Dr. Johann Georg Schnitzer, Germany
Are humans, by nature, meat eaters? From the anthropological dig to theuniversity classroom to the front-page news, this is a very popular subject to debate.
Are humans, by nature, meat eaters? From the anthropological dig to the university classroom to the front-page news, this is a very popular subject to debate. I am one of many scientists and anthropologists who believe that the prehistoric human diet was, in fact, vegetarian and consisted of fruits, nuts, seeds and plants. The truth of the original human diet, one corroborated by my own research, is told in our dental structure and other body structures. Dr. Richard Lehne, a German dentist and scientist, has examined and compared the teeth of different mammals, relating them to their known diets. He found that the dentition of carnivores (meat-eaters) are small front teeth but strong and big "caninus" teeth required for catching their prey. On both sides are "molars" like sharp knives to cut the meat into chewable pieces. There are also gaps between the teeth so that no meat fibres can stick between them. This is why a lion doesn't need a toothpick after a meat meal. The dentition of omnivores (all-and-everything-eaters), are medium-size front teeth and strong and big "caninus" teeth for catching prey, with molars on both sides that also enable them to consume plants and seeds. A typical example is the wild boar. It eats seeds, roots and leaves as well as rodents and other small animals. Bears would be in this category too Herbivores (grass and leaf-eaters) have a front tooth construction that enables them to cut off grass and leaves, but they have very small caninus teeth because they are not needed. On both sides, long rows of molars are like rasps to grind grass fibres. Interestingly, rodents' front teeth keep on growing. A rabbit's teeth, for instance, grow about 10 millimeters per month! The rabbit has very small caninus teeth, and on both sides are rows of molars, like rasps, to grind their food. Frugivores' (fruit-eaters) front teeth are called incisors. They're like knives. They cut off pieces from roots and fruits to consume them, and their caninus teeth are no bigger than their front teeth. Premolars and molars grind the roots and fruits as well as soft leaves, nutmeats and seeds. Evolution of Diet In human history, meat consumption has never been the basis of advanced civilization and cultural development. Where do humans fit in to the above spectrum? I believe man belongs to the family of frugivores. Our teeth show that our natural diet consists of fruits of the tree and herbs of the ground-with incisors to tear into roots and fruits, small caninus teeth unlike those of carnivores, and molars for grinding. There is other evidence to support man's early vegetarian existence. In addition to our teeth, our anatomical and physiological structure is that of plant-eaters. For example, our intestinal tract like herbivores and frugivores is about 12 times the length of our body, while that of carnivores is only three times the length. This is so putrifying meat can leave the body faster. Carnivores also have stomach digestive acids 20 times stronger than humans but necessary for their heavier meat-based diets. Other differences are found in our salivary glands; meat eaters have small ones in the mouth because they don't need to predigest meat, while those in humans are much more developed in order to help us digest grains and plants. In human history, meat consumption has never been the basis of advanced civilization and cultural development. Bones found in old caves used as shelter by prehistoric people do not indicate that meat was their main food. Humans began eating small amounts of meat during the Stone Age. During the last ice age, when the plant-based foods of the past became unavailable, humans turned to meat to survive. And humans aren't like carnivores in another way: we have to cook our meat, fry it, bake it you name it, as opposed to the lion, which tears away at the flesh with his mighty caninus teeth. And here we are! In countries where much meat is consumed, you will find disease and degeneration. The last century has ushered in a drastically different style of eating in comparison to our grandparents, great grandparents and as far back as human history. We have become consumers of mass-marketed highly refined and processed foods. This is one of the primary reasons our health has also suffered. Since the practical application of these dental and other studies is to maintain optimum health through nutrition, I recommend the following foods: Seeds: grass Seeds (teff and amaranth), cereal grains (developed from grass seeds), nuts, pulses (peas, beans and lentils), flower seeds (sunflower seeds). These are full of energy, protein, essential vitamins (especially B-complex and vitamin E), minerals and plant compounds known as phytochemicals, which help protect against disease. Many also contain the beneficial essential fatty acids in which westernized populations are so deficient. Roots: root vegetables such as carrots, radish, turnips, beets, arrowroot, kohlrabi, leeks, potatoes and rutabaga. It is well known now that a diet rich in vegetables is a vital component in warding off degenerative diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. This also includes soft-leaf vegetables: lettuce and other greens, cabbages and plant sprouts such as asparagus. Fruits, in addition, provide humans with a wealth of protective and healing nutrients, especially banana, grapes, apples, pears, and berries such as blueberries and cranberries. My friends, meat was not designed as food for humans. And it is not the food that will keep you in good health or produce healthy children. Try for yourself a diet of fruit and vegetables, seeds and nuts. Try it for 21 days. Record the results. You'll soon notice increased energy, a more cheerful mood and less physical complaints with this simple but health-giving "civilized" diet that humans were created to thrive on. Frugivores' (fruit-eaters') front teeth are called incisors. They're like knives. They cut off pieces from roots and fruits to consume them, and their caninus teeth are no bigger than their front teeth. Premolars and molars grind the roots and fruits as well as soft leaves, nutmeats and seeds.