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(Comparative Anatomy and Physiology Brought Up to Date--continued, Part 9D)

Potential reactions to information
in this paper: Part 1 (cont.)

Rationalizations in Response to the Evolutionary and Hunter-Gatherer Evidence for Omnivorous Diets

Similar to rationalizations offered in reaction to the comparative anatomy evidence for omnivorous adaptation are the following--sometimes more sophisticated--diversionary ploys that may be offered in response to evolutionary and hunter-gatherer evidence.

RATIONALIZATION: What happened back in the Paleolithic age doesn't really matter. We are different people today, in most every way. The diet of the Paleolithic is irrelevant nowadays given the new conditions we live under that must be coped with.

REPLY: Genetically, we are in fact quite closely similar to the hunter-gatherers of the late Paleolithic era. As Eaton et al. [1988, p. 740] note:

Accordingly, it appears that the [human] gene pool has changed little since anatomically modern humans, Homo sapiens sapiens, became widespread about 35,000 years ago and that, from a genetic standpoint, current humans are still late Paleolithic preagricultural hunter-gatherers.

Because of the close (nearly identical) genetic similarity, the diet of Paleolithic times is relevant. Of course we do live under different circumstances, and we adapt accordingly. However, for evolutionary adaptation to be reflected in the gene pool is generally believed to require a very long time--considerably longer, in any event, to produce more than but minimal changes since the time humans took up agriculture and ceased to be exclusive hunter-gatherers (roughly 10,000 years ago; much less for some groups).

RATIONALIZATION: Evolution is concerned with reproductive success, not longevity. An evolutionary diet does not have to provide excellent health, it only has to be good enough to allow one to survive to reproduce. We can improve on evolution, and raw/veg*n diets are a good example thereof. After all, veg*ns live longer than non-veg*ns!


RATIONALIZATION: Hunter-gatherers may eat some meat but they are not that far from being vegetarians. Many raw/veg*n advocates say that: (a) hunter-gatherers usually have a diet in which plant foods are predominant, and also that (b) hunter-gatherers rarely hunt, and when they do they are usually unsuccessful. Ergo, their diet is nearly vegetarian. (Note: This general idea, in varying forms, is held not just by raw extremists, but tends to be shared by those who identify themselves as conventional vegans as well.)

REPLY: This claim can probably be traced back to early (since superseded) anthropological work on hunter-gatherers, and may also be based on a flawed and outdated hunter-gatherer survey interpretation. The claim is a false myth, and one that certain "diet gurus" (and, as well, more scientifically oriented conventional vegans who should probably know better) are quite happy to propagate.

RATIONALIZATION: There are no vegan gatherer tribes because they have not been exposed to the "enlightened" philosophy of veg*nism. They are living in ignorance and have not evolved spiritually.

REPLY: That there are no vegan hunter-gatherer tribes suggests the diet is neither feasible for them nor natural. Stop and think carefully about the nature of claims that a particular diet somehow makes you "enlightened" or "superior." Stripped of their idealistic rhetoric, the nature of such claims is, quite simply: "My lunch is better than yours, and that makes me a better person than you!" Even worse, a few fruitarian extremists actively promote this nonsense in dishonest and incredibly hateful ways. I hope that you can see that rather than "enlightened," such attitudes are really self-righteous, egotistical, and the dietary equivalent of racism. Because of this, it is best to not view veg*n philosophy as "enlightened."

RATIONALIZATION: The hunter-gatherer diet is not feasible for people living in modern times; it's just a bunch of academic "ivory-tower" theorizing about diet and nutrition. Vegan diets are real and work!

REPLY: The earlier section regarding FTT (failure to thrive) indicates that veg*n diets don't seem to work for everyone. As for the claim that hunter-gatherer diets are all academic, a partially tongue-in-cheek reply here is: Whether paleodiets are fully achievable in today's world at this point might be debated--however, is it not obvious that attempts to approximate them will certainly be much closer than attempts not to? More seriously, the section Should You Eat Meat? (later herein) briefly describes how it may be possible to approximate a hunter-gatherer diet today.


(Evolution and Vegetarian Choice: Continued Dogma or a New Honesty?)

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GO TO PART 1 - Brief Overview: What is the Relevance of Comparative Anatomical and Physiological "Proofs"?

GO TO PART 2 - Looking at Ape Diets: Myths, Realities, and Rationalizations

GO TO PART 3 - The Fossil-Record Evidence about Human Diet

GO TO PART 4 - Intelligence, Evolution of the Human Brain, and Diet

GO TO PART 5 - Limitations on Comparative Dietary Proofs

GO TO PART 6 - What Comparative Anatomy Does and Doesn't Tell Us about Human Diet

GO TO PART 7 - Insights about Human Nutrition & Digestion from Comparative Physiology

GO TO PART 8 - Further Issues in the Debate over Omnivorous vs. Vegetarian Diets

GO TO PART 9 - Conclusions: The End, or The Beginning of a New Approach to Your Diet?

Back to Research-Based Appraisals of Alternative Diet Lore

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