Reading time: 3 minutesPublished: June 4, 2018
Have humans evolved into carnivores? What does your diet say about you?
We are all taught in biology at school that humans are omnivores. It is just one of those facts that we take for granted. But with the growing popularity of vegetarianism and veganism, some of us are left scratching our heads, wondering about the amount of meat verses vegetables we actually consume. So how do we classify a ‘human omnivore'? Is it equal parts meat to vegetables? Or is there a new classification for humans because of our evolving diets? This postulates the question; have humans evolved into carnivores?
I would like to preface this next section by saying that I am not against meat; however, I thought it would be an interesting discussion point, to delve into how our diets are classifying us. It’s safe to say that most of the world’s western population could easily consume a portion of meat 3 or more times a day. Let’s explore this further shall we? Breakfast for example; bacon and eggs on toast, lunch; chicken salad, and finally dinner; lamb cutlets with mashed potato. This, in my opinion, would be a fairly common diet. And it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine or extrapolate this across 7 days, where we would be consuming close to 21 portions of meat a week. Now, here is the interesting question that sparks this discussion; what other primate on earth consumes meat 21 times a week? I can’t take full credit for proposing this question, but I do know the answer is none; there is no primate on earth that consumes meat 21 times per week.
This is a really interesting, thought provoking question because it brings into perspective how much meat we consume. Not to mention the health implications of consuming too much processed meat, high doses of hormones from chicken, increased consumption of animal saturated fats, and the preservatives added to increase the shelf life. With all this in mind, I started thinking about my own eating habits and how I could become less carnivorous and more omnivorous. Firstly, I looked at the quantity of meat I was having throughout the day, and it was not too dissimilar to the example I gave earlier (plus or minus a few pork pies or sausage rolls!). I compared that to the amount of leafy greens, raw vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds I would eat, and found that the portion sizes of my meat was twice as much as those combined on my plate. How could this be omnivorous considering that I was consuming twice as much meat as other food products? So, I had an easy solution; just don’t eat meat, For me though, that was wrong my friends… wrong on so many levels.
I don’t know about you, but I know that I personally struggle if I don’t eat meat from time to time. I tried being completely vegetarian, and for a period of time even vegan, but for my lifestyle and body type it unfortunately didn’t work for me. Now these types of diets may be the best thing that works for you. And I think that’s great! But for those consuming a ‘normal western diet’, who are considering reducing the amount of meat they consume, I would suggest the occasional chicken salad or lamb chop. But Matt… I hear you say, you just mentioned before that meat has undesirable chemicals and hormones that have health implications. Well, this segues nicely into my second consideration; quality of meat.
Quality is a major factor when it comes to meat. Not all meat is the same, I think most people can vouch for the difference between and 1minute steak and a rib eye fillet. Same animal, majorly different price points. Things to look out for to avoid these harmful chemicals are; organic (this is a given), grass fed, free range, ethically farmed and hormone free, Yes, all of these words mean it is expensive. But looking at it from a cost perspective, you’re actually saving money because you’re not eating as much meat, and ultimately, you are benefiting from a better quality of food.
So… have humans evolved into carnivores? What does your diet say about you? In my opinion, we are very much moving towards becoming carnivores. But we can change this is we want to. My challenge to you is to have a look at your diet, consider how much meat you consume, and question whether what I’m saying applies to you. Maybe you are more that happy to eat meat 3 times a day. But if you are serious about improving your health, you might want to consider becoming more of what we are supposed to be. Classify yourself as an omnivore again.
Written by: Matt