I’ve been seeing lots of anti-GMO videos in YouTube lately and though I sympathize with the majority of their views I noticed one common argument that underscores an interesting notion to consider about human evolution and our supposedly ‘natural diet’.
My carelessness has caused me to lose the link to the video but I distinctly remember that in that one particular video against corporate domination of the agro-industry in the United States and how they use and promote the cultivation and consumption of GMOs for profit; they advance their own advocacy; converting all of us into animal-loving vegetarians.
Sure they begin with the ethics of slaughtering livestock, how dirty meat processing plants are, how much random thing could end up in your hamburger but one of their most potent arguments in persuading us to stop eating red meat and stick to all vegetable-diet is the evolutionary biology, in particular the evolutionary history of our anatomy.
All over our the design of our anatomy, evolution tells us that we humans are natural vegetable eaters.
Teeth – if you look at the human teeth, it is primarily designed for grinding and crushing food stuffs. No sharp, serrated teeth or fangs found in the mouths of carnivores such as lions, tigers, sharks etc. There’s even plenty of flat surfaces for grinding, crushing and mashing plant matter. Much like the teeth of cow, elephants and other grazing animals.
No claws – even if we grow long fingernails, those would easily break off in the face of hard or tough objects, let alone be used for pinning down live prey like those of the claws of the big cats and the talons of the birds of prey.
Stomach chemistry – the chemical composition of the digestive juices found in our stomachs are very much similar to those of the non-meat eating animals. Simply put, it’s more chemically suited in digesting plant matter instead of those good red meat.
Intestines 5x longer than our body length – You’ve probably seen this thousands of times before in gory horror films where in the bowels of the victims are dismembered from their guts. One classic example is Inspector Pazzi who was gutted by Dr. Hannibal Lecter in the thriller film “Hannibal.” Anyways, our intestines being 5 times longer than our own body length is suited for further digestion of plant matter since doing so requires much longer time because of the indigestible substance in plants such as cellulose and other tough fibers.
These strings of evidence supporting the vegetarian nature of the human diet is further back up by the fact that most of our modern-day cousins in the evolutionary tree – the great apes – are vegetarians.
However, things get a bit shaky from here. One of the unique traits of us humans is that we evolved to survive on a wide variety of diets. We could survive both on meat and plant matter or any other combination of both. That’s why we are termed as “omnivores” (from Latin: omne all, everything; vorare to devour) which is a species of animal that eats both plants and animals as its primary food source.
Sure our anatomy supports the early, nay ancient, vegetarian way of life but evolution takes time, lots of it. Modern humans, Homo sapiens, have just been around the planet for like some ten thousand years and so we’re quite a relatively young specie therefore you’d expect to find ancestral traits to be numerous in our present forms.
We lack claws because we have opposable thumbs with which we could use to manipulate hundreds of objects which have been turned into tools thanks to our exceptional brain capabilities.
We don’t have fangs because again we have our brains and tools to bring down prey for food.
Being vegetarian or meat-eater is no big deal for me. You’ll only have troubles with me if you enforce your vegetarian ways upon me. 😉