But Humans are Meant to Eat Meat….. right?
We all know the scenario. You just started your plant-based diet and you’re talking to your family or friends about how great you feel eating this way….. but they respond with “humans are meant to eat meat though, right?” For some reason, this common misconception will just not leave our society. In fact, numerous studies have shown that meat is not ideal for the human body and may actually be making us sick and killing us. The human body is intended to function on plant-based foods that are full of fiber, antioxidants, unsaturated fat, essential fatty acids, phytochemicals, and cholesterol-free protein. So, to finally put this argument to rest, we’ve decided to debunk some of the comments that we hear most regarding humans eating meat.
“Humans have Canines”
You’ve probably heard this one before, but in short we don't have carnivorous teeth nor the claws to cut the meat. Instead, we have short, soft fingernails and small, dull canine teeth. All true carnivores have sharp claws and large canine teeth that are capable of tearing flesh without the help of knives and forks. It’s also important to note that real carnivores’ jaws move only up and down, enabling them to tear chunks of flesh from their prey. Humans can move their jaws up and down and from side to side, and we also have flat molars (which carnivores lack), allowing us to grind up fruit and vegetables with our back teeth like herbivores do.
“Our Digestive Systems are Meant to Process Meat”
This another false statement. Carnivores have short intestinal tracts that allow meat to pass quickly through their digestive system. Humans’ intestinal tracts are much longer, like those of plant-eaters. This gives the body more time to break down fiber and absorb the nutrients from plant-based foods.
“Humans Have Always Eaten Meat - It’s Natural”
While it’s true that humans have in fact always eaten meat, it is definetly not what the majority of our diet was made up of. During most of our evolutionary history, we were largely vegetarian: Plant foods, such as yams and grains, made up the bulk of our ancestors’ diet. The addition of modest amounts of meat to the early human diet came with the discovery of fire, which allowed us to lower the risk of being sickened or killed by parasites and bacteria in meat. This didn’t turn our ancestors into carnivores but rather allowed early humans to survive in areas and during periods in which plant foods were unavailable or scarce. Until fairly recently, only the wealthiest people could afford to feed, raise, and slaughter animals for meat, but with the rise of the modern middle class, consumption of meat in the U.S. has almost doubled over the last 100 years, which has lead to a host of chronic health problems.
So, next time you hear that humans are “meant” to eat meat, you will be equipped with the knowledge to debunk this! Knowledge is always power when it comes to a plant based diet.