Our Ancestors Were Mostly Vegetarian (Not Meat Eaters)

Paleo diets have become all the rage, but is this way of eating based on fact or fiction..?

With more than half the American population on a diet, people are crying out for a healthier way of eating.

In recent years, we have seen a huge surge in the amount of self help books that recommend we return to diets of our ancestors, but what exactly were our ancestral selves dining on?

Anthropologists have spent years examining the eating habits of the past, and as expected, opinions are divided. Some put forth the argument that we obtained most of our nutrition from gathered fruits and nuts, with animal protein being more of a treat than an everyday reality, whereas others will have us believe that we were big bad hunters who only supplemented our meaty diets with a small serving of berries on the side.

Fortunately, new research holds the answers to what Paleolithic diets actually were, and you might be surprised at the findings.

We get a much better and more rounded view of what our predecessors ate when we stop focusing on one individual set of ancestors and start considering the question in a bigger, broader context.

It all comes down to the gut and the colon. Carnivores have huge, smooth stomachs which turns prey into protein, herbivores have dense stomachs with hair-like villi and bacteria that aids in the breakdown of plants, ruminants like cows have a kind of giant fermenter which produces specific fatty acids that they can use and store, and others scarcely have stomachs at all with fermentation taking place in a greatly enlarged large intestine.

Human guts, on the other hand, are surprisingly boring, yet interestingly remarkably similar to those of orangutans and chimpanzees (with some rare exceptions). So what do other living primates with guts akin to our own eat? The diet of nearly all monkeys and apes are simple. Fruits, nuts, leaves, insects and on occasion the odd snack of a lizard or bird. Primates have the capacity to eat sugary fruits, leaves and meat, but meat is rarely consumed, if at all.

The majority of food eaten by primates is vegetable, not animal, and research suggests that it’s been that way for the last thirty million years. To put it simply, our generalist primate gut is primarily made to eat plants, and in essence that is what the Paleo diet truly is. We might have unique immune systems, brains and even hands, but our guts are nothing special and for tens of millions of years they have been filled with fruits, leaves and on occasion a piece of raw meat.

Maybe our ancestors weren’t 100% vegetarian, but they certainly weren’t the carnivorous caveman that we are led to believe.

When trying to find the perfect model of eating, there are so many factors to take into account and this newest study only brushes up on them. There are the differences in our digestive system, the evolution of our bodies in order to adapt to diets heavier in animal protein, and of course the processing of food, but with that being said, there is no arguing that with all the studies available to us.

It is clear to see that a vegetarian diet is healthful, and that the more fruits, vegetables and plant-based foods you consume, the more benefits you will reap.

Photo Credit: Andrew Morrell Photography


Dorothy M.
Dorothy M.10 months ago

Some anti-vegan and anti-animal rights people would have everyone believe that people backslide from not eating meat because they do not like being vegetarian or vegan. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

As reported in the "Top 6 Reasons Why Some Vegans and Vegetarians Return to Eating Animals" at the Free From Harm website, the real reasons are compromising due to relationships (i.e. pleasing family members or boyfriend / girlfriend), having personal identity issues and conflicts (as in being a certain race or belonging to a certain religion where vegetarianism is not common or accepted), and gender rolls (for example females caving in to the wishes of husbands; males struggling with widely held views that connect masculinity with eating meat),

Also, there can be unclear definitions that can make vegetarianism and veganism confusing to some (for example fish being labeled as "not meat" -- I actually saw a menu once that listed fish under vegetarian options!

When there is support and a clear idea of what it means to be vegetarian or vegan, people stay with their dietary changes. It just feels too good to not have your body be a graveyard. I have never felt any desire or need to eat flesh in the past 30 years that I have been vegetarian. I do not miss dairy now as a vegan (certainly don't miss the colds and stuffy nose!).

Gerald L.
Gerald L.10 months ago

Dorothy of OZ, how are these stats on Backslidden Vegans & Born Again Meat Eater's.

84% of Vegetarians and Vegans Return to Meat. Why? | Psychology ...
https://www.psychologytoday.com/.../84-vegetarians-and-vegans-return-meat -why‎
2 Dec 2014 ... Further, the fact that five out of six vegetarians go back to eating meat suggests that an all-veggie diet is very hard for most people to maintain ...

Why Do Most Vegetarians Go Back To Eating Meat? | Psychology ...
https://www.psychologytoday.com/.../why-do-most-vegetarians-go-back- eating-meat‎
20 Jun 2011 ... But the transformation from hard-core vegetarian to meat-eater that Staci ... by backsliders, so I decided to find out why so many vegetarians ...

Top 6 Reasons Why Some Vegans and Vegetarians Return to ...
freefromharm.org/.../top-6-reasons-why-some-vegans-and-vegetarians-return -to-eating-animals/‎
14 Dec 2011 ... Some interesting vegan and vegetarian "defector" stories are ... Top 6 Reasons Why Some Vegans and Vegetarians Return to Eating Animals ... with some born again meat-eaters recounting horror stories of near ... These unclear definitions affected the backsliding tendencies of several of my participants.

Your truth; Dorothy M.
6:22am PDT on Oct 29, 2015
There is a care2 poll after the article, "Go Vegetarian or the World May Go Hungry." It shows that 63 percent are already vegetarian or vegan with another 15 percent leaning in that direction! How uplifting to know that so many

Dorothy M.
Dorothy M.10 months ago

There is a care2 poll after the article, "Go Vegetarian or the World May Go Hungry." It shows that 63 percent are already vegetarian or vegan with another 15 percent leaning in that direction! How uplifting to know that so many people are getting it about their health and about the well-being of animals!

Frank Hanline
Frank Hanline10 months ago

@ Dorothy: Seems that too much fiber as in your case can lead to confusion, rabid and totally insipid non-sequiturs, muddled thinking, off topic noise and worse

The species Homo Sapien Sapiens has been an Omnivore, which included meat, for about 2.5 Million years




As for the rest of your drivel, I will file that under "Woo". Like Deepack Chopra, Sam Harris so wonderfully deflates that airbag:


Your Woo is as real to me as the Tooth Fairy, save there is more evidence for the Tooth Fairy than whatever that stuff you spewed

Dorothy M.
Dorothy M.10 months ago

"When the energies within us are positive, they produce harmonious states of mind and behavior. But when the energies are negative, they move in a random and chaotic manner and produce negative states of mind and, consequently, negative behavior. Moreover, these toxic energies can also manifest as physical illnesses or defects. Substances that are toxic to the body–such as meat, alcohol, nicotine, and drugs–are toxic on the inner levels as well, and their ingestion poisons all our bodies by putting into them negative energies which are going to manifest in the disrupting manner just described. On the other hand, fruits, vegetables, and grains are reservoirs of pure, basic life energies which are very light and malleable. These energies are easily assimilated into all our bodies and made to take on our specific, unique life vibrations and karmic patterns."

from: Spiritual Benefits of a Vegetarian Diet by Abbot George Burke

Dorothy M.
Dorothy M.10 months ago

Some people are making it too complicated. It is so simple. The World Health Organization is now listing meat as a cancer causing product just like cigarettes and asbestos. It just doesn't do a human body good. I am vegan and do not use supplements, eat very few grains, and have incredible energy and can go on very little sleep for a long time. I think the difference is that I didn't do it for health, my body wasn't a concern. I went vegan because I care about animals. I cannot turn a blind eye to a cow who has her calf carted away leaving her deep in grief so her milk can be stolen for use by humans (who should be weaned!). Her pain is my pain because I love her and all those like her. I can't turn a blind eye to the exploitation of any living being. When you make a change in your diet for love, the body follows because love raises you up above bodily concerns.

Dorothy M.
Dorothy M.10 months ago

When we clog and cloy our body with flesh, we also render our mind and intellect coarse. When the body’s clogged with unnatural food, the mind becomes confused and dull and loses its cheerfulness. Such minds engage in trivial pursuits, because they lack the clearness and vigor for higher thinking.” ~ Plutarch

Dorothy M.
Dorothy M.10 months ago

continued from Barbara D.'s excellent post: "to supply any specific nutrition you are beyond brainwashed by the industries promoting it because they don't care about you or your health and absolutely don't care about the harm they do, they only care about the bottom line, MONEY, nothing else! Same thing with Doctors, nutritionists and big pharma, it's all about money. I will close with this.........Eating meat is the ultimate form of pushing your beliefs on others. When you eat meat, you're forcing others to die for your beliefs."

Dorothy M.
Dorothy M.10 months ago

Barbara D., I hope you won't mind my copying your post. It is truly EXCELLENT and representative of the higher, clearer thinking by people who abstain from feeding on flesh. I don't want it to be your last post. I have watched care2 members being driven into silence by the sarcastic and self-serving anti-vegan / anti-vegetarian gas bags (a small but continuously-posting group). Thank you for caring about animals, about truth and justice for everyone. People like you make care2 worth being a part of.

Barbara D. wrote, "You can all relax as this will be my absolute last post. I am sorry you are all about yourselves do not care about the lives of other beings, do not care that raising animals food is not a sustainable way of growing food. I pity your body and don't feel sorry for those that are in denial that not eating a plant based diet WILL cause diseases and serious health problems. If you eat animal products you are an accessory to murdering innocent lives, the price of the hit man is in the cost of the dead flesh you shove in your corpse hole. Fish, foul, wildlife, etc. belong here and humans have no business under the sun harming them for any reason whatsoever. Actually there is no valid reason except you don't give a damn. Some say you are eating a diet that makes your "body" happy, That is a total delusion, it is psychological, not physical! If you believe the fake reports that you HAVE to eat any type of animal products to supply any specific nutrition you are

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)