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Thread: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

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    Alex ALexiconofLove's Avatar
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    Default Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    Quote Korn View Post
    but the idea some vegans send out (eating meat is natural, eating vegan isn't, we still suggest that you eat vegan) sends out a very confusing signal.
    I don't think arguments about what is "natural" are relevant to ethical questions, so I don't find it confusing. If someone wants to argue with me about meat-eating being natural, I would rather explain to them that what is natural is irrelevant to what is ethical than get into an argument about whether humans are herbivores, omnivores, or fruitarians. I don't think the latter argument has a clear winner, and we may never know exactly what all, most, or some people ate ten thousand or a hundred thousand years ago. And knowing what people ate a hundred thousand years ago may not even be useful, because our species is constantly evolving. I don't think every species has a natural, ideal diet that remains constant over time.

    Quote Korn View Post
    I have yet to see one person post something that have convinced me that we are 'natural omnivores'.
    I'm read many of the old threads and posts and I'm not convinced people are "natural herbivores." I've seen a lot of fallacious arguments comparing human anatomy to the anatomy of carnivores and herbivores, when in fact no one argues that we are carnivores. There is huge variation among the anatomy of omnivores. Some have sharp teeth (dogs), some have flat teeth (sloths). Some eat large amounts of meat, some very little... this can even be true within the same family (panda bears live mostly on bamboo, polar bears live mostly on meat).

    But I wouldn't dismiss the possibility that humans are natural herbivores. I'm just not convinced. And I don't really care, except that I think when vegans assert that we are herbivores as a bald fact, they are opening veganism to attack. Why should we hinge our philosophy on scientific theories that have not yet been proven? Why should we hinge our philosophy on scientific theories at all, since even "proven" scientific theories can be found false at later points in history?

    I totally agree with your comment that the dietary habits of apes, chimpanzees, and other primates is irrelevant to the question of what humans have been eating for the past 150,000 years.

    Quote Korn View Post
    Some vegans almost seem 'obsessed' with promoting that idea of humans being natural omnivores.
    And some are "obsessed" with promoting the idea of humans being natural herbivores. I think both obsessions are silly, because they distract from the core issues of vegansim.

    Quote Korn View Post
    They use arguments like 'I know x omnivores who aren't sick,
    Well sure. Doesn't everyone? But anecdotal evidence is not as good as statistical evidence.

    Quote Korn View Post
    Even if people don't get sick from eating certain amounts of something (like leaves from trees, paper, dirt, sand, mud) this isn't an evidence that we are natural mud (etc.) eaters... right?
    No, of course, not.

    But there is a lot of variation in meat intake of different omnivorous species, and I'm sure that species that only eat very small amounts (like the 5% insects you mentioned above) would get sick by eating more, so showing that an omnivorous species gets sick when consuming large amounts of meat does not prove that they are naturally herbivorous either.

    Edited to Add: If a person has a cat who gets sick on conventional cat food (full of hormones and antiobiotics from franken-animals) and then gets well eating vegan food, it doesn't prove that cats are herbivores.
    Last edited by Korn; May 20th, 2008 at 01:01 AM. Reason: This post was from another thread (about vegan ethics)
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

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    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: does 'natural' matter?

    I don't think arguments about what is "natural" are relevant to ethical questions
    I partially agree, so I created a new thread out of this post - and will respond later!

    Here's the very short version: Since you both say that you don't think arguments about what is "natural" are relevant to ethical questions, and therefore 'don't find it confusing', and that you believe that humans are omnivores - plus, you don't disagree with people who claim that a vegan diet isn't natural... my point isn't that while this may not be confusing for you (are you really sure? ), it contributes to maintain confusion among non-vegans. I'm asking if you are really sure because you both state the we are omnivorous - and because you rather want to discuss 'ethics' than natural, but still have posted that you consider humans omnivorous (in a thread about arguments pro/con eating meat) and that there is no 'clear winner' in that discussion about whether humans are omnivores/herbivores or not. What I know is that I'm not even an omnivore, and I find your statements confusing!

    I've already commented your belief that humans are currently omnivorous in another thread where you have written about the same topic, and asked you what you actually mean when you say that we are omnivorous, and will post later about why I think the natural/non-natural topic is important in this thread.

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    Alex ALexiconofLove's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: does 'natural' matter?

    Sorry, it is no longer my belief that humans are currently omnivorous--I don't believe there's enough evidence to conclude that humans are "naturally" or "supposed to be" herbivores or omnivores.
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: does 'natural' matter?

    I think that regarding what is ethical, what is "natural" is irrelevant.

    Humans can thrive without animal products, and regardless of it being natural, or unnatural, or whatever label regarding the "naturalness" of a diet; humans can thrive on a diet abstaining from animal products.

    I don't even see how any claims of what is natural in a diet can be anything but a distraction from the argument on the ethics of veganism.
    context is everything

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    cobweb
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: does 'natural' matter?

    i think it shouldn't be relevant because nothing is 'natural' these days anyway, but as so many meat-eaters seem to think it is important then it becomes so, it would seem.

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    Alex ALexiconofLove's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: does 'natural' matter?

    I agree with Rodolfo, of course (that's been my whole point). But there are practical considerations to think about. Korn and Cobweb think that it's important for us to argue that a Vegan diet is natural because meat-eating humans want to eat a natural diet. I think it's important for us to not link our arguments with unproven scientific theories because it makes aspects of veganism provable or disprovable, which they shouldn't be.

    Personal experiences comes into this as well, I'm sure. It seems like Korn has encountered many people who say they're not vegan because it's not natural. I've encountered many people who think vegans are wackos because we sometimes subscribe to (very loudly and adamantly) unproven scientific theories. So we probably each have a different idea of what is more harmful to veganism.
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

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    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: does 'natural' matter?

    FWIW I suspect from what I've read that it's 'natural' for humans to eat anything they can get their hands on, and that that's the secret of our evolutionary success (if you can call it that!): we have been able to survive and reproduce when particular types of food are scarce by eating other foods instead. (ETA so a variety of different diets could have been 'natural' for humans at different periods of history and pre-history.) But obviously eating everything we can get our hands on when food is relatively plentiful is not a good idea, from any point of view.

    I agree with Rodolfo, though. We only need to show that (a) you can be healthy on a vegan diet and (b) that it's more ethical - then its naturalness is irrelevant.

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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: does 'natural' matter?

    Quote harpy View Post
    FWIW I suspect from what I've read that it's 'natural' for humans to eat anything they can get their hands on, and that that's the secret of our evolutionary success (if you can call it that!): we have been able to survive and reproduce when particular types of food are scarce by eating other foods instead. (ETA so a variety of different diets could have been 'natural' for humans at different periods of history and pre-history.) But obviously eating everything we can get our hands on when food is relatively plentiful is not a good idea, from any point of view.

    I agree with Rodolfo, though. We only need to show that (a) you can be healthy on a vegan diet and (b) that it's more ethical - then its naturalness is irrelevant.
    Totally agree with that as well!

    And, slightly off topic, but new scientific evidence pertaining as to why we (humans) became so successful points to a rogue gene that appeared around 200,000 years ago that caused a rapid shrinking of the Temporalis muscle (runs from behind the eye, round the skull) which, in turn left the skull free to expand rapidly and let the areas of the brain involved in the process of language increase in size dramatically, and so seems to give validity to Darwins theory!
    Communication rather than adaptability of diet led to our domination of the planet!
    Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty!

  9. #9
    Klytemnest
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: does 'natural' matter?

    Quote Korn View Post
    I partially agree, so I created a new thread out of this post - and will respond later!

    Here's the very short version: Since you both say that you don't think arguments about what is "natural" are relevant to ethical questions, and therefore 'don't find it confusing', and that you believe that humans are omnivores - plus, you don't disagree with people who claim that a vegan diet isn't natural... my point isn't that while this may not be confusing for you (are you really sure? ), it contributes to maintain confusion among non-vegans. I'm asking if you are really sure because you both state the we are omnivorous - and because you rather want to discuss 'ethics' than natural, but still have posted that you consider humans omnivorous (in a thread about arguments pro/con eating meat) and that there is no 'clear winner' in that discussion about whether humans are omnivores/herbivores or not. What I know is that I'm not even an omnivore, and I find your statements confusing!

    I've already commented your belief that humans are currently omnivorous in another thread where you have written about the same topic, and asked you what you actually mean when you say that we are omnivorous, and will post later about why I think the natural/non-natural topic is important in this thread.
    I have never stated that a vegan diet is "unnatural", nor would I tacitly agree with this statement. I am simply saying that what is "natural" is irrelevant. I mean, what does "natural" mean, anyway? Clearly we, humans, are able to thrive on vegan AND omnivorous diets. Sure, I think a well-balanced vegan diet is probably healthier than a well-balanced omni diet, but still - we are ale to survive and thrive on omni diets.

    Furthermore, "natural" is not always synonymous with "best". Nature is mindless. Just because we evolved a certain way does not necessarily mean that this is the best conceivable way for us to be. So, even if we evolved as herbivores "naturally" - so what?

    It doesn't matter how we evolved. The FACT is that we are perfectly capable of eating meat and thriving. This fact alone is enough to categorize the human species as "omnivorous." Cats are not omnivorous. Goats are not omnivorous. We are. We have a choice. They don't. We can thrive on vegan diets and we can thrive on omnivorous diets.

    For me the choice is not a matter of evolution and "natural design"; it's a matter of ethics.

    And yes, you are an omnivore, Korn. So am I. So are we all. We are perfectly capable of eating meat and thriving. But we choose to lead vegan lifestyles. It's not that the call of nature, my own nature, revealed to me my true "veganness." It was the ethical considerations of meat consumption. I loved eating meat. I ate meat just about every day until the age of 30 or so. And I did just fine. It did not kill me, nor did I suffer terribly as a result of meat consumption. So, even if meat consumption is not very healthy for us, I still do not think one can make the argument that we are "natural" herbivores the same way horses are. Horses cannot go on the Atkins diet; we can. Unfortunately...

    Don't be mad at me for calling you an omnivore, OK? For me it is not an issue of what we are; it is an issue of what we ought to be. They are two very different things. A while ago I heard that humans are not really "naturally" monogamous. Does that mean that I am therefore justified in cheating on my partner? No. Even if it is our nature to have multiple partners, that has little to do with the ethical issues of trust and commitment.

    I understand your interest and passion on this subject. Ultimately, I don't think it matters. I don't think it should matter. This is a door omnis like to open in search for justification for their choices. I do not agree with opening this door. It doesn't matter which side wins or loses this debate. It's an irrelevant issue, and I do not like the idea of the omnis feeling that they have achieved ethical justification of their choices. Don't allow them to think that all they have to do is find evidence for the "naturalness" of an omnivorous diet. Nature is mindless. Nature is not driven by ethics, and this is why we should not let nature dictate what our ethics should be.

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    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: does 'natural' matter?

    Quote Klytemnest View Post
    I am simply saying that what is "natural" is irrelevant. I mean, what does "natural" mean, anyway?
    Dear Klytemnest,

    that's an interesting combination of statements. If you discuss what's natural and not - or if it's relevant - the meaning of 'natural' is quite important. I looked up some common definitions of natural when we had a similar discussion earlier, and here's some common and relatively similar definitions of natural:

    • existing in or produced by nature; not artificial or imitation

    • (used especially of commodities) being unprocessed or manufactured using only simple or minimal processes

    • A substance that is derived from mineral, plant, or animal matter and does not undergo a synthetic process

    • Produced or existing in nature; not artificial or manufactured.

    • occurring in nature

    • about material: Material found in nature, such as wood, stone, gases, and clay.

    • Not altered, treated, or disguised

    • in accordance with nature

    • existing in nature or created by the forces of nature, in contrast to production by man; not made, manufactured, or processed by humans



    Some people state that 'everything is natural', which just leaves the word with absolute no meaning. I think lots of confusions comes from using only two words: natural and unnatural. Since we are not born with clothes - and sometimes need clothes - we need a third term, like 'nature friendly', or 'compatible with nature'. More about this later.



    Clearly we, humans, are able to thrive on vegan AND omnivorous diets.
    With the thousands of posts and articles on internet documenting...
    a) links between common human diseases and diet
    b) in particular, links between common - and serious - diseases and animal products...
    ...I don't think the word 'clearly' fits into that sentence. If you could prove that all the links between heart disease, digestive problems, cancer etc. and meat are based on fake science or have been manipulated, maybe the word clearly would fit in - and the same goes for the naturalness of drinking milk from other species. Health authorities now warn against giving babies cow's milk since it may increase the likelihood to develop diabetes in many children, and human incompatibility with cow's milk isn't a new thing, as this: (Early man 'couldn't stomach milk') and other articles discuss. (We have a thread about the 'naturalness' of drinking milk here.)

    Maybe we could 'thrive' on a combination of eating synthetic supplements and juice made from grass, bark or soil, but that doesn't mean that such a diet would be 'natural' for humans - so 'thrive' and 'natural' are two different things - and the main point is that with an average human being sick 10 years of his life, and a at least third of the population dying of diseases we have found no cure for, claiming that humans are 'thriving' on the diet that is linked with these problems is a very strange thing to do- 'Struggling' would be a better word.


    Nature is mindless.
    That's a conclusion - but you don't say how you got to that conclusion... Most people in this world have deep respect for nature, and if you look at the body of an animal or human, you'll see that there's a lot of 'intelligent design' baked into us all. One doesn't have to be religious to see that there's a 'meaning' in how humans' and non-human animals' bodies are equipped from nature. There's a reason we have teeth in the mouth, and not in our neck.


    So, even if we evolved as herbivores "naturally" - so what?
    Even if some vegans don't care about natural or not, to claim that it is natural for us to eat meat and/or that we are omnivores represent a different statement than saying that it doesn't matter what's natural, which you do:

    Of course it is "natural" for us to eat meat. I did it for most of my life.
    You really seem to mix up 'natural' with 'normal'.

    But why does it matter? It has already been proven that eating meat is not necessary for our health, longevity or survival. Heck, abstaining from meat may even lead to better health and survival.
    So - is a diet that causes reduced health or reduced live expectancy 'natural' (remember that we are vegans, so we also take the ethics into consideration)? I'm not saying that whatever diet that makes us live until we are 200 is 'natural', but shouldn't a consideration of what's best for our health (without harming nature in 'a non-healable way') be taken into consideration? There are poisonous plants, so obviously, not everything that grown in nature is good for humans - but that's a different topic.

    If someone claim that it's "of course natural" for us to eat meat (like you do), my main response (in addition to all the reports about health issues associated with animal products) that we - unlike omnivorous/carnivorous animals aren't even equipped with a body that is capable of hunting and killing deer, sheep kettle, fish or birds. The concept of 'natural' stops already before these poor creatures has been converted into food.

    • Natural, or natural processes have been defined above. Stones appear in nature, but trying to chew on them would seriously damage our 'naturally occurring' (and necessary) teeth, so eating stone doesn't seem natural to me.
    • Every product in the world is made out of something which at some point has been 'naturally occurring in nature, but that doesn't mean that 'everything is natural'.
    • "Destroying" a plant and eating it is a very different activity than killing an animal and eating it. Since we need food to survive, it makes sense to me to consider what diet that would be least damaging to nature, most 'natural-friendly', and also which diet that can provide as good or better health than a meat based/combined diet and at the same cause as little harm to animals, the planet and humans as possible. That would be a truly 'nature compatible' diet.
    • According to natural, human instincts, most humans may want kill an animal in order to survive in a life/death situation, but that doesn't mean that it's 'natural' to kill and eat meat under normal conditions.
    • 'Synthetic' lifestyles, based on a lot of chemicals, environment unfriendly poisons are common these days, but that doesn't mean that these people are having a 'natural' lifestyle. Living in a way that causes long time damage on the planet we live on when there are other options, isn't living 'in accordance with' nature.




    And yes, you are an omnivore, Korn.
    According to the common definition of omnivore, I'm not even close. Far from it.

    We are perfectly capable of eating meat and thriving.
    Google 'meat' and the names of some common diseases. Please document that all those reports about links between eg. cancer or heart disease and meat consumption are wrong.

    Give up meat and your life will get better - you will enjoy better health, your planet will enjoy better health.
    So - according to you we 'thrive' on a diet that will cause reduced health (compared with living on a vegan diet). But doesn't thrive have to do with 'surviving well'? How can eating something that means reduced health be considered as just as natural as something something that will give us improved health, as long as ethical values also are taken into consideration? If 'thrive' is a condition for natural, and thrive has to do with not only surviving, but surviving well, wouldn't 'survive better' equal 'more natural' as long as ethics is taken into consideration?

    Cannibalism exists in nature, right? It's natural. So, there is nothing unethical about it?
    Of course not - nobody in here claimed that everything that you can find in a forest - be it a rabbit, a poisonous mushroom or a republican should be eaten, or that ethics shouldn't be taken into consideration. But to go to the extreme opposite doesn't make sense. We don't need to exclude 'nature friendly' when we discuss ethics - or exclude ethics if we discuss 'nature friendly'.

    It's mainly your "We are animals. They are animals. Animals eat animals. We are omnivores"-thing I don't get. Millions of animals on this planet has never eaten chicken, fish or beef. Some animals kill/eat these living beings, some don't. You seem to use the same illogical excuse that some meat eaters use when they claim that it's natural for humans to eat meat because some animals do it: they select to look only at the animals who actually eat meat, and use those as a reference. It just as illogical as to claim that we shouldn't eat meat because sheep doesn't eat meat.

    Eating meat means killing nature in several ways:

    First of all, an animal is killed, and animals are part of nature - right?

    Since I don't buy the slightly euphoric we-should-live-on-light-and-not-eat-plants theory, and because apples doesn't scream or try to escape when I pick them, I don't see eating plants as killing - or as destroying nature. Eating a plant isn't a 'planet-unfriendly' activity.

    And - finally, not only are there many diseases associated with eating meat and dairy products (more than half of the world population still can't 'stomach' milk); our very planet can't 'stomach' how humans today use animals as food. Is a diet natural if both the planet, the animal, and humans' health suffer as a result of as that diet? Do you even feel a natural impulse to kill if you see a bird or a squirrel? Is killing goats, cows or dogs and tearing them apart psychologically built into our instincts?


    Hey, I grew up on meat. I loved the taste. I used to chew on chicken bones and suck out the bone marrow!
    Sure, and if you would spend a couple of years with dogs in your childhood, you would bark. I guess we agree that this neither makes it natural for you to eat meat or natural for humans to crawl on the ground and bark...

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    Alex ALexiconofLove's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: does 'natural' matter?

    This is kind of tangential... maybe it just belongs in a thread called "What does natural mean?"

    Quote Korn View Post
    here's some common and relatively similar definitions of natural:

    existing in or produced by nature; not artificial or imitation
    But nature imitates too. There are butterflies that look they have eyes on their wings and flowers that look like bees.

    Also, humans are produced by nature, so aren't the things we do by extension from nature? Or are human beings the sole animal considered outside of nature? Can other animals have activities that are "unnatural"? For example, other animals use tools... sometimes even to catch food. So if are tools artificial or natural?

    So many people seem to define natural as being everything man or womankind doesn't do, whereas our activities our unnatural... but since we are animals, that argument has never made sense to me.

    Quote Korn View Post
    (used especially of commodities) being unprocessed or manufactured using only simple or minimal processes
    But something is not either processed or unprocessed... each person would have to decide for him or herself what "minimally processed" is. And "processing" is not a very clearly defined term itself. Does processing mean heating? Does it include only chemical changes or does it include other changes? And why is something that is processed unnatural?

    Quote Korn View Post
    A substance that is derived from mineral, plant, or animal matter and does not undergo a synthetic process
    This makes sense to me if there's a good definition for a synthetic process. "Synthetic" and "process" are both a bit wishy-washy in the same way that "natural" is.

    Quote Korn View Post
    Produced or existing in nature; not artificial or manufactured.

    occurring in nature
    This is what throws me for a loop. Everything in the universe exists within nature, even the artifial and manufactured things.

    Quote Korn View Post
    about material: Material found in nature, such as wood, stone, gases, and clay.
    All materials are found in nature, some are just created by human beings (a part of nature). We could say "materials that were not created by human beings," but again, why are human beings and their activities not considered a part of nature when all other animals and their activities are?

    Quote Korn View Post
    Not altered, treated, or disguised
    Things are altered, treated, and disguised in nature.

    Quote Korn View Post
    in accordance with nature

    existing in nature or created by the forces of nature, in contrast to production by man; not made, manufactured, or processed by humans
    So, the whole definition of natural hinges on the idea that man's activities (and his activities alone out of all animals) exist outside of nature. To me, this seems a bit presumptuous, an attempt to define ourselves as different and separate from nature (on the outside looking in) when in fact we aren't.

    Quote Korn View Post
    Some people state that 'everything is natural', which just leaves the word with absolute no meaning.
    Yeah, that's me. The word doesn't mean anything to me! Its existence seems to be rooted in the idea that men and women and their activities are outside nature. I am open to explanations, though. Gotta think about that "synthetic process" bit.
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

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    Default Re: Does 'natural' matter?

    I've not read the posts on this thread cos my head hurts, but I just wanna throw some things out there:

    Take your clothes off;
    get rid of your oven, microwave, fridge etc;
    Move out of your home;
    Stop cycling;
    Don't drive;
    Don't take the bus;
    stop drinking tap water.

    I could go on for days. Those things aren't natural.

    I think we should stop debating whether something is "natural" or not, but instead just live our lives as fully and harmlessly as possible. After all, some people believe rape or murder to be "natural", but it doesn't mean we should do it.

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    Alex ALexiconofLove's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: does 'natural' matter?

    Quote Korn View Post
    With the thousands of posts and articles on internet documenting...
    a) links between common human diseases and diet
    b) in particular, links between common - and serious - diseases and animal products...
    ...I don't think the word 'clearly' fits into that sentence. If you could prove that all the links between heart disease, digestive problems, cancer etc. and meat are based on fake science or have been manipulated, maybe the word clearly would fit in - and the same goes for the naturalness of drinking milk from other species.
    Eating meat and drinking milk are two different things. There are lots of creatures in the world that eat meat, and only one that drinks milk. Being the sole creature that does something doesn't necessarily make that activity "unnatural"... Or, because I don't like that word, maybe we could say "doesn't mean we are not evolved to participate in that activity"? But it makes it less likely. And the less time we have been eating something (2 or 3000 years? Maybe 4000) makes it less likely that we are optimallly evolved to eat that thing. If human beings continued to drink milk for another 5,000 years, maybe we would become optimally evolved to drink that thing. At the moment, are gene pool has taken a step in that direction (a la the mutation that allows some people to drink milk), but I don't think we're fully evolved for it (supported by the medical things Korn mentioned!).

    Eating meat is something that some earthlings evolved the ability for way, way back. But that doesn't mean homo sapien is optimally evolved to eat meat. What have human beings been eating for the past 150,000 years? The answer to that question would be useful (though I don't think relevant to vegan ethcis), but as Korn has pointed out, it's a difficult thing to determine, and the current method of saying "Look, we found a crude knife at one archeological site, everyone at this time period must have eaten meat!" is dumb.


    Quote Korn View Post
    Maybe we could 'thrive' on a combination of eating synthetic supplements and juice made from grass, bark or soil, but that doesn't mean that such a diet would be 'natural' for humans
    I will just take "natural" to mean the diet we are currently ideally evolved to eat (Sidenote: maybe my problem with the word "natural" is just that there's usually a clearer, more exact word or phrase that could be used?). The problem is, creatures are never perfectly evolved to their environments, because evolution happens over such long periods of time, whereas environmental changes can occur quite rapidly. Evolution for most creatures doesn't just stop (although I think there are some ocean species that have been around for ages and ages without changing much?), and omnivores can evolve herbivores or carnivores, or omnivores can evolve to eat more meat or less meat.

    So the best way to find out what we are currently evolved to eat is to see which diets make us healthiest, which diets make us live the longest, which diets make us smartest or most energetic, etc. I guess there could actually be different diets for these things?

    Anyway, as Korn points out, there are many studies documenting that meat-eathing is unhealthy, and I don't question the scientific-ness (?) of those studies, but the *conclusions* of some of those studies may be flawed. If you say "People who ate red meat once a day were three times as likely to develop x, therefor red meat is bad," you've left several things out of the equation. Most red meat today comes from cows fed hormones and antibiotics, and it's very possible that those two things are responsible for health problems. You're also showing that people who eat red meat once a day get sick, but humans could be evolved to eat red meat once a month or once a year (so that eating more makes them sick).

    I'm not trying to argue that people should eat hormone free, antibiotic free red meat a few times a year... I think it would be wrong from an ethical standpoint. I'm saying I haven't seen proof that we are not evolved to do that or that such a diet would not be healthy. I'm concerned that if we convince people to eat a vegan diet for health reasons, and then they find out that certain non-vegan diets can be just as healthy or healthier, they will go back to eating meat and/or feel like veg*ns trust any scientific study that supports their beliefs while discounting any that go against their beliefs.

    Again, not saying that nonvegan diets of any kind *are* healthy, but rather that by linking our philosophy to scientific claims, we make our philosophy falsifiable. It's like the Catholic church and Galileo... if they hadn't jumped on the bandwagon of certain scientists and philosophers and their claims about the cosmos, the church would not have been in so much trouble when Galileo showed up saying the earth revolved around the sun. But the whole thing was pointless, because the arrangement of the cosmos cannot prove or disprove the existence of God. Likewise, discovering the diet that humans are ideally evolved to eat (if such an ideal diet even exists) does not prove or disprove the statement that killing unnecessarily is wrong.

    Quote Korn View Post
    Even if some vegans don't care about natural or not, to claim that it is natural for us to eat meat and/or that we are omnivores represent a different statement than saying that it doesn't matter what's natural, which you do.
    True. I think my problem with the statement "humans are natural omnivores" or "humans are natural herbivores" is that I disagree with the word "natural" and there are a gabillion different eating patterns (based on type of animal eaten, amount of meat consumed, etc.) that could all be called omnivorous.

    Quote Korn View Post
    If someone claim that it's "of course natural" for us to eat meat (like you do), my main response (in addition to all the reports about health issues associated with animal products) that we - unlike omnivorous/carnivorous animals aren't even equipped with a body that is capable of hunting and killing deer, sheep kettle, fish or birds.
    No, we need tools to do so. But other animals use tools to catch food, and I think that is part of evolution. If a creature can fashion a tool to catch prey, then there is no evolutionary pressure for the body to change. If a bonobo can stick a twig into a hole and get termites to crawl on the stick, there is no evolutionary pressure the bonobo to grow a probiscus (sp?). But if all the bonobos start eating termites, there will be evolutionary pressure to evolve toward eating termites. If humans have knives and spears to catch animals, there is no evolutionary pressure to grow claws and fangs.

    Quote Korn View Post
    "Destroying" a plant and eating it is a very different activity than killing an animal and eating it. Since we need food to survive, it makes sense to me to consider what diet that would be least damaging to nature, most 'natural-friendly', and also which diet that can provide as good or better health than a meat based/combined diet and at the same cause as little harm to animals, the planet and humans as possible. That would be a truly 'nature compatible' diet.
    Word. But not applicable to the question of whether or not we are best evolved to eat some sort of omnivorous diet or some sort of herbivorous diet.
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

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    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does 'natural' matter?

    All materials are found in nature
    What do you mean by 'nature'? The Universe? Existence?

    IMO we should aim at not making this more difficult than it is...


    Originally Posted by Korn
    Some people state that 'everything is natural', which just leaves the word with absolute no meaning.
    Yeah, that's me.
    I choose to stick to the commonly used ways to define 'natural'.


    Everything in the universe exists within nature, even the artifial and manufactured things.
    'Natural flavoring' or 'natural colors' - when used about food, normally means flavors or colors that comes from natural sources, with no or minimal processing. Colors or taste made in a lab by mixing chemical substances that are very different from their original/unprocessed form wouldn't be called 'natural' by most people.

    Again - if 'natural' doesn't mean anything/if "everything is natural", this thread will be meaningless... The same would be true about a lot of literature about saving our environment.

    Like I said, term like 'nature friendly' or 'compatible with nature' are needed if we discuss natural, because nobody claims that we're just going to sit still with an open mouth and drink rainwater whenever it rains and consume nothing else.

    When a label says '100% natural', eg. about a juice, it means that there's no added, artificial flavors or color in it. But... apple juice doesn't grow on trees - apples do. The moment they make juice out of a few apples, we have already done something with the apples. I can't really see how that represents a problem in this context.

    Some people will say that 'humans always ******, so it's natural', but that's a misuse of the word natural; what they refer to is normally 'normal'.

    Regarding imitation - IMO it doesn't matter if some butterflies look like they have eyes on their wings and some flowers look like bees, because the part about 'imitation' refers to the difference between eg. 'orange juice' and 'drink with an imitated orange taste', not to chameleons. (There are even laws saying that you can't call a soda drink eg. 'lemon soda' if it contains less than only a certain percentage actual juice from a lemon - at least in some countries. If it's an imitation, it's not a lemon drink, and they can't put '100% natural' on it if lemon taste come from synthetic colors.).


    My point is that humans aren't even equipped from nature to kill and tear apart and animals - we need tools to do this. The most important disagreement I personally have with people who claim that it's natural for humans to eat meat/unnatural to live on a vegan diet, is they're use of the fact that 'we can make tools'. Yes - we can make tools, but that doesn't mean that whatever we do with these tools are 'nature friendly'. We can make nuclear bombs, but nuclear bombs aren't occurring in nature. If they would be commercially available, nobody would put a '100% natural' sticker on them. Nobody defended the use of nuclear bombs by saying that using nuclear bombs were a natural thing for humans to do, or that the bombs were 'natural'. Nobody defended rape or use of violence by saying that violence and rape has occurred among humans for thousands of years, so 'it's natural'. Normal and natural are two very different things.

    How can it be 'natural' to produce guns, or factories designed to mass slaughter chicken? If it is natural to produce tools that kill animals, killing animals isn't natural for others that those animals that have the claws, speed and jaws that's needed to kill them. Others need to make tools, and if they make tools, they can decide whether they want to make weapons or tools needed to grow and harvest strawberries. There's no logic in saying that 'because we can make tools, it's natural to kill other animals'. It's 'natural' for a lion, but not for a human.


    One could say that from nature's side, we are equipped with what it takes to catch and eat larvae, snails, worms, ants and other creatures that are easy to catch, but I've yet to hear any of those who claim that eating meat is natural suggest that we/they should start eating snails and larvae. One could even argue that something that requires fire isn't natural, because most places on earth, fire doesn't occur naturally. Most plants can be eaten raw, most non-vegans basically prefer cooked (etc) meat.

    I'm not saying we shouldn't use fire or clothes, I'm saying that whatever way we choose to cultivate nature, we should try to do it in a way that doesn't damage nature in ways that will be harmful for the planet, we should strive for a 'nature friendly' culture - and if we use tools - which we do, we should of course strive for causing as little harm as possible. The moment we move from nature to culture, these things become important, and while natural isn't always good and 'cultural' isn't bas as such, I have tried for many years to understand why people claim that (a few) people claim that eating vegan isn't natural, while eating meat is.

    The other thing is that we live in such a de-naturalized world that we're not even close to a natural lifestyle, but this doesn't give us an alibi to harm animals, humans or the planet unnecessary.

    If we kill a human or an animal, we actually - and directly - destroy nature, because humans and animals are part of nature. To me - and most people - peeling a banana is very different from and much more dramatic way of 'processing' natural resources than peeling the skin off a cow. The main thing is of course that one of the two expresses a wish of not wanting to be killed, harmed or have it's skin peeled off. Nobody has managed to convince me that a banana feels pain the way an animal does.


    I believe most people use the word 'natural' in ways very close to the definitions above, and ALoL - if you have a problem with the definition of 'natural', I don't think I can help you, really... there are of course areas that some people may consider natural or 'nature friendly' that others won't, but that doesn't make it 'natural' to eat meat or 'unnatural' to eat vegan. Let's try to keep it simple.

    If someone can help me understand why human consumption of meat should be considered natural (as opposed to 'normal'), but eating vegan isn't - please give it a try. I've tried hard to understand it for many years with no success!

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    Alex ALexiconofLove's Avatar
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    Default Re: Does 'natural' matter?

    Quote Korn View Post
    If it is natural to produce tools that kill animals, killing animals isn't natural for others that those animals that have the claws, speed and jaws that's needed to kill them. Others need to make tools, and if they make tools, they can decide whether they want to make weapons or tools needed to grow and harvest strawberries. There's no logic in saying that 'because we can make tools, it's natural to kill other animals'. It's 'natural' for a lion, but not for a human.
    What about animals that use tools to catch their prey?
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

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    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    Yes, what about them?

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    Alex ALexiconofLove's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    If they use tools to catch their prey, does that mean it is unnatural to eat those animals?

    ETA: Also, I snuck in a post before your post... don't know if you saw it... guess we were typing at the same time.
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

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    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    Short version: I'm not saying that we shouldn't use tools, or that other animals shouldn't use tools, or clothes, or pianos. I'm saying that the fact that we can create tools can't be used as an excuse to say that killing animals is natural/that we are natural omnivores - or that eating vegan isn't natural.

    One could of course say that stones are 'naturally' occurring in nature, and one could kill animals by throwing stones on them, but of course I don't support that...

    I'm not saying that we should be 'all natural' all the time, but that our culture, our ways cultivating nature should be as nature- (and human- and animal-) friendly as possible.

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    Alex ALexiconofLove's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    Quote Korn View Post
    I'm not saying that we should be 'all natural' all the time, but that our culture, our ways cultivating nature should be as nature- (and human- and animal-) friendly as possible.
    Well I can definitely agree with that.
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

  20. #20
    Klytemnest
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    I have gotten quite a few complaints about the length of my posts, so I'll try to be brief. I have said just about everything I have to say on the subject of "natural". The fact is that we are able to eat and digest meat. That alone makes us omnivores. Sure, there is evidence that continued consumption of meat is probably not good for us. But during the course of human evolution, eating meat was better than starving to death. We evolved as omnivores, we evolved with the ability to eat and digest meat - and that was an evolutionary advantage.

    To argue against this fact is, I think, Korn, counter-productive to our cause. As I said earlier, this is a subject favorite of people who are seeking to argue against veganism. They argue that since nature made us to be omnivores, we should not feel guilty about obeying it. The facts are on their side, Korn. We are omnivores. We can eat and digest meat. This ability enabled us to survive as a species - during the thousands of years when Whole Foods was not around the corner and we were always at the brink of starvation. We CAN eat meat. But that has nothing to do with the issue at hand. The relevant fact is that even though we are able to eat and digest meat, its consumption is 100% unnecessary for our survival and wellbeing. So whether met consumption is natural or unnatural is immaterial. It is unnecessary - and therefore eating meat is unjustifiable. Natural shmatural.

    Rami

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    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    Here are some common definitions of omnivore:

    "an organism whose diet consists of a wide variety of foodstuffs, including plants and animals"
    "animal that consumes all kinds of food, particularly both animals and plants"
    "Referring to the habit of consuming a broad variety of plant and animal foods"
    "organisms that eat both animals and plants."
    "an animal that includes both animal and plant material in its normal diet."

    The term doesn't normally cover what we 'are able to', but what we do, what we consume, what we eat. I'm not a celery eater even if I'm able to eat celery.


    If we should describe what most people in the Western world eat, we could descrive them as omnivores - not as in 'meant to eat a diet consisting of plants and meat' - but as in 'actually eating plants meat'.

    If we should describe the hundreds of millions of vegetarians in the East, we couldn't call them omnivores, because they don't eat flesh. A vegetarian is physically able to put flesh in his mouth (he wouldn't be a vegetarian then), but that doesn't make him a meat eater or omnivore according to the common definitions.

    "Is able to" is very different from "is doing".

    Non-violent humans 'are able to' to kill other humans, but that doesn't make us all 'murderers'. Vegan and vegetarian humans who physically 'are able to' to kill animals shouldn't be described as 'hunters'. We can even kill and eat snails and larvae and eat them raw - without using any manmade tools - but that doesn't mean that we are snail eaters. Most importantly, veg*ns who 'are able to' eat meat aren't meat eaters/omnivores either - for the same reason - even if they 'are able to' eat meat. We are able to eat paper, mud and dehydrated cow poo as well, but that doesn't make us natural mud (etc) eaters... right?



    The fact is that we are able to eat and digest meat. That alone makes us omnivores.
    They argue that since nature made us to be omnivores, we should not feel guilty about obeying it.
    'Obeying'.. how does 'obeying' go together with 'are able to'? Should we do everything 'we are able to'? Should we kill and eat an animal and not feel bad about it just because 'we are able to'?

    The facts are on their side, Korn.
    Which actual facts are you referring to? That eating meat isn't associated with known and common health problems? Or the fact that statistically, a lot of humans have been eating meat throughout history? If 'humans have been ******** for thousands of years' is a criterion for stating that it's "natural" for us to do it, and/or that we shouldn't feel bad about it, it would be natural to rape as well. It would also be 'natural' to die at the age of 30-40 years. If the definition of short-lived would be to die before you're 40, humans should be defined as 'short lived' if humans historic life expectancy should be the criterion.


    We are omnivores. We can eat and digest meat.
    Did you try to google eg. meat and cancer? Instead of just repeating your conclusions, why not try to elaborate a little...

    during the thousands of years when Whole Foods was not around the corner
    For hundreds of thousands of years, humans had direct access to only organic food, and ALL food was probably what we today would call 'whole food'. For thousands of years humans more or less lived inside a whole food store. There have been diseases, ice ages, hunger, periods of severe draughts and other reasons that humans have eaten both animals and each other, but that doesn't mean that we are 'meant to' eat meat, or that we are cannibals. Do you think a non-cannibal in an area that was historically known for cannibalism in the past would claim that 'I'm a cannibal, because I'm able to digest human meat'? Or 'My forefathers ate human meat for thousands of years, so I'm a cannibal'? Or even worse: "Humans are cannibals?"

    You don't even seem to be willing to agree that some humans have been eating meet while others haven't when you claim that all humans are omnivores (including myself).

    If you haven't already googled eg. meat and cancer, meat and heart disease, or meat and arthritis - please do. You could also try to read about the effect meant production has on our environment. We 'are able to' eat meat, but as you have said earlier, eating meat is associated with health problems.

    If you read about all the health - and digestive - issues associated with meat consumption and still want to claim that all humans are omnivores, or natural omnivores, and not even the planet can 'stomach' humans' so called 'need' to produce all the flesh our species want, I can't see anything natural about it. To me, that 'we are able to'-claim does not make sense at all when discussing what our natural diet is, neither does it support your ideas that you, I and everyone else are omnivores.

    Now - if you think we are natural cannibals, natural rapers and natural murders, because we are capable of eating humans, killing humans and rape humans... that would be a different story. I truly hope you don't suggest we should define what humans 'are' ( as in 'we are omnivores') based on all the cruel stuff 'we are able' to do.

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    Alex ALexiconofLove's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    This is from Wiki, so not very reliable, but at least shows that there are other definitions of omnivore around besides the ones listed by Korn:

    "Omnivores (from Latin: omne all, everything; vorare to devour) are species that eat both plants and animals as their primary food source. They are opportunistic, general feeders not specifically adapted to eat and digest either meat or plant material exclusively.[1]"

    Note that the term applies to species, not individuals. So just because some people have vegan cats, it doesn't mean that cats are herbivores.

    Based on this definition, the classification of a species as omnivorous relies on two facts: what members of the species eat and what they are adapted to eat. It's possible for those two things to be at odds, though not usually very long (due to evolutionary pressure). Of course, we could say that "evolutionary pressure" is heart attacks, obesity, etc., but modern medicine prevents it from working.

    So, do humans eat an omnivorous diet? For all recorded history, most humans have. Even most Indian people consume milk (though I don't know if that is even categorized as part of an carnivorous or herbivorous diet because no other animal consumes it...). But recorded history is not very long. Before that, it's guess work. I think we can conclude that *some* humans ate meat based on archeological evidence, but it's hard to generalize from that.

    The second half of the definition (what is a species adapted to eat) is the bit that's interesting to argue about, because we have more evidence to pick through.

    Ultimately, though, I think probably very few people eat a diet that is anything like what people ate even a hundred years ago (due to the junk that's in our food now).

    "Although there are reported cases of herbivores eating meat matter as well as examples of carnivores eating plants, the classification refers to the adaptations and main food source of the species in general so these exceptions do not make either individual animals nor the species as a whole omnivores."

    I'll see if I can find info from a better source, but this goes against the argument that individual animals of an omnivorous species can call themselves herbivores... but I'll keep doing it anyway, because it makes me sound cool.

    Based on the definition that "an omnivore is what it eats," (as opposed to, an omnivore is what it has evolved to eat), I would say that if most humans throughout the existence of the species (150,000 years?) have eaten an omnivorous diet, then we are omnivores. Of course, I don't know what human beings have been eating for the past 150,000 years, nor is it entirely implausible that our digestive system has evolved and changed somewhat during that time period (especially given that some humans developed the ability to drink milk several thousand years ago).

    So I'm still fence-sitting. But still doesn't matter to Veganism.
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

  23. #23
    Klytemnest
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    Lexy, good post.

    Korn, you seem to be unleashing your vegan ire on me as if I were "the enemy" (I assure you, I am not), and are beginning to introduce arguments that have nothing to do with whether or not we are omnivores - like the fact that eating meat wreaks havoc on the environment.

    I agree that we should have defined "omnivore" before we launched into this discussion. The definition I was using was the one Lexy provided. Unlike herbivores, we are adapted to eat meat. To me that justifies classifying humans as omnivores, not as herbivores.

    But you are right. You and I do not eat meat so, I suppose it's awkward for us to think of ourselves as omnivores or meat-eaters. Awkwardness aside, I think merely keeping in mind that by "omnivore" one means "adapted to eat meat" should be enough.

    By saying that for most of its history humanity did not live around the corner from a Whole Foods store, I meant that we simply did not have the convenient and abundant source of food we have today. I was not talking about the fact that the diet of our ancestors was "whole" and "organic". I was making the point that without having a convenient and abundant source of food, humans were often on the brink of starvation, and thus the adaptive trait of being omnivorous is what prevented them from becoming extinct. That is all.

    So let's not bicker over labels like "omnivore". I hope that by now I have cleared up my position (with Lexy's help). After all, labels do not matter. Facts do. And it is a fact that we are adapted to eat meat - unlike herbivores. Sure, eating meat is bad for us. But it is better than starving to death. And this is what makes it a beneficial adaptation for our species. If you disagree with this, then I have no idea how to continue this conversation.

    Off to work.

    Rami

  24. #24
    cobweb
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    just to stick my oar in, i do think it sounds pretty annoying to state that 'humans are omnivores' or 'you are an omnivore'. We're clearly not, we're herbivores, we live on plant matter and i am personally certain that early man did, also.

  25. #25
    Klytemnest
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    Quote cobweb View Post
    just to stick my oar in, i do think it sounds pretty annoying to state that 'humans are omnivores' or 'you are an omnivore'. We're clearly not, we're herbivores, we live on plant matter and i am personally certain that early man did, also.
    As I have explained already, it depends on which definition of "omnivore" we use. I was using the definition of "adapted to eat both meat and plants, and not exclusively adapted to eat either." By that definition it is irrelevant that we choose not to eat meat. We are adapted to, whether we choose to or not. This does not in any way weaken our vegan arguments or ethical stance.

    If you define "omnivore" and "herbivore" as mere descriptions of one's diet, then, yes, the correct label would not be omnivore - since we do not eat meat.

    How did you get to be certain that early man was an herbivore? What specifically do you mean by "early man"? How far back to you go? But more importantly, do you think that early man's diet is the diet we should follow today?

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    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    Unlike herbivores, we are adapted to eat meat. To me that justifies classifying humans as omnivores, not as herbivores.
    Since you keep not responding to the questions I've asked, I'm not sure if there's a need to keep repeating my comments... Anyway, based on your logic, it seems that either...

    • cannibals' grandchildren are also cannibals if they are capable of eating - or are 'adapted to eating' - human meat (because they are adapted to it, or because nature 'has made them' cannibals', or...
    • humans are so well adapted to meat that there are no known bad side effects of it, or...
    • all the documented side affects (documented by non-vegans) are just bogus, or...
    • it's 'natural' for earthlings to eat meat even in a world like ours - where our meat production/consumption directly represents a threat to the earth, or...
    • a person/species can be classified as a omnivore (or cannibal, or according to whatever a majority of his historical forefathers in a certain period ate certain amounts of), because what (a majority) of what his forefathers ate justifies classifying him/them as (eg.) omnivores or...
    • the literature saying that eating meat was rare doesn't exist, because you think humans are omnivores based on a definition saying that meat was part of their primary food source (if eating meat was rare, it wasn't their primary food source), or...
    • literature stating that our forefathers' forfeathers were herbivores can be ignored, but not literature informing about meat eating forefathers, or...
    • we shouldn't feel bad about eating meat because 'nature made us omnivores'

    In the worst case, you agree in all this.

    The consequence of all this could be that that one could look at a violent person, a professional fighter/hunter, and say that nature has 'made him' a killer, so he shouldn't "feel guilty" about it... after all, he's become strong and capable of hunting/fighting, so his body is 'adapted' to kill. Combine this with statements about 'obeying' that nature has made us to, and you'll get pretty scary results.

    The combination of 'humans are ********' because a majority of their forefathers were ********' just doesn't make sense, and is very close being a school example of the uselessness if generalization, just like 'Floridians are Republicans'. You even take that path even further, and claim that 'nature made us....', 'we shouldn't feel guilty about....' etc. - combined with totally ignoring all the scientific facts documenting that humans as group are not adapted to eating meat, because eating meat makes lots of humans sick.

    Why is it important to claim the humans are omnivores, or that it's natural to eat meat? Do you agree, Klytemnest, that you mix 'natural' and 'normal'? Natural has to do with something very different than how common something is - or has been. Everybody has a cell phone these days, but does that mean that cell phones - or using them - is in any relevant way related to nature, or natural? And what's this talk about 'obeying nature' that made us omnivores all about?


    I see that you have changed your definition a few times... you first seemed to suggest that eating meat was natural because you did it most of your life (it was 'normal')... then you stated that it did not matter how we evolved/what we have become adapted to, because we 'are able to' eat and digest meat - which is it all it takes to classify us as omnivores. Then, on this next page, how we evolved, or what we according to you have become 'adapted to' actually is what it takes to justify a classification of humans as omnivores. Maybe we should talk more when you have made up your mind...

    One question, though (still awaiting your response): do you really thing can we be classified as 'adapted to' a diet if it can be scientifically proven that living on that diet increases the chances to get serious diseases? Are we really compatible, as a species, to that diet then?

  27. #27
    cobweb
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    Klytemnest, i am personally convinced that early man was herbivorous because we evolved from apes who are primarily herbivorous, and we are without the usual built-in hunting equipment such as talons and large fang teeth. Also humans are not lightning quick or stealthy on their two feet, and the kind of large animals we seem to have eventually hunted required that humans used traps or tools in order to do so. It would also appear than man only started eating other animals in conjunction with the discovery of fire (on which to cook the flesh) so i can only assume that before this time we would have gathered whatever was edible in the form of plant foods which are easier to eat and digest uncooked.

    i think that we would do well to follow a 'primitive' type diet consisting largely of uncooked plant foods, seeds, and nuts, yes, i do .

    by my definition therefore, man is naturally herbivorous but evolved to eat flesh for whatever reason - maybe periods where plant foods were not abundant for whatever reason?. As an example of omnivore vs herbivore, i think of the dog - they can digest both plant and flesh foods very well and could be raised (by humans these days) as either omnivorous, or carnivorous - or herbivorous. The way a dog eats, or the way a person eats, could fit into any of these categories, with (imo) herbivorous being the best choice.

    Personally i would chose to remain vegan even if i stumbled upon the most compelling proof that humans were 'designed' to be otherwise (i have never come across such proof and doubt i ever will), so for that reason what is 'natural' is not important to me as far as my personal choices go. What does annoy me is when people start making it an issue that 'humans are omnivores' - humans (most of them) also drink cows milk, does that also make them bovine? .

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    Alex ALexiconofLove's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    Yes, I think the main problem was that the statement "Humans are natural omnivores" meant different things to everyone when the debate began. Perhaps we should begin all future debates by stating definitions. I think that's what they actually do in the school debates here.

    Quote Korn View Post
    literature stating that our forefathers' forfeathers were herbivores can be ignored, but not literature informing about meat eating forefathers, or...
    Did either of us say that? I don't think I did!

    Quote Korn View Post
    we shouldn't feel bad about eating meat because 'nature made us omnivores'
    I don't think either I or Rami stated that. We have both stated that it is unethical to eat animals, regardless of what "nature made us."

    Quote Korn View Post
    The consequence of all this could be that that one could look at a violent person, a professional fighter/hunter, and say that nature has 'made him' a killer, so he shouldn't "feel guilty" about it... after all, he's become strong and capable of hunting/fighting, so his body is 'adapted' to kill. Combine this with statements about 'obeying' that nature has made us to, and you'll get pretty scary results.
    Just because a person has been designed, through the process of evolution, to be able to do something, does not mean that s/he should, because evolution ain't about ethics. It's about survival. Even if a person is predisposed to do something unethical (eat meat, kill other human beings, act selfishly etc.), s/he is not excused from behaving ethically.

    Quote Korn View Post
    The combination of 'humans are ********' because a majority of their forefathers were ********' just doesn't make sense, and is very close being a school example of the uselessness if generalization, just like 'Floridians are Republicans'.
    The statement "all x are y, because a majority of x are/were y" is not always a true statement, but it can be depending on the definitions of x and y. For example... I could say "dogs as a species are quadrepeds (sp?), because most of them currently have (and have had in the past) four legs," and this statement is not negated by the fact that some dogs have three legs. You may not like the idea that "the classification [of hebivore/omnivore/etc.] refers to the adaptations and main food source of the species in general" but that is certainly a common definition. Some people have cats that we call "vegan cats" but that doesn't mean that cats are not carnivores or that the individual cat has not evolved to eat meat.

    Quote Korn View Post
    combined with totally ignoring all the scientific facts documenting that humans as group are not adapted to eating meat, because eating meat makes lots of humans sick.
    I believe "all the scientific facts" document that humans as a group are not adapted to eating the SAD (massive amounts of meat) or perhaps the current kinds of meat available (processed meat, meat with hormones, meat with antibiotics, etc.). It's quite possible that if you removed all these factors, and people ate less meat and the meat was "organic," that people would still not fair as well as people on a plant-based diet. But we just don't know, because such a study has not been done (as far as I know!).

    Quote Korn View Post
    Why is it important to claim the humans are omnivores, or that it's natural to eat meat?
    Why is it important to claim that humans are herbivores, or that it's natural to eat an hebivorous diet? You've explained that you think it's confusing (and offputting?) for non vegans to be told that veganism isn't natural, but I think it's confusing (and offputting) for non vegans to see vegans subscribing to unproven scientific ideas. This point of contention may have more to do with the types of non vegans we each encounter and debate with on a daily basis.

    Quote Korn View Post
    then you stated that it did not matter how we evolved/what we have become adapted to, because we 'are able to' eat and digest meat
    Speaking for Klytemnest here, but I think he was equating "being able to eat and digest meat" with being "adapted to" eating meat. It's tricky because there are different levels of adaptation. The first level of adaptation to a food would be the level where you can keep it down and suck some calories out of it (the way some humans are adapted to drink milk). A further level of adaptation might be where your body can get rid of the things in the food that are harmful to it, while keeping the things that are good for it. So I guess saying "X species has adapted to eat meat" is a statement that needs some clarification.

    Quote Korn View Post
    do you really thing can we be classified as 'adapted to' a diet if it can be scientifically proven that living on that diet increases the chances to get serious diseases? Are we really compatible, as a species, to that diet then?
    I would say "no," but I think what current scientific evidence shows is that we are not "adapted to" eating large amounts of processed, hormone- and antibiotic-ridden meat. In other words, I think scientific evidence shows we are not adapted to eat the SAD! I am open to scientific evidence proving more (that we are adapted to eating only plant matter or that we are adapted to eating different kinds or amounts of meat), but I don't think it's relevant to Veganism (at least, it's not relevant to mine personally).

    Okay, must quit typing... the cat keeps trying to help me.
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    Quote cobweb View Post
    Klytemnest, i am personally convinced that early man was herbivorous because we evolved from apes who are primarily herbivorous,
    But it is possible for omnivores to evolve from herbivores, or even for carnivores to evolve from herbivores. What our ancestors ate when our ancestors were a different species tells us what *they* were evolved to eat, not what we are evolved to eat.

    Quote cobweb View Post
    and we are without the usual built-in hunting equipment such as talons
    If man had developed tools by the time he started to hunt large animals, then there would be no evolutionary pressure to develop talons. There are bonobos who get termites out of the ground by putting sticks or reeds into their holes... so there's no evolutionary pressure for the bonobos to develop probiscuses (sp?), yet termites are still a part of their "natural" diet (meaning they have evolved to eat termites).

    Quote cobweb View Post
    and large fang teeth.
    Sloths have flat teeth and they are omnivores (I should see if I can find some more examples).

    Quote cobweb View Post
    Also humans are not lightning quick or stealthy on their two feet, and the kind of large animals we seem to have eventually hunted required that humans used traps or tools in order to do so. It would also appear than man only started eating other animals in conjunction with the discovery of fire (on which to cook the flesh) so i can only assume that before this time we would have gathered whatever was edible in the form of plant foods which are easier to eat and digest uncooked. i think that we would do well to follow a 'primitive' type diet consisting largely of uncooked plant foods, seeds, and nuts, yes, i do .
    It's also possible that before developing tools, we ate bugs, or small reptiles or other gross things.

    The human species has existed for 150,000 years... according to wikipedia "Stone tools found in China magnetostratigraphically date back to approximately 1.36 million years ago." In other words, as long as there have been humans, tehre have been tools. Not sure about when we are supposed to have discovered fire, though.

    Quote cobweb View Post
    by my definition therefore, man is naturally herbivorous but evolved to eat flesh for whatever reason - maybe periods where plant foods were not abundant for whatever reason?. As an example of omnivore vs herbivore, i think of the dog - they can digest both plant and flesh foods very well and could be raised (by humans these days) as either omnivorous, or carnivorous - or herbivorous. The way a dog eats, or the way a person eats, could fit into any of these categories, with (imo) herbivorous being the best choice.
    Yup, dogs are an interesting example. But I would say they have definitely evolved as omnivores that eat large amounts of meat (hasn't that been their diet for as long as their species has existed?).

    Quote cobweb View Post
    Personally i would chose to remain vegan even if i stumbled upon the most compelling proof that humans were 'designed' to be otherwise (i have never come across such proof and doubt i ever will), so for that reason what is 'natural' is not important to me as far as my personal choices go.
    I agree absolutely. I personally don't see compelling proof that humans are "designed" to eat meat or that humans are "designed" to be herbivores. All I know is that we *can* survive (and flourish, in fact!) on an herbivorous diet)

    Quote cobweb View Post
    What does annoy me is when people start making it an issue that 'humans are omnivores'
    I get a bit annoyed when people start making a big deal over the idea that humans are herbivores (evolved to be herbivores?), only because I don't think there is conclusive scientific evidence for this, and I think it makes Vegans look flaky to go around subscribing (sometimes quite loudly!) to unproven scientific claims.

    Quote cobweb View Post
    - humans (most of them) also drink cows milk, does that also make them bovine? .
    Are you saying the definition of "bovine" is milk-drinking?
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    no, of course not, but i'm saying that just as being 'able' to drink milk from a cow doesn't make us the same as a calf, eating animal flesh doesn't necessarily make us omnivorous, either.

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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    Quote cobweb View Post
    no, of course not, but i'm saying that just as being 'able' to drink milk from a cow doesn't make us the same as a calf,
    It doesn't make us the same as a calf, because the definition of a calf is not something that drinks milk.

    If the definition of a blind person is that you can't see, then anyone who can't see is blind.

    It all depends on the definition.

    Quote cobweb View Post
    eating animal flesh doesn't necessarily make us omnivorous, either.
    Korn found definitions that basically said an omnivore is a creature that eats plant and animal matter, so by that definition, anone that ate plant and animal matter would be an omnivore.

    The wiki definition I found basically said that a species is classified as omnivorous based on what most members consume and what the members are adapted to consume. So... the fact that lots of humans today eat meat is not proof that they always have or that they are adapted to. So just because some humans eat meat, it does not follow that they are omnivores.

    I think.
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    ok, i agree with above!

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    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    Korn found definitions that basically said an omnivore is a creature that eats plant and animal matter, so by that definition, anone that ate plant and animal matter would be an omnivore.
    The definitions I found were a handful of those that popped up when I googled define omnivore.
    Obviously, the word may both be used about what people actually eat - or about what eg. humans eat as a species - or 'are designed to' or 'have evolved to' eat, or about food that have grown into becoming compatible with over many years of human evolution.

    It has been discussed that even if some individual cats eg. have three legs (due to injury or birth defects), cats as a species has four - which I of course agree in. Maybe the 'problem' isn't as much the word omnivore in itself, but how we use words like 'individuals' or 'adapted'. If Josh Stone would only be a single, odd individual who have never eaten meat, the term 'individual' would make sense (about those exceptions from human omnivores), but if hundreds of millions of humans raised in countries where vegetarianism is considered normal loudly joins in and reminds us that they have never eaten meat, we can't cut them off by saying that they are only 'individuals'. They never ate meat, their parents never ate meat, and this has been going one for many, many generations.

    If someone grow up in very meat focused countries, like eg. Armenia or Portugal, I wouldn't be surprised if people they claim that humans (based on the local population) are omnivores. They may not know about all the non-meat eaters out there.

    It would still be more correct to say that eg. 'Armenians are omnivores', or 'most Armenians are omnivores'. If we look at the planet as a whole, we wont only see some isolated individuals here and there, but massive amounts of people who collectively are against eating meat and therefore don't do it, which is a main reason we can't say that humans as a species are omnivores.

    We can say that humans as a species walk on two legs, but we couldn't do that if there were 380 million people in a given nation that walk on 4 legs.

    The very use of the word 'adapted' suggests that a change is involved. The first definition that comes up if you google 'define adapt' is "make fit for, or change to suit a new purpose". The following Google hits also keep mentioning change. Our own member Indianvegan says that in South India, not only vegetarian, but vegan food is common. Someone else said that if you ask for a Buddhist meal in Japan, it's normally vegan. Then we have the Himalayan tribe that apparently has been eating vegan for 5000 years. These vegans - and the millions of other vegetarians out there - would probably have problems eating and digesting meat. They haven't 'adapted' - and they aren't interested either. Are we so dumbed down by the current, Western lack of respect for animals that we have come to the point where we believe that the rest of the world doesn't exist?

    We wouldn't need to 'adapt' if we were originally/naturally 'made to' eat meat, right? And - if we discuss our true origins, why not discuss our actual origins (before the process of adapting started) instead of what some people insist that some/most humans have fully or partially evolved into being able to stomach, at least in areas where eating meat is more or less the only 'standard'?

    It may look like humans originate from a plant eating species, and that we slowly are moving back to not eating meat. If a hunger catastrophe would occur, there are other and better ways to help people survive that giving them meat nowadays. Humans aren't normally hunted by wild animals anymore - we don't need to kill them to protect us, and we don't currently have an ice age. We also know that the most efficient way to grow food is by producing plants, and not by first producing plants, then give them to animals, and then kill and eat the animals. This aspect would be even more important during a local or global hunger catastrophe.

    I don't see the need to classify Klytemnest, who is gay, as heterosexual - or to classify humans as such as heterosexual even if heterosexual is more common. If one were to discuss what humans "are", sexually, it would be enough to say that most people are heterosexual, and that throughout history, most people have been heterosexual - just like I don't see a need to classify humans as omnivores as a species.



    • literature stating that our forefathers' forfeathers were herbivores can be ignored, but not literature informing about meat eating forefathers, or...
    Did either of us say that? I don't think I did!
    If you look at other threads/literature about human evolution, lots/most info suggest that throughout history, our forefathers apparently both have been mainly omnivores and mainly herbivores, depending on what period you look at, and of course - depending on when you read about human evolution. The theories about human evolution evolve and change - rapidly. A 10 year old book about human evolution is considered out of date. By the way, we already have a thread called Were early humans vegetarians?



    • we shouldn't feel bad about eating meat because 'nature made us omnivores'
    I don't think either I or Rami stated that. We have both stated that it is unethical to eat animals, regardless of what "nature made us."
    He wrote that people who argue against veganism "argue that since nature made us to be omnivores, we should not feel guilty about obeying it" and that history is on their side, but I can't really discuss with the two of you as one unit, ALoL, because Klytemnest claims that humans are omnivores, and you wrote a week ago that it you do not believe that humans are omnivorous...



    The consequence of all this could be that that one could look at a violent person, a professional fighter/hunter, and say that nature has 'made him' a killer, so he shouldn't "feel guilty" about it... after all, he's become strong and capable of hunting/fighting, so his body is 'adapted' to kill. Combine this with statements about 'obeying' what nature has made us to, and you'll get pretty scary results.
    Just because a person has been designed, through the process of evolution, to be able to do something, does not mean that s/he should
    Of course we agree about the ethical part. This was - again - a response to Klytemnest's statement about humans 'obeying' nature by eating eat meat (which involves killing animals) because 'nature made us omnivores' and all that.


    The statement "all x are y, because a majority of x are/were y" is not always a true statement, but it can be depending on the definitions of x and y. For example... I could say "dogs as a species are quadrepeds (sp?), because most of them currently have (and have had in the past) four legs," and this statement is not negated by the fact that some dogs have three legs.
    Sure. Humans as a species walk on two legs - we are a bipedal species.

    Imagine that some Indian villagers, from a village who have been eating chili for thousands of years and possibly even have 'evolved' into being able to eat lots of strong chili, would go to Iceland 100 years ago and claim that 'humans are natural chili eaters'. The reply they would get is 'but we don't even eat chili here'. Or - if the same Icelanders would go to a vegetarian, Indian village and claim that 'humans are natural fish eaters'.. the response would be the same. They have never eaten fish.

    IMO the only way to keep this simple is to say that humans may eat chili. They may eat fish. Some people eat fish, some people eat chili.




    Why is it important to claim the humans are omnivores, or that it's natural to eat meat
    ?
    Why is it important to claim that humans are herbivores, or that it's natural to eat an hebivorous diet?
    This question was for Klytemnest, who claims that we are omnivores, but anyway... Even if I (unlike eg. John Coleman) can't recall ever having said that humans have are natural herbivores or something similar, there are several reasons to not claim that nature made us all into omnivores. It may create a feeling that eating an omnivorous diet is best for us, but we can always survive without meat. It may also give a false impression that there are only individuals (throughout history) that didn't eat meat, which is wrong. Even omnivores agree that humans have been eating plants and that fruit, legumes and vegetables are suitable food for humans. They don't claim that it isn't natural to eat plants. Since we all agree that eating plants is suitable, 'natural' and has been common for humans for ages, what matters is if someone suggests that we are 'meant to' or 'designed to' or 'need to' eat meat. Nobody ever claimed that eating apples or carrots in the amounts people normally eat apples or carrots in is something we aren't evolved to, fit for or capable of, or that we aren't equipped from nature's side to pick apple or carrots. How can eating plants then be unnatural? Again - even if we 'are able to' eat meat in small amounts without getting any unwanted physical side effects, that still doesn't mean that 'humans are omnivores' more than 'humans are natural spaghetti eaters' (or, to paraphrase Steve Pavlina, natural spammers) just because humans able to eat and digest spaghetti (or send spam).




    then you stated that it did not matter how we evolved/what we have become adapted to, because we 'are able to' eat and digest meat
    Speaking for Klytemnest here, but I think he was equating "being able to eat and digest meat" with being "adapted to" eating meat.
    We'll probably find out what he was thinking of, but do you suggest that humans as a species "are" spaghetti eaters if we are 'able to eat and digest' spaghetti? Do you agree that 'adapting' has to do with 'change', and not 'original design'

    It's tricky because there are different levels of adaptation. The first level of adaptation to a food would be the level where you can keep it down and suck some calories out of it (the way some humans are adapted to drink milk). A further level of adaptation might be where your body can get rid of the things in the food that are harmful to it, while keeping the things that are good for it.
    If I go to a country and find that I need to buy an adapter for some electrical gear I have, it is because that gear was NOT designed to be used in that country.



    do you really think can we be classified as 'adapted to' a diet if it can be scientifically proven that living on that diet increases the chances to get serious diseases? Are we really compatible, as a species, to that diet then?
    I would say "no," but I think what current scientific evidence shows is that we are not "adapted to" eating large amounts of processed, hormone- and antibiotic-ridden meat.
    That makes sense, and if we should look at what humans have been eating throughout history, and use that as a reference for what's natural, or what we "are" (as in 'we are omnivores' or 'we are larvae eaters') - and actually follow that tradition, maybe we should eat small amounts of insects and earthworms - raw, and maybe even eat them alive. Bon apetit. At least we agree that there's no reason to do this even if our forefathers at some point in history may have done it.

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    CATWOMAN sandra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    I don't really care if humans are supposed to be omnivores, herbivores or any other kind of 'vore'..............I just don't want to take part in the suffering and death of other living beings and that's enough for me!
    I like Sandra, she keeps making me giggle. Daft little lady - Frosty

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    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    Sure... there are no reasons to copy what our ancestors may have done in the past (and maybe even did in order to actually survive), but since some people use the 'humans are omnivores'-"argument" as an excuse to eat meat, the topic is still interesting/relevant on a vegan forum...

    All our members agree that we shouldn't eat meat, larvae or earthworms even if all human ancestors would have done this in the past... because if they would think so, they wouldn't have been vegans.

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    Alex ALexiconofLove's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    Quote Korn View Post
    The definitions I found were a handful of those that popped up when I googled define omnivore.
    Obviously, the word may be used about what people actually eat - or about what eg. humans eat as a species. It has also been discussed that even if some individual cats eg. have three legs (due to injury or birth defects), cats as a species has four - which I of course agree in. Maybe the 'problem' isn't as much the word omnivore, but how we use words like 'individuals' or 'adapted'. If Josh Stone would only be a single, odd individual who have never eaten meat, the term 'individual' would make sense, but if hundreds of millions of humans raised in countries where vegetarians loudly joins in and reminds us that they have never eaten meat, we can't cut them off by saying that they are only 'individuals'.
    I would say the majority of the world's population does (and has for all of recorded history) consumed meat, eggs, or milk. The only reason this matters is if the definition of omnivore is "a species whose main food source is omnivorous, and a species who are adapted to eat omnivorous food." Because if people mainly eat meat, that fulfills the first part of the definition. Of course, we're only looking at a tiny snapshot of human history, and people could have been eating a different diet in the past.

    Quote Korn View Post
    However, if we look at the planet as a whole, where not only some individuals here and there, but massive amounts of people who collectively are against eating meat and therefore don't do it, which is why we can't say that humans as a species are omnivores.
    This makes sense to me going off either the definition that omnivores are animals who eat meat or the definition that an omnivorous species consumes primarily omnivorous food. It doesn't necessarily fit with the definition that an omnivorous species is evolved/adapted to be herbivores or omnviores, because people could be eating a vegetarian/vegan diet and still be evolved/adapted to eat something else (not saying they are, but it's possible).

    Quote Korn View Post
    The very use of the word 'adapted' suggests that a change is involved. The first definition that comes up if you google 'adapt' is "make fit for, or change to suit a new purpose".
    Of course change involved! Our ancestors were fishes. And before that, single-celled organisms. And before that, chemical goop. Change is not "unnatural"--it's just part of evolution. When a species' environment (food source, climate, predator source, etc.) changes, the species will initially be unsuited to that change and will have to adapt and evolve (or go extinct). Before the change, the species will be very poorly adapted to the new situation. Many tens of thousands of years (hundreds of thousands of years?) after the change, the species will be well adapted to the new situation. But during the inbetween period, the species will struggle, because it is only partially evolved to eat/live/be eaten by whatever new thing has come around. But very soon after the change (no idea on timescale here... prob varies by individual case... a few thousand years? Ten thousand years?) it would not be appropriate to say the species is "unfit for" or "unadapted" for the change, because the species would already have begun changing itself in response.

    Quote Korn View Post
    The following examples also meep mentioning describe a change. Our member Indianvegan says that in South India, not only vegetarian, but vegan food is common. Someone else said that if you ask for a Buddhist meal in Japan, it's normally vegan. Then we have the Himalayan trinbe that apparently has been eating vegan for 5000 years. These vegans - and the millions of vegetarians out there - would probably have problems eating and digesting meat. THey haven't 'adapted'- and they aren't interested either.
    Kind of tangential again... but I'd be interested to see real information/stats about this (well, not really, because I don't want people to eat meat!). I have an Indian friend whose mother was a vegetarian her whole life. During her first pregnancy, she craved meat (maybe wasn't getting enough iron???) and ate it! I was a bit taken aback by this, because I couldn't understand how someone who had never eaten meat would want some. As far as I know (okay, I don't know much about it!), she did not get sick, nor did her child.

    Quote Korn View Post
    We wouldn't need to 'adapt' if we were originally/naturally 'made to' eat meat?
    But the process by which we are "naturally" (by nature, by evolution) made is through adaptation. If there were no pressures to change, and all environments were static, creatures would not evolve.

    Quote Korn View Post
    And - if we discuss our origins, why not discuss our actual origins (before the process of adapting started) instead of what some people insist that some/most humans have fully or partially evolved into being able to stomach, at least in areas where eating meat is more or less the only 'standard'? It may look like humans originate from a plant eating species, and that we finally are moving back to not eating meat.
    Yup, I could believe that. I don't see clear evidence for it, but I'd believe it. Given that we're the only primates who eat tons of meat (Right? Don't really know much about it!), it makes sense that at some point we were plant eating or ate small amounts of meat or different kinds of meat like bugs, reptiles, etc. It would be helpful to know the start date of the change in diet (and subsequent adaptation), but I doubt we ever will.

    Quote Korn View Post
    If a catastrophe come, there are other and better ways to help people survive that giving them meat nowadays.
    You bet! Preagriculture, I can see how meat-eating would be advantageous, but post plant agriculture (and animal agriculture) veganism would be the easiest way to deal with many a food crisis.

    Quote Korn View Post
    Humans aren't normally hunted by wild animals anymore - we don't need to kill them to protect us, and we don't currently have an ice age.
    True that.

    Quote Korn View Post
    I don't see the need to classify Klytemnest, who is gay, as heterosexual - or to classify humans as a species as heterosexual. It's enough to say that most people are heterosexual, and that throughout history, most people have been heterosexual - just like I don't see a need to classify humans as omnivores as a species.
    Again, I think the classification issue (whether or not humans are omnivores as a species) relies on the definition of omnivore. There is no standard definition for "a heterosexual species" but there are some definitions for "omnivorous species" which could apply to the human species.

    Quote Korn View Post
    If you look at other threads/literature about human evolution, lots/most info suggest that throughout history, our forefathers apparently both have been mainly omnivores and mainly herbivores, depending on what period you look at, and of course - depending on when you read about human evolution. The theories about human evolution evolve and change - rapidly. We already have a thread called Were early humans vegetarians?
    Cool, I'll do some reading.

    Quote Korn View Post
    He wrote that people who argue against veganism "argue that since nature made us to be omnivores, we should not feel guilty about obeying it."
    I think he meant that's what other people argue, not what he argues.

    Quote Korn View Post
    Imagine that some Indian villagers, from a village who have been eating chili for thousands of years and possibly even have 'evolved' into being able to eat lots of strong chili, would go to Iceland 100 years ago and claim that 'humans are natural chili eaters'? The reply they would get is 'but we don't even eat chili here'. Or - if the icelanders would go to a vegetarian, Indian village and claim that 'humans are natural fish eaters'.. the response would be the same. They have never eaten fish.
    It is possible for humans to evolve into separate species if there are geographic (or other) barriers to separate them. It just hasn't happened yet, probably because we as a species have not evolved very much since we separated (from our origins in Africa?), so evolution has been limited to thinks like skin tone, facial structure, the ability to drink milk, and some adaptations to local diseases. Well, I guess we've changed a lot, but not enough to stop breeding with each other. I suppose it *is* possible that different people are adapted to different diets... there's at least some evidence for that given that some people can drink milk and others can't.

    Quote Korn View Post
    IMO the only way to keep this simple is to say that humans may eat chili. They may eat fish. Some people eat fish, some people eat chili.
    Some humans may eat meat. Some may eat only plants. But "omnivore" as a word does make claims about what the species as a whole (a) eats, and (b) is able/adapted/evolved to eat. That definition of omnivore may or may not be relevant to us, because it is clear that some people eat a vegan diet and do very well on it. But that definition of omnivore still exists.

    Quote Korn View Post
    Since we agree that eating plants is suitable, 'natural' and has been common,
    I don't know if by "we" you mean the world, or just the VF people, or you and I and Klytemnest, but there are certainly people who don't agree that a plants-only diet is suitable, "natural," or what we have evolved to eat. I don't agree that we are evolved to eat an herbivorous diet, because I haven't seen enough evidence for that. Nor have a seen enough evidence to declare that we are evolved to eat an omnivorous diet. I have problems with vegans making either assertion because (a) it is distracted to Veganism, (b) it can make us look flaky, and (c) it opens veganism to unneeded scientific debate and criticism.

    Quote Korn View Post
    what matters is if someone suggests that we are 'meant to' or 'designed to' or 'need to' eat meat... and again - even if we 'are able to' eat meat in small amounts without getting any unwanted physical side effects, that still doesn't mean that 'humans are omnivores' more than 'humans are natural spaghetti eaters'.
    Nope. But if a human got sick eating only spaghetti, it wouldn't mean that humans were not evolved to eat any spaghetti.

    Quote Korn View Post
    We'll find out what he was thinking of, but do you suggest that humans as a species "are" spaghetti eaters if we are 'able to eat and digest' spaghetti?
    Not necessarily. But just because we cannot live only on spaghetti, it does not mean we are NOT evolved to eat spaghetti.

    Just as a note, the term "spaghetti eater" implies that a person eats spaghetti (in any quantity) whereas the term "omnivore" could imply (a) that the person or animal eats omnivorous food (this is what I mean when I say my Grandma is an omnivore), (b) that the person or animal is a member of a species that eats omnivorous food (this is what I mean when I say that someone's vegan dog is an omnivore), or (c) that the person or animal is a member of a species that is evolved/adapted to eat omnivorous food (replace the word omnivorous with carnivorous, and this is what I mean when I say that a vegan cat is a carnivore).

    Quote Korn View Post
    If I go to a country and find that I need to buy an adapter for some electrical gear I have, it is because that gear was NOT designed to be used in that country.
    Now whose trying to make things difficult?

    Adaptation (as in evolution), is the process of adjusting to changes. Butterflies may change color over several generations to blend in with the trees, but this color change is not "unnatural."

    Quote Korn View Post
    That makes sense, and if we should look at what humans have been eating throughout history, and use that as a reference for what's natural, or what we "are" (as in 'we are omnivores') - and actually follow that tradition, maybe we should eat small amounts of insects and earthworms - raw, and maybe even eat them alive.
    I don't know if that's really the diet our forefathers/mothers ate (maybe if you go back to the time when we were another species) given that we have had tools for millions of years, but the specific species of homo sapien has existed for only 150,000 years.

    Quote Korn View Post
    At least we agree that there's no reason to do this even if our forefathers at some point in history may have done it.
    Agreed. And that's really the important part, I think.
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

  37. #37
    Klytemnest
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    Quote cobweb View Post
    Klytemnest, i am personally convinced that early man was herbivorous because we evolved from apes who are primarily herbivorous, and we are without the usual built-in hunting equipment such as talons and large fang teeth. Also humans are not lightning quick or stealthy on their two feet, and the kind of large animals we seem to have eventually hunted required that humans used traps or tools in order to do so. It would also appear than man only started eating other animals in conjunction with the discovery of fire (on which to cook the flesh) so i can only assume that before this time we would have gathered whatever was edible in the form of plant foods which are easier to eat and digest uncooked.

    i think that we would do well to follow a 'primitive' type diet consisting largely of uncooked plant foods, seeds, and nuts, yes, i do .

    by my definition therefore, man is naturally herbivorous but evolved to eat flesh for whatever reason - maybe periods where plant foods were not abundant for whatever reason?. As an example of omnivore vs herbivore, i think of the dog - they can digest both plant and flesh foods very well and could be raised (by humans these days) as either omnivorous, or carnivorous - or herbivorous. The way a dog eats, or the way a person eats, could fit into any of these categories, with (imo) herbivorous being the best choice.

    Personally i would chose to remain vegan even if i stumbled upon the most compelling proof that humans were 'designed' to be otherwise (i have never come across such proof and doubt i ever will), so for that reason what is 'natural' is not important to me as far as my personal choices go. What does annoy me is when people start making it an issue that 'humans are omnivores' - humans (most of them) also drink cows milk, does that also make them bovine? .
    Thanks for your post. You make some thought-provoking points.

    The indisputable fact is that our species is adapted to eat meat. IF the definition of omnivore is "a species that is adapted to eating both meat and plants", then the label of omnivore applies to us - regardless of whether we choose to be on a carnivorous, omnivorous or herbivorous diet.

    It seems that we are merely disagreeing over what our label should be. Who cares? The fact remains that our species is adapted to eat meat. Sure, in the long term it is probably bad for us. But evolution does not worry about the long term. Our ancestors evolved to have the option of eating meat. Those who had the meat-eating trait survived when food was scarce.

    And I agree with you that this ultimately does not matter. Even if it were discovered that eating meat were wonderful for our health, I would remain a vegan.

    Gotta go,

    Rami

  38. #38
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    The indisputable fact is that our species is adapted to eat meat
    I have asked this question many times, and am doing it again.... Please try to google meat and cancer, meat and heart disease, meat and arthritis etc. and look at all the documentation that is only suitable to demonstrate how we are not adopted to eating meat. If you'll just keep repeating your undocumented statements over and over again, you aren't participating in the discussion, but are spamming.

    It seems that we are merely disagreeing over what our label should be. Who cares?
    You obviously do. since you are the one who keep repeating that humans are omnivores here.

    From our guidelines:

    This forum is about two-way communication, and we expect people to participate and respond, not only to promote companies, sites, themselves or their ideologies.

    no product/opinion/company/organization/spam or preaching please.
    If you don't want to actually participate in the debate, but only repeat your opinions over and over again without telling us how you got there, you need to find another board. If you are interested in two way communication, and in explaining why you have the opinions you have, you are more than welcome to continue.


    The indisputable fact is that our species is adapted to eat meat.
    IF the definition of omnivore is "a species that is adapted to eating both meat and plants", then the label of omnivore applies to us
    The fact remains that our species is adapted to eat meat.
    Our ancestors evolved to have the option of eating meat.
    Here (and this is only from one - your last - post!!!), you are more or less saying the same thing four times, but keep ignoring the questions you have been asked in earlier posts.

  39. #39
    Klytemnest
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    Korn;465948]I have asked this question many times, and am doing it again.... Please try to google meat and cancer, meat and heart disease, meat and arthritis etc. and look at all the documentation that is only suitable to demonstrate how we are not adopted to eating meat. If you'll just keep repeating your undocumented statements over and over again, you aren't participating in the discussion, but are spamming.
    Korn, I have tried to make my position as clear as I can. You are simply not getting the answers you want to hear.

    I know meat is not good for us. The issue is not whether meat is good for us. The issue is whether or not our species is adapted to eat meat. We are able to eat and digest meat. Herbivores are not. We are adapted to eat meat, parakeets are not. I don't know how else to say it, Korn. And of course, now you'll accuse me of spamming once again.

    If you don't want to actually participate in the debate, but only repeat your opinions over and over again without telling us how you got there, you need to find another board. If you are interested in two way communication, and in explaining why you have the opinions you have, you are more than welcome to continue.
    It is not even a matter of opinion, Korn. All I am saying is that, unlike herbivores like parakeets, we humans are able to eat and digest meat. This is why I say that we are adapted to eat meat. That is what "adapted" means to me. I did not say "perfectly adapted". I am not saying that eating meat is the ideal food for us. I am simply saying that we have the biological ability to eat and digest meat - this trait probably enabled our ancestors to avoid starvation in times when food supply was not abundant.

    I think your threat is unreasonable. I have had a really bad day and I do not want to respond to your invitation that I find another forum just yet. I'll do so when I am a little less overwhelmed.

    Rami

  40. #40
    cobweb
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    actually parakeets can eat meat but i would still call them herbivores - probably most herbivores can eat meat, i know that chickens do, for example, if it's offered/available in some situations. That doesn't mean meat is good for these herbivores and it doesn't make them omnivores.

  41. #41
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    Good point about the parakeets.

    I think many cows in the US eat at least some meat (no longer other cows... but still chickens and pigs). What do we call them? Herbivores eating an omnivorous diet? Omnivores (if the definition is based solely on what animal eats)? They probably couldn't live on a diet that was all meat or even mostly meat or half meat or whatever... but they can live with a bit of meat.

    I wonder how many herbivorous animals can and do eat meat--even small amounts--when the going gets tough?
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

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    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    We discuss a number of things simultaneously in this (and similar) threads, which obviously may cause confusion and misunderstanding...

    Since Klytemnest has taken the dirty job of representing the typical meat eater viewpoints in this discussion, I'll use some of his posts as a basis for some questions that meat eaters who read this thread may think of, and later post this as a separate questionnaire aimed towards non-vegans.

    The questions aren't really interesting for people who don't think we are 'natural omnivores' or who aren't interested in whter something is natural or not.

    There seem to be (at least) 14 different arguments claiming that humans are 'natural omnivores'. This include...

    1) Normality.
    A diet or activity is natural for humans if it's common, or "normal", or at least is/has been 'normal' for that person. A typical meat eater may claim that it's "natural" for humans to eat meat because he did it most of his life.

    Comment: Normal and natural are two entirely different things. Ignorance is common, pollution is normal, killing animals are normal in our culture, and in the past not allowing women to vote was normal. This doesn't mean that humans are natural thieves even if stealing is quite common.

    Question 1: If you were white and living in Africa, would you consider your skin color unnatural, or just uncommon?

    Question 2: If being white is only to be considered unnormal, but not unnatural, why is eating animal products natural, and not only normal (in your area)?

    Question 3: Would you consider meat eating unnatural if you lived in a vegetarian Hinduist village (where eating meat is uncommon or disallowed)?

    Question 4: If you rather think that eating meat simply isn't common in that area, why should we claim that humans are 'natural omnivores' instead of just say that eating meat is 'normal'?


    2) Historic.
    A diet or activity is natural for us today because it has been commonly eaten for a long time, or because it was 'natural' for us a certain amount of years ago (eg. a limited, albeit long period, in some/many geographical areas..).

    Comment: 'Commonly eaten' again has to do with normal, and not natural, and looking back in history, it's commonly thought that our early ancestors were plant eaters. Looking back at recent history (a few thousand years; the part we know the most about), we know that what's common in one culture/area, isn't in another. Lots of Buddhists/Hinduists/Jains and others have been against meat eating for a very long time, and to look at only some geographical areas, or some parts of history doesn't tell us what's to be considered 'natural' for all humans today.

    Question 5: Rape, murder, cannibalism, suppressing women or living for only max. 30-40 years has all been part of our ancestors history. Do you think we should copy the past, or at least use it as a reference for what we should consider 'natural' for humans today?

    Question 5: Do you consider humans 'natural rapers', or consider men 'natural suppressors of women' or 'natural short-lived beings' - based on historic info about our past?

    Question 6: Why should we consider what some of our ancestors ate in some of our ancestors' past a refrence for what's 'natural' for humans today?

    Question 7: Do you think we should look what our ancestors ate (grasshoppers, larvae, earthworms...) and use that as a reference for what is natural for us today?

    Question 8: If not, do you still think that it's 'natural' for humans to use eg. meat and milk 'because (some of) our ancestors did it?

    Question 8b:

    Do you suggest that we are 'natural meat/milk eaters' but not 'natural larvae/earthworm eaters'? Our ancestors ate both...

    3) Capable ("Level 1").
    A diet, certain foodstuff or an activity may by some be considered natural for us just because "we are capable of eating it" or "we are capable of doing it" - even if we know it's not good for us.

    In extreme cases, people may even claim that we should just eat meat and not feel bad about it, and 'obey nature', simply because we are capable of eating meat without being immediately killed.

    Comment: Based on all the stuff we 'may' eat, and if we should use 'capable' as a reference for what may 'digest' (without taking into consideration if it's good for us or not), we would all be 'natural mud eaters', 'natural junk food eaters', 'natural pizza eaters' etc. For me, claiming that something is 'natural' for us only because we may do it (eat it) makes no sense.

    Question 9: Humans are capable of dancing foxtrot (with no known unwanted side effects). Do you suggest that humans are 'natural foxtrot dancers'? Or would 'we may or may not dance foxtrot' be more accurate?

    Question 10: Does it make sense to you to look at stuff "we can digest" (vague term, I know) and use that as a reference for terms like 'natural ******** eaters', terms normally used to describe what would be considered a good diet for humans ?

    Question 11: If you do not see 'capable of' as a relevant criterion for what's to be considered natural for us, why should we consider humans 'natural omnivores' or 'natural animal product eaters'?


    4) Perfectly capable ("Level 2")
    Some will say that whether something only is 'eatable' or 'possible' isn't enough to consider it natural, and that we must be perfectly capable of eg. eating meat and thriving on a meat including diet if it should be considered natural for us. The opposite view of this would be to claim that meat is not good for us, which I'm pretty sure most people would agree that would be a good example of how we are not 'perfectly' capable to thrive on an omnivorous diet (that includes meat).

    Comment: "Perfectly capable" and "thrive" has a lot do with what's good for our health, and how we perform. If something makes us sick, causes digestive problems, allergies, intestinal bacterial overgrowth etc, or even contributes to cancer, heart disease, diabetes or worsen medical conditions like arthritis, I wouldn't say that we are 'perfectly' capable of thriving on that diet as a species.

    Question 12: We have many other threads with links between health problems on an omnivorous diet, and many more will come. Looking at our Cancer, adaptation and the vegan diet, would you say that humans are 'perfectly capable of eating meat and thriving'?

    Question 13: Are you sure it wouldn't make more sense to claim that a plant based diet (containing many nutrients known for reducing/preventing serious diseases like cancer - nutrients NOT existing in animal products*) is a diet we are "perfectly capable of eating and thriving on" to a larger extent than an omnivorous diet?

    *meaning that we'll get less of them for every piece of animal product we consume)


    5) Short term perspective only.
    Some people ignore known, long term side effects of a diet - often without knowing it, and claim that a diet could be considered "natural" for humans even if it makes us sick, as long as we don't die more or less immediately. This use of 'natural' somehow suggests that everything we don't die of within a short time span of is natural for us.

    Comment: the most serious health problems humans may enconter are rarely occurring overnight. To me, ignoring serious, long time health problems - diseases that in many cases have no known cure, an alarming death rate and where even the treatments are known to cause a lot of suffering and unwanted side effects - makes no sense at all.

    Question 14: Do you agree that the long term, common problems that are associated with animal products should be taken into consideration if one should define if humans are natural omnivores or not, and what's suitable for us?

    Question 15: If yes, how can humans be considered 'natural' omnivores - when there are so many long term health problems associated with animal products?


    6) No/little, or only environment friendly processing.
    A diet can be considered natural for us if the food in it appears in nature, and we use it with no or little processing, or at least a kind of processing that isn't harmful for us/the environment.

    Comment: This one isn't really related to the 'natural omnivores'-topic, but more about what a natural vegan diet consists of. Vegan food can be unprocessed and heathy, or it can be processed, unhealthy junk food - and everything between those extremes. (All processing aren't even that bad, and in a few cases, good). Vegan food doesn't have to be 'natural' - or even healthy. All vegan food isn't 'natural'.

    7) 'Natural' vs 'nature'.
    Some people may claim that a diet may be natural for us today, even if it is a well known fact that that particular diet is the diet that's most known for it's many unwanted effects on the environment - due to the very high need for extra resources (land, water, pollution, electricity etc) compared with a plant based diet.

    Comment: IMO, if we shall look at what's the most natural diet, we should also look at what's the most 'natural friendly', or environmental friendly diet as well... in other words, what's best for nature as a whole, and not only for ourselves.

    Question 16: Do you agree that the planet/nature/environment should be taken into consideration when looking at what the most natural diet is for humans?

    Question 17: If yes, how can an omnivorous diet, which today is considered a serious environmental threat (even by lots of non-veggies living on that very diet) be considered a 'natural' diet for humans, or that we are 'natural' omnivores?

    Question 18: Please elaborate if you suggest that 'natural' has nothing to do with nature...

    8) Adjustment over time.
    An action or diet can be maybe be considered natural if it is suitable for us today (suitable in the sense that it doesn't damage our digestive systems/bodies, make us sick etc) even if wasn't suitable for us ten thousands of years ago, because we are now (unlike then) adapted to that diet. It doesn't represent a problem for us anymore.

    Comment: Based on the info we have about the currently known 21 hominoids, and based on a relatively high amount of info about humans recent history, but relatively little detailed info about what happened with our forefathers over the millions of years since humans and other apes were divided into separate evolutionary branches, we have few hard facts about what all our forefathers ate.

    We know that some of our ancestors ate very little meat, if any, and that for the last few thousands of years, vegetarian cultures have existed in areas where respect for animals have been more common in the Western world.

    Question 19: If you insist that humans over a long period of time have adjusted well to consuming eg. meat and milk, why do you think we needed to adapt to that diet?

    Question 20: If our early ancestors ate a meat/dairy based diet, why would adapting/adjustments to such a diet be necessary?

    Question 21: Could it be that humans for a long time has been moving towards a plant based diet, and that we are in the middle of that evolutionary period right now?

    9) Equipped (from nature) to catch, kill and tear apart
    Almost no animals who eat animal products use tools to kill them, so being able to catch and kill an animal (and tear it's skin apart etc) without tools may be seen as an indiction that it's eg. 'natural' for a tiger to kill a deer.

    Comment: Humans aren't from nature's side equipped with the strength, speed, claws and teeth that animals who kill other large animals are. We need tools to kill cows etc.

    Question 22: Since our bodies aren't from nature's side equipped with what it takes to kill, catch and tear apart the skin of eg. an ox or a cow, and if you insist that eating these animals are natural for us, wouldn't it be more correct to claim that we are 'cultural omnivores' than 'natural omnivores'?

    10) Tools and cultural development.
    Since our ancestors slowly learned how to make tools, and since we actually may make tools that can kill (animals), some will say that it's "natural' to kill and eat (animals).

    Comment: I don't think killing animals or murdering humans are 'natural' for us even if we can make tools. It's just... possible. And cruel.

    Question 23: If humans' ability to make tools that can kill should be used as a basis for saying that we are natural omnivores, do you suggest this on the basis that 'humans can make tools, therefore we should make weapons'?

    Question 24: If yes, do you think it's more 'natural' to make guns than eg. to make tools that can improve the level of nutrients in the food we eat, which in our 'denaturalized' world may be a much simpler way to compensate for the reduced level of nutrients in soil anyway?

    Question 25: If you think it's better to use our ability to cultivate when we need food (and because of the nutrients currently/commonly lacking in soil), why should claim that it's natural for us to kill animals?

    Question 26: If you think it's natural for us to live on an omnivorous diet (as in "we are natural omnivores"), it must be natural for us to kill animals as well, meaning that we need tools. Please provide at least one argument showing that it's more natural to make tools for killing than eg. tools for fermenting plants...

    Question 27: If you agree that humans are dependent on culture/cultivation/tools, why all the fuzz about us being natural omnivores... maybe we are only 'natural cultivators', and can choose what kind of tools we want to make and where we should get our nutrients from?

    11) Nutrients.
    If it can be proven that a species need certain nutrients that only can be found in certain 'products' (animals), many will say that eating these animals is natural for that species.

    Comment: This would somehow automatically exclude the acceptance of humans needing culture/cultivation, or that culture (making tools, clothes, houses etc) is a natural part of humans' (and some animals) lives.

    If we assume that we (at least currently) need culture in order to get the nutrients we need, there's still no need for animal products or for claiming that they are 'natural' for us to use.

    Comment 2: Omnivores are often deficient in a number of nutrients, and we have no guarantee for getting all the nutrients we need even if we eat vegan food. Vegans need to pay special attention to B12, basically due to a lot of environmental issues, omnivores need to focus on other nutrients.

    Question 28: There's no convincing facts indicating that we wouldn't get enough B12 in an non-artificial world/environment. A lot of facts actually point in the opposite direction. Do you think that eg. low, current levels of bioavailable B12 in lots of plants backs up a claim about humans being 'natural omnivores'?

    Question 29: If yes, how does this relate to the fact that we use clothes etc... after, all we are 'natural nudes', but people don't seem to have a problem with wearing clothes?

    Question 30: Should we go naked since we are born naked? If not, if 'culture' is accepted as a part of human behavior, what's wrong eg. using plant fermentation to produce eg. B12 (which may be needed with all the synthetic B12 killers in food, soil and water)?


    Question 31: Do you agree that it's simply 'natural' for humans to cultivate (make clothes and not only wear leaves etc), and that this - at least in our current, de-naturalized world also applies to food/nutrient needs?

    Question 32: If yes: even if someone hypothetically would be able to prove that in an unspoiled, natural world there still wouldn't be enough B12 in plants, would we still be 'natural omnivores' when we don't need animal products for nutritional reasons, since we can them without harming animals?


    12) Copying other animals
    Some will say that an action or diet is natural for humans if it's natural for other species, eg. those species that are considered our 'closest relatives'. These people suggest that we should look at what they do (eg. humans should look at what chimps do, and copy it).

    Comment: Humans are different from all other species, including our so called closest relatives - in more than one way. No other animals copy the lifestyle or diet of another species, so why should we?

    Question 33: Do you think that humans are natural omnivores because it's eg. known that some apes include circa 5% of animal products in their diet?

    Question 34: Does this mean that those who believe in copying chips' diets shouldn't exceed 5% of animal products?

    Question 35: If you suggest that we should copy other species' diet, do you also suggest that we should copy their behavior in other areas (live mainly in trees, masturbate publicly, not wear clothes, eat termites and so forth)?

    Question 36: If not, why should we copy the consumption of up to 5% of animal products, but not the other stuff?

    Question 37: What would be a good explanation for claiming that "humans are natural omnivores because some other species are natural omnivores"?


    13) No other choice.
    Many will say that if the brain or the body of a tiger or lion isn't equipped from nature's side to survive on plants (they don't know to survive on plants and don't have the advanced 'cultural' abilities humans have), it's natural for them to kill and eat animals.

    Comment: I agree, and/but this doesn't - of course - make humans natural omnivores.


    14) Death vs. life quality
    Some people will claim that something is natural if it won't kill us, or if we are able to 'survive'.

    Comment: Life quality doesn't seem to be taken into consideration here, and to use death as the main criterion for what is natural and healthy for us seem to be a macabre, silly mistake. Plus, many of the health problems associated with an omnivorous diet are incurable and can cause death long before we have reached an age were death is expected/natural.

    Question 38: Do you think it makes sense to claim that 'we can survive' on an omnivorous diet when the most common, serious lethal diseases often are associated with this diet... and not with the plants in the diet, which often have a healing effect on those diseases - but the animal products in it?

    Question 39: If not... if that diet threatens our life quality or survival, would you still insist that this diet is natural for us, and that we are closer to being 'natural omnivores' than 'natural herbivores'? Why?


    Question 40: Even if we could "survive" - with reduced life quality (digestive problems, more frequent 'lighter' diseases, less energy and the suffering of animals and the environment on our conscience), would it sill make sense to claim that we can 'thrive' as omnivores - from a psychological point of view?

    Question 41: Which essential question did I forget?
    Last edited by Korn; Sep 11th, 2008 at 07:48 AM.

  43. #43
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    By the way, here are the first definitions of 'adapted' I found after having googled that word and looked for definitions (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/adapted):

    a) "To make suitable to or fit for a specific use or situation."
    Using common sense, I don't think we could consider foodstuff that isn't good for us "suitable". I would be sick, and ask a nutritionist to suggest some food suitable for my condition, I would expect him to find something that would not make more more sick, but rather something which my contain elements (antioxidants/flavinoids/vitamin C, phytosterols etc) that could help me get well. If I was not ill, and asked for advice about a suitable diet, and two diets were available, I'd expect an expert to suggest that I should eat that one of those two diet that were not associated with increased risks for cancer, heart disease etc, because that diet simply would be more suitable for me.


    b) "To become adapted: a species that has adapted well to winter climes."
    This suggests a change over time. Since 'adapted' normally means adapted over time, one would need to know something about the past in order to figure out if a diet is more suitable for our bodies now than it was earlier in order to say something about change over time. 'Adapted' means 'adapted well': one wouldn't say that humans are adapted to cigarette if cigarettes still give us lung cancer, or clearly increase the risk of lung cancer. One wuld rather say that cigarettes are not suitable for humans in such a situation.

    c) "Synonyms: adapt, accommodate, adjust, conform, fit, reconcile
    These verbs mean to make suitable to or consistent with a particular situation or use: adapted themselves to city life; can't accommodate myself to the new requirements; adjusting their behavior to the rules; conforming her life to accord with her moral principles; fitting the punishment to the crime; couldn't reconcile his reassuring words with his hostile actions."
    Again; adapted is again about 'change over time'.

    d) "adapted - changed in order to improve or made more fit for a particular purpose; "seeds precisely adapted to the area"; "instructions altered to suit the children's different ages""
    This definition isn't absolute - it says 'more fit', and not 'fit', but the example that is used (" precisely adapted to the area") suggest an absolute state.

    e) "altered"
    Definitely about change over time.

    f) "modified - changed in form or character; "their modified stand made the issue more acceptable"; "the performance of the modified aircraft was much improved""
    Again - about change over time.

    If the word adapted is used loosely, it could probably mean 'not really suitable, but more suitable than before'.

    Some people may use adapted without thinking about adjustments over time at all, and claim that we are adapted to an omnivorous diet just because it seems suitable for us (good for us), without knowing if it was suitable/good for our ancestors.

  44. #44
    Klytemnest
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    [QUOTE]
    Quote Korn View Post
    Since Klytemnest has taken the dirty job of representing the typical meat eater viewpoints in this discussion, I'll use some of his posts as a basis for some questions that meat eaters who read this thread may think of, and later post this as a separate questionnaire aimed towards non-vegans.
    Korn, I did not "take the dirty job of representing the typical meat-eater viewpoints". You appointed me to it without my consent. I represent MY position and nothing else. And my opinion is shared by other vegans/vegetarians. So, it reflects the opinion of some omnivores, vegans and vegetarians. I do not like being associated with the omnivorous point of view. Being of the opinion that humans are natural omnivores does not make one less vegan or sympathetic to the omnivorous way of life. Of course, this is your forum so you can do as you please, but for the record, I would like to make it clear that I object to this implication. Just leave me out of it. Please.

    Rami

  45. #45
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    Korn, I did not "take the dirty job of representing the typical meat-eater viewpoints".
    I didn't write that you did it in this thread, but that you did it in this discussion (referring to our ongoing discussion about omnivore arguments vs. vegan arguments in several threads.) You have clearly stated that you are not representing you own viewpoints in several of your posts.

    When discussing why omnis are omnis, the argument about the omnivorous diet being 'natural' is the arguments that omnis seem to think are the best/main argument for an omnivorous diet. You have recently started a new thread about this topic - clearly stating things like "I am presenting Omni's position and asking for comments", "I want to emphasize that I am not presenting my own point of view when I present some of the arguments used by omnivores"..

    In our survey about the most commonly heard comments from omnivores (Top 50: Comments from non-vegans), this comments scored the highest:

    "Humans have always been eating animals - eating meat is natural".

    You have now taken their main 'fact', the 'eating meat is natural' aspect further, and been very active defending that it's natural for us to eat meat, and now, again confirm that these are your own opinions.

    So... our survey shows that their 'best argument' is that it's 'natural' for us to eat meat. You have posted lots of posts only since yesterday in a new thread about pro- omni arguments, and also started a thread opening with a link promoting that it's natural to eat animal products earlier.

    These sentences are from ONE of your posts: "The indisputable fact is that our species is adapted to eat meat." "IF the definition of omnivore is "a species that is adapted to eating both meat and plants", then the label of omnivore applies to us." "The fact remains that our species is adapted to eat meat." "Our ancestors evolved to have the option of eating meat."

    This isn't discussion, it's propaganda, and it's propaganda centered around (and supporting) a 'fact' that seems to be omnivores' most important argument for using animal products.

  46. #46
    songlife
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleoli..._and_nutrition

    We are capable of processing both animals and plants, which means that we did. It's part of the reason why humans have been able to live in such extremely varied climates. The inuit for example, live(d) almost completely off of -raw- flesh for survival, and then there are people living in the bush in tropical zones on a mostly plant diet becuase they can. This is what leads me to the idea that the ratio of meat-plant in our diet largely has to do with where and when we lived.

    It surprises me that there's so much controversy over the meat-plant ratios in our paleolithic diet because it's seems so obvious based on what we can observe in the world today (or just a short while ago) that it's based on geographical location and therefore the availability of food source.

    We have made many archeological finds of hunting tools and weapons from the paleolitic ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleolithic ) eras, as well as evidence that we then used the animal skins for shelter and pouches among other things.

    I have a theory that before the paleolithic ages, we (or our ancestors) ate less meat because we hadn't yet developped as many tools and skills to catch and kill it. Somewhere along the line though we developped enzymes necessary to process some meat with our plants. Our digestive systems are completely different to either that of an herbivore or a carnivore. We are specifically evolved to be able to eat either, depending on what environmental circumstances we have to adapt to.

    Now we have the luxury to eat a vegan diet and get complete nutrition out of it. Also, our conscious sense of morality has evolved. Evolved morality combined with the ability to get everything we need from a vegan diet should, IMO, result in a gradual switch to wordwide veganism.

    By this reasoning, I believe that veganism is the next step in evolution

  47. #47
    songlife
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    Quote ALexiconofLove View Post
    I don't think arguments about what is "natural" are relevant to ethical questions
    Me neither. I can be a vegan, therefore I am. I think the "what is natural" arguments are just another desperate grasping at straws for people trying to justify themselves.

    Quote ALexiconofLove View Post
    Some [omnivores] eat large amounts of meat, some very little... this can even be true within the same family (panda bears live mostly on bamboo, polar bears live mostly on meat).
    That's right, just like how some races of humans who live(d) in colder climates with exponentially less vegetarion like the Inuit adapted to eating mostly meat, and people living in tropical rainforests with an abundance of edible plants could survive on an almost vegan diet. We are evolved to be able to process but not to have to process both animal and plant food sources. Now that we have the ressources available to eat only vegetation and get all of our nutrients, I don't see any good excuses not to take advantage of that, no matter what we are capable of processing or for how many years we've been able to do it.

    Quote ALexiconofLove View Post
    I think when vegans assert that we are herbivores as a bald fact, they are opening veganism to attack.
    ....
    And some are "obsessed" with promoting the idea of humans being natural herbivores. I think both obsessions are silly, because they distract from the core issues of vegansim.
    I absolutely completely agree.

    I've found that any time that an omni tells me that it's not natural to eat only plants, I tell them that I believe it's much more "natural" than how our meat is "raised" today, and I also point out that the consumption of dairy of other species is also completely unnatural. I haven't had one single person disagree with me when I put it that way, and they always appear to have changed something in their mind at that moment.

    Sometimes I also assert that it doesn't matter much anyways what our meat-plant ratio was originally, because we have the choice to eat what we want so there's no more reasonable excuse to eat animals when it's not necessary for survival (or even good health). I'm also met with little resistance to this philosophy, even from the most hard-core self prolaimed carnivores.

  48. #48
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    I think the "what is natural" arguments are just another desperate grasping at straws for people trying to justify themselves.
    Why, then, claim that we are 'natural omnivores', which basically means that eating animal products is natural for us?

  49. #49
    songlife
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    Quote Klytemnest View Post
    Being of the opinion that humans are natural omnivores does not make one less vegan or sympathetic to the omnivorous way of life.
    This is how I feel too. I think there's a lot of evidence that shows that humans have eaten meat in varying ammounts for many many years, not lightly based on the fact that our digestive systems have developped to be able to process both animal and plant matter. That doesn't mean that I think we should, or need to, process animals. It's like the subject of religion for me, and anything else... I'm open to understanding the most accurate perception of reality that I possibly can, not the one that would make me the most happy or comfortable.

    Of course if I were only open to the perception of reality that would make me the most happy and comfortable, I'd chose to believe that humans are herbivores by nature. I think we have too much evidence, including our own evolved state, that shows that that's not the case.

    I believe that by trying to appease everyone's ego that we're naturally beautifully herbivorian, and to try use that to prove the rightness of veganism to omnivores, it will only make our point of view appear to lose its validity in the end when the argument collapses under overwhelming evidence that suggests the opposite.

    I think that instead we should promote veganism as where we are evolving to, as opposed to where we evolved from.

    It's not where we are from but where we are going

  50. #50
    songlife
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    Default Re: Vegan/non-vegan: Does 'natural' matter?

    Quote Korn View Post
    Why, then, claim that we are 'natural omnivores', which basically means that eating animal products is natural for us?
    Natural doesn't necessarily mean right, healthy, or good. We have evolved past the need to eat meat, if there ever was a need to do it and not just the ability.

    I claim it (well I don't claim it, I claim the belief and the probability that is so probable that it's almost fact) because that's what I perceive to be the truth and I don't think it will move the world closer to veganism to deny it.

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