Humans were naturally herbivores?

Someone on another board I go to made the claim that:

(Here he was referring to whether beef was healthier than chicken)

He also wrote:

Is this true? The web site that he gave ( sounded pretty convincing that humans are naturally herbovores.

Sorry, please move this to GQ.

Humans are naturally omnivorous, meaning we can (and will) eat both plants and animals. Just take a look at our teeth, which are designed to handle a variety of foodstuffs – we have nice flat molars for grinding plant material, canines for tearing flesh, and incisors to chip away at fruits and such. Our closest relatives, chimpanzees, are also omnivores, as they will devour small monkeys along with plants.

Quackwatch has a good article on vegetarianism and veganism.


Good one.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t mention that chimpanzees eat termites, which is fairly glaring as it’s one of the first instances of tool-making observed amongst non-humans (as opposed to tool use, which was long before observed in birds).

Now, one may quibble with calling termites “meat,” but they’re hardly vegetarian fare.

Chimpanzees actually eat large prey animals. They coöperate in bringing them down & killing them. I got this from Jane Goodall, who would know.

Dietetically, meat is a damn good shortcut to a balanced diet. We don’t synthesize all the B-vitamins we require, & a high protein intake is good for us. We are not ruminants. A human can live on a highly diverse vegetable diet with lots of roughage, but for every easily mass-produced (& starchy) “staple” like grain or potatoes you incorporate, you will probably have to have meat to balance it, or you flirt with diabetes.
Some animals are naturally vegetarian. Humans are largely carnivores. Once you get away from Jain assumptions, you can let yourself see this. Human vegetarianism is based on a moral construct, itself rooted in an incomplete acceptance of mortality & defective knowledge of the ecology.

All apes are omnivorous. Chimps will eat monkey and even other chimps. Gibbons and ourangs will eat birds. The gorilla is the most nearly vegetarian of the apes, but even they regularly eat insects. It would be truly astounding is humans were the only ape that didn’t eat meat.

As foolsguinea said, human can’t synthesis some of the B vitamins. Modern vegetarians get these from cultured micro-organisms in pill form. Without such supplements humans will die. If we assume that people 100, 000 years ago didn’t have access to modern pharmaceuticals then that fact alone makes nonsense of any claim that people are naturally vegetarian. Of course a vegetarian can get B vitamins form milk, but the act of squeezing milk form the glands of a domestic cow is about as unnatural as I can imagine.

Then we have the problem of explaining all those stone spears that we find. If people are ‘naturally’ vegetarian then what exactly were they doing using thousands of spear heads. Are we to believe that people are naturally murderous, but unwilling to kill animals? Perhaps we are expected to believe that people made huge quantities of spears to protect themselves from animal attack, but that they never thought to eat the animals they had already killed.

Then we need to explain how exactly all those animal bines got into prehistoric middens. Are we expected to believe that people were collecting animal carcasses and burying them ceremonially?

The whole idea is just silly. One of the bigger problems is how we define natural. All extant or recently extinct hunter gatherer cultures are highly omnivorous. Surely that is natural, or are we to believe they too are corrupted descendants of Cain? If so then what is natural. Neanderthals ate meat. Homo erectus ate meat. Even H. habilis ate meat. What is this person’s standard for defining what is natural? When and where did this natural population exist? The only known vegetarian populations belong to agricultural societies, and agricultural by definition is unnatural.

With emphasis on balanced, meaning mostly non-meat food with some meat added for balance. A few ounces of lean meat is ok, but giant hunks of the fatty (tasty ;)) stuff, at the expense of veggie matter, makes one fat.
Remember your pyramid!
Beer is a veggie! :smiley:

In My Years, I’ve known 3 vegans. Now, given that they were teenage vegans who did it out of morality rather than nutrition, they didn’t take any vitamins. They ate plants. No eggs, no milks, no fish, etc.

All 3 of these people were skinny to the point where you’d almost wonder if they were anorexic. They’d eat when hungry, like everyone else, it just didn’t seem to be doing any good. Plus, their skin was really unhealthy looking. In fact, my mom could tell which ones were vegans just by the way they looked, without me ever bringing it up to her.

BTW, vegans really hate when you make a hamburger moo at them. Not that I’d do that NOW, but it was mighty funny when I was 16. Kind of like when a different friend of mine would go on a no-carb diet, then we’d yell “carbs!” when she’d start absently eating crackers, which resulted in all the cracker bits in her mouth being spewed on the table. Ah, good times.

Well if they were stupid enough to go vegan without taking any supplements at all they’d get like that. Of course there is no reason why that should happen to vegans. Ignorant and stupid people on all sort sof diets do themselves harm.

I wonder if this guy is aware of the hydrochloric acid and pepsin in our stomachs.

How did eating meat become associated with manliness? Because, I suspect, men were big enough to take it from the wimmen, huh?


Yikes. Don’t tell that to any Hindus or Buddhists (disclaimer: most, not all).

See, my relatives happen to be cattle farmers, and I know first hand that they treat their herds with respect. This I have no problem with. However, stock yards and corporate farms are revolting in their disregard for life, and this is where the majority of the meat in the US comes from. They treat animals as if they were inanimate, like wheat to be combined, and this is what I find fault with.

When I was younger, I used to believe any kind of meat consumption was immoral. But then I realized many human cultures in the past needed to survive on meat. The Native Americans, for example, seemed to also have great respect for the animals they hunted, and very little was wasted. Seems like things are completely opposite of this today, and that’s why I’m a vegetarian.

Plus the health benefits.

Hardly. It has to do with which hominids hunt and which don’t.

Odd. I personally know no one who obtains most of the family meat from the hunt.
Well, they do sort through the plastic wrapped packages at the market, looking for the good bits. Often they just tell the wifey what to get over the cell phone. “Yeah, grab a max-pak of them pork chops, Babe”.
No, man can no longer claim the right of the hunt, even if they do occasionally bag a deer. Sorry, bub. :wink:

Mangeorge, you asked why it became associated with manliness. You didn’t ask why it is associated with manliness.

If early hominds followed the chimpanzee pattern, more likely the men were trading meat for sex with the women. After the men ate some for themselves.

Meat provides:

  1. Iron. Vegetarians do have difficulty getting enough iron in their diets and many take iron supplements.

  2. B vitamins.

  3. Oily fish provides omega 3 fatty acids, which are important for the brain and nervous system. Only walnuts offer a significant amount of this in non meat form.

Meat does not clog arteries unless you eat fatty meat. And it isnt the meat that clogs them it’s the cholesterol in the fat. Eggs and cream have loads of cholesterol as well and are more likely to clog your arteries than lean meat.

Can someone provide evidence that we dont digest meat well?

Au contraire. As the man in my marriage, I am the hunter-gatherer.

I take my spear (well, shopping list) to the plains (er, Tesco’s supermarket) and forage for prey (aka pre-packaged steaks and sausages).

When I get home with my kill, I shout to my wife:

“Woman, man come back! Bring food. Food good. Eat now, then later jig-a-jig. Good.”