Date: Sat Apr 30 1994 22:25:26
From: David Bloomberg
To: Frank Hudson
In a msg to Joseph Simkins on , Frank Hudson of 3:774/500.3
JS> Wrong!!! our teeth are those of an omnivore. The insizors are ment to
JS> process tear meat. I suugest that you take a look at the teeth of
JS> herbavores such as horses or rodents. The comment sounds to me like
JS> wishful thinking.
FH> If you like! The rest of the human body is identical in function
FH> to that of a herbivore, with an intestinal tract of approx 10/12
FH> times body length vs three time body length. Stomach acid is 20
FH> time weaker than that of a stomach designed to eat meat. Do you
FH> hang your tongue out when you want to perspire as meat eaters do?
FH> no you perspire through you skin pores the same as herbivores do!
From _Return of the Straight Dope_ by Cecil Adams (well-known authority on just
about everything), p. 87, in response to a question about whether man is
naturally a meat eater or vegetarian:
"There are some intelligent arguments for vegetarianism, but claiming that man
is 'naturally' herbivorous isn't one of them. The settled judgement of science
is that man is an omnivore, capable of eating both meat and plant food.
Like the hard-core carnivores, we have fairly simple digestive systems well
suited to the consumption of animal protein, which breaks down quickly.
Contrary to what your [the author of the letter] magazine article says, the
human small intestine, at twenty-three feet, is a little under eight times body
length (assuming a mouth-to-anus 'body length' of three feet). This is about
midway between cats (three times body length) and dogs (three and a half
times), and other well-known meat eaters on the one hand and plant eaters such
as cattle (twenty to one) and horses (twelve to one) on the other. This tends
to support the idea that we are omnivores.
"Herbivores also have a variety of specialized digestive organs capable of
breaking down cellulose, the main component of plant tissue. Humans find
cellulose totally indigestible, and even plant eaters have to take their time
with it. If you were a ruminant (cud eater), for instance, you might have a
stomach with four compartments..."
"The story is roughly the same with our teeth. We're equipped with an
all-purpose set of ivories equally suited to liver and onions."
"So make no mistake: we were born to eat meat. That's not to say you
_have_ to. ..."
In response to a letter responding to the above, he went on to say about
whether we are naturally vegetarians (p. 89):
"Here is seems to me the best evidence is our history as a species. We
have been happily eating meat for at least 2 million years, and probably much
longer. The common view among anthropologists, in fact, is that increased meat
consumption was a key element in the development of human culture, since
getting and distributing the stuff requires cooperation.
"Contrary to your [letter writer] statement, not all anthropoid apes are
exclusively vegetarian. The primatologist Jane Goodall established more than
twenty years ago that wild chimpanzees kill other animals once in a while and
eat the meat with relish. Other primates (although apparently not gorillas) do
so as well. It's true chimps and other apes eat a mostly veggie diet, but for
that matter so do most humans. Hunter-gatherers today consume only about 35
percent meat to 65 percent vegetables (Lee and Devore, 1976). ..."
[One person wrote back to ask where the chimps get the relish to eat with their
meat. :-) ]