Carnivores, Frugivores or Herbivores? No! We are Omnivores!

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Image by Pexels from Pixabay 
Published 6.7.2020: Another question another topic suggested by a reader email is whether or not humans were ever vegan. As it happens, this is a topic I researched back in 2015 when it was a hot topic in the "Paleosphere"— something that doesn't really exist in 2020 since the Paleo diet fad faded.

In 2015, paleo bloggers (paleos) were arguing over whether or not eating meat or taming fire was the key to advanced in human development— larger brains, etc.

In addition, paleos argued with vegans who asserted that actually humans are herbivores or even frugivore (fruit eaters).

Biases upfront: Humans are omnivores, which is a favorable evolutionary development. Being able to survive in any environment and climate is a good thing. Just as I'm not a medical practitioner or nutritionist, I'm not an anthropologist or paleontologist. These are my opinions only, think for yourself and make up your own mind.
I've exhumed some of my old notes from 2015. The Paleo Mom considered the topic. We do not know yet if the substantial increase in brain size was from meat eating or cooking. My bias is for cooking because eating raw flesh isn't particularly pleasant for most people, and even true herbivores (mice for example) will eat flesh it is cooked.

Plus cooking meant that we could eat a wider variety of plants, making finding food a bit easier— at least that's my supposition. Richard Wrangham is the leading voice (or was in 2015) for why taming fire was the reason for why humans developed a big brain. Brains are energetically expensive, so a good source of a lot of calories was needed.

Of course, no one really knows what went down all those millennia ago, but the Paleo Mom is more honest then Paleo Diet™ author Lorain Cordain, who pretends not to know that plant remains decay more completely than bones. The fact that bones and not grains or legumes are found more often is not an indication that humans didn't each plant material. All it indicates is that humans did eat animals.

We most likely ate insects too— which despite not being cute and cuddly have faces and mothers (one way some vegans denote what you shouldn't eat— in other words if it has a face and a mother, it's not food.) Our nearest evolutionary ancestors eat insects, for that matter so do humans across the globe. Insects, for what it's worth, are an excellent source of B12.

Not frugivores nor carnivores nor herbivores

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Image by Giacomo Zanni from Pixabay 
Primates have also been observed eating meat. Meat isn't a large proportion of their intake, but if they have the chance to eat meat, they do. Which means they are neither frugivores (fruit eaters) or herbivores, they are, like humans, omnivores.

Most people don't talk mention frugivore in these debates, mostly because it's obvious that humans are not frugivores. While fruit is a wonderfully healthful food for humans to eat (pay no attention to low carb silliness to the contrary), a diet consisting of only fruit is deficient in necessary nutrients— and not just vitamin B12, but definitely vitamin B12.

The height (as it were) of cult of frugivores, was probably the online community roughly centered around the "30 bananas a day" website and community (now defunct) and the 80:10:10 movement (always small, and still shrinking).

The fruit cult seems to be fading, but the carnivore cult seems to be in ascendence (in a relative sense, these movements are all tiny and if you don't do a lot of diet blog reading on the internet you might not ever come across them.)

So what is the carnivore cult? It's a group of people who have convinced themselves that humans are in fact, carnivorous. That all humans require for nutrition is animal flesh, particularly offal (animal organs).

Offal was a big deal with paleos too, but I could never get my head around the idea. The reason offal is important to so-called carnivorous eaters is that eating only muscle meat leaves you nutritionally deficient. Not from B12 of course, but there's a great deal of phytonutrients and minerals that are best gotten from plants.

If you convinced yourself that plants are poison or just unnecessary, then either you purchase pills or you try to make up the deficit by eating "nose to tail." My guess is that most "carnivores" hork down a handful of pills each morning.

Humans are not carnivores. Just as there are no vegan human cultures, there are no carnivorous human cultures. None. At all.

The arguments against humans being herbivores are many. A herbivore diet does not provide all the necessary nutrients (see vitamin B12), and humans cannot digest grasses.

Dentition Absurdities

One last topic: let's talk about dentition. Dentition refers to the arrangement and condition of teeth. Interestingly, both vegans and meat eaters try to use human teeth as evidence for their side. Both groups are wrong.

Meat eaters like to point to the canine teeth that humans have as evidence that we are meat eaters. But human canine teeth can NOT rip apart the flesh of an animal. The cat pictured above is a true carnivore, and its teeth would rip your skin (or an antelopes) into pieces. Humans can only dismember animals using tools with their opposable thumbs— and then use fire to cook the animal to eat.

Vegans, on the other hand, like to point to human molars and note that our teeth are similar to herbivores or animals that grind their food to eat it rather than ripping into chunks. Frankly, the vegans here have the better argument, however, the teeth are only the beginning of the digestive process. Humans don't have the hind gut require to eat grasses (a fact paleos use to claim that humans shouldn't be eating grains. AGAIN forgetting that humans have tools and control of fire to process the grains into food we can digest).

Humans are not herbivores, or frugivores, or carnivores. Humans are omnivores with opposable thumbs and control of fire. All of which makes us able to survive in almost any climate here on earth and able to eat almost anything. This is an advantage for the human race, and one for which we should not be ungrateful.
Banner image source: PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay 

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