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 Why did humans start to eat meat? We're Herbivores! (36)

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HarvardGrad(174) pic



Why did humans start to eat meat? We're Herbivores!

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'Humans' did not start to eat meat, given that all members of the great ape family (which includes our genus, homo) are omnivorous. Most old world monkeys are as well; among primates, herbivorous diets are generally rare except in new world monkeys and other primates. As such, it is highly likely that a common ancestor began eating meat sometime after the breakup of pangaea, but most likely before anything recognizable as a humanoid or even an ape evolved.

1 point

Well said!

HarvardGrad(174) Clarified
1 point

A primates diet consist of 99% fruits and vegetables. That leaves 1% to insects. A humans diet is supposed to consist of something along these lines as we are biologically structured herbivores. And historically our diet was herbivorous. So why did meat (outside of insects) become introduced in our diets? Meat is not necessary. It is not more beneficial than vegetation. So why the introduction followed with indoctrination?

thousandin1(1931) Clarified
3 points

A primates diet consist of 99% fruits and vegetables. That leaves 1% to insects.

Depends on the primate. Great apes, such as Chimpanzees (including bonobos) and gorillas, are also known to eat small birds, reptiles, and mammals with some regularity- even forming hunting parties to catch prey. They have been known to resort to cannibalism as well. That 99%/1% figure is true of the new world monkeys/primates and other scattered species (such as lemurs) but isn't true of any of humans closest relatives.

A humans diet is supposed to consist of something along these lines as we are biologically structured herbivores.

"Supposed to" says who? And as far as the biological structure, only if you cherry-pick traits rather than look at the whole. Our visual acuity and eye placement, as a single organ example, are far more consistent with predators than with herbivores.

And historically our diet was herbivorous.

Our diet did not, historically, become anywhere close to herbivorous until the earliest forms of agriculture. Prior to agriculture, we were quite opportunistic, eating whatever we could- a significant portion of which was meat. Where are you getting these ideas, some unsourced vegan periodical?

So why did meat (outside of insects) become introduced in our diets?

The why is pretty nebulous. Environmental pressure on some common ancestor of modern humans and the other great apes selected for an omnivorous diet. I don't have a specific reason why, but if I were to speculate, probably something that significantly disturbed the local food web, reducing the availability of whatever the staple was. This could have been a fungal blight of some kind, climate shift (certainly happened as the omnivore shift occured sometime after pangaea began to break up), or any number of things.

Meat is not necessary. It is not more beneficial than vegetation.

Depends on your angle. Meat has a significantly higher calorie density than fruits and vegetables do. Even grain, in its most basic form, is less rich in calories than meat is. Modern grains that have been subjected to millenia of selective breeding and various processes of refinement exceed meat in this arena. When general food scarcity was a concern, meat was an excellent way to accomplish this.

The food scarcity need not be general, either. There are innumerable plants that humans cannot eat, but serve as food for other species. Eating meat essentially lets us subsist on those inedible plants, by using an herbivores metabolism as an intermediary.

Particularly cold biomes are case in point here, generally not supporting enough vegetation for large herbivores; these usually have a food web that is based on algae or moss of some kind, with one or two small species feeding off of that, the rest of the web being various carnivores.

I get where you're coming from with the unnecessary bit- I really do. On paper, at least, it takes a lot more energy and resources to produce 1000 kcal of meat than it does to produce 1000kcal of a vegetable. But a human must be able to eat that vegetable to subsist on it directly, whereas the meat could be raised on crops that aren't edible by humans. This isn't to say this is what happens in practice now, as most livestock is fed grain, but we aren't really speaking of now so much as an archaic great ape ancestore.

So why the introduction followed with indoctrination?

Introduction, by necessity. Indoctrination? I don't see that any has taken place. We aren't conditioned psychologically to like meat- our enjoyment of meat is predominately physical in that we have taste and smell receptors that are triggered in a very specific (and generally very positive way) by animal fat and protein; even lifelong vegetarians who try it for the first time tend to love it (although they do tend to have digestive issues initially, just as anyone does when not accustomed to a food, even foreign fruits and vegetables which we're "supposed" to eat right?). This doesn't even touch on the sheer number of vegan/vegetarian foods designed to mimic the flavor, aroma, texture, etc. of meat. Someone who has been raised to oppose eating meat has certainly not been 'indoctrinated' into being an omnivore- yet probably finds the smell of it extremely appealing. Really, it's more accurate to say that those who do not like the smell of cooking meat have been indoctrinated...

DrawFour(2662) Clarified
1 point

Think about humans back as far as history will show. Humans are gluttonous, usually lazy, and indulgent. Meat tastes good (subjectively). It's more like that there wasn't a huge decision over whether or not humans should eat meat, but rather some humans started eating it just to try it, and after they enjoyed it, they wanted to continue doing so.

5 points

As far as I know, humans have never been herbivores. Maybe further down the chain, but I'm pretty sure homos sapiens have always been omnivores.

HarvardGrad(174) Disputed
2 points

That is wrong. Early humans ate meat to survive due to lack of vegetation. Some hippos do this, do you consider them 'omnivores'?

MuckaMcCaw(1969) Disputed
3 points

I don't know much about hippos, so I can't really say.

All I can say is humans have forward facing eyes, a predatory instinct that is stronger in some people than in others and a combination of both herbivorous and carnivorous teeth. We clearly aren't dietary specialists.

Do you have any evidence that humans were ever species wide herbivores?

2 points

Because becoming omnivores greatly increases the chance of survival.

HarvardGrad(174) Clarified
2 points

Eating meat has more negative side effects than positive. Also, just because there is a shortage of grass does not mean that deer will start hunting mice. Just like lions will not start eating berries and plants. Both cases would increase their survival. But because they are not biologically structured for such change, then said case would, more than likely, never happen.

Cartman(18192) Disputed
2 points

Eating meat has more negative side effects than positive.

Not starving outweighs starving to death hands down. Being able to eat meat as well as plants is an advantage. Early humans would not eat meat 3 times a day every day and would not experience the negative side effects that you are talking about.

Also, just because there is a shortage of grass does not mean that deer will start hunting mice. Just like lions will not start eating berries and plants. Both cases would increase their survival. But because they are not biologically structured for such change, then said case would, more than likely, never happen.

That means that humans being able to eat meat is part of our biology. We are omnivores.

Amarel(5556) Disputed
1 point

just because there is a shortage of grass does not mean that deer will start hunting mice.

Early humans ate meat to survive due to lack of vegetation

You recognize the the benefit in being able to eat meat. People would never have made it through the winter without meat. The negative impact that meat has on health doesn't come into play until later than was the lifespan of earlier humans. If you have a relatively short life, meat has more positive than negative side effects.

In which part of the evolutionary process did we become fond of meat?

Cause meat is good and it was walking everywhere in Africa.

1 point

Humans are primates. Primates have never been known for their herbivorosity: many species eat small game, insects, and whatever other forms of life-sustaining 'foodstuffs' they can acquire. Why are humans any different? Humans never started eating meat; it has been a staple throughout our evolutionary history.

HarvardGrad(174) Clarified
1 point

Primates diet is primarily herbivorous. 99% actually. Even still, if a primate were to eat "small game" (which when they do eat something other than plants and fruits, it is normally insects) look at the way they are built. Humans do not posses the same biological structure as primates. They can bite and instantly kill (due to sharp teeth) small to mid-sized game, a human cannot (healthily or safely that is). We are designed to eat plants. We have no instinctual carnivorous instincts. Also, meat is harmful to the human body. Before you ask "how?", research it.

1 point

Because Uruguayan rugby teams crash in the Andes.

addltd(5142) Clarified
1 point

And were not rescued for too long a period of time...which BTW for all reading this was days and weeks, not years, hundreds of years, thousands or even millions of years. In other words, Humans had the tendency to be omnivores and just needed the right events to firmly solidify their place as meat eaters!

JustIgnoreMe(4290) Clarified
1 point

Ha, that's funny!

The earth is 6,000 years old and humans were vegetarians until 1972.

Great juxtaposition Andy!

HarvardGrad(174) Clarified
1 point

Our biological makeup does not support this "tendency" you affirm.

1 point

As per my opinion, during the genesis of human era, there were no defined rules on what a particular being is supposed to eat. So, primitive humans like animals, with extremely unmodified brain, ate pretty much everything that they were capable of eating and found in abundance around themselves. Also, just as a lion can eat any prey, small or big, without any guilt, humans then could eat anything without much conscience involved. It was only centuries after, when man had developed an intricate, advanced system of neurons, learned to grow and harvest crops (alternate food) and acquired humane traits like emotions, that they realized that eating any living species may be unscrupulous and brutal.

1 point

As humans evolved, we adapt to the environment and survive. Onced a herbivore, we can adapt and and had our digestive system evolved too to suit the diet of eating meats. This is because non-meat eaters have been a hard time to ensure they get enough protein every day even though back in the hunter/gatherer days, primitive man ate a lot less meat - usually around 20% of his total diet - a far cry from how much the average American consumes daily in the 21st century.

As a matter of facts, plants do provide proteins.but the total amount of proteins they can gain from plants is limited. Hence being humans our instincts make us to seek for the better. Thus we turn to meats which are consumed like those of carnivores. However despite this, we do still eat vegetables. Hence i think we should called ourselves Omnivores .

I'm not exactly knowledgeable when it comes to the biological studies but Ill do my best. From what I've heard and read primates are omnivores. Correct me if I'm wrong but is this not true?

daver(1771) Clarified
1 point

I believe that some other primates actually do eat meat. The two I'm sure about are chimpanzees an baboons. Strangely the whole group of smaller primates, that we collectively call monkeys are the main source of meat for chimpanzees and baboons.

ok, thanks for the clarification.

1 point

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Our digestive system has no issue with meat. Our teeth have also been made to eat both meat and plants.

0 points

The logical answer is that humans were never herbivores to begin with. Evolution is a lie. If you want to believe in something real try Santa Claus.

2 points

yeah Santa or any god.

2 points

actually you are right! As the others have said, humans (homo sapiens) never were herbivores.

Only the bible claims that we were! Before the flood this was our instruction:

And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food.

Genesis 1:29

Only after the flood did God (supposedly) say:

Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

Genesis 9:3

HarvardGrad(174) Clarified
1 point

No, biology claims that we were/are. I did not even know about such asininely asserted verses.

CooperMan(8) Disputed
2 points

Alright, let me hit you with something. If evolution doesn't exist, what explains that donkeys and horses can create a mule? They must have had some extremely similar qualities, that over the years have developed genetic diversity. The mule cannot reproduce, therefore, horses and donkeys are different species. Not to mention that simpler organisms are found further underground. Saying evolution doesn't exist is similar to saying that toy companies created dinosaur fossils in order to sell their products.

Atrag(5556) Disputed
1 point

"poppycock!! Who ever heard of something happening that I don't understand! What a lie! Its like the fecking easter bunny"