Despite what we may have picked up from old movies and from those who market fad diets to us, anthropologists have confirmed that early man and woman were predominantly vegetarians1 and so the idea we are naturally meat-centric is a long way from the truth. And if we take a look at our bodies, it is obvious that we have not evolved to eat a lot of meat.
First, how many of us have the desire or motivation to harm an animal with our own bare hands? Not many. Any if we look at those hands, it’s clear the claws we have are not up to the task, and nor are our ‘fangs’. Our hands are perfect for picking fruits from trees, but not so good at slashing at flesh. Our teeth are perfect for grinding down fibrous matter but not really up to the task of ripping flesh from bone.
Let’s talk about guts. Where the guts of carnivores are short – because they must digest the meat quickly before it putrefies and kills them – ours are long, like a rabbit’s, and allow us to digest all the lovely fibrous vegetable matter.
We are not natural meat-eaters. Of course, we can tolerate a bit of meat in our diets (if cooked), but the amount eaten in the standard American diet far exceeds what is healthy. The proof of this is in the overwhelming research that shows that when we cut out animal products we reduce the risk of heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and some kinds of cancer.2
So, while eating a very small amount of meat infrequently may not harm us, it is clear that our bodies thank us for choosing plant-based foods.
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2 Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, ‘Position of the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Vegetarian Diets’, 2016 [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27886704]