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I believe, the biggest scam of the last 40 years has been the media convincing people they should eat a plant-based diet for optimal health. Plant-based usually meaning vegetarian or vegan. The most prominent headline being that meat causes cancer and heart disease. I have read about 16 studies and analyses of studies and I have found the evidence to be very weak.
Humans started cooking their food about 500.000 years ago, maybe even earlier. Cooking our food has been a tremendous advantage because cooked food is easier to digest and therefore requires less energy. And energy expenditure is important because we have a HUGE brain that requires tons of energy. Having both a large brain AND a large digestion tract would have been fatal.
Cooking our food also explains why we don´t need carnivore teeth like lions. We did not eat raw meat for 500.000 years and hunted with tools instead of claws; therefore, sharp teeth were not needed. Plus, what causes our teeth to decay are starchy plants. Meat is excellent for our tooth health.
Eating cooked meat is linked to taller, more muscular bodies, a larger brain and better dental health. When humanity started to rely on grains and legumes about 11.000 years ago, our brain shrunk, we got smaller and we suddenly had problems with our teeth and jaws (you can look every claim in this article up on Google if you don´t believe me).
So, let´s look at the next step of our digestion: the stomach. Humans have very acidic stomach PHs. Stomach acidic is used to break down protein and fat, but it doesn´t do much for digesting plants. It also works as a barrier against bacteria and parasites found in meat that could not be refrigerated (please do not eat meat that has not been stored in a refrigerator; that would be dangerous!).
There is a general rule in the animal kingdom that the more acidic your stomach the more meat the animal can eat. And humans have the same stomach acid PH as wolves who rely heavily on meat. Meat is almost completely (more than 95%) digested in the human small intestine.
Another vital factor to determinate whether an animal is meant to eat meat or not is the small intestine to large intestine ratio and the small intestine to body length ratio.
Herbivores need a longer small intestine to digest cellulose from green plants. Humans can NOT digest cellulose because we lack the enzymes in the cecum to break down 1-4 beta glucose bonds. That means a cow can digest fiber, which is a form of carbohydrate, and convert it into fat (of course, it is not that simple in reality. I just wanted the average reader to understand how cows can gain fat by eating grass). Humans can not to that. We just poop the fiber out without using it.
Humans with 6 meters/20 feet of small intestine and 1.5 meters/5 feet of large intestine have a high ratio and Gorillas have the lowest ratio among all apes. A dog´s ratio is 1:6, a human´s is 1:4 and a sheep´s is 1:25. Humans are clearly NOT meant to eat only plants or our intestines would resemble those of herbivores.
The large intestine exists to digest what could not be digested in the small intestine (please remember that plants can NOT be digested in the small intestine by humans). That means we mostly absorb water.
The first part of the large intestine is the cecum. Once the small intestine has absorbed the nutrients it passes the solid waste and the liquid into the large intestine. The cecum acts as a receptacle for the liquid and is responsible for the absorption of salts and electrolytes from the liquids.
In herbivores the cecum is responsible for the breakdown of cellulose, since it is filled with bacteria and enzymes. However, in humans the cecum is empty. It is not used by us to digest plants. If we evolved to eat a plant-based diet we would have a highly active cecum. Just like tigers and wolves we have evolved to not use our cecum.
On the other hand, humans have functioning gallbladders. The gallbladder releases bile when we eat fat. It is very important for carnivorous animals, but it is often not present or not used by herbivores and omnivores that can survive on plants. For example, horses, deer and rats lack a gallbladder altogether.
There are even special worms, that evolved alongside humans and can only enter the human body via meat. That means, humanity has eaten meat for so long that we become the only host for that worm.
So, biology shows us that humans are very capable of digesting meat and that meat has been consumed by humans for over 500.000 years. But in the last 40 years it suddenly started to cause heart attacks in humans?
In my opinion, the sudden rise in the consumption of sugar, grains and vegetable oils (high in inflammatory Omega-6 and low in anti-inflammatory Omega-3) is to blame. The reason why people who start to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet are getting healthier is probably because those are the people who overall developed healthier habits like exercise, getting frequent sunlight and lower intake of alcohol and other drugs.
And before you point at a study that says meat causes cancer please ask yourself the following questions: Did the participants eat grains, sugar, vegetable/seed oils and artificial sweeteners plus meat? Or did they only eat meat and non-starchy vegetables prepared in butter instead of vegetable/seed oils? Because it is very possible that the higher risk of cancer stems from other factors than meat consumption.
I will not talk about the vitamins only found in meat. That is a topic for another post and you have already learned enough reading this article.
If you want to learn more about how a plant-based diet is not proven to lower the risk of disease, please read THIS article.
Learn more about the benefits of a high fat diet HERE.
Stay strong and eat your meat, fellow superhero!