The Origins of Carnivorous, Omnivorous and Vegetarian Diets

by | Jun 13, 2011 | Health Habits, Nutrition Support, Uncategorized

The Origins of Carnivorous, Omnivorous and Vegetarian DietsMany people are often confused on whether they should be carnivorous, omnivorous or vegetarian so I thought today we shall take a stroll through the history of human food evolution and see for ourselves how our diet developed over the ages.

From historical point of view, at first man was omnivorous

with a diet that was predominantly vegetarian. When man first graduated to walking upright, he ate huge quantities of fruits, roots, edible leaves and on occasion, meat from small animals. (Back then we lacked the sophisticated weapons needed to hunt big game).

As the range and sophistication of weapons at his disposal increased, his diet turned more carnivorous.

This was also the time we evolved from being essentially sophisticated upright walking apes to being “a social animal” because this was the time man learnt to communicate and hunt in groups.

At this stage man began to perfect the art of preservation and store the excess meat.

Man also learnt how to make and use fire. Storage of meat meant they did not have to hunt everyday. Enter spare time. Spare time led us to invent all sorts of tools, pottery, better forms of clothing and other objects that in general, made life a bit easier. Since we could now store meat and water, man began to have even more spare time on hand which was spent in observing the nature around us. Instead of walking miles to pluck the fruit from trees, man began to wonder if they could instead somehow bring the trees to where man lived.

Enter tree farming and eventually, a few thousand years later, crop cultivation. Around this time man also learnt to domesticate certain wild animals.

Cultivation of crops brought in an abundance of food. It could be stored longer than meat and cultivating crops was less stressful and less dangerous than going on a hunt. In fact, domesticated animals replaced wild animals as a source for alternate food.

Finally, food was now relatively easy to get. Be it plant or animal source – we ate them both, and we still do.

If we turn to religion on the same matter, it was the Buddhists or more specifically, the brother of the founder of Buddhism who proposed a strict code for the monks of the Buddhist order to be vegetarians. This was followed by another religion called Jainism which was strictly against eating meat. Interestingly, although Buddhism started in India, it actually took roots in Sri Lanka and the regions of the Far East. Vegetarianism as a diet therefore came from the East and its basis was purely religious.

Let’s now forget the nutritional view:

To begin with, meat is predominantly protein and cannot provide everything our body needs. Also, meat lacks fiber. Fiber is very essential to the digestive system – this part of evolution has not changed. So to ensure we get all round nutrition and fiber, it is essential to include vegetables in our healthy diet.