It’s true there are a variety of ways to be healthy but eating animal flesh and consuming dairy is not one of them. The main reason for this is that these things are not meant for human consumption. When scientists go out and study animals and classify them as herbivores, carnivores, etc. they look at the physiology of the animal and compare it to what they know herbivores and carnivores to be.
The physiology of the human body clearly shows us that we are not carnivores, but I will only focus on the digestive system in this blog for brevity. The intestinal tract of humans is really long, about 30 feet, which is great because it allows for slow absorption of sugars and nutrients from fruit. This is the complete opposite of a carnivore, which has an intestinal length more than 4 times shorter than humans. This is good for their natural flesh eating diet. With such a short intestinal length, they avoid rotting decomposing flesh in their system. The human stomach has way less acid than that of a carnivore because we don’t need to/shouldn’t be consuming raw meat. The high acid content also allows for quick digestion and absorption of nutrients for the carnivore. Humans sweat from sweat glands, while carnivores sweat from their tongue only. This is crucial when you think about how the human body gets rid of waste and naturally detoxifies. Sweat is one of the vehicles for that. While carnivores have molars that are pointy and sharp for ripping into flesh, ours is flat for mashing food. Our canines are like baby teeth compared to real canines of that of a carnivore. There is no way we could dig into the flesh of an animal with our teeth. Not to mention if we ate raw meat, we would get sick and die. So before fire was discovered, we should have died off. No! I am sure they were eating primarily fruits and maybe some plants. I was not there so I can’t say that they ate only fruits and plants. Knowing how the body tends to fight to survive, science shows proof in a variety of ways that it is possible people can put lots of stress on their bodies through diet and lifestyle choices and the body still runs. I will talk about this more later on. There is more on the differences in physiology between carnivores and humans in The 80/10/10 Diet book by Dr. Doug Graham. I highly recommend reading that book.
Now, let’s say you want to be bad and go against what nature is telling you and eat meat anyway. Let’s see what science has to say about that. Actually, this has been written about so many times that I’m actually surprised the entire world is not vegan already. You can catch up with this nice summary here on Bustle.
If you don’t believe them, you can check what the research papers have to say about:
Now on to the case of us not being herbivores. This will get controversial so hold on and hear me out. The plant cell walls are known as cellulose and the human body does not have the enzymes to break the cell walls down. Cows do. They have 4 stomachs with the acid and enzymes to break down plant cell walls. Humans do not. While we may not be herbivores, we definitely do receive benefits from consuming plants raw (in juices/smoothies) without any damage to our organs. Thanks to juicers and blenders, the cell walls can be broken and we can then consume the phytonutrients and enzymes the plants have to offer. This is well known that we can’t digest fiber, which is what this is. However, fiber is good to sweep the colon clean once in a while. Also, there is healthy bacteria in our gut that feeds off the fiber.
So, what’s left…FRUITS! Delicious sweet and tart fruit. Fruit full of color that we can see (because our species has the capacity to view a full range of color) and salivate over (because who does not love seeing all that color?). Think back to a time of no fire and you’re walking through a wheat field. Does it look appetizing? You walk by a cow. Does the cow look appetizing? You walk by an orange tree. You see where I am going with this. We are naturally drawn to color and the color in fruit is the phytonutrients our body needs to work optimally. It’s the nutrients that your body absorbs and knows how to put to work so the immune system is strong and not overreacting, hair is growing and looking vibrant, cardiovascular system is clean and running smoothly, the neurological system is working properly, etc. We have opposable thumbs to peel fruit and open it. We have the right teeth to bite into it. And guess what? It is better for us raw. No heat needed. Actually, heat kills off the beneficial enzymes and bacteria. The fruit has inside of it enzymes our body needs to help us digest it. It is basically like putting a key in a lock. It is a perfect fit. Ding ding ding …WE ARE FRUGIVORES!!!!
Some people say “it depends on your genetics”. Genetics plays a huge role on your digestive system and how it reacts to certain foods, i.e. the gut bacteria you have, the foods you like or don’t like, etc. so the foods you eat will be different than the next person. However, that does not mean we should be eating non-food substances. Genetics for me manifests in that I do not like probiotic rich foods like sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, etc. Jamaicans don’t really eat that. However, my polish in-laws love it. Sauerkraut is something they grow up eating and they eat it regularly. They love it because their pallet is used to it going back generations. So for me, I need probiotic supplements to get my microbiome balance in tact if necessary. I always tell my clients that the only way of eating that will work for them is the one they will do. This will never mean eat meat and dairy because that is not food for humans.
You may be thinking that you know several healthy people who have lived well to age 100 who ate animal products. I feel you on this. I know them too. I know Jamaicans who smoked everyday and drank alcohol daily and lived to their 90s. Some may say that’s a nice long life. The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner even talks about this when discussing centenarians. They are not vegan. However, meat is not a staple in their diet. It is consumed sparingly. The body is strong and can withstand lots of toxic substances we consume like cigarettes, alcohol, soda, etc. Our bodies are so amazing that even while we inundate it with toxic substances and put it under stress, it is always working to preserve itself. For this, we should give God thanks for this amazing gift called a body. One of the ways I give thanks is by not taking it for granted and treating it with respect by avoiding non-food substances and other acts that basically beat up my organs, like alcohol that beats up kidneys, soda that leads to obesity and puts pressure on joints, cigarettes that beat up the lungs, etc.
You have to find what works best for you but within the realm of a plant-based lifestyle – the natural diet for the human body.
OK, so I don’t want to leave any rock unturned here. You may know someone who will bring up the Bible and say that Jesus ate animal products. Besides the fact that I am sure those animals were not shot up with as many hormones and chemicals and fed corn feed and forced to be cannibalistic and eat their own, which is unnatural for them (if you don’t know what I’m talking about with this and are disgusted that cows would be fed dead cows, please do read Animal Factory by David Kirby), they did not consume the huge portions and as often as most people in developed nations are consuming now. A pound of meat was rationed to feed a family once a month or something because even in the 1950s in Jamaica, meat was expensive so I could just imagine during the time of Christ. Plus, these people had to hunt it down and clean it up for consumption. They did not have refrigerators. They did not have factory farming. So, it is not even comparable.
This is what PETA has to say about it. There was a time when people were using the Bible to justify slavery, so I don’t really use that as a metric for how I should conduct my life to be honest. I have a relationship with God, not with the Bible. When I was a youth, I read it forward and backward and asked my uncle, who is a reverend in the United Methodist Church organization, many many questions. This was all necessary for my own spiritual awareness and growth. If the Bible spoke about how to be healthy in the physical form, churches should be health havens and they are the opposite of that currently. Hopefully, PETA’s list will be sufficient for you to honor what science is saying.
So, in summary, put the meat down, pick up the fruits and vegetables and if you are ready to make the transition but want a process to follow to make it happen in a healthy sustainable way, check out my book, You Can Afford to Be Healthy.