Monday, October 25, 2010

Are Humans Omnivores?

You have probably seen some example of the multitude of posts around the internet arguing that it cannot be natural for humans to eat meat because we lack some characteristics possessed by all other meat eaters. This is a pretty weak form of argument, as can be made clear by this example:

Plants: Manufacture fructose
Animals: Do not manufacture fructose
Humans: Manufacture fructose

Plants: Are able to gather energy from the sun
Animals: Cannot gather energy from the sun
Humans: Are able to gather energy from the sun

There are two fallacies being used in this logic. The first fallacy is that of cherry picking. I have chosen only the data which confirms my conclusion that humans are plants. I have also cherry picked my definition of animals to include only the animals fitting the stereotypes I have defined. The second fallacy is guilt by association (which is itself an example of the fallacy of the undistributed middle). We have argued that all plants have some characteristic and all humans have the same characteristic and then tried to conclude from that fact that all humans are plants (although if we had a true dichotomy between being either animal or plant then actually showing that humans were not animals would be sufficient evidence to show that we were plants).

We can do better than simply pointing out that the logic behind this argument is flawed however, we can in most cases even explain why humans as traditional omnivores do not possess all these characteristics often possessed by other meat-eating species.

I have taken this post as a good example of the argument we are discussing.

Facial Muscles

CARNIVORE: Reduced to allow wide mouth gape
HERBIVORE: Well-developed
OMNIVORE: Reduced
HUMAN: Well-developed

Why are reduced facial muscles necessary for most meat eaters? The post even explains in the case of carnivores that it is in order to allow for a wide mouth gape. Some carnivores and omnivores hunt using their mouths as an important instrument in the kill. Humans do not use this method. We have historically used our hands in combination with tools in order to hunt and thus have never needed a wide mouth gape in order to hunt. This same explanation applies to why we have a seemingly herbivorous jaw type, jaw joint location, jaw motion, major jaw muscles, mouth opening versus head size, teeth of all types. There are still carnivorous and omnivorous species which do not hunt large prey with their mouths. Pigs are omnivores, eating leaves, grasses, roots, flowers, as well as insects and dead carcasses in the wild. Since their hunting style doesn't require them to kill large animals with their mouths they have facial structures very similar to our own in all of these areas.

Stomach Capacity

CARNIVORE: 60% to 70% of total volume of digestive tract
HERBIVORE: Less than 30% of total volume of digestive tract
OMNIVORE: 60% to 70% of total volume of digestive tract
HUMAN: 21% to 27% of total volume of digestive tract

Once again this applies to carnivorous and omnivorous species that hunt large prey. These animals often go for long periods between meals and then will consume a single large meal to survive on for long periods at a time. Most herbivores tend to graze throughout the day, not needing to hold a single large meal in their stomachs at once. Humans as animals that have evolved in small tribal settings have been able to share the meat of large kills with members of their community and have otherwise continued to typically eat several small meals throughout the day.

Colon

CARNIVORE: Simple, short and smooth
HERBIVORE: Long, complex; may be sacculated
OMNIVORE: Simple, short and smooth
HUMAN: Long, sacculated

Humans are along with all other primates in having sacculated colons. Ruminants are another group that tends to have sacculated colons. Sacculation of the colon in simple terms simply refers to the structure of tucks and pouches we find in our colon. In humans and primates this is thought to be a special adaptation to fermentation, allowing us to extract more energy from fiber.Source This adaptation would not be useful for carnivores who don't consume any significant amount of fiber. For other omnivores and many other herbivores they have likely all struck upon different solutions for improving digestion of fiber which doesn't require sacculation of the colon, much as many animals have evolved unique solutions to solving the problem of seeing.

Kidney

CARNIVORE: Extremely concentrated urine
HERBIVORE: Moderately concentrated urine
OMNIVORE: Extremely concentrated urine
HUMAN: Moderately concentrated urine

Animals with unconcentrated urine risk wasting too much water in order to excrete wastes through their urine. Animals with concentrated urine put themselves at higher risk of developing kidney stones and other kidney issues. Being a carnivore or herbivore has very little to do with striking this balance, while the prevalence of water plays a much larger role.

Nails

CARNIVORE: Sharp claws
HERBIVORE: Flattened nails or blunt hooves
OMNIVORE: Sharp claws
HUMAN: Flattened nails

Similar to facial structures, having sharp claws is only necessary if an animal is going to use these for hunting. Humans have never hunted using our nails and thus evolving sharp claws would be entirely unnecessary and quite a burden in our social lives. Once again omnivores like pigs or carnivores like anteaters do not have the features associated with their respective groups here.

Length of Small Intestine

CARNIVORE: 3 to 6 times body length
HERBIVORE: 10 to more than 12 times body length
OMNIVORE: 4 to 6 times body length
HUMAN: 10 to 11 times body length

This is not an accurate measure for omnivorous pigs whose, “small intestines have an average length of 15 to 20 m”Source. For those of you who aren't entirely familiar with the metric system a pig has a body length a little over one meter.

Why is this Important?

Anyone who is skeptical of veganism would see through this argument in a second. This is teeing them up to dismiss our arguments in an instant. Even more importantly however, we don't need this argument. Our recent ancestors have not been vegan, but the ethical reasons for being vegan still hold all the same. A well-planned vegan diet is still healthy during all stages of the life cycle. We don't need to use misleading claims to try to deceive omnivores when we have the truth on our side.

82 comments:

  1. Hear hear! We need honesty in our arguments. Fortunately, the scientific minded vegans have created lots of good resources the last few years. Veganhealth.org, paleovegan.blogspot.com, human-nonhuman.blogspot.com, veganscientist.com, asksciencedude.info and permavegan.blogspot.com are but a few that hold a high standard and are not afraid of criticizing faulty vegan arguments.

    I just discovered your blog. Being a long-time skeptic and a vegan, I've been toying with the idea of making a skeptical blog. Fortunately, I found your blog before I started. Saves me some work should I ever find the time to do mine. :-D

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    1. My favorite is the vegan site saying that we must be herbivorous... We don't digest cellulose so I don't really see how we could be herbivorous... And they allays forget 2 details: we have been cooking our food sins homo abilis and we have flat feet

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  2. Hey there.. Sorry to burst your bubble.. but the ULTIMATE argument is really that ALL ANIMALS FEEL PAIN, AND LOTS OF IT.

    THEREFORE, it is NOT RIGHT to hurt, abuse, torture, kill an animal.

    In my opinion, if an animal(or person) has lived and died a NATURAL life, and one wants to use that flesh etc. for food or fashion, I don't really care -- that can be your 'personal choice' as far as i'm concerned..

    but TO KILL, TORTURE, ABUSE, HURT, BE CRUEL to an innocent creature OF ANY SPECIES is to be no better than a domestic violence offender, a criminal, a murderer, etc. In my book, you JUST DON'T HURT ANYONE, ANYTHING. AT LEAST NOT ON PURPOSE, KNOWINGLY.

    re. the "health" "scientific facts" blah blah blah, i couldn't really care less: EVEN if that were true (WHICH It ISN'T), STILL, I WOULD NEVER ABUSE, TORTURE, HURT, KILL AN ANIMAL. PERIOD!

    HURTING AN ANIMAL IS NEVER A GOOD CHOICE, PERIOD.

    that said, if you go Veg, as a Free Bonus Gift For YOU, guess what? most veggies remain very youthful, healthy, lovely, into their advanced years. Of course you want to eat raw fruits and vegetables whenever possible as they have the most nutrition.

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    1. "that said, if you go Veg, as a Free Bonus Gift For YOU, guess what? most veggies remain very youthful, healthy, lovely, into their advanced years. Of course you want to eat raw fruits and vegetables whenever possible as they have the most nutrition."

      That's very subject to sampling bias - most vegetarians are thoughtful about their diet and health in general as it's necessary to do if you're going to maintain a vegetarian diet. The general population isn't as careful.

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    2. What about uprooting plants for food, like potatoes, peanuts, etc.?

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    3. I've never been vegetarian till highschool and on the start of my college years, I started to eating less meat (average diet, I'm not a meat lover to begin with) and consuming more toward vegetarian based menus. My college located on the middle-top of a hill (altitude 900) which considerable hard terrain for those who commute by bike. Many prefer motorcycle since it's only take 15 minutes to got there, but since I insists to rode bike for my health I need to spare 1 hour before class to commute there. The journey takes 50 minutes on average, including 3-4 pitstop to drink my water. That change one time when I eat beef leftover for my breakfast. The journey took only 25 minutes and I only need 1 pitstop. That wakes me up: humans are meant to be omnivore. If you're a lazyass who never exercise regularly you probably need to be vegetarian, but for those who sweat and moving around (excluding motorized vehicle obviously) meat are necessary part of your diet. DON'T BE BLINDED, a little bit of MEAT on your diet is NECESSARY (except if you have all the time in the world for yourself, and a very nice society where late is forgivable). You should test it yourself, go buy a bike and be vegan. Let's see if you still have spare time to rest or read a book.

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    4. You DO realize that there are several elite iron man athletes (like, world elite-elite) who live off a vegan diet? there are plenty of vegan body builders and the 2009 winner of the world free running championship is vegan and so on and so on.

      your unverifiable anecdotal story really doesn't carry much weight here, since all of science is against you. I guess it's possible if you as a vegetarian lived exclusively off of potato chips or something, but hey, that's be a you problem, not a vegan problem.

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    5. @cycling commuter meat eater: You're confusing eating-meat with having better physical performance, however technically it's carbohydrates which will make you more energetic for physical activities like your bicycle commute. There's a whole other debate about carbs vs fats for fuel, which is entirely separate from the vegan vs meat-eater debate.

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  3. Here are a few absolute truths:

    Humans do have canines and no herbivore has canines!

    Humans need the vitamin B12 and no plant supplies it!

    Humans like and eat meat, and meat is usually a very good nutritional source providing proteins, vitamins, etc. humans can buld a lot of muscle from meat, but not from plants, with extremely few exceptions

    Herbivores don't like and don't eat meat, herbivores can't build muscle from meat, etc. (just try force feeding a cow some meat, and you'll see what I'm talking about)

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    1. "Here are a few absolute truths:

      Humans like and eat meat."
      I don't like meat, never have. So am I not a human? Maybe I am a herbivore :p
      Although my canines seem to be sharper than average.

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    2. Humans have long sharp k9 teeth ? You are kidding right ? Have you looked in the mirror ? NO K9. In fact human teeth look like horse and cow's teeth. Humans eat BURNT meat. Do U eat RAW chicken ? RAW lobster ? RAW pork ? Well if you do eat a lot, you probably get very sick and die. YBurnFood-com

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    3. Except humans have no problems eating raw meat. Compared to how long humans have eaten meat, we have only cooked it a very small amount of that time. If you are raised on raw meat, you won't get sick from it. And humans in fact have canines for tearing meat, incisors for cutting meat and plant tissue, and molars for grinding bone and gristle. Cows and horses have teeth designed for eating grasses, which humans can't properly digest. Instead we have a hybrid jaw developed for generalist eating of anything to sustain us, meat or plant. Also, that website contains a picture of a baboon to demonstrate the difference between herbivore and carnivore teeth, while baboons are, in fact, herbivorous, contradicting the point.

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    4. im assuming you are simply trolling, and know that all 4 points are nonsense, and easily refutable by 5 minutes on google, but just in case ...

      many many herbivores have canines

      b12 is supplied by bacteria and we only don't get it now from plants because of our extreme hygiene standards

      google vegan bodybuilders to see if you cant build muscle from plants. i guess gorillas are popping protein shakes when we are not looking?

      cows are often fed animal protein in the fattening process - they can adapt to it - just like us, but with sometimes not so great consequences - this practise is widelt believed to be the cause of mad cow disease.

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    5. One important absolute truth you forgot to mention is that humans like and eat donuts (especially when saturated in hydrogenated fat), and big-gulps of soda. They not only taste good but they also provide an immediate energy boost, critical when running away from dangerous situations. I don't think cows like either, but I could be wrong.

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    6. B12 comes from grass root, go look at supplements at the store. Not to mention we reuse / recycle most of it through our digestive system.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_B12

      "Ultimately, animals must obtain vitamin B12 directly or indirectly from bacteria, and these bacteria may inhabit a section of the gut which is distal to the section where B12 is absorbed. Thus, herbivorous animals must either obtain B12 from bacteria in their rumens, or (if fermenting plant material in the hindgut) by reingestion of cecotrope feces."

      So yes, it's found in meats, but the meats get it from plant sources. When we were whatever species we originated from, we got B12 from plant sources.

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    7. So much misinformation. The largest canine teeth in any animal belongs to the hippopotamus (herbivores), vitamin b12 comes from bacteria (not plants or animals), humans who have never tasted meat have no taste for it (like me) and most humans flavor meat with plants or minerals. Humans also do not generally like eating un-cooked, uncut animals. There are also instances where herbivores (such as deer) eat meat, just as cats (carnivores) eat grains in cat food.

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    8. @priya Hippos do not have the longest teeth, Narwhals and Elephants do, though many other animals have longer/bigger teeth than a hippo. There are no reliable, unfortified non animal sources for b12. The reason so many people do not eat raw meat is because they were raised on cooked meat. Just as you were raised with out meat and no not like it, many of us do not like raw meat for that same reason - were not accustomed to it. Though, billions of people DO eat raw animals. Sushi? Rare steak? Hellloooo? Also, plain meat is freaking delicious. There is virtually nothing better than meat or fish cooked PLAIN on a fire. Spices arent put on them to mask their flavor, theyre put there to enhance it.

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  4. >>but the ethical reasons for being vegan still hold all the same.<<

    No they don't. Animals still die in the production of vegan diets through the use of pesticides, traps, shooting, threshing, ad infinitum. Veganism is a self-defeating fantasy.


    >>We don't need to use misleading claims to try to deceive omnivores when we have the truth on our side. <<


    Except that you don't, and it shows in the fact that every vegan argument is based on either lies or naievete.

    Skepticism and vegan self-delusion are incompatible.

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    1. Animals may still die, but the fact that less animals die cannot be denied. We are not deluding ourselves into believeing we do not do any harm. We are just trying to do as little harm as possible.
      Of course, being a cynic has always been easier.

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    2. ">>but the ethical reasons for being not murdering humans still hold all the same.<<

      No they don't. Humans still die as a result of your daily lives. Not murdering other humans is a self-defeating fantasy.


      >>We don't need to use misleading claims to try to deceive human murderers when we have the truth on our side. <<


      Except that you don't, and it shows in the fact that every anti-murder argument is based on either lies or naivete.

      Skepticism and anti-murder self-delusion are incompatible."

      Just because some people or someone will still die as a result of something we do means we should go around hiring assassins? Hmm... never thought about it that way. I guess I was naive.

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  5. "Plants: Manufacture fructose
    Animals: Do not manufacture fructose
    Humans: Manufacture fructose

    Plants: Are able to gather energy from the sun
    Animals: Cannot gather energy from the sun
    Humans: Are able to gather energy from the sun"

    That's similar to an argument I've seen used to show that humans are herbivores against the argument that we do not need carnivorous teeth or claws because we have weapons. They compare the idea of using tools for hunting proving we are omnivores to the idea of using tools to breathe underwater makes us aquatic animals in an attempt to show both are ridiculous.:p

    Anyways good article. ^^

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  6. If human beings weren't meant or designed to eat meat, then why have human beings survived for thousands of years by eating meat?

    Human beings can be vegetarian or vegan in todays day and age because they have a choice. You can go down to your local grocery store and purchase your tofu, falafel, or vegan salmon.

    A thousand years ago we didnt have the choices that we have now. We didnt have millions of acres of soybean fields or hundreds of feet of vegetables in a produce aisle just sitting there waiting to be eaten.

    So in order to survive we ate what was available. Meat, plants, fruits, nuts, and whatever else we could eat that wouldnt kill us.

    If you are a vegan or vegetarian, then good for you. I applaud your healthy lifestyle choice. But dont try to justify your choice by spewing nonsense about human beings not being designed to eat meat. And if you really do believe that nonsense, then answer my initial question in this post.

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    1. The simple answer here is we were not designed!

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    2. Why would your initial statement hold any power? Humans have survived for thousands of years by eating plants as well.

      Remember, as humans, we CAN eat meat, but we HAVE to eat plants. Eating meat is a survival technique that allows us to span a time-period without plant food sources. Like winter, droughts, ice-ages. In times of plenty, humans went back to eating mostly plants, because that required the least amount of energy for the largest amount of gain. It is only AFTER the domestication of cows/dogs/chickens/pigs that meat and animal derivatives have become a more regular part of our diets.

      And even then it wasn't a daily part. You seem to extrapolate the current rate of animal consumption back into the distant past, while the present day animal agriculture has only been around for a hundred years. And it is no surprise that we are getting more and more sick because of this increased consumption.

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    3. Our first ancestors ate meat, and CRAVED MEAT BEFORE THEY KNEW WHAT IT TASTED LIKE!!! If they didn't, why didn't they eat the plants that were available, such as grass? Even the very first humans, archaeologically speaking, showed omnivorous characteristics. The argument that we don't come out of the womb craving meat also doesn't hold ground--it's called breastfeeding--from milk--milk, from a human--which is proven to be healthier for a human than formulas.

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    4. You speak for the dead, and their cravings, eh?

      No kidding, that the very first humans showed omnivorous characteristics. They didn't have the agricultural base that we now do today. It's called "evolving". Sometimes, evolution is as much mental as it is physical. How awesome, in fact, to be self-aware now...and able to manipulate our diets in a way that leaves us, the animals, and the planet healthier, happier, and living longer. Lastly, even herbivores need milk out of the womb...so what does that have to do with anything?

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    5. The Inuit Indians of the arctic have survived in a vegetable free environment for thousand of years.

      It seems obvious that humans have hunted and eaten meat for our entire history. There are also archeological proofs that we ate grains and vegetables.

      The fact that we consume and process both meats and veggies seems to confirm the fact that we ARE omnivores. Being omnivores has allowed us to perpetuate our species in every micro-climate on earth.

      Now that we have abundant food in most of the world, there is an ethical question of what we SHOULD choose to eat. But this is very different from arguments over what we CAN eat.

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  7. Horses have canines.....I own them but obviously you don't so please google 'horse canine teeth' for an anatomical lesson on the 'no herbivore has canines' fallacy that you have been using as your flawed argument....

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  8. Stomach capacity argument " Humans as animals that have evolved in small tribal settings have been able to share the meat of large kills with members of their community." So you're saying carnivores did not live together and did not share their kills? This is a lie and you can see this in nature even today.

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    1. Herbivores have all the day to eat, eat, and eat. Except you plead to society to spare more time to eat, being a vegetarian is just plain stupid. I used to be relying to stuffs like tofu and tempeh as subtitute for meat. But I was wrong. Meat generates more energy (proven with my daily commuting) and it helps with today's fast pace modern life. Tell your institution to give you less work cause your're a vegetarian, see if they care.

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  9. I do not understand the effort some vegans try to persuade others with. Why they cannot just stick with "I do not want meat, period" ? Look guys, I do not care about your diet, do the same for me, k?

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    1. Because there's REAL SCIENCE to support the moral stand. So we share it

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. gotta love when the author removes content - to close to the truth i guess....

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    4. "REAL SCIENCE"
      HA!
      I've tried it myself and I must say that meat are necessary for my daily activity. They probably just took people who's metabolism close to herbivores. Meat supplies me with abundance of energy so I consume it while I need that energy (like thinking, or daily commute). If you strol laround like "a pack of donkey" (as Le Corbusier says) you might not need those big brain of yours, costing less energy and (you would like what I say next) less carbon footprint. Over consmption of meat is definitely no good, but you don't need to ditch meat from your diet. It's the truth, cause i've collecting data to see connection of fuel type (breakfast menu) and commuting time. I can conclude that meat helps me cutting commute time by half while reducing time wasted to take pitstops.

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    5. hamans are herbivores,you have been brought up eating meat , and you probably love bacon and steak so much that you dotn want to even consider stopping. animals are bred to be imprisoned and slaughtered to feed you, although you can live healthily on a natural diet. its a disgrace

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  10. The reason why humans don't use our mouth to catch animals is because we used our brain to create tools instead, which means we had ZERO natural selection pressures to adapt to needing to use our mouth to catch prey. I'm a biology major. This is common sense. Humans are indeed omnivores, and I don't think a vegan diet is safe for ANY human long-term (80+ years). You would need great supplementation to stay vegan for a lifetime, and without science---it would not be possible in the wild.

    Furthermore---to my first point---there are many creatures who use their feet to catch prey, such as hawks. See, you can't expect all animals to be the same way because all animals have different environments, ancestors, and natural selection pressures.

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    1. If you are a biology major then you would know that your statements are false.

      "This is common sense." - This statement is a matter of convenience and personal opinion, it has nothing to do with science.

      "I don't think a vegan diet is safe for ANY human long-term (80+ years)." What you think is irrelevant in the face of scientific facts, which DO state that a vegan diet is safe and even prolongs the average life of a human. By the way, 80+ years? How old do you think the average human gets? 150?

      "You would need great supplementation to stay vegan for a lifetime" Care to tell me what we would need to supplement? Except for B12, of course, since that comes from a bacteria and our current hygienic standards prohibit us from obtaining it naturally. (Water supply, soil, excrement on food,...)

      "Without science---it would not be possible in the wild." Countless of herbivores are proving you wrong on a daily basis.

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    2. Even if the points she made were valid...there is something to be said about mental evolution. If you could be vegan, and supplement your diet as required, WITHOUT harming animals, the environment, and your body (due to all the negative effects meat has on our systems), why wouldn't we do just that?

      Our feet were made to walk on the naked ground. I don't see ANYONE in a hurry to give up shoes because we evolved without them. It's called adapting for comfort. If we can adapt for comfort, can't we adapt for ethics, and compassion? Our habits are ruining this planet.

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  11. Look its simple, we humans need choline a very important nutrient in abundance in meat, beef, and eggs. This nutrient is the bane of most disease that plagues todays society. Look at the content of Zinc, B12 also very high in Meats, the amino acids require for building our DNA, RNA. Its a no brainer. I feel plants are life and deserve the same amount of respect as animals. As long as you eat to live and don't get lost in the industrialisation of this world, with the manufacturing at large as it is...

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  12. Were You Awake In Science Class?June 3, 2013 at 6:43 PM

    I have been vegetarian for many years after my mom taught me about the evils of factory farming, egg and dairy production. However, I dispute this post as wishful thinking.

    Basic science class, anthropology, and archaeological finds reveal that humans are positively omnivores. I understand that everyone is entitled to their thoughts and opinions. We all have a right to eat what we choose. However, if humans aren't omnivores and can't survive off of meat, then WHY did the Inuits successfully survive off of a diet of mostly meat for thousands of years? It's because they ate the whole animal, including organ meats and intestine, proving that animal flesh is a complete food filled with every vitamin, mineral and amino acid that we need.

    Humans were able to grow and advance because we thrive off of a large variety of plants, animals, and fungi. And besides, most soy products for vegetarians are GMO, you have to hunt to find the real deal. Even then, soy products may not be fermented, such as soy protein isolate, which is processed with hexane, and poisons the neurosystem of factory workers. Hexane is a deadly substance, and fake meat is super bad for the environment.

    Rows and rows of soy beans to feed a ton of vegetarians and vegans is not my vision for an ideal world. I'd much prefer to see a grassy pasture of Jersey dairy cows, chickens, and Angus cattle that are part of an organic farm in a closed and sustainable agricultural system. There are many of these on the West Coast where I can get my food from local farmers. I found many on the East Coast when I lived there too.

    Vegans, think about how many bees, insects, birds, small animals and displaced wildlife die every year because we're sowing more and more soy crops that are so large we have to use planes to fertilize and spray them with pesticides.

    If we could get rid of all the factory farms and revert back to sustainable farming practices then I wouldn't have to be vegetarian. That being said, if I can find a local rancher that treats animals humanely, I have no problem reverting back to eating as an omnivore. There are plenty of environmentally conscious and humane farmers out there making this happen. Vegetarians and vegans are largely a product of grocery store chains, cheap food and fast food than anything else. I worked on a farm and held baby animals, and won't eat lamb or veal, but when you're becoming anemic, low in essential minerals and fatigued like I am, even while taking every supplement known to man, it becomes obvious to me that I am an omnivore.

    While thousands of acres of monoculture soy and quinoa crops will harm local wildlife, smaller animals and insects, while supposedly sparing pigs, chickens and cows, staple foods like quinoa are driven up in price and unaffordable to local Peruvians, leading human beings into starvation and poverty. Unsustainable farming damages the Earth which is a living thing too. It's about ethical treatment of animals, planet and people whether it's vegetables that are being farmed or cows that are being grown.

    When you're done freaking out about my comments, please support your local farmer by subscribing to a CSA share (Community Supported Agriculture) for a weekly box of organic fruits and vegetables, so that Monsanto and factory farming can't take over the world quite so quickly. Yes, even organic industrialized farming operations exist and it's not pretty. If you buy food from a grocery store, even if it's vegan food, you're still spending money at corporations that profit from the death of animals. Rethink your role in our food system and do more research that is supported by actual facts rather than wishful thinking.

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    1. The rows and rows of beans that you speak about are grown primarily to feed cattle, not for human consumption. Eating lower on the food chain is far better for the environment and uses much less resources.
      I agree that getting rid of factory farms and going all sustainable would be better, however we are at a world population level that this simply isn't feasible if we continue to consume the ridiculous amounts of meat we do today. The amount of land needed to raise a kg of beef is way higher than to raise a kg of vegetable protein. And if you are worried about displacing wildlife, already grazing cattle are a massive contributor to lost habitats especially in the western United States.
      So yes, we do need to rethink our role in the food system, and I agree that supporting local over evils like Monsanto is a must,
      but perhaps you are also guilty of some wishful thinking.

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    2. Perhaps you should do some facts-finding before sprouting your false assumption around.

      Animals are a source of essential vitamins. That is true. That is equally and more true for the plants that we eat. It is very easy to see that animals get their own vitamins from plants. So the statement "but animals are nutritious" is only a half truth, and basically an indoctrination since you neglect to tell that plants have the same nutrients.

      It is also a fact that humans CAN eat meat, but HAVE to eat plants. There is no human on this earth who can survive solely on meat, but there are plenty of examples of humans who can live solely on plants.

      Your idiocy about soy plants, GMO's and all the likes have been disproved over and over and over again. So I'll keep it brief.

      Soy (and others) GMO plants are primarily used to feed livestock. The bit that can't be used for livestock does get into the human food, but is not an essential part of it. Soy (and other so called superfoods) do play a too large roll in the world, I'll agree on that. There are plenty of local plants that will serve that purpose (more or less).

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    3. Were you awake in English class? The whole point of this post is to say that humans ARE omnivores, and attempts by vegans to disprove that can easily be poked full of holes. And also that its not an important point, since people CAN thrive on a vegan diet, and the ethical reasons for veganism still stand.

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    4. we have the right to kill animals and eat them do we, i disagree, we do not, in my view, have the right to murder n innocent animal to cook it, and eat it, or to let farmers mass produce animals for slaughter. we do have the right to eat plants, our annatomy is herbivore, we have long stomach, grinding jaw, etc.

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    5. are you fucking stupid? they're not human beings, they're very low intelligence animals who don't have enough intelligence to enjoy life. they hardly feel any pain when they are killed. you are very stupid if you believe we should not kill animals, we've been killing and eating animals for tens of thousands of years, do you think cavemen would have eaten animals if they werent meant to eat them??? okay we might share a lot in common with herbivores but we also share a lot in common with omnivores and carnivoeres, for example, our stomach acid ph is 1-2 unlike herbivores which is 4-5. also our intestines arent anywhere near as long as herbivores, and we can't survive on a plant only diet, it's obvious, we were designed to eat meat and plants, if we werent meant to eat meat then our brains simply wouldnt be as big as they are now because our brains grew solely because of meat in our diet. don't believe me, look it up. and stop feeling sorry for animals which are only going to be eaten by foxes or wolves if we don't kill them anyway. and we kill them more humanely than other animals would. stop being such a pussy man, just eat the fucking animals they have a lot of benefits, if we didnt eat animals we would have a protein deficiency since plant proteins are incomplete which means without animal protein in the body, our body cannot use those proteins for cellular regeneration. that imo disproves your shitty argument

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  13. The latest post by "Were You Awake In Science Class?" is the only truly thoughtful and measured response in this entire comments thread and I applaud it.

    I have only one single thought to add to this entire debate that has gone on for many many many years:

    If we put aside every other argument, be it scientific, political, environmental or ethical from either position and we focus and one fact and one fact only, that being that this debate exists *at all*... We are left with a simple logical explanation. Humans can eat both plant and animal based foods. If this were not the case, there would not *be* any debate.

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    1. That latest post was filled with errors, so I don't see how it is truly thoughtful and measured.

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    2. sure we can eat meat, just because we can, doesnt mean we are designed to, or should.

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  14. Having had a life-long experience of being an omnivore, vegetarian (with limited ingestion of meats, eggs, and dairy), vegan (no meats or eggs), and having numerous changes (sometimes interwoven) from into and out of these three separate diet groups, and as I listened to all the different doctors and so-called dietary health experts - and the result: my entire mind-body-organism's health continuing to deteriorate, and to actually plummet by the time I was in my early 20's.

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    1. It wasn't until and after I was enrolled in a University Accredited Massage Therapy school I embarked on a very long road to recover. I still had much to learn. I was still being interchangeable with being omnivore, vegetarian, and vegan, but less and less listening to the doctors and so-called dietary health experts, and more to myself and my body. I did start to experience some real relief and healing, both mentally and physicalyl with self-administration of the various therapeutic techniques that I was had learned about in school. The health improvements continued to come and go and I was having a very difficult time figuring out why.

      I was very interested in trying out the predominantly carnivorous diet, however there was an issue I had yet to find resolution for: the commercial livestock, poultry, and fish farming and the methods utilized to feed these animals with the feedlot, cage, and pond feeding, and most importantly the diets and environments these animal were subject to - just so they could get fattened and weighed up, all for the sake of financial profit. Any animal, including the human animal (something our hand-me-down, ancestral notion of being superior has lead us into thinking we're something special and other than and above the otheranimals) when confined will eat just about anyting to quell the emotional hardship and pressure build-up of being confined, which is exactly what these commercially raised animals are going through, and what we human animals are going through with all the ideals, norms, rules we've been imposing upon ourselves since the prehistoric conceptions of Human Civilization itself. These force-fed diets environments are totally incongruous to the respective animal's natural diets and eating habits and it is, in fact, making the animals VERY unhealthy and VERY unhealthy to eat.

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    2. Another issue with maintaining a predominately carnivorous diet: what am I going to eat other than all that tainted meat, that which I only have access to because there are no viable hunting grounds reasonable close by where I am currently living. Organ meats (beef mostly), canned, but wild-caught fish (salmon and sardines), and eggs (they can't screw those up too badly other than reducing the quaility).

      That is what I have done. I committed to the predominantly carnivorous diet back in mid March of this year (2013), eating more meat and increasingly less plant-matter (fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and totally omitting grains (with the exception and occasional popcorn). Over the last few weeks I have continued to reduce my plant-matter intake, which is very difficult given the surrounding environment I'm forced to live in without the means to change it and therefore prone to eat more just to quell the emotional hardship and pressure build-up. The health deterioration has damn near come to a complete stop and with the health improvements (mental and physical) continue to come. I am 46 years of age, 6'3" tall, and currently 140 lbs. I'm not skin and bone despite such a low weight for much of the dead-weight from all that residual and toxic build-up in the muscle fibers and tissues is being expended out of my body. I'm still in recovery and getting more and more adept at maintaining this predominantly carnivorous diet, with the health benefits and improvements to my entire mind-body-organism continuing, and staying. I'm actually starting to eat less overall. If I get any lighter I'll be able to windsail without the sail and the boat. I'll be able to catch the next strong wind for a lift to the other side of town.

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  15. I have a question. What the fuck do you vegans feed your dogs? The wolf was never meant to be domesticated and it is the primary ancestor to every dog on the planet. Now owning a dog in the first place would go against everything you believe in, but I know some of you had pets before Mr. Bluejay convinced you veganism was a good idea. So what do you feed them? The process of making dog food goes against everything you believe in and it is very unhealthy for a dog to eat non meat based products for an extended period of time unless they already have some health condition that requires it. Just wondering...

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    1. Vegan philosophy doesn't oppose eating animals if it's needed for survival. Most of us don't live in environment that necessitates that.
      As for the dogs...Google "Bramble, the vegan dog"
      He lived for 27 years, that's like 189 year old for humans. He was in Guinness Book of Records, and was a picture of health.
      Back in Asia where I grew up, many dogs were fed veggie diets just like their owners.
      More people are now feeding their dogs vegan/veggie diets and are reporting better health.
      Cats are different story.

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  16. "Humans: Manufacture fructose"
    What? In what part of the body do humans manufacture fructose?

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    1. Krishna Chandra Singh SangerNovember 5, 2013 at 9:54 AM

      There is a biochemical pathway in the human cells known as the GLYCOLYTIC PATHWAY (also found in plants) where glucose is broken down by a series of enzymes to lactic acid. One of the intermediate products of this pathway is FRUCTOSE. The human body uses the same pathway to utilize the fructose that has been made available to it say from cane sugar (Sucrose) or from honey and or corn syrup.

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  17. "Length of Small Intestine
    CARNIVORE: 3 to 6 times body length
    HERBIVORE: 10 to more than 12 times body length
    OMNIVORE: 4 to 6 times body length
    HUMAN: 10 to 11 times body length"

    What is you source for the claim that humans have a small intestine length 10 to 11 times the length of the body. The two sources below show that the average length of the human small intestine is around 7m, so around 4-5 times the length of the body. That would make us omnivores right?

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12497219
    http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2001/AnneMarieThomasino.shtml

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  19. You seem to be using a kind of faulty logic called obfuscation. What you neglect to say is that human physiology has changed dramatically from the time humans first evolved. This is largely due to the development of tools, the handing down of knowledge, language development, the cultivation of crops instead of hunting/gathering, domestication instead of hunting, and a gradually more stable and sedentary lifestyle. All of these things have contributed to a change in our physiology. You omitted this highly relevant fact and are only looking at modern human physiology in relation to modern food. Your logic is therefore backwards, i.e. instead of looking at how changing diets have contributed to changing physiology you have simply related modern physiology to modern foods.

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  20. Stomach acidity with food in stomach
    Carnivore - pH approx. 1
    Herbivore - pH is 4 - 5
    Human - 1 - 2.5
    Only meat-eaters make HCl(Hydrochloric acid). Humans make HCl.

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  21. also:
    HUMAN: 10 to 11 times body length
    WRONG.
    our Small Intestine length is about 700 cm.is our height 60-70 cm?????????

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    1. Length is measured from neck to anus as with other animals.

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  23. feel like 90% of commenters did not read this post, or perhaps did not understand it. The whole point of this post is to say that humans ARE omnivores, and attempts by vegans to disprove that can easily be poked full of holes. And also that its not an important point, since people CAN thrive on a vegan diet, and the ethical reasons for veganism still stand. All of the outraged responses arguing that humans are omnivores are completely and utterly unnecessary and show a real lack of reading comprehension skills.

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    1. If vegan have their "goodwill" then meat has their place on "culture".
      It's also not necessarily more healthy than average diet.
      Average diet>veganism>meat monger
      Veganism better than meat lover, obvious.
      But that kinda misleading, at least from how they say that not eating meatis more ethical. Ethical from which point? Some culture got more than 90% of their diet based on meat. You intent to kill it? So animals more important than cuture? Why do you think that human evolves to have a long life compared to cows, pigs or chicken?

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  24. Hey,

    So....You all have very creative arguments, however have any of you considered that perhaps you might just be a little over spoiled when it comes to food?

    Would you be having a debate about eating a rabbit if you were freezing and poor in the winter? Have you considered maybe being responsible about the food you eat?

    See I read this entire forum and many others and I see this--> "Giant fields for cattle, Giant fields for Soy" or "Pesticides and GMO or Inhumane and Irresponsible." The problem here is not about what we should eat...its where we are getting our food from.

    Your body will adapt to anything you put in it...including poison. We build resistance and tolerance.

    Meat eaters, may I challenge you to forage your own food from the wild and stop participating in shopping at grocery stores. I bet after a few weeks your excessive meat consumption will dissipate and you will instead eat more greens. I'm not saying that you will end up vegan however I'm sure that no ones going to be killing and eating a cow, chicken, rabbit and so on, everyday.

    Vegans, same challenge. Forage your own fruits and vegetables! Enough to feed you and your families and see if that's enough without supplementation. I bet foods going be pretty scarce in the winter months.

    Both arguments are such extremes...Do or do not eat meat? How about eat responsibly period. Not one animal kills for sport....We definitely should not either and to me that's exactly what Chicken Mc.Nuggets are...Sport killing chickens for recreational eating.

    Yes I have terrible spelling and yes my sentences are built with Attention Deficit Disorder. This doesn't mean that what I'm saying here is irrelevant. You guys are all arguing senselessly while continuing to pretend that what your doing is the best way to do it.

    Vegans - Bugs/animals/humans are all negatively affected by chemical sprays and mass land consumption. This destroys natural habitats as well.

    Meat Specialists - Your diet should be considered recreational. Every single person on this planet knows that you need more apples then chicken breast. An all meat diet was eaten historically by humans who had no other available options.

    Omnivorous - You specialize in eating both foods...So I guess by definition you are officially the food Nazi. I don't feel I need to elaborate here.

    These hold true if you shop and any Walmart or Costco, No Frills, Thrifties ect..

    Anyway's, I'm not generally a fan of dropping my opinion around as if I'm some kind of all knowing master of the universe but these arguments reflect such stupidity that I just can't stand to see people dancing around the truth and never actually seeing it.

    Be responsible fellow meat ships. Take a bit more pride in how you eat. It is after all what gets you all those wonderful years of life.

    I love you all.

    Sincerely,

    That guy.

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    1. And your point is?

      My point: we can argue till we are blue in the face. We will NEVER convince each other. Eat what you want is my motto. Just be happy with the consequences.

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  25. Poor animals :(
    http://live-counter.com/animals-killed-worldwide/

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  26. I would like only to add that the hallmark of our humanness is our intelligence. Our higher cognitive capacity has ed to this day and age. What we have is choice, morality, language and art. I do not believe this should be a debate on what we were 'designed' to eat- because research on the matter has largely proven that we are indeed omnivores, and we have gotten to this point due to the inclusion of some form of animal products n our diet. That being said, the vegan argument of today is largely an ethical one. That we do not want to harm animals should not be ridiculed, nor should we ridicule those that eat meat. The point to raise here though is that the meat and dairy industries have taken a very bad turn and certainly don't encompass our united vision of pastures and well-treated animals and organic farming. So vegetarian and carnist (check out Melanie Joy) alike, I would say it is not a fight about what we evolved to eat, nor about who is right- it's truly about the world around us and the imbalances. Some choose not to harm animals, some choose not to harm the environment, and some choose their health. I would argue that all three can be encapsulated by a vegetarian/vegan diet- and the same for a well-balanced omnivourous diet. But can an omnivorous diet truly wipe out cruelty? In our overcrowded world- unless you can assure the meat you buy was once humanely-treated livestock, then you're just a cog in the machine driving the demand.

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  27. I like meat. I eat meat. It is a CHOICE. Period.

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    1. Idk, a lot of things are a choice. I could choose to pee in the living room right now, but I'll use my better judgement not to.

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    2. it is a bad choice, and you are actively supporting animal torture, murder and misery because you are so selfish. enjoy your burger

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  28. Since when do humans manufacture fructose or harness energy from the sun?

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    1. True. But I guess they really wanted to say we recycle glucose to make fructose. Plants manufacture fructose with the help of sunlight, water etc.

      I'm not so sure about harnessing energy from the sun(directly)...generally we harness energy from what we consume. Well, we do need the sun for vitamin d though...which is essential to break down the food.

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  29. Persistence hunting and insect eating should be put in the list of things that support human's omnivorous thesis...
    Also arguments to reduce human meat consumption to historically based levels. And perhaps pave the way to more insect based protein source in diet... but not sure North American government will ever put that in any food guide...

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    1. In Europe there is actually some local groups here and there who try to implement insects (mealworms) into our diet. ^^ for example mealworms cookies, meatballs...etc.
      Super interesting and it doesn't take much to raise them and they are very high in protein.

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  30. Persistence hunting and insect eating should be put in the list of things that support human's omnivorous thesis...
    Also arguments to reduce human meat consumption to historically based levels. And perhaps pave the way to more insect based protein source in diet... but not sure North American government will ever put that in any food guide...

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  31. I'm increasingly convinced that stubborn self-professed omnivores are suffering from a deep psychosis and sickness of the subconscious, proliferated by the normalisation of animal abuse/rape/enslavement/torture/slaughter/consumption.

    Humanity is sleep-walking into suicide. So either there are people who are aware of our fate and accelerating the process because they have an alternate plan, or we are all on this sinking ship together and are due a universal awakening to begin the process of reducing our consumption.

    One post in this comment feed stood out to me and it wasn't any of the bickering about the science of our anatomy, but the person who said farm animals aren't capable of a happy life and don't feel pain.

    Either this person has never spent time in the company of an animal, or they are severely afflicted by this denial of altruism that people simply must begin to analyse and move away from.

    Animals are incredibly sensitive and we do not currently have anywhere near enough neurological studies to determine their capacities for emotion and communication within their groups. Evidence is increasingly coming to light that animal communication is incredibly complex, more so than humans in some instances.

    The horrors and atrocities we commit against them are not without consequence. I'm coming to understand so many warnings of our treatment of other living beings (through environmental changes, health impacts, social structures, the mindset of discrimination....much of this is hinted at even in religious texts and people seem entirely divorced from the bigger picture.

    The voiceless ones are the ones we should observe, they have been evolving here for just as long if not longer than we have and are intelligent in ways that we don't even fully comprehend at this point in time.

    Consume and condone their abuse and slaughter at your peril. I will live the rest of my life knowing I wanted better for them, for you, for your children and their futures, than this nightmare of needless suffering.

    Try growing a heart instead of eating one.

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  32. I am a human. I eat meat and my body uses it. I eat plants and my body uses it. Humans are omnivores but we can choose and that is the beauty of being a omnivore Some people choose to eat meat Some don't It is a life choice. Don't try to make someone change their life unless they want to.

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  33. Hi there I want to include some scientific facts here,
    HERBIVORE: can't synthesize vitamin C
    OMNIVORE: can synthesize vitamin C
    CARNIVORE: can synthesize vitamin C


    Omnivores such as mouse and chickens are reported to have enzymes to synthesize vitamin C we however have that gene in our genome but it is not expressed, so we can't synthesize Vitamin C, Omnivore should thrive both solely on a plant diet and solely on diet consisting of flesh. Inuits get very low ascorbic acid from fish and they don't get the required amount from 100g of flesh, as they ate flesh they required less collagen synthesizing vitamin C but vitamin C not only helps in synthesis of collagen it also helps in antioxiant activity, synthesis of carnitine, and neurotransmitters; the synthesis and catabolism of tyrosine; and the metabolism of microsome. Deficiency of vitamin C may lead to unstability of synthesized collagen, spongy gums, bleeding from all mucous membrane and even death. So fisherman, sailors, and many people need to eat fresh fruits and vegetables it promotes healing. Our body is more favorable to plant based diets and if you think we can eat meat, it is because herbivores can digest meat but it is not meant for us. Many old research has shown that we ate meat but new research has shown that we ate plant matter more throughout our evolution, plant matter such as fiber and grains were found in teeth and fossilized feces. Old research completely ignored the contribution of starch in brain development when science says that glucose is brain food it is also proven that fat or low carbohydrate diet would provide inefficient conversion to glucose to promote brain activity. Our ancestors were nearly vegetarians, we were fruit gatherers but when ice age hit we switched to survival mode.

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    1. EDIT: Vitamin C is synthesized in ruminants (herbivore), however it is not present in frugivores we resemble our closely related ancestor animals such as chimpanzee, Gorilla and Bonobos. Gorillas are herbivores, their diet consist of 2-3 % insects, meat but that doesn't classify them as omnivores.

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