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riotxofxwords
04-13-2005, 12:53 AM
Ok, I know that traditionally us veg*ns refer to people who still eat meat as ominvores. But, every definition I've seen for omnivore says "a creature who consumes plant and animal materials", or something like that. The important part is that none of them explicitely state that an omnivore eats the flesh of other animals. So...

Eggs are animal products, and they contain cholesterol just like any other animal product. Wouldn't it follow, then, that anyone who still eats eggs qualifies as an ominvore even if they don't eat meat?

The reason I ask is I'm writing a paper on whether or not humans are supposed to eat meat as far as biology is concerned (key word supposed, not capable of). I'm asserting that humans are omnivores by nature based on the perfect proteins, omega 3's and B12 found in eggs, but just because of that it does not necessarily follow that humans are meant to eat meat (an idea which I'm basing on all of the health problems associated with eating meat, esp. when compared to the benefits of NOT eating it). I guess more than anything I want to make sure that I'm not saying anything grossly inaccurate when it comes to the eggs/omni thing.

Thanks in advance for any replies.

zatoichi
04-13-2005, 01:24 AM
humans aren't designed to eat anything; they adapt. (you're probably quite aware of this, but your paper should probably be explicit about it.) as far as b12, protein and omega 3s are concerned, i believe they can all be derived from a purely plant-based diet. without pesticides and impeccable cleansing of fruits and vegetables, we'd get plenty of b12 from bug shit, as they do in some third world countries. and i've heard unsubstantiated talk of plants being able to absorb b12 from manure-rich soil, and in seaweed and things. maybe that has all been debunked by now. what do i know...

but i DO know that you're corrent in your belief that omnivores are consumers of animals foods and not necessarily flesh.

Emiloid
04-13-2005, 02:57 AM
It's true that veg*n's say "omnivore" to mean meat-eater, not O-L-veggie, but in a strict sense "omnivore" would include animals that eat plants and eggs even if they don't regularly consume meat.

Lacykitten
04-13-2005, 08:15 AM
Yes, that's true, because an animal that only eats plants and eggs isn't called a herbivore, at least in my experience.

riotxofxwords
04-13-2005, 08:23 AM
Thanks for the replies! It's very reassuring to get confirmation on that, otherwise one of my main points would not be correct.

I decided it would be kind of pointless (and a waste of time) to try and argue for humans being herbivores since the topic and question have been exhausted by both sides of the debate. Instead I'm outright delcaring that humans are omnivores but at the same time saying we aren't supposed to eat meat... I'm hoping it comes out ok, but with so much information on how bad meat is it's hard to imagine that nature would intend for us to eat something that would slowly kill us.

Emiloid
04-13-2005, 11:54 AM
...with so much information on how bad meat is it's hard to imagine that nature would intend for us to eat something that would slowly kill us.Maybe that didn't matter so much when the average lifespan was 30 or so years. If we ever needed it (for example, as an energy source to prevent starvation), we certainly don't now, at least in the industrialized world.

9nines
04-13-2005, 01:14 PM
Thanks for the replies! It's very reassuring to get confirmation on that, otherwise one of my main points would not be correct.

I decided it would be kind of pointless (and a waste of time) to try and argue for humans being herbivores since the topic and question have been exhausted by both sides of the debate. Instead I'm outright delcaring that humans are omnivores but at the same time saying we aren't supposed to eat meat... I'm hoping it comes out ok, but with so much information on how bad meat is it's hard to imagine that nature would intend for us to eat something that would slowly kill us.

I suggest researching two additional things: 1) digestion of meat - we can not well but find concrete research stating that and 2) parallels with apes digestion system and what they eat - yes they eat meat in the wild but not regularly and I remember reading its more desperation (weather causing low vegetation and ritualistic killing to impress other apes.)

spasticastic
04-13-2005, 04:11 PM
Damn! Emiloid beat me too it, but I'm still going to say the same thing. As far as our genes our concerned, we're useless as soon as we are no longer reproducing. So all our diet has to do it get us old enough to GET IT ON and it will have done its job. The problems with flesh eating, it seems to me, are almost all problems with older age. Heart disease, colon cancer, etc. Those old age diseases occur after you have already reproduced. Your genetic duty has already been done in your 20s and 30s.

I'm not trying to wreck your paper, just giving you another way to think about it. An all meat diet might be fine if it gets you old enough to reproduce. Think about prehistoric people. They probably ate whatever crap they could find. Insects, tubers, raw animals, whatever. And died at 30. But the point is, they didn't need great diets to get them to reproducing age. They ate crap and we still have their genes in us!

If it were me, I'd tread lightly on the idea that meat diets make human populations unfit or deficient. GENETICALLY speaking, they do just fine. Their problem is only in longevity, and possibly in quaility of life.

Another interesting point that supports a similar thesis to yours: different groups in different areas ate widely varying diets, and yet all survived to reproducing age and to put their genes in the current gene pool. Some cultures ate lots of animals, others ate almost none. That's the "Meat is an option, not a requirement argument."

Mason
04-13-2005, 05:55 PM
Damn! Emiloid beat me too it, but I'm still going to say the same thing. As far as our genes our concerned, we're useless as soon as we are no longer reproducing. So all our diet has to do it get us old enough to GET IT ON and it will have done its job. The problems with flesh eating, it seems to me, are almost all problems with older age. Heart disease, colon cancer, etc. Those old age diseases occur after you have already reproduced. Your genetic duty has already been done in your 20s and 30s.I'm going to have to disagree with you on this. Not only do we have to survive and reproduce to be a genetic success but the next generation has to survive as well. And we are remarkably slow learners as far as the animal kingdom goes. As any parent can tell you, it takes a considerable percentage of their remaining life energy to eventually kick their offspring out the door. Most need help to do so. There's an evolutionary reason for grandparents. (Other than to slip you a quarter when no one is looking.)

Emiloid
04-13-2005, 08:26 PM
Hmmm... to put a fine point on this, I'd say elders are important, but not necessarily grandparents. That's one benefit to living in large groups like we humans tend to do.

Also, I don't think that your points (spasticastic and Mason) are necessarily in conflict. It's possible to have grandchildren or even great-grandchildren by the age people used to die on average. Considering most diet-related dieseases don't cause major damage until our 50's, and the fact that a sedentary lifestyle is equally at fault for most such diseases, it is not an evolutionary disadvantage to consume meat, even if it eventually does you in. You can still live long enough to have children and help raise your grandchildren. Or, even if you don't survive, someone else in your family or village will, and they can help out and pass on vital knowledge to your grandkids.

BTW, I'm not saying that it's OK or healthy to eat meat, or even that we're built to live off of it... just that it doesn't seem like we aren't supposed to have the option. As spasticastic pointed out, there are cultures that survive primarily on meat (like Inuits/Eskimos), and there are plenty that consume almost no animal products, and in each case they've been doing it for thousands of years, and surviving pretty well. On the other hand, there is evidence to show that in general people/cultures that consume less meat have better health and a longer lifespan... so just because we can doesn't mean we ought to. Life is about more than just surviving.

riotxofxwords, can you take a philosophical angle to the issue with this paper?

spasticastic
04-13-2005, 08:40 PM
I'm going to have to disagree with you on this. Not only do we have to survive and reproduce to be a genetic success but the next generation has to survive as well. And we are remarkably slow learners as far as the animal kingdom goes. As any parent can tell you, it takes a considerable percentage of their remaining life energy to eventually kick their offspring out the door. Most need help to do so. There's an evolutionary reason for grandparents. (Other than to slip you a quarter when no one is looking.)
I'm going to have to agree with you on this! Child rearing is important to the survival of the species and should be accounted for. So my statement was too simplistic. Sorry, thanks for pointing it out.

But I still think diet diseases don't really affect you until after your reproduction and even child rearing are done. In the case of cavemen, they would reproduce at 18 and die at 30. In the case of us, we reproduce at 30 and die at 50, if our diet is really terrible.

Grandparenting... hm.. is probably not as critical? I don't know how much argument I would base on it. Also you could be a caveman grandparent at 35 or so, before dying of disease or famine or predation.

And the point still is, eating meat is not an evolutionary disadvantage, and so I wouldn't bring that up in a paper. You could still argue, though, that it has a negative impact on longevity and quality of life.

ETA: For most of our evolutionary history, the biggest "dietary" disease would have been not getting ENOUGH things to eat. Plants, roots, insects, birds, siblings, whatever.

riotxofxwords
04-13-2005, 08:45 PM
riotxofxwords, can you take a philosophical angle to the issue with this paper?

As long as some of what I say can be backed up by quotes/research. But yeah, it's got some room for personalization, so any ideas you've got, don't hold back :)

herbi
04-13-2005, 11:35 PM
There's an evolutionary reason for grandparents.

:thumbsup: I'm on this side-- simply reproducing isn't enough. In other groups of long-lived, intelligent, social mammals (elephants, cetaceans, and some of the great apes) it's been shown that the success of the family group is intimately linked to the presence of experienced elders (usually females). Almost any competent adult can raise the next generation, but when the water hole dries up (or the salmon run is sparse that year, or something, in the ocean...) only the great-grandmothers might know about that OTHER resource they once visited as a child with THEIR great-grandma, over the hill and through the woods... Especially when there is no written cultural repository and limited (if any) language used to transmit knowledge (as may well have been true of our early ancestors), these living libraries are vital for the group to thrive.

Which is still not to say that ancestral humans didn't eat whatever meat they had access to... wild grass-fed organic lean meat has a vastly different lipid profile and has different effects on the body than the chemically-"enhanced" corn-fed ultra fatty crap people eat today, and a subsistence lifestyle with LOTS of daily exercise would also no doubt combat obesity & heart disease. Also, back in the day people would have had children MUCH earlier (as soon as physically possible, maybe early to mid teens?) so a wizened elder might still be only 50 or so. It's likely that parasites, injury, infection, viral diseases, and predation were vastly greater concerns than cancer, diabetes, atherosclerosis, etc, just as with other wild animals today.

I think the issue of what humans are "supposed" to eat is tricky. Evolutionarily, I do believe we're true omnivores-- we'll eat whatever we can get, and do a reasonably good job of digesting it and surviving on it, be it plant or animal. We have too much behavioral and biochemical adaptability for me to think we're "supposed to be" strict herbivores. But I do think there is a wealth of evidence to support the idea that we're clearly NOT supposed to eat a steady Atkins-like Standard American Diet of fatty processed meats, and to show that, at least in modern times, veg*n diets are superior. Good luck with your paper, xriotx!

spasticastic
04-14-2005, 12:51 AM
Oh, taking sides are we? Let's fight! Put up yer dukes!

My point was only that what we recognize as "problems with meat eating" are old age diseases associated with longevity, and would not have been a factor for most of the evolution of the species. I should have phrased it differently so as to not have a discussion about grandparents. I'm sure they're important, as are larger social groups. But you still can't use grandparent theory to argue that eating meat harmed caveman viability because everybody died young of heart disease! :rolleyes:

spasticastic
04-14-2005, 01:03 AM
Mr Riot, I think your paper is still looking good. The only place where you need to be careful is when you discuss what people are "supposed to eat". Because there are two ways you could argue what people are "supposed to eat":
1. Evolution/genetics - We're "supposed to eat" whatever our ancestors could get their grubby hands on.
2. Modern life - We're "supposed to eat" whatever gives us a long, healthy life.

So you just have to define which you are talking about. If I were going to restate your thesis: People evolved as omnivores and clearly have the ability to eat plants and animals. But now that our lifespans have doubled and are still growing, there are new things to consider with our diet, such as which foods eventually cause disease, which foods promote healthfulness and disease-fighting, etc.

So you could argue that our early evolution has not specifically prepared us for the challenges of longevity, and that diet is now a key component of staying healthy longer. This isn't helping, is it? I'll quit now!

Chijou_no_seiza
04-14-2005, 01:21 AM
" it's hard to imagine that nature would intend for us to eat something that would slowly kill us"
To my understanding meat was much healthier even 30 years ago. And now for instance fish would be unhealthy because of mercury, ddt etc... but I don't think it would be necessarily bad if consumed in moderation when then are naturally occuring (without modern day influences)...

Well anyways I was actually going to comment on the herbaviore/omniovore topic. The other day my friend and I were talking and he said dairy and eggs aren't vegetables so how can vegetarians be classified as herbivores. Which of course is a good point. However a calf consumes its mothers milk and is a herbivores even when as an infant it doesn't eat plants. So basically I think labeling is bull and would make a weak argument, and this:



1. Evolution/genetics - We're "supposed to eat" whatever our ancestors could get their grubby hands on.
2. Modern life - We're "supposed to eat" whatever gives us a long, healthy life.

sounds like a good idea :)

herbi
04-14-2005, 08:05 AM
However a calf consumes its mothers milk and is a herbivores even when as an infant it doesn't eat plants. So basically I think labeling is bull

But by that logic, there are NO herbivorous mammals, because ALL mammals drink milk as infants. :confused: (Also no vegans, since healthy vegan human infants also drink milk-- their mom's!)