For a good illustration of this, see the (slightly) declining rates of diabetes in much of the Pacific islands in the past 30 or so years, having peaked in the 1980s or 1990s due to an increase in the availability of processed/ sugary foods and the genetic susceptibility to diabetes of this population. This population is starting to evolve a resistance to diabetes, primarily because sadly those genetically susceptible to diabetes die early… Human beings aren’t shackled to the traits that the early Homos had.
Humans have benefited in evolutionary history from meat eating, but anyone can see from the high rates of disease related to meat consumption (as well as dairy and eggs) that we are struggling to eat meat at high rates (compared to in evolutionary history, which could be more than once a week or so).
We are facultative omnivores, which means we can, just about eat anything that isn’t cellulose etc. a bit like the domestic dog. But we struggle, and for good physiological reasons. This is summed up quite well in this rather large table, showing the generalized physiology of herbivores vs omnivores vs carnivores vs humans, though I do disagree with the statement at the top. But I do agree that we are pretty bad omnivores.
The primary reason we attained omnivorous eating habits is because we “outsourced” the sharp claws, teeth and the chemical breakdown of a pH 1 stomach to technology; spears, knives and cooking.
But things that gave us an evolutionary advantage doesn’t mean that now we must adhere to it unwaveringly. I have noticed that there has been a sharp decrease in human cannibalism, despite it having helped us to become more resistant to prion diseases, see
Is the MD at
I am just some teenager on the internet and not a professor of evolutionary biology (yet), but the final sentence of the MDs article is laughable: also proposing a return to human cannibalism?
If we evolved because we ate meat, why would we want to stop now?
Or as I will rephrase it “If we evolved because we ate human brains, why would we want to stop?”.
I think this man needs to revisit the definition of evolution, as a change in the frequency of alleles in a population over time, as he seems to confuse it with some magic process that happens because you shove mastodon in your mouth and suddenly become master of the universe.
But all this aside, the quite small amounts of meat humans ate in the evolutionary past does not mean that we will have to eat meat until the end of time, just as much as hairlessness does not mean that we have been confined to equatorial regions. Many modern humans have survived quite well eating plant-based or even frugivorous diets for at least several thousands years (not the same people, I assure you, the superpowers you get when you eat enough vegetables don’t quite make you immortal). The big brains we got from eating cooked meat and other foods is as relevant to modern life as a slight resistance to prion diseases we got from eating human brains.