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Thread: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

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    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    A rational critique of:

    Humans are Omnivores
    Adapted from a talk by vivisectionist John McArdle, Ph.D.

    This article was shamelessly published in the May/June 1991 edition of the Vegetarian Journal

    Introduction

    JM> There are a number of popular myths about vegetarianism that have no scientific basis in fact.
    And, unfortunately, there are many more annoyingly-popular pseudo-scientific myths, masquerading as science, that humans are "omnivores"; those in this article will be refuted.

    JM> One of these myths is that man is naturally a vegetarian because our bodies resemble plant eaters, not carnivores. In fact we are omnivores, capable of either eating meat or plant foods. The following addresses the unscientific theory of man being only a plant eater.
    We will find that JM consistently fails to support his thesis with real science by erroneously substituting cultural practices for scientific facts and conclusions, the most common and fatal error of those falsely claiming than humans are "omnivores".
    The article is here.
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

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    Prawnil
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    That John McArdle original isn't much use at all, but this one is very poor.

  3. #3
    Mahk
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    I didn't get too far reading the article considering there is a glaring mistake in just the authorship alone. Not only is John McArdle, PhD not a vivisectionist as it states [unless one wants to apply a warped logic that anyone who has gone through medical school is by definition "a vivisectionist" since to the best of my knowledge basic animal labs were mandatory in all US, at least, medical schools up until recently] but rather he is a science adviser to the American Anti Vivisection Society or AAVS.org and has published several articles opposing vivisection and advancing alternatives, for instance the fourth feature article in the winter 2003 AV magazine of the American Anti Vivisection Society found here. Also this 2001 article.

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    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    More info about John McArdle (from http://www.vivisectionfraud.com/civisb2pt6.html):

    To the same category belongs John McArdle, another hangover of the vivisection laboratories. After participating for many years in the daily animal carnage of Chicago U, he was considered qualified enough to represent the animal protection cause in the capacity of Technical Advisor, to HSUS first and NEAVS afterwards.
    The article is a reprint from something printed 18 years ago and maybe John McArdle were participating "in the daily animal carnage of Chicago U" then. However, I'm not interested in discussing John McArdle, really - I've never heard about him before... but I think the article I posted a link to contains some really interesting viewpoints. If you don't want to discuss these - fine.
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

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    Mahk
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Exactly like I called it,
    Quote Mahk View Post
    Not only is John McArdle, PhD not a vivisectionist as it states [unless one wants to apply a warped logic that anyone who has gone through medical school is by definition "a vivisectionist"...
    "To the same category belongs John McArdle, another hangover of the vivisection laboratories. After participating for many years in the daily animal carnage of [insert any medical university name that any medical doctor has ever attended here ], he was considered qualified enough to represent the animal protection cause in the capacity of Technical Advisor, to HSUS first and NEAVS afterwards. "

    Qualified to be the cheif science/technical advisor to the three largest American anti vivisection societies ?! What on earth would a medical doctor know about the science or technical aspects of animal research? Shouldn't that be left in the hands of a layperson who has never seen it up close and in person? [sarcasm]

    1. American Anti Vivisection Society/AAVS

    2. New England Anti Vivisection Society/NEAVS

    3. Humane Society of the United States/HSUS

    The following is a quote from [*ahem*] "vivisectionist" Dr. John McArdle, a vegetarian, speaking on behave of the HSUS 24 years ago, two years after having joined them:

    "The HSUS considers itself to be an animal rights
    organization in that it supports the philosophical position
    that animals are not commodities; are not tools to
    achieve human ends; have an existence, wants, and needs
    independent of humans; and have certain inalienable
    rights that must be respected and protected. It is not
    permissible or desirable to allow a. violation of those
    rights simply to provide a “benefit” or “convenience” for
    humans."


    Source.

    "the best arguments in support of a meat-free diet remain ecological, ethical, and health concerns."

    ^I agree, Dr. McArdle. There's no need to re-write history and pretend early man absolutely never hunted, scavenged, or ate insect life, much like most primates still do to this day.

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    Prawnil
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    He isn't a medical doctor. The line about carnage is almost certainly a reference to animal research, not his education, before he, in a sense, defected. To describe him as vivisector on that basis isn't fair though - like a small number of people out there who have grand conspiracy theories on the Dr Hadwen Trust on the basis that Gill Langley worked on cockroaches for her PhD.
    I think the article I posted a link to contains some really interesting viewpoints.
    I agree with you. That response may be sloppy as hell, but I do think it contains good points, even if they are buried. (I mainly mean the vagueness of the herbi/omnivore distinction, variation between chimp tribes, dodginess of considering early agriculture, & the generally airy, unsubstantiated way the original was written.) It all goes seriously wrong for me, though, when the author calls cell-type distribution irrelevant, and doesn't consider that factors other than length influence intestinal surface area. The obligatory reference to Hitler doesn't help either .

  7. #7
    Mahk
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Quote Prawnil View Post
    He isn't a medical doctor.
    My mistake, he has been published in the scholarly Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) though (regarding lab animal protection rights, no less!), and has degrees in anatomy and primatology making him quite qualified to speak on the topic, whereas his critiquer (who he has no opportunity to readdress) has degrees in...oh wait...that's right, we don't even know the critiquer's name.

    [Perhaps Lawrence J Forti ?, (after some backtracking), MS in chemical engineering, oh boy. Also speaking of defecting he's ex-US Army and ex-Monsanto worker!]

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    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Quote Mahk View Post
    There's no need to re-write history and pretend early man absolutely never hunted, scavenged, or ate insect life
    The people who study human evolution rewrite history all the time, but I haven't seen anyone claim that none of our ancestors ever hunted, scavenged, or ate insect life.

    On another note, I don't know what he did at Chicago University back then; he may have been a student, done testing on animals and what not... but it's not really the point of these thread, so I'll leave it there.


    The (main?) writer at ecologos.org seem to be somehow irritated/annoyed when he write about these things. I'm not saying that there are no reason to have frustrations re. those who seem more or less obsessed with claiming that humans are 'natural omnivores', or that eating meat is 'natural', but his/her writing style may push some people away. I still think that lots of the stuff written over at that site contains more valid comments and interesting viewpoints that eg. pretty much everything I've seen from Peta and The Vegan Society.

    There's another interesting article about on the human/omnivore topic there too:

    The Human "Omnivore": a mythological beast
    Last edited by Korn; May 3rd, 2009 at 08:34 PM. Reason: removed "n" from never.
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  9. #9
    Mahk
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Quote Korn View Post
    The people who study human evolution rewrite history all the time, but I haven't seen anyone claim that none of our ancestors never hunted, scavenged, or ate insect life.
    [haven't...none....never...I think that's a triple negative Korn! I'm not entirely sure what you mean. Although technically I think it is correct English.]

    Then we have always been predominantly omnivores! (except for small pockets of people, like us vegans, and only a handful of us have been vegan from birth for that matter.)

    Any animal that for at least one meal of its life purposely eats animal matter, be it a Senegal Bushbaby primate it hunted with a stick spear it sharpened with its teeth (chimpanzees), dead carrion left from a predators kill or natural death (birds that eat sharks), or worms/grubs/larva and insects (3000 different ethnic groups of humans) is an omnivore, not an herbivore.

    Bet you didn't know ravens eat (dead) sharks, did ya? [I didn't.]

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    Mahk
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    Quote Korn View Post
    There's another interesting article about on the human/omnivore topic there too:

    The Human "Omnivore": a mythological beast
    Yet again, I can't bring myself to read any further when the very first line of the blog (that's what I call people's personal web pages filled with their own opinions with little or no third party references or citations) has a glaring mistake:

    "One of the most ridiculous and persistent false claims made by armchair nutritionists, meatarian propagandists, and even academics, who really should know better, is that the human species is an "omnivore"; that is, it should eat both plant and animal matter." {emphasis mine}

    *ahem* "should"? Absolutely false. An omnivore is an animal that can and often does (but doesn't have to) eat both animal matter and plant matter. "Should" is simply not part of the equation. People who build "should" into the definition are ignorant. Omnivores have a choice; their digestive tract can digest both plant matter and animal matter. That's the definition of omnivore.

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    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    That person is only referring to the way omnivore often are used - when claimed that humans as a species are omnivores. If I say that a specific person is an omnivore, I refer to what that person eats. If I say that humans are natural omnivores, I don't talk about them as individuals anymore, but instead more or less declare what I think is suitable for them, based on their needs, capabilities, what's good/healthy for them etc. If sugar is bad for dogs, I wouldn't call dogs 'sugar eaters'. Or: I could also say that eg. 65% of the Indian population are omnivores, and then I would refer to what they actually eat - not if that diet is good or bad for them. If I would say that 65% of the Indian population are natural omnivores, the statement differs from just saying that they are omnivores.

    The communication problem arises because if I tell someone I'm a vegan, and he says "but humans are omnivores", it's very likely that he means that humans are 'natural omnivores', which is different from just saying that xx% of the population in a country are herbivores.

    Since there are hundreds of millions of non-omnivores in India alone, I can't claim that "Indians are omnivores" - and I can't state that Indians are 'natural omnivores either'. Since every 6th or 7th person on the earth lives in India, and since there are millions of vegetarians outside India, I can't claim anything about the world population without including those hundreds of millions of people who don't eat meat.

    Nobody has ever said that "tigers are carnivorous animals but meat is very bad for their health" or "too bad elephants are herbivores, because if they'd eat some meat they would grow bigger and stronger', again - because the ****vore definition is often used as a way of describing a diet that's suitable for a species, a diet that's a "natural choice" for a species.

    Dogs and horses seem to love white, refined sugar, they "want it" - but that doesn't mean that sugar is a 'natural choice' for these animals. 'Want' isn't a criterion. What we do out of old habit's aren't a criterion for what's natural or suitable for us today. Eating something once in an emergency situation definitely isn't a criterion.

    Your own definition "Any animal that for at least one meal of its life purposely eats animal matter [...] is an omnivore, not an herbivore" is so uncommon that I don't think I've heard anyone suggest that definition before.

    The difference between "humans are natural herbivores" and "humans are natural omnivores" is represented by the animal products herbivores don't eat, so if we would be 'natural omnivores', we would also claim that eating meat is natural for humans today.

    Look at this example: Slavery has existed among humans, and therefore some people (that's you, Mahk, not me!) will call slavery natural. I disagree; I of course agree that the humans who become slaves of course are part of nature, but the process of suppressing slaves, women, animals etc. isn't a natural, but a cultural process. Woman aren't natural slaves just because they can be enslaved, and humans aren't natural omnivores, just because they can eat a certain amount of animal products. Try to call any random woman a 'natural slave' and see what happens....

    Do you suggest that ff a human can eat animal products - and that means that he therefore shall be described as an omnivore - we should call women or black people slaves, because they (based on where and which part of the human history we look at) can be slaves? Should we call all humans slaves? Are you going to suggest that "Any human that at least once in it's life purposely has obeyed an order is a slave", along the lines of your definition of herbivore a few hours ago? (Don't worry, you don't need to respond.... see below.)

    "Omnivores have a choice; their digestive tract can digest both plant matter and animal matter. That's the definition of omnivore." Well... that's a different definition than you posted a few hours ago. If you think that it has been proven that all the unwanted side effects that are associated with consumption of animal products have nothing to do with the consumption of animal products as such, please start a thread about it, and document your claims.

    We can "digest" a lot of bad stuff, even carcinogenic chemicals and poisonous plants. We put the poison into our mouth, the poison is perfectly absorbed by the intestines, it enters our blood stream as expected - and we get sick, feel uncomfortable or die. The important part isn't "yes, we were able to digest it - hurray!!!", the important part is the effect it has on our bodies. We aren't 'poison eaters' as a species even if we may eat, digest and absorb poison.

    If consumption of eg. meat (for humans) actually are associated with heart disease, colon cancer etc (look here), I'd say that meat is everything but a natural dietary choice for humans. It's not suitable for humans, not even needed for humans... we are capable of digesting meat but we aren't (natural) omnivores only because we can digest meat. To claim that meat is natural for humans would then (for me) equal pure nonsense.

    Meat is natural (it's part of animals' and humans' bodies); but that doesn't mean that meat is a natural diet for everybody who are capable of digesting it. There are no specific terms for 'catovore' or 'doggievore', otherwise some non-vegan (or even vegan) would claim that since we can digest cat and dog meat, the human species are 'doggivores' and 'catovores'.

    We may eat humans as well, and digest human meat - maybe it's even more "suitable" for humans than meat from cows or sheep - but that doesn't make humans cannibals, and it definitely doesn't make us 'natural cannibals'.
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  12. #12
    Mahk
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    Quote Korn View Post
    .The communication problem arises because if I tell someone I'm a vegan, and he says "but humans are omnivores", it's very likely that he means that humans are 'natural omnivores'.
    You should tell him "I'm not an omnivore, I'm a practicing herbivore." But you don't get to speak for the 99% of the world population which is omnivorous.

    Humans are natural omnivores. Unlike herbivores such as horses or cows, human bodies' digestive track was designed by mother nature (hence the word "natural") to successfully digest and assimilate animal matter unlike an herbivore's body that lacks the enzymes and organs to do so.

    Since there are hundreds of millions of non-omnivores in India alone, I can't claim that "Indians are omnivores" - and I can't state that Indians are 'natural omnivores either'. Since every 6th or 7th person on the earth lives in India, and since there are millions of vegetarians outside India, I can't claim anything about the world population without including those hundreds of millions of people who don't eat meat.
    There are millions of people who choose not to eat animal matter but their body is fully capable of eating animal matter. When making zoological and biological distinctions between carnivore, omnivore, and herbivore biology is all that matters, not the mind.

    What about people in India, Buddhists I believe, who refuse to eat onions because it "changes ones' mental state/ arouses the senses"? I bet they outnumber us vegans too. Is it wrong to say "humans eat onions" or "humans are naturally onion eaters" because we have to take their numbers into account? What about people who don't eat broccoli? What about people who don't eat pigs? What about people who don't drink alcohol? Must we say "humans don't drink alcohol" so as to accommodate them? I don't get your logic.

    What counts is biology. There are three kinds of animals. Ones that will die if they eat only meat (a cow), ones that will die if they only eat plants (a cat), and then the lucky ones that get to choose whatever they want to eat because mother nature has blessed them with a design that can digest and assimilate the nutrients in both categories. They get to choose. Cats and cows don't get to choose.

    Nobody has ever said that "tigers are carnivorous animals but meat is very bad for their health" or "too bad elephants are herbivores, because if they'd eat some meat they would grow bigger and stronger', again - because the ****vore definition is often used as a way of describing a diet that's suitable for a species, a diet that's a "natural choice" for a species.
    I have no idea what you mean, it could be our differing definitions of "natural". Is there any synonym you could please use instead? That may help me.

    Dogs and horses seem to love white, refined sugar, they "want it" - but that doesn't mean that sugar is a 'natural choice' for these animals. 'Want' isn't a criterion. What we do out of old habit's aren't a criterion for what's natural or suitable for us today. Eating something once in an emergency situation definitely isn't a criterion.
    Agreed. "Want" doesn't count.

    Your own definition "Any animal that for at least one meal of its life purposely eats animal matter [...] is an omnivore, not an herbivore" is so uncommon that I don't think I've heard anyone suggest that definition before.
    I forgot to mention "and has a digestive track designed by mother nature to correctly digest and assimilate the nutrients in that single meal as opposed to becoming violently sick and expelling the food out either end or causing illness. [I learned today horses can't vomit. It is impossible.] So what's your definition of omnivore? Herbivore is the diet aspect of being "vegan". If a vegan purposely eats a meat meal s/he's no longer a vegan either, s/he's an omni. Yes, emergency life saving situations we might ignore.

    The difference between "humans are natural herbivores" and "humans are natural omnivores" is represented by the animal products herbivores don't eat, so if we would be 'natural omnivores', we would also claim that eating meat is natural for humans today.

    Look at this example: Slavery has existed among humans, and therefore some people (that's you, Mahk, not me!) will call slavery natural. I disagree; I of course agree that the humans who become slaves of course are part of nature, but the process of suppressing slaves, women, animals etc. isn't a natural, but a cultural process. Woman aren't natural slaves just because they can be enslaved, and humans aren't natural omnivores, just because they can eat a certain amount of animal products. Try to call any random woman a 'natural slave' and see what happens....
    You try telling a woman," Isn't it just terrible how in some cultures it just seems to come naturally for rich, powerful, male chauvinists to subjugate and enslave women and children as slaves, yet their governments just look the other way?" and watch her head nod up and down.

    Do you suggest that ff a human can eat animal products - and that means that he therefore shall be described as an omnivore - we should call women or black people slaves, because they (based on where and which part of the human history we look at) can be slaves?
    Only people who have been murdered can be called "murder victims" and similarly only people who are enslaved by evil people can be described as "slaves". I'm starting to get the impression you are trying to make me say something that's racist or sexist to look bad. It's not going to happen. I referred to slavery as being a phenomenon that occurs spontaneously in nature without any influence from man, (that's what "natural" means, BTW) in some species of ants (I believe first noticed by Darwin). Do you need links? If anyone besides me and Korn is reading this post, please indicate so by making a post of simply the word "Interesting." without quoting anything and subsequent people reading this need only hit the thanks button on that "Interesting" post to show they are reading this.

    "Omnivores have a choice; their digestive tract can digest both plant matter and animal matter. That's the definition of omnivore." Well... that's a different definition than you posted a few hours ago
    I stand by the statement I put in boldface when addressing non-human animals. Things become a bit trickier because humans can make ethical choices not afforded to most omnivores, like dogs. So omnivore/herbivore status isn't 100% biologically determined by nature alone ("natural") in people, but it is in wild animals.

    . If you think that it has been proven that all the unwanted side effects that are associated with consumption of animal products have nothing to do with the consumption of animal products as such, please start a thread about it, and document your claims.
    I think if I ate only fish for only one meal a month and was otherwise 100% vegan I'd be just as healthy as I am now and most certainly be an omnivore not only biologically as determined by mother nature's design of my digestive track but also in practicing lifestyle. I'm 100% herbivore for ethical reasons only, to me it is a coincidence it's healthy and even if I believed fish once a month was actually not only equivalent but actually much better health wise and that I'd increase my lifespan I still wouldn't do it.

    We can "digest" a lot of bad stuff, even carcinogenic chemicals and poisonous plants. We put the poison into our mouth, the poison is perfectly absorbed by the intestines, it enters our blood stream as expected - and we get sick, feel uncomfortable or die. The important part isn't "yes, we were able to digest it - hurray!!!", the important part is the effect it has on our bodies. We aren't 'poison eaters' as a species even if we may eat, digest and absorb poison.
    If you think that it has been proven that eating a vegan diet except for one meal of fish every month (making one a practicing omnivore) has been shown to be not as healthy as a 100% vegan diet, please start a thread about it, and document your claims.

    If consumption of eg. meat (for humans) actually are associated with heart disease, colon cancer etc (look here), I'd say that meat is everything but a natural dietary choice for humans.
    [The expression is "anything but", not "everything but", BTW. edit: wait, maybe I'm wrong . Not sure.]

    Candy and salt are also popular, natural (that means they come from natural ingredients), and have detrimental aspects to our health in excess, but in moderation they cause no ill effects. The same is true with fish, IMO. Eating fish however instantly makes one no longer vegan and is unethical. I think you have an inability to understand that the ethics are unrelated to the health aspects of veganism so you demonize meat in your mind from a health perspective. 99% of the world population live eating animal matter their entire lives yet live to be exactly the average lifespan of their time and culture. I challenge you to find me a scientific study (no blogs!) that Jains or lifelong vegans live longer (and start another thread about it). It is a convenient coincidence for us that they (health and ethics) pretty much don't conflict, but that's purely a coincidence.

    Meat is natural (it's part of animals' and humans' bodies); but that doesn't mean that meat is a natural diet for everybody who are capable of digesting it. There are no specific terms for 'catovore' or 'doggievore', otherwise some non-vegan (or even vegan) would claim that since we can digest cat and dog meat, the human species are 'doggivores' and 'catovores'.
    You are aware that in some cultures they do eat dogs and cats, right? The people who do successfully digest and assimilate the proteins and other nutrients without any ill effects (that they wouldn't also get with the excess consumption of other similar meats, that is).

    We may eat humans as well, and digest human meat - maybe it's even more "suitable" for humans than meat from cows or sheep - but that doesn't make humans cannibals, and it definitely doesn't make us 'natural cannibals'.
    In other cultures.....

    Do you know where L-cysteine comes from, by the way, found in many baked goods at least here in the US? (You may have it secretly in flour in EU as well but they aren't required to tell you because it is "baked off" once baked.)
    Last edited by Mahk; Jan 19th, 2010 at 11:05 PM.

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    cobweb
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    eek............

  14. #14
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Quote Mahk View Post
    You should tell him "I'm not an omnivore, I'm a practicing herbivore." But you don't get to speak for the 99% of the world population which is omnivorous.
    That number is wrong, but still.... based on your theory that if a person has eaten animal matter once, purposely, he's an omnivore, this discussion is only absurd.


    Unlike herbivores such as horses or cows, human bodies' digestive track was designed by mother nature (hence the word "natural") to successfully digest and assimilate animal matter unlike an herbivore's body the lacks the enzymes and organs to do so.
    Again: if humans merely can eat/digest/absorb something, it doesn't mean that they are 'natural eaters' of that something, or that should be defined as "something-eaters". We may "digest" the brain of a sheep, but that doesn't make us natural sheep brain eaters as a species. It seems that we have moved from not really discussing the same topic to not even discussing a topic now.


    What about people in India, Buddhists I believe, who refuse to eat onions because it "changes ones' mental state/ arouses the senses"? I bet they outnumber us vegans too. Is it wrong to say "humans eat onions" or "humans are naturally onion eaters" because we have to take their numbers into account?
    I'm not even talking about right or wrong here, I'm talking about making sense. Even if 90% of all humans on the planet would happen to eat onions, I see no reason to define the human species as 'natural onion eaters' - it would make a lot more sense to simply say that "most people eat onions". "Natural onion eaters" about the human species would only provoke and distort communication with people who don't eat onions for one reason or another.

    We want to communicate, not to wind eah other up... right?


    It's more accurate to say that "many humans eat onions" that to suggest that "humans eat onions", because the latter suggest that onions is something that's more or less biologically tied up to our species.



    What about people who don't eat broccoli? What about people who don't eat pigs? What about people who don't drink alcohol? Must we say "humans don't drink alcohol" so as to accommodate them? I don't get your logic.
    You don't get my logic because you - just like you did when we had that long discussion last fall - repeatedly are misinterpreting what I say. I have never suggested that we shall claim that "humans don't drink alcohol', "humans don't eat pigs" or humans don't eat brocolli", or "humans don't eat animal products".

    On the contrary, and according to "my" logic, it would be wrong to say that humans as a species are pig eaters, broccoli eaters or alcohol drinkers, and I'm now 100% convinced that the reason you don't understand this is that you don't want to. Why you don't want to understand it is still a mystery to me.

    Nobody has ever said that "tigers are carnivorous animals but meat is very bad for their health" or "too bad elephants are herbivores, because if they'd eat some meat they would grow bigger and stronger', again - because the ****vore definition is often used as a way of describing a diet that's suitable for a species, a diet that's a "natural choice" for a species.
    I have no idea what you mean, it could be our differing definitions of "natural". Is there any synonym you could please use instead? That may help me.
    By claiming that the human species are "natural omnivores", one also pretty much suggests that an omnivorous diet is suitable for humans, ad there are no discalimer baked into that statement a la "but this is only true if you eat fish once a month". Healthy humans have a good immune system, and can survive long on a diet that isn't ideal or even good for them, but that doesn't make those diets suitable or natural for us.

    Until someone can prove that all the research showing links between consumption of animal products and lots of diseases are not valid, or that the diseases are not caused by use of animal products as such, I don't agree that use of animal products anywhere near the amounts most humans eat animal products today are suitable for humans. Would we have any health problems if we ate only fish once a month, or once a week? I don't know, the topic doesn't interest me much, as I wouldn't eat fish anyway. What I know is that there isn't enough fish in the sea to provide all the Omega-3 that many people eat fish for to all the humans that according to a fish-including food philosophy "should" eat fish.


    This thread isn't about "would a diet that include a very small amount of animal products represent a health problem for humans?" - please let's not make it more complicated than it is. The statement "humans are natural omnivores" don't say anything about the amounts of animal matter that is involved in that omnivorous diet.



    I forgot to mention "and has a digestive track designed by mother nature to correctly digest and assimilate the nutrients in that single meal as opposed to becoming violently sick and expelling the food out either end or causing illness.
    MAybe our scales are different. I don't consider something natural/suitable as long as one doesn't get violently sick... and again, the mere ability to digest/absorb whatever you eat - be it poison or pigs - isn't a criterion for calling that something for "natural" - and it doesn't qualify humans for labels like "natural poison eaters", "natural bark eaters" or "natural pig eaters"

    So what's your definition of omnivore?
    Look here.


    Only people who have been murdered can be called "murder victims" and similarly only people who are enslaved by evil people can be described as "slaves".
    Sure, and and only people who actually do eat animal products/ meat + plants can be called omnivores. The fact that women "may be enslaved" doesn't mean that women are slaves, or natural slaves. Slavery may appear among other living beings but that does not make enslaving women natural 'natural' for humans.

    I referred to slavery as being a phenomenon that occurs spontaneously in nature without any influence from man
    Human slavery does not "occur spontaneously in nature without any influence from man".


    Here's what you wrote: "Things can be natural but very bad. Examples: [...] Enslaving women or a particular race."


    You seem to suggest that if something is natural for ants, it's also natural for humans. This only distorts the value of the word "natural', and confuses any discussion about humans being natural omnivores. Sure, you can save that enslaving women is "natural" and that humans as a species are "natural omnivores", but IMO you're not achieving anything with it - except long, and at times, meaningless discussions with people with other viewpoints. "Enslaving women or a particular race" may or may happen among humans, but that's very different from claiming that "enslaving woman or a particular race" is natural. You can state this until the end of time, and also remind us that you don't think slavery is a good thing, but why not just communicate in a way that triggers as few misunderstandings as possible instead?

    Things become a bit trickier because humans can make ethical choices not afforded to most omnivores, like dogs.
    We can choose wether we want to live on a plant based or omnivorous diet, wild tigers can't. Each of us can choose what to eat, so how can we collectively be defined as belonging to a group that are "natural eaters" of animal products? We are not collectively omnivores, many of us are cultural omnivores, and not even by a conscious choice, but out of habits that have survived throughout generations. Only those of us who eat animal flesh and plants IMO are omnivores; being an omni isn't "baked into" human nature, and therefore we aren't "natural omnivores". Hunger is natural, and meat is natural but that doesn't make eating meat natural any more than drinking urine. And yes, I know that some people do that.

    As you say, it's not 100% determined biologically by nature. So - if "it's about biology" (which you claim), and since we are 100% capable surviving well not using animal matter, and have the ability to choose, the human species - unlike carnivorous and omnivorous animals - can't collectively defined as "animal matter eaters" in any way that makes sense. -That (human) option to choose isn't what makes things "tricky", it's what makes the whole thing very simple: A human many or may not live on an omnivorous diet. If he doesn't eat meat, he isn't a meat eater, if he doesn't live on an omnivorous diet, he isn't an omni. Easy as pie.


    99% of the world population live eating animal matter their entire lives yet live to be exactly the average lifespan of their time and culture.
    Of course a group who represent 99% of any population anytime, anywhere live the average lifespan of their time and culture because the remaining 1% is such a small group that it will hardly influence the average anyway.

    They pretty much are the average population (except that 1%), so how could they possibly/mathematically not fit in with the numbers representing the average population?

    If you can find any community where 99% of the population in that community have different lifespan numbers than that community (in that time and culture, whatever that is... the average culture of all cultures, since you talk about world poulation?), someone out there needs a new calculator.

    If 99% of the world population would be capable of showing that they have a different life span than the average of the world population (besides the small amount represented by the remaining 1 %), I'm George Bush and the earth is flat.

    (Anyway, 99% of the world population aren't omnivores.)


    I challenge you to find me a scientific study (no blogs!) that Jains or lifelong vegans live longer (and start another thread about it).
    These things have been discussed in other threads and book, and I don't see a reason to make this topic even wider than it already is. I'm still awaiting answer to the questions I asked you in the other, parallel thread... (I may merge these two threads, because they overlap each other so much).


    You are aware that in some cultures they do eat dogs and cats, right?
    Yes, I am, and really... I'm not responding to questions or about humans eating dogs or crows eating sharks etc in this thread, and that's not only because you haven't answered all the questions I've asked you. Where L-cysteine comes from, whether some humans eat dogs/cats or not, whether crows eat sharks and how many humans that eat carmine has nothing to do with this topic. This topic is 'wide' enough, so please let's stick to what matters.
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  15. #15
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Here's a another comment about John McArdle's statements (from a comment to Were Humans Meant to Eat Meat?):

    I am mystified as to how John McArdle can state that humans are 'omnivores' and then go on to say; "the best arguments in support of a meat-free diet remain ecological, ethical, and health concerns (http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/omni.htm). If humans have really adapted to eating animal flesh, as are true omnivores (pigs, bears), then why would there be any 'health concerns'?
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  16. #16
    Mahk
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Quote Korn View Post
    Here's a another comment about John McArdle's statements (from a comment to Were Humans Meant to Eat Meat?):

    "I am mystified as to how John McArdle can state that humans are 'omnivores' and then go on to say; "the best arguments in support of a meat-free diet remain ecological, ethical, and health concerns (http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/omni.htm). If humans have really adapted to eating animal flesh, as are true omnivores (pigs, bears), then why would there be any 'health concerns'?"
    There are health concerns, if one eats exclusively meat or too much meat, but a single meal of fish per month isn't going to give you colon cancer or raise your cholesterol. This is analogously true of salt also; moderate consumption our bodies can deal with but extreme excess can cause immediate death and long term high sodium intake can lead to high blood pressure, but that doesn't prove "humans are incapable of eating salt without serious deleterious effects." The majority of humans consume salt and the majority (roughly 98% to 99% for the whole planet or whatever "correct percentage of non-vegans" you choose) consume animal matter.

    We (humans that is, not us vegans) can eat it, do eat it, always have eaten it from start of civilization, the written word, and even before the written word we know that homo sapiens hunted for food from petroglyphs and ancient cave art they drew. Such "rock art", as I've come to discover it is called, has documented hunting in early man on every single continent except Antarctica (and the the humans that lived there, if there were any, I kind of doubt grew or harvested any plant matter).

    Admitting that we are biologically designed by mother nature as omnivores, much like our closest living relative, the chimpanzee, doesn't mean we:

    -should eat meat
    -ought to eat meat
    -have to eat meat

    Anyone who says these words are built in to the concept is ignorant. Don't play their game. Being omnivore only means that we have a choice and biologically can eat meat, unlike a true herbivore like a horse which can't and doesn't, unless force fed, that is, in which case they will become ill and if it continues die. A horse's digestive track takes three full days from start to finish and any meat which is forced down its mouth would become rancid and dangerous in that time before being expelled [and as I mentioned earlier they are biologically incapable of vomiting].

  17. #17
    Prawnil
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Quote Mahk View Post
    unlike a true herbivore like a horse which can't and doesn't, unless force fed, that is, in which case they will become ill and if it continues die.
    You've repeated this, and although it sounds sensible, is it anything more than an assumption? Is there actually any reason to believe that feeding meat to a herbivore has any more of a deleterious effect than it does on the human?
    This 3 (/4) category system for categorising diets is very, very simple after all. Once you know what a creature eats, you know what it eats. If captive orangutans are fed yoghurts, they are simply primarily frugivorous animals capable of digesting materials that do not normally fit into the diet they are reared into in the forest. I wouldn't say that they are then omnivores, although if a study was done on some aspect of their health they might be classified as the "omnivores" as opposed to wild "frugivore" orangutans for the benefit of grouping. You could raise an orangutan on a diet inlcluding big macs, like this poor bugger Chantek, and the effects are to make it fat and probably for it to die earlier than without - much like the human? If we shifted all surviving orangutans into enclosures and supplemented their diets with McQuarter pounders with cheese, I would still say that those animals are essentially frugivores, although now they've been given the opportunity that the crafty human blend of curiosity & greed has already given the human - the imagination to exploit everything (cereals, legumes, flesh, dairy...).

    On the scale of the physiological development of the human, "from the start of civilisation" isn't likely to be very significant a period. And I doubt, though I don't really suppose these studies have been done, that a high meat diet causes atherosclerotic diseases in bears that kill them towards half of their potential lifespan. My vote would be that the human is an urge to dominate & eat every bloody thing on the chassis of a frugivore, but that the distinction doesn't mean that eating anything other than plants will cause acute harm - nor does it in other apes, and that the classification isn't really worth an awful lot in the end.

  18. #18
    Mahk
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Quote Prawnil View Post
    You've repeated this, and although it sounds sensible, is it anything more than an assumption?.
    There are two main kinds of herbivorous mammals (and we are neither, we are omnivores); ruminants and non-ruminants (AKA "monogastric"). The horse is a non-ruminant herbivore as is the zebra, hippopotamus, and rhinoceros . I don't know of any sick, twisted, evil scientist who has ever tried to force feed a horse an exclusively meat diet, but people familiar with equine digestion know that they are completely dissimilar from our own. They posses entire critical organs which we don't, such as the cecum, a giant four foot long vital organ which is responsible for the microbial digestion of cellulose, a staple in their diet that we mostly just pass through without touching, and they are completely lacking in vital organs which we have, such as the gall bladder, which is responsible for releasing bile into the food stream to help digest and assimilate fat and the nutrients in fat.

    Ruminants such as cows and giraffes are even more different seeing as they chew their cud [vomit back into their mouths once stomach acids have been added] and continue to chew for a while. They also have four distinct stomachs with specialized functions; the rumen, abomasum, omasum, and the reticulum.
    Last edited by Mahk; Jan 12th, 2010 at 04:15 AM.

  19. #19
    Prawnil
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    That doesn't at all address whether or not meat forced into the diet of herbivores will cause them any significant harm. It still looks only like an assumption.

  20. #20
    Mahk
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Cobweb has tended horses if I recall. Ask her if she thinks feeding them meat might harm them.

  21. #21
    Mahk
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Small amounts of animal derived compounds are sometimes used for some herbivore animals on the order of 10% or so of their normal herbivorous feed by some and is said to be where mad cow disease came from. Which is why feeding cows other cows was banned in 1997, I believe.

    In the case of horses I found this:

    "Although the use of meat would be frowned upon altogether today, Icelandic ponies apparently may still be fed herring in the winter. It has been reported that 5-10% white fish meal in a cheap feed or milk replacer is quite satisfactory for foals and should be a good safe feed (Frape 1986); however, the feeding of animal-derived feed to a herbivore such as the horse is not a common (or recommended) practice."

    The Journal of Nutrition Vol. 128 No. 12 December 1998, pp. 2698S-2703S

    "Developments in Equine Nutrition: Comparing the Beginning and End of This Century" -Patricia A. Harris

  22. #22
    Mahk
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Quote Korn View Post
    We want to communicate, not to wind eah other up... right?
    Yes, but having differing views of the definitions of "omnivore", "natural", and having my posts delayed because they need to be administratively approved first certainly makes it challenging to say the least.

    Would we have any health problems if we ate only fish once a month, or once a week? I don't know, the topic doesn't interest me much, as I wouldn't eat fish anyway.
    I think that question was rhetorical but just in case it isn't my answer is that I suspect people who eat fish on rare occasion but are otherwise vegan are healthy.

    This thread isn't about "would a diet that include a very small amount of animal products represent a health problem for humans?" - please let's not make it more complicated than it is. The statement "humans are natural omnivores" don't say anything about the amounts of animal matter that is involved in that omnivorous diet.
    Funny I see this as a key issue. Any animal that consciously eats 99.9% of its diet from plants and .1% from animal matter, for instance eggs, and is biologically capable of digesting and assimilating the nutrients from both, is an omnivore in my book. Whereas an herbivore is like a vegan, they would never knowingly eat animal matter on their own unless it was forced on them or secretly hidden in small quantities in their feed. I think you see it differently though because of our differing definitions.

    "Enslaving women or a particular race" may or may happen among humans, but that's very different from claiming that "enslaving woman or a particular race" is natural. You can state this until the end of time, and also remind us that you don't think slavery is a good thing, but why not just communicate in a way that triggers as few misunderstandings as possible instead?
    My definition of natural is different than yours. Yours seems to envelope a concept of "what is proper/good/correct/beneficial", if I understand you correctly, or at least you fear other non-vegans you speak with have this in their mind when they say "but eating both is natural". Mine does not. Mine means "any action or behavior that occurs or can occur spontaneously in nature, good or bad, frequent or rare, without any connection or influence from man." So when speaking about men, people that is, it is hard to use the term, seeing as "humans" aren't allowed in the concept to begin with! [Although I admit I have on many occasions.]

    Each of us can choose what to eat, so how can we collectively be defined as belonging to a group that are "natural eaters" of animal products?
    From my way of thinking you can call an individual human a nocturnal animal but collectively as a species we are statistically behaviorally diurnal so it is best to say "humans as an animal species are naturally diurnal; they sleep at night and are awake during the day." Similarly when speaking about eating behavior the majority dictates how we are to be classed. [and also our biological digestive track design] Almost all vegetarians in India, China and elsewhere eat animal matter routinely in the way of eggs and/or milk products [and honey?] so they are behaviorally omnivores. Humans that are herbivorous in behavior [vegans] from birth are exceedingly rare in numbers but even if we count all people who at least converted to become vegan and count all of them I think we are talking about maybe 1% or 2% tops, so I have no problem with humans being described as being "omnivores" just like I have no problem with them being called "diurnal" as a species.

    They pretty much are the average population (except that 1%), so how could they possibly/mathematically not fit in with the numbers representing the average population?
    True.

    To the best of my knowledge I have now answered all your questions in this thread.

  23. #23
    Mahk
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    Default Re: Interfering with nature?

    Quote nn View Post
    your arguement (which supports the use of animals, not sure why, as this is a vegan forum)
    [emphasis mine]
    100% Baloney. "My" argument, which is shared by all the established biological sciences such as physiology, zoology, primatology, and anthropology, simply states that the animal known as "humans" have been observed in the wild eating animal matter on many occasions, have both a recorded history and pre-recorded history of doing so, and unlike horses, true herbivores, have a digestive tract design that can successfully extract the nutrients from animal matter just like the thousands of other omnivores on the planet, including our nearest relative, the chimpanzee.

    We also can kill each other, enslave each other, and have created such things as nuclear bombs and war. Just because these things exist, stating that they exist is in no way "advocating them" or "supporting them".

    As Dr McArdle said, the reasons to not eat meat are " ecological, ethical, and health concerns"; adding non-scientifically based claims of "meat has no nutritional value", "humans can't digest animal matter because we are herbivores", or "humans have no history of eating animals in the past" makes us look like idiots in the eyes of a non-vegan who has had even a rudimentary education in modern zoology, anthropology, or primatology.

    "Like humans, chimps are omnivores." (Jane Goodall, 1971).

    i can walk outside, pick up a stone and kill a bird with it
    And that's exactly what early man did, as well as other small animals, well before the invention of tools such as the bow and arrow or spear. We didn't walk up to cows and try to bite them, as you mentioned earlier, but we probably did throw rocks and club small animals, as well as opportunistically eat leftover carcasses from other meat eaters and animals that died of natural causes.
    Last edited by Korn; Jan 1st, 2010 at 02:26 PM. Reason: This post was moved over from another thread

  24. #24
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  25. #25
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interfering with nature?

    Quote Mahk View Post
    "My" argument, which is shared by all the established biological sciences such as physiology, zoology, primatology, and anthropology, simply states that the animal known as "humans" have been observed in the wild eating animal matter on many occasions
    To be observed doing something doesn't mean that doing that thing is something that's 'natural' for the species in question (wen it comes to humans). That "argument" has nothing to do with the definition of argument. Sorry, so as an "argument" it can't be shared by any scientists because it isn't an argument. Humans have been observed killing animals, but millions of humans are known not to eat meat. Why is one of these two groups mean to be used as a definition of what we "naturally" are, and not the other?


    a digestive tract design that can successfully extract the nutrients from animal matter
    This is been discussed many times before. With all the links between consumption of animal products and various serious illnesses like cancer, heart disaease etc., calling the consumption of these animal products "successful" is closer to a blatant lie than anything else, unless someone can document that the reason for the link between these animal products and the diseases doesn't exist as a consequence on how consumption of animal products affect us, but eg. how they are processed etc.

    We also can kill each other, enslave each other, and have created such things as nuclear bombs and war. Just because these things exist, stating that they exist is in no way "advocating them" or "supporting them".
    Of course not, and of course the fact that humans have been observed doing this doesn't make us 'natural' bombers or slave keepers.
    Many humans are observed using iPods. Are humans natural iPod users now?

    adding non-scientifically based claims of "meat has no nutritional value", "humans can't digest animal matter because we are herbivores", or "humans have no history of eating animals in the past"
    I haven't seen anyone claim that meat has no nutritional value. I have never seen anyone claim that "humans have no history of eating animals in the past". We can digest animal matter, but we can also digest mud. Does that make us natural mud eaters?

    If we digest "X", but X also is associated with serious health problems, was the process of digesting "X" then what you would consider successful?


    And that's exactly what early man did
    There are more than 20 known hominids, and in many cases it's uncertain what they ate. New discoveries are made regularly, and anyone who claims to know what our ancestors ate at various point in our history does not know what he is talking about.

    We didn't walk up to cows and try to bite them, as you mentioned earlier, but we probably did throw rocks and club small animals
    So... we were "probably" throwing rocks and club small animals? Who are "we"; when did those "we exist", and which studies claim that all these pre-human creatures in all relevant periods were killing and eating animals?
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  26. #26
    leedsveg
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    If I can add a few comments regarding the 'we're omnivores', 'no we're not, we're herbivores' debate.

    For 43 years, I had an omnivorous diet and seemed to suffer no digestive/dietary problems. As far as I can remember, I had no raw eggs and the meat and fish I ate was always cooked (apart from the odd fly I swallowed when jogging).

    For 5 years I had a vegetarian diet and seemed to suffer no digestive/dietary problems. I had a reducing intake of eggs in that time, none of them raw.

    For the last 15 years, I have been a vegan (with all that entails from a dietary point of view) and don't seem to have suffered any digestive/dietary problems.

    So am I a natural omnivore or a natural herbivore? To be honest, I don't know and I don't bloody well care. All I need to know is that my current food intake is not causing me any problems. But of course my food intake 30 years ago was not then causing me problems either. If, in 1980, a vegan had said to me 'You're not meant to eat meat because your gut and your teeth are not 'designed' blah, blah, blah....', I would have said, (and I suspect this would be a typical omnivorous response today) 'Well my omnivorous diet of the last (in my case) 34 years doesn't seem to have caused me any problems so far.'

    Of course there are so many benefits in going vegan, for animals, the environment, the Third World etc. These are the things we should be highlighting, not whether or not we are 'part carnivore'. That may be of interest to scientists/academics but for the 'person in the street', it's probably as relevant as 'how many fairies can dance on the head of a pin?'

    lv

    (I await somebody telling me that my body has yet to show the true results of my earlier 'nonvegan diet').

  27. #27
    Mahk
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    Default Re: Interfering with nature?

    Quote Korn View Post
    To be observed doing something doesn't mean that doing that thing is something that's 'natural' for the species in question (wen it comes to humans).
    Yeah, it does to me at least.*

    Since we fundamentally disagree on this fundamental principal and because your definitions and usage of the words and phrases "omnivore", "successful digestion", "natural", and even the word "argument" in your last post addressing me are completely alien to me, I am incapable of answering your various questions, since we effectively speak different languages. Sorry.

    I also consider your assessment of my remarks stating that humans, unlike herbivores, are able to digest meat and other animal products like dairy/eggs, then extracting the nutrients within them as "closer to a blatant lie than anything else" quite offensive. My statement doesn't imply meat and other animal matter is healthy, as you seem to accuse me of, I just said we can [or "are able to"] digest them (not that we vegans choose to) and extract the various proteins and other nutrients, just like all the thousands of other omnivores. [click on each animal at that link for more details.]

    *[For example, we now know that dolphins rape and commit infanticide. Shocking but true. Is it good? No. Is it healthy? No. Is it ethical? No. Is it natural? Yes, because it occurs in nature spontaneously on its own. That's the very definition of "natural" as I use it. It has nothing to do with what's healthy, what's proper, what's nutritious, or what's moral. It simply just has to occur; nothing else needs to be implied.]

  28. #28
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Mahk, we have discussed these things in several threads, and please let's not start from the beginning each time. We agree that not everything in nature is healthy, and that animals kill each other and that this doesn't mean that 'natural is always good', or that killing is a good thing to be involved in for humans (but necessary for other animals). You have several times, in earlier posts assumed that I for some reason think that everything natural is good . and now you start again - even if a 5 year old know that there are poisonous mushrooms and other plants in nature, and other plants that can cause disease and pain. Please break that circle.

    How can 'observing that a number of humans being involved in some activity' make that activity 'natural'? Lots if humans consume synthetic colors and food additives every day, but that doesn't make that process 'natural', does it? It only makes it 'normal'.


    And when you claim that humans digestive track was designed by mother nature to "successfully" digest and assimilate animal matter, which is what you claim - wher eis the success if it's correct that the consumption of these animal matters make us sick? If all you mean is that we , as everybody knows, may get protein by eating something with protein in, and that also includes protein from meat, isn't it much simpler to leave it like that instead of repeating the "we are natural omnivores" thing?

    It's 'natural' for some animals to eat meat - we all know that. They are equipped from nature's side with the bodies, the speed, the teeth etc., it takes to catch, kill tear apart and eat eg. a calf or a deer. We are not.

    Several people even claim that 'omnivores' is a term that specifically should be used (non-human) about animals, which make a lot of sense, because what humans do is influenced by a lot of un-natural sources, habits, commercial influences etc.

    It's as if you refuse to see the difference between 'natural', as the word is commonly used, and normal. Natural has nothing to do with normal in te human world, but it has in the world of animals.

    Here's some defintions of natural I have posted earlier, found via Google.

    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

    Is synthetic food normal? Yes.

    Is synthetic food "existing in or produced by nature; not artificial or imitation"? Or "(used especially of commodities) being unprocessed or manufactured using only simple or minimal processes"?

    Is a synthetic, artificially manufactured, sweetener "a substance that is derived from mineral, plant, or animal matter and does not undergo a synthetic process"? Or "Not altered, treated, or disguised"? Or "existing in nature or created by the forces of nature, in contrast to production by man; not made, manufactured, or processed by humans"?

    Your "argument" - which according to you "is shared by all the established biological sciences such as physiology, zoology, primatology, and anthropology" stating that humans have been observed in the wild eating animal matter on many occasions - has nothing to do with "argument" - or with "natural" at all. That many humans use synthetic sweeteners, chemical drugs or contraception pills only make these activities "normal" - they don't make the products "natural" or the activities these people are involved in natural.

    You claim that humans are "natural omnivores." If all you want to say is that many humans eat non-plant based food, and have been doing that for a long time, which we all know, why all these claims about the naturalness of something only based on a pseudo-argument about that these activities are and have been "normal"?

    Is all this enthusiasm for the concept of humans being omnivores really based on the fact that many humans eat animal matter and that we can absorb the the protein in a dead animal's body just like we can taste the sweet taste and effect of an artificial sweetener? If that's all, is it really worth endless discussions over a long period of time claiming that humans are successfully consuming animal products and natural omnivores? Would it be enough to say that many humans are consuming animal products, and the many humans therefore (on an individual basis, not as a species) are described as omnivores, as in "I had a talk with an omnivore who.... etc"). Where does the importance of 'successful" and "natural" come in, time after time?

    One of the most used "arguments" from meat eaters is that eating meat is "natural" - probably based on the same confusion re. natural and normal. You seem to think along exactly the same lines, and now even claims that you have all those scientists on your side. You don't need to be a scientist to 'observe' that many humans have been observed consuming animal matter.


    How can something clearly unnatural - but normal - become natural just because many have been "observed" eating something, or doing something? What is, in your opinion, the difference between natural and normal?


    According to you, if humans simply are "observed doing something", this also implies that doing that thing is something that's 'natural' for the species in question. Fair enough - use the word in whatever way you want, but natural and normal are two different words. Suppressing woman, for example, has been normal for ages, and many men have been "observed" doing it, but that doesn't make men "natural" suppressors of women, does it?

    You didn't answer my question about humans being natural iPod users, but please answer this one: is using synthetic/artificial sweeteners a natural thing for humans to do? Are these products natural, according to you? And, since you claim to have all the "established biological sciences such as physiology, zoology, primatology, and anthropology" behind your so called argument - what does "argument" mean in your language? Is there any difference between 'natural' and 'normal' at all - the way you use these words.... or is synthetic food actually not 'natural', but 'unnatural'?

    We don't need to deal with 'natural vs unnatural' at all. But meat eaters do that all the time, and for some reason, you seem to have a lot of interest defending their way of mixing up natural and normal.
    Last edited by Korn; Jan 4th, 2010 at 01:30 AM.
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  29. #29
    Mahk
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    iPods and synthetic sweeteners don't exist in nature so no, they are not natural.

    "Normal" has many definitions too, and I don't see why you want to bring yet another word into the discussion but I'd say it normally () means "statistically most common" or "typical". It has nothing to do with "occurs in nature" or the word "natural" the way I use it.

    If the majority of people in a country drink artificial sweeteners then the activity is considered normal in that country, but probably unhealthy, IMO, not that I'm an expert in such matters.

    Argument = a side of a debated or controversial issue.
    ---

    OK, here is a simple question for you. In science, animal species can be classified in one of three categories: herbivore, omnivore, or carnivore. Which category does the current animal species called "human" fall in? (and please give the definition of that picked category)
    Last edited by Mahk; Jan 4th, 2010 at 01:28 AM.

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    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Argument = a side of a debated or controversial issue.
    But if what you claim is simply that a) humans will absorb eg. protein if they eat animal products, and b) humans have been observed eating animal matter in many occasions - why do you need "arguments"? Not only is there anything controversial about what you say, you don't need an argument to support it.

    I don't have much interest in continuing this circular "discussion", and since you don't answer most of my questions, you probably don't have interest in it either. It's as if someone discusses whether our relationship with animal products is successful, or if there's something 'natural' about humans eating meat, and you just repeat how normal it is and has been, mixed up with small fragments of well known meat eater "arguments" (about what "early man" did etc).

    I could ask you which hominids, in which periods, you refer to, but since you don't seem to want to respond to questions, I'll just skip that part.
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  31. #31
    Mahk
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Quote Korn View Post
    But if what you claim is simply that a) humans will absorb eg. protein if they eat animal products, and b) humans have been observed eating animal matter in many occasions - why do you need "arguments"?
    To counter the people who claim humans aren't omnivores which as I previously stated makes us vegans look like idiots in the eyes of an omni, oops I mean a non vegan, that's had even a basic education in biology.
    Not only is there anything controversial about what you say, you don't need an argument to support it.
    I think you meant to use the word "nothing" instead of "anything", but I'm not sure.

    I don't have much interest in continuing this circular "discussion", and since you don't answer most of my questions, you probably don't have interest in it either.
    False, I do have interest. I also answered 5 of your questions that I did (I think) understand, regarding iPods, artificial sweeteners, what "normal" means to me, what "natural" means to me, and what "argument" means to me as best as I could in my last post and asked you only one simple question with only three possible responses, that were built in to the question itself.
    I could ask you which hominids, in which periods, you refer to, but since you don't seem to want to respond to questions, I'll just skip that part.
    No need to ask, I clearly indicated in the question itself (if you'll kindly re-read it again) I was speaking of "current" humans, aka "modern man" living today, but I guess you must have missed that. There are about 6 billion of them so I wouldn't exactly say they are "elusive and hard to find or study" either, not that I expect you'll answer the question anyways.

    It's as if someone discusses whether our relationship with animal products is successful, or if there's something 'natural' about humans eating meat, and you just repeat how normal it is and has been, mixed up with small fragments of well known meat eater "arguments" (about what "early man" did etc).
    [emphasis mine]

    Actually not once in this entire thread, nor the one we recently linked from, have I ever said eating meat or any other form of animal matter like eggs/dairy is "normal", ethical, nutritionally superior, environmentally friendly, nor have I advocated eating animal matter; I've merely said modern humans are omnivores by mother nature's design, and I'm backed on that "opinion" by the Vegan Society, the International Vegetarian Union, the Vegetarian Resource Group, and the world's legendary and best known primatologist, Jane Goodall, who is a non-meat eating vegetarian herself, BTW, and has been for longer than most people on this forum have even been alive.
    Last edited by Mahk; Jan 4th, 2010 at 06:25 AM.

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    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Quote Mahk View Post
    To counter the people who claim humans aren't omnivores which as I previously stated makes us vegans look like idiots in the eyes of an omni, oops I mean a non vegan, that's had even a basic education in biology.
    Since you agree with me that if something shall be defined as natural, more than just having been "observed doing something" is needed.

    One of the core arguments from people who insist that humans aren't natural omnivores (but that many humans have been and are "cultural" omnivores) is that we, unlike true meat eaters, aren't equipped with the bodies, claws etc. that other living beings who eat the kind of meat many humans ate are equipped with. For something like a million years, our ancestors didn't even use an ax. we just used stones, and throwing stones on animals - while still being something that requires something our bodies are not equipped with, isn't very useful for catching animals. We could still eat larvae, earthworms and insects, which humans also did. But I'm glad you agree with me that just having been observed doing something isn't enough to define something as natural, which of course eliminates what you wrote here:

    To be observed doing something doesn't mean that doing that thing is something that's 'natural' for the species in question (when it comes to humans).
    Yeah, it does to me at least


    Yes, I meant that there's nothing controversial about claiming that if a humans eats animal matter with protein in it, he will absorb some or most of that protein. There's nothing controversial about claiming that many humans throughout history have been observed consuming animal matter either. This is why I don't think your introduction of 'controversial'.

    To confirm that humans have been eating animal matter and that we can absorb nutrients from the meat of a dead animal don't need "arguments". It needs measurement, if there's 100 people in a village, and 50 of them or even only 30 of them - have been consuming animal matter, we still can't that meat or eg. milk is to be considered a "natural" diet for humans, but we know that it's "normal" - in that area, in that period. So when I write that "to be observed doing something doesn't mean that doing that thing is something that's 'natural' for the species in question (when it comes to humans)" you seem to both agree and disagree with me, but that's fine.

    No need to ask, I clearly indicated in the question itself (if you'll kindly re-read it again) I was speaking of "current" humans, aka "modern man" living today, but I guess you must have missed that.
    You wrote about what "early man did" - right? That's what meat eaters often do as well. Unlike researchers, who analyse everything they know about a certain hominid from a certain period and conclude what they 'most likely ate', non-scientists generalise and claim to know not only what some hominids ate, in certain periods, but what "early man" did.


    There are about 6 billion of them so I wouldn't exactly say they are "elusive and hard to find or study" either, not that I expect you'll answer the question anyways.
    Who are you quoting? And which question are you talking about - the one where you try to make me classify humans according to the ****vore-labels usually used about non-human animals?


    Actually not once in this entire thread, nor the one we recently linked from, have I ever said eating meat or any other form of animal matter like eggs/dairy is "normal"
    You sure have, you have even claimed that having been observed doing something is enough to qualify something as "natural", and you have in general terms written about what "early man" did... you generally want to state that humans as such are omnivores, and refer to the fact that humans have been observed consuming animal matter as a reference, or even an "argument" supporting that viewpoint. And regarding "ethical, nutritionally superior, environmentally friendly" - as far as I can see this isn't even a part of the discussion.

    I'm backed on that "opinion" by the Vegan Society
    Yes, at least the person who wrote that article agree with you. Based on the ongoing discussion about both the definition of omnivore and whether humans successfully can digest more than just small amounts of animal matter, I'm totally against that Vegan Society needs to take part (as an organisation) in that debate, and I wonder if they've had internal discussions about this. They've also claimed that a vegan is someone who eats a plant based diet, and probably didn't have an internal discussion about that, or about their two (conflicting) "official" views on B12, represented by their two books on vegan nutrition.

    I googled "omnivore", and 5 out of the 10 first hits that came up, clearly used the word "omnivore" about non-human animals. I think the word omnivore makes a lot of sense when it come to animals, because unlike humans, they haven't had, as far as I know, strong traditions - within a species - where one culture eat animal matter regularly, and another culture don't. Since there probably are around 400 million people in India alone who don't eat meat, that alone is a valid reason for not defining humans as a species for omnivores. To my knowledge, there's nothing parallel in the non-human animal kingdom

    So - in case others will chime in, I'm still curious about why some people think - since humans have been both have been "observed" killing animals, but millions of other humans are known not to eat meat, why is one of these two groups meant to be used as a definition of what we "naturally" are, and not the other.

    I also wonder why the fact that we are capable of eating something, or even absorbing nutrient from something (like mud or meat), why this makes us 'natural' meat eaters or 'natural' mud eaters. In this context, "natural' only makes the communication about this topic more complicated.

    I also, still, wonder why the word "successfully" does when we talk about meat consumption. Maybe it is right to say that the isolated process of absorbing ag. protein from the meat can be seen as 'successful' - but that doesn't mean that the meat eating as such is "successful'.

    Someone ending up on a hospital after having had a meal with some friends probably wouldn't see the meal as "successful", even if the proteins from the meat successfully was absorbed during the process.

    And I still wonder if anyone really have claimed that that meat has no nutritional value, or that "humans have no history of eating animals in the past". Who are you referring to, Mahk?

    The question about who "early man" was (which hominids, which period) also remain open, and this is important if we shall claim that early man ate meat or drank milk. Not that it really matters, because if we all should live on what our ancestors did, we would all still be living on plankton, but the claim that there is one or several groups that should be used as reference/referred to as early man", and that they all ate meat in all relevant periods isn't something scientists agree upon. So again - which studies claim that all these pre-human creatures in all relevant periods were killing and eating animals?

    This is important unless we simply claim that some of our ancestors ate meat, while others didn't. If that's what we are talking about, we would probably say that some of our ancestors were omnivores, while others were not. If more pre-humans ate meat that those who didn't, that would make meat eating more normal, but not necessarily back up that meat can be seen as a natural part of the human diet.

    We wouldn't even have had this discussion if we would agree that (some or many) humans have been 'cultural' omnivores, while other haven't, and this is where humans are today as well, with hundreds of millions of non-meat eaters out there, and 60-70% of the population having either milk allergy or lactose intolerance.

    I really wonder why the word "successful" - when talking about consumption of animal matter - needs to be a part of this discussion, and why 'natural' has to be put in front of 'omnivore'.

    Vegans agree that it's better to use our ability to create and cultivate in a non-violent way. If we also would agree that our hunting and slaughtering of animals is/was a cultural, achieved, thing, and that we actually are very different from lions and tigers (who are natural meat eaters) - wouldn't it much better to question the old theory that all our ancestors were eating meat, in all relevant periods, and to question if it's true that our ancestors always have been - as a species - "natural' omnivores than to actively claim that eating meat is a natural thing for us to do?

    One reason "omnivore" isn't useful about humans, is that most humans have problem with milk from other species. Drinking milk from other animals is a relatively new thing, so if we should be real omnivores, we should be able to, as a species, have a successful relation with milk consumption as well, not only with meat. Since most of us can't even stomach the idea of eating larvae, earthworms, rats/mice and raw animals, we definitely aren't comfortable with eating "all kinds of foods" or one who takes in "everything available" (see below). Most current meat eaters don't consider doing that, and the meat they eat has to be cooked/prepared for them to even consider putting it in their mouth. This is again something which sets us apart from other animals who eat meat.

    So, we usually don't eat meat in it's natural, original form, we - as a species - have problems with milk, and in our part of the world, we definitely have stopped eating larvae and earthworms, and hundreds of millions of humans don't eat meat at all. That's several arguments against defining humans - as a species - as true omnivores right there, isn't it?


    Here are the 10 results listed on the first page I got when I googled "define omnivore":



    1) a person who eats all kinds of foods

    2) an animal that feeds on both animal and vegetable substances wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

    3) Omnivores (from Latin: omne all, everything; vorare to devour) are species that eat both plants and animals as their primary food source. ...
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omnivore


    4) An animal which is able to consume both plants (like a herbivore) and meat (like a carnivore)
    en.wiktionary.org/wiki/omnivore

    5) omnivorous - feeding on both plants and animals
    wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

    6) Animals who eat both meat and vegetables.
    animal-world.com/encyclo/reptiles/information/reptile_glossary.php

    7) an organism whose diet consists of a wide variety of foodstuffs, including plants and animals
    www.coris.noaa.gov/glossary/glossary_l_z.html

    8) organisms that eat both animals and plants.
    www.treetures.com/Glossary.html

    9) omnivorous - Birds that eat anything that is considered digestible/edible. American Crows are a common example.
    http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/learn...ds-about-birds

    10) An omnivorous animal (omnivore) eats and digests both vegetable and animal foods. Green iguanas are herbivorous and eat only vegetable matter. Crocodiles are carnivorous and eat a wide variety of animals. Marmosets are omnivorous and eat both meat and vegetable foods.
    www.crocodyluspark.com/glossary.htm



    I'll ignore your references to lacto-vegeterian sources, Mahk - they clearly seem to be OK with consuming animal matter, but can someone from the Vegan Society chime in and comment on whether the statement about humans being natural omnivores is a discussed and agreed upon opinion from TVS? In my opinion, TVS as an organisation don't need to have an official opinion about topics that there are ongoing discussions about, because this may simply push people away from them.

    If it is an official statement from them, and not only something someone has written on their site, I hope they will back it up with explaining why they now take the big step into being a part on one side of these discussions. After all, the founder of TVS said what he did - see my signature. I'm sure he refers to humans as meat eaters as in someone who eats both meat and plants, not as in someone who lives exclusively on meat, like true carnivores do. If TVS now officially has changed it's policy regarding the naturalness of eating meat, they owe us an explanation.


    In science, animal species can be classified in one of three categories: herbivore, omnivore, or carnivore. Which category does the current animal species called "human" fall in?
    Neither of them, since claiming that humans as a species currently are carnivores, herbivores or omnivores only will result in verbal friction and confuse the subject we discuss.
    Last edited by Korn; Jan 5th, 2010 at 01:58 AM. Reason: Oops - had written "normal" instead of "natural" once!
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  33. #33
    Mahk
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    I didn't have a chance to read your entire post and don't have the time to now, nor to reply it properly; that will have to wait.

    I do see however that you have made a critical error, early in it, in understanding what I meant, perhaps due to my ambiguous or poor wording, which is all that I will be addressing from your post in this current post. Here it is:

    Since you agree with me that if something shall be defined as natural, more than just having been "observed doing something" is needed.
    [emphasis mine] You are incorrect, I don't agree with you.

    Quote Korn View Post
    To be observed doing something doesn't mean that doing that thing is something that's 'natural' for the species in question (wen it comes to humans).
    My poorly worded response to the above statement:
    Quote Mahk View Post
    Yeah, it does to me at least.*

    Since we fundamentally disagree on this fundamental principal and because your definitions and usage of the words and phrases "omnivore", "successful digestion", "natural", and even the word "argument" in your last post addressing me are completely alien to me, I am incapable of answering your various questions, since we effectively speak different languages. Sorry.


    *[For example, we now know that dolphins rape and commit infanticide. Shocking but true. Is it good? No. Is it healthy? No. Is it ethical? No. Is it natural? Yes, because it occurs in nature spontaneously on its own. That's the very definition of "natural" as I use it. It has nothing to do with what's healthy, what's proper, what's nutritious, or what's moral. It simply just has to occur; nothing else needs to be implied.]
    My rewording now for an attempt at clarification:

    Quote Korn View Post
    To be observed doing something doesn't mean that doing that thing is something that's 'natural' for the species in question (wen it comes to humans).
    False. Being observed doing something of their own free will is exactly what defines an activity as being natural , at least by my definition and to me, at least. As an example, we now know that dolphins rape and commit infanticide. Shocking but true. Is it good? No. Is it healthy? No. Is it ethical? No. Is it natural? Yes, because it occurs in nature spontaneously on its own. That's the very definition of "natural" as I use it. It has nothing to do with what's healthy, what's proper, what's nutritious, or what's moral. It simply just has to occur; nothing else needs to be implied.

    Examples of natural behavior in animals:

    - Drinking their own urine. (your monkey video)
    - Rape (dolphins)
    - Enslaving others (certain ants)
    - Fighting and sometimes killing other animals of their own species for reasons unrelated to eating the carcass. (dolphins and if I recall giraffes on ocassion, an herbivore by the way)

    Warning graphic, but no visible blood:
    [YOUTUBE]huxDnZs2_OQ[/YOUTUBE]

    OOps, Youtube didn't want to be embedded. Here it is:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huxDnZs2_OQ
    [The narrator in the video implies that this fight wasn't leathal, however there is definitely the possibility that one or more of the giraffes died from internal injuries days later. He has no idea since they weren't followed.]
    Last edited by Mahk; Jan 12th, 2010 at 06:27 PM.

  34. #34
    cobweb
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Quote Mahk View Post
    You are incorrect, I don't agree with you.
    that's a bit rude isn't it?
    just because you disagree doesn't mean the other person is wrong, it just means that you disagree.

  35. #35
    Mahk
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Quote cobweb View Post
    that's a bit rude isn't it?
    just because you disagree doesn't mean the other person is wrong, it just means that you disagree.
    Trying to stir up trouble cobweb?

    I wasn't trying to be rude. I know exactly how I feel so if someone says "I'm glad we both agree on X", yet I know for a certainty that I don't feel that way as they claim, then the statement can be labeled as inncorrect or if that word troubles you then "not true". I don't feel that way about X but the other person seems to think I do; then I can with 100% confidence say, "You are inncorrect about how I feel. Your claim that we are in agreement on the subject must have been a misinterpretation
    Quote Mahk View Post
    perhaps due to my ambiguous or poor wording
    .

  36. #36
    cobweb
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Quote Mahk View Post
    Trying to stir up trouble cobweb?

    me???? no, i just don't like it when people say 'you are incorrect'. Different if you say 'you are incorrect in my opinion'.

    I don't 'get' your arguments here, Mahk. You have cited many examples of 'unpleasant' behaviour in non-human animals, but what relevance do those examples have to this argument?.
    Humans sometimes kill their own offspring, does that make it 'natural'?.
    You say ipods and synthetic food additives aren't found in nature - well nor are farms or slaughterhouses!.
    When i was a child i regularly ate small stones, they are found in nature, so is that 'natural' human behaviour .
    It's recently been proven (scientifically) that the Gladiators ate a completely plant based diet, how would you explain that i wonder?.

    How is it that you are 'allowed' to debate, yet i am 'stirring up trouble'?.
    Or are females incapable of serious debate? .

  37. #37
    baffled harpy's Avatar
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    I haven't read the thread but I think Mahk just meant that Korn was incorrect when he said "Since you agree with me..." because he (Mahk) doesn't agree about whatever it was.

    Peace

  38. #38
    cobweb
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Quote harpy View Post
    I haven't read the thread but I think Mahk just meant that Korn was incorrect when he said "Since you agree with me..." because he (Mahk) doesn't agree about whatever it was.

    Peace

    right, ok, i must have misinterpreted that bit, i apologise for that.

  39. #39
    Mahk
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Quote cobweb View Post
    me???? no, i just don't like it when people say 'you are incorrect'. Different if you say 'you are incorrect in my opinion'..
    If I hold two rocks in my closed hand and Korn says "you are holding three rocks in your hand" you'd have me say, "In my opinion I am holding two rocks." Korn made a statement about being glad that we were in agreement on a point. I truth we were not, but due to my poor wording he misinterpreted me, as I stated, so I explained that his assessment of my feelings was not true as to how I really felt. I spoke poorly which I mentioned twice. This sort of a thing isn't an "opinion" sort of situation when describing another persons feelings. They'd know better than anyone else as to how they actually feel.

    I don't 'get' your arguments here, Mahk. You have cited many examples of 'unpleasant' behaviour in non-human animals, but what relevance do those examples have to this argument?.[unpleasent, unhealthy, and immoral behavior is often correctly labeled as "natural"]
    Humans sometimes kill their own offspring, does that make it 'natural'?.[Yes, it occurs in many animals. Humans are just one of them.]
    You say ipods and synthetic food additives aren't found in nature - well nor are farms or slaughterhouses!.[True. ]
    When i was a child i regularly ate small stones, they are found in nature, so is that 'natural' human behaviour .[If you are the only person on the planet that ever has, then maybe it was a fluke, but if others have too, which I suspect is true, then yes, it is a natural behavior.]
    It's recently been proven (scientifically) that the Gladiators ate a completely plant based diet, [link?] how would you explain that i wonder?.[Probably because they chose to only eat plants, but their body's could have digested a mixed diet if they had wanted to just like mine or yours would also be capable as well. That's true of all omnivores, which humans are, but not herbivores.
    Or are females incapable of serious debate? .
    NOTE TO ALL. This is a slanderous and incendiary false accusation of sexism against me without a single scrap of backing evidence. False accusations of racism or sexism against other forum members is unacceptable under our rules.

    edit: This post was written before Harpy's eloquent explanation so not all of it is pertinent.

  40. #40
    cobweb
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Quote Mahk View Post
    NOTE TO ALL. This is a slanderous and incendiary false accusation of sexism against me without a single scrap of backing evidence. False accusations of racism or sexism against other forum members is unacceptable under our rules.

    how can a question be either slanderous or incendiary?????

  41. #41
    cobweb
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores


  42. #42
    Mahk
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Quote cobweb View Post
    how can a question be either slanderous or incendiary?????
    have you stopped beating your husband?????

  43. #43
    cobweb
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Quote Mahk View Post
    have you stopped beating your husband?????
    no, he loves it!

  44. #44
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Being observed doing something of their own free will is exactly what defines an activity as being natural , at least by my definition and to me, at least.
    This sentence is according to you false, because of the exceptions you already have mentioned - which requires not only 'free will', but if someone is listening to iPods or using synthetic sweeteners of their free will, that activity is still not natural, right?

    The term "free will" also adds to the confusion, because loads of people do things all parts of the world, which nobody does elsewhere, as a result of being influenced by the area and time period they live in. That could be everything from wearing burkas to celebrate christmas to eat meat.

    Since humans are different from animals in that eg. both large vegetarian cultures have been (and is) existing in parallel with meat eating cultures, the way we deal with food, with our 'free will', with clothing or lack of it, with religion, love, marriage, children and what not isn't something we all do just because it's natural'' for humans to do so, but because we both choose differently and because we have a much stronger element of culture and cultivation than any other animal.

    Eating meat obviously seems like a natural thing to do for a lot of individual humans raised in a meat eating society. It wouldn't make sense to visit a vegetarian town or area anywhere and ask/tell these people that "It's natural for you to eat meat". Right? So why doing a similar thing in a veg*n online community, and tell us that since we are humans, and humans are (by some/many) seen as "natural meat eaters", eating meat should be considered 'natural' for us collectively/ as a species?

    There's also the difference between what would be a natural reaction in an emergency situation and what can be considered a natural thing to do under normal circumstances. Maybe an otherwise vegetarian group of people would eat fish if that, in a special situation, would be the only way to survive or save the life of their children. But even if they did, in that particular situation, that would mean that these people are 'natural omnivores', when the term is being discussed as in what's natural for them to do and eat under normal circumstances.

    And - not only is 'occurs in nature' different when used about animals than when it is used about humans, but the common definition of natural implies something that's a little more complex than the sometimes vague 'has been observed in nature'. Example: If a group of men in a primitive village 10000 years ago regularly were beating their kids and raping women, that doesn't mean that men, today are 'natural rapers', so why wold their meat eating make them 'natural meat eaters'?

    Maybe these men grew up in a culture which was just like that, and maybe it's natural to trust our parent's lifestyle so much that if they do something cruel, silly or unnatural, we'll do it as well. But the activity as such, eg. eating meat, smoking dope or treating humans or animals badly doesn't have to be part of our nature as a species even if people living an apparent 'natural life' have been doing it before us, simply because we differ so much from each due to our ability to choose.

    I haven't heard about groups of wild horses deciding to eat cows or some tiger tribes living only on herbal tea and mint chocolate. The standard classifications used on animal simply can't be used on humans.

    'Nature' doesn't mean 'out in the woods' or 'a long time ago', it implies the avoidance of a cultural element, at least if that element alters "something" more than just a little from it's original, pure natural form.

    From the common definitions of 'natural' again: Not artificial or imitation. Being unprocessed or manufactured using only simple or minimal processes. Does not undergo a synthetic process. Not artificial or manufactured. 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.

    So, since humans also can be 'altered' (by our society's habits and religions, by our parents, by otherwise natural behaviour being distorted by emergency situations etc) - not only physically, but also in terms of ethics, habits, lifestyle, diet and so on, we can't say that whatever someone claims to do out of free will always is part of 'human nature'. Humans as a species aren't 'natural wearers burkas'.

    "Successfully consuming meat" is an oxymoron for me, and that's not only because the word success doesn't go well along with killing someone. It's not 'in accordance with nature' either, because the meat being eaten is/was part of nature as well (killing an animal is not 'in accordance' with that animal). The main difference between humans and the other animals that eat meat is that

    a) we don't need it
    b) we have the capacity to see that we don't need it, and act differently.

    There's also the the earlier mentioned difference between successfully absorbing protein and having a successful meal if a meal both harms/kills the animal and most likely contributes to well know diseases in whoever eats it.

    Even if non-humans drink urine, eat faeces, rape, kill and enslave each other this doesn't mean that drinking urine or eating faeces etc. is a natural thing for humans to do. And it wouldn't become a 'natural' thing to do (as a species) even if other humans living in a remote area a long time ago have been observed doing it either.

    That's why I don't think that humans as such can be considered 'natural cannibals' - even if cannibals would claim that they did it out of their free will (or even if they claimed that it was 'in accordance' with the humans they killed and ate). Based on your "free will" criterions for 'natural omnivores', Mahk, should the human species be considered 'natural cannibals', if the humans that have been observed 'in nature' eating other humans claim that nobody forced them to do it?


    I would also disagree if someone would state that it's 'natural' for humans as a species to stuff their lips with large, circle objects even if some tribes still do that. What they actually do is to alter their bodies away from it's natural state by using more than just a 'minimal process' (to use the term above).

    The bottom line is that we simply don't need to add 'natural' in front of a description of humans behaviour unless it's absolutely necessary in order to be understood or make sense. I believe that this and several earlier discussions about this very topic has documented quit well that using 'natural' this way just causes lack of communication and misunderstandings.

    I don't mind that a person calls himself an 'omnivore' if he eats meat and plants even if he doesn't eat milk products or eg. stuff humans earlier ate (larvae etc). Vegans often call eaters of a 'mixed diet' omnis or omnivores. I won't call current humans 'herbivores' because that term is usually (when used about species, not single individuals) about animals that (almost) exclusively live on plant matter. Also, I wouldn't tell a meat eating individual that he actually is a herbivore, because some of these terms often are used (about humans) in their most simple ways - and without any reference to natural or not, but about what these individuals actually eat regularly. To me, it actually is as simple as that.
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  45. #45
    Mahk
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Quote Korn View Post
    Since you agree with me that if something shall be defined as natural, more than just having been "observed doing something" is needed. [I used poor, ambiguous wording, sorry; this is not how I feel, at all.]

    One of the core arguments from people who insist that humans aren't natural omnivores (but that many humans have been and are "cultural" omnivores) is that we, unlike true meat eaters, aren't equipped with the bodies, claws etc. that other living beings who eat the kind of meat many humans ate are equipped with.
    Chimpanzees do it just fine and they don't even have opossible thumbs or can run as fast as us. What animals we ate is probably completely alien to what modern day man eats. Do you know anyone that eats monkey? Chimps do and "we" may have too.

    You sure have, you have even claimed that having been observed doing something is enough to qualify something as "normal",
    Incorrect. I assume you know how to use the advanced search function for this thread and know the spellings "normal" and "Mahk". Here [I'm not sure if this link will work but you get the idea). Search this thread and the one we linked from and you'll clearly see I've never used the word "normal" to describe human's omnivorous diet. Perhaps you are confusing the completely different word "natural"?

    One reason "omnivore" isn't useful about humans, is that most humans have problem with milk from other species. Drinking milk from other animals is a relatively new thing, so if we should be real omnivores, we should be able to, as a species, have a successful relation with milk consumption as well, not only with meat.
    What on earth?!...just like which other omnivore on the planet? [Hint: there are none.]

    Since most of us can't even stomach the idea of eating larvae, earthworms, rats/mice and raw animals, we definitely aren't comfortable with eating "all kinds of foods" or one who takes in "everything available" (see below). [and that's why those definitions don't apply to the topic at hand. humans are picky eaters because they can afford to be. Homeless people less so. Wild omnivores even less.] Most current meat eaters don't consider doing that, and the meat they eat has to be cooked/prepared for them to even consider putting it in their mouth. This is again something which sets us apart from other animals who eat meat.
    Steak tartar, sushi, Ceasar salad, raw honey, raw milk, raw bugs and larva by over 3000 different current worldwide cultures today, raw blood soup in Viet Nam, raw and alive animals in Korea and some Korean restaurants in the US and maybe even where you live .....

    Your ideas about "what humans eat" is very western centric. Think of the whole world, not just "I don't know anyone who eats bugs".

    So, we usually don't eat meat in it's natural, original form, we - as a species - have problems with milk, and in our part of the world, we definitely have stopped eating larvae and earthworms, and hundreds of millions of humans don't eat meat at all. That's several arguments against defining humans - as a species - as true omnivores right there, isn't it?
    Let's pretend for a moment that the numbers were reversed:

    - 98-99% of the world human population is vegan and therefore eats a diet describable as herbivore and 1-2% of the world humans eats eggs and dairy but no meat, as well as vegetables.

    Could we be called herbivores then? NO. True herbivores, like the horse, have completely different digestive tracts with organs we don't even have like the 4 foot (1.3M) long cecum,

    used to digest their fibrous staples, grass and hay, two foods we can't digest at all (in any real quantities) because we lack a location where they can ferment for 18 - 36 hours by bacteria and if we were fed them exclusively would die. I'm pretty sure a horse would die if force fed exclusively meat over a period of time but nobody sick or twisted has ever done this, to the best of my knowledge.

    To recap, here's how I think of it:

    Herbivore: can only successfully eat plants, any substantial quantity of the diet replaced with meat will kill it, perhaps not overnight but after a few days or weeks, I'd say. This doesn't describe humans.

    Omnivore: can eat fruits and vegetables of plants, but plants themselves, without first being extensively cooked or processed, like raw grass, raw hay,raw rice or raw wheat, not so much. Can digest meat and eggs, unlike an herbivore, raw no problem, but doesn't have to if adequate B12, D, iron etc are found in the vegetable sources. Omnivores are flexible and get a choice that the other two groups don't get. As far as I know an omnivore must eat at least some vegetable matter, never meat alone forever that is, or will die of scurvy, etc.

    True Carnivore: can only eat and must eat meat, small quantities of vegetation may cause no problem but replacing a substantial portion of the diet with raw unprocessed un-fortified vegetation will cause malnutrition and eventual death.
    Last edited by Mahk; Jan 5th, 2010 at 02:20 AM.

  46. #46
    Ex-admin Korn's Avatar
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    Default Is our species 'natural cannibals' if humans voluntarily have eaten human meat?

    You are correct, Mahk, I typed "normal" once when I should have typed "natural" - corrected now.


    What on earth?!...just like which other omnivore on the planet?
    As you probably know, I know that. My point is that the 'omni' in omnivore is used incorrectly when used on current humans that definitely don't fit in with some of the definitions of omnivore (eats "all kinds of foods" or takes in "everything available') - and also that for this and other reasons we can't use animal classification terms on humans.

    Steak tartar, sushi, Ceasar salad, raw honey, raw milk, raw bugs and larva by over 3000 different current worldwide cultures today, raw blood soup in Viet Nam, raw and alive animals in Korea and some Korean restaurants in the US and maybe even where you live .....
    Yes, I'm usually referring to the part of the world most of our members live in - the part where most people who may want to consider them omnivores definitely "can't even stomach the idea of eating larvae, earthworms, rats/mice and raw animals". I've also travelled several times to various Asian countries and have been in Africa several times and never been offered (or seen or heard about) anyone eating "larvae, earthworms, rats/mice and raw animals" or raw blood soup or raw /alive!) animals. I put 'most of us' in there for a reason.

    Regarding eating grass: please start a new thread if you want to discuss granivores, or frugivores, nectavores, folivores and all that. I don't think anyone is claiming that humans are capable of eating grass "as is", and I'm also noticing that I have a genuine lack of interest in the topic, which by the way has been brought up a couple of times by a more or less fanatic defender of meat eating I know. And for the records, I'm not interested in considering something as 'natural' for humans even if it's natural for any other non-human species.

    We may not have more to add to this discussion. And this time you may actually agree with me, since you wrote last year that you thought you were done with these "omnivore/natural" threads, and that you would not to post in these related threads "ever again". ;-) Personally, I'll keep posting links to articles and research that questions or challenges the idea that we are designed to eat meat or that we are 'natural omnivores' and that meat is to be considered a natural part of the human diet.

    Just like last time you commented the links I posted, you avoid responding to the questions I ask you, but your new theory about "Being observed doing something of their own free will is exactly what defines an activity as being natural" would be even more in conflict with most common definitions of 'natural' than the various other definitions you have had.

    I suggest that you give up trying to make your own definitions of the words we use, because it makes no sense whatsoever to not try to stick with the meanings these words usually have. According to your last definition, if some human males are observed beating up or raping their wives, it's to be seen as a "natural" activity if the men are taking part of that cruel act out of their free will. I sincerely hope that it doesn't get more ridiculous than this.

    Ideally I may have misunderstood you, if you require that both parts of a violent act should be involved based on 'free will' for something to be considered "natural". In that case, of course, killing animals would never be considered natural.
    I will not eat anything that walks, swims, flies, runs, skips, hops or crawls.

  47. #47
    Mahk
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Quote Korn View Post
    This sentence is according to you false, because of the exceptions you already have mentioned - which requires not only 'free will', but if someone is listening to iPods or using synthetic sweeteners of their free will, that activity is still not natural, right?
    "Free will" as I'm using it means "not due to force or coercion from an outside antagonist, but rather occurring spontaneously on its own". If I take a breath of air that's of my own free will but if an enemy holds a gun to my head and forces me to hold my breath then that's the opposite or "against my will".

    Eating meat obviously seems like a natural thing to do for a lot of individual humans raised in a meat eating society. [that's not the definition of natural as I have been using it. But I suspect you incorrectly think it is hence your mistake of previously claiming I'm saying meat eating is "normal" which I haven't.] It wouldn't make sense to visit a vegetarian town or area anywhere and ask/tell these people that "It's natural for you to eat meat". {same as my previous sentence] Right? So why doing a similar thing in a veg*n online community, and tell us that since we are humans, and humans are (by some/many) seen as "natural meat eaters", eating meat should be considered 'natural' for us collectively/ as a species?
    Even more perplexing for you is that the Vegan Society completely agrees with me for the exact same reason: science. In asking if an animal is

    - warm blooded
    - is a vertebrate
    - is genetically designed to be capable of eating and digesting animal matter

    we don't take opinion polls or ask philosophers or the woodwork teacher who left school at age 14 you quote in your signature line; instead we ask scientists that study this topic.

    There is no "debate" in the various fields of science as to whether humans are herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores. We, like the dog, the pig, the rat, and our closest living relative the chimpanzee, are all omnivores. This means we have a choice of eating either plant matter or animal matter. Our bodies are genetically able to assimilate the nutrients from veggies and meat (that's what I meant by "successfully") and from my understanding about 98 to 99% of the world's population chooses both, unlike us vegans who choose only veggies. But it is not this statistic that determines that we are omnivores, it is our anatomy.


    I never said eating animal matter was

    -good
    -moral
    -proper
    -healthy in excess
    - the path we "should" take
    - great for the environment
    - great for the animals that would be killed

    All I'm saying, along with the vegetarian, non-meat eating primatologists Jane Goodall and Dr McArdle, is that we are genetically designed to be capable of absorbing nutrients from both plants and meat if we were to choose to (not that Jane Goodall, Dr. McArdle, nor myself choose to, we all shun meat). That's the definition of "omnivore" as we use it.

    Is our species 'natural cannibals' if humans voluntarily have eaten human meat?
    By my use of the word "natural", which has nothing to do with morality or ethics, the answer is yes. Other animals in nature also eat their own species. That would be natural too.

    I really don't like using the word "natural" since it has over a dozen different definitions. But the way I use it I usually mean "occurs spontaneously in nature without coercion of force from other animals".

    I prefer to say humans are genetically omnivores, that is to say unlike herbivores our bodies are capable of digesting meat and other animal matter like eggs and milk (for some even into adulthood) and assimilating the nutrients into our bloodstream, as about 98 to 99% of the world's population chooses to.

    If a group of men in a primitive village 10000 years ago regularly were beating their kids and raping women, that doesn't mean that men, today are 'natural rapers', so why wold their meat eating make them 'natural meat eaters'?
    I've told you before. I don't discuss rape so I won't answer this question.

    'Nature' doesn't mean 'out in the woods'.
    To me it does. It means out in the woods, the desert, the tundra, the field, the mountains, the sea, in the rivers.... For example: Wild chimps found in nature kill and eat Senegal bushbabies, assimilating the nutrients into their bloodstream, so this proves they are omnivores, not herbivores, as was once thought.

    "Successfully consuming meat" is an oxymoron for me, and that's not only because the word success doesn't go well along with killing someone.
    Do lions successfully consume meat or is that also an oxymoron?

    It's not 'in accordance with nature' either, because the meat being eaten is/was part of nature as well (killing an animal is not 'in accordance' with that animal).
    True for lions also?

    The main difference between humans and the other animals that eat meat is that

    a) we don't need it (that's typical of all omnivores, I believe, not just the primate called "human")

    b) we have the capacity to see that we don't need it, and act differently.
    Based on your "free will" criterions for 'natural omnivores', Mahk, should the human species be considered 'natural cannibals', if the humans that have been observed 'in nature' eating other humans claim that nobody forced them to do it?
    Yes. Eating one's own species is found in many species. It occurs in nature so it is natural by my definition of the word.

    I would also disagree if someone would state that it's 'natural' for humans as a species to stuff their lips with large, circle objects even if some tribes still do that. What they actually do is to alter their bodies away from it's natural state by using more than just a 'minimal process' (to use the term above).
    I'm unaware of any other animal outside of humans that does self body modifications, beyond grooming, but if there is one then the activity in humans could be classified as natural, as I use it.

    The bottom line is that we simply don't need to add 'natural' in front of a description of humans behaviour unless it's absolutely necessary in order to be understood or make sense. I believe that this and several earlier discussions about this very topic has documented quit well that using 'natural' this way just causes lack of communication and misunderstandings.
    I agree we should use the word, which has over a dozen dictionary definitions, as little as possible.

    I don't mind that a person calls himself an 'omnivore' if he eats meat and plants even if he doesn't eat milk products or eg. stuff humans earlier ate (larvae etc).
    "even if"???

    [edit to add: I'm only one day behind you from answering all your questions. I haven't even begun to address your most recent post, for example]
    Last edited by Mahk; Jan 9th, 2010 at 11:48 PM.

  48. #48
    Fuhzy's Avatar
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Quote Mahk View Post
    Humans are natural omnivores.
    I don't understand why anyone would try and debate this. This is a scientific fact, established, proven, done.

    However that has no bearing on whether or not we should be vegan today. It's silly for omni's to bring it up in debate and silly for vegans to try and debate against it.

  49. #49
    leedsveg
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Quote Mahk View Post
    we don't take opinion polls or ask philosophers or the woodwork teacher who dropped out of school at age 14 you quote in your signature line; instead we ask scientists that study this matter.
    In 1925, when Donald Watson (the woodwork teacher) left school, the school leaving age in England was 14. As DW left school aged 14 having completed his scholastic education, how can he be said to have "dropped out of school"?

    lv

    [Hi Fuhzy- Your posting came on while I was still composing mine. Not sure I can see any purpose to these "humans are/aren't omnivores" threads at all. It's obvious that the arguments used will have little to no dietary influence on either omnivores or vegans. leedsveg]
    Last edited by leedsveg; Jan 8th, 2010 at 12:36 AM. Reason: addition

  50. #50
    Mahk
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    Default Re: A rational critique of: Humans are Omnivores

    Quote Fuhzy View Post
    I don't understand why anyone would try and debate this. This is a scientific fact, established, proven, done.
    Correct, but the real problem in arguing that humans are herbivores is it makes us look like idiots to a fence sitting omni who is considering the lifestyle.
    ---
    In 1925, when Donald Watson (the woodwork teacher) left school, the school leaving age in England was 14. As DW left school aged 14 having completed his scholastic education, how can he be said to have "dropped out of school"?
    Sorry, his obit said "He left school at 14 to become a woodworker" I didn't realize everyone "left" school at 14 in the UK, then. OOps. My point though was that he had no expertise in anatomy, anthropology, physiology, archeology, primatology etc. That still stands.

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