathetically blunted canine teeth at me... Has the man never SEEN the fangs on a true predator??? Sheesh.

Dandelion
02-28-2003, 07:33 PM
replace jackass with 'misinformed person' and we're all good;)

i love the whole 'jutting the upper jaw and pointing to canine' pose. Like that tooth can puncture anything. In biology they said that those teeth were for tearing the skins offa fruit and not flesh. The "canine" label is misleading.

dernami
02-28-2003, 07:46 PM
I think it depends on how your define "natural." For me, it's plainly evident that the human body was never intended to consume meat - which makes it unnatural.

Even with our extraordinarily meager adaptations to accomodate a meaty diet, we're so plainly, clearly and overwhelmingly built as herbivores. Even comparing humans to omnivorous primates, for example, we're extraordinarily different. Baboons and other primates that actively eat meat have enormous canines and incisors much like carnivores. Their teeth, digestive tract, and body chemistry is far more carnivorous than ours, and their jaws create the motion that is necessary to rip and tear flesh without utensils.

They have natural protections against diseases caused by raw meat (we do not), they handle dietary cholesterol well (we do not), and they're physically capable of hunting "barehanded", without weapons (we are not).

So to me, it doesn't matter how long we've been eating meat as a species, because it's plainly obvious we are not built for it, and only evolved the mildest abilities to digest it as a survival mechanism. Even comparing human physiology to that of more herbivorous omnivores shows nearly as many drastic differences.

Jamie
03-01-2003, 01:13 PM
I think most animals are capable of digesting meat to one extent or another. Even wild rabbits (actually hares) will eat meat sometimes, and they are plainly herbivorous for all other purposes. Many animal mothers will eat their young if they cannot provide for them (or if the mother is just weird) and obviously baby animals are meat too. Basically there are no clear-cut ways of distinguishing from herbivores, to omnivores, to carnivores, we only have these labels because humans like to categorize things. I can't imagine an ungulate eating meat, but they put animal protein in cow food and they still survive and grow, but that doesn't make them omnivores.

Meat is high in protein and fat and energy supplying calories, and I can see why it would be helpful to animals to be able to utilize this source. But we are beyond having to subsist on whatever we can scrounge from the forest, so there is no possible reason to need to eat meat. Besides, humans are "naturally" a lot of things; selfish, xenophobic, not willing to read directions on the computer and so they ask you for help but then they don't listen when you answer so they ask the same question again just with more intensity. But I certainly don't advocate that we give in to our "normal" reactions, we are humans and we can conciously choose how we want to live. And I think most people wouldn't choose a society based on how we "naturally" are.

herbi
03-01-2003, 05:36 PM
Originally posted by dernami
For me, it's plainly evident that the human body was never intended to consume meat - which makes it unnatural.

Our bodies were never "intended" to do anything-- evolution is not predictive or proactive. We deal with circumstances as they arrive, and adapt to them or not. Are we highly specialized carnivores? No we are not. But neither are we highly specialized herbivores! We're not particularly specialized for anything other than mental ability, language, and manual dexterity; we are generalists and in my mind that further supports the idea of omnivory.


we're so plainly, clearly and overwhelmingly built as herbivores.

I just do not think this is true! For every "drastic difference" you can show between humans and carnivores, I could provide one between humans and herbivores. Herbivorous animals, for example, usually employ some kind of fermentation process in their digestion, either before the true stomach as in ruminants, or afterwards as in the horse or the rabbit. (Even leaf-and-fruit eating monkeys have fermentation chambers, if you want to contrast a primate with your baboons.) This enables them to get more than adequate amounts of things like B12 (because they digest the microbes) without having to resort to things like drinking fortified soymilk. My point is not that I can prove you wrong, but that a person can "prove" anything with such comparisons, by picking and choosing which animals to compare! Are we less predatory than baboons? Sure! But does that really even mean anything???


They have natural protections against diseases caused by raw meat (we do not), they handle dietary cholesterol well (we do not), and they're physically capable of hunting "barehanded", without weapons (we are not).

What??? Wild predators fall victim to food-borne pathogens and parasites all the time!!! Many species have evolved immunity or compensatory mechanisms to deal with certain diseases on a case-by-case basis, but this is by no means an across-the-board "meat eaters don't get meat-borne diseases" situation, and is usually just another example of the specialization I was talking about.

A person in imaginary caveman "natural" circumstances would be getting plenty of exercise, be eating small quantities of extremely lean meat, and the cholesterol issue would be the least of his worries as he probably wouldn't even live long enough to get atherosclerosis. Just because our obese overfed underactive bodies have trouble processing obscene amounts of deliberately fat-laden processed meat doesn't mean that any and all meat is harmful to human health or that we were never "meant to" consume it.

Also, if you would look back, you'd see that at no point do I make outrageous claims about humans running down gazelles or anything crazy like that. I believe I said that our "original" diet probably contained insects, eggs, carrion, and small game in addition to the basic plant foods, and the average healthy adult human being is MORE than capable of obtaining all of the above "bare-handed." But if I really wanted to argue with you ( ;) ) I'd also point out that the "without weapons" clause is completely arbitrary. Cats have specialized to have retractible talons. Snakes have specialized to have venom. Dolphins have specialized to use sonar to find and stun fish. We have specialized to become expert extremely crafty tool-users and planners. Why should our particular strengths be denied us when comparing our hunting ability to any other animal's?

OK, continuing this in a reply to the next post...

herbi
03-01-2003, 05:58 PM
Originally posted by Jamie
Even wild rabbits (actually hares) will eat meat sometimes, and they are plainly herbivorous for all other purposes.

Yes, and even cats will eat grass, but they are plainly carnivores.


Basically there are no clear-cut ways of distinguishing from herbivores, to omnivores, to carnivores, we only have these labels because humans like to categorize things.

I agree completely!!! "What animals eat" covers a broad spectrum with someone at virtually every space along the way. This is why I asked which animals the author of the book had chosen to use as his examples, and how he defined his categories. If his arbitrary categories and cutoff points are different from my arbitrary categories and cutoff points for what constitutes an "herbivore", etc, then I will never agree with his alleged statistics no matter how fancily he calculates them. But in my mind, no matter where you draw your lines between the three, humans are clearly further down the Herbi-->Omni-->Carni spectrum than bunnies or sheep or cows or elephants or deer or ponies or sparrows or.....


Besides, humans are "naturally" a lot of things; selfish, xenophobic, not willing to read directions on the computer ..... But I certainly don't advocate that we give in to our "normal" reactions, we are humans and we can conciously choose how we want to live. And I think most people wouldn't choose a society based on how we "naturally" are.

This is my exact point!!!! I'm not trying to argue anyone out of veganism (duh) or say that it's something we're not physically capable of or that it's unhealthy. I just don't think that our "natural" state should be used as justification! "Naturally", we'd be not only eating meat but probably practicing rape, infanticide, and regularly beating the crap out of territorial intruders. It's a fallacy that because our species (or we as individuals) has (have) done something in the past, we ought to continue to do so in the future. Meat-eaters will use this fallacy to argue against veg*nism, and I think by scrounging for evolutionary "evidence" that we are "supposed to" be strictly plant-eaters, one would be buying into and perpetuating that fallacy. It doesn't matter what Joe Cro Magnon ate on the savannah, because I am not on the savannah and I am not him and I decide what I eat, and I choose not to eat animal products produced via modern atrocities. Scientific theories are always changing as the knowledge base expands and as different ideas come into fashion; arguments based on them are subject to failure if too many of their evidence points are refuted, and rightly so. Anyone is free to choose a vegan diet based on evolutionary theory as they understand it, and I would find that very interesting actually, but I personally find it more secure to base this particular decision on a moral sense of Right and Wrong that is not subject to that kind of debate.

OK, I think I'm done now. :) (And please tell me if I'm sounding inflammatory or disrespectful, Dernami, because that's not my intention at all and actually I quite enjoy a good debate, so if you want to keep it comin' I'm game... but hopefully I've made my points clear and at least you understand where I'm coming from?)

dernami
03-01-2003, 08:46 PM
I believe our disagreement is mostly semantics and definitions. You obviously have a different definition of what you consider natural than I do.

To me, it's plain as day our bodies cannot handle meat, dairy and eggs in any significant quantity without negative consequences. That, to me, makes it unnatural to consume such things, and no matter whether or not we're capable of digesting the stuff, we're still herbivores in my eyes.

Your definition is clearly much different.

We can agree to disagree. :)

Also, I don't believe that being able to show that humans are "herbivores" (using quotes since our definitions are different) opens the argument for veganism up to any weaknesses like you've suggested. You can argue for moral, environmental, and other reasons without dealing with evolution the makeup of our bodies.

However, when someone says that idiotic statement that implies we should all eat steak 3 meals a day because "humans are omnivores," you'd better bet I'm going to prove them wrong. :)

herbi
03-02-2003, 10:51 AM
Originally posted by dernami
We can agree to disagree. :)

Yep. :) (But only 'coz we're already on the Same Side... ;) )


However, when someone says that idiotic statement that implies we should all eat steak 3 meals a day because "humans are omnivores," you'd better bet I'm going to prove them wrong. :)

And then you can send them my way... the ol' one-two punch... (can pacifist metaphorically punch people?)

Dave Noisy
03-02-2003, 02:42 PM
A point i'd like to make (interesting topic btw) is that i don't think dietary cholesterol is all that 'bad'.

I don't think eating cholesterol raises blood cholesterol levels. Saturated fats, and TFA's most likely do, but not cholesterol. I could be mistaken tho.

[EDIT - No strike-through option, so i went with a different color, please ignore the above content.]

As for humans being omniverous, i'd say we lean on the mostly herbivorous side, but i think it's clear we're able to handle (and benefit from) small amounts of animal protein, like insects and eggs. We're not really that capable of eating small mammals or birds, and a fish would be quite a hassle for a nude, tool-free human.

dernami
03-02-2003, 03:07 PM
Originally posted by Dave Noisy
A point i'd like to make (interesting topic btw) is that i don't think dietary cholesterol is all that 'bad'.

I don't think eating cholesterol raises blood cholesterol levels. Saturated fats, and TFA's most likely do, but not cholesterol. I could be mistaken tho.

Dietary cholesterol does raise blood cholesterol, actually:

http://www.pcrm.org/health/Preventive_Medicine/cholesterol_and_heart_disease.html

"How to Lower Your Cholesterol

Since our bodies make plenty of cholesterol for our needs, we do not need add any in our diet. Cholesterol is found in all foods that come from animals: red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, and every other meat and dairy product. They should be avoided. No foods from plants contain cholesterol.

People can therefore reduce their cholesterol levels dramatically by changing the foods they eat. And every time you reduce your cholesterol level by 1 percent, you reduce your risk of heart disease by 2 percent.3 For example, a reduction from 300 mg/dl to 200 mg/dl (i.e., a one-third reduction) will yield a two-thirds reduction in the risk of a heart attack. For some people, the benefits are even greater.

Every 100 mg of cholesterol in your daily diet adds roughly 5 points to your cholesterol level, although this varies from person to person. In practical terms, 100 mg of cholesterol is contained in four ounces of beef or chicken, half an egg, or three cups of milk. Beef and chicken have the same amount of cholesterol, 25 mg per ounce.4 Unlike fat, cholesterol is located mainly in the lean portion of meat.

Animal products also contain saturated fat, which causes the liver to produce more cholesterol. Unsaturated fats do not have this effect. Saturated fats are easy to spot because they are solid at room temperature, whereas unsaturated fats are liquid. Beef, chicken, and most other animal products contain substantial amounts of saturated fat. This is another good reason for avoiding such products.

Unfortunately, the food industry often presents the fat content of certain products in a misleading way. By reporting the fat content by weight, they are allowing the water content to throw off the measurements and make these products look more healthful than they actually are. The important piece of information is the percentage of calories from fat.

In the leanest cuts of beef, about 30 percent of the calories come from fat. Skinless chicken is nearly as high, at 23 percent. Even without the skin, chicken is never truly a low-fat food. Grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits, however, have comfortably less than 10 percent of their calories coming from fat."

I also remember reading, though I can't remember where, that carnivorous and omnivorous animals have mechanisms that control their blood cholesterol levels, so they can consume tons and tons of cholesterol without any affect on their blood cholesterol levels.

Humans, however, do not have this mechanism.

San
03-02-2003, 03:15 PM
Originally posted by Jamie
I think most animals are capable of digesting meat to one extent or another. Even wild rabbits (actually hares) will eat meat sometimes, and they are plainly herbivorous for all other purposes. Many animal mothers will eat their young if they cannot provide for them (or if the mother is just weird) and obviously baby animals are meat too. Basically there are no clear-cut ways of distinguishing from herbivores, to omnivores, to carnivores, we only have these labels because humans like to categorize things. I can't imagine an ungulate eating meat, but they put animal protein in cow food and they still survive and grow, but that doesn't make them omnivores.


This is a bit off topic, but something I've always wondered and your comment about the mothers eating their young reminded me of it. When I was read Watership Down many years ago, I remember they mentioned if there isn't enough food the rabbits had the ability to "re-absorb" their babies. Are some animals who have a sort of reverse pregnancy mechanism, or what that just something the author made up?

Ariann
03-02-2003, 04:19 PM
Perhaps they meant if there's not enough food to nourish a fetus (or more than one) in addition to the mother, it will spontaneously abort and the mother can reabsorb the fetus. I have heard this several places, but I can't give you a source. Humans are one of the few animals where the body takes care of the health of the fetus in a way that may injure the mother (like weakening a pregnant woman's bones by taking calcium). Other animals just abort.

Dave Noisy
03-03-2003, 01:39 AM
Originally posted by dernami
[B]Dietary cholesterol does raise blood cholesterol, actually:[url]

Quite right, sorry for my post.

herbi
03-03-2003, 10:51 AM
Originally posted by dernami
I also remember reading, though I can't remember where, that carnivorous and omnivorous animals have mechanisms that control their blood cholesterol levels, so they can consume tons and tons of cholesterol without any affect on their blood cholesterol levels.
Humans, however, do not have this mechanism.

True-- for example, a working sled dog can make efficient use of a diet that is literally 50-60% pure animal fat and remain in great health. (A regular backyard dog would be burning far fewer calories and get really fat on such a diet though.) That'd mess us up for sure no matter how much exercise we were getting!!!
(But for the record, despite this and the big pointy teeth, dogs ARE true omnivores in my book. They are capable of thriving on a veg*n diet without all the sketchy problems you get when you try to do that to cats, and most will eagerly seek out all kinds of veg food (or any organic matter :rolleyes: ) -- in fact, there's a neat document from an early Pilgrim colony (sorry I don't have a source here; I'm so bad!) where they complain about the wolves eating their melons, not their livestock!!! LOL!)

herbi
03-03-2003, 10:54 AM
Originally posted by Ariann
Perhaps they meant if there's not enough food to nourish a fetus (or more than one) in addition to the mother, it will spontaneously abort and the mother can reabsorb the fetus.

Yeah, but the really cool animals (I think this is mostly found in the marsupial family) are the ones who can suspend the developing zygote/fetus in a sort of stasis until times are better, when development resumes. Neato!

karabear
03-03-2003, 11:46 AM
if human's are naturally herbivores, then why do we have absolutely no history of being so? there aren't any vegan societies in existence besides our small modern ones that comprise, what is it now? 0.5% of the human population? humans have thrived on a multitude of diets; some of them were very reliant on meat and some weren't. different ethnicities have different nutritional needs. humans have become the most successful species (in terms of numbers and different environments we are capable of living in) because we are so adaptable. if you are going to really talk about natural, considering human history, veganism is the most UNnatural of any diet we could choose. of course, that's not going to stop me from being vegan since i don't tend to play "follow the leader" anyway. :)

and as for the canine teeth thing, have you ever met our nice cousins, the gorilla? they're herbivores (except for the accidental insect), yet they have some nice big canine teeth. they don't use them to eat with, they use them for protection. it's actually a very common form of sexual dimorphism among primates (the males have big teeth and the females don't).

why does anyone feel the need to defend veganism on the basis of whether it is natural or not anyway? we are capable of being vegan without dying of malnutrition and it's a lifestyle that's chosen because vegans have a deep compassion for other living beings. no one needs any more explanation than that.

herbi
03-03-2003, 12:06 PM
*whispering* Yay! Thanks Karabear... agree with you 100%-- glad I'm not the only one... :thumbsup: But I will say no more as I have arrived at truce with Dernami... :)

sheila
03-03-2003, 02:16 PM
Karabear is right, my veganism has nothing to do with what is natural it has to do with not eating and using animals. Actually there isn't much natural about the way most people eat in this society. Unrecognizable stuff in cardboard boxes and plastic containers. If it didn't say on the label what it was most of the time people would have no idea what they were eating. so to me it makes no difference as long as an animal did not suffer for me to be able to have my food.

dernami
03-03-2003, 07:29 PM
Originally posted by karabear
if human's are naturally herbivores, then why do we have absolutely no history of being so?

That is where we disagree. We don't have any "history" as being so in the past 10 - 30,000 years - but in evolutionary terms that's only a quick second. It's a very small amount of time.

It's undebatable that we evolved from herbivores, therefore the burden of proof, in my opinion, is not to prove that we "naturally" (however you wish to define it) herbivores, but that we're naturally NOT herbivores.

And by my burden of proof, there's absolutely no case that we evolved beyond a herbivorous diet. Yes, we evolved the ability to use cooked meats in very small quantities, but that doesn't qualify as making us omnivorous.


why does anyone feel the need to defend veganism on the basis of whether it is natural or not anyway? we are capable of being vegan without dying of malnutrition and it's a lifestyle that's chosen because vegans have a deep compassion for other living beings. no one needs any more explanation than that.

Why not? Why shouldn't I defend veganism based on our physiology when the evidence is overwhelmingly in support of a vegan diet? It's perfectly defensible. I don't go out preaching that people must be vegan because humans are herbivores, but I if challenged I will lay down the facts and prove my case.

I think that many here believe that being able to show that humans are not omnivorous (and the examples of rabbits and gorillas only strengthens the argument that you can have modest capacity to eat flesh and other adaptations without actually being an omnivore) equates to using that as a sole justification for veganism, and thus they shrink away from it.

That is not the case. It's merely one defense, just like environmentalism isn't the only defense, just like animal rights isn't the only defense, neither is the fact that humans are not omnivores.

karabear
03-04-2003, 08:45 PM
the burden of proof is to prove we're NOT herbivores? says who? humans have absolutely no idea where we came from in terms of environment and it is environment that dictates what we ate. a lot of people believe the savannah theory of evolution. some believe that we lived in a forest, sparse forest, sparse forest with rivers we had to cross, even that we were at least semi-aquatic at one point. i personally love that aquatic theory since it flies in the face of convention and explains a lot of things about our physiology that the other theories don't, but i can't *prove* it. no one can. we can't go back in time and using what our physiology is now to try to figure out what we used it for in a totally different set of circumstances, or how it evolved in the first place is inductive reasoning. it doesn't stand up to scientific scrutiny. sure, i want to believe the aquatic theory is true, but i'm not going to tell anyone that they have to prove me wrong in order for them to be right. there is no right or wrong here. there are only questions.

you can believe something if you want to, but the burden of proof lies on you to prove that we're supposed to be herbivores, since about 6 billion people are in disagreement with your theory.

dernami
03-04-2003, 08:53 PM
Originally posted by karabear
the burden of proof is to prove we're NOT herbivores? says who?

It's simple, before we went upright, we were herbivores - this is an indisputable fact. When we were still apes, we were undeniably herbivorous.

Therefore, it's logical that we assume that is still the case until it's been proven otherwise.

That leaves the burden of proof on others to show that we changed significantly enough to re-classify as omnivores, but the fact that we were once herbivores is something that can't be in dispute.

Once again, I'm talking in evolutionary terms here - long term - millions of years. Tens of thousands of years is a small amount of time in evolutionary terms.

Ariann
03-04-2003, 10:14 PM
First of all, you have to tell us why it's undeniable that the ape-like creatures (and a good comparison might be chimpanzees, our closest living relative, who is classified as an omnivore) we evolved from were herbivores. Next, you have to explain why it is undeniable, as you say, that if they were herbivores, we are herbivores. This is not a logical conclusion. Perhaps the evolutionary jump between them and us is the ability to process meat - a food with higher caloric density - enabling us to grow larger brains - that's a prevalent theory. The difficulty here is in showing that as a species with the ability to use fire and make tools/weapons, we didn't from the very beginning use that in hunting animals and BENEFIT from eating those animals. The very nature of a theory is that you cannot prove it, you can only disprove it or keep finding more evidence in favor of it. Since no opposing theories have been disproven, there is no reason to prefer this one over any other.

In any case, I concur with others that science had little or nothing to do with why most people are vegans to begin with.

dernami
03-04-2003, 11:20 PM
Originally posted by Ariann
First of all, you have to tell us why it's undeniable that the ape-like creatures (and a good comparison might be chimpanzees, our closest living relative, who is classified as an omnivore) we evolved from were herbivores.

Yet chimps, who eat meat VERY VERY rarely, and by my standards are far more herbivorous than omnivorous, still have FAR MORE adaptation to a meaty diet than we do, most notably in their teeth.


Next, you have to explain why it is undeniable, as you say, that if they were herbivores, we are herbivores. This is not a logical conclusion.

I'm afraid you're building a straw-man here. What I said was it is an undeniable fact that our ancient primate ancestors, from which we evolved, were herbivores. Therefore, the burden of proof is not to show why modern humans are not omnivores, but to show why they ARE.


Perhaps the evolutionary jump between them and us is the ability to process meat - a food with higher caloric density - enabling us to grow larger brains - that's a prevalent theory.

Once again, that is fine, as long as you CAN prove that. That is what I was saying all along - the burden of proof is to show where we changed from herbivorous omnivorous.


The difficulty here is in showing that as a species with the ability to use fire and make tools/weapons, we didn't from the very beginning use that in hunting animals and BENEFIT from eating those animals.

I'm afraid you're not reading what I wrote. You say "as a species with the ability to use fire and make tools/weapons," yet this whole time I've been speaking in terms before we had these abilities.


In any case, I concur with others that science had little or nothing to do with why most people are vegans to begin with.

I find this is a straw man as well. I never said it did. Furthermore, this thread was started in the first place (and I have repeatedly clarified) that my goal isn't to convert the masses to veganism by discussing evolutionary science.

However, the manner in which people here have hissed and attacked at the notion that I would defend the idea that humans are herbivores has me baffled and amazed, to be honest. I fail to see the harm in it.

I will not put up with the ignorant and self-serving BS that humans are omnivores is a justification for continuing the modern American diet. My research and ability to dispel the myth that humans are fine and dandy as omnivores has served me well in my debates with non-vegans, and in helping to win over converts.

I personally do not care "why most people become vegan." The only thing I care about when discussing veganism with someone who is considering it is why THEY might become vegan. And 75% of whom do not list animal rights as a top choice. Most want to for health reasons (directly related to the fact that humans are herbivorous, if we were natural omnivores an omnivorous diet would be healthy), or environmental reasons, or spiritual reasons, and then of course are the ones who do it for animal right reasons.

However, no matter what the reason people decide to try it, nearly all of them come around and open their mind to animal rights and other things once they're started down the path.

I think the idea that we must rely solely on compassion for animals as a reason to get people to go down this path is extraordinarily short-sighted and bound to fail. People are always very defensive of their habits, so until you can get them to change their habits they will resist honestly considering compassion reasons, for the most part (there are always exceptions).

At any rate, I feel like the original intent of this thread is completely warped. I also feel like a lot of assumptions are being made and even words unintentionally put in my mouth. Since I'm not here to get into counter-productive arguments with people over silly things like this I'm not really sure I want to continue this conversation.

herbi
03-04-2003, 11:57 PM
Originally posted by dernami
However, the manner in which people here have hissed and attacked at the notion that I would defend the idea that humans are herbivores has me baffled and amazed, to be honest. I fail to see the harm in it.

Dernami, I am sorry this has turned out to be kind of one-sided against you. (Even sorrier as I feel like the one who started the argument!) I would like to try to explain why I personally felt a need to start the debate, though I can't speak for those who took up where I left off.

You are making an argument from an evolutionary biology standpoint, in other words a scientific one. There is a saying in science, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." The claim that the human species was designed for a strictly vegan diet is somewhat extraordinary, yet you openly shift the burden of proof away from yourself.

I do think a large part of the disagreement between myself and you is semantics, and we probably just don't define "herbivore" or "natural" in the same way. But I agree with the sentiment expressed by others that some of your logic, as presented here, seems difficult to follow if not actually flawed from a technical standpoint. Some of this is no doubt due to the medium-- it can be difficult to communicate (esp argue about!) complex ideas over time/space gaps like this. Nevertheless...

What makes me uncomfortable with your assertions is my idea that a meat-eater confronted by your point of view would have the same doubts/skepticism as I do (and *I* am highly motivated to buy into your theory!), would notice and take advantage of the same weak points, and would decide to completely discount your ideas as being without merit. In other words, if you cannot "convince" a group full of people who are already vegan that your theory makes sense, then will it do any good to argue this line with an omni? Or will it only serve to further alienate them and make them pay even less attention to what *I* have to say, since s/he has now learned that "them thar vegans make extravagant unfounded claims and don't back them up"? That's what puts me on the defensive. (There's nothing like someone "On Your Side" with a totally opposing viewpoint to stir someone up! How dare they represent ME like that! etc...)

I completely understand your not wanting to continue this conversation if it feels counterproductive and antagonistic to you. Go in peace, and convert those less hard-headed than us! But if you'd be interested in continuing here (or PM?) in an attempt to work out exactly where the sticking points for this theory are and how you could most effectively rebut them to us non-believers, I'd be into that. Hell, if you can convince me, I will become your disciple, spreading the word far and wide!

I completely agree with you on this:


And 75% of whom do not list animal rights as a top choice. Most want to for health reasons (directly related to the fact that humans are herbivorous, if we were natural omnivores an omnivorous diet would be healthy), or environmental reasons, or spiritual reasons, and then of course are the ones who do it for animal right reasons. ..... I think the idea that we must rely solely on compassion for animals as a reason to get people to go down this path is extraordinarily short-sighted and bound to fail. People are always very defensive of their habits, so until you can get them to change their habits they will resist honestly considering compassion reasons, for the most part (there are always exceptions).

I am working on some ideas for new tabling posters/literature and my best one (I think) is a "What's YOUR Reason?" campaign where I list health, environmental, social/human rights, etc, reasons to support the "boycott" that is veganism, and I'm trying to decide between leaving animal rights out altogether (though it was my own Reason) or giving it a tiny last-place mention, because I do think a lot of people will immediately shut down if approached from that angle. So I am with you, that any and all possible rationales should be fully exploited. I just have problems with the validity of the rationale you presented in the manner in which it was presented to me.

ANYWAY, just wanted to clarify that the arguments (at least those coming from me, but I'm gonna go out on a limb here and speak for the others too...) do NOT come from a standpoint of "We Hate Dernami Because He Sux", just an inability to get your facts & figures to make sense with our own concepts of evolutionary biology. Bleah. You're right-- arguing can be draining! :) OK, for the second time in this thread, "I'm done now."

dernami
03-05-2003, 12:13 AM
That's what I find so baffling about the whole situation. I've had 2 omnis, stubbornly opposed to the idea of giving up their meat but who love to debate with me about it, concede that humans aren't meant to eat meat just in the past few months - my mother, and an old friend from high school who was visiting recently.

I seem to run into more resistance to the idea here than I do when discussing the topic with omnis (one of which isn't a lightweight when it comes to science and biology, in fact, he knows quite a bit more than I, I would say). Which is part of what has me so dumbfounded.

Either way, what you perceive as my jumbled facts and figures I seem to perceive as a misunderstanding/assumptions about the points I'm trying to get across. And I still don't see why saying humans are herbivores is such an extraordinary statement! Certainly it's just as sane as saying humans are omnivores, since both vegans and omnivores survive and can live day-to-day lives - it seems that either can be accepted as truth based solely on that merit and thus should be treated as starting on equal footing.

Based on that, and this is where I shift the burden of proof, as you put it, and I guess that is accurate, is the fact that our ancient (like, think really ancient) ancestors WERE herbivores, so I perceive the burden of proof as being reverse.

If we had carnivorous teeth, short intestines, claws, no side-to-side jaw motion, and other carnivorous physical traits - I would agree the burden of proof is on me to prove we're herbivores. But the fact is that we don't.

But, argh. I think a lot of this may just be the medium we're engaged in. I don't know, but I don't care either.

I know I'm continuing to throw stuff out there, but I'll stop now. I just find this whole thing bizarre, and I feel like I'm not getting my point across in the slightest, I've never been terribly articulate, especially when I don't have the benefit of speaking directly to someone.

Ariann
03-05-2003, 12:19 AM
I agree with Herbi, and would like to extend on those ideas.

The only semantics that matter in a scientific debate are the ones that are accepted by a majority of the scientific community. If every textbook says chimps are omnivores, they are. Yes, sometimes those definitions change, but in the meantime you have to argue using a common language.

No matter what point of view you're trying to get across, if you present a scientific argument using the words "undeniable," "obvious," etc., you will be ignored or will get a hostile reaction. Because there's just no such thing as undeniable when discussing scientific theory. If you're going to say out evolutionary predecessors were herbivores, you can't say, think a really long time ago, you have to name a species at the very least.

I did not mean to attack you personally, if that's what you felt it was, or even your ideas. I just don't understand why you think what you do.

dernami
03-05-2003, 12:33 AM
Ariann - I am not a scientist. I do not believe in the tyranny of the majority, either. I don't care what supposed consensus' exists. Consensus' exist for all kinds of crap that ranges from fanciful to outright ludicrous.

At any rate, this is going nowhere and is only serving to perpetuate more of the same stuff. I've have much success discussing this topic with omnis and thought I could share some information that would help others in similar situations.

Clearly, that is not happening nor do most seem to want it to happen, and that is fine - to each their own. :)

herbi
03-05-2003, 01:25 AM
Originally posted by Ariann
I just don't understand why you think what you do.

I like this sentence a lot!!! Elegant honest expression of the sentiment at the root of many arguments... And clearly applicable to both sides here.
Thanks for my Thought For The Day, Ariann! :)

misanthropy
03-05-2003, 01:30 AM
Originally posted by dernami
I've have much success discussing this topic with omnis and thought I could share some information that would help others in similar situations.I for one am glad you posted that information. I found it very interesting. :)

Dandelion
03-05-2003, 01:45 AM
ummm i'll second Misanthropy in saying i found the debate helpful.

karabear
03-05-2003, 12:13 PM
i think that herbivore vs omnivore is a very interesting argument to make. i think it's important that there is someone in the world arguing the herbivore side, dernami, because most people assume we are omnivores. i don't think we should assume either since we will never know. but i also think that the arguments you're using are unconvincing. at times they even border on the explanation of "because i said so." you may be able to convince a couple of random omnis with those arguments, but you're not going to convince someone who is educated on, and who has researched, the subject.

you use examples such as chimp teeth as having more omnivorous qualities than our own. are you talking about the canines still? as i pointed out before, the canines as a sexually dimorphic characteristic that even primate herbivores have. it's primarily for fighting amongst each other, not hunting. or are there more subtle qualities? if so, what are they? or did you just read that someone said their teeth were more omnivorous than ours but you don't know why? these are important things to know! you could use the arguments in this thread to make your herbivorous argument stronger. that's why i love discussions like these. it gives me the chance to learn what other people think, what other people find convincing, and thus it gives me the opportunity to add strength to my own arguments. but you don't seem to be doing that. it's dernami against the world! i've felt the same way before. but don't get frustrated. take advantage of the situation. find out where the weaknesses in your argument are and then go and educate yourself on those areas so they are no longer weaknesses. use other people's arguments as a resource, not a source of discouragement or aggravation.

if you don't think there are weaknesses in your arguments, then what i'm saying isn't going to be helpful. but if a group of people who have nothing against you personally, and even have a special interest to believe what you are saying, yet are still finding problems with your argument, then i think it's something worth thinking about. :)

Link
04-02-2003, 08:11 PM
despite the differences, humans are omnivores b/c around the world most people eat meat. They also have the ability to digest this meat and use the nutrients from it. Therefore, humans are omnivores. I believe that we are naturally omnivores not herbivores and that the vegetarian diet is unnatural.

syzygy
04-19-2003, 01:02 PM
This is a timely thread for me....

About two weeks ago, I was able to present a short speech on veganism, raw foodism, and calorie restriction to my friend's Environmental Biology class. The instructor conceded my every point - except one: he believes in the idea that humans are "omnivorous" and thus are biologically inclined to ingest animal products. (Now, note that, in my speech, I *did not make any claims as to the omnivorous, herbivorous, or frugivorous nature of humans*; in fact, I avoided the issue entirely because of the mixed information my research had yielded.

Now, at the time, I did not possess adequate information to refute this claim, knowing all of the controversy that exists concernign the issue. However, I did promise him that I would search for information regarding the topic.

So, my request for all of you fellow vegans out there is to, if you happen to feel inclined to do so, maybe post or PM me the evidence for your claims. I would very much appreciate it. (Note, also, that I in no way intend to start a debate; I merely request evidence and do not plan to comment on it, until, perhaps, at a much later date when I feel that my research and understanding of the issues is more comprehensive.)

Thanks very much if you would help me out. : )

mountainvegan
06-09-2006, 02:09 PM
Wow, I’m just as surprised and baffled as dernami was at the resistance to what seems pretty obvious as our evolutionary background being 95-99% herbivorous and the resistance to a semantic difference in meaning from the “widely-accepted” (by people who strongly desire to eat meat), traditional definition of herbivore (herbivore = ruminant) and omnivore/carnivore (O/C = non-ruminant).

Like dernami, I’m not a scientist, and while I have a lot of respect for the scientific approach to knowledge gathering, I don’t hold scientists as having the final say on reality, definitions, and semantics, especially when the words they use have meanings outside of their traditional, narrow, concise “scientific” definitions or perhaps are distorted to fit their preconceptions (All my friends, family and I eat meat and I must defend the practice, scientifically).

Further, using three words to describe the continuum of the eating habits of hundreds or thousands of species is blunt and crude at best. Also arguably blunt and crude, but a drastic improvement in the “three word distinction” is a scale of one to seven (I embedded the “three words” to approximate where they might fall based on the *relative distribution (%) of their diet* (as opposed to being based on just-as-arbitrary-or-more-so traditional definitions). So, herbivore = 70-100% plant; omnivore = 30-70% plant; carnivore = 0-30% plant.

Notice that herbivores have three more categories than omnivores and carnivores. This follows from the fact that the “food chain” is shaped like a pyramid with relatively few members at the top and lots of variations and members at the bottom (Lately, however, the natural food chain has been grossly and *temporarily* distorted by 6 billion misguided ape-like creatures acting like they own the place).

1 Pure herbivores. (100% plant diet) (Example: ruminants)
2 Herbivores who occasionally eat insects (or accidental trace amounts of mono- and diglycerides ;)). (99% plant diet) (Example: apes)
3 Herbivores who eat small amounts of insects, eggs, and other easy-to-find/catch animal protein. (95-98% plant diet) (Example: apes/proto-humans/early humans)
4 Herbivores who eat moderate amounts of easy-to-find/catch animal protein from scavenging and little or no hunting. (70-95% plant diet) (Example: black bears, small canines)
5 Omnivores who eat moderate to heavy amounts of animal protein from scavenging and hunting (30-70% plant diet) (Example: large canines/wolves and grizzly bears)
7 Carnivores who eat little or no plant protein (0-30% plant diet) (Example: big cats)

Most industrial-era humans eat like wolves, grizzly bears, and big cats, (omnivores and carnivores) which is why their health generally sucks. Most L-O vegetarians eat like number 4 (unless they go overboard on the cheese, in which case they are like 5s). Most strict vegetarians eat like 2 or 3. Vegans eat like 1 or 2.

stegan
06-09-2006, 02:13 PM
I don't get it- why would anyone eat an Omni?

http://ripcuda.50megs.com/pics/Omni2.jpg

Tension breaker. Had to be done.

mountainvegan
06-09-2006, 02:20 PM
Heh, I'm a little more peeved than I'd normally be with this topic because I recently had to field the "debate" while tabling the past couple of weekends. There are many people who come up and say, "I agree that we shouldn't hurt animals, but we ARE omnivores!" :rolleyes: If I didn't force myself to be cheerful during the tabling period, it could get ugly. ;)

apples_for_eva
06-09-2006, 03:13 PM
this is what i was told in anthropology (which may or may not be correct, of course)- that we were historically "opportunistic omnivores," which to me seems to fall maybe as a 4 on that scale?

mountainvegan
06-09-2006, 03:32 PM
this is what i was told in anthropology (which may or may not be correct, of course)- that we were historically "opportunistic omnivores," which to me seems to fall maybe as a 4 on that scale?

Perhaps, but I would call us "opportunistic herbivores" since our diet was greater than 70% plant. It's understandable that our meat-loving modern culture would like to use that "omni" term, but that is what I'm challenging - our prejudice-laden definition of "omnivore" and "herbivore". :)

Dandelion
06-09-2006, 03:49 PM
I recently had to field the "debate" while tabling the past couple of weekends. There are many people who come up and say, "I agree that we shouldn't hurt animals, but we ARE omnivores!" :rolleyes:
i now avoid this debate because it's irrelevant to the issues of veganism imho but it's a great door opener if somebody brings it up. :cool:

mountainvegan
06-09-2006, 04:55 PM
i now avoid this debate because it's irrelevant to the issues of veganism imho but it's a great door opener if somebody brings it up. :cool:

I agree with the irrelevance of the issue, but to a significant percentage who come up to the table, it’s the whole shooting match. For them, evolutionary considerations override any considerations to be compassionate or just. One way to diffuse that prejudice is to challenge and weaken it (i.e., show the obvious flaws in it). Then, after casting doubt on the evolutionary necessity of an animal-based diet, bring up compassion and intelligence as the basis of going vegan in a world where we have to choice to do so (which is usually my m.o.).

If we, as vegans, are holding the widely-accepted, but culturally prejudiced view that we’re mostly meat-eating omnivores by design, and not mostly herbivores by design, we certainly can’t expect anyone else to think of their diet in any other way than that meat really ought to be on the plate at least a few times a week.

Rawj
06-09-2006, 06:55 PM
The animal that we evolved from may have or may not have been omnivore (First of all you have to believe in the evolution THEORY (which I do). Second of all you it depends on what animal you think we actually evolved from monkey/apes or something completely different. Some people don't think it was monkeys/apes.)




http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v19/i1/dna.asp

The idea that human beings and chimps have close to 100% similarity in their DNA seems to be common knowledge. The figures quoted vary: 97%, 98%, or even 99%, depending on just who is telling the story. What is the basis for these claims and do the data mean there really is not much difference between chimps and people? Are we just highly evolved apes?


Where did the ‘97% similarity’ come from then? It was inferred from a fairly crude technique called DNA hybridization where small parts of human DNA are split into single strands and allowed to re–form double strands (duplex) with chimp DNA.2 However, there are various reasons why DNA does or does not hybridize, only one of which is degree of similarity (homology).3 Consequently, this somewhat arbitrary figure is not used by those working in molecular homology (other parameters, derived from the shape of the ‘melting’ curve, are used). Why has the 97% figure been popularised then? One can only guess that it served the purpose of evolutionary indoctrination of the scientifically illiterate.

Interestingly, the original papers did not contain the basic data and the reader had to accept the interpretation of the data ‘on faith’. Sarich et al.4 obtained the original data and used them in their discussion of which parameters should be used in homology studies.5 Sarich discovered considerable sloppiness in Sibley and Ahlquist’s generation of their data as well as their statistical analysis. Upon inspecting the data, I discovered that, even if everything else was above criticism, the 97% figure came from making a very basic statistical error—averaging two figures without taking into account differences in the number of observations contributing to each figure. When a proper mean is calculated it is 96.2%, not 97%. However, there is no true replication in the data, so no confidence can be attached to the figures published by Sibley and Ahlquist.

What if human and chimp DNA was even 96% homologous? What would that mean? Would it mean that humans could have ‘evolved’ from a common ancestor with chimps? Not at all! The amount of information in the 3 billion base pairs in the DNA in every human cell has been estimated to be equivalent to that in 1,000 books of encyclopaedia size.6 If humans were ‘only’ 4% different this still amounts to 120 million base pairs, equivalent to approximately 12 million words, or 40 large books of information. This is surely an impossible barrier for mutations (random changes) to cross.7
# Does a high degree of similarity mean that two DNA sequences have the same meaning or function? No, not necessarily. Compare the following sentences:

There are many scientists today who question the evolutionary paradigm and its atheistic philosophical implications.

There are not many scientists today who question the evolutionary paradigm and its atheistic philosophical implications.

These sentences have 97% homology and yet have almost opposite meanings! There is a strong analogy here to the way in which large DNA sequences can be turned on or off by relatively small control sequences. The DNA similarity data don’t quite mean what the evolutionary popularizers claim!


But, I say why does it matter what our ancestor was? We EVOLVED. Just becuase our ancestor was an omnivore doesn't mean we have to be. Same goes for herbivore and carnivore. We changed physically,mentally, and emotionally. We are able to develop things that do thing we actually can't do ourselves. We have free will and brainpower to make our own choices. I believe humans can live off of a 100% carnivore diet to 100% herbivore diet. Yes, one may be more healthier and involve less health problem later in life than the other and lengthen our lives, but does that make the other a non-possibly? We as vegans (not all vegans) think the killing/mistreatment of animal is not moral, but not everyone thinks that. Some people think it is not moral to date outside your race, but that doesn't mean others have to. Many people turn vegans for many reasons and I think it depends on the situation as what info to give a non vegan (I think too much info will just turn many people off so you should focus on a couple areas that you think would interest them more(Some people will be willing to hear it all, but many will not). Whether the reason be economical,moral, monetary, health, and so on.)

Some of this is on topic and some is not so sorry about that :)

Chijou_no_seiza
06-10-2006, 01:56 AM
I believe humans can live off of a 100% carnivore diet to 100% herbivore diet.

Whoa, 100% meat... do you mean meat as eaten naturally through nature, like how a cat eats it meal, raw and uncooked? Because that would not be plausible for a human diet. The only raw dead animal I can think of as not harming a human would be fish (sushi). In a completley carnivorous diet we'd die off because of malnutrition but this is not the case with the completely herbivorious diet. You can't just pick one extreme and go with it, it's much more complicated than that.

Rawj
06-10-2006, 02:08 AM
I meant cooked, but before fire was invented early man ate raw meat. When you cook meat it actually loses some of its good things so I don't believe you would die from malnutrition. You could; however; die from some diseases that can kill you pretty quickly (such as hepatitis),but they arent as common as people try to make them out to be and in a lot of cases they are not fatal(yes, you would get sick) and go away eventually.

dropscone
06-10-2006, 09:04 AM
.. The only raw dead animal I can think of as not harming a human would be fish (sushi).


People eat carpaccio (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carpaccio) and steak tartare as well.

Rawj
06-10-2006, 11:10 AM
I know many people who basically just heat up their red meat (ewww) so that it is still basically raw. They only warm it up becuase it makes it feel better in their mouth.

Astrocat
06-10-2006, 03:41 PM
I believe humans can live off of a 100% carnivore diet to 100% herbivore diet.

Obviously humans can live on a 100% herbivorous diet - countless vegans manage it worldwide.

But why do you believe that humans could also live on a 100% carnivorous diet ?

Do you appreciate that if humans eat a diet devoid of fibre, they're going to end up pretty clogged up and internally congested..... and thus probably won;t last very long.... and certainly wouldn;t be healthy.... ?

Do you have any evidence that humans could live on a carnivorous diet ?


before fire was invented early man ate raw meat.

Some of them did, some of them didn't.
Before fire was invented early man (and early women and children too) tended to die a lot, live short and violent lives, and were plagued by illness.

hazelfaern
06-10-2006, 03:45 PM
I know many people who basically just heat up their red meat (ewww) so that it is still basically raw. They only warm it up becuase it makes it feel better in their mouth.

Have these people never heard of e. coli?

mountainvegan
06-10-2006, 03:48 PM
When tabling and encountering the general public at large, I’m pretty much a philosophical chameleon. I don’t really bring up any topic (other than the sanctuary that I'm promoting in addition to a vegan lifestyle); I mainly respond to questions and comments. You can learn a lot where someone's coming from by their questions and comments.

If someone’s big problem is that we’re “omnivores” and therefore ought to eat meat, I’ll politely say that actually, we are closer to herbivores and do very well on a vegetarian diet (which sometimes switches the discussion to health and how bad excessive meat and dairy are for one’s health).

If someone’s big problem is that God put animals here for us to eat, I’ll politely ask them which is a better interpretation of dominion: stewardship and caring, or dominance and cruelty? If we’re superior to the animals, and God’s superior to us, should we treat animals as we would want God to treat us? Would God or Jesus be pleased with factory farms?

If someone’s big problem is health, I’ll tell them how healthy a vegan diet can be.

So, I’m not responding to this thread to get into a scientific debate over evolution, humans, chimps, meat-sourced disease, etc., but just to say what perspective on the topic does humans, the animals, and the environment the most good, and that is humans thinking of themselves as primarily herbivores rather than as primarily meat-eating omnivores.

Rawj
06-10-2006, 05:30 PM
I said that the 100% carniverous diet would be less healthy and lead to a shorter life, but I do not think it would kill someone instantly. I believe they would make it to their 50's possibly. There are some older people who are almost 100 now who smoked since they were like 13 and they are still fine while other are like 30 and started when they were 20 and they are dying from cancer. It varies person to person. A shorter unhealthy life is still a life nonetheless.

Chijou_no_seiza
06-10-2006, 07:25 PM
I meant cooked, but before fire was invented early man ate raw meat. When you cook meat it actually loses some of its good things so I don't believe you would die from malnutrition.

This is the same for vegetables as well, I realize that but that was not my point.



Do you appreciate that if humans eat a diet devoid of fibre, they're going to end up pretty clogged up and internally congested..... and thus probably won;t last very long.... and certainly wouldn;t be healthy.... ?

Astrocat used a good example of what I brought up earlier when I talked of humans dying from malnutrition. Meat is not a completely balanced food. It does not have every nutritent which is essential to a human diet (such as fiber). Similarily iodide and other necessary trace elements are not found in meat, which makes it impossible for humans to live on diet consisting solely of meat.

Rawj
06-10-2006, 07:37 PM
There are people who just eat junk food all their life and obviously do not get every nutrient and/or vitamin that is needed. They are most likely overweight , unhealthy , have diseases, and die at a younger age than most. Just becuase these things are true does not make it impossible or mean it isnt a life.

bluedawg
06-10-2006, 07:56 PM
If we’re superior to the animals, and God’s superior to us, should we treat animals as we would want God to treat us?
ooooh, i like.

Astrocat
06-11-2006, 02:47 PM
I said that the 100% carniverous diet would be less healthy and lead to a shorter life, but I do not think it would kill someone instantly.

Of course not - if this were so, then every time a flesh-eater thought 'I'll just have a hamburger on it's own as a snack' they would drop dead right away (since this could potentially be the start of a 100% carnivorous diet as far as their body is concerned)

If people take a while to kill themselves by doing something, then the end result is that they still kill themselves however slowly by doing so.


I believe they would make it to their 50's possibly.

Do you have any evidence or foundation for thinking that this might be the case ?
ie, any reported instance where humans have lived carnivorously along with the documented results of them doing so ?

Emiloid
06-11-2006, 03:18 PM
There are cultures that eat an almost entirely meat-based diet. The Inuit (Eskimo) and other arctic groups, for example. I wish I knew the details, but they live primarity off of seal and whale meat and blubber, and fish. They do eat some berries in the summer, but their diet is nearly 100% meat-based.

Just sayin'.

mountainvegan
06-11-2006, 04:17 PM
Yeah, the big reason it is irrelevant what humans did or do eat is that a well-balanced vegan is as nutritious and healthy as any diet we could possibly consume.

That we CAN possibly live for 50 to 60 years off of a meat-based diet doesn't say anything about whether we should.

Incidentally, carnivores, like domestic cats, can live off of a 100% plant-based diet. So, either side of the continuum CAN live for a long time off of a diet of the other side of the continuum. Which side should humans pick assuming they have a choice? The compassionate and intelligent side - plant food. :)

Astrocat
06-11-2006, 04:44 PM
There are cultures that eat an almost entirely meat-based diet. The Inuit (Eskimo) and other arctic groups, for example. I wish I knew the details, but they live primarity off of seal and whale meat and blubber, and fish. They do eat some berries in the summer, but their diet is nearly 100% meat-based.

The "unusually rapid bone loss" found in every study ever published on Inuit bone health is blamed on the "acidic effect of a meat diet."
On a similar note, the inuit also have a particularly high rate of osteperosis development and advancement.

It is also worth considering that the high quantity of animal fat typically floods the Inuit womens' breastmilk and blood with toxins, most notably mercury and other toxic heavy metals because of all of the fish which they consume.

This is despite the fact that Inuit in times past would eat much, if not most, of the flesh which they consumed raw.

Inuit in times past are pretty close to having a 100% flesh diet (understandably, nowadays they often buy in fruit and veg from more temperate climates)

However, I would be more interested in seeing how carnivorous cultures would have fared.

Not that it honestly matters anyway..... humans used to rape and kill one another a lot more in olden times, than they do now - but then they saw that it was ethically unsound to do so, and now only sociopaths do these things and many societies are against rape and murder (or outwith a war context, at the very least)

I imagine that gradually, a similar change in moral outlook will occur in relation to other cruel activities which humans engage in (such as animal exploitation and abuse, etc) which i view as a good thing, since i see no benefit in humans attempting to preserve an unethical approach just because it is widely accepted by many people at present.

mountainvegan
06-11-2006, 04:59 PM
I was wondering about Inuit health. With that kind of imbalance (mom!....fish and blubber!....again!?), it can't be too good. :umm:

Astrocat
06-11-2006, 05:05 PM
With that kind of imbalance (mom!....fish and blubber!....again!?), it can be too good.

:o I assume you meant that it can't be too good ?

mountainvegan
06-11-2006, 05:33 PM
Oops. :p Typed that a little too fast. ;) FTR, it has been corrected. :yes:

grog
06-11-2006, 07:41 PM
I was wondering about Inuit health. With that kind of imbalance (mom!....fish and blubber!....again!?), it can't be too good. :umm:

I read a National Geographic article on this once. Two points I remember are:

1) traditionally, they ate all the organs too. hence, they got a lot of "vitamins" that way, that they couldn't get from straight muscle tissue.

2) the fat profile of the wild animals they eat is much different than our domesticated, modified, animals. So they weren't getting the heart disease one would expect, because the saturated/unsaturated levels profiles were better.

They are also physiologically adapted to the cold environment, and can do things outside in the cold that westerners just can't do, like not wear masks and as much clothes. So I would also suspect their bodies are refined to their diet. Not suprising, considering how adaptable all life really is.

mountainvegan
06-11-2006, 08:15 PM
Interesting points.

I've read about their culture (I'm not sure if it was the Inuits or another Arctic tribe) that anger and any negative emotions are never acceptable. Negative attitudes and anger are always, no matter what the circumstances, considered childish and looked down upon. Too cold? Quit your bitchin'. Too dark? Too bad - suck it up. They make the stoics look like whiners. It kinda makes sense - complainers would kill each other in that environment.

grog
06-11-2006, 08:39 PM
Too cold? Quit your bitchin'. Too dark? Too bad - suck it up. They make the stoics look like whiners. It kinda makes sense - complainers would kill each other in that environment.
:thinking:
I'd be soooo dead.

:skull::skull::skull:

mountainvegan
06-11-2006, 09:38 PM
Yeah, I'd definitely have "failure to thrive" issues living as a nomad in the Arctic (to say the least). :p

I think it's fun camping on a mountain side at 11 or 12,000 feet in January in Colorado, but that fun would quickly turn into misery if it were "home." Part of the fun of winter camping is knowing you'll be back in a warm structure whenever the cold gets old. ;)

theveganmary
06-11-2006, 11:06 PM
I have nothing to add to this discussion. I just wanted to say that this is one the most engaging, interesting conversations I've seen on VRF so far. It's fascinating! I do have to say that I agree with herbi that humans are naturally omnivores and that we make a conscious decision to do what's right and go vegan since we can.

mountainvegan
06-12-2006, 12:03 AM
I just wanted to say that this is one the most engaging, interesting conversations I've seen on VRF so far. It's fascinating!

I find it unfortunate for reasons I've already posted, not interesting or fascinating.

If humans are naturally omnivores and "being natural" is good (and most people do believe being natural is good), then eating meat (i.e., being natural) is also good. It sounds to me like a good argument for continuing to eat meat. /devil's advocate

I've said about all I can say in this thread (especially on pages 3 and 4) and am currently bowing out after this post, but I'll restate one thing: As long as vegans agree with meat-eaters that we really are omnivores and therefore should consume animal products for optimal health (optimal health is implicit in the idea of omnivore, at least in most people's minds), it'll be an even longer or, more likely, endless road to any kind of real animal protection. Humans as a whole will never stop consuming animal products until we think of ourselves as primarily herbivores who can thrive as well or better on a 100% plant diet. If we can thrive just as well as herbivores, then we are at least both herbivores and omnivores. If we can do better as herbivores, then we are herbivores. If we can do better for our health as omnivores, then we are omnivores and the argument for animal rights, at least in most people's minds, will be severely weakened. It's not fatal, and one can still make an argument for veganism, but it's a significantly weaker one.

mountainvegan
06-12-2006, 08:34 AM
I thought of something that might bring some clarification to what I mean when I say we are not omnivores. There is a descriptive sense of omnivore which just describes a situation or a factual case about the world. When we say, “She’s an omnivore”, for example, we are saying that she currently eats everything: meat, dairy, etc. We are saying, among other things, that she is not currently vegan. In this sense, I obviously agree that most humans are omnivores and have been for centuries, if not for several millennia.

There is also a prescriptive sense of omnivore which establishes an omnivorous diet as the nutritionally, scientifically, or even ethically preferred or optimal diet. This prescriptive sense is like the USDA’s “Food Pyramid”. It says not only what we perhaps are eating, but what we SHOULD BE eating according to nutritional guidelines or as a matter of our nature, etc. When people say, “But we ARE omnivores”, this same prescriptive sense of the word is almost always implied (i.e., it’s the way humans are by nature and/or it is optimal for humans). It is this prescriptive sense that I’m disagreeing with here. It’s like looking at the USDA’s Food Pyramid and saying, no, a vegan food pyramid would be just as good or better for our health and better for other species and the environment. I’m saying, no, we are not omnivores in any prescriptive or “natural” sense; we ought to be herbivores. We have the proper digestive system and nutritional needs for a well-balanced vegan diet to be optimal.

Now I think I’ve said everything I can say in this thread. :)

Astrocat
06-14-2006, 07:45 PM
The term 'omnivore' is inaccurate anyway.

I don;t know any omnivores who would even just eat all kinds of flesh (ie cat flesh, dog flesh, human flesh, monkey flesh, elephant flesh etc), never mind eating anything which is food.....
Many so-called omnivores won;t even eat anything which hasn;t got either flesh or body fluids mixed in with it.

Which to me seems a lot less 'omnivorous' than people who eat a wider variety of things (just without the morbid ingredients)

I reckon that necrovore is a more accurate terminology to use - "one who eats the dead" or "one who eats death" being rather more appropriate than "one who eats anything"

"natural is good " ??
:P

Rape, famine, death at the age of 30 or less, high infant death rates, rampant disease and living in caves without electricity are all natural things, but i doubt that many of the 'omnivorism is natural thus good' crew are big into any of these things.

veganshawn
06-15-2006, 12:11 AM
Don't Inuit have one of the shortest life spans?

veganshawn
06-15-2006, 12:14 AM
And just to add a little bit to this conversation, just because we can eat something doesn't mean we should. Not everything our body can digest is good for us, we could eat shit doesn't mean we should.

grog
06-15-2006, 12:27 AM
but omnivores are HUMANS!

veganshawn
06-15-2006, 12:30 AM
Solient Green is people!!!

Astrocat
06-15-2006, 09:12 AM
Don't Inuit have one of the shortest life spans?

Apparently so.


Florsh is the Future ! (tm)

Emiloid
06-15-2006, 09:18 AM
Just to clarify, when I mentioned the Inuit, it was because there was some question about whether humans can survive on a diet of animal products. My point was that people do, not that it's healthiest or even remotely healthy. Just that we can survive. People also survive for years or decades (unhealthily) on mainly potatoes or rice. It's not ideal, but pretty much anything with calories can keep us going for longer than you might expect. We humans are hardy little bastards! ;)

And like veganshawn (and others) have said, just because we can be "omnivores", or even naturally are, doesn't mean we ought to be when given the choice.

Astrocat
06-15-2006, 10:26 AM
Are there any groups of humans who have been surviving (or who have survived in the past) on a carnivorous diet, rather than a 'carnivorous diet with benefits' ?

grog
06-15-2006, 11:40 AM
if you go far enough back in time, living to age 20 was surviving. a little more recently, living to 30 was surviving, and you were OLD. There's really not a comparison to make here.

Shibo
03-24-2009, 09:20 AM
What we're ultimately talking about here is nutrition. What are we meant to eat? I think we all know, to some degree, the health benefits of a plant-based diet as opposed to an animal-based diet. As far as this topic goes, I find it sufficient to say, "If humans were meant to eat animals we wouldn't get degenerative diseases from eating them."

I don't know why, but that just makes great deal of sense. The health benefits of plant foods over animal foods is apparent even in very small quantities. If we were not designed to be herbivorous, then we're so close as to make the distinction irrelevant. All this talk about comparative anatomy and evolution just confuses the issue.

whiterosegarden
03-24-2009, 10:19 AM
totally posting it in a note on Facebook (I love getting beef for being an activist, not literally of course :P)

Beuford
03-25-2009, 08:04 AM
Hi, I just had to register with this forum so I could post one question which i'm sure someone here has a solution to. Now first I want to be a vegetarian but my family isn't, and I don't do the shopping so it is difficult. But there is one thing I'd like to know. Without B12 supplements, can you be completely vegan?

I think that humans would make great herbivores, but just that one thing stands in my way, can we get sufficient B12 from plants?

Also I was thinking that maybe if our ancestors used to eat meat, perhaps we developed to needing B12. Maybe we have herbivore qualities and aren't really suited to eating meat, but could it be possible that our we evolved to be mostly herbivores but still need B12? Like as though we didn't perfectly evolve to be an omnivore, or a herbivore.

vegematic
03-25-2009, 10:00 AM
My understanding of B12 is this: B12 is mainly produced by microbes in soil and gets into the water supply (?also produced in the lower intestinal tract of animals and excreted?). Since humans tend to scrub their food and treat their water we remove the B12 that would otherwise be a quite natural part of even the herbivore diet. Other animals do not clean their food and water so they ingest the B12. Humans that eat animals then get that B12 into their diets.

B12 deficiency is very serious, but we don't need much and it is easy to get from fortified vegan sources like most soy milks. There are also vegan supplements that can be used.
-vegematic

Calliope
03-25-2009, 10:24 AM
What vegematic said. B12 deficiency is no joke, so supplement or fortify!

Miso Vegan
03-25-2009, 10:57 AM
Here is our b12 thread, with more info than you probably care to know:
http://www.plantbasedpeople.com/showthread.php?t=5002

tamaramcfarland
03-25-2009, 01:18 PM
This seems relevant to this topic - Dan Piraro just came out with this cartoon... I'm going to try to embed it but don't know if it will work...

<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/05zhL1YUd8Q&amp;color1=0xb1b1b1&amp;color2=0xcfcfcf&amp;hl=en&amp; feature=player_embedded&amp;fs=1"><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/05zhL1YUd8Q&amp;color1=0xb1b1b1&amp;color2=0xcfcfcf&amp;hl=en&amp; feature=player_embedded&amp;fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

ETA - well, obviously that didn't work! But if anyone wants to embed it on their own site, now you have the code. :) If you want to watch the video, I guess just go here (http://www.mcfarlanddesigns.com/2009/03/toon-time.html).

Dandelion
03-25-2009, 01:31 PM
This seems relevant to this topic - Dan Piraro just came out with this cartoon...
I never understood that video. I don't think anybody makes the case that humans are carnivores so what's the point?

Miso Vegan
03-25-2009, 07:33 PM
Plenty of humans call themselves carnivores, and say we are made to eat meat.

Calliope
03-25-2009, 08:34 PM
I never understood that video. I don't think anybody anybody who's not a complete moron makes the case that humans are carnivores so what's the point?

I think this is what Dande meant. :p

That argument has always pissed me off though....I hate when people say things like, we're not like lions, we can't just rip into flesh...we're obviously meant to be vegans!!!!!!!!

umm......you skipped over a whole separate category there, friend. And I'm all for veganism, but it doesn't help the cause when we present ourselves like idiots.....

KaliMama
03-25-2009, 08:46 PM
We're opportunistic omnivores! Just like dogs!

I love saying that.

Dandelion
03-25-2009, 09:42 PM
Plenty of humans call themselves carnivores, and say we are made to eat meat.
Wow i don't think i ever met one. I mean i hear "we're meant to eat meat" or whatever but in a simplistic sense maybe that's correct.



umm......you skipped over a whole separate category there, friend. And I'm all for veganism, but it doesn't help the cause when we present ourselves like idiots.....
I guess that was my point, sensationalistic advocacy is crappy advocacy.

nauthiz
03-25-2009, 09:46 PM
I've met meat eaters who complain that vegetarians refer to them as carnivores.

Calliope
03-25-2009, 09:49 PM
I can understand that. Back when I was still an omnivore, I would have objected to being called a carnivore, because obviously I wasn't. Eating plants and grains and things = not a carnivore.

My brother told me recently that he gets offended when vegans refer to him as an omnivore. That I don't get. How would you describe your diet, if not omnivorous? Seriously....I don't understand why you're upset by this.

nauthiz
03-25-2009, 09:53 PM
At the very, very least, it's a bit like getting upset for being called diploid.

Calliope
03-25-2009, 09:56 PM
:laugh:

Dandelion
03-25-2009, 09:57 PM
At the very, very least, it's a bit like getting upset for being called diploid.
why, i never!

La Végétalienne
03-25-2009, 11:51 PM
At the very, very least, it's a bit like getting upset for being called diploid.

I find that offensive.

KaliMama
03-26-2009, 01:01 AM
I mean i hear "we're meant to eat meat" or whatever but in a simplistic sense maybe that's correct.

We are perhaps meant to eat meat in the sense that we evolved to have kitchens and stoves and refrigerators. And hospitals that perform coronary bypass surgery.


I guess that was my point, sensationalistic advocacy is crappy advocacy.

Totally. Agree. Times a million.

squirrel
03-26-2009, 09:59 AM
And hospitals that perform coronary bypass surgery.

Good one!

nauthiz
03-26-2009, 12:17 PM
We are perhaps meant to eat meat in the sense that we evolved to have kitchens and stoves and refrigerators.

Well, eating meat in larger quantities does seem to have come about as a result of the development of cooking.

But so did eating grain in larger quantities.

Provoked
03-27-2009, 12:54 AM
We're opportunistic omnivores! Just like dogs!



Never heard that before - but it certainly makes sense.

So here's a quirky question... If humans are "opportunistic omnivores" - are those who eat meat similar in any way to scavengers? I mean, none of the real killing of prey is done by those who eat chickens or cows - Just like the vultures, buzzards on the roadside didn't kill their feast either... So - are today's meat eaters in a sense, "scavengers"? :umm:

nauthiz
03-27-2009, 12:58 AM
Speciesists. :brood:

La Végétalienne
03-27-2009, 11:16 AM
So - are today's meat eaters in a sense, "scavengers"? :umm:
I'm inclined to say no. From my understanding, scavengers have an important role in the ecosystem, namely, cleaning up dead stuff. Also, keep in mind that humans as a species are not scavengers. Some individuals do the killing and some only do the eating, kind of like in a lion herd, but lions as a group are still classified as predators.

tamaramcfarland
03-27-2009, 11:50 AM
I think this is what Dande meant. :p

That argument has always pissed me off though....I hate when people say things like, we're not like lions, we can't just rip into flesh...we're obviously meant to be vegans!!!!!!!!

umm......you skipped over a whole separate category there, friend. And I'm all for veganism, but it doesn't help the cause when we present ourselves like idiots.....

But actually, if you look back to the very first post in this thread, it compares the attributes of all three - carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores - and demonstrates that humans most closely match the category of herbivore, NOT omnivore.

Sorry if I offended anyone with my 'crappy advocacy'. I don't think it makes me an idiot to believe that humans' physical characteristics make us most suited to being vegetarian.

Dandelion
03-27-2009, 01:23 PM
But actually, if you look back to the very first post in this thread, it compares the attributes of all three - carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores - and demonstrates that humans most closely match the category of herbivore, NOT omnivore.

Sorry if I offended anyone with my 'crappy advocacy'. I don't think it makes me an idiot to believe that humans' physical characteristics make us most suited to being vegetarian.

"Crappy advocacy" wasn't aimed at you and i didn't mean to throw any haterade your way.

I contend that the first post that quotes Dr. Milton Mills is sensationalistic and simplistic just to start. It's best to be skeptical of all arguments especially when they support your position. That should be the takeaway point here. :)

Provoked
03-27-2009, 01:34 PM
I'm inclined to say no. From my understanding, scavengers have an important role in the ecosystem, namely, cleaning up dead stuff. Also, keep in mind that humans as a species are not scavengers. Some individuals do the killing and some only do the eating, kind of like in a lion herd, but lions as a group are still classified as predators.

Sure, that makes sense... "predators".

The one thing though that muddy's the water when comparing predators to herbivores is the argument concerning "canine" teeth. Many times vegans also refer to them as "canines". Shouldn't they correctly be called "cuspids"? And wouldn't that proper distinction further remove humans from "carnivore/omnivore" status? :rolleyes:

Dandelion
03-27-2009, 02:04 PM
Sure, that makes sense... "predators".

The one thing though that muddy's the water when comparing predators to herbivores is the argument concerning "canine" teeth. Many times vegans also refer to them as "canines". Shouldn't they correctly be called "cuspids"? And wouldn't that proper distinction further remove humans from "carnivore/omnivore" status? :rolleyes:

Since humans ARE omnivorous i'm not sure we would want to make the argument to 'remove humans from that status.' And even if say, we're NOT omnivores it's a fallacious argument (appeal to nature) especially if animal rights is your goal. Cuspid...canines...i'm not sure either is more technically correct but to shy away from one and throw spin into an argument muddies the water even further IMHO.

Calliope
03-27-2009, 02:21 PM
But actually, if you look back to the very first post in this thread, it compares the attributes of all three - carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores - and demonstrates that humans most closely match the category of herbivore, NOT omnivore.

Sorry if I offended anyone with my 'crappy advocacy'. I don't think it makes me an idiot to believe that humans' physical characteristics make us most suited to being vegetarian.


I'm sorry, that definitely wasn't directed at you! I just meant that I find it annoying when people argue that because we're clearly not meant to be carnivores, that must mean we're meant to be herbivores. It's different when people provide a case for their position, but all too often I see that people completely ignore any evidence for being biologically omnivorous, and I think that can make vegans look like they're just trying to make it look like the evidence supports their opinion.

Hope I didn't offend you! I really didn't mean to!!

Provoked
03-27-2009, 02:54 PM
Cuspid vs. canine... My dentist said regarding human teeth the prefered (medical) term is cuspid. In other mammals it's "canine"...

And a canine can also be a "fang"... but a fang can never be a cuspid... If that makes sense? :rolleyes:

And yes Dandy... you are right - we (were)/are omnivores - but where does evolution factor in? Or does it ever? I can look at my own body and see that there is an evolutionary "leap"... I have no "little" toe nail... on either foot. :umm:

Now, if my off spring down several generations also carried this gene, eventually in time - there'd be no toenails at all! So what I'm getting at is - just because our dietary habits at one time supported omnivorism - maybe through the course of thousands of years we're "evolving" to the point where consuming flesh becomes detrimental. (More so than what we know it to be already).

How does science observe changes like this? Or is it all just too early to study? Maybe someday we will "look back" and say man was once omnivore, but has since evolved to herbivore? We're constantly changing biologically - isn't this a possibility in the future? :rolleyes:

Ariann
03-27-2009, 05:29 PM
Aren't humans mammals?

Provoked
03-27-2009, 05:47 PM
Hi Ariann.... Yes, of course:

In other mammals it's "canine"...

meaning "human mammal" - "other mammal"...
or "human animal" - non-human animal"....

He definately meant to distinguish man from beast. But then I see that some veternarian dentists use the term "cuspid" too - so I don't know what to think. I guess I'm going to leave it at "whatever"...

We have canines, nonhumans also have cuspids. :blank: I thought it would be more clearer than that - but doesn't seem like it is.

nauthiz
03-27-2009, 07:10 PM
How does science observe changes like this?

Science would seem to suggest that our ancestors started off as being primarily herbivorous (though possibly with some meat consumption, as in the bonobos, or a bit more meat consumption, as in the chimpanzees). From then, our level of meat consumption went up a lot over the course of the species's evolution - our ancestors were probably eating meat fairly regularly by the time H. Sapiens separated from H. Erectus. How else do you explain why all their toolmaking efforts were so focused on implements for hunting and butchery?

Provoked
03-27-2009, 07:44 PM
Science would seem to suggest that our ancestors started off as being primarily herbivorous (though possibly with some meat consumption, as in the bonobos, or a bit more meat consumption, as in the chimpanzees). From then, our level of meat consumption went up a lot over the course of the species's evolution - our ancestors were probably eating meat fairly regularly by the time H. Sapiens separated from H. Erectus. How else do you explain why all their toolmaking efforts were so focused on implements for hunting and butchery?
Yes this is true - and does explain tool making. But our level of meat consumption hasn't gone up for physical need but rather food "gathering" efficacy, financial gain, cultural influences, and so forth.

What I'm wondering is - is there any science at hand that is investigating the possibility of a physical change or evolution? Don't some believe that the appendix was once instrumental to our digetstion of flesh? And if that's the case, if after thousands of years infants were born with smaller, smaller than no appendix - that would be a physical indication of evolving away from an omnivore's habit.

Do our bodies adapt to what nature intended? Or will our bodies always be in this kind of limbo - grounding meat eating in a fixed position of being "natural" to us?

I know there are no answers, delving into theories of what *might* happen in
the future. But still, it's an interesting idea to ponder - It would be nice if eventually nature "cooperated"... besides diseases that is... :rolleyes:

nauthiz
03-27-2009, 07:58 PM
Don't some believe that the appendix was once instrumental to our digetstion of flesh?
The story I had heard is that it was once instrumental to digestion of foliage - in most herbivorous animals, a well-developed version of the organ serves as a "breeding ground" for bacteria that assist in the breakdown of stuff like cellulose. In general, the organ tends to be largest in herbivores, and dwindles down to a vestigial appendix in carnivores.

The theory is that it became vestigial as we started eating more meat and relying on cooking to break down cellulose in plant foods.


Do our bodies adapt to what nature intended?
It's not really a matter of intention. Our bodies adapt to whatever evolutionary pressures are thrown at them.

Provoked
03-27-2009, 08:48 PM
Evolutionary pressures? Environmental ones I understand - Like having dark skin and living close to the equator... Populations that live in mountainous regions have larger lung capacity... and so on. I'm even pretty sure that the Inuits have some differences in their physical makeup that enables them to eat/digest an almost exclusive carnivorous diet... But I don't know what you mean by "evolutionary pressures" - Could you explain please?


The appendix (http://www.innerbody.com/image_dige03/dige01.html)has no function in modern humans, however it is believed to have been part of the digestive system in our primitive ancestors

So did our primitive ancestors need it to break down meat? Or vegetation? And if we don't need the appendix anymore, which are we inclined to be now? "Modern meat eater" or vegan? :umm:

nauthiz
03-27-2009, 09:12 PM
Evolutionary pressures are environmental pressures that you would expect to affect an individual's reproductive success. Not all environmental pressures do this. For example, there's not necessarily any pressure for women to evolve a better resistance to developing osteoporosis after menopause, because that sort of thing doesn't affect them until after their reproductive years.


So did our primitive ancestors need it to break down meat? Or vegetation? And if we don't need the appendix anymore, which are we inclined to be now? "Modern meat eater" or vegan?
Our other primate ancestors who have more functional versions use it to help break down vegetation.

From a purely biological perspective, we're pretty well adapted to eating whatever the heck is in front of us. I think that historically, though, some amount of animal product consumption being best, in order to help avoid some of the nutrient deficiency pitfalls of vegetarianism. The variety of food that was available to humans at any given time back before the invention of things like hydrocarbon-powered vehicles, canning, and refrigeration would have been much lower, so those pitfalls would be a bit harder to avoid for a premodern vegetarian. It's worth noting, for example, that almost all the world's examples of vegetarian cultures in premodern times occur in regions have climates that make it possible to grow food almost the entire year. For everyone else, the health pitfalls of vegetarianism would have been magnified compared to what they are for those of us who are wealthy and live in the 21st century. Meanwhile, the health pitfalls of eating meat were only affecting wealthy people, anyway, because nobody else could afford to eat enough of the stuff for it to have a serious impact on their likelihood of developing colon popyps.



Frankly, if you believe biology defines how we should live our lives then the meat eaters are likely to be correct. But so are the people who say that homosexual behavior is an abomination.

tamaramcfarland
03-27-2009, 09:38 PM
Hope I didn't offend you! I really didn't mean to!!

Aw, I probably over-reacted. PMS. :)

Emiloid
03-28-2009, 12:16 AM
It's clear to me that we humans are actually evolved from an alien race that only began inhabiting Earth about 14,000 years ago. We're neither omnivores, carnivores, nor herbivores. We are posdhefyebdksivores. The fact that we evolved a second pinky finger is proof of this. Oh, you probably call it a "ring finger". At any rate, we evolved to eat all kinds of crap, but to not tolerate all of it very well. It's just part of evolution. As time goes on, our species will become more and more suited to the nutritional offerings of this planet.

Calliope
03-28-2009, 02:38 AM
:laugh:

That post officially made you my hero, Emiloid. :p

Provoked
03-28-2009, 03:34 PM
"posdhefyebdksivores" that's pretty cool - The only word which when googled will return you right back to this thread... Sounds like secret vegan-code to me. :laugh:

nauthiz - "understood". Thanks for taking the time... ;)

Shibo
05-14-2009, 07:02 PM
I don't see why we can't just settle for saying "mostly herbivorous" to indicate that it's very easy to eat too much meat, while accepting that we're adapted to process it. "Omnivore" is much too broad of a term to be useful anyway.

foodlovingvegan
05-14-2009, 07:08 PM
I don't see why we can't just settle for saying "mostly herbivorous" to indicate that it's very easy to eat too much meat, while accepting that we're adapted to process it. "Omnivore" is much too broad of a term to be useful anyway.

I don't think we are adapted to process it. Then again, humans eat a lot of things that we aren't adapted to process.

nauthiz
05-14-2009, 11:50 PM
Soybeans, for example. Can't eat 'em without processing them first!

ETA: And raw red kidney beans are even worse!

Emiloid
05-16-2009, 01:56 AM
My favorite is processed newspaper. :drool: