The Paleo Meat-Eater Myth

So, myth one is that humans are evolved to eat meat and that Palaeolithic peoples consumed large quantities of meat. Humans have no known anatomical, physiological, or genetic adaptations to meat consumption. Quite the opposite, we have many adaptations to plant consumption.

Take, for example, vitamin C. Carnivores can make their own vitamin C, because vitamin C is found in plants. If you don’t eat plants, you need to make it yourself. We can’t make it, we have to consume it from plants. We have a longer digestive tract than carnivores. That’s because our food needs to stay in our bodies longer, so we have more time to digest plant matter.

We need more surface area, we need more microbes. We have generalist dentition, so we have big molars that are there to shred fibrous plant tissue. We do not have carnassials, which are the specialized teeth that carnivores have to shred meat, and we do actually have some genetic mutations in some populations that are adaptive to animal consumption, but it’s to milk, not meat, and these arose in certain populations during agricultural periods primarily in Europe and Africa.

I call this “The Meat Myth.” The idea behind it is that we should eat all this red meat, but that’s just really not true. The meats on this plate of meat here are from fattened cattle, these are domestic animals. Anything a Palaeolithic person would have eaten would have probably been very lean, probably small, and they wouldn’t really have eaten that much meat. Of course there’s also bone marrow and organs, these would have been very important.

We see evidence of harvesting of bone marrow in faunal assembles where you see characteristic cutting open of the bones, like you see here, for marrow extraction. Now sure, people did eat meat, and especially in the Arctic and areas with long periods where plants were not available, they would have eaten a lot of meat. But people that lived in more temperate or tropical regions would have had a very large plant portion of their diet.


Folksonomies: diet

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Meat (0.985667): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Nutrition (0.956473): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
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Immune system (0.738374): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
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Natural selection (0.680613): dbpedia | freebase

 Debunking The Paleo Diet
Proceedings of Meetings and Symposia>Speech:  Warinner, Christina (June 19, 2014), Debunking The Paleo Diet, Retrieved on 2014-07-25
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: diet paleodiet