Humans are natural plant eaters

Next time someone gives you the excuse that humans are omnivores/carnivores, this link can provide some very useful information: Link

It compares various features of omnivores, carnivores and herbivores to determine the diet best suited for humans.

The link will also provide a detailed summary of the information gathered, a review of the evidence and also answers many counter arguments.  It is definitely a worthwhile read.

Humans are biologically herbivores
Carnivores
Omnivores
Herbivores
Humans
Facial muscles
Reduced to allow wide mouth gape Reduced Well-developed Well-developed
Jaw type
Angle not expanded Angle not expanded Expanded angle Expanded angle
Jaw joint location
On same plane as molar teeth On same plane as molar teeth Above the plane of the molars Above the plane of the molars
Jaw motion
Shearing; minimal side-to-side motion Shearing; minimal side-to-side motion No shear; good side-to-side, front-to-back No shear; good side-to-side, front-to-back
Major jaw muscles
Temporalis Temporalis Masseter and ptergoids Masseter and pterygoids
Mouth opening vs. head size
Large Large Small Small
Teeth: Incisors
Short and pointed Short and pointed Broad, flattened and spade-shaped Broad, flattened and spade-shaped
Teeth: Canines
Long, sharp, and curved Long, sharp and curved Dull and short or long (for defense), or none Short and blunted
Teeth: Molars
Sharp, jagged and blade-shaped Sharp blades and/or flattened Flattened with cusps vs. complex surface Flattened with nodular cusps
Chewing
None; swallows food whole Swallows food whole and/or simple crushing Extensive chewing necessary Extensive chewing necessary
Saliva
No digestive enzymes No digestive enzymes Carbohydrate digesting enzymes Carbohydrate digesting enzymes
Stomach type
Simple Simple Simple or multiple chambers Simple
Stomach acidity with food in stomach
≤ pH 1 ≤ pH 1 pH 4-5 pH 4-5
Length of small intestine
3-6 times body length 4-6 times body length 10-12+ times body length 10-11 times body length*
Colon
Simple, short, and smooth Simple, short, and smooth Long, complex; may be sacculated Long, sacculated
Liver
Can detoxify vitamin A Can detoxify vitamin A Cannot detoxify vitamin A Cannot detoxify vitamin A
Kidney
Extremely concentrated urine Extremely concentrated urine Moderately concentrated urine Moderately concentrated urine
Nails
Sharp claws Sharp claws Flattened nails or blunt hooves Flattened nails
From The Comparative Anatomy of Eating, by Milton R. Mills, M.D. * “Body length” measured from neck to anus, as with the other animals

5 Responses to Humans are natural plant eaters

  1. M Backeberg says:

    Interesting summary. Thanks.

  2. Astrid says:

    I’m studying biology and this information is not accurate. Animals have evolved into carnivores and herbivores. Among those animals, there are some that have an opportunist diet, which are commonly known as omnivores. An animal could have evolved to eat plants, but it can also eat other animals or eggs.

    Humans-like chimpanzees- have evolved with an opportunist diet. They eat what they find. Why do gorillas and bonobos don’t do that? Because they live in different environments, which allowed them to live only of plant consumption.

    The only distinct characteristic of an omnivore is to be able to digest both plants and animals. It’s got nothing to do with physical attributes.

    We should ask ourselves, however, if evolution’s really an excuse to continue eating other animals.

    Lets remember humans are also cannibals and rapists and murderers and practice incest. Those are all natural impulses…do we heed those impulses so commonly satisfied by other animals? No. That does not mean we never did any of those things, it means we are above them. Same applies to the consumption of meat. We are above torturing, murdering and eating other animals.

    • Thank you for your comment, noted that humans may have evolved to consume animal based foods, but the ‘opportunist diet’ can not be what modern day humans are eating.
      Chimpanzees/Bonobos diets are only about 5% animal based protein, and if humans limited their animal-based food to such a low percentage of their entire diet, it would possibly not be an issue. The problem is that most people consume vast amounts of animal-based protein and the prevalence of cancer, heart-disease, diabetes and obesity is a clear indicator that the omnivore/carnivore type diets are not health-supporting for humans.
      There is enough scientific research available to support the fact that a low fat, plant-based diet, with some moderate exercise added in for good measure, is still the healthiest lifestyle choice for humans.

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