Monday, September 21, 2009

The Plant Driven Life

Being a vegetarian for many years, I’ve often heard the phrase, “But humans are meant to eat meat,” irritably uttered in response to the disclosure of my meatless status. While it’s true that there are some challenges unique to a cruelty-free diet, there are also quite a few indications that humans are best suited to a plant-fueled lifestyle.

Whereas we have developed brains that are able to construct industrial slaughterhouses and fashion metal into knives, let’s first look inside our mouth, not our mind. Compare your teeth to that of your cat or dog. Who’s better suited for tearing flesh from bone? Some people’s diets reflect such a significant presence of meat and meat products, you’d think you would find six inch canines protruding between their lips. The fact is that the positioning, size and proximity of our teeth to one another are simply not designed for meat consumption.

What if you gave your dog or cat a bit of raw chicken? Would you fear it contracting salmonella or e. coli? No, because carnivorous animals have short and powerful digestive tracts which can expel waste from food sources in 12 hours. Humans have longer digestive systems that closer to that of herbivores, which is why we are susceptible to these types of food poisoning. Cooking food is not intrinsically natural, but necessary to consume certain meats.

Humans have often been compared to apes in terms of genetic makeup and physical characteristics. (And sometimes personality, but that’s a different story). A couple of years ago, a British reality-style television program examined the effects of an ape-like diet on nine volunteers over a period of about two weeks. The first week the “human apes” ate an over 2,000-calorie diet full of raw, nutritious, vegetarian fare of various vegetables, fruits and nuts, while meeting their daily nutritional requirements. Water was their only beverage. The second week added some fish to the mix. The results? The participants lost weight (an average of 9 pounds each), lowered their blood pressure about twenty points and lowered their cholesterol levels about 20%. Remember, this was only a two-week study that garnered such excellent results.

A more in-depth look at the structure of humans’ digestive system starting with our face to the end of the line appears here and gives you all the information you need to know about whether we are best suited for the herbivore, omnivore or carnivore category.

Thanks for reading!

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