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Humans are Herbivores

"Although we think we are one, and we act as if we are one, human beings are not natural carnivores. When we kill animals to eat them, they end up killing us because their flesh, which contains cholesterol and saturated fat, was never intended for human beings who are natural herbivores." - William C. Roberts, M.D., editor, American Journal of Cardiology

Being vegan (more accurately, eating a whole foods plant based diet) since August 2006, I commonly talk to misinformed people who defend the common Western Diet (based on meat, eggs, milk, poultry, etc.) as healthy. The question I am asked most often is how do I get protein - as if it is not possible to have protein in a plant-based diet. I now realize it is a common misconception.

Instead of debating which diet is most healthy, let's look at the comparative anatomy of Carnivores and Herbivores. It is a
scientifically demonstrable fact that biological form usually defines function.

Here we go:
  • Intestinal tract length. Carnivorous animals have intestinal tracts that are 3-6x their body length, while herbivores have intestinal tracts 10-12x their body length. Human beings have the same intestinal tract ratio as herbivores.
  • Stomach acidity. Carnivores’ stomachs are 20x more acidic than the stomachs of herbivores. Human stomach acidity matches that of herbivores.
  • Saliva. The saliva of carnivores is acidic. The saliva of herbivores is alkaline, which helps pre-digest plant foods. Human saliva is alkaline.
  • Shape of intestines. Carnivore bowels are smooth, shaped like a pipe, so meat passes through quickly — they don’t have bumps or pockets. Herbivore bowels are bumpy and pouch-like with lots of pockets, like a windy mountain road, so plant foods pass through slowly for optimal nutrient absorption. Human bowels have the same characteristics as those of herbivores.
  • Fiber. Carnivores don’t require fiber to help move food through their short and smooth digestive tracts. Herbivores require dietary fiber to move food through their long and bumpy digestive tracts, to prevent the bowels from becoming clogged with rotting food. Humans have the same requirement as herbivores.
  • Cholesterol. Cholesterol is not a problem for a carnivore’s digestive system. A carnivore such as a cat can handle a high-cholesterol diet without negative health consequences. A human cannot. Humans have zero dietary need for cholesterol because our bodies manufacture all we need. Cholesterol is only found in animal foods, never in plant foods. A plant-based diet is by definition cholesterol-free.
  • Claws and teeth. Carnivores have claws, sharp front teeth capable of subduing prey, and no flat molars for chewing. Herbivores have no claws or sharp front teeth capable of subduing prey, but they have flat molars for chewing. Humans have the same characteristics as herbivores.

The above
demonstrates that humans have absolutely no anatomical characteristics in common with Carnivores. Wow. It looks like our Creator, or evolution (depending on your beliefs) designed humans to be Herbivores. Furthermore, consuming a diet that we are not designed to consume (ie Western diet, animal products) results in sickness and disease that can easily be avoided by eating a plant based whole foods diet. 

How many carnivores/omnivores on the planet have to cook their food (meat) before they eat it? How many would get sick an die if they do not? It seems that carnivores & omnivores are designed so that meat does not make them sick and die, unfortunately for us it has the opposite effect.

Notes: For a more detailed summary table that compares the properties of carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores side by side, see this page: Comparative Anatomy & Taxonomy, also see an article by Dr. John McDougall and one by Dr. Milton R. Mills (both M.D.'s),
this page for a similar take, or this page for a different perspective on it.