As a lot of you probably know, I have been eating vegan almost exclusively for quite some time. Normally, it is not difficult for me to eat like that at all because the vegan diet is incredibly delicious and easy to follow, but now and then it still happens that I feel these cravings for meat and sadly give in to them from time to time. In the last couple of days, I once again asked myself why I still sometimes have this craving for meat, although I completely stand behind veganism and its principles.
I loathe what happens behind closed doors in the meat and dairy industry, that we are all lied to about certain circumstances, what bad impact eating meat has on the environment and, of course, what happens with the animals, for which I have such a big heart. And yet, every few months, I put in a “cheatday”, where I then actually eat everything that I am fond of. Now I sit here and think that this can’t be it! Why is my mouth still watering when I see someone eating a steak right in front of me? Even though I know it’s so wrong?
Many meat eaters bring the argument that we humans are simply “made” to consume meat. That this is in our nature and it is just against it to only live off eating plants. Since I can’t really explain my still existing meat cravings, I wondered if the widespread theory that we humans are omnivores (eating both plants and meat) is true, or whether we are actually herbivores (plant eaters), which simply in the course of the time have begun to develop into omnivores.
Are we people plant eaters, carnivores or omnivores?
(Most) people eat both animal and plant foods. So humans must be omnivores, right? In my research, I’ve come across this page, which allows a wonderful overview of the subject and is in my opinion quite understandable. To tell you straight away: Probably to the astonishment of most people it is made clear that we humans are – contrary to the general opinion – characteristcly definitely herbivores.
Here I summarized the most important points for you:
- The appendages of carnivores are claws; those of herbivores are hands or hooves
- The teeth of carnivores are sharp; those of plant eaters are mainly flat (for grinding)
- The intestinal tract of carnivores is short (3-fold body length); herbivore: long (12 times body length)
- The body cooling of carnivores occurs by wheezing; in the herbivora by sweating
- Carnivores drink fluids by lapping; Herbivore by sipping
- Carnivores produce their own vitamin C, while herbivores get it from their food
We humans have in contrast to carnivores:
- a relatively small opening of the oral cavity compared to the head size
- a temporomandibular joint, which is arranged above the tooth height and has an extended angle
- a lower jaw which is more oriented towards the lateral movement and the more complex chewing of plant foods
- a less stable temporomandibular joint, which can be easily dislodged if we were to actually try to capture an animal
- Saliva containing digestion enzymes
- the ability to chew food to destroy plant cell walls for better digestion and to mix with saliva (no large-scale swallowing of food)
- flattened, dull, small canines shaped like a spade (carnivores: dagger-like and elongated to kill prey)
- flattened jaws for crushing (meat eaters: sharp, jagged, shaped like a blade)
- a gastric volume which is about 25% of our gastrointestinal tract (carnivore: about 60-70%)
- a pH value in the stomach which is about 4 to 5; Carnivores: usually 1 or less (beneficial to kill bacteria in decaying flesh)
According to these experts, we humans are definitely – at least anatomically speaking – herbivores. So why did I grow up like so many of us like a meat and dairy consumer and why do I still miss it from time to time? It can not seem to be due to our biological structure. As a graduate in sociology, I am of course aware that the society and its development, institutions of power and politics have their fingers in the pie.
Here’s a video which explains this:
I’m now eating mainly vegan for quite a time and the first and foremost reason is my love towards animals. Most of the points concerning the “carnivore – herbivore – dilemma” I, of course, already knew about, but I just hardly ever argued them, simply because the animals are my main reason. If someone’s asked me “why vegan?” my answer was always “because of the animals” and not “because we are designed for it anatomically”. And that will always remain my main reason. However, I find it quite fascinating that we actually seem to be herbivores and only over the course of time and the development of mankind we’ve predominantly become omnivores. It is clear to me that there are a lot of people who see the whole thing completely differently and might bring arguments against the herbivore theory. I would like to express my opinion here and also to let everyone believe what he / she wants. For me, however, it is clear that we humans are not really carnivores and can definitely go without eating meat. Whether we want to and we have the discipline to do so, of course, is another question. There may be reasons why today we eat what we eat, but that does not mean we can not change it. As for my personal case, I will try to live 100% vegan next year. I also am a victim of society who just was conditioned to eat meat and now it’s still hard to let go. But I will get used to the idea of living without eating meat forever. It just makes sense, is good for the animals, the environment and myself. And guys: we’ve been designed for it. 😉
I’m super interested in your opinion regarding this topic so if you want, leave me a (nice) comment 🙂