are humans natural omnivores?
- "I'll repeat myself, at the risk of sounding crude..."According to Dr. Milton Mills, a graduate of the Stanford Medical School, and a member of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (which advocates a vegan diet, an end to animal experimentation, etc.) humans are not natural omnivores. See below:
The Comparative Anatomy of Eating, by Milton R. Mills, MD
Which category are humans most suited for?
CARNIVORE: Reduced to allow wide mouth gape
CARNIVORE: Angle not expanded
HERBIVORE: Expanded angle
OMNIVORE: Angle not expanded
HUMAN: Expanded angle
*Jaw Joint Location*
CARNIVORE: On same plane as molar teeth
HERBIVORE: Above the plane of the molars
OMNIVORE: On same plane as molar teeth
HUMAN: Above the plane of the molars
CARNIVORE: Shearing; minimal side-to-side motion
HERBIVORE: No shear; good side-to-side, front-to-back
OMNIVORE: Shearing; minimal side-to-side
HUMAN: No shear; good side-to-side, front-to-back
*Major Jaw Muscles*
HERBIVORE: Masseter and pterygoids
HUMAN: Masseter and pterygoids
*Mouth Opening vs. Head Size*
CARNIVORE: Short and pointed
HERBIVORE: Broad, flattened and spade shaped
OMNIVORE: Short and pointed
HUMAN: Broad, flattened and spade shaped
CARNIVORE: Long, sharp and curved
HERBIVORE: Dull and short or long (for defense), or none
OMNIVORE: Long, sharp and curved
HUMAN: Short and blunted
CARNIVORE: Sharp, jagged and blade shaped
HERBIVORE: Flattened with cusps vs complex surface
OMNIVORE: Sharp blades and/or flattened
HUMAN: Flattened with nodular cusps
CARNIVORE: None; swallows food whole
HERBIVORE: Extensive chewing necessary
OMNIVORE: Swallows food whole and/or simple crushing
HUMAN: Extensive chewing necessary
CARNIVORE: No digestive enzymes
HERBIVORE: Carbohydrate digesting enzymes
OMNIVORE: No digestive enzymes
HUMAN: Carbohydrate digesting enzymes
HERBIVORE: Simple or multiple chambers
CARNIVORE: Less than or equal to pH 1 with food in stomach
HERBIVORE: pH 4 to 5 with food in stomach
OMNIVORE: Less than or equal to pH 1 with food in stomach
HUMAN: pH 4 to 5 with food in stomach
CARNIVORE: 60% to 70% of total volume of digestive tract
HERBIVORE: Less than 30% of total volume of digestive tract
OMNIVORE: 60% to 70% of total volume of digestive tract
HUMAN: 21% to 27% of total volume of digestive tract
*Length of Small Intestine*
CARNIVORE: 3 to 6 times body length
HERBIVORE: 10 to more than 12 times body length
OMNIVORE: 4 to 6 times body length
HUMAN: 10 to 11 times body length
CARNIVORE: Simple, short and smooth
HERBIVORE: Long, complex; may be sacculated
OMNIVORE: Simple, short and smooth
HUMAN: Long, sacculated
CARNIVORE: Can detoxify vitamin A
HERBIVORE: Cannot detoxify vitamin A
OMNIVORE: Can detoxify vitamin A
HUMAN: Cannot detoxify vitamin A
CARNIVORE: Extremely concentrated urine
HERBIVORE: Moderately concentrated urine
OMNIVORE: Extremely concentrated urine
HUMAN: Moderately concentrated urine
CARNIVORE: Sharp claws
HERBIVORE: Flattened nails or blunt hooves
OMNIVORE: Sharp claws
HUMAN: Flattened nails
Linnaeus, who introduced binomial nomenclature (naming plants and animals according to their physical structure) wrote: "Man's structure, external and internal, compared with that of other animals shows that fruit and succulent vegetables constitute his natural food."One of the most famous anatomists, Baron Cuvier, wrote: "The natural food of man, judging from his structure, appears to consist principally of the fruits, roots, and other succulent parts of vegetables. His hands afford every facility for gathering them; his short but moderately strong jaws on the other hand, and his canines being equal only in length to the other teeth, together with his tuberculated molars on the other, would scarcely permit him either to masticate herbage, or to devour flesh, were these condiments not previously prepared by cooking."
In The Natural Diet of Man, Adventist physician Dr. John Harvey Kellogg observes:
"Man is neither a hunter nor a killer. Carnivorous animals are provided with teeth and claws with which to seize, rend, and devour their prey. Man possesses no such instruments of destruction and is less well qualified for hunting than is a horse or a buffalo. When a man goes hunting, he must take a dog along to find the game for him, and must carry a gun with which to kill his victim after it has been found. Nature has not equipped him for hunting."
According to Dr. Kellogg, "The statement that man is omnivorous is made without an atom of scientific support. It is true the average hotel bill of fare and the menu found upon the table of the average citizen of this country have a decidedly omnivorous appearance. As a matter of fact, man is not naturally omnivorous, but belongs, as long ago pointed out by Cuvier, to the frugivorous class of animals...
"The bill of fare which wise Nature provides for man in forest and meadow, orchard and garden, a rich and varied menu, comprises more than 600 edible fruits, 100 cereals, 200 nuts, and 300 vegetables—roots, stems, buds, leaves and flowers...Fruits and nuts, many vegetables—young shoots, succulent roots, and fresh green leaves...are furnished by Nature ready for man’s use."
Dr. Kellogg further notes that "the human liver is incapable of converting uric acid into urea," and this is "an unanswerable argument against the use of flesh foods as part of the dietary of man. Uric acid is a highly active tissue poison...The livers of dogs, lions, and other carnivorous animals detoxicate uric acid by converting it into urea, a substance which is much less toxic and which is much more easily eliminated by the kidneys."In a 1979 interview with vegetarian historian Rynn Berry, Dr. Gordon Latto notes that carnivorous and omnivorous animals can only move their jaws up and down, and that omnivores "have a blunt tooth, a sharp tooth, a blunt tooth, a sharp tooth--showing that they were destined to deal both with flesh foods from the animal kingdom and foods from the vegetable kingdom...
"Carnivorous mammals and omnivorous mammals cannot perspire except at the extremity of the limbs and the tip of the nose; man perspires all over the body. Finally, our instincts; the carnivorous mammal (which first of all has claws and canine teeth) is capable of tearing flesh asunder, whereas man only partakes of flesh foods after they have been camouflaged by cooking and by condiments.
"Man instinctively is not carnivorous," explains Dr. Latto. "...he takes the flesh food after somebody else has killed it, and after it has been cooked and camouflaged with certain condiments. Whereas to pick an apple off a tree or eat some grain or a carrot is a natural thing to do; people enjoy doing it; they don't feel disturbed by it. But to see these animals being slaughtered does affect people; it offends them. Even the toughest of people are affected by the sights in the slaughterhouse.
"I remember taking some medical students into a slaughterhouse. They were about as hardened people as you could meet. After seeing the animals slaughtered that day in the slaughterhouse, not one of them could eat the meat that evening."
Author R.H. Weldon writes in No Animal Food:
"The gorge of a cat, for instance, will rise at the smell of a mouse or a piece of raw flesh, but not at the aroma of fruit. If a man can take delight in pouncing upon a bird, tear its still living body apart with his teeth, sucking the warm blood, one might infer that Nature had provided him with a carnivorous instinct, but the very thought of doing such a thing makes him shudder. On the other hand, a bunch of luscious grapes makes his mouth water, and even in the absence of hunger, he will eat fruit to gratify taste."
As far back as 1961, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that: "A vegetarian diet can prevent 97% of our coronary occlusions."More recently, William S. Collens and Gerald B. Dobkens concluded: "Examination of the dental structure of modern man reveals that he possesses all the features of a strictly herbivorous animal. While designed to subsist on vegetarian foods, he has perverted his dietary habits to accept food of the carnivore. It is postulated that man cannot handle carnivorous foods like the carnivore. Herein may lie the basis for the high incidence of arteriosclerotic disease."
Keith Akers in A Vegetarian Sourcebook (1983), responds to the argument that killing animals for food is natural:
"This is quite an admirable argument. It explains practically everything; why we do not eat each other, except under conditions of unusual stress; why we may kill certain other animals (they are, in the order of nature, food for us); even why we should be kind to pets and try to help miscellaneous wildlife (they are not naturally our food). There are some problems with the idea that an order of nature determines which species are food for us, but an examination of human history indicates the broad outlines of just such an order, though inhibitions against eating certain species may vary from culture to culture.
"The main problem with this argument is that it does not justify the practice of meat-eating or animal husbandry as we know it today; it justifies *hunting*. The distinction between hunting and animal husbandry probably seems rather fine to the man in the street, or even to your typical rule-utilitarian moral philosopher. The distinction, however, is obvious to an ecologist. If one defends killing on the grounds that it occurs in nature, then one is defending the practice as it occurs in nature.
"When one species of animal preys on another in nature, it only preys on a very small proportion of the total species population. Obviously, the predator species relies on its prey for its continued survival. Therefore, to wipe the prey species out through overhunting would be fatal. In practice, members of such predator species rely on such strategies as territoriality to restrict overhunting and to insure the continued existence of its food supply.
"Moreover, only the weakest members of the prey species are the predator's victims: the feeble, the sick, the lame, or the young accidentally separated from the fold. The life of the typical zebra is usually placid, even in lion country; this kind of violence is the exception in nature, not the rule.
"As it exists in the wild, hunting is the preying upon isolated members of an animal herd. Animal husbandry is the nearly complete annihilation of an animal herd. In nature, this kind of slaughter does not exist. The philosopher is free to argue that there is no moral difference between hunting and slaughter, but he cannot invoke nature as a defense of this idea.
"Why are hunters, not butchers, most frequently taken to task by the larger community for their killing of animals? Hunters usually react to such criticism by replying that if hunting is wrong, then meat-hunting must be wrong as well. The hunter is certainly right on one point--the larger community is hypocritical to object to hunting when it consumes the flesh of domesticated animals. If any form of meat-eating is justified, it would be meat from a hunted animal."
In his 1975 book, Animal Liberation, Australian philosopher Peter Singer writes:
"Killing an animal is in itself a troubling act. It has been said that if we had to kill our own meat we would all be vegetarians. There may be exceptions to that general rule, but it is true that most people prefer not to inquire into the killing of the animals they eat.
"Very few people ever visit a slaughterhouse; and films of slaughterhouse operations are rarely shown on television...Yet those who, by their purchases, require animals to be killed have no right to be shielded from this or any other aspect of the production of the meat they buy.
"If it is distasteful for humans to think about, what can it be like for the animals to experience it?"
Peter Singer concludes in Animal Liberation that "by ceasing to rear and kill animals for food, we can make extra food available for humans that, properly distributed, it would eliminate starvation and malnutrition from this planet. Animal Liberation is Human Liberation, too."
My understanding is we can adapt to flesh-eating if our survival depends on it, but the optimal diet for humanity is vegan.---Vasu-----Original Message-----
From: Mitch Cohen <redbeerd@...>
To: vasumurti@...; firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Tue, Aug 3, 2010 10:07 am
Subject: RE: [SFVS] "...gathering and foraging for ANIMAL foods"
hi vasu,according to the running-book author's one line in your reply is completely irrelevant, and another is just wrong (i.e., the theory is NOT correct):"Hunting with primitive weapons--bones, sticks, and spears...--is far more difficult than most people realize. Even throwing a rock...""If this theory is correct, primitive man's time was spent mostly gathering and foraging for plant foods."
according to the theory the author presents, our ancestors evolved to be extremely efficient ultramarathoners. they'd run distances comparable to tour de france multi-day bike racers. one person he quotes describes living among african bushmen and being invited on a hunt.
the bushmen would see an animal, such as a deer, and run a little towards it. the animal sprinted perhaps 400-800 meters and stopped to rest, and check if it was out of danger. at the same time, the humans ran close enough so the animal was still in danger. the animal had to sprint again before it had gotten enough rest. the cycle might last 2-3 hours, and cover several miles, but finally the animal would be too tired to move, or defend itself, and the humans had some meat to supplement their largely plant-based diet
yes, our ancestors had largely plant-based diets; and, the other hominid species which ate heavily-animal-based could not survive when the "easier-to-catch" prey disappeared due to climate change &/or over-hunting. but, our ancestors were not 100% plant-eaters, and craved meat. the author's theory leads to a different conclusion than what you say: "If this theory is correct, primitive man's time was spent mostly gathering and foraging for ANIMAL foods."
it seems like a theory worth considering. and, i'm saying it might be useful for you to read it first-hand, rather than just reading my summary
conclusions one may draw from this include:while being 100% vegan makes the point that animal-based foods are not necessary for health*, asking omnivores to become 100% vegan can reasonably be viewed as against all their evolutionary instincts. asking folks to shift their diet may be much more achievable, and hence help animals significantly more than promoting pure veganism. once they agree that shifting is good, they may accept that the more they shift, the better. also, they might accept the deal shown on the Dr Oz show last year, where a cowboy was given a "death sentence" by his doctor unless he "detoxed" (gave up all animal products) for a month; but could choose to eat smaller amounts again after the month. it would be great for animals if americans would accept the fact that the less animal protein they eat, the longer they'll live & the healthier they will be.
*this is a very important point. even though we know animal-based foods hurt human health, the meat, egg & dairy industries have subverted nutrition education and school-lunches to make people think eating an animal-based diet is crucial to health.
Date: Tue, 3 Aug 2010 10:39:11 -0400
Subject: [SFVS] "...gathering and foraging for plant foods"
According to the American Dietetic Association, "most of mankind for most of human history has lived on vegetarian or near vegetarian diets."Humans resemble the other primates (frugivores) and possess a set of completely herbivorous teeth. InThe Human Story, edited by Marie-Louise Makris (1985), we read: "...recent studies of their teeth reveal that the Australopithecines did not eat meat as a regular part of their diet, and were mainly peaceful vegetarians, rather like chimps or gorillas. The popular image of the murderous ape is now as extinct as the Australopithecines themselves."Zoologist Desmond Morris makes a case for vegetarianism in The Naked Ape: "It could be argued that, since our primate ancestors had to make do without a major meat component in their diets we should be able to do the same. We were driven to become flesh eaters only by environmental circumstances, and now that we have the environment under control, with elaborately cultivated crops at our disposal, we might be expected to return to our ancient primate feeding patterns."How did agriculture arise? One particularly interesting theory is put forth by Mark Nathan Cohen in his book The Food Crisis in Prehistory. This view is startlingly simple: agriculture developed because the world was overpopulated. Relative to the existing hunter-gatherer technology, the environment was incapable of supporting the existing population."It seems odd at first to think of the world as being overpopulated. ..when the population was only a fraction of what it is today or to think of the world as environmentally exhausted, when it was more fertile then than it is now," observes author Keith Akers in A Vegetarian Sourcebook."But we must remember that the hunter-gatherer technology is extremely inefficient with respect to land resources. It is estimated that each of the Kung bushmen (a modern hunter-gatherer society) requires over 10 square kilometers of land -- more than 2500 acres. At this rate of land use, the world could hardly have supported more than a few million hunter-gatherers. "According to one theory, primitive men were anatomically ill equipped to be full-time predators. Plant food was thus the basis of their diet, and meat was eaten infrequently. Hunting with primitive weapons--bones, sticks, and spears--is far more difficult than most people realize. Even throwing a rock with accuracy demands great practice and skill. If this theory is correct, primitive man's time was spent mostly gathering and foraging for plant foods.A study of the Bush People of the Kalahari in Africa found that, even during a serious drought, the most important source of food came from vegetables. Four out of eleven males never went hunting. The others killed 18 animals in eight days. Their chances of obtaining meat on any day was about 25 percent.On the other hand, the women always returned from their gathering expeditions with food; a 100 percent success rate. The entire tribe was able to comfortably feed itself if each member contributed 15 hours of work per week--even better than our own society's achievement."It seems...the real heroes of our Stone Age period were the women, not the men," observes British author Peter Cox in his 1986 book, Why You Don't Need Meat: "...our ancestors ate much more plant food than is popularly believed."
From: Mitch Cohen <redbeerd@hotmail. com>
To: sfveg@yahoogroups. com
Sent: Mon, Aug 2, 2010 10:50 pm
Subject: RE: [SFVS] human anatomy / humans are not natural omnivores
hi vasu,i just read the book Born To Run and i think you should check out it's theory that humans evolved & survived as long distance runners & persistence hunters. though humans were slightly slower than animals, the animals had little endurance. the humans would stalks & tire out the animals over several hours, & then eat them.
i disagree with a few theories the author presents (probably more, if i thought more about it)he says ultradistance runners (who stay closer to the persistence hunting evolution) are naturally healthier due to their running, rather than crediting their diet. he said they ate a largely plant-based diet so they wouldn't be weighted done by digestion, and they 'd be able to run at a moment's notice.he also presents a theory that (very cushioned & foot-controlling) running shoes lead to a high incidence of injuries. he ignores the self-selection aspect. runners with overuse injuries select the special shoes.regardless, you might benefit from reading the author's theory of human evolution. at the worst case, it would prepare you to rebut it.mitch