The Human Herbivore

Uncategorized Add comments

Humans are often viewed as omnivorous organisms at the top of the food chain.  However, when viewed closely, one must begin to question why that is.  The comparative anatomy of humans seems to suggest that, perhaps, we were designed to be herbivores.  From our dentition to our stomach acidity, all roads point to a vegetarian diet.  However, typical humans eat a wide variety of animal matter.  Is this due to our design or are we meat-eaters because it is available and we were raised on it?  I would like to propose that humans are anatomically herbivorous and opportunistic carnivores.
Herbivores are organisms that feed mainly on plants.  Elephants, rabbits, and sheep are common herbivores.  Herbivores have an extensive digestive system to digest the complex foods that they eat.  It takes a lot to digest plant material, so the herbivores intestines are long to accommodate.  Herbivores have dull, flat teeth for grinding their food.
Carnivores are organisms that feed mainly on other animals.  Lions, dogs, and snakes are common carnivores.  Carnivores have a small digestive tract filled with acid to quickly digest the animal’s flesh before it begins to rot in the intestines.  Carnivores, generally, have sharp teeth and claws to catch their prey and tear its flesh.
While humans can tolerate a variety of different diets, it is a wonder to see that some choose to avoid animal products.  In the United States, about 2.8% of the population claims to be vegetarian.  Humans are the only organisms in which vegetarianism and non-vegetarianism exist.  Some people decide to become vegetarian due to religious conviction, nutritional or medical affects, ethical dilemmas, or psychological discomfort.  When the benefits in health of being a vegetarian are addressed, one begins to wonder why that is not our choice as a species.  Were we made to be herbivores?
Many factors seem to prove as positive evidence to proving that humans were, in fact, designed to be herbivores.  According to Bernard Campbell (1985), our teeth are much more similar to herbivores than to carnivores or omnivores.  Our canines are not sharp, so they cannot tear away flesh, and our back molars are flat and good for grinding vegetables and fruits.  Our fingernails are much more similar to those of herbivores rather than the sharp claws of carnivores and omnivores.  Also, we cannot detoxify vitamin A in our liver, we have moderately concentrated urine, we perspire through the pores in our skin, our colon is long, and our stomach takes up less than a third of our digestive tract.  All of these attributes in our anatomy are similar in herbivores and different in carnivores and omnivores.
Humans, as well as herbivores, possess salivary amylase, an enzyme used to break down carbohydrates in the mouth.  This enzyme is not present in carnivores or omnivores.  Human and herbivore stomach acidity is much more alkalinic in comparison with carnivores (Herrera and Pellmyr 2002).  This is because we do not need the acidic juices to break down as much meat.  Carnivores and omnivores tear away the flesh and blood of their prey and swallow it whole.  The meat is digested mainly by the stomach acid and is passed quickly through the system due to the short intestines.  Human and herbivores have to chew their food, break it down slowly in our long intestines to absorb all nutrients.  The raw meat that carnivores eat would be hard for humans to digest.  We tend to cook our meat, denaturing the proteins, making it easier to chew and also to get rid of the bacteria that could cause illness.  Also, herbivores have a large cecum and an appendix, which is not as large in carnivores.  Our vestigial appendix may show that our ancestors were herbivorous.
[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

The fossil record of our ancestors seems to prove that we were originally herbivorous.  A. africanus and A. robustus were both herbivores.  A. afarensis is thought to have become bipedal in order to reach fruit from the trees.  This may lead to the conclusion that they were also herbivorous.  However, when we get to Homo habilis, we begin to see adding meat into the diet.  It is believed that Homo habilis scavenged dead animals.  As our ancestors began to live in adverse climactic conditions, we see that they hunted because vegetation was scarce (Harris and Ross 1987).  Also, with the use of tools and control of fire, our ancestors began to cook the meat so they could eat it.  We are the only animal to cook our meat before we eat it.  If a deer is burned in a forest fire, a carnivorous animal will not eat it.  Since our ancestors ate meat when vegetation was scarce and fire was available, it seems viable to claim that humans are opportunistic carnivores.  Even in today’s society, we eat meat because it is readily bought at the grocery store and refrigerated to keep it fresh.  However, the opportunistic feeder theory can not be scientifically proven, because we know that traits can not be acquired.  Therefore, we can claim that we are omnivores by behavior and not be evolution.  We eat meat because we can, but not because we were meant to.
Some humans have eaten meat for so long that they have developed a genetic predisposition to not being vegetarian.  The Tibetans, in the upper Himalayas, are an ethnicity that has subsisted on meat for thousands of years.  They can’t grow much outside of barley.  They use barley to make tsampa, which is dough made with barley flour.  Other than that, they consume many products from the yak.  They use yak milk, yak butter, yak cheese, and the meat of the yak.  Their offspring cannot survive without meat because they have lived with it for so long.  Even the Dalai Lama couldn’t survive without meat.  He tried to give it up once, but became very ill.
Some of our closest relatives are herbivorous.  Gorillas are herbivorous ground feeders.  And our two closest believed relatives eat mainly fruits and vegetables.  The bonobos are mostly frugavorous, while about 5% of the chimpanzee’s diet is composed of meat.  The meat they normally consume is termites, birds, monkeys, and pigs.  Female chimpanzees actually eat about two times as much meat as the males.
Vegetarianism can be very beneficial to a human’s health.  It decreases the chance of colon cancer, which is caused by the putrefication of meat in the colon.  Eating excess meat increases cholesterol.  A high cholesterol diet has no negative effect on a carnivore, however, in a human, high cholesterol can lead to heart disease.  Being a vegetarian can decrease the rate of osteoporosis, which is due to calcium deficiency.  Also, it decreases the chance of kidney damage due to nephritis, which occurs when the uric acid produced during protein digestion attacks the kidneys.  There are many diseases that we can get from eating a carnivorous diet that we are not supposed to.  Natural carnivores do not suffer from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, strokes, or obesity because their bodies are equipped to deal with the saturated fats and cholesterol in meat.  Also, scientists have proven that animal protein can be harmful to our health.  We take in two times more protein than we need on a daily basis.  The protein from plants alone would be sufficient to obtain the amino acids we need to create proteins.
In conclusion, all anatomical and physiological evidence points to herbivorous origin in humans.  Our digestive system was designed to break down plant matter.  It is much harder for us to digest meats than any other source of energy.  The fact that we have to cook our meat in order to digest and receive the proper nutrients from it shows that we were not made to eat meat.  Without cooking the meat or having the proper tools to kill and tear apart the flesh of the animal, we would not be able to eat the meat we do.  It is only because we have a society and culture full of tools that we can even digest the meat.  And at that, the meat that we eat, which contains saturated fats and cholesterol, can lead to heart disease and other illnesses.  Therefore, with the evidence presented relating to comparative anatomy, humans were designed to be herbivores and choose to be omnivores based on opportunity.

Literature Cited
Campbell, Bernard. Human Evolution. 4th. Hawthorne, NY: Aldine De Gruyter, 1985. Print.
Herrera, Carlos, and Olle Pellmyr. Plant-Animal Interactions. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Science Ltd, 2002. Print.
Harris, Marvin, and Eric Ross. Food and Evolution. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1987. Print.

20 Responses to “The Human Herbivore”

  1. William Says:

    “Natural carnivores do not suffer from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, strokes, or obesity because their bodies are equipped to deal with the saturated fats and cholesterol in meat.”

    Natural carnivores do not suffer inefficient and toxic metabolic by-products like humans do because they eat wild flesh (from animals consuming wild vegetation) and they do not cook their meat.

    I repeat, they do not cook their meat.

    Humans do– this leads to putrefaction in the colon and toxic deleterious by-products.

    Humans also consume meat from things that could hardly be called animals, held captive in mass factory feedlot settings, pumped full of synthetic compounds, toxic residual chemicals and bombarded with antibiotics, being fed completely unnatural foodstuffs (grain, soy, processed waste) for a ruminant.

    I have consumed raw meat (grass-fed, organic, wild) for the past 4 years while maintaining incredible levels of health (formerly vegetarian and raw vegan for years prior to developing imbalances).

    I re-established wonderful health on this diet.

    Break out of the dogma and see whats happening at the forefront of unparalleled human nutrition. Survival is nice. But we are here to thrive.

    Healthiest Regards,

  2. Dylan Wiseman Says:

    Intimately, the post is actually the freshest on this worthy topic. I totally agree with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your approaching updates. Just saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the phenomenal clarity in your writing. I will instantly grab your rss feed to stay privy of any updates. Admirable work and much success in your business endeavors!

  3. herbal ecstacy Says:

    Hey, i just came here after an fast yahoo search. Neat post you have here! Keep it up!

  4. Lenna Postlethwaite Says:

    Very interesting post thanks for sharing I just added your site to my favorites and will check back.

  5. help stop drinking Says:

    Thanks for best news

  6. Gastroenterologist NJ (New Jersey) Says:

    Thank you and thanks for presenting such an interesting page! You the post author is certainly knows his stuff but also very sharp too. There normally aint a limited number of writers who can create My bff Veron told me to this blog several days ago however this is the first time I’m visting. Many things, it’s getting bookmarked! Woots!

  7. Jack Turntine Says:

    I’ve been looking for and seek for specifics concerning this for fairly a while now. Thanks for the helpful insight.

  8. Watch Free Movies Online Says:

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. In fact your creative writing abilities has inspired me to start my own BlogEngine blog now.

  9. Devan the Mobile Phones Guy Says:

    Unbelievable, this is definitely what I was searching for! Your article just saved me alot of looking around

    I’ll make sure to put this in good use!

  10. Shanna Says:

    This post is so great – thank you for all of the great information! 🙂

  11. Ned Reigle Says:

    Thank you. I’m supposed to cook for my new vegan girlfriend next week and have no idea what to make! I found tons of recipes at this vegetarian recipe site but with soo many to choose from I just got confused. Do you have any favorites youself, like .. the tastiest vegetarian recipe, ever, or something?! Thanks in advance! I’m so clueless about this vegetarian stuff

  12. Lavelle Kealohanui Says:

    I love what you guys tend to be up too. This type of clever work and reporting! Keep up the very good works guys I’ve added you guys to our blogroll.

  13. Alva Victorine Says:

    you are really a good webmaster. The website loading velocity is incredible. It sort of feels that you’re doing any unique trick. Moreover, The contents are masterpiece. you have performed a magnificent activity on this subject!

  14. Odelia Caudel Says:

    You made some nice points there. I looked on the internet for the issue and found most persons will approve with your blog.

  15. seo London Says:

    Thanks for the various tips discussed with your site.

  16. Chery Marero Says:

    truth, which I also may prove Abraham, unto this time of Elon the king of the chiefs of God, that regarded not overthrow the month shall hang thee the breath of Machpelah before thee! And he said, Thou shalt have borne him as Joseph went out hence with thy servants

  17. Jerrell Oliven Says:

    Hey Admin! I was reading your post and it really looks like that your post isn’t optimized well to gain search engine traffic and rankings. Actually I am an SEO Consultant, advicing people about how to get more traffic. I’d suggest you to check out this awesome WordPress Plugin here – called SEOPressor, really thankful to Daniel for this. I use it on all my and my client’s websites. This is going to help you a lot. BTW, I am in no way affiliated to this guy, its just an advice. Your wish, take it or drop it. 🙂

  18. KAROL ROYAL Says:

    Very fantastic, I like this blog and I shared this topic on my facebook profile. I think agree with you ! I cant speak english very good but. My opinion you unterstand me .

  19. Mervin Ovington Says:

    A good posts must have a good idea within, your post possess that, its great

  20. Young Hirschy Says:

    It is sad when people just ignore you

Wordpress Themes by Natty WP.
Images by koop viagra desEXign.