Originally Published October 20, 2012
I am chagrined to see, looking at my Part I post on this topic, that it’s been two years since I wrote it! I had intended to write Part II just a couple of months later. Better late than never, but…. this was pretty darn late!
Anyway, last time I wrote about the spiritual aspects of eating meat. This included the energetic aspects that we learn about in Pranic Healing such as how meat looks energetically, what it consists of energetically, and how it acts on our bodies as a result. If you haven’t read this post, you can check it out here
I want to discuss the physical aspects of humans eating meat in this post. By physical aspects, I refer to the physiological compatibility of humans consuming animals.
This extremely important to discuss because virtually every person in my particular culture (United States) believes without a doubt that humans were designed to eat meat. They believe it is not only harmless, but essential food for us to function. This is taken for granted as common sense and rarely questioned.
As I try to point out in every discussion I have about eating meat, while I choose not to eat it, I strongly feel it is a personal decision and respect what each individual decides to do–especially when they have made that decision thoughtfully. I do wish more people would simply put more thought and education into what they eat and why, and that is why I aim to educate people more on this issue, especially from a side that gets far less attention than the mainstream one. Also keep in mind, there is much in between being a hard-core carnivore and a strict vegetarian. If your enthusiasm for meat-eating changes one day, you can simply and easily reduce the amount of meat you eat each week without making any lifelong promise never to have it again, and you can still enjoy many of the health benefits that come with that.
I was inspired to write this post on this specific aspect after reading David Wolfe’s book The Sunfood Diet Success System where there is a fantastic chart in Appendix A toward the end of the book. I have seen small facts here in there in this direction, but the chart Wolfe created here is, in my opinion, extraordinary. He has listed 17 physiological aspects of carnivores and compared them to the same part of the body or physiology in herbivores and then in humans. You can then compare for yourself which category humans seem to fit into. I would love to copy and paste the whole thing here because it is so surprising, but in the interest of space as well as copyright laws :), I give just a few examples instead. (In the original chart, there are 17.)
1.Carnivore: All four feet are clawed (to rip into flesh).
Herbivore: All four feet are hoofed (cloven) or hands and feet contain individual digits (fingers or toes) with nails.
Human: Hands and feet contain individual digits with nails and opposable thumbs. Hands are perfectly designed to reach out, grab fruit and peel it.
2. Carnivore: Shape of face allows the carnivore to dig into a carcass and rip out the entrails
Herbivore: Shape of the face allows the animal to pull vegetation off of plants
Human: Shape of the face clearly indicates that humans have no ability to rip out entrails with their mouth
3. Carnivore: Tongue is rough and thin
Herbivore: Tongue is smooth and thick to manipulate vegetable matter into the back molars for grinding.
Human: Tongue is smooth and thick to manipulate vegetable matter into the back molars for grinding.
4. Carnivore: Liver contains uricase, an enzyme used to break down uric acid; it can break down 10-15 times more uric acid as a herbivore (uric acid is a by-product of meat digestion.)
Herbivore: Liver has a low tolerance for uric acid.
Human: Liver has a low tolerance for uric acid.
5. Carnivore: Intestines are 3 times as long as the trunk of the body; their design facilitates rapid expulsion of fleshy matter.
Herbivore: Intestines are at least 8 to 12 times as long as the trunk of the body; they are designed for extracting all nutrients from plant fiber.
Human: Intestines are at least 12 times as long as the trunk, and an integral part of the most sophisticated juice extractor in the world: the human digestive system.
6. Carnivore: Saliva is acidic
Herbivore: Saliva is alkaline; it contains enzymes specifically designed to break down starchy carbohydrates
Human: Saliva is alkaline; it contains ptyalin, an enzyme specifically designed to break down starchy carbohydrates.
When our physiology tells us we certainly seem to be herbivores, why and how did so many cultures around the world and through history end up eating meat, even making it a mainstay of their cuisine? The fact that so many do is often used as evidence that we are meant to eat meat.
Without getting into a lot of details, most definitely do. However, there are still many that eat very little animal products. What seems to be roughly true to me is that the further away from the tropics humans get, the more meat they eat. Essentially, the further away we get from plant options, the more we eat meat to fill in the gaps. As a general rule, traditional humans eat meat when necessary to supplement their diet out of necessity due to lack of plant options.
Yes, some of you say, there are exceptions to this–true! I can only wager a guess, and my guess is that humans are curious creatures, and they like what tastes good. Someone a hundred or so years ago figured out how to refine sugar–just as people thousands or millions of years ago figured out how to make a spear and throw it hard enough to kill a deer. Both sugar and meat taste good, but the health impacts of consuming neither were studied before they were embraced as part of our diets.
Looking at traditional cultures has become very popular as we strive to discover what we are meant to eat as a species. We know something has gone very wrong with our modern diets. Sickness and disease abound, yet in indigenous, traditional cultures, there is little to none of it. If we are so advanced, why do we suffer from literally thousands of health problems these people have never even heard of?
Of course, studying them is highly valuable. The most obvious fact we have gleaned from this research is that when we eat food in its natural form, some would call it its whole food form, it will be the healthiest for us. Using technology to manipulate our food by allowing it to stay on the shelf longer, by adding chemicals for certain flavors, by spraying it with chemicals during the growing process, by genetically modifying it–all hurt and take away its healthy, nutritious properties. This leads to malnourishment, disease, and more. While meat could be called a “whole food,” in a similar yet much more primitive way, eating meat still requires technology for humans to do it. Our bodies do not include instruments for hunting, killing, and putting into consumable form, animal products. Instruments are required to do that, so for us, I would argue, it is not a natural part of our diet.
Whether eating meat is harmful to us, which is the million-dollar question we are all asking, has become a little more complicated. We have recently become aware that they way we produce meat products on a massive scale is extremely unhealthy–for the animals and, subsequently, for us who consume them. Almost all meat produced is created by confining the animals to tiny living spaces, giving them no exposure to sunlight, and involves feeding them an unnatural diet that causes them to become sick in order to fatten them up as quickly as possible. (They are then fed tons of antibiotics because they are constantly sick. If simply given their natural diet–grass for cows, for instance–the need for medicine would go away.) The meat created this way has been proven through thousands of scientific studies to be harmful to people when consumed. We know that those who consume this meat have a far greater risk of many diseases, including deadly ones.
There are now two sets of meat products–those created naturally by letting animals exercise, eat their natural diet, and live healthfully, and those created the conventional way. Because most or all studies done on the healthfulness of meat products are done using conventionally-produced meat, we now have a hard time differentiating between the health impacts of each, which are vastly different products. Consumers of natural meat products naturally dismiss scientific studies that use conventionally-produced meat products because these are such different foods, as they probably should. What I would like to see is studies done using grass-fed cows, free-range hens, etc. so we can understand what the impacts of eating regular, natural meat products are, as opposed to the impacts of eating the meat of sick and unhealthy animals. It doesn’t take a scientist to know that the latter is going to hurt us.
In a wonderful lecture by Kevin Trudeau I watched online as part of David Wolfe’s Longevity Now conference, Kevin said he had researched and even spent time with traditional cultures around the world in an effort to find out what these healthy, robust people eat, and to see how we could emulate it. What he found is that all these healthy people ate incredibly different diets from one another. He mentioned one that ate monkey brains as well as others that were vegetarian. What they had in common which he came to believe were the most important factors for health and longevity included their relaxed attitude about life. They had a sense of humor, the habit of letting go of any upsets, and having simply calmer dispositions. All these cultures shared that. Now THAT is some wisdom for the ages.