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Did humans always eat meat?
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Thread: Did humans always eat meat?

  1. #1

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    Default Did humans always eat meat?

    Quote Korn
    Talking of fish, I just read that Norwegian anthropolgists got a surprise when analyzing stone age findings along the coastal line of Norway (well, Norway IS a coastal line, sort of). This wasn't even Southern Norway, but from an area which has really cold and long winters. They seem to have found out that they didn't eat fish at all, but a lot of raspberries and hazelnuts (just like me! ), and only food 'from the soil'.
    I've been thinking about this one, and I figure, perhaps they weren't fishing, but then they must've been hunting large mammals or something like that. For clothes if for no other reason. And if they were hunting for clothes, well, one would think they'd eat what they caught... Any thoughts?
    Last edited by Korn; Sep 6th, 2007 at 07:18 AM. Reason: This and the following posts is from another thread

  2. #2
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Hi Hasha,

    I don't think they 'must have' been hunting large mammals, but maybe they have. According to the article I saw, they only seemed to live on plant food.

    There are many studies and assumptions regarding what man 'always' ate. If someone lives in a cold climate, with snow for several months, with only primitive (or hardly any) weapons, and only two legs (while the animals they were to hunt had four, and were much bigger)... if I were them, I would rather have spent my efforts on moving southwards than running around in the snow after big, scary animals .

    But who knows? What we know, is that there have been vegetarian cultures for thousands of years, and cultures with true respect for animals as well. If they represented 1% or 99% of the world populatin is a question of mathematics and statistics, isn't it?

    The basis of the life of most Jains, founded by Mahavir about 2500 years ago, is a vegetarian lifestyle that normally AFAIK doesn't even include the use of leather. The Norwegian study goes much further back in time, and while scientists will disagree for centuries about what people did thousands of years ago, personally I'd rather influence what scientists find out in 10,000 years about how mankind lived 10,000 years ago (now!), than being part of assuming or believing and guessing anything about what happened 10,000 years before I was born.

    Maybe you have seen this list:

    "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)"

    Or this, from medical-library.net:

    "If you were an alien from another planet trying to classify the animals according to what they eat by looking at their anatomy, man would certainly be classified as a vegetarian. He has relatively benign-looking teeth, best adapted to grinding vegetable fiber. He has no claws but rather fingers and fingernails well-adapted to dissecting plants. He is not particularly fast; in fact, even slower than the bear and thus unable to run down a meal. He has a 28-foot-long intestinal tract! This long intestinal tract is designed for dealing with the more complex nature of plant digestion. All these characteristics indicate that, by nature, man's ancestors on the simian tree were vegetarians. This design apparently is rather ancient. In the meantime, man's digestive physiology has changed to that of an omnivore, also able to handle meats, preferably, from a digestive point of view, raw meats. However, man was designed to be a vegetarian and the presence of four canine teeth is not enough to say otherwise." ( http://www.medical-library.net/sites...nutrition.html )

    Psychologists for Ethical Treatment of Animals have some interesting stuff about the topic, including information about the Bishnoi and the Toda. You might also know that The American Dietetic Association (ADA) believes that most of mankind for most of human history has lived on vegetarian or near-vegetarian diets. Personally, I'm not really really interested in the subject as such, because whatever my Norwegian ancestors had for lunch thousands of years ago, doesn't influence what I'll have for lunch tomorrow .

    If a vegan would tell a meat eater what ADA thinks, he'd probably only say 'so what'? And vice versa, if someone insists that man has always been an omnivore, which we by the way know is wrong, because 'always' also includes studies of people who did NOT eat meat, I see no reason to join them and assume that this or that group 'must have' been eating meat.

    Comments are welcome, as always...
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

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    Korn, your norwegian coastline dweller story reminded me, that - In a book called 'manwatching' by Desmond morris he argues the case for humans close evolutionary link to the coast / water during our evolution. (it may have been in 'the human ape')

    such as nostrils unlike any other primate to keep water gushing into our lungs. most apes stay well away from water and definatly don't dive.
    we the only naked ape, yet similar to other marine mammals. water logged fur is no good for swimming!
    marginally webbed fingers.

    , think diving into water. even our body hair follows the route of water mostly.

    Most humans run back to the coast at holiday season. is this coincidental?

    Many prehistoric sites in the uk have large tips of crusteacian shells. theres a fair argument for our ancestors being pecharians (seafood eaters). and evolving by the waters edge rather than on the dry african as is taught in history classes.

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    Homo sapiens is such a weird species. As Korn pointed out, we have far more in common with herbivores than with carnivores. (As for the famous canine teeth, primates use their canines for scaring opponents, not for eating!) And yet, humans eat meat. I think it's pretty safe to assume that, with a few exceptions of relatively recent date, humans always incorporated some meat in their diet. So here's my best guess:

    1) Our anatomy suggests that we are best suited for food of plant origin.

    2) We have big brains, which demand a great deal of protein.

    3) In a non-agricultural society, it is virtually impossible to obtain enough protein by eating plants alone. This is because most of the plants found in the wild don't have too much protein in them. So, non-agriculturalists are forced to go against their intestinal tract (by eating meat) in order to satisfy the needs of their heads (protein).

    4) In an agricultural society, and certainly in a developed agricultural society, humans have quite a bit of control over what they raise, so they are able to influence to a considerable degree what foods are available to them.

    5) By raising plants rich in protein (soybeans for example), humans are capable of catering both to their stomachs (because they are eating plant food) and to their heads (because they are eating enough protein). So raising animals for food in a developed agricultural society seems to be quite needless and even harmful for our health (to say nothing about the health of the animals humans raise and the health of this planet).


    Anyway, I definitely agree with Korn about not letting what my ancestors ate influence what I eat for lunch tomorrow. What my ancestors ate is a part of the problem - they planted the seeds of a ridiculously carnivorous culture that can cause nothing but trouble. I don't mean to overestimate my influence, I don't expect to be able to turn too many people into vegans, I'll be lucky if I convert any at all. But, I want no part in the further destruction of this planet's ecosystem, waters, soil, atmosphere etc. and I want no part in the perpetuation of animal slavery. Finally, I want to reduce the likelihood that I will die of some meat-related disease. And if I have any children and if they live to see some large-scale animal-food related epidemic, I want to give them the best chance I can of being among the lucky survivors.

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    By the way, the article from medical-library.net is interesting, but it's not terribly credible. Human evolution isn't nearly as well understood as they would like us to believe. For example, it isn't clear that Homo habilis is the ancestor of Homo erectus. Some think that it's just a variation of Homo erectus, others that it's its cousin. And who says that Homo erectus exterminated the australopithecines? Maybe I missed something, but I have never heard of any evidence that would suggest that Homo erectus was killing the australopithecines. Also, the relationship between the Neanderthals and modern humans is not well understood at all. Are the two just subspecies of the same species? Are we different species? Could the Neanderthals speak? And what's that thing about the neuro-chemical change from 4 thousand years ago? Where did that occur? Does that mean that the Old and New World humans are different species? I'm really suspicious.

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    Quote Hasha
    3) In a non-agricultural society, it is virtually impossible to obtain enough protein by eating plants alone. This is because most of the plants found in the wild don't have too much protein in them. So, non-agriculturalists are forced to go against their intestinal tract (by eating meat) in order to satisfy the needs of their heads (protein)
    I beg to differ. After buying a book on edible wild plants I saw just how much wild plant food is available, even in the overpopulated region where I live. It just takes a lot of knowldge to know where to find it, how to identify it, how to process it, and what is poisonous.

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    Quote John
    I beg to differ. After buying a book on edible wild plants I saw just how much wild plant food is available, even in the overpopulated region where I live. It just takes a lot of knowldge to know where to find it, how to identify it, how to process it, and what is poisonous.
    Just? Seriously though, the question isn't whether those plants are edible but whether they would provide enough protein for our brains. What we need is a lot of those plants that provide us with a lot more protein than your average plant has. Also, how many of those plants are available year round? If you're a forager, you aren't going to be able to store all that much to survive winter.

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    It is possible to make flour from many wild plants to last through the winter. Off the top of my head I can give the examples of acorns and cattails (a marsh plant we have around here) which can be made into flour. Wild rice can be dried. And yes, many wild plants are high in protein.

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    I don't think that non-agriculturalists could make flour.

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    In the case of cattails, I believe that flour can be made with only one's hands and a bucket of water. No grindstone. But even grinding with stone does not require much much technology. Think of Southwestern Indians grinding cornmeal on a flat stone with another grinding stone in hand. I know that they were agriculturists but the point is that the implements don't have to be that heavy.

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    I'm still suspicious. Are the plants that are 1) easy to make flour from and 2) rich in protein, easily and widely available? Also, even if it's fairly easy to make flour, how do you store it if you're constantly moving from one place to another?

    The fact is that most (all?) non-agriculturalists ate at least some meat. There must've been some advantages to doing so. I mean, if it was so easy to get all the nutrients necessary from plants growing in the wild, I can't imagine that the feeble Homo sapiens would've bothered hunting big, scary animals, no matter how smart he may have been.

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    Of course, it largely depends on climate. However, it seems that in many instances most of the food probably came from plants, while hunting occasionally brought in some food. It seems like men hunted because they enjoyed hunting and left the women and children at home to do the real work of gathering and processing food. Meanwhile, the men spent the day enjoying the scenery and sport. Of course, occasionally they would bring home a kill and everyone would enjoy the extra food.

    There are obviously some places like Alaska where most of the food came from hunting and fishing. However, these seem like places which were only recently inhabited by people forced into the fringes.

    Out of gathering plants for food and medicine came language. Out of language came classification. Out of calssification came science. Out of science came technology. Out of technology came "civilization".

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    Quote John
    Of course, it largely depends on climate. However, it seems that in many instances most of the food probably came from plants, while hunting occasionally brought in some food. It seems like men hunted because they enjoyed hunting and left the women and children at home to do the real work of gathering and processing food. Meanwhile, the men spent the day enjoying the scenery and sport. Of course, occasionally they would bring home a kill and everyone would enjoy the extra food.
    You are right about this, John. I remember reading in one of my text books (or somewhere) that, in the Hunter/Gatherer era, 90% of their food was plant based.
    "A human can be healthy without killing animals for food. Therefore if he eats meat he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral." - Leo Tolstoy

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    I do believe that the hunter-gatherers' diet was largely plant-based. In the summer at least, it would've been far easier to find plants than it would be to hunt down a large animal. That doesn't mean that the early humans would've been just as well or better off if they'd just stuck to plants. Even if meat was just 10% of their diet (something I'm quite prepared to believe, at least when it comes to humans who lived in relatively mild regions, which is presumably where Homo sapiens first evolved), those 10% were protein-dense and would've been quite valuable. Hunting must've been risky and unpredictable business, so it would be hard to believe that the early humans could rely on the men to keep them from starving by hunting. Taking care of the tribe's needs for calories, vitamins, etc. would've been the women's job since they were the ones to gather the plants, and plant gathering must've had a far more predicable outcome than hunting did. But, when the men struck it lucky, they would bring home a big animal that would take care of everyone's protein needs (or rather, the protein needs that weren't fully met by the plant food that people ate most of the time). So I would think that the men had an important role to play in meeting the tribe's nutritional needs, even though, in terms of calories, they provided far less than the women did. I find it hard to imagine that the men would just go off to hunt simply because it was fun, leaving the women to do the boring work. I can't imagine that they saw it as nothing but sport. I would guess that sport developed as an imitation of war and hunting in the agricultural societies at times of peace. Sport and hunter-gatherers - that strikes me as a rather weird concept...

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    From the documentaries which I have seen about the African wilderness, it seems like there is fierce competition for meat. There is always some big carnivore running up and snatching a piece of meat from a smaller carnivore. It makes me think that it might have been quite dangerous to have a big barbecue back then. Especially since it was the time of megafauna around the world and animals were much bigger then. One instance of a lion running up on a band of rejoicing hunters may have been enough to disuade them from hunting.

    I'm sure that some bands may have gotten good at fighting animals and stuck with the hunting method, but some others may have decided to not attract large carnivores to their camps. These people may have decided to not have animal carcasses lying around and stuck with the plants.

    Of course this is purely hypothetical. All I am saying is that it is possible that there were vegan stone age people. Why not, with all the different cultures in the world? If we can be vegans now, with so much meat to be easily gotten, why not vegans then?

    Why not nonviolent cavemen? They were human beings just like we are.

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    It is possible that there were vegan non-agriculturalists. But if they existed, that must've been in areas where plenty of protein-dense plants were available all year round. Can anyone think of such an area? I don't know, I've never studied the subject. Also, it is true that there is far more meat available today, but think about how you obtain your food. You go to a supermarket. Do I want chicken or do I want tofu? You do have lots and lots of meat easily available, but protein-dense plant foods are also readily available for those who want them. That's not the way things worked thousands of years ago.

    Also, a big barbecue would've been quite safe, I would think - animals tend to be afraid of fire. Now, dragging a carcass home for that barbecue would've been a different issue... Plus, even a vegan tribe wouldn't be safe from bigger carnivores - humans can be run down and eaten. But still, I suppose it's possible that among the many omnivore tribes, there were a few vegan ones as well.

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    Quote John
    Of course, it largely depends on climate. However, it seems that in many instances most of the food probably came from plants, while hunting occasionally brought in some food. It seems like men hunted because they enjoyed hunting and left the women and children at home to do the real work of gathering and processing food. Meanwhile, the men spent the day enjoying the scenery and sport. Of course, occasionally they would bring home a kill and everyone would enjoy the extra food.

    There are obviously some places like Alaska where most of the food came from hunting and fishing. However, these seem like places which were only recently inhabited by people forced into the fringes.

    Out of gathering plants for food and medicine came language. Out of language came classification. Out of calssification came science. Out of science came technology. Out of technology came "civilization".
    You seem to be pretty damn certain about the specific activities and the reasons for those activities without really supporting why you believe that. Men would NOT have hunted just for sport. It gas been observed and well documented that early homo sapiens hunted megafauna (mammoth, whoolly rhino, ect). These animals were extremely dangerous but provided enough meat for a very long time. There's no reason to believe that humans would take part in such a dangerous acvtivity if it didn't have any utilitarian purpose.

    And there have been people living in the far northern latitudes for a long time. It is most likely that they slowly crossed over into the Americas along the cost around Alaska or over the landbridge into northern Canada. There have be sites found to be thousands upon thousands of years old. In terms of modern human society thats a fairly long time.

    Obviously there's always a chance that some early groups of humans were vegans, and there maybe some evidence of that now. But the overwhelming evidence (found in animal bones with cuts made from human tools, actual tools found, and fossilized poop) shows that most humans ate at least some meat. But I'm really not sure if this has anything to do with the culture of animal abuse alive in society today. There was a reason humans ate meat back then, it had the huge benifit of giving them alot of fat and alot of protien calories in a relatively compact form. In the western world today we don't need that, our bodies aren't built to be as lazy as they are and cope with the amount fat most humans consume. Blah, thats about all I have to say, I'm tired.

    PS. John, sorry. I hope it didn't look like I was attacking you, so please don't take it as that.

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    I certainly don't believe that all people were vegans 100,000 years ago. Just that is is possible that some were. If archeologists in the future want to know what people of our time eat, they would have a hard time finding any evidence that some people are vegans. The majority of archeologists would say that all people ate as much meat as they could. "There would be no way that a person could go to the supermarket and find enough
    protein-rich foods. They just didn't exist in the supermarket. Poor people would eat as much meat as possible because they were starving."

    So let's build a monument to veganism that will last 100,000 years.
    We must leave our mark. Any suggestions?

  19. #19
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    Quote Korn
    "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

    Here is a similar list from http://www.ecologos.org/anatomy.htm:

    Facial Muscles

    CARNIVORE: Reduced to allow wide mouth gape
    HERBIVORE: Well-developed
    OMNIVORE: Reduced
    HUMAN: Well-developed

    Jaw Type

    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

    Jaw Motion

    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

    CARNIVORE: Temporalis
    HERBIVORE: Masseter and pterygoids
    OMNIVORE: Temporalis
    HUMAN: Masseter and pterygoids

    Mouth Opening vs. Head Size

    CARNIVORE: Large HERBIVORE: Small OMNIVORE: Large HUMAN:
    Small

    Teeth: Incisors

    CARNIVORE: Short and pointed
    HERBIVORE: Broad, flattened and spade shaped
    OMNIVORE: Short and pointed
    HUMAN: Broad, flattened and spade shaped

    Teeth: Canines

    CARNIVORE: Long, sharp and curved
    HERBIVORE: Dull and short or long (for defense), or none
    OMNIVORE: Long, sharp and curved
    HUMAN: Short and blunted

    Teeth: Molars

    CARNIVORE: Sharp, jagged and blade shaped
    HERBIVORE: Flattened with cusps vs complex surface
    OMNIVORE: Sharp blades and/or flattened
    HUMAN: Flattened with nodular cusps

    Chewing

    CARNIVORE: None; swallows food whole
    HERBIVORE: Extensive chewing necessary
    OMNIVORE: Swallows food whole and/or simple crushing
    HUMAN: Extensive chewing necessary

    Saliva

    CARNIVORE: No digestive enzymes
    HERBIVORE: Carbohydrate digesting enzymes
    OMNIVORE: No digestive enzymes
    HUMAN: Carbohydrate digesting enzymes

    Stomach Type

    CARNIVORE: Simple
    HERBIVORE: Simple or multiple chambers
    OMNIVORE: Simple
    HUMAN: Simple

    Stomach Acidity

    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

    Stomach Capacity

    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

    Colon

    CARNIVORE: Simple, short and smooth
    HERBIVORE: Long, complex; may be sacculated
    OMNIVORE: Simple, short and smooth
    HUMAN: Long, sacculated

    Liver

    CARNIVORE: Can detoxify vitamin A
    HERBIVORE: Cannot detoxify vitamin A
    OMNIVORE: Can detoxify vitamin A
    HUMAN: Cannot detoxify vitamin A

    Kidney

    CARNIVORE: Extremely concentrated urine
    HERBIVORE: Moderately concentrated urine
    OMNIVORE: Extremely concentrated urine
    HUMAN: Moderately concentrated urine

    Nails

    CARNIVORE: Sharp claws
    HERBIVORE: Flattened nails or blunt hooves
    OMNIVORE: Sharp claws
    HUMAN: Flattened nails

  20. #20

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    A dear friend of mine, an omni, often tells me that "cavemen ate meat" as if to justify her diet. It's become almost a joke with us. One day I'm going to ask her if she lives in a cave ;-)

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    Quote Korn
    Meat-eaters: have no skin pores and perspire through the tongue
    Herbivores: perspire through skin pores
    Humans: perspire through skin pores
    The rest of the list seems self-explanatory (and this one probably is too ), but this one confuses me. Does it have something to do with prey being able to smell a hunting animal?
    -JK

  22. #22
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    From an item about Tollund Man who lived about 2400 years ago in Denmark:

    The stomach and intestines were examined and tests were carried out on their contents. The scientists discovered that the man's last meal had been a kind of soup made from vegetables and seeds, some cultivated seeds and some wild: barley, linseed, 'gold of pleasure', knotweed, bristlegrass, and camomile.

    There were no traces of meat in the man's digestive system, and from the stage of digestion it was obvious that the man had lived for 12 to 24 hours after this last meal. In other words, he had not eaten for a day before his death. Although similar vegetable soups were not unusual for people of this time, two interesting things were noted:

    The soup contained many different kinds of wild and cultivated seeds. Because these seeds were not readily available, it is likely that some of them were gathered deliberately for a special occasion.
    The soup was made from seeds only available near the spring where he was found.
    The body is currently kept in the Silkeborg Museum in Denmark.

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    I just found the " Fruits of the Past " article from Viva! which is relevant to this thread. Sorry if it duplicates whats already been posted.

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    Thanks Gert again, excellent article. I am going to give the printout to my son for his "self-defence" when being challenged by some fellow highschoolers.
    Knowing the truth is freedom, all else is a prison {?}

  25. #25

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    I will not respect a person as a *TRUE* omnivore unless he/she can eat their foods LIVE im talking taking a big old bite out of a sleeping cows back...

    Until then i see people as vegetarian and that only..

  26. #26
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    This is irrelevent, but my meat eating husband says that humans developed the large brains that enabled them to advance so much is because they began eating fish. He sited some study somewhere....I don't pay him much attention since he takes every opportunity to tell me why being vegan isn't natural.

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    Quote mysonvaughn
    This is irrelevent, but my meat eating husband says that humans developed the large brains that enabled them to advance so much is because they began eating fish. He sited some study somewhere....I don't pay him much attention since he takes every opportunity to tell me why being vegan isn't natural.
    I've heard such things before, and I'm not too skeptical about them. However, the environment in which our species first appeared was very, very different from the one that we live in now. Are there benefits of meat? Well, sure. If you don't have access to plants that will do the trick (protein primarily) without clogging your arteries and what not... We live in a highly developed agricultural society. We choose what foods will be available to us. So why not choose what's best for us instead of going for meat, which is second best (at best).

  28. #28
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    Quote mysonvaughn
    This is irrelevent, but my meat eating husband says that humans developed the large brains that enabled them to advance so much is because they began eating fish.
    There are vegetarian cultures that never ate fish and still brought us highly intelligent people.

    He might think of Omega-3, which many meat eaters don't know is not a problem for vegans/vegetarians.
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  29. #29

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    Quote Korn
    There are vegetarian cultures that never ate fish and still brought us highly intelligent people.
    I think mysonvaughn is talking about the first humans, the first H. sapiens. We don't really know whether there were any vegetarians among those early humans. It's possible, but I'm inclined to think not. (Although it's possible that they weren't eating fish in particular, and they most definitely weren't eating the amounts of meat that today's average Westerners have in their diets.)

  30. #30
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    Yeah, i have taken a multi vitamin everyday of my life and now that I'm a vegan he says "see you have to supplement your diet!" pllllttt

  31. #31

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    The question of protein intake isn't even a problem. There is no doubt that primative man could get enough protein by foraging for vegetable foods. Without a doubt. The brain is not so much a protein consumer as a fatty acid consumer! You need a high amount of DHA to create & maintain a decent brain, hence the "fish eating vegan idea".
    The "Homo aquatis" (sp?) theory is pretty old now. The theory being that at some point the origin humans lived on the sea-shore & pre-humans lived on maybe shellfish or seaweed (or both). This increased their DHA intake, so allowed for the huge investment of our mega-brains.
    They site the lack of body hair (for getting through the water & drying quickly), upright stance (obviously an advantage for wading), & a few other things that I can't think of off of the top of my head.

    Most people make a mistake (in my view) when taking about "primative man", they look back to the Hunter/Gather period. I'd say it's as likely that we developed our digestive tract BEFORE our intelligence. The diet allowed for intelligence.
    If I had a vote on our earlest ancestors. Looking at all the facts (few that there are). My vote would be for a kind of super chimp. We'd eat plants, but wouldn't say no to scavenging some carcuss. I can't see how we'd be designed for any actual hunting? Maybe the odd egg raid (if the bird wasn't too big or dangerous). Although it may be the case we went through a period like that expounded by those who agree with the "Homo Aquatis" theory, I can see one major flaw in the argument. If our main source of Essential Fatty Acids (EFA's) were sea-products, then where did we get our ALA? All sea-sourced EFA's contain DHA & EPA, but do not contain the EFA ALA. ALA is vital for loads of functions in the body, it isn't called "essential" for nothing! ALA can break down into DHA & EPA, but not the other way round, you can't get ALA from DHA or EPA. My hunch would be that humans found a source of ALA, that was there lucky break, we got lucky with a food choice that allowed us to accelerate our brain development. From there, we figured out how to hunt, farm, etc. But, by then are digestive tracts were already designed & we were fighting our design to push into areas that we weren't designed for (outside of the african jungle, to the cold climates, to non-jungle environments etc). In these harsh conditions we were forced to adapt our eating & behavour just to survive. This is the begining of the hunter/gatherer era. Now, due to advances in agriculture etc we can actually begin to return to a diet nearer what would be natural for a crazy primate .
    Well that's the Pete theory of human evolution. Not saying it's right or wrong, just saying maybe???????????????????????????????????
    http://www.veganbodybuilding.org/

  32. #32
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    Default The Natural Human Diet

    http://www.goveg.com/feat/NaturalHum...consumer_enews

    has a lot of good facts for those veggie vs. meat-eater arguments
    What about the clams on the shore? :confused:
    Souls in progress, here come the fisherman - soul no more
    :(

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Intersting Article

    Thank-you for the link. Great information.

  34. #34
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    Default evolution and the discovery of meat

    I was asked by someone today if I believed that we evolved into a more sophisticated species after we learned to cook and eat meat. I said "no, I don't see how eating meat could have evolved us". He said it was a scientific fact that associated eating meat to our brains expanding so much. I responded that I've heard of other very detailed theories (not just protein = big brain!) that explain that phenomenon of our evolution. From my understanding it's the most baffling event in all of evolution (he agreed to that) and that I also understood that were no concrete explanations, only theories as to what caused it. I went on to say that if anything meat has held us back because the protein in it is only 20% absorbable by the body, it has no vitamins, anti-oxidants, or anything other than protein, b12, and iron so no, I don't see that as a valid explanation for the biggest event of evolution.

    So, I wanted to get the opinions of some others here because I know a lot of you are more educated on the subject than I am. If you could post any links to articles that explain one way or the other if meat caused this or not, that would be great

  35. #35
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    Default Re: evolution and the discovery of meat

    Sorry, don't know of any links but IMHO...Absolute nonsense, think about it, all life-vegan children would be halfwits if that were true.
    As for learning to cook, caveman drops meat on fire, has no more, so eats it anyway, thinks mmm, this nice, give to tribe, everyone loves it, it becomes a custom to cook the meat. (Then they try it out with other food.)
    Utilizing fire to cook, etc, was what made us a more sophisticated species. I think that's what this person may have misconstrued.
    It is a monstrous thing to do, to slay a unicorn...you have slain something pure and defenceless and you will have but a half life, a cursed life, from the moment the blood touches your lips.

  36. #36
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    Default Re: evolution and the discovery of meat

    Unfortunately anthropologists believe that the human brain could not have grown to its present size without the use of animal protein. Homo habilis, believed to be the earliest representative of our genus (Homo), was a tool user, and there is evidence that this creature used these tools to crack bones and extract the marrow. In terms of a raw food diet only, marrow would have been a more easily digested source of nutrients than the raw roots, nuts, and tubers also consumed by Homo habilis. This does not mean, however, that our cavemen ancestors were mighty, savage hunters who evolved requiring huge slabs of bloody flesh in their diets! Homo habilis was a scavenger, and there is the theory that scavenging is what helped our tiny ancestor develop the intelligence required to steal these sorry leftovers from the true hunters and scavengers without being killed himself.

    I don't know too much off the top of my head about the advent of cooking, but I suspect our ancestors got the idea from rummaging through the remains of grass or forest fires. The roasted tubers, and unfortunately, the animals, too, probably gave off very attractive aromas. The hominids were probably the only species able to make the connection between the actual fires, and the tasty results.

    I don't have any links, since most of this is what I remember from anthropology texts, but you might try searching the following:

    Homo habilis

    Homo erectus

    Homo sapiens


    It is not the best news, but evolving a larger brain by using bone marrow in what was becoming an increasingly colder and harsher environment is no justification to me for our modern-day overindulgence in completely unecessary and detrimental animal products. If the climate had not changed from a warmer, more tropical one our brains might still have evolved on a very different source of easily digested plant protein. Its just that when the climate change altered the environment, easy to eat tropical plants died out, and species had to adapt to what was available or die out too. Homo habilis adapted to a very different environment than our modern one, and survived. There is no reason for modern day Homo sapiens to behave as though we are still living in an environment that made the scavenging of bone marrow essential for survival. Thanks to the reversal of the Ice Age we are again living in a climate that allows an abundance of easy to digest plant foods to thrive. By analogy, people who are stranded in isolated areas by plane crashes or shipwrecks may be temporarily forced during times of extremity to eat the bodies of their dead companions or die. This does not imply that when they are rescued and returned to a more benevolent environment that in order to survive they must continue to cannibalise human beings (though I have seen a few horror films concerning that very subject!).

  37. #37
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    Default Re: evolution and the discovery of meat

    Obviously it's true that eating meat has made us what we are today.

    But evolution is an ongoing process, and now we have the potential for conscious evolution based on global awareness.

    Vegans recognise that continued animal exploitation coupled with population expansion is straining available resources beyond their limits.

    Humans nowadays have to consciously develop a strategy for sustainable and equitable existence. Meat-eating on the western scale is totally unsustainable, therefore vegans are consciously adapting their behaviour in an attempt to avert disastrous consequences for humanity. This is a contemporary evolutionary trait, arising from our human intelligence and awareness.

    Presumably compassion is also a manifestation of higher evolution, since it's apparently absent in 'lower' life forms
    once in a while you can get shown the light
    in the strangest of places if you look at it right

  38. #38
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    Default Re: evolution and the discovery of meat

    Yes, it definitely has to be recognised that eating meat in the past has resulted in what we are today (whether that's good or not is another matter!).

    However, I was under the impression that it wasn't so much the eating of animal protein contributing to the larger brain size, but that it was to do with the more advanced communication needed to organize all the hunting trips etc...

    Also, I believe that early man didn't actually eat that much meat at all (once a month, so I heard on a recent documentary) and was pretty much vegan for the rest of the time.

    Mankind certainly hasn't evolved to be eating meat a few times a day, and it isn't surprising that it causes so many health problems.

    One of my lecturers at college said that 'vegetarians are the pinacle of evolution'. He didn't mean it quite like that, but veganism has to be the way to go?!

  39. #39
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    Default Re: evolution and the discovery of meat

    Evolution or not, we clearly aren't designed to eat meat.

    Besides, does it matter whether or not we have evolved / are meant to eat meat? The fact is that over consumption of meat is not sustainable, or healthy and we now have the choice to eat other things. We have the ability to see that exploitation of animals, especially in such great quantity, is not moral or necessary and we have the ability to change how and what we eat.

    End of

  40. #40
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    Default Re: evolution and the discovery of meat

    Exactly. Vegetarians must be the pinacle of evolution, because they are making sensible choices about the treatment of other living things, health, sustainability etc..

    I hate that argument given by non-vegetarians that primitive people ate meat, or the question 'what would you do if you lived in x country and had to eat meat to survive?'. It just isn't relevant! You're absolutely right, it's about being able to make the choices. Obviously if you don't have a choice then that's fair enough, but that just accentuates the fact that the people arguing actually cannot justify why THEY eat meat.

  41. #41
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    Default Re: evolution and the discovery of meat

    There is evidence that primitive people ate meat but it cannot be said they ate that in exclusion to vegetable foods except in ice age conditions.

    It is hard to suggest that eating meat per se directly contributed to the increase in the growth of the human brain otherwise you would have to accept that all carnivores should then have increased brain size - how are humans different?

    One major difference is the use of fire which greatly increases the energy density of food relative to the volume eaten and energy required to digest it. There is evidence to show that all human societies have used fire for 250,000 years which is enough time for several speciation events - between 15,000 - 25,000 years and in mammalian species, as little as 5,000 years.

    More energy rich foods and a habit of collecting/hoarding foods increased social development while allowing for greater time 'learning' (play) without having to spend so much time foraging (ruminants) or digesting (felines). If a creature had brain development that accorded greater survivability and developed habits that afforded it increasing ways to 'access its niche', then you could suggest increased brain size - but not because a set group of people eat bone marrow!
    "if compassion is extreme, then call me an extremist"

  42. #42
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    Default Re: evolution and the discovery of meat

    Posted by veganblue:
    It is hard to suggest that eating meat per se directly contributed to the increase in the growth of the human brain otherwise you would have to accept that all carnivores should then have increased brain size - how are humans different?
    Opposable thumbs!

    Posted by veganblue:
    One major difference is the use of fire which greatly increases the energy density of food relative to the volume eaten and energy required to digest it. There is evidence to show that all human societies have used fire for 250,000 years which is enough time for several speciation events - between 15,000 - 25,000 years and in mammalian species, as little as 5,000 years.
    The reason that Homo habilis was classified in the genus Homo rather than Australopithecus was the increase in the size of its skull, thus its brain. H. habilis is thought to be about 3 million years old. The brain growth first observed in H. habilis must have had a cause other than the use of fire in cooking.
    Homo erectus lived between 2 million and 400,000 years ago. There is evidence to suggest that H. erectus had the use of fire. But the size of his brain was already 50% that of modern day humans.

    Posted by veganblue:
    More energy rich foods and a habit of collecting/hoarding foods increased social development while allowing for greater time 'learning' (play) without having to spend so much time foraging (ruminants) or digesting (felines).
    Approximately 1 million years ago the first evidence of Homo erectus social structure is found in the fossil record. This is attributed by anthropologists to be a result of the gradual decrease in the size difference beteen males and females of the species, and this social structure was not as complex as the types of structures developed by Homo sapiens. H. sapiens had already achieved its modern day brain size by the time such activities developed.

    I still don't think any of this matters to the eating behavior of modern day humans. Evolution is not a straight line path with a beginning and an end. Just because our ancestors used animal products does not imply an evolutionary imperative that we must also. I agree with those who have said that we now have a choice. We most certainly do! Homo habilis may or may not have altered the course of human brain development by its use of bone marrow as food. We can now change the course of further human development by our food choices, and why should we choose as our ancient ancestors did?
    We know so much more now than they did then.

  43. #43

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    Default Re: evolution and the discovery of meat

    I don't know what made our brains get bigger, but I do know what made our societies get larger - cultivation of wild crops and domestication of animals. This allowed us to maintain non-food producers in the community; and these people had the time to develop new technologies. Hunter-gatherers had little time for anything except procuring food. The women had children spaced out every 3-4 years because they could only carry one at a time. This lifestyle did not allow for a large population growth or anything else.

    The beauty of all this technology and knowledge is that we now have the choice of NOT relying on animals for food or power.

    Wouldn't it be great if we had national holidays to honor all the fallen animals in our past? They would be our heroes. We could have statues of them in public places and chapters about them in history books. Oh, sorry, guess they are JUST animals (except we wouldn't be here without them).

    Thanks for letting me daydream
    Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. - Albert Einstein

  44. #44
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    Default Re: evolution and the discovery of meat

    i was reading a magazine produced by a food supplement company, which had an article by Desmond Morris (i'm not sure what he would call himself but he's some sort of anthropologist i think).

    he said in his article that humans evolved due to eating meat, and that a veg*n diet is 'nutritionally inferior' to a meat-based diet, and that all veg*ns must take supplements to be healthy. i wasn't surprised considering it was in a magazine for a supplement company, but that just isn't true!!
    'The word gorilla was derived from the Greek word Gorillai (a "tribe of hairy women")'

  45. #45
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    Default Re: evolution and the discovery of meat

    Animal protein gave us bigger brains and that's what made us intelligent? Think about the absurdity of that for a moment... So the vegetarian elephant must be smarter than humans because he has a bigger brain? And men must be smarter than women because we have bigger brains? And hunting animals boosted intelligence rather than the recognition, classification, and processing of edible plant species? Now I could see how hunting could make one a better athlete, but more intelligent?

  46. #46

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    Default Re: evolution and the discovery of meat

    Quote John
    Animal protein gave us bigger brains and that's what made us intelligent? Think about the absurdity of that for a moment... So the vegetarian elephant must be smarter than humans because he has a bigger brain? And men must be smarter than women because we have bigger brains? And hunting animals boosted intelligence rather than the recogition, classification, and processing of edible plant species? Now I could see how hunting could make one a better athlete, but more intelligent?
    I believe that the issue is not brain size as such, but the brain/body size ratio. Elephants may have bigger brains than humans, but that's because their bodies are so much larger. As for men and women, yeah, men have bigger brains, but that's because their bodies are larger (I believe that women actually have a slightly higher brain/body size ration than men).

    However, I do believe that there is some controversy about just how relevant brain size is (even after body size is taken into account). For example, Asians have larger brains than Caucasians, who have larger brains than Africans, but there doesn't seem to be any good reason to believe that certain ethnic/racial groups are more intelligent than others...

  47. #47
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    Default Re: evolution and the discovery of meat

    Posted by Hasha:
    However, I do believe that there is some controversy about just how relevant brain size is
    You are right. Einstein's brain weighed about 1/2lb. less than the average human brain.
    And who can say whether elephants are less intelligent than humans? Human IQ tests are not even reliable when people of different cultures take them, so how can we tell how intelligent other species really are? Using ourselves as a measuring tool for all other species isn't fair to them, and the way we are using our unique capabilities actually makes us look pretty stupid when compared to the rest of the animal kingdom. Only the stupidest parasites actually kill their hosts.

  48. #48
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    Default Re: evolution and the discovery of meat

    Quote Gorilla
    i was reading a magazine produced by a food supplement company, which had an article by Desmond Morris (i'm not sure what he would call himself but he's some sort of anthropologist i think).

    he said in his article that humans evolved due to eating meat, and that a veg*n diet is 'nutritionally inferior' to a meat-based diet, and that all veg*ns must take supplements to be healthy. i wasn't surprised considering it was in a magazine for a supplement company, but that just isn't true!!
    I actually had an argument with Desmond Morris years ago on an LBC radio phone-in programme, where I was saying people now have the ability to consciously evolve beyond dependence on animal exploitation, but he didn't answer my points properly, and eventually they just faded me out

    Quote Seaside
    You are right. Einstein's brain weighed about 1/2lb. less than the average human brain.
    Yeah, what about the power to weight ratio?
    Brains can get all gunked up with fatty plaques, which stop them functioning efficiently.
    once in a while you can get shown the light
    in the strangest of places if you look at it right

  49. #49
    realfood neil
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    Default Re: Did humans always eat meat?

    Did humans always eat meat? Who cares! I am not interested in what we have evolved from, just what we are evolving to. And if you don't have to eat flesh, then why do it?

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    Default Re: evolution and the discovery of meat

    Quote Dianecrna

    Wouldn't it be great if we had national holidays to honor all the fallen animals in our past? They would be our heroes. We could have statues of them in public places and chapters about them in history books. Oh, sorry, guess they are JUST animals (except we wouldn't be here without them).

    Thanks for letting me daydream
    Take heart, it's possible!

    Britian is the only country of the commonwealth not to have a war memorial for animals, but that's about to change. My daughter saw this on a kid's website.

    Monument

    People may still eat 'em, but it's nice to know some heroes do get recognition.


    Regarding humans eating meat, I wonder how many of us would be vegan or have a problem with others eating meat if it was still a case of one deer falling at a time, a community sharing meat, people only eating a small amount and not on a daily basis, as opposed to factory farming and mass slaughter, today's supermarket aisles of flesh, McDonalds, KFCs....BBQ's....etc.
    It literally is overkill, and man hasn't always done that. Early hunters weren't sucessful every day.
    We've seen the damage mass livetock farming has done to our planet, it's not compatable with our earth, therefore not natural.

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