Are humans supposed to eat meat and consume animal products? If you look into it, you may be surprised. Take milk, for example. The majority of people on the planet are lactose intolerant for a reason. In some parts of the world, lactose intolerance is 90 to 100 percent.(source) Humans are the only species to drink milk after weaning and the only species to drink the milk of another animal. Have we been fooled by big food marketing? Why are global food guides changing to a more plant-based foundation? It’s because things are changing.
The reason why I have a hard time believing that humans are meant to consume meat and animal products is because there’s so much science proving this. Meat eating of all kinds is linked to a variety of diseases. Some of the latest information to emerge in this area compares protein from meat and protein from plant-based sources, suggesting that plant-based protein is much healthier.
A recent study conducted by researchers in California and France found that meat protein is associated with a very sharp increased risk of heart disease, while protein from nuts and seeds is actually beneficial for the human heart.
The study is titled “Patterns of plant and animal protein intake are strongly associated with cardiovascular mortality: The Adventist Health Study-2 cohort,” It was a joint project between researchers from Loma Linda University School of Public Health in California and AgroParisTech and the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique in Paris, France.
It was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology. The researchers found that people who ate large amounts of meat protein, which is a daily norm for many people, represented a portion of the human population that would experience a 60 percent increase in cardiovascular disease (CVD), while people who consumed large amounts of protein from nuts and seeds actually experienced a 40 percent reduction in CVD.
81,000 participants were analyzed for this study. According to Gary Fraser, MB, ChB, PhD, from Loma Linda University, and François Mariotti, PhD, from AgroParisTech and the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, who served as the co-principal investigators:
“Dietary fats are part of the story in affecting risk of cardiovascular disease, proteins may also have important and largely overlooked independent effects on risk.”
The authors emphasized that they, as well as their colleagues, have long suspected that the protein from nuts and seeds in the diet protects against heart and vascular disease, while protein from meat, especially red meats, increases your risk.
Fraser said the study leaves other questions open for further investigation, such as the particular amino acids in meat proteins that contribute to CVD. Another is whether proteins from particular sources affect cardiac risk factors such as blood lipids, blood pressure and overweight, which are associated with CVD.
While underconsumption of protein is harmful to the body, overconsumption comes with risks as well. In the United States, the average omnivore gets more than 1.5 times the optimal amount of protein, and most of that protein is from animal sources. This is bad news because excess protein is often stored as fat. This stored animal protein contributes to weight gain, heart disease, diabetes, inflammation, and cancer.
The study concluded that:
Associations between the ‘Meat’ and ‘Nuts & Seeds’ protein factors and cardiovascular outcomes were strong and could not be ascribed to other associated nutrients considered to be important for cardiovascular health. Healthy diets can be advocated based on protein sources, preferring low contributions of protein from meat and higher intakes of plant protein from nuts and seeds.
On the other hand, the protein contained in whole plant foods is connected to disease prevention. According to Dr. Michelle McMacken:
The protein found in whole plant foods protects us from many chronic diseases. There is no need to track protein intake or use protein supplements with plant-based diets; if you are meeting your daily calorie needs, you will get plenty of protein. The longest-lived people on Earth, those living in the “Blue Zones,” get about 10% of their calories from protein, compared with the U.S. average of 15-20%.
Multiple studies have shown the difference between animal protein and plant protein. Another great example comes from Colin Campbell, a Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University, whose experiments on laboratory rats showed cancer cell growth can be turned on or off by simply varying the amount of animal protein included in their diet. This was an enormous discovery, with implications to the diets of millions of people. His results, from what’s known as the “China Study,” have proven to be replicable.
A study conducted in 2016 by researchers at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital followed more than 130,000 people for 36 years, monitoring illnesses, lifestyles, diets and mortality rates.
They found that substituting between 15g and 19g of animal protein, the equivalent of a single sausage, for legumes, pulses, nuts and other planet protein, significantly decreased the risk of early death. Replacing eggs with plant-based protein also lead to a 19 percent reduction in mortality risk.
Researchers found that a 10 percent higher intake of meat was associated with a two percent higher mortality rate and an eight percent higher chance of cardiovascular death.
With overwhelming scientific evidence to many of the most common deadly diseases, I discovered that the meat, egg, and dairy industries have been engaged in a covert response, funding studies that deny this evidence while burying their involvement in the fine print. One of the hired guns paid to conduct these studies is Exponent, INC. A company whose research was used by the Tobacco industry to deny the connection between second hand smoke and cancer. For more than 50 years, Exponent has generated studies that challenge the health-risks of everything from asbestos, arsenic and and mercury, to animal foods.” – James Brett Wilks, a retired English professional mixed martial artist, Producer and narrator of “The Game Changers” documentary
“The formula, works beautifully for people selling food, it works beautifully for people selling drugs to treat the diseases that bad food causes, and it works beautifully for the media, which can give us a new story about diet, everyday. But despite the appearance in our media of confusion, there’s massive global consensus about the fundamentals of a health-promoting, and it’s a diet that every time… In every population, every kind of research, it’s a plant food predominant diet, every time.” – Dr. David Katz, Founding Director of Yale University Prevention Research Center (The Game Changers documentary)
A 2015 study published in Cell Metabolism is one of multiple studies that points out:
Mice and humans with Growth Hormone Receptor/IGF-1 deficiencies display major reductions in age-related diseases. Because protein restriction reduces GHR-IGF-1 activity, we examined links between protein intake and mortality. Respondents (n=6,381) aged 50–65 reporting high protein intake had a 75% increase in overall mortality and a 4-fold increase in cancer and diabetes mortality during an 18 year follow up period. These associations were either abolished or attenuated if the source of proteins was plant-based.
Increases in 1GF1, which also goes way down during fasting, is correlated with a number of diseases. Again, protein increases it, but, as the study above states, “these associations were either abolished or attenuated if the source of proteins was plant-based.”
This trend is gaining more scientific inquiry as popularity grows. At least 542,000 people in Britain now follow a vegan diet – up from 150,000 in 2006 – and another 521,000 vegetarians hope to reduce their consumption of animal products. It is evident that veganism has become one of the fastest growing lifestyle choices.
“When it comes to getting protein in your diet, meat isn’t the only option. Mounting evidence shows that reducing meat and increasing plant-based protein is a healthier way to go. A diet with any type of meat raises the risk of heart disease and cancer, when compared with a vegetarian diet.” Dr. Deepak Bhatt, a Harvard Medical School professor and Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Heart Letter (source)
In America alone, approximately 40% of the population is pre-diabetic. This translates to millions of people. Multiple studies have shown that red and processed meats (also recently linked to cancer by the WHO), as well as animal protein in general, increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. In omnivore populations, the risk of diabetes is doubled compared with vegans. Another study found that eating meat once a week or more over a 17-year period increased the risk of diabetes by a startling 74%. A follow up study was conducted and found that increasing red meat intake by more than just half a serving per day was closely associated with an almost 50% increased risk of contracting diabetes over four years.
Eating meat specifically increases your chances of having elevated levels of inflammation in your body, which can lead to a number of short-term and long-term health consequences.
Chronic inflammation has been linked to atherosclerosis, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases, among other problems.
Plant-based diets, on the other hand, are naturally anti-inflammatory. This is because they offer lower inflammatory triggers (versus the saturated fat, endotoxins, and other toxins released from bacteria found in animal foods). Multiple studies have shown that those who switch to a plant-based diet can dramatically lower their level of C-reactive protein (CRP), an indicator of inflammation in the body.
Another big risk factor for heart problems is high blood cholesterol. Saturated fat, primarily found in meat, cheese, poultry, and various other animal products, dramatically influences our blood cholesterol levels. Yet when people switch to plant-based diets, their blood cholesterol drops significantly, as several studies have shown.
Studies have confirmed that plant foods help shape a healthy intestinal microbiome. This is just another reason (out of many) why scientists and health professionals are becoming big advocates for plant-based diets. The fibre found in plant foods helps promote the good bacteria that’s needed in our guts. Dairy, eggs, and meat, on the other hand, help foster the growth of disease-causing bacteria.
“Landmark studies have shown that when omnivores eat choline or carnitine (found in meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy), gut bacteria make a substance that is converted by our liver to a toxic product called TMAO. TMAO leads to worsening cholesterol plaques in our blood vessels and escalates the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Interestingly, people eating plant-based diets make little or no TMAO after a meat-containing meal, because they have a totally different gut microbiome. It takes only a few days for our gut bacterial patterns to change – the benefits of a plant-based diet start quickly!”
– Michelle McMacken, MD
So Why Do We Eat Meat?
Again, I ask, what makes us believe we need to eat meat? Many people like to point to those who roamed the Earth before use, like Neanderthals. I found those arguments to be very weak, and they always fail to acknowledge Neanderthal groups that were completely vegan, and how animal protein wasn’t really important. They may also not even be related to us, but that’s a separate topic.
The evidence is mounting. It seems to be quite clear that our bodies suffer from meat eating and benefit from a whole foods, plant-based diet. This is why I am so confused.
“When you actually look at the way our digestive systems are constructed, we have the anatomy and the physiology of a strict plant eater or herbivore. We don’t have any adaptations in our digestive system or in our physiology that is adapted to eating or consuming animal flesh. And that’s why we can’t consume animal flesh without the aid of technology. But when you look at the jaw structure, jaw mechanics, our esophagus, our stomach and the length of our intestines, it’s clear that we have the anatomy of a committed herbivore.”
The quote above comes from Dr. Milton Mills, an internal medicine physician who, in the video linked within this article, explains that human beings aren’t really built to digest meat, or at the very least, they have a choice. More and more research is pointing towards the benefits of consuming a plant-based diet.
Recent advances in technology and science have discovered that microscopic fossils of plant foods are abundant at various sites of ancient humans, indicating a vegan diet. Furthermore, dental, bone, DNA, and ancient human fecal analysis have shown considerable evidence that many of these people ate mostly plants.
One of these experts is Dr. Christina Warinner (seen in the picture above), who earned her Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2010 and received her postdoctoral training at the University of Zurich (2010-2012) and the University of Oklahoma (2012-2014). She became a Presidential Research Professor and Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma in 2014, and is currently a Leader in Microbiome Sciences at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
Her work has led to some very interesting findings and conclusions:
“Humans do not have any specialized genetic anatomical or physiological adaptations to meat consumption. By contrast, we have many adaptations to plant consumption.” (The Game Changers documentary)
She goes deeper in her presentation at the 2016 International Conference on Nutrition in Medicine. She brings up various points, going into her research analysis of ancient gut micro-biomes and more. She also brings up the fact that our digestive systems are clearly constructed to digest plants and fibres that require a longer processing time, not meat. They are much longer than those of meat-eating animals, and the fact that no adaptations exist within our digestive system to consume animal flesh is a crucial point.
here are many facts that Dr. Warinner points to in her research, like how humans cannot produce their own vitamin C, which is one of many factors indicating just how reliant we are on plant foods for certain vitamins. There is nothing essential within meat that cannot be found within plant foods. Some may point towards vitamin B12, but B12 isn’t made by animals.
B12 is made by bacteria that all animals consume. It’s found in the soil and in water. It’s the same as protein, as all protein originates from plant sources, which is how the animals that people eat actually acquire their protein in the first place. Before industrial farming, humans and animals got their B12 from the traces of dirt found on plant foods or by drinking water from freshwater lakes, rivers, and streams. As a result of pesticides polluting our waterways, forcing us to chlorinate our water among other things, the B12 bacteria originally in water has been killed off for the most part. Even farm animals are required to take B12 supplements. Both meat eaters and vegetarians/vegans are commonly found to be low in B12–it has nothing to do with eating meat.
Another common argument is that we need to eat meat for essential amino acids. This is simply false, as there are multiple plant sources where we can get all of our required amino acids.
Gradual increases in brain sizes of early humans have also been attributed to meat, but research is showing that “because there is not a very strong match between meat consumption and gradual increases in brain size, scientists have looked to other options. And given that plant foods are such an important part of modern humans that hunt and gather foods, the money is on plant foods and shift in the kinds of plant foods as being the major driving factor in increasing brain size.” – Nathaniel J. Dominy, Adjunct Professor of Biological Sciences Professor, Ecology, Evolution, Ecosystems and Society (EEES) Graduate Program Charles Hansen Professor of Anthropology at Dartmouth. (The Game Changers Documentary.)
In primates, you might think canine teeth are associated with a diet of meat, but they’re not. In Gorilla’s, if males want to intimidate other males they will show the length of their formidable canines. On the other hand carnivores have distinctive teeth and they’re shaped like scissor blades, they simply shred the meat off and they swallow. Compare that to the teeth of a human being, square and low cusp for crushing and grinding tough plant tissue. Right there in your own mouth is the best evidence for a diet that could not have been meat – Dominy (The Game Changers Documentary)
“We have a brain, that just is desperate for glucose. It’s such a fussy organ, that’s the only thing it really takes in for energy. Well, meat is not a very good source of glucose, to have a big brain like this you need to eat something different. And the most efficient way to get glucose is to eat carbohydrates.” – Dr. Mark Thomas, geneticist, University College, London (The Game Changers documentary)
Just looking and studying human anatomy, again, it seems we are built to eat plants, and “substantial evidence shows that the ancestral lineage that led to humans had a plant-based diet.” (source)
The bottom line is that most ancient humans, and human-like creatures, were predominately vegan. Some ate meat, but many didn’t. For example, Neanderthals in Spain ate no meat at all, according to a study published by Nature.
That being said, even if some did eat meat, there were none that had a diet that was predominate in meat. One group of researchers published a study in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology which stated:
“We are suggesting that animal proteins would be less important overall and that’s particularly true for interpretations of Neolithic farmers. What that would mean is that they are having more of a balance of animal and plant protein in their diet, suggestive of a mixed existence strategy.” (source)
An article by Rob Dunn written for Scientific American titled “Human Ancestors Were Nearly All Vegetarians” goes into greater detail about this issue, from an evolutionary perspective, bringing up multiple points about how our guts evolved to stick to a vegetarian diet.
A great article I like to point people towards comes from University of Utah geochemist Thure Cerling, who spearheaded a set of fairly recent new studies that show how early humans and their ancestors and relatives made a surprising dietary switch some 3.5 million years ago, changing from an ape-like diet of mostly leaves and fruits and shrubs to a grass-based diet of grasses and sedges.
I’m just trying to hammer home the fact that it’s been strongly established in scientific literature that ancient human-like ‘ancestors’ predominately ate plant-based diets.
One thing is quite clear, and that’s the fact that a plant-based diet has great benefits for our health and impacts our biology in a very positive way, while meat eating and consuming animal products does the exact opposite. This is not really a matter to debate, we instead need to question what we are doing on this planet and how we are treating other animals as well. They are being tortured and it’s extremely heart-breaking. It’s very cruel and very bad for our planet to consume meat. All signs point to the fact that it’s not natural at all.