Veganism is on the rise. Meat-eaters are irritated. But who was there first? Are we meat-eaters by nature or by choice? How did humans end up eating meat?
Let’s see some facts.
The major difference between carnivores (meat-eaters) and herbivores (vegetarian) is the food they eat, they say. But what about those characteristics that allow them to eat and digest that type of food?
It’s simple anatomy that explains it:
The intestinal tract of the carnivorous animals is 3 to 6 times their body length, while herbivores have intestinal tracts 10 to 12 times their body length. Humans have the same intestinal tract ratio as herbivores.
Carnivores have a single stomach, while herbivores have several stomach chambers. Humans have four stomach chambers. The stomach acidity is 20 times higher for carnivores. Human stomach acidity matches that of herbivores. The saliva of carnivores is acidic. The saliva of herbivores is alkaline and human saliva is alkaline too.
Shape of intestines, the need for fiber in humans and herbivores, the cholesterol which is not a problem for carnivores but brings negative health consequences to humans and of course the claws and the teeth are just a few of other facts showing that we are vegan by nature.
The well-known paleontologist Dr. Richard Leakey explains that anyone who has taken an introductory physiology course might have found it obvious that humans are vegetarians: “you can’t tear flesh by hand, you can’t tear hide by hand…. We wouldn’t have been able to deal with a food source that required those large canines“. Dr. Milton Mills describes even more of these characteristics in his essay, “A Comparative Anatomy of Eating.”
Dr. William C. Roberts, editor of the American Journal of Cardiology states that “Although we think we are, and we act as if we are, human beings are not natural carnivores. When we kill animals to eat them, they end up killing us, because their flesh, which contains cholesterol and saturated fat, was never intended for human beings, who are natural herbivores.”
Humans are not omnivores either. Omnivores are more like carnivores than herbivores. Humans are vegetarian beings.
So how did humans become meat-eaters?
Some anthropologists say that our pre-human ancestors got most of their nutrition from fruits and nuts and only very rarely some meat as a treat from scavenging. Humans would find leftovers from the carnivore predators and eat that meat in their urge for food. Our ancestors were scavengers when they were running out of plant-based food. However, our bodies have never adapted to it. To this day, meat-eaters have a higher incidence of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other serious health problems.
Others state that hominid ancestors were mainly hunters and plant-based products were just a supplement. They base this theory on the discovered animal fossils with butchery marks on the bone, dating 2 M years ago and more. Reasonable minds would disagree with the above as human ancestors did not have the proper means to hunt daily and have meat as their main nutrition source at that time. We started using tools about 1.7 M years ago, but the oldest stone blades are dating 300.000 years ago. The agriculture came along 10.000 years ago, and we made the first single-edged knife only 4000 years ago. Humans could not be professional hunters before that time. They were just scavengers in need of food.
Just ask yourself a question: can you imagine those humans 1 M years ago would have preferred the raw decomposing meat over the nice and fresh berries and nuts? Have you ever noticed what happens to meat within 1 hour after the animal has been killed if not refrigerated? Was it their choice or their way to survival? The answer does not need much thinking. We have been brainwashed for too long. Time to wake up.
With agriculture, meat became more common but mostly to the rich and was perceived as luxury. Ancient Egypt had a plant-based diet with meat and fish added but again mainly for the rich. Greeks and Romans had a diet composed of cereals, vegetables, and fruits. The meat that was consumed was usually fish, fowl, or pigs, as the cheapest and most convenient. Nevertheless, only the wealthiest citizens could afford to eat large amounts of meat on a regular basis. The Spartans were eating mainly meat, while the gladiators of the Roman Empire were clearly vegetarians.
And then in the middle ages– the meat was still expensive, rare, and hard to keep fresh long before refrigeration. Since 1961, the population on earth doubled but meat consumption increased almost five times. Meat consumption increases as the world is getting richer. Seen from this perspective, the reality is very sad: even if more and more people quit eating meat, there are still plenty of the poor and middle-class ones that will eat more meat if they get richer.
We are not carnivores by nature but by choice and the choice is the result of frustration, marketing, politics, religion, wrong beliefs, and misleading trends. The more ‘’civilized’’ we become, the more unethical our behavior is.
For tens of millions of years, we were vegan, and only recently (a few thousand years ago) we began eating meat. Humans throughout history derived their energy from starch and only wealthy aristocrats were meat-eaters. The frustration of the poor and the psychological effect might have been greater than the real need or preference for a meat diet.
During the last decades, the number of the people who became vegetarian increased, but the meat consumption increased as well. The issue here is obviously related to the human mindset. In medium developed countries, meat is still a product that is being consumed on festive days, special occasions and it is a symbol of power and status.
According to the new research (1) published in the journal Appetite, conducted by Dr Eugene Chan from Monash Business School and Dr. Natalina Zlatevska from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), people who perceived themselves as lower on socio-economic status showed a stronger preference for meat-based foods compared to participants who rated themselves higher on a socio-economic scale.
“There is a symbolic association between eating meat and strength, power and masculinity. It is traditionally a high-status food, brought out for guests or as the centerpiece of festive occasions, so we wanted to better understand this link to status,” says Dr Zlatevska.
Using a range of experiments the researchers were able to show that it was desire for status that drove preference for meat, rather than other variables such as hunger or perceived nutritional benefits.
“Our research reveals that while eating meat appears to confer feelings of power and status, this may have health implications for those who see themselves as lower on the socio-economic ladder,” says Dr Chan.
Other studies from the UK and France has shown as well that households with smaller incomes consume more red and processed meat than higher income households.
The general public should not underestimate the power of the marketing campaigns during the last century that were strongly promoting meat consumption, relating it to power, masculinity, and success. Humans do NOT need meat. We consume it because different factors made us want it. How many other products do we consume that our body does not really need and why do we go on with these habits? Turn on the TV and get your answer.
The meat-eating diet is NOT a physiological necessity given by our biochemical functionality but a choice that we made from urge for food in the prehistorical time and out of misleading beliefs and influences when the meat became widely available.
So please choose wisely.
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