Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
16 Dec

In Defense of Meat Eaters, Part 1: The Evolutionary Angle

Meat is murder.

Meat will clog your arteries.

Meat is an unnatural food.

Man is really an herbivore.

Meat will give you cancer.

Meat is bad for the environment.

It’s easy to forget that these are the common arguments leveled against meat-eaters. It’s easy to forget that most of the developed world assumes meat is inherently unhealthy – for our health, for the environment, and for animals. It’s easy to forget these things because, as Primal Blueprinters, we’re immersed in the literature and are actively involved in what we eat. To that end we understand that man evolved eating meat, that meat is an important part of a healthy human diet, and that meat production doesn’t have to be the unsustainable, industrialized monster it’s mostly become (and which rightly garners the most negative press). Still, what is the average meat eater to say in opposition to these charges?

First, when people condemn meat-eating, they aren’t actually railing against Primal eaters. They’re fighting a bogeyman, a perverted corruption of what a real meat-eater constitutes. They see the slaughterhouse-porn videos and assume that’s how it always goes down. You mention you eat a high-fat, high-animal food diet, and all they see is E. coli-contaminated blood on your hands. You mention something about local farms and pastured animals, but all they hear is the imagined cries of slaughtered calves, fattened on corn and soy that could have fed starving children. You smell the seared gristle and delicious beefy scent of a grilling steak, while they can smell only the excessive methane flatulence of a cow on a junk food diet. Now I don’t mean to paint an unfair or inaccurate portrait of your average anti-meat activist. But the fact remains that many simply have a viscerally negative reaction to the very idea of meat eating. They see the horrible conditions on factory farms and can think of nothing else. It makes sense, actually; I cringe (and wrinkle my nose) whenever I drive by that CAFO in Coalinga on I-5 heading to northern California, for example. If that’s all they see, I can’t say I blame them for being intolerant of meat-eating.

Still, it’s largely an emotional argument against meat eating, and that can be easily countered with real facts and awareness. By definition, an emotive argument shuns reason (when it conflicts) and clings to straws that bolster the emotion. The passionate anti-meat activist even carries a static arsenal of factoids and soundbites that sound true and gel with Conventional Wisdom. They might sound sensible, but they crumble under close scrutiny. My personal favorites are the anti-meat arguments that invoke human evolution as justification, simply because they’re so specious and so easy to counter. Let’s take a look…

Man is really an herbivore.

They love pulling this one. Fruitarians point to the fruit-loving chimps as proof – they’re our closest living relatives (though not as close as the purely carnivorous Neanderthals were, not that they’d acknowledge that little fact) and they eat a diet of roughly 70% fruit, with some insects and other plant matter thrown in. If they’re our closest living relatives, doesn’t it follow that our diet should be pretty similar to theirs? I dunno about you, but I consider six million years of evolutionary change to be a pretty significant amount of time. Oh, and don’t tell them about those chimps that actively hunt monkeys and other apes for fresh, raw meat. Just show them this video instead.

A lot can happen in six million years. Why, it might even be enough time – theoretically, of course – for a hominid to develop a big brain, hands with a precision grip that facilitated tool development, a fully bipedal gait with proper weight transmission at the ankles, mastery over fire, and a fully-fledged linguistic system. But no, six million years isn’t enough time for hominids to adapt to eating meat.

In reality, of course, meat fueled our evolution, as you’ll see in a bit. We are obligate omnivores, if not closet carnivores (if we have to).

But wait – what about our eight times body length small intestine? Carnivores’ small intestines are around three times their body length, while herbivores have much longer ones, right?

Actually, when measured from ass to mouth (the real distance that matters), our 8 to 1 ratio lies roughly in the middle of the pack between obligate carnivores like dogs (3.5 to 1) and cats (3 to 1), and herbivores like cows (20 to 1) and horses (12 to 1). How perfect is that? The obligate omnivore is nestled right in between the carnivore and the herbivore.

Besides, intestinal length isn’t even the best way to determine dietary need. An animal’s particular arsenal of digestive organs is. Actual herbivores have special organs designated for breaking down cellulose – multi-compartmental stomachs, for example. We have but one, and it absolutely cannot break down cellulose to any significant degree. If we were herbivores, we might even have rabbit-like cecums, highly developed digestive sacs that do the brunt of the digestive work for hindgut digesters. I almost wish we had that capability, if only for the advantage of cecotropes – fecal pellets high in vitamins, nutrients, and proteins that rabbits expel for later consumption. Delicious.

Our measly little stomachs can’t handle all that fiber. If a person really wanted to be a true herbivore, he or she’d have to chew cud for hours (that’s why cows are known for chewing cud – it’s a way to predigest all that tough stuff), vomit it up after a little digestive work in the stomach, and repeat the process. Thanks, but I’ll just take some steak with my salad.

And, like clockwork, they interrupt with:

Okay, maybe we did eat some meat, but we were scavengers fighting over scraps. Meat wasn’t a big part of our diet!


Not if you believe the fossil evidence that shows hominids actually manipulated bones “on which flesh was abundant… rather than defleshed from field kills.” We weren’t just starving opportunists. We actively hunted animals, large and small, to obtain large amounts of meat and fat. The only way to get your hands on an intact carcass loaded with delicious flesh – as the evidence clearly shows our ancestors did so on a regular basis – is to kill it yourself. Waiting around for the lions to have their share is hyena territory, scavenger stuff. You don’t become the ultimate predator and propagate your species across the entire globe by solely scavenging for bone scraps – although we did plenty of that, too, as fossil records show evidence of bone marrow extraction from two million years ago using complex stone tools.

If we were meant to eat meat, we’d have claws and big fangs.

Tool-making and large brains are as much an inseparable part of humanity as claws and fangs are of lions. You might argue that claws and fangs “make” the lion, because without them they would die out. Tools and big brains make the man. You can’t take tools away simply because they aren’t a physiological member attached to our bodies; tool making is an integral aspect of human evolution. Our hands and brains make tool usage possible. Think of our tools, our weapons, our hands, and our big brains as our “claws and big fangs.”And as I mentioned earlier, we’ve been using those technological “claws and big fangs” to obtain meat and marrow for at least two million years, plenty of time for tools to become an essential aspect of our human-ness.

Besides, we aren’t arguing that man is purely carnivorous. He certainly can be, but the point of contention is whether meat is a natural part of the human diet. It clearly is. Throwing in shoddy comparisons to actual carnivores like lions and tigers is dishonest and only serves to muddy the waters.

And so, it’s not that we were “meant” to eat meat. It’s simply that we evolved eating meat. Meat represented a reliable source of dense caloric energy packed with nutrients and vitamins essential to our prosperity. Big brains (the existence of which, I’m hoping, even the most ardent vegetarians don’t argue against) were made possible by the consumption of meat, organs, and other nutrient-rich animal products. Instead of spending all their metabolic energy processing cellulose and plant matter, our ancestors turned to a high-meat diet, which utilized fat-soluble vitamins (already converted into the forms we can best take advantage of) and meant energy could be diverted away from a big fermenting pot of a stomach and toward fueling their massive brains. Our brains eat up about 25% of our basal metabolic rate, compared to 8-10% for the apes who eat far less animal matter. Our brains are large and our guts (well, sometimes) are small and bereft of cellulose-consuming bacteria, while a gorilla’s brain is relatively small and its gut enormous and well-equipped with the proper bacteria. How else are they supposed to process all that plant matter?

Easy to digest meat and fat made our big brains possible. I’m not saying vegetarianism makes people stupid, because it doesn’t. I’m just saying they should give credit where credit’s due. You’re able to ruminate on the horrors of meat eating and “articulate” your arguments for a very simple reason: your ancestors ate a ton of fresh, bloody meat and animal fat. Just be glad they didn’t share your dietary proclivities, or else you’d be ruminating on actual grass, twigs, and sticks instead of enjoying culture, language, music, and the other accomplishments of mankind’s big ass brain.

And that about sums up the evolutionary anti-meat angle. It sounds compelling, if all you’ve got under your belt is a semester of high school biology, but it crumbles under real scrutiny.

Tomorrow, we’ll explore a couple other arguments, but for now, let’s discuss any other examples of pseudo-scientific anti-meat talking points grounded in faulty evolutionary science. I’m sure I missed a few…

Read Part II: In Defense of Meat Eaters – Animal and Human Well-Being

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Any interpretation of the Bible that suggests that evolution serves a divine purpose is completely incompatible with evolutionary theory. Evolution is based on *random* mutations and shaped by natural selection. Randomness and purposefulness do not mix.

    SerialSinner wrote on December 17th, 2009
  2. SerialSinner, check out chaos theory

    Wyatt wrote on December 17th, 2009
    • I am very familiar with it. Chaotic data is not = to Random data.

      SerialSinner wrote on December 17th, 2009
  3. According to this article:

    the arguments made in the article above are irrelevant.

    Stephen wrote on December 17th, 2009
  4. I cannot believe I wasted so much time as a vegetarian. Now I am zero carb (9 months now) eating just meat and my lifts at the gym have gone up, I have flat abs and tons of energy, clear skin, soft hair, etc. Meat is human food; the rest is for animals. We are meant to get nutrients from animals who eat the nuts, fruits and vegetables. We eat the fatty meat and protein.

    Katelyn wrote on December 17th, 2009
  5. SerialSinner, I stand corrected

    Wyatt wrote on December 17th, 2009
  6. Great stuff Mark, seems like some people always trying to rewrite history. I’m 1/2 way through The Primal Blueprint and man do I feel much better with no grains, no potatoes and no sugars, veggies and meat for me. Still working on upgrading the quality of beef I eat. I’m making progress and that’s the key. Fill you in as I go Mark.

    HealthyHappyFitDad wrote on December 18th, 2009
  7. “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the ways its animals are treated” – Mahatma Gandhi

    Perhaps people will wake up sooner rather than later…or perhaps we can just all start eating each other…

    I am sure there is a way to justify that too.

    Ron wrote on December 18th, 2009
    • Think of the plants! I don’t see why it’s OK to indiscriminately kill plants and not animals. Soybeans don’t want to get eaten either, which is probably why they produce so many antinutrients. Come to think of it, grains (seeds) are the plant equivalent of infants or fetuses – which is probably why they try so hard to reduce our absorption of essential nutrients like calcium and magnesium, eh?

      How ’bout we just eat nothing; then nothing ever has to die as a result of our evil and selfish desire to eat. Except us, of course. This is all covered in much greater detail and more eloquent prose in The Vegetarian Myth, by the way, which I am guessing you haven’t read.

      Here’s a tidbit: when grey wolves, those evil carnivores, were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park, biodiversity went UP, not down, because elks were stripping the plant life bare and not leaving room for other species to survive. In many ecosystems, carnivorous species are ESSENTIAL, certainly in the ocean – where nearly every animal is carnivorous. So why can’t humans be carnivorous, too, especially since we evolved that way?

      Icarus wrote on December 18th, 2009
      • God I hate it when meat-eaters give this reply, the “oh, what about the poor suffering plants”. I am a vegetarian, I never try to turn-people vegetarian but when they ask me why I chose this path my first answer is generally “to avoid the suffering of animals, which I feel is unnecessary”, to which people reply “oh but what about the suffering of the poor plants you eat?!”. Plants DO NOT have Central Nervous System; they can not feel pain, they only react to stimuli. It makes me irrationally want to punch people in the face when they reply to me in such a fashion, I am respectful of your decision to eat meat, so please be respectful of my decision not to and DO NOT mock me.

        Cara wrote on February 11th, 2013
  8. I got the argument from my vegan father today that cooking meat “stinks” and that’s how we know to stay away from it. Buh?

    Later, I’m going to tell him that his processed soy burgers stink even more.

    paleo_piper wrote on December 19th, 2009
  9. Richard, thank you for responding to me, but it would have been more interesting if you responded to my question. I think your historical information may be slightly inaccurate however, as I am not a conquered woman, nor is my culture or my people for that matter. I grew up in a culture not tainted my the monotheism of Genesis (as Toynbee might put it) yet I have never experienced these superhuman ‘savages’ you alude to, indians are people too, I hate to break the hearts of ‘dances with wolves’ fans. Invictus, I didn’t realize I had to make myself quite so clear, but I understand your issue. I’m a person of average intelligence, therefore I do not read Genesis as literal but as a literary interpretation. I did say theological, no?

    Jasetyn wrote on December 19th, 2009
    • Jasetyn:

      I don’t understand your reply, or the Toynbee name drop.

      You speak english, you’re a Christian. You’re conquered and rather than resist, you embrace and make excuses for it. And I think that’s sad for the indigenous who came out on the short end of innovation. Perhaps they were plenty happy and should have just been left alone, as we seem to be able to do — at least now and at long last — with those few who inhabit the Amazon & New Guinea.

      Look, knock yourself out. Go ahead an believe that your peoples were savages that needed “saving” buy the sword, which is ultimately the only thing that submitted your ancestors and ensured that you would grow up believing in a 2,000 year old foreigner as god’s chosen for your unwashed salvation.

      I wish you well, but with you’d give ’em hell.

      Richard Nikoley wrote on December 19th, 2009
      • It’s really none of your damn business what she does. Are you always such a control freak, or are you just like this with women? Excuse my language, but your arrogance is intolerable.

        julietx wrote on December 21st, 2009
        • julietx:

          “your arrogance is intolerable”


          Richard Nikoley wrote on December 21st, 2009
  10. I didn’t imply my people were savages, sir, just people. Toynbee wasn’t a name drop, the Genesis reference was his. And I’m really unsure what your vantage point is compared to mine..oh right! My people are ‘conquered’. We have the option to believe in ancient practices as well as new information, and by the way.. my particular nation never submitted, which is why we still exist and I grew up speaking my native language..shocking. Sorry for hijacking the comments fellow PBers, we’ll keep this in PM for future reference.

    Jasetyn wrote on December 20th, 2009
  11. Jasetyn:

    All I’m saying is that I find unfortunate that in the face of domination by Europeans that so many natives of this continent saw a need to be “saved” or whatever by the god[s] the Euros brought with them.

    My wife’s family is all from Mexico and other parts of S/Central America and they’re 100% catholic.

    I find it mystifying and sad all at the same time. If they want to believe, fine, by why weren’t their own practices good enough.

    That’s what I mean by conquest and it is a form of submission.

    Richard Nikoley wrote on December 20th, 2009
    • Missionaries probably don’t think of it this way, but part of their mission is the eradication of traditional indigenous cultures. In every corner of the earth, indigenous societies are almost always traditionally animists in their religious outlook; this is being rapidly replaced with a monoculture of monotheism and slight variants like Buddhism. I agree, Richard, that it is quite a sad sight to see.

      Icarus wrote on December 20th, 2009
    • This is none of my business, but it is certainly none of your business why Jasetyn or anyone else subscribes to his or her spiritual beliefs.

      It’s supremely arrogant and even racist to dictate to another that her beliefs must fit with your concept of her ancestry. As humans of free will, protected by the first amendment of our constitution, we have the right to worship, or not, as we see fit. Modern humans with full human rights are free to break from their ancestors’ traditions.

      Don’t try to force people into little boxes of your making.

      Again excuse me for butting in.

      julietx wrote on December 21st, 2009
      • julietx:

        “This is none of my business…”

        Bonus points!!!

        Richard Nikoley wrote on December 21st, 2009
  12. julietx:

    “your arrogance is intolerable”

    Richard Nikoley wrote on December 21st, 2009
  13. You guys, Mark and co., just proved my point against supposed Paleo advocates “proof” that our ancient ancestors were heavy meat eaters.. because they DID at times eat meat, doesn’t mean humans are MEANT or BUILT to eat meat…

    plus the “tools” used to hunt/kill animals-meat, or the “cut marks” on fossil animal bones, doesn’t prove anything… those spears, tools, etc
    were used LARGELY for protection for humans AGAINST large carnivorous predators.. same reason as residues, partial circumstantial evidence FOR eating grains as early as 100,000 years ago pointed out in this article, is shoddy at best…

    The human digestive tract/enzyme system/organ system/etc prove the diet of humans, the same as with any animal in a zoo, the zoo keepers know exactly what type of food stuff is ideal and meant to be eaten by said animals…

    ALso, because most vegans/vegetarians/raw foodist, sterotypically eat high grain diets, doesn’t mean they are correct or that they represent what a vegan/vegetarian/raw food diet IS or SHOULD be… so the Paleo crowd continously gets the typecasting wrong… same as if vegetarian hippies classify categorically that all meat consumption is bad because 300 million AMericans eat the high fat, high cholesterol SAD diet, which includes a ton of meat… well, they are not equivalent, since Paleo diets choose far heaalthier cuts of meat…

    why can none in EITHER camp get these arguments right and complete, and take ego or emotion out of it and look at pure physiology/anatomy/digestion/etc?

    PS. the human intestinal tract, small and large, is ~30ft long, divided by an `2.5-3ft torso length (mouth to anus), makes the ratio 11-12 to 1, right in line with humans being a frugivore/herbivore…

    PPS. Paleo advocates always point out that humans aren’t herbivores since we don’t have hind guts and don’t chew cud like cows, per se… and that fiber isn’t a nutrient to humans and can’t be digested, thereby somehow boasting their debunking arguemnts… NEWSFLASH… FIBER ISN’T MEANT TO BE USED AS NUTRITION IN A HUMAN DIET.. IT’S MEANT FOR BOWEL SWEEP AND INTESTINAL BULK FOR BOWEL MOVEMENTS, and to a lesser extent for SCFA production… geesh folks… how elementary can we be in these base arguments… if Mark would debate me, as a former bodybuilder of 15 years and also a former raw foodist/vegan, etc, I have all aspects in experience and can argue all sides with facts, not emotion or bias, I could refute all arguments used in this 2-part series by him that meat eating is normal/necessary/required by humans..

    Lee wrote on December 28th, 2009
  14. My Analysis of True Human Nutrition

    This is my analysis of nutrition and why I no longer believe that Raw Vegan is best:

    Where do I start?? At this point I feel I need to post an essay on everything I’ve come to understand about nutrition, if even one person gets it, it will be worthwhile. Let me start by saying, I am no one. I have no qualifications other than being a certified personal trainer. Everything I’m about to tell you will be straight up, with no BS. If you or your kid benefits from me writing this than I’ll happily take the time to write every word carefully. I am a martial artist of the most honest kind, my goal is to see things with unbiased eyes. Last spring I started my raw food adventure and it has been interesting, to say the least. My desire to be a great athlete and the best martial artist of the 21st century sparked my strong interest in nutrition. So far I have spent about 300hrs researching nutrition and health. Just reading, learning and testing everything I can. I don’t have kids yet, just to be clear. In the thread, I meant to say, if I did have kids, I wouldn’t feed them raw vegan. My goal last spring, was to figure out, “what should I eat?” and also, “what is the natural diet of he human animal?”. Now finally in the last few months I really started to piece it together. (Of course there will always be evolution and more to learn/unlearn).

    Most of my information as been drawn from 4 general sources: athlete diets, Paleolithic diets, raw vegan diets, and scientific papers. My aim is to achieve great health. I am really only concerned with health vs. non-health. I am not concerned with vegan vs. non-vegan OR raw vs. non-raw, that is why you can trust that I am telling you what I believe is healthiest, period. I have found it is best to leave the philosophy in the books and just concentrate on what you need to do. Please keep this point in mind, I can’t stress this enough, philosophy and health don’t always mix well.

    Luckily for us the human being is the most adaptive animal the world has ever seen. Just going by anatomy comparisons alone it appears as though the human is slightly more carnivorous than the chimpanzee (whom we do share approx. 98.2% of our physical makeup (suggested by our slightly less volumeous and shorter digestive system and larger brain). You may or may not know that the chimpanzee generally eats approximately 5% of its foods from animal sources. This is not insignificant! In fact as far as primates are concerned scientists put us on the borderline between a frugivore (fruit is a staple), and a faunivore (animal foods are a staple). This has been beneficial to humans because it has allowed us to draw on a large range of foods and live in a large range of climates (even if our lifestyle was not optimal, we could still survive).
    Refer to this scientific paper for more info:
    I hope this is enough to convince you that humans are indeed non-vegan by nature’s standards, like it or not.

    What I suggest as an approximately “ideal” diet;
    (By volume or approximate servings)

    Raw Fruit 50%, but 30%-60% is the general range

    Raw Vegetables 35%, but 20%-50% is the general range
    (at least 50% being greens)

    Raw Nuts, seeds, meat, eggs, insects 15%, but 5%-30% is the general range

    These suggestions are based on my research and interpretation of science.

    Specialty Diet Comparisons: The Raw Vegan diet and the Paleolithic Diet

    While I admire the simplicity and brilliance of both diets, it seems that advocates of both camps, “can’t see the forest for the trees”. Touching on anatomy again, the comparison of digestive system length to diet composition, would require a continuum chart. Generally speaking the mammals with the shortest digestive systems (cats) eat mostly meats while the animals with the longest digestive systems (herbivores like cows) eat mostly green plants and leaves. Fruit lies in the middle of this continuum. I like to use this fact to point out flaws in the Paleolithic diets that advocate low sugar and fruit and excessive meat and vegetable intake. Few animals eat heavily from both the vegetable and meat category. Anatomy comparisons do not support this. Pros of the Paleolithic diet include fat soluble nutrients and others from animal sources. Examples may include Vitamin A (retinol), Vitamin D, Vitamin K, EFAs, cholesterol and B12. Also there are a few others that are more available from animal sources, such as zinc and iron. Another pro of this diet (but only when alkaline body chemistry exists) is extreme hard tissue strength of bones and teeth. It is possible, using raw animal products to heal cavities and teeth enamel. Luckily we as humans can draw on alternative sources of these nutrients, in fact our unique makeup allows us to draw on two or more unique sources of many nutrients. The con of the Paleolithic diet is that it lacks the soft tissue regeneration capabilities of the raw vegan diet and the other legendary benefits(picture a wrinkly 60 year old tribesman). This diet could benefit from more fruit. Another con is the availability of safe and healthy sources of animal foods in our western society. As I’ll mention later, I’ve successfully added raw organic eggs to my diet, with no ill effects.

    But I can get all those nutrients from plant sources?
    While you probably can (at least somewhat), obtain all these nutrients from plant sources. These particular nutrients are better obtained from animal sources for the same reason that carbohydrates are better obtained from fruits instead of grains. Since you need to obtain your energy from sugars one way or another, it is more efficient to obtain them from fruits instead of grains because there is less conversion required. The same will go for vitamin A, K, EFA’s, B12, Iron and Zinc from animal sources, its just easier. The conversion of beta carotene to vitamin A is a lengthy process. Vitamin B12 eh? The info on this vitamin is mixed at best. All B12 is originally produced by bacteria. Supposedly these bacteria live inside the body but presumably not in the area of the intestines where the vitamin is absorbed. Whether this is true or not, I cannot say. I would suspect that this bacteria will grow more prolifically in the intestines of a person who is eating only natural foods and following food combining rules. However I’ve read, some raw vegan fed apes that live in zoos will develop b12 deficiency.

    The Raw Vegan diet is great but unfortunately it is a fad. It wont stay popular forever, how can it, it lacks significant contributors to healthy human nutrition. Believe me I wish the whole deal about humans being true vegans was true, I really wish it was, I don’t really enjoy eating animal foods, but it simply isn’t true. That is just dogma, based on philosophy, which is man made. Nature doesn’t believe in philosophy, it simply is what it is. The pros of this diet are the high water content, the one step nutrition (fruit more efficient than grains, energy wise), the very low toxicity levels (allowing the body to clean and heal from degenerative diseases), and its correction of body chemistry (helps you become alkaline again). It is very high in antioxidants, phytochemicals and its soft tissue (skin and organ) regeneration capabilities are tremendous. The cons of this diet are the lack of fat soluble vitamins from animal sources. Another con is it does not follow the true way of nature, which may ultimately result in “hitting the wall” that some raw vegans experience. There are likely many more micro-nutrients that we are unaware of at this time. I would not reasonably suggest avoiding an entire food group that is part of your natural diet. This may explain David Zane Mason’s blood test (slightly low in vit A and D, even though he eats plenty of beta carotene and lives in Florida?) This is just an idea only, and may or may not be the case.

    This is from Storm’s Blog:
    “But now after over thirty years I find myself besieged on all sides by intolerable food and drug cravings. I’m experiencing a level of agony that I never experienced up until now. When I first started I never experienced what is commonly known as detox. It did take a certain amount of discipline to change life long eating habits. But right from the start I was so excited by the incredible results until I was just swept away by the momentum of the discovery of a new frontier.”

    One would assume that after thirty years that he wouldn’t have food cravings unless something was missing…? Just a thought. As far as kids are concerned, my readings suggest that it is more critical for children to include the fat soluble vitamins as they are still developing. This is especially true for their teeth and bone health. If your kid is experiencing tooth decay, than steadily increase animal sources of the nutrients I mentioned while making sure to include ample vegetables for minerals. Increase until the tooth decay stops. Toothy decay should not take place if the diet is good. Adults are more in a maintenance state. Therefore many adults will succeed and many will fail on a raw vegan diet depending on each individuals own deficiencies and health conditions. That is why you must do what works for you. This is the recipe for strong teeth and bones in kids and adults:

    Fat soluble vitamins from animal sources +
    alkaline body chemistry+
    lots of minerals from veggies= strong bones and no cavities

    It is interesting to note that the International Natural Hygiene society no longer promotes the original raw vegan diet advocated by their founder Dr. Herbert Shelton because too many of their clients and advocates have developed deficiencies.
    Interestingly the diet that I suggest is similar to the Instincto-omnivorous diet on this page. Shelton was a genius and brilliant logician but he was too philosophical in my opinion, that was ironically his greatest asset and downfall.

    The Primal diet: my dietary strategy
    What to do? I feel it is best, since neither raw vegan nor Paleolithic diets hold an entirely accurate view of reality. To combine the two in a way that works best for you, philosophy be damned! You have to do what is best for your personal health regardless of what certain people may think. This diet I will call your Primal diet. This diet you must make your own and you must combine everything you know and feel to obtain optimum physical health and mental health. Take into consideration your current health, ethnic background, and mental preferences. Your diet must possess the openness of flexibility or else, like the stiff tree in the storm, it will break. Your goal should be to obtain the benefits of both diets with the cons of neither. For instance, I don’t believe generally that supplements are healthy because you shouldn’t eat things that aren’t food, but in some cases they might be helpful. Same with dairy, it is obviously not a natural food for humans. Why would an animal use the milk of another animal?? However some peoples have traditionally used raw grass fed milk from cows with no ill health effects. This is why I say take into consideration your ethnic background, for instance, if your oriental, you might consider keeping some rice in your diet. No one can say for sure what will work best for you. If you genuinely follow your intention to be healthy than you must be flexible, without philosophy, and eventually you will find your own primal diet, and then your optimum nutrition will be guaranteed. I am personally just getting started on this path, and it is exciting and liberating. In my own diet I decided to only add 4 things to my un-supplemented raw vegan diet. I added raw eggs from organic free range hens, cod liver oil because it is extremely high in Vitamin A, D and EFA’s, brown rice and millet. I added the grains because I like them and they helped me stop yo-yoing on and off raw. While they may not technically be optimal on paper, they are optimal for me because I was able to stabilize my eating patterns. More research needs to be done, because there is something in animal foods that our bodies just like to have, plain and simple, that is why I added the eggs. I also added them because I don’t know where to buy healthy meat around here and I don’t feel like eating raw meat or insects, but technically we should be able to eat them if there is nothing wrong with them. Let me tell you right now that the difference between factory farmed animal foods and healthy organic properly fed animal foods is like the difference between SAD eaters and raw vegans. Treat your animal foods like raw nuts, you obviously don’t want to eat to much. Remember products from healthy animals are not necessarily bad for you! It comes down to what is the diet that your body is adapted for. Humans have made use of cooked foods for 1 million years or so. Is this long enough to adapt to cooked foods? I do not know. Ancient tribes made use of what foods they had available to them , this often included more animal foods than was optimal for pure health. But this has caused the human race to adapt even further to animal foods, there was no vegan tribes. This is another reason to not avoid this food group because we have adapted to it, at least to a certain degree. Probably if we only ate grains for a million years, than a million years from now it would be unhealthy to eat a diet that does not include grain. To summarize, the point I’m trying to make here is that you have to consider what your body is adapted to and I’m advising you to disregard the clear cut rules, if you listen to both your body and mind, you’ll know what direction to take.

    The Workoutman

    Lee wrote on December 28th, 2009
    • So many errors in this, where to begin… Tool making is a cultural practice, period. It has nothing to do with evolving to eat more meat. Tool making can be used for many different things, tool making is not a biological natural replacement for hunting down meat. Tool making is an idea that came into existence through our large brain. Our brain can be used as an anatomical comparison between species but tool making is in no way compared to a cats sharp claws that are given to it through biological processes.

      It’s just ridiculous to use evolutionary biology to make your point then tell the readers that tool making is similar to sharp claws and fangs of a lion. There is a huge difference! Humanity’s tools are a result of culture not biology. If it was so natural to use tools to hunt down and kill animals every human being would have the desire to do just that. Many human beings do not want to kill and eat animals and that is not just for moral reasons. It simply isn’t appealing. How many cats would be against eating raw meat from a freshly killed animal? I have no desire to create a tool or buy a tool to kill an animal then use another tool to gut or skin the animal. A cat wouldn’t think twice about eating a freshly hunted animal nor would an omnivorous bear. If meat eating was so healthy for humans you would think a larger portion of humans would be evolved to have the instincts to kill the animal and eat it more immediately without adding seasoning or cooking. So many so called meat eaters do so only when the meat is altered by heat or preservatives. Claws and sharp teeth are used to tear open flesh and help carnivores and omnivores obtain their food. They don’t need to create anything outside of their own bodies to help them hunt down food. If we are so highly evolved to eat meat and it was truly much more healthy for us, as many of the comments on this page are stating, then we would evolve to make meat eating much more efficient. Human beings wouldn’t have flat molars, small mouth openings, weak jaws, carbohydrate digesting enzymes, higher pH levels when food enters the stomach, smaller stomachs, the inability to detoxify vitamin A, flat nails, softer teeth and on and on…

      I find it funny that you use comparative anatomy in part of your argument and call raw vegans dishonest when we tell you how much human beings differ from carnivores. If meat were the preferred source of nutrition for human beings, you would think that our biology would come at least a little close to carnivores but this is not the case. In fact lets use your example of the small intestines. While human beings have smaller intestines than most herbivores on average, we have much larger small intestines than both carnivores and herbivores. We are much closer to herbivores in terms of stomach capacity(carnivores and omnivores have 3 times larger stomachs as a percentage of digestive tract volume) and intestinal length yet you claim that our intestinal length proves somehow that we are more omnivore than herbivore.

      And while you are being intellectually honest with the readers you should include that most raw food eaters against meat eating are not saying human beings are herbivores but instead frugivores. This is important as this is a completely different classification. Do us one better and compare our anatomy to the frugivorous chimpanzees rather than herbivores. Because that is what we are, frugivores. We are not herbivores, omnivores or carnivores, we are frugivores. Fruits have much less cellulose than vegetables, making fruits the easiest food to digest for human beings. You will find that our anatomy to the chimps is nearly identical. By the way chimps only eat meat because of cultural reasons, it has nothing to do with a natural instinct to eat meat. Jane Goodall, the famous researcher on chimpanzees, emphasizes that not all chimps eat meat and the few that do, only do so to gain sexual favors from female chimps.

      Human beings have a large brain this is true but why do you think it was evolved in large part from eating meat? Where is the proof of our brain becoming more complex from eating meat? This is a silly notion that meatarians always throw out there with zero evidence. Do you have fossil records that prove this because I can come up with plenty of fossil dentition records that prove that prehistoric man was a fruit eater. There have been carnivores eating meat and animal fat much longer than human beings, how are there not more intelligent carnivores? The human brain is powered by glucose, blood sugar, not from fatty acids. The most intelligent creatures besides human beings eat mostly fruit so why is meat the key to brain power?

      Just because many people choose to eat meat does not make it the best choice. With our large brains often brings many social problems that human beings struggle with. One is the diet, if you simply look at physiology there is no argument. What digests the fastest and best on an empty stomach when a human eats? Fruit! This is a fact easily proven by human digestive biochemistry.

      Guest wrote on April 11th, 2010
  15. Regardless of our physical evolutionary history, humans do not require meat to maintain a nutritious diet.

    “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”

    Joel wrote on May 29th, 2010
  16. I am a vegetarian and I will not argue with what is said in this argument. Meat eating is as natural to us as anything else. However, these days with such an abundance and diversity of nutritious fruits and vegetables, it is possible to get all you need for your body without eating meat.

    I am an environmental and ethical vegetarian. If more meat was locally and humanely raised I would probably eat it. Factory farms (which is where the majority of supermarket meat comes from) is one of the largest polluting industries in the world. For me that is enough to chose a vegetarian lifestyle. To each his own.

    I hate the vegetarian arguments given here as much as you do. They are unintelligent. I accept that meat eating is natural, but I also acknowledge that you can be healthy and not eat meat. Great article!

    John wrote on November 25th, 2010
  17. What is the natural diet of humans? The natural diet for human have always been to eat whatever we found. If it didn’t killed us then we would eat it again. Does that mean those food are all ideal food for us? NO!

    Sure we can eat meat, survive and still be healthy that way… does that mean we’re carnivore or omnivore? NO! If you think it does then you would agree that cow are naturally carnivore since we feed them dead cow carcass. We’re feeding them grains (not grass, I’m talking about conventionnal meat here) and powdered cows carcass. Sure they can live all they’re live on that diet. But that doesn’t mean it’s natural for them, I think everyone is intelligent enough to understand that right?

    Some scientist tried to fed rabbit with meat, we’ll all agree that rabbit are natural herbivore. Those rabbits have been able to eat a 100% carnivore diet. The only problem they’ve found (it was not a long term research) is that the rabbits became really agressive and started attacking other rabbits(that remind me of the monkeys who kill other monkey an then eat them).

    Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying meat can’t be eaten. It can be a usefull food. If you’re trying to survive or you’re starving, you should definitely eat it if you find some. Is it natural? Yes there’s nothing more natural than the will to survive. Is it the healthiest option… absolutely not! (well it is if it’S the only one other than you stool)

    The question should not be what is the natural diet of man, because we can’t answer that precisely. Our ancestor ate what was in their environement, it didn’t mean it was the best for them. The food avalaible is not the same everywhere too, so it make it unreliable to eat according to what our ancestor eat… because the truth is they probably each ate very differently than other depending on where they where.

    The real question should be what’s ideal to us? That an individual question that have no answer perfect for everyone. It depends on many factors like you sex, age, level of activities, health challenges if you have them, so on and so on.

    My opinion is that the ideal diet should be based on green leafy vegetable (look at any forest and tell me what you see the most… green leaf!), berries mostly and other fruits, water (obviously!) and a source of fat. This can be nuts, seeds, fatty fruit (avocado, olives, etc..) or meat (fish preferably). That’s the essential part that everyone needs to have. Starting from that you could add algae and seaweed, mushrooms, roots, grasses, herbs, dairy product, legumes, grains, eggs and even insects. Those are not essential but still can be usefull.

    I think we should take that and find what work for us with our experience instead of following dogmas. If you don’t want to eat meat and animal product that’s fine you don’t need to. If you want to that’s fine to but don’t impose your dogma on others, you can still be healthy without meat (or dairy and eggs) vegetarians and vegan are actually much healthier than meat eaters don’t forget that.

    Seb wrote on January 8th, 2011
  18. EveryBODY has different dietary needs! Some people need more meat than others. I for one, need very little. My hubby on the other hand, needs meat every day. Everyone needs to do what’s right for them, no amount of arguing will determine what’s right for everybody. It is such a personal subject and that’s why everyone gets all worked up about it. It’s like arguing what color something is, when we all see colors differently. Check out the Blood Type Diets from Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo, so interesting! The book is called Eat Right 4 Your Type. I’ve been on it for half a year and all my health issues are gone! I was eating way too many animal products and my body just couldn’t handle it. I’m 90% vegan now but will never ever give up meat. There are way too many important reasons to eat meat.

    Tiina McKay wrote on February 2nd, 2011
  19. I have just found this site from google. When I was back home in Kenya and I asked my mum what was for supper, she said either ‘rice’ or ‘potatoes’ or ‘beans’ etc but after moving to the UK, it became ‘lamb’ or ‘chicken’, you get the picture. 20 pounds heavier and I’m suddenly supposed to blame carbs for my weight problem?? Come on! In Kenya we all know that it’s the rich city folk who can afford to eat meat every day that get gout and diabetes, if it was the carbs then most Africans would be diabetic! No no no no and no! I don’t buy it.

    Alms wrote on April 29th, 2011
  20. Here’s a fun fact. Einstein was a vegetarian! Yet his brain has been preserved and I’m sure being compared with our carnivorous predecessors.

    Jen wrote on May 2nd, 2011
  21. Mark

    As much as I appreciate the argument that we should not eat as much sugar or carbohydrates as we do. The argument about eating as much meat as your book suggest does not stand. Our anatomy is just not build for it. The implementation of tools does not explain the abundance of our flat teeth and long intestines, both build for eating veggies. Please expand!

    Jessica wrote on September 9th, 2011
  22. Ps. I have a degree in Biology.

    Jessica wrote on September 9th, 2011
  23. Pps. I don’t mean to dish you. I bought your book and have been following it for two weeks now. I feel like super woman and look like it. My stubborn belly fat is gone and I can’t wait to see my abs.

    But it does seem too good to be true.

    Jessica wrote on September 9th, 2011

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