Humans Have Evolved To Eat Meat
Posted by Plant-Based Eating 101| 12 Oct 2014 |
Of course, most of the comments and skeptism towards anything that results in a change or shift will undoubtedly be met with resistance, excuses and reasons why not to change or shift – it’s the stubbornness, not of human nature, but of the ego present within each human. Often an argument is put forward, that is so loosely based or understood but gains wide popularity, which then results in digging up heaps of information just to disprove the loosely based theory – in this case it’s the argument:
Humans are meant/evolved to eat meat.
The human ‘hunter-gather’ or caveman comment is so deeply entrenched within our cultural beliefs that it has even resulted in forming diets based on what we thought we ate at a specific time – the paleo diet for one, the low carb high fat as another (more or less the same diets, just different terms).
Humans have the idea that just because we can do something, therefore means we are meant to do it. There is also a wide confusion about the theory of evolution – some believe it is an intelligent design within life that is there to serve a purpose, meaning we evolve to reach a specific outcome; the other more accurate description of evolution is that it is a form of random, adaptations based on many factors interlinked with specific environments. We should all know that life goes through a series of evolutions and adaptations – evolution is the primary factor which makes life so resilient and able to carve out an existence in almost every nook and cranny of this wonderful Earth. Even though all life evolves, no one knows exactly why we evolve and whether it is purpose driven by the species or random adaptations driven by the environment, or a combination of both.
A good analogy is to look at the evolution of flight within birds – did a bird evolve wings to fly, or did it evolve feathers as a way of insulation and as a result developed wing like appendages that eventually evolved from gliding into flight? i.e. were wings developed to fly or were the developed to affect body thermoregulation, either way a bird can fly now, but it does show that the reason behind evolution is not quite understood.
Humans tend to think we drive our own evolution. Hence the argument, just because we can, therefore means that we are meant/evolved to do so.
Knowing that the reason for evolution is not accurately understood, it cannot be the paramount reason for suggesting a theory that humans evolved to eat meat. We can eat meat, but that does not mean that we are meant to eat meat. The whole base of using our past as a factor to predetermine our future should be viewed as to whether we are meant to eat meat, or whether we are not meant to eat meat, irrespective of whether we can or cannot.
Just because we can is not a valid reason.
A better way to look at what we are meant to eat is to go based on our physiology. One way of understanding our physiology is by categorizing other species and seeing which adaptations allow which species to fulfill certain basic objectives, like eating. We can compare anatomy from herbivores, carnivores and omnivores (essentially most species are omnivores – a cow eats bugs in the grass, a lion eats the grass content within the stomach of the buck it kills) but we can use anatomy to look at the features that allow each creature to carve its niche within its environment to illustrate what it is meant to eat.
Remember, we have a brain that is capable of taking ourselves to the moon – the brain and our intelligence is not a determining factor for what we are meant to eat. Just because we can think of flight and build an airplane to fly does not mean we evolved to fly. Our brains allow us to be great manipulators of the world, able to build and shape whatever we desire, this is not a reason to assume we are meant to do such things. We can go underwater to deep depths due to our intelligence and manipulation of materials, but our physiology has not adapted gills therefore just because we can go up into the sky or deep into the ocean does not mean that we are meant to. I am not saying we should stop discovering, but in this case I am saying that our brains allow us to do things that our bodies physiology doesn’t allow, and whilst this has its advantages; in the matter of digestion and the rest of our physiology, its is still very primitive and therefore still adapted to a primitive diet and primitive environment, we still need air, sunlight and food not matter how far our minds can take us.
Comparative Anatomy (refer to above title image)
Whilst there are issues and discrepancies within strictly comparing anatomy, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that we don’t have the physical capabilities to take down any prey of any size, and that we lack the physical attributes to assume that we are indeed ‘hunters’, when based on our physiology we are more ‘gatherers’.
When I was in the Amazon Jungle, I took it upon myself to walk into the jungle with nothing besides my clothing and asked myself, what could I do to find food? I kept on developing clever ideas and traps to catch birds, no matter what scenario I was in, I kept falling back to allowing my mind to tell me how to catch food. I sat for a while and every possible option that I conjured up was due to my mind seeking solutions and developing tools or traps. Realising my mind was instructing me on food, I resorted to eliminating my mind from the equation. I walked around for a bit, solely relying on my mind to interpret and assess the jungle. Eventually, I stumbled upon a coconut tree. There were a few young coconuts that had fallen to the ground, I picked them up and returned to my kayak where I feasted on coconut milk and flesh and because they were young coconuts, they were relatively soft and easy to peel with my teeth and hands – no tools required (I did eventually get lazy and used my machete to slice them open). The only thing that I had to know was that these big green things were coconuts. My brain allowed me to distinguish that it was a coconut and not something poisonous, my body allowed me to pick up, tear apart and eat the coconut.
In a nutshell, that is the reality of ancient human, before they had access to tools; they were limited by their bodies’ physical capabilities. No matter how hard ancient human tried to kill an animal be it a mouse, small bird or buffalo – ancient human lacked the physical capabilities and agility to catch, kill or even effectively digest another living creature.
I spent a large portion of my childhood on my grandparents farm and even attempting to catch a chicken in an enclosure was exhausting, to the point that if I released the chicken into an open surrounding I would never have caught the agile ground dwelling foul – the same was said for all the adults and workers, they knew that once a chicken had escaped its enclosure it was as good as gone (unless it escaped alone, chickens don’t like being alone).
What has allowed our eating and easy processing of animals for consumption is our construction of tools. We have tools to enclose and confine animals (pens, fences, paddocks); we have tools to transport animals (tractors, trucks); we have tools to kill animals (bolt gun, electrified probes, guillotines) and we have tools to process and prepare animals into food (meat saws, knives, fire, stoves).
In biological terms, the use of tools for any species is not considered part of the species physical adaptations, the use of tools is considered as part of the species culture.
Humans belong to the great ape family, along with bonobos, gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees. For some, the ego cant handle the fact that we essentially share a common ancestor with the other great apes, but it’s a biological understanding and is apparent when comparing DNA, physiology, nature and mentality – we are not monkeys; we are Apes (literally).
All great apes are largely frugivorous and herbivorous, consuming majority fruit and leaves. Out of all the great apes (excluding humans) chimpanzees tend to be the most violent and are known to eat meat more often than the other great apes (humans excluded) – but a theory for their violence and meat eating is due to their competitive environment and opportunistic tendencies, where as bonobos, their cousins, are calmer, more sexually active and consume very little to no meat. The theory for their dietary changes and nature is due to the environments, as apes and bonobos were split up by the Congo River producing two different environments and thus two different natures.
Chimps use sticks, like spears and javelins, to kill smaller monkeys hidden in tree trunks, which they then eat; they also use twigs to fish out termites. Even though they can eat small monkeys and termites, the fact that they use tools to acquire such foods is not considered part of their dietary adaptabilities instead it is referred to as part of their culture – a chimp is physically evolved to eat fruit, which is the majority of their diet, they have the tools and the capabilities to eat meat, including cannibalism (they do cannibalise), but just because they can eat animals and cannibalise does no mean that they were meant to. They also have incredible brains that allow for opportunistic endeavors, and chimps, like many other species possess an intelligence that allows them to be highly adapted to an environment but their intelligence can also be what kills them. The brains of all creatures, including humans, is an incredible instrument that can be of extreme benefit or extreme hindrance, but just because the brain is the most powerful organ we possess, it is not the predetermining factor of what the entire body is adapted to do. The brain can take us to the sky and to the deep oceans, but without tools, our bodies can’t go there. Our brains can fathom and create the tools and processes for burgers, sirloin stakes, sushi rolls, chicken nuggets, bacon etc. but without the tools or processes, they would not be a dietary option as our physical capabilities do not allow for such ideas to materialize.
The whole paleo/caveman theory is based on a specific point in humans’ evolution (the Paleolithic era which ended est. 10 000 years ago, when agriculture took over food production). The issue is that before we were ‘hunters/Paleolithic humans’ we were still a living and thriving species, meaning we still had to be eating something before we invented tools to ‘hunt and process’ animals.
For any creature to develop tools of any kind, it does require a major jump in the evolution of the specific creatures mentality, meaning that before we were intelligent enough to use the tools to hunt, we had to have been intelligent enough in the first place to develop the tool itself. The most probable theory is that tools were developed to harvest fruit and vegetables (our original staple food source) more effectively, only later did we realize that not only could our tools harvest and slice open fruit, but they could do the same to animal flesh. So, to even assume that eating animals allowed a major advancement in evolution of mentality, also doesn’t fit as the brain had to have evolved to create tools with a higher degree of intelligence long before it decided to use the tools to kill and slaughter.
For arguments sake – if today, the earth was struck by a cataclysmic event and humans were wiped out. Say our fossilized remains were later discovered by a future species. If that future species had to rummage through our fossilized remains as a source of distinguishing the diet of the 20th century humans, (as what is the cornerstone of evidence for Paleolithic humans diet) it would notice that part of 20th century humans diet was largely based on processed foods, fast foods, medicines, vitamins and supplements.
Just because we were able to create the tools and processes that pertain to 20th century mans lifestyle and diet, does not mean that 20th century man was meant to live such a lifestyle or meant to consume such a diet.
Just like 20th century humans, Paleolithic humans also had a culture and this is evident by the creation of their tools, but just because they had developed culture does not mean it’s the predetermining factor for the requirements of a primitive digestive system.
Worldwide, there are plant-based individuals cooking or eating raw. I too am a raw vegan, vegan for 5 years, raw vegan for 1.5. I do not consume vitamins, supplements or medicines – my diet is based upon nature principles that apply to all species still governed by nature. I share similar eating patterns to all other great apes, eating majority fruit and, when my girlfriend is in the mood, she will prepare us a gourmet raw vegan meal by mixing a whole lot of different raw ingredients together. Things may change in the future, regarding health but to this day I am healthy and have suffered little, to no health complications.
I used to get sick, experience much discomfort through digestion, constipation, hemorrhoids and experienced bouts of lethargia when I consumed a standard westernised diet but since adopting a plant based diet, especially refining to raw I have experienced none of these or any other health complications.
Everything I write about is something I live everyday, I am not one of those, overweight, unhealthy looking, type II diabetics pedaling-a-diet-just-so-I-can-profit-from-products related to the info I push. I write from a place of honesty, authenticity and experience, with no capitalist or profiteering desires attached.
We all have access to health, its just about eliminating the influences. The rest of nature has health, until they come into contact with humanized systems. Nature holds much of the answers to many of life’s supposed complications, diet included.
The key remembrance for the ‘we are meant/evolved to eat meat’ argument is to realize that human physiology and digestive system are very primitive and remain largely unchanged, since we branched off from our common great ape ancestor. Our brains on the other hand have gone through a rapid series of immeasurable leaps in intelligence. Unfortunately most of us choose to eat based on the mind, but regardless of the minds views and opinions, the digestive system still digests the way it did thousands of years ago and just because our minds allow us to farm, slaughter and process animals to consume, does not mean the digestive system is meant to digest it effectively and efficiently.