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

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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171 thoughts on “In Defense of Meat Eaters, Part 1: The Evolutionary Angle”

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  1. Don’t forget that we also have canine teeth – albeit, not like wolves or big cats, but they are there for a reason and are quite useful in tearing up a good, juicy steak!

      1. Gorillas most certainly do not hunt meat! Primate canines are not functional except as sexual and aggressive displays. Humans do not have enlarged canines.

        1. using gorillas as an example of primates with canines that do not eat meat is debatable, at best. an article in National Geographic, for instance, takes up this very question.

          one must also recall that we [humans] did not evolve from gorillas, but that both humans and gorillas evolved from a common, and very probably omnivorous, primate ancestor. chimps have been well documented as voracious hunters and eaters of meat when they so desire.

          all primates, from our current lineage back through the fossil record of primates that have been discovered so far, show signs of some vestige of carnivorous activity.

          it is probably safe to refer to humans as opportunistic omnivores, but to claim that humans as a species are supposed to be herbivores goes against everything we know of our own evolution.

    1. but if we are sophisticated modern humans, we lack the instinct to kill and eat animals. if we were real carnivores we wouldnt turn up our nose at fresh roadkill, or eating the family pet.

      hahahahaha roflmao. that always gets me as the first deer I ate was hit by a car in front of me and left with a broken leg. I cut it’s throat, threw it in the back and brought it home to cut up. have eaten good softshell turtle and rattlesnake as fresh roadkill, but never hunted them. and yes I have no qualms eating dog or bunny or goldfish or any other “pet”.

      I like the subtle subtext they use: if I eat raw meat and pets and roadkill, I must not be a sophisticated modern human. this particular argument is unfalsifiable.

      1. oops, above post was not meant to be a reply. anyway, about teeth.

        I find the best use of my back “herbivore” teeth is for crunching bones and exoskeletons so they dont have anymore sharp edges, as well as grinding up animal skin and gristle into swallowable chunks. funny how the “herbivore adaptation” often cited by veg heads helps to get the most nutrients out of animal parts.

        1. Well… the more you kill the easier and more natural it becomes. When was the last time anyone here cried over killing a mosquito that landed on him or her? I have no hunting experience, so I can’t speak for that, but I’ve had no problems with fishing. I think we have a more powerful subconscious mental block against killing other humans but different species is easier. The more alike to us something appears, the harder, at first, it will be to willfully kill such as another mammal (as compared to a fish). Primal man would’ve been far more accustomed to killing compared to us sheltered modern folk.

    2. “Tool-making and large brains are as much an inseparable part of humanity as claws and fangs are of lions.”

      There seems to be some looping logic here. Many papers say we developed large brains BECAUSE we ate meat. This guy is saying we have large brains to make tools to capture the meat to eat. Which one came first? If we had smaller brains we couldn’t capture meat because we were dumb and couldn’t make tools. We certainly didn’t/don’t have body features to capture any meat like a lion. We can’t rely on any physical attributes to capture meat.

      1. Environmental pressures forced us to search out new food (meat). We did not have the natural tools (claws) for it. We (meaning homo habilis) had to either die, or pick up a sharp rock to slice the meat free and escape scavengers. Many probably did die, but it just required *one* to figure out the sharp rock and get the meat, others just copy behavior. After that brains get rapidly bigger and jaw/gut gets smaller, it’s all about energy dense easy to digest food (meat).

        It’s not hard, but there is a slight “chicken or egg”. How did we get smart enough to use the rock without the meat first? The answer is necessity is the mother of invention. Those who didn’t figure it out are not in our blood line.

          1. Inconveniently, the evolutionary processes of all the species that make tools (and all that are on Earth now), haven’t “started” and “finished” at the same point in time, so we can judge how far they went with their tool making.

  2. “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.”

    I don’t disagree with this assessment, but the issue at hand is the question Is killing animals for food wrong or not? That is a moral question and if you take a side one way or the other, with a commitment to avoid appeals to emotion, then you are necessarily committing yourself to some objective view of morality. And I’m not so sure there is one. After all what argument against killing people at random does not, strictly speaking, appeal to emotion? Rather than shooting down simpleminded arguments used by some anti meat eaters, you need to begin by establishing and defending this objective basis for morality, in my opinion.

    Most sophisticated anti meat eaters will argue along the lines that the business of morality is all about improving conditions for happiness and flourishing and ameliorating suffering. Animals clearly have a capacity to suffer, therefore causing them unnecessary suffering is wrong. I tend to agree with this basic view of morality. But I don’t see it as an argument against eating meat, I see it as an argument in favor of eating meat raised and slaughter in the most humane way reasonably possible.

    1. True, the moral question is not so easy to tackle on objective grounds alone. But the issue at hand here was explicitly the arguments from human evolution, leaving other arguments (including perhaps the moral question, though it is a bit off-topic for this site) for a later post.

    2. InviQtus: I am a vegan to. I agree with that it is all about a subjective moral choice that meat-eaters and vegans make.

      But your last sentence could have some more arguments. You say:
      “I tend to agree with this basic view of morality. But I don’t see it as an argument against eating meat, I see it as an argument in favor of eating meat raised and slaughter in the most humane way reasonably possible.”

      I also agree with this basic and simple view of morality. But I DO see it as an argument in favor of NOT eating meat.
      Why: because I am vegan for more then 10 years and I am extremely healthy and I even compete in amateur boxing. also there are societies that are vegan/vegetarian for many centuries and proven to be very healthy. So one can conclude that we do not need meat.
      And slaughtering an animal: there is always a change that it is accompanied with suffering. statistically if 7 billion people eat meat: it is IMPOSSIBLE TO PREVENT animal suffering. so logically speaking if we can agree to the basic view of morality (that we want to prevent suffering) we can not slaughter animals for meat.

      So your logic had it almost right, but not entirely.

  3. Great post, Mark. Those chimps are intense!

    People always point out that apes are herbivores, and that we do not, at first glance, seem carnivorous at all.

    In one of your rebuttals to this, you touched on my favorite argument for meat consumption: The human digestive system.

    One of the most intriguing arguments is to tell them that the only reason we evolved bigger brains in the first place is because our intestines became smaller with the introduction of meat. You know, Kleiber’s law and all that.

    1. Chimps also hold little sticks in an ant trail or ant pile…letting them crawl up the stick. Once enough are on the stick the chimp licks the stick like we lick a straw…and the ants are gone:)

      Ants-on-a-stick! delicious….

  4. Would there be any pigs left in the world if people didn’t eat them? What else are pigs good for? If we didn’t eat pigs, they would go extinct. Do vegetarians want that on their conscience?

    1. Au contraire!

      The pigs from the first Spanish settlers in Florida still have descendants running around. Texas has more wild boars than any other state. In both states they are considered nuisances because of the environmental damage to native animals.

      1. And my husband and I plan to put several of those nuisances in our freezer after a week-long hunting trip near Eagle Pass. Grocery store pork doesn’t hold a candle to these IMO.

      2. Biblical food laws considered them an environmental nuisance to pretty much everything.

        If you haven’t watched competitive Catahoula breeders hiding from PETA in remote, wooded locales in Texas, training their dogs to control a wild boar -you haven’t li- well, you probably still had a life. Just with fewer gory photographs documenting the injuries to the dogs.

  5. Great post! I am definately going to share this with my vegetarian friends :). You couldn’t have said it better.

  6. “And so, it’s not that we were ‘meant’ to eat meat. It’s simply that we evolved eating meat.”

    I think this gets to the crux of the real argument. Most vegans (esp. raw dieters) would say if we weren’t meant to eat meat, then we shouldn’t if other sources are available. Killing animals with tools and cooking them is not the same as killing them with our hands/teeth (or scavanging for them) and eating whole chunks of flesh raw. The extremists would say the best diet tactic is throw out your stove. Blah blah blah. The debate will go on forever.

    I guess if we have gluten, nut, egg, dairy, and/or fructose allergies, we should just die off. Not sure how moral that stance is.

    Come to think of it, is there such a thing as a meat allergy?

    Honestly, I think for the most part man has been adapting food to him, rather than adapting to food. Cooking meat is part of this, but so is modifying and distributing fruits and vegetables from their original wild form. And with the intro of grains, everything is now thrown completely out of whack.

    In any case, what we are meant to eat or not based on someone’s chosen point in history is almost irrelevant today–from a nutritional and moral point of view.

    However, if we are finding sickness and disease are becoming more prevalent in society, we should at least begin to look at that newcomer called grains, rather than excuse it.

    1. Some of the common ancestors of humans and other primates seem to have evolved to eat meat, and it is speculated that this could have led to bigger brains and longer lives.

      However, about 2.2 million years ago, our ancestors lost the ability to properly metabolize Neu5Gc, which is very high in red meat. Neu5Gc causes acute inflammation in humans, and we are the only species of primate that does not produce it endogenously.

      Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the Mediterranean diet seems to work so well. The Mediterranean diet is low in red meat and contains a moderate amount of fish. Fish is low in Neu5Gc.

      So my guess is that our ancestors did evolve to eat meat which led to bigger brains and longer lives, as the Paleo diet claims, however we later switched away from a meat-centered diet and yet kept the evolutionary gifts from our brutish past.

      1. Did you ignore these parts of the article:

        ‘Prof Varki stresses, however, that “we have not proven any link to disease, just suggested that it is something to explore”.’

        That’s good, because I’d like to see the explanation for why the Inuit, some of whom subsisted mostly on caribou (i.e. red meat), were never observed to have developed significant amounts of heart disease, or any other disease of civilization until they switched from traditional to Western diets.

        ‘They found that we are the only primates whose bodies do not produce Neu5Gc – although further research established that our Neanderthal cousins were missing this version of the sugar acid, too.’

        Note: Neanderthals were purely carnivorous, and likely did not eat much fish.

        Also, as far as I know, homo sapiens did not begin to eat seafood until relatively recently, much later than 2.2 Ma. Also, the Mediterranean diet is not uniquely healthful; in most prospective trials, IIRC, it does slightly worse than a standard low-carb diet on markers of health.

      2. Also, we did not evolve eating just the red meat anyways. Why throw away all the bone marrow (bone marrow has the correct balance of ALL minerals to neutralize ph btw), soft cartilage, eyeballs, heart, liver, brain?

        A balanced carnivorous diet would include most everything of an animal.

        Central Europe has wild boar, deer, used to have elk, different breeds of rabbits (Kaninchen, Feldhase, etc..), wild turkey, brown trout, probably salmon, other little fish, beaver, squirrel, reindeer up north, and the organs and bone marrow of all the above.

        It takes only small amounts of plant matter as in little parsley to counter the slight acidic effects of RAW meat…kinda like what dogs do to balance ph. Plus there were no super clean kitchens, meat was dragged through dirt and clay which is loaded with minerals, which can only turned into chelated minerals through saturated fat! Dirt has a highly alkaline ph.

        We humans chelate rock minerals through saturated animal fats! Now if that isn’t proof enough I don’t know what is.
        Also, plant matter has K1…which is turned into the bio-available K2 through an herbivores digestive system and deposited in various areas in the body e.g. glands.
        Humans can barely turn K1 into K2, much of it is lost. You’d have to graze ALL day forever to turn enough K1 into K2 to sustain perfect health.
        What more proof do we need.

    2. Those allergies are mostly a result of the way we eat and produce foods. Take brazil nut for example, some time ago almost nobody was allegic to it, but since it contain GMO alot of people became allegic to it!

      Gluten, dairy, and fructose aren’t allegies (exept when you absorp the protein (when you don’t break don’t those protein into amino acids)) they’re food intolerence or digestive problems.

  7. This is just awesome; I love it.

    You’re dead-on when you talk about the growing bias against meat-eating, especially in our touchy-feely, divorced from nature society. (I’ve got nothing against being touchy-feely, by the way; just noting that “sensitive” is now often equated with “weak”, and how much we’ve lost touch with the facts of the natural order.) When I tell people I eat meat, I always hold my breath, waiting for the looks of disdain, because of all the times I’ve been judged by ill-informed vegetarians. Isn’t that cracked?

    I’m definitely looking forward to the sequels to this post.

  8. I’ve found that presenting facts to vegetarians doesn’t work. They argue from an emotional slant, and you can introduce all the facts that you want, but you an’t overcome the fact that they’ve fallen for the “cute factor” of animals, and that’s why they don’t eat them. They’re just too darn cute. They’re many times PETA members, and don’t get me started on them! I got an email from their fearless leader once after posing a (politely worded) question, and her response dripped in self-righteousness. I let my energy and body speak for me now. A picture (or live body) is worth a thousand words.

      1. None needed, I tell vegans I’m a member of PETA, “People Eating Tasty Animals” that is. They usually politely end the conversation!

    1. I’m a vegetarian and I feel like the way you are speaking about vegetarians and rude and offensive and I never speak this way about people who choose to eat meat. I personally choose not to eat meat for many reasons. I think that the way may meat is produced now is so wrong its not even funny and believe that we eat TOO much meat in modern times, too much for the planet to handle. I also do not eat flesh for moral reasons. But I have not fallen for the “cute factor” of animals. I just feel that we do not NEED meat, but can eat it if we choose. I am an educated vegetarian and know that meat has been integral to our evolution but regardless would never eat it. I think you should re-evaluate your view of vegetarians and vegans.

    2. Oh, and I cannot stand PETA, and cannot stand that people seem to believe they are the spokespeople for ALL vegetarians and vegans, they’re not. You’ll find that most educated vegetarians and vegans do not endorse PETA as well.

    3. Ok. I’ not power from emotions. I adopted a vegetarian diet for health reasons. I arrived at 50, not overweight. I’ve been exercising non stop all my life from the age of 6, swimmers from primary school up to college, then later I picked up weight training and running. I’ve been running every week for the past 25 years and lifting. Again I was never overweight and never smoked. Last year my cholesterol was 260. I brought it down to 137 by giving up all animal products. I will not have the arrogance to tell my doctor and the medical establishment that his education is bullshit and that actually cholesterol level don’t matter. In the same way I will believe specialist in aeronautics when they build planes that I trust to take, I will trust the world medical establishment that tells me that my cholesterol level should be lower than 180. I think you see my point. I simply can’t go around in my life doubting the knowledge of each specialist in their respective field. It’s not practical. I believe it when physicists tell me the speed of light is 300 000 kms/second, I don’t know and don’t have time to verify it. So, I’m going to assume that my cholesterol at 260 was bad. Do yo have any suggestion why, if I’m coming from a meat eating creature, I developped hight cholesterolemy? After removing all meat, I bench press the same, run better. I understand the B12 argument, but what should I do? Stop eating meat? Put it back in my diet? Please, help? I’ve also learnt that cats and dogs can’t be used in lab experiments to develop plaque in their arteries, but rabbits and humans and other non meat eaters can. So please, help me here. I do miss meat, but I don’t want to kill myself before the age of 60 and I wont’ take lipitor, dont’ like the list of side effect? What’s a guy like me to do?

  9. I think there’s a lot of vegetarians that actually frequent this site and other paleo blogs. I think vegetarianism is a lot of things to a lot of people. For some of us it is thousands of years of cultural and religious tradition not some new trend of the decade. So it’s going to be really hard to argue with someone’s religion, I mean whole wars fought over that kind of stuff.

    One of the problems I have with other vegetarians, or vegetarian options at a restaurant, is trying to get enough protein in my meal. I’m not sure why this is the case, but every vegetarian meal (outside of an Indian restaurant) is nothing but starch. India might not have the best dietary track record, but at least as a culture that has had a number of vegetarians for thousands of years and the heavy reliance on lentils helps the protein needs. It’s unfortunate that even my recently turned vegetarian friends haven’t figured out how easy (and tasty) lentils can be.

    Mark, since your family used to be mostly vegetarian I assume you share this observation? What kind of dietary advice do you have for vegetarians like these to increase protein intake? In India the majority of vegetarians do not consume eggs (as these are considered meat) but do consume dairy, and a large amount of lentils (masoor, channa, etc.)

      1. “And so, it’s not that we were “meant” to eat meat. It’s simply that we evolved eating meat. ”

        Hey Mark, did you ever study Evolutionary Biology, or read Richard Dawkins?

        You have a great grasp of how evolution actually works….

        Great post….

        as always….


    1. Grains were commonly used for religious rituals for thousands of years, too, and the Judeo-Christian bible, to pick just one example, mentions grains and grain-based foods (i.e. bread) many times. The eating of grain is undoubtedly an older practice than vegetarianism is in H. sapiens, as far as that goes.

      Also, are you intimating that one should never argue against a religious position simply because wars have been fought over religion? So, basically, I’m not allowed to argue against stoning children or slavery because the Torah/Old Testament (whatever you want to call it) mentions such practices as being permissible in certain situations? Nevermind eating shellfish or pork…

      1. You are free to argue, but I think when things come to religious principles you have to accept that your arguments may fall on deaf ears. Religion doesn’t really exist in the realm of logic, so logically arguments won’t work for a lot of people if that is their primary motivation.

        1. Oh, personally, I’m totally fine with vegetarianism for religious/cultural reasons (and, incidentally, vegetarianism amongst those with a distaste for meat.) I just don’t think those are reasonable arguments in favor of vegetarianism, just like religious prescriptions for meat-eating (or a taste for meat) would not be valid arguments for carnivory/omnivory. Misunderstanding on my part 🙂

      2. Grains were actually God’s punishment when Adam and Eve were cast out of The Garden of Eden and had to fend for themselves

        1. Hey Ric I found this statement about grains being part of God’s punishment for Adam & Eve fascinating, can you follow up with more info or suggested reading? Thanks

  10. Life forms eating other life forms is how capital-l Life continues itself. As far as I can tell, this system has been working pretty damn well for, oh, 3 billion years? 4 billion? I see no reason to mess with it.

    Anywho, here are a couple of specific evolutionary points in favor of meat eating:
    -Strictly speaking, none of the great apes (our taxonomic family) are herbivorous, as gorillas eat insects and orangutans eat insects and bird eggs. Insects are, in fact, animals, which makes all the great apes omnivorous.
    -Taurine: humans have a limited ability to produce the stuff, as do dogs, while herbivores can manufacture all the taurine they need. Cats, the strictest carnivores, famously cannot produce any taurine at all, and they will go blind and/or suffer heart problems as a result. Vegans, notably, have lower levels of taurine than the general human population. Taurine is not available, or is extremely low, in plants, but animals are rich in taurine.
    -Vitamin A: humans only have a limited capacity to convert beta carotene to vitamin A, and this varies from individual to individual to the point that certain people may have to obtain vitamin A in its final form – retinol. Retinol is, of course, only found in liver and animal fats (yolk and milkfat) because herbivores have no problems with the conversion.
    -Vitamin B12: Herbivores tend to obtain this vitamin by absorbing it through their intestinal tract or redigesting specialized feces (i.e. cecotrophy). Humans can do neither. There are no real plant sources of B12, and you’d have to ingest unreasonably large amounts of un-fortified brewer’s yeast, aka vegemite, to obtain the necessary amounts. Severe B12 deficiency will eventually lead to mental problems and death, though the symptoms may be masked for a while because the liver has large stores of the vitamin. (Not in children, though.) This is, natch, one of the more well-known (and rock solid) objections to vegetarianism, especially veganism. (By the way, eggs contain a factor that inhibits B12 absorption and milk was not available in the human diet, past childhood, until 10k years ago. But milk and eggs are animal products, last I checked, and do not come from plants. Maybe I’m wrong.)
    -There are no essential nutrients for humans, vitamin C included, that cannot be found on the carcass of an animal.
    -It’s sometimes argued that the Inuit and the Masai have some sort of “special” genetic adaptation that allowed them to live entirely on animal products. This argument is hard to take when, according to Steffanson, explorers of European, American, Polynesian, and African heritage lived with the Inuit and ate their diet in perfect health. The Plains Indians also survived for long periods of time on buffalo only, or on buffalo-derived pemmican, as did European fur traders who lived on the plains.
    -Haem iron, as opposed to non-haem iron, is only found in significant quantities in meat. The human intestinal tract has specific receptors for haem iron. If haem iron was not available in large quantities of meat during our evolution, then why would our guts have receptors exclusively intended for it?

    In short, I just can’t see that humans are herbivores if we cannot obtain, or adequately synthesize, every essential nutrient from plants. On the other hand, we CAN get all essential nutrients from animal products. Nevermind that other than regionally-specific plants (soy, quinoa) protein quantity and quality in plants is generally very poor. Humans, like dogs, seem to be digestive omnivores (dogs have similar digestive systems), but can (and sometimes must) function perfectly well on a carnivorous diet.

    1. Hey Icarus, great reply!! I just wanna point out one thing, only the egg white portion of RAW eggs has that nutrient that blocks B12 absorption. Cooking eggs, or eating only the egg yolks (cooked or raw) has none of the B12 blocking effect. Just wanted to add that, but really great reply though.

      To you Mark, and all of you as well, this is a great article with very top-notch readers. I am a long-time lurker, and this is my first time that I felt compelled to post. Great site Mark! Keep up the good work.

    2. I see what you’re trying to say. But I would like to point out that the B12 deficiency is a modern deficiency. When we were mainly plant-based hunter-gatherers we were getting plenty of B12 from running water and plants as B12 is a soil based nutrient as only bacteria can synthesise it. Now our water is treated to excess and our soils are only ever replaced with NPK so our plants are deficient in B12 and many other vitamins and minerals. Oh, and we can reabsorb B12 just like animals, but not quite as much.

      I am a vegetarian who eats a varied diet, and I have never been deficient in any nutrient, including iron, and my B12 levels are perfect, B12 can be obtained in good quantities in fermented foods. I’m not trying to go all “don’t eat meat, be a vego” on you, I don’t do that, but I feel like you’re off base with your section on B12.

    3. Of course, plants _are_ life forms, too. So much for the appeal to emotion/moral argument? This poor strawberry can’t even express its pain or try to run away!

  11. “Most sophisticated anti meat eaters will argue along the lines that the business of morality is all about improving conditions for happiness and flourishing and ameliorating suffering.”

    InviQtus, that is because most sophisticated anti meat eaters hold consequentialist views on morality, which make them subject problems like: why happiness should even be the greatest end (as apposed to beauty, love or some action being an end in itself), what if happiness of animals and humans are incommensurable (which is to say: is it actually ok for one human to die for any certain number of animals?) Also, how is it possible to determine the total net happiness? (what if conditions that seam to produce the greatest happiness today yield less in the long run?) What if we explicitly try to produce the least happiness but, by some unintended consequence yield the greatest? Does that make us right, regardless of our intentions?

  12. Neu5Gc,

    My girlfriend is Moroccan and eats red meat with her family often.

  13. I used to snicker-sneer at the herbivores often, but since reducing my meat intake tremendously, I feel better, lighter, more energetic.

    This wasn’t done purposely, just a gradual evolution once incorporating more whole grains, fruits and veggies.

    My body stopped screaming for meat as a necessity. Yet I am still carnivore, just the lighter kind.

    P.S. My husband has fangs and claws. Vampire.

  14. Keep on preaching mark! I eat this stuff up like I do bacon & eggs cooked in coconut oil!!

  15. I just tell vegetarians to watch the nature channel. Or “Survivor” right around the 2 week mark when all the contestants really get hungry, and the most ardent vegetarian, ‘girly-girl’ ends up killing a rat with a stick and eats it because self-preservation compels her to. It’s easy to be a vegetarian when you’re FULL.

    1. Regarding the “nature channel,” it’s worth noting that there are, as far as I know, no extant hunter-gatherer societies who are vegetarians.

    2. Well said! I wish I’d have thought of “it’s easy to be a vegetarian when your’re FULL”

  16. My wife’s friend has been a vegan for over 2 decades, based on not health but the unethical raising and manufacturing of animal meats. It’s a political statement (though I think it’s more a religious proclamation) against the meat industry. I respect that.

    But when she made the decision to become a vegan and for boycotting, there was not much option or easy access to responsible animal farming and husbandry as there are now. If she wants to send a message to the large-industry meat growers and manufacturers, then do so by becoming a consumer of small, local meat farmers. What a terrible waste of a powerful message otherwise.

    1. Maybe your wife’s friend doesn’t find it within her values to be a part of the slaughter of animals in general. As twisted as it is I understand your claim for her actions to be a waste of a message but she’s speaking even louder because she is boycotting the meat industry all together. Also, if you understand her reasoning for not eating meat based on the factory farming logic, then have you considered buying cruelty-free meat as well? Keep in mind though – the animals that are raised on these local farms, if in any quantity are still being sent to the same slaughterhouses that the factory-raised animals are being sent to – another horror in-and-of itself.

  17. Nice to read this with a stomach full of tasty Korean beef bbq and veggies! I look forward to part 2.

  18. “InviQtus, that is because most sophisticated anti meat eaters hold consequentialist views on morality, which make them subject problems like:…”

    Wyatt, I agree with your list of problems associated with consequentialist views of ethics. My point in mentioning it is only to show that many who are opposed to using animals for food have, if not compelling, at least less embarrassing arguments than the ones shot down in Mark’s blog post. With regard to consequentialism, though, I would say that while your objections should be kept in mind, I am unaware of any ethical theory not open to a similar host of objections. That said, we are highly social beings and we cannot maintain functional societies without a workable view on how to treat other beings effected by our actions. Consequentialism seems to me to be the most consonant with the way most thoughtful people tend to decide moral issues and the view most conducive to maintaining healthy, functional societies. (Again, though, I don’t take it to be an argument against eating meat.)

  19. “Consequentialism seems to me to be the most consonant with the way most thoughtful people tend to decide moral issues and the view most conducive to maintaining healthy, functional societies.”

    Well, I’d say that smart thieves are the very best at sorting out consequences, rather than operating from moral principles. After all, mere consequences go all ways. If mere consequences are the standard, then, consequences to whom?

    Thus, the most clever thieves can steal you blind all the while they’re making you believe that it’s to your benefit — that, or they guilt you into buying the “best for society” con and can take even more.

  20. Since I live in one of America’s most preachy-vegan-infested cities, this information is nice to have presented in a clear and concise manner. Bonus points for including phrase #1 of the top 10 phrases I never expected to see on this website… “ass to mouth.”

  21. Well, I’d like to just bring in a little theological question I have always had. Please don’t be alarmed atheists!! Only certain people believe evolution and christianity cannot co-exist, I am not one of those. It interests me however that we have evolved to eat meat, but haven’t evolved a completely ethical way of doing this. I myself am a huge meat consumer, but spent the majority of my life a vegetarian/vegan/raw vegan. When I was diagnosed with a tummy disorder raw veganism made me sicker and fatter than I have ever been, I took a metabolic test, taking my ethnicity into account (I’m American Indian) and started eating lots of meat and no dairy. I feel better, and truly feel like this way of eating is better for my body, but…if shalom is a restoration of the earth as it should be (no violence, poverty, crime etc) as we christians see it, is eating meat now as ethical as shooting someone in the name of Jesus? I’m a pacifist, and feel like that is not an area of real spiritual doubt, but the whole killing animals thing..still wondering about it. If anyone at all has anything interesting to add, feel free! I’d like to make a disclaimer that this is not about religion, I’m talking about these matters on a philosophical/ theological level.

    1. Jasetyn:

      I’ve but a simple and straightforward question: as an American Indian, why would you take up the primitive philosophy (religion) of your conquerors?

      Language is one thing, as you have to get along and that’s the only practical means of doing so, but an unnecessary thing like virile, capable American Indians who forged that land and survived on their own for tens of thousands of years bowing to a myth of a crucified Jewish man?

      It offends and disappoints even me. Stand up, Woman! For your impressive heritage!

      1. Technically Christianity is not a natural religion for anybody and it conquered everyone and every culture it touched. So really ALL of us should be praying to our “old gods” and following our pre-christian cultural traditions (many of which have carried on under our noses. one example for Northern Europeans would be Christmas (which is really the Yuletide) and Easter, both of which are pagan festivals and have nothing to do with the foreign desert religion that was imposed on us.

    2. I don’t know about Christianity, but this is how some in Judaism see it:

      I don’t think it is wrong to eat an animal if it is respected and elevated. I believe my body needs meat on a fundamental level, and I would not blame myself for eating it any more than I would blame a tiger for eating meat. The most important thing is to ensure that the animals we eat live happy, free lives and are killed as quickly and painlessly as possible.

  22. I read the Book “Born to Run” and along with stating the obvious benefits of barefoot running and why we run McDougall goes into persistance hunting performed by the Masai tribe in Africa. Then he contradicts that whole thing with saying that a vegan life is what we really should stive for…huh? I believe he got everything right in that book except the vegan part…sad!!!

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who picked up on this in the book… I’m reading it at the moment and was thoroughly confused by this. Other than that I think it’s a pretty good book.

  23. Regarding the raw meat argument I like what Don Matesz commented over at Free the Animal:

    “Just one point though, if you think it is natural to eat meat, you should eat meat like nature intended you to, raw. Just like EVERY other carnivore and omnivore.”

    Nice reasoning (sarcasm). Try this on for size:

    Just one point though, if you think it is natural to eat grains and legumes, you should eat grains and legumes like ‘nature intended you to,’ raw. Just like EVERY other gramnivore, e.g. birds.

    Joke’s on you. Humans can and do eat raw meat; but can’t eat grains raw.:

  24. I stepped into the world of eating raw meat earlier this week, and I must say it was probably THE best meal I’ve ever had. It fueled my body so perfectly. The meat was incredibly tender, I almost didn’t have to chew. Yes, there are risks, but with enough precaution I think I will continue to eat this way as often as I can. 🙂

    I <3 Meat.

  25. InviQtus, I agree with your statement and understand that you merely making observation. Utilitarianism does have an edge with most people because of its rooting in human psychology. That is to say, one can point to experiences like how,

    “… we are highly social beings and we cannot maintain functional societies without a workable view on how to treat other beings effected by our actions.”

    A question I have refers to equating usefulness with some transcendent or universal value. My questions extend to all ethical (and anti-ethical) systems. True that Mark took a swipe at popular vegetarianism. Wouldn’t you like to see him dig in against some more clever arguments of both a utilitarian and rights-based fold?

  26. “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.”

    How priceless that so many studies which blame animals fats for heart disease, etc. use rabbits as models!

    “The Vegetarian Myth” by Lierre Keith is a very good read for anyone who wants to look at the validity of vegetarianism from a political, moral or nutritional standpoint – coming straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, since Lierre was a committed vegan for 20 years before realizing it was not the answer for health, morality or the envirmonment.

    1. Elizabeth,

      that book in your hand is quite possibly the Bible of food! I just discovered it recently, and I have to say that it has changed my life immensely. Of course, I will be getting the Primal Blueprint here soon, because, well…… look what site we’re on. lol.

  27. I experienced first hand that we have to eat meat to thrive. I was a raw foodist for 7 long months and it gave me innumerable problems.

    The reason why I stuck so long on a diet that was making me weaker is because the dogma is so strong in the raw food community that you are led to believe that everything negative is detox and that you are responsible and the diet is not adjusted well enough on your part.

    The dogma is dangerous for impressionable young minds looking for an answer and my guess is that a lot of people will go far enough to induce permanent damage on their body because of the dogma.

    I discovered that I already had leaky gut problems prior to eating raw, probably from the grains, dairy, NSAIDS… I felt bad all the time so I looked for an answer and found raw food. Let me tell you that its shocking when you start to see that the way you thought would heal you is making you sick. You find all sorts of reasons to deny it.

    Anyway, just my opinion, but I think its a good thing to have a voice to help people know that there are other choices besides eating the standard American diet or vegetarianism.

    1. Been there done that sold the t shirt. (Not so far as *raw* veganism.)

      “My karma ran over my dogma, now my car karma is out of alignment and my dogma is dead.”

  28. Let us not forget there are predators that would certainly devour us as well.

  29. “Well, I’d say that smart thieves are the very best at sorting out consequences, rather than operating from moral principles. After all, mere consequences go all ways. If mere consequences are the standard, then, consequences to whom?”-Richard Nikoley

    By consequentialism I am referring to the moral view that an action is to be judged good or bad on the basis of the consequences of that action as it effects sentient beings. The overriding drive of all sentient beings is toward flourishing and away from suffering. So I would argue that this basic fact about living things is our best frame of reference when considering the best course of action (and I would further argue that a society will be better off where the largest percentage of people give thought to just what is the best course of action, thus the need for a workable moral theory). The thief is chiefly concerned with the consequences of an action as they pertain to him/herself. This would be egoism.

    “Thus, the most clever thieves can steal you blind all the while they’re making you believe that it’s to your benefit — that, or they guilt you into buying the “best for society” con and can take even more.”-Richard Nikoley

    If your arguing here that a moral view can be wrong because credulous people might be duped by it, well, I would say that this charge would surely apply to any other view of morality you could think of.

  30. “Only certain people believe evolution and christianity cannot co-exist, I am not one of those.”-Jasetyn

    I don’t see how a literal reading of Genesis could be made compatible with the theory of evolution. If Genesis were true we would expect to see all animal species appearing at the same time in the fossil record relatively recently in geological time. That is not what we see at all. So, if you accept evolution by natural selection then you cannot accept a literal reading of the bible. That being the case no one would be able to give you the theological information you are seeking without first knowing what method you are using for deciding what parts of the bible to keep and which parts to throw out.

    1. Literal reading with and understanding of the writer and the language it was translated from.
      “In the beginning God created Heaven and Earth” That should be a chapter in itself.
      “And now” The beginning of the chain leading to Jesus. Not the beginning of creation. Lucifer had reign over the Earth before Genesis.
      The Books of Moses were written about God’s chosen people, not about all people.
      Also the word LET…” Let there be light” etc. The original word did not mean create. It meant something similar to “bring back”.

  31. Save the earth! Eat enviro-friendly, grassfed cattle! Mono-cropping is destroying our topsoil, our ecosystems!

    It’s a moral imperative…..

  32. 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.

    1. I am very familiar with it. Chaotic data is not = to Random data.

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. “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.

    1. 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?

      1. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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?

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  40. 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..

  41. 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

    1. 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.

  42. 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.”

  43. 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!

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

  48. 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!

  49. 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.

  50. “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”

    Then why is it that the brains of animals who eat lots of meat like lions and tigers don’t seem to be able to perform as well as that of the human brain?

  51. While I don’t deny that I don’t eat meat anymore, I am still in the research phase of that decision. The taurine argument is void, as most meats when cooked lose the taurine bioavailabilty, it is destroyed. Hence companies adding a taurine supplement to cat food that is cooked. B12 is a good argument, but not much is needed… 2.5mcg required by the average adult. I believe fish is the answer, while not in very high doses… A few ounces per day would probably be enough meat on average. Protein requirement is ballooned by companies and the FDA, my research has shown an average active male doesn’t need more than 40 – 60g per day. Until there are more in detail studies of multiple diets for a lifetime, assuming people will stick to a certain diet, which seems nearly impossible, then I’m not sure we will really know what the answer is here. All I know is there is something wrong with our food, we are getting too much cancer, diabetes and obesity to not have a major issue, that needs to be repaired.

  52. The front twelve teeth (six upper six lower) are the meat tearing teeth called cuspids, bicuspids, and incisors.

  53. Having been an IBS sufferer for the past two years and trying to find a diet that keeps me pain free and sane, I have to say that the Paleo diet seems to work for my gut issues the best. I wouldn’t DREAM of eating raw veggies even if I was starving and don’t get me started on the frankenwheat we are being served these days. Beans and grains that are so highly flouted by our governments are NOT natural food to humans. They can not be eaten raw and thanks to human interference, wheat isn’t even close to the plant we’ve been enjoying for thousands of years. You couldn’t pay me to go vegetarian/vegan. The mere thought of it makes my neck hairs stand on end anticipating what that would do to my digestive system. I’ll stick to meat, veg, seeds and nuts and occasional fruit with the occassional cheat of chocolate cuz I’m human after all. On a side note, I get all my meat from a butcher that only sells non-medicated, non-steroid etc meat. Humans are meant to eat meat not wheat!

  54. Oops, meant to say that I loved the article and all the comments. It’s nice to see everyone’s view.

  55. Being a recent converter to a more veggi existence and taking on board the opinions expressed here. i would like to add some thoughts i have in regards to our dietry needs and further evolution firstly we may have actually evolved to eat a principally omnivorous diet our appendix is the remnants of a secondary gut (please correct me if i am wrong) perhaps able to break down cellulose which would support our ability to evolve in almost any environment’ unfortunately we have not evolved fast enough to to keep up with our current environment the intensive rearing of the meat component in our diets. everyone panics at the thought of gm foods but we say nothing of all the gm meat being produced. there is a lot wrong with the way we treat the animals we are so dependant upon. and the irony is that with our big brains we are still not smart enough to spot when we are being fed garbage. I have worked in a factory where meat is processed and if you dont mind bleaching of stinking green chicken to make nuggets or water injection into chicken joints to make scrawny chicken plump and heavier you pay by the pound remember. Forgetting all the harm the processing does to us when we eat it. If we were all responsible for the killing gutting and preparation of meat i guarantee there would be more veggies. i see lots of arguments from both camps and wonder why all the anger it is of course personal choice if you feel that another being should die so that you can eat meat. (your choice) meat is an option not an obligation for us smug full bellied westerners we could adapt to eat less of it put the land to better use and maybe feed more people. I guess that most of the people responding to this forum have pets at home and love them like family members enjoying their personalities but at the same time see animals raised for meat as sentient and devoid of personality and feelings. you need to go work on a farm and spend some time with these animals that give us so much. Much more than your dog or cat could ever hope to. In my experience these animals do not seem to be sentient but we feel better about killing them on production lines if we think they either dont know whats happening / have no feelings/ or deserve it with all our great power and intellect we could be living in the garden of eden but we will only know for sure when all the humans are gone we are shitty with each other greedy and cruel we are all victims of this. if you think that you have choice and freedom or control in your life then you must be doing better than me. i work for a bank though only because i owe them so much money i eat from a supermarket because all the little shops are gone and i behave myself so that i dont have to go to prison and get raped. so when you talk about the benefits meat has made to our evolution how its made us smarter. I have to think i need more veggies. ignorance sure must be bliss. its a shame the gift we have went on us not.
    And on the subject of our gift when will we start to see ourselves as guardians of this planet if not for ourselves and our children but also for all the outstanding diversity and complexity that we are lucky to be a part of. We maybe the only living creature able to shape its own evolution we certainly have the technology and the resources but it seems that we would rather justify laziness fear and some kind of macho behavior. as well. i was made this way. we have the ability to grow meat in a lab if we so wish the best possible meat no additives no steriods no penicillin no killing. no chance there is too much already invested and who cares anyway

  56. Don’t forget that meat allowed us more energy to go to the brain.

    Without meat, Homo erectus wouldn’t have the “brains” to discover fire, create tools when the earth was changing to grasslands with less plants to eat on and more vulnerable on the planes.

    Before we ate and ate fruits, vegies and had zilch for the brain.

    E.g. Koalas, Cows, Sloths, Pandas have to eat huge amounts of plant material just to sustain itself.

  57. That big ol’ ribeye I had tonight was good, along with a couple of mushrooms and a spinach salad!

    I can’t wait until hunting season, when I can replenish my freezer with all sorts of good, natural protein sources.
    I don’t harvest animals, by the way. I kill them.

    I suggest you leave your Mom and Dad’s basement, get out into the world, and find yourself a life. Get a little sunshine, lift some heavy things and eat more protein. Your brain has been affected by your diet. Cheers!

  58. Meat and dairy eaters are lowly theives. They steal life from others (starving people, enslaved animals, and the poisoned earth). Their lives are just as important to them as yours is to you. You are stealing life. That is when it becomes my business. I defend the defenseless. If I see, with my own eyes, an adult, a child, or an animal being hurt, in any way, it becomes my responsibility to defend them. Anyone with a conscience, and an understanding of right and wrong, would do the same. Wouldn’t you? Just because you don’t see the children starving, the animals being murdered, the effects that the death industry has on our earth, does not mean that the same principles of ethics and morals don’t apply. Selfish, violent, cruel, egotistical, people steal life, and are parasites on this earth.

  59. Do you believe that a starving predator would not eat an injured human grazing on the tubers of its territory? Does this make the animal a lowly thief in much the same way as you have labeled the human race? Life moves its energy up the pyramid, and it has always done so. We have evolved accordingly. Only with the advances of technology has the “farming” so common today become the means through which we procure our food. There was once a time when we had to work much harder to earn our keep, but that is the nature of technology and the continual advancement of our ability to use it.

  60. Of course they would. They are a starving predator, in the wild. They do not have access to the technology, of which you referred, that has made preying on others, and stealing life, an outdated, inexcusable, vile way to live.

  61. This article is rubbish. We started eating meat for survival just like we learned how to create fire to live through the cold. THe only reason we started eating meat is because all vegetation freezes in the winter… My guess is that you haven’t experienced the cold. Nowadays we have the technology to ship foods from areas of the world that can grow vegetation to other areas that can’t. There is no need to eat meat…everyone who does is actually forcing their digestive systems to work harder, as well as their immune systems which are constantly fighting off the bacteria from rotting meat inside our extremely large intestines and colon. (the colon’s purpose is to cause fermentation for breaking down the plant matter you speak of). drop the meat and dairy and you will have hope for living without health issues 🙂

  62. “Non-violence leads to highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.” ~ Thomas Edison

    “As long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower livings beings, he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love. Animals share with us the privilege of having a soul.”
    ~ Pythagoras, 570–495 BC, Greek philosopher, Mathematician, Mystic, Scientist, Vegetarian, Founder of the Pythagoras Diet which laid the foundation for modern vegetarianism.

    “It is both auspicious and peaceful for people to choose vegetarianism. Vegetarian food leaves a deep impression on our nature. If the whole world adopts vegetrianism, it can change the destiny of humankind.” ~ Albert Einstein, 1879– 1955, Physics Nobel Prize Winner, Vegetarian

    “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

    As long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.” ~ Leonardo Da Vinci

    “It is certainly preferable to raise vegetables, and I think, therefore, that vegetarianism is a commendable departure from the established barbarious habit. That we can subsist on plant food and perform our work even to advantage is not a theory, but a well-demonstrated fact. Many races living almost exclusively on vegetables are of superior physique and strength. There is no doubt that some plant food, such as oatmeal, is more economical than meat, and superior to it in regard to both mechanical and mental performance. In view of these facts every effort should be made to stop the wanton and cruel slaughter of animals, which must be destructive to our morals.”
    ~ Nikola Tesla 1856–1943 – Inventor, Mechanical & Electrical Engineer, Vegetarian

  63. Whether you believe humans are now at this stage in our evolution, carnivores, omnivores, herbivores, it has been proven that humans can survive just as well (if not better) on a plant based diet.

    So now you have a choice. Do you want to live until 90 on a plant based diet and support the growth of our planet and all living things on it, or do you want to live to 90 and support the torture and murder of billions of animals per year along with the destruction of our planet?

    Don’t be a stubborn coward. Educate yourself and do the right thing.

    1. Yes, humans can survive on a plant based diet, as well as an omnivorous diet, as well as if need be a carnivorous diet. Since going Primal, my awareness has been raised of the dismal quality with which conventional livestock is raised. There is a right way to do something, as well as a wrong way. It’s sort of like forestry: They cut down the trees, but the effort they put into re-growing the area after harvesting is JUST AS important. Now, we Primals sure aren’t about endangering animals, and we certainly use most (if not all) of what one animal has to offer than does the average Westerner. Everything in context. You may have a good argument, but throwing emotion in with, “Don’t be a stubborn coward.” doesn’t really help you, to be honest.

      By the way, since a year of being Primal, I have decided I want to do Small-Scale Livestock Farming as a career. Because yes, conventionally raising livestock is wrong. Bad for the animal–bad for the consumer. Grok ON!!

  64. Hey Mark, I was working on an essay and looking for some backing on this notion that human brains grew due to eating meat and your essay really locked it in for me. Thanks.

  65. Well, maybe the entire point of life is a test for our consciousness.

    Those who will sacrifice others for their own benefit.
    Those who will sacrifice themselves for the benefit of others.

    I believe it’s the deep intelligent consciousness (AKA ‘Spirit’) which serves the real purpose of our being and not our visible six pack.

    Just my 2 cents 😉

  66. The meat industry is, generally speaking, cruel and inhumain. Unfortunately “slaughterhouse porn” as it’s described here is often just what happens in slaughterhouses. I am lucky enough to have a fairly good job at the moment, and to live in a country where free range meat is affordable. If I was only able to afford meat and eggs that came out of intensively farmed/battery type operations, then despite the fact that I agree with most of the nutritional message here, I would ditch meat in a heart beat. That massive meat fed brain of ours has become capable of some pretty good philosophical thought, which I would argue is just as important a step as when those herbivore relatives of ours first picked up a rock and threw it at another animal.
    To requote Richard Dawkins, “it’s not that we were meant to eat meat, just that we evolved doing so”
    In any case, factory farmed meat is hardly paleo!

  67. I believe, Humans are born Vegetarian due to 2 simple reasons.

    1. Humans cannot digest raw meat. Humans might have started eating meat after they start using fire. If we cook and provide meat to Herbivorous, they can even eat.

    2. Its is not a basic instinct of Humans babies to hunt/catch animals and eat it. Later in the days they will be trained to eat meat.

  68. As far as meat eating evidence is concerned it varies on the place in the world your are are were. I eat a plant based diet and I love it because since I adopted it I haven’t gotten sick and my energy is through the roof. I am loving it. I do personally think it is the better overall diet or at least fruits vegetables, nuts, legumes, seeds should be the major part of the diet, and if you do choose to eat meat it should be grass fed meat because it is healthier.

    1. There have been no 100% vegetarian peoples/cultures in the world and have lived to tell about it. They are getting at least some of their protein from animals/fish/shellfish. You may cite Hindus, but in the ancient Indian texts like the Gita’s they would slaughter 200,000 animals at a time and feast for days on end. The main reason they went vegetarian was because they became very heavily populated and could feed more people using the ghee/butter, milk and cheese. The vegetarian population in India is , I believe, one of the lowest, if not the lowest lifespan on the planet. They die very young and unhealthy. You are correct, grass fed/finished meat is the way to go.

  69. None says you should not be meat eaters, but everyone has choice to be what he/she wants.
    ” I’m sure I missed a few…” – Yes you did. History does not starts from 1 embryo today, and “Are we alone in universe…” is standard confusing often heard or read, … but nothing is special, truth …-> we are not evolution! from few millions years before. It is syn to say none existed before, or before were with smaller brain, or they were eating more… etc etc. Example, today’s 1 cell ‘Microscopic’ bacteria out of our bodies, before, like 1/6 part of Earth existence as planet back in time, were size of 10 cm, so other organisms and living beings too were “count” it how many times bigger, or how many times are ALL today smaller , AND more in numbers. Nothing is coincidence. Half time back as now as the Earth existence conditions were different. And double the time the Earth exists, Milky Way galaxies were existing… , but Milky Way had been smaller. It is growing because of joining of else from 2 3D sides. Same is with faster live beings, like animals, bacteria and etc., planets and Milky Way galaxies are life too, but different. Whatever if moves (outside or inside) anywhere and if it is not sleeping, it is alive.
    One big experience from me to You, as info, but it will be difficult for you to believe it until you try similar :: I succeeded to eat and convert rock looking matter, convert into live than into my cells (with help of chemistry) within my body. That gave me information’s (since you know every mater holds memory from surroundings since their existence) like anything I could expect, Changes, Knowledge Unseen Before (real), and Possibilities (mind and body). Since than (the first time), I repeat it whenever I can with different matter. Since I will need few tomes of 1k pages to write everything, I’ll not.
    I eat / consume Wheat, wheat protein and products from same’ mostly with some dried vegetables, and calcium with D3 (or D), and legumes, peas and beans – sprouted all than blender or dry and soup or powder drink , but rare/sometimes fish and cattle minced inside organs (twice a month), they are with complete chain aminos, sometimes but very rare (once in month) other legumes and fruit and herbs but prepared differently, like none writes recipe anywhere on the internet pages or books. I even successfully recover from poisons disaster inside my body from I.V. infus. (due to some ppl 🙁 ) , almost dead from marrow bones damage and etc… Using same methods as before it is going very fine, from 120 kg I lost on 65 kg, now going back to normal slowly but it is OK, now 78 kg, That is why I am saying everyone has a choice.
    Well I don’t say I haven’t tried other meat proteins in my life…, 5 times I eat oysters, 5 times octopus, once rabbit, once turtle, once frogs, and some others.
    It is not that I can’t every day, it is that I do what makes me better, i.e. complete alive – to not be diabetes, or muscle atrophy, or dehydrated , or sleepy, or dyeing cells. I am active 36 hours, than few hours rest doing something around PC than few hours rest, and again …, new beginnings always. I was extreme active athlete before.
    And I never drink water from pipes with Cl.

    We all help to each other with talks / conversations. Thank for reading.

  70. Its so fun to see all this. People seem to be more interested in fighting between who is right and who is wrong than finding what is better for mankind and other earth inhabitants. The most important is what will happen in the long run if we as humanity eat meat the way we do now or if we eat more vegetables. That is the only important question. Not if a single person is better off eating his steak or a carrot..

  71. Our Ancestors did not thrive on Meat. They did not drag their women around by their hair and they didn’t carry big spiky clubs or wear fashionable animal skin togas.

    In a study of tribal persistence hunters in africa. Louis Liebenberg found that although successful?,? the hunters did not produce enough meat to cover the calories expended by the hunters themselves to kill the animal. Since we can assume that the kill is shared with the tribe, very little meat per person was consumed by tribal societies under the best of circumstances. In lean times, tribes would not waste their time hunting, they would be looking for easier to obtain plant foods. If people have thrived on meat for millennia wouldn’t we have developed the ability to eat it in anymore that the smallest quantities without it causing disease and early death. This author should be looking at science, not promoting fanciful caveman myths.

  72. Now I don’t mean to paint an unfair or inaccurate portrait of your average anti-meat activist? Yes you do.

    1. Science, Pseudo-science or facts aside, it’s results that matter . When we eat animal flesh we have all kinds of digestive problems, We don’t have regular bowel movements. We develop diseases of all sorts. When we eat fruit, the food we are physiologically designed to eat we thrive.

  73. If eating meat caused big brains and humans to be intelligent then carnivore animals would be ruling the world and driving in cars right now.

  74. Homosapiens have already told us that they ate meat. They made cave paintings showing themselves using spears to kill animals. We need to start accepting what they’ve already told us.

  75. You are writing utter rot. I don’t imagine anything but the truth. You cannot kill an animal humanely.