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Although some historians and anthropologists say that man is historically omnivorous, our anatomical equipment * teeth, jaws, and digestive system favors a fleshless diet. The American Dietetic Association notes that "most of mankind for most of human history has lived on vegetarian or near-vegetarian diets."
And much of the world still lives that way. Even on most industrialized countries, the love affair with meat is less than a hundred years old. It started with the refrigerator car and the twentieth-century consumer society. But even with the twentieth century, man's body hasn't adapted to eating meat. The prominent Swedish scientist Karl von Linne states, "Man's structure, external and internal, compared with that of the other animals, shows that fruit and succulent vegetables constitute his natural food." The chart below compares the anatomy of man with that of carnivorous and herbivorous animals.
When you look at the comparison between herbivores and humans, we compare much more closely to herbivores than meat eating animals. Humans are clearly not designed to digest and ingest meat.
Meat-eaters: have claws
Herbivores: no claws
Humans: no claws
Meat-eaters: have no skin pores and perspire through the tongue
Herbivores: perspire through skin pores
Humans: perspire through skin pores
Meat-eaters: have sharp front teeth for tearing, with no flat molar teeth for grinding
Herbivores: no sharp front teeth, but flat rear molars for grinding
Humans: no sharp front teeth, but flat rear molars for grinding
Meat-eaters: have intestinal tract that is only 3 times their body length so that rapidly decaying meat can pass through quickly
Herbivores: have intestinal tract 10-12 times their body length.
Humans: have intestinal tract 10-12 times their body length.
Meat-eaters: have strong hydrochloric acid in stomach to digest meat
Herbivores: have stomach acid that is 20 times weaker than that of a meat-eater
Humans: have stomach acid that is 20 times weaker than that of a meat-eater
Meat-eaters: salivary glands in mouth not needed to pre-digest grains and fruits.
Herbivores: well-developed salivary glands which are necessary to pre-digest grains and fruits
Humans: well-developed salivary glands, which are necessary to pre-digest, grains and fruits
Meat-eaters: have acid saliva with no enzyme ptyalin to pre-digest grains
Herbivores: have alkaline saliva with ptyalin to pre-digest grains
Humans: have alkaline saliva with ptyalin to pre-digest grains
Based on a chart by A.D. Andrews, Fit Food for Men, (Chicago: American Hygiene Society, 1970)
Clearly if humans were meant to eat meat we wouldn't have so many crucial ingestive/digestive similarities with animals that are herbivores.
Many people ask me, "If we weren't supposed to eat meat than why do we?". It is because we are conditioned to eat meat. Also, the ADA (American Dietetic Association) tells us that "most of mankind for most of human history has lived on a vegetarian or Lacto-ovo vegetarian diet."
A popular statement that meat eaters say is; "In the wild, animals kill other animals for food. It's a part of nature." First of all, we are not in the wild. Secondly, we can easily live without eating meat and killing. We all would be healthier this way. Finally, as I have already shown, we weren't meant to eat meat. Meat putrefies within 4 hours after consumption and the remnants cling to the walls of the intestines for 14-21 days. If a person is suffering from constipation the rotting meat can stay in the intestines for months or years. Furthermore, the saliva in humans is more alkaline, whereas in the case of flesh-eating or preying animals, it is clearly acidic. The alkaline saliva does not act properly on meat.
The final point I would like to make on how we as humans were not meant to eat meat is this; all omnivorous and carnivorous animals eat their meat raw. When a lion kills an herbivore for food, it tears right into the stomach area to eat the organs that are filled with blood (nutrients). While eating the stomach, liver, intestine, etc., the lion laps the blood in the process of eating the dead animal's flesh. Even bears that are omnivores eat salmon raw. However, eating raw bloody meat disgust us as humans. This is why we must cook it and season it to buffer the taste of the flesh.
If a deer is burned in a forest fire a carnivorous animal will NOT eat its flesh. Even circus lions have to be feed raw meat so that they will not starve to death. If humans were truly meant to eat meat then we would eat all of our meat raw and bloody. The thought of eating such meat makes one’s stomach turn. This is my point on how we as humans are conditioned to believe that animal flesh is good for us and that we were meant to consume it for survival and health purposes. If we are true carnivores or omnivores we would eat animal flesh raw and bloody. Cooking our meat and seasoning it with salt, ketchup, mayo, mustard or tabasco sauce disguise the awful taste of flesh. This is the only way we as humans would eat meat because we refuse to eat it raw and bloody like real carnivores.
Overall advantages of vegetarianism
You can reap a lot of benefits by being a vegetarian and people have become more aware of the health benefits of being a vegetarian. Animal rights issues is only one of the reasons why people decide to go on a vegetarian diet. People are beginning to care more about the environment. However, the main reason why most people go on vegetarian diet is due to the health benefits.
Meat is not good for you as it clogs your thinking. This is especially true if you eat red meat; white meat has less fat compared to red meat. Excessive intake of fats into your body can result in having a high level of cholesterol. If you think that not eating meat is going to make you look scrawny or unhealthy please think again. Just imagine that cows, goats, gorillas, elephants, rhinoceroses and so on are all vegetarians (herbivores) but look at how tough these animals are. They also have a longer life span compared to the carnivores (meat eating animals).
If you look at the chicken and vulture (carnivores), these animals eat just about everything and notice how unhealthy these animals look. The Chinese believe that the chi or life force in your body is less when you consume meat and so do the Indians with their ancient yogic principles [their life force was called prana].
The great Tai Chi masters of China were adept at preserving their chi. Even though some of the masters were not vegetarians they still had a balanced diet. It has now been scientifically proven that a balanced vegetarian diet is better compared to a diet that is taken with meat.
There are a lot of misconceptions about being a vegetarian; protein is one of the main topics of debate as a lot of people think that you can only get protein from meat. Vegetarians get a lot of protein when they eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. What vegetarians don't get is the excess protein of the traditional American diet. This type of diet leads to liver toxicity, kidney overload and mineral deficiency diseases.
A lot of people also think that a vegetarian diet is not a balanced diet. Vegetarian diets have a proportion of three macro nutrients which are complex carbohydrates, protein and fat. Vegetarian food sources (plants) tend to be higher sources of most micro nutrients. Another myth that needs to be clarified is the so-called lack of calcium among vegetarians. Many vegetables especially green leafy ones have a good supply of calcium. The truth is that vegetarians suffer less from osteoporosis (a deficiency of calcium that leads to weak bones).
It is not my intention to force people to become vegetarians. However, vegetarianism is my answer to complete health and wellness. The three issues to consider in regard to vegetarianism are: spiritual, mental and physical (nutritional).
The spiritually aspiring person attempts to work on his/her self. The purpose of spiritual growth is to move away from the animal nature into the more human nature that God intended for us to have. Meat eating inhibits this. The same science that attempts to ignore the existence of a force higher than man also proved that aggression levels are much higher in meat eaters than non-meat eaters! The animal instincts become more powerful every time you eat meat. Another spiritual aspect of being a meat eater is when one must question the necessity and method of killing animals. However, everyone has their own morals to which they must determine for themselves. It is not the purpose of my dissertation to force a specific moral behavior on anyone. Most spiritual people believe in auras. Kirilian photography shows us that a force field still remains around dead or amputated flesh. You adopt that animal aura when you eat it's dead flesh. Fruits and vegetables have a higher vibration al aura than animal products.
“You are what you eat”, is a slogan that I love to use to show the mental aspect of vegetarianism. When animals are slaughtered, fear and aggression enzymes are shot into their muscle tissue. They remain in the meat until the consumer ingests the flesh and adapts the same emotions. Fruits and vegetables do not have emotions; therefore, when they are picked they do not release any emotional cells prior to digestion. The enzymes within fruits and vegetables supply the body with sufficient nutrients that will always uphold a healthy state of mind.
Fruits and vegetables are high in nutrients; the very thing the body needs to live a long disease and pain free life. The same cannot be said for meat. Nutritionally, the alkaline-based digestive system of humans will not properly break down substantial acid substances of meat.
Colon cancer is rampant! This is caused by the slow evacuation and putrefaction of meat in the colon. Lifelong vegetarians never suffer from such an illness. Many meat eaters believe that meat is the sole source of protein. However, the quality of this protein is so poor that little of it can ever be utilized by humans. This is due to its incomplete combination of amino acids [the building blocks of protein]. Studies show that the average American gets five times the amount of protein needed. It is a common medical fact that excess protein is dangerous. The prime danger of excess meat consumption is uric acid (the waste product produced in the process of digesting protein). Uric acid attacks the kidneys and breaks down the kidney cells called nephrons. This condition is called nephritis; the prime cause of it is overburdening the kidneys. More usable protein is found in one tablespoon of tofu or soybeans than the average serving of meat!
Have you ever seen what happens to a piece of meat that stays in the sun for three days? Meat can stay in the warmth of the intestine for at least four to five days until it is digested. It does nothing but wait for passage. Often, it usually stays there for much longer. Medical doctors have found traces of undigested meat remaining in the colon for up to several months. Colonic therapists always see meat passing through people who have been vegetarians for several years, thus indicating that meat remains undigested there for a long time. Occasionally this has been documented in twenty-year vegetarians!
Some vegetarians claim they are more satisfied after they eat. The reason for this is that there are fewer ketones (protein-digestive substances) formed when vegetable protein is digested. For many, ketones cause a trace amount of nausea which one normally interprets as a decreased desire for food due to this uncomfortable and slight degree of queasiness. Although the body calls for more food, the taste buds tolerate less. This is the danger of the popular high-protein diet substances on the market. This abnormally high level of ketones is called ketosis and refers to the state of starvation that the body incurs due to the inability of the appetite to call for nutrition. Most Americans who eat the wrong type of carbohydrates never recognize the high amount of complex carbohydrates required to overthrow this condition. Keep in mind that when the blood ketone level are too high it results in abnormally acidic blood called acidosis.
Tigers or lions who eat meat have an acid-based digestive systems. Our Hydrochloric Acid isn’t strong enough to fully digest meat. Also, their intestines measures about five feet long, not twisted and turned, layer over layer, compacted into a small area like the human intestine [which is twenty feet long].
Meats are frozen for a long period of times. Some meats (especially poultry) are frozen up to two years. Cold temperatures do not kill all species of bacteria. Worse than this, as it is shipped and stored, most frozen meat is thawed and refrozen many times. This is almost unavoidable.
Meat eaters suffer more frequently from various types of food poisoning than vegetarian. Statistics show that every American has had food poisoning at least once. When you've felt ill, had diarrhea or were just a little sick to your stomach, no doubt you had not the slightest idea that you had been poisoned by scavengers living off the dead carcass you just ate.
Meat is costly and it is the most wasteful source of resources. When one removes meat from his or her diet a whole new world of eating opens up. Cooking and preparing vegetarian style is no more time consuming than cooking meat. It costs less than half as much to eat vegetarian as it does to eat meat. There are excellent, nutritious, and easy to prepare vegetarian dishes that are Italian, Chinese, Indian, Mid-Eastern, French, Spanish, etc.
Additionally, one can enjoy many other foods that he or she has never tasted because of the meat craze. Most consumers have eaten no more than five or six varieties of beans and legumes. This is less than 10% of what is available.
In my opinion, there are far more benefits to becoming a vegetarian then there are staying a meat eater. Due to the fact that I was raised on meat, I have experienced both worlds. As a meat eater I was constantly sick, tired, and overweight. As a vegetarian, I am healthy, full of energy and maintaining a perfect weight. I love being a vegetarian and it shows. Because I wish the best for myself, it’s just second nature to want the best for others. From my past experience and research, going vegetarian is the best thing anyone can do for their mind, body and spirit.
The most common arguments that meat eaters use.
"Humans have canine teeth. End of story."
The truth is our so-called "canine teeth" are canine in name only. Humans' "canine teeth" are unlike the canine teeth of actual canines, which are really long and really pointed. Our teeth are absolutely not like theirs. In fact, other vegetarian animals (like gorillas, horses, hippos, and chimpanzees) possess the same so-called "canine" teeth, which are often used for defensive purposes rather than for eating. Check out the chimpanzee picture at right, and consider that chimps' diets are up to 99% vegetarian (and what litle non-vegetarian food they eat usually isn't meat, it's termites). And remember that we're most similar to chimps than to any other animal.
John A. McDougall, M.D., has a good take on this:
Our dentition evolved for processing starches, fruits, and vegetables, not tearing and masticating flesh. Our oft-cited "canine" teeth are not at all comparable to the sharp teeth of true carnivores. I lecture to over 10,000 dentists, dental hygienists, and oral specialists every year, and I always ask them to show me the “canine” teeth in a person’s mouth – those that resemble a cat’s or dog’s teeth – I am still waiting to be shown the first example of a sharply pointed canine tooth.
If you have any doubt of the truth of this observation then go look in the mirror right now – you may have learned to call your 4 corner front teeth, “canine teeth” – but in no way do they resemble the sharp, jagged, blades of a true carnivore – your corner teeth are short, blunted, and flat on top (or slightly rounded at most). Nor do they ever function in the manner of true canine teeth. Have you ever observed someone purposely favoring these teeth while tearing off a piece of steak or chewing it? Nor have I. The lower jaw of a meat-eating animal has very little side-to-side motion – it is fixed to open and close, which adds strength and stability to its powerful bite. Like other plant-eating animals our jaw can move forwards and backwards, and side-to-side, as well as open and close, for biting off pieces of plant matter, and then grinding them into smaller pieces with our flat molars.
I love the canine argument because the people who make it place so much importance on it, insisting that humans having canines immediately wins the whole argument, all by itself, case closed! But when they discover that they were wrong, then suddenly the canine issue really wasn't so important to them after all, and they simply move on to their next misconception, as though their previous argument never happened. That really lays their motivations bare: They were never really interested in evaluating the evidence, they were only interested in being right. But really, if someone thinks that canine teeth are the be-all and end-all of the herbivore vs. omnivore debate, then when they find out that they're wrong about teeth, that ought to tell them something. But does it ever? Nope. If you want an evidence of bias, there you have it.
"Humans have always eaten meat."
No, we haven't. Just because we assume that humans have always eaten meat doesn't make it true. I'll provide evidence for this shortly. But what's more important is that unlike other animals, humans can act outside of instinct. That means that if early humans did eat meat, they were simply making an interesting choice, not doing what their biology favors. We really have to look at our digestive system to get the best evidence for what we're optimized for eating, not what some humans chose to eat. Otherwise, thousands of years from now anthropologists might conclude that eating McDonald's is natural because humans circa 2011 used to eat a lot of it.
I'll cover the early human diet in more detail momentarily.
"We're capable of eating meat, therefore we're omnivores. Case closed."
Okay, fine, then cats are omnivores, too. ("Case closed.") Commercial cat foods, both wet and dry, contain things like rice, corn, and wheat. In fact, some people feed their cats a pure vegan diet with no meat at all.
But of course, cats are true carnivores. We don't call them omnivores just because they'll eat things contrary to what nature intended. That would be silly. No one makes that argument for cats. But they make it for humans, enthusiastically. However, they can't have it both ways: Either we don't assume humans are omnivores just because we can eat meat, or we apply the same standard to other animals and conclude that cats are omnivores, too. Which is it?
"Humans are omnivores."
Then what exactly is an omnivore? If it's an animal that is capable of eating both plants and animals, and ever does so, then sure, we're omnivores, but then again, so are cats. (See above.) A true omnivore would have a body optimized for eating both plants and animals. With non-humans we can look at what they eat in the wild to figure out their preferred diets, but humans lost our instincts long ago, so we can look only at our anatomy and digestive systems. And that evidence is compelling. I'll cover the omnivore issue in more detail below.
"You're not a doctor, therefore you must be wrong. Yay, I win!"
It's funny, the people making this charge aren't doctors either, but somehow they don't feel that being a doctor is neccessary to advance their positions.
In any event, bona-fide doctors say the same kinds of things I say in this article. For example, here's an article by Dr. John McDougall and one by Dr. Milton R. Mills (both M.D.'s). I wonder whether the people who send me hate mail about this article and tell me I'm an idiot would feel just as confident in telling these two doctors that the doctors are idiots, too?
"Vitamin B12. End of story."
I'm not joking when I tack on "End of story" to the sample counter-arguments. People actually make them that way, literally.
B12 isn't made by animals, it's made by bacteria. It's found where things are unclean. (And meat is dirty.) This easily explains why historically it's been easy to get B12, because until recently we didn't live in a sanitized environment. Plants pulled from the ground and not washed scrupulously have B12 from the surrounding soil. Vegans should take a B12 supplement, not because veganism is unnatural, but because the modern diet is too clean to contain reliable natural sources of dirty B12.
B12 is also found in lakes, before the water is sanitized. Also, consider that chimpanzees' main non-plant food is termites, and termites are loaded with B12.
Incidentally, our need for B12 is tiny -- 3 micrograms a day. Not milligrams, micrograms. The amount of B12 you need for your entire life is smaller than four grains of rice. (More on Vitamin B12 from John McDougall, M.D)
"Other primates eat meat."
Hardly. Various sources (below) say that a chimp's diet is 95-99% plant foods, and the primary non-plant food isn't meat, it's termites. We also have to remember that primates are intelligent and can make choices outside of instinct, just like humans do, so the tiny amount of meat they might eat could simply be due to choice, not instinct. The idea that primates are a good example for why humans should eat meat evidently didn't impress the most famous primate researcher of all time, Jane Goodall. Goodall is a vegetarian.
I cover the primate diet in more detail bolew.
"You're not considering evolution."
Of course I'm not. Humans' hunting skills are relatively recent in our history but evolution takes place over a much longer period of time. In short, we haven't been hunting for long enough for our anatomy to favor a mixed plant-animal diet.
Human performance on meat-free diets
Not only do vegetarians and vegans easily build muscle, they often excel as athletes too, winning Olympic gold medals and world championships. In fact, some of the most famous bodybuilders in history were vegetarian. Here's a short list of vegan and vegetarian athletes.
Kenneth G. Williams (bodybuilder) 3rd place at 2004 Natural Olympia
Bill Mannetti (powerlifter) 1st place, Connecticut State Powerlifting Championship
Robert Cheeke (bodybuilder)
Joy Bush (powerlifter) 1st place, Connecticut State Powerlifting Championship
Jon Hinds (bodybuilder, personal trainer)
Charlie Abel (bodybuilder)
Mike Mahler (strength coach) ""Becoming a vegan had a profound effect on my training. … [M]y bench press excelled past 315 pounds...and I put on 10 pounds of lean muscle in a few months."
Mac Danzig (martial arts) MMA record 19-7-1 (as of 4-2010)
Tony Gonzalez (Atlanta Falcons tight end)
Scott Jurek (ultramarathoner) 7 consecutive wins at Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run, numerous other first place finishes and records
Tim VanOrden (runner) Numerous 1st place finishes
Fiona Oakes (runner) 1st place woman and 2nd overall in a 2011 marathon
Ruth Heidrich, (triathlete and marathoner) More than 900 first-place trophies and set several performance records. Named One of the 10 Fittest Women in North America.
Dave Scott (triathlete) Six-time Ironman champion
Brendan Brazier (triathlete). Won the National 50km Ultra Marathon Championships
Carl Lewis (track) Numerous gold medals (2 as a vegan)
Salim Stoudamire (basketball). Atlanta Hawks
Christine Vardaros (cycling)
Bill Pearl (bodybuilder) Mr. Universe (3 times), World's Best Built Man, Mr. America, Mr. California, numerous Halls of Fame
Roy Hilligenn (bodybuilder) Mr. South Africa (4x), Mr. America, Olympic lifter
Ricky Williams (football) Miami Dolphins
The research on veg vs. non-veg athletes is fairly sparse, but what does exist has failed to show any clear performance benefit for meat-eaters.
You can lead a man to knowledge but you can't make him think!