By Kylie Hargrave
Elm Staff Writer
One thing I hear all the time against a vegan or vegetarian diet is that humans were made to eat meat. This has never set well with me so I did a little research from both points of view. The conclusion I’ve formed is that humans weren’t made to eat meat, but they did adapt to be able to do so. However, this argument is by no means black and white.
For the argument supporting the idea that humans are not meant to eat meat the evidence lies essentially in biology. We don’t have sharp teeth and claws made for ripping meat. Also, carnivores and omnivores were made with short digestive tracts so that meat wouldn’t rot as it made it’s way through, and we have an intestinal system that is more similar to that of a herbivore in its long length.
A carnivore also has a very acidic stomach that is able to kill bacteria found on meat and properly break it down. While humans do have some hydrochloric acid in their stomachs (whereas herbivores do not), it’s less than carnivores and omnivores, and may be present simply to break down the protein found in nuts and seeds.
Even our jaws move in a way made for grinding, whereas a carnivore can only move its mouth up and down in order to rip meat. Once the carnivore has ripped the meat it generally swallows whole, whereas humans and herbivores prefer to chew and grind with flat molar teeth and then swallow.
Furthermore, you never really hear of a carnivorous or omnivorous animal suffering from high cholesterol from eating too much meat or gaining too much weight from the saturated fat in meat. Humans simply weren’t created to handle these aspects of meat eating like natural meat eaters.
Also, we don’t have the speed, dexterity, or eyesight of most born hunters, and to say it bluntly, if you were to present a baby with a slice of apple or a raw piece of meat, he would go for the apple. We are naturally revolted by blood and raw meat, intestines, organs, etc. whereas carnivores and omnivores are instinctively drawn to such things for food.
However, there are some valid points on the other side of the argument. Even if we don’t have as much hydrochloric acid as most carnivores or omnivores, at least we do have it as well as various enzymes in our pancreas that help digest meat.
Also, our intestinal track is long but not quite as long as herbivores, and we don’t have multiple stomachs like most herbivores. Furthermore, our bodies have become deficient with DHA and taurine, and we usually rely on animal meat for these. This, however, may have been an adaptation as our ancestors began to eat meat in places where other sources of sustenance were far and inbetween.
Another argument is that the vitamin B12 that our body needs is hard to find in plants and is present in meat. However, it is clear that B12 comes from bacteria, bacteria that is present in unwashed plants (which our ancestors would be eating). One other interesting theory is that humans wouldn’t be able to fuel the brains development and evolution overtime without eating meat. There is evidence that the increase in calories that eating meat gives humans makes it capable for their brains to develop stronger than apes, who survive off a herbivorous diet. Regardles of if this is true, this explains that at one point we weren’t eating meat at all, as we weren’t biologically predispositioned to it.