Omnivore? Herbivore? Frugivore!

Most of us have experienced a bit of antagonism about our food choices. One of our cousins always has something combative to say. He and I went out for a beer last night, and he decided to play the “humans are omnivores” card. I discussed with him some of the things we covered in our August 5th post, Yet Another Reason Not To Eat Meat, specifically that we produce a slightly different version of a molecule found in other animals and when we consume that molecule there is some evidence that it can cause a host of chronic diseases. I also mentioned that more research still needs to be done.

But he had his mind made up, and it felt like nothing I said made it past his ears. So we changed the topic and talked about the Olympics and who he’s currently seeing. But I knew I couldn’t let it drop. So today, I scoured the internet for a few short pieces of info that might make an impression before he got bored and moved away from the topic. A few weeks ago, the New York Times ran a series of “Answers About The Vegan Lifestyle In New York.” The series was written by Rynn Berry, the author of The Vegan Guide to New York City 2008ir?t=gonveg 20&l=as2&o=1&a=0978813219. You may want to take a look at it yourself. Anyway, this is the third question/answer down the page. (The fourth also deals with the human evolution.)

Q — Yet another sanctimonious tree-hugger with no understanding of human physiology or evolution. Look in your mouth — there are teeth that have evolved for crushing plant matter and teeth evolved for the ripping and tearing of flesh. Additionally, humans have the digestive tract of an omnivore, not a vegetarian. Say you are vegan (isn’t that someone from Las Vegas?) because of moral issues, but don’t try to defend your lifestyle choice with bad science and dubious anthropology.

— Posted by Meateater

A — To say that humans have the anatomical structure of an omnivore is an egregiously inaccurate statement. The great taxonomist Carolus Linnaeus, (1707-1778), a Swedish naturalist and botanist who established the modern scientific method of classifying plants and animals, classified humans not as carnivores, not as omnivores, nor even as herbivores, but as frugivores. Linnaeus writes: “Man’s structure, internal and external compared with that of the other animals, shows that fruit and succulent vegetables are his natural food.”

It’s sitting in his inbox. I haven’t had a response. If my cousin will be true to form, he won’t respond.

If you’re interested in reading more of Berry’s Answers About the Vegan Lifestyle, here are links to each of the three parts: