Why The Sapien Framework Makes Sense

richard laursen May 05, 2020

There are lots of different ideas and philosophies about how humans should be eating. Many of these ideas evolve so that they become restrictive diets, but the problem with diets is exactly that. They are restricting.

The approach taken at Sapien.org is rather than following a set diet, we should follow a set framework to achieve optimal health and use that as guidance rather than using a diet and sticking to it religiously.

Within the Sapien Framework you can be keto, carnivore, paleo, or even vegetarian. It's all about being flexible. You can have a piece of cheesecake, you can have the occasional indulgence, but the idea is as long as you generally adhere to the Sapien Framework when trying to figure out what foods to eat, you will be achieving great results from your diet.

Instead of being a diet of any sort, the Sapien Framework encourages eating more whole, natural, nutrient-dense foods with an emphasis on animal products. However, that doesn't mean you can't be vegetarian and thrive.

The Sapien Framework looks at how humans ate millions of years ago and what the composition of the human diet likely was. It then takes into account numerous ways in which we can fulfill our nutrient requirements within the modern world.

For those unconvinced by the Sapien Framework or how it emphasizes animal products over plant products, let's dive in to what life was like two million years ago (or more).

1) Plants were scarce

Before crops were cultivated in abundance (around 12,000 years ago) humans were hunter-gatherers. Hunters first and gatherers second.

Plants were much harder to come by and it'd be even more difficult to determine which ones were safe to eat. Fruit was not as common as it was today, nor was it as sweet and eaten more as a luxury.

2) Work In Tribes

When hunting animals, humans had to work together in tribes. Just like how animals work in herds to throw a hunter off or how wolves would hunt in packs to get their prey, humans hunted in tribes and worked together to hunt their prey.

Hunting down one large animal such as a deer would allow a tribe to eat well for a week without worrying about food. Just imagine the sheer amount of calories in one deer and how many mouths it could feed. A lot.

3) Eating plants was a lot of work for few calories

Some argue that humans were primarily herbivores. I think that seems unlikely. The human brain is smart and seeks out calories to ensure it has enough to the body isn't 'starving'. For the amount of work you have to done to hunt an animal versus gather the equivalent number of calories as one animal in the form of plants, it would be much more efficient to hunt animals.

If you wanted to eat plants you might have to climb trees, figure out what was edible (and not poisonous) and then you'd have to gather a lot of those plants. Even nuts which are quite calorific would take a while to open up their shells.

4) Animals are nutrient-dense

When it comes to nutrient density, animals contain a lot more nutrients than plants and provide us with vitamin B12, vitamin K2 and vitamin D3, vitamins which aren't found in plant foods. If you eat the 'nose to tail' of an animal you'll be getting the full range of nutrients from not just the muscle meat, but the bones (if you use it for bone broth) and the more gelatinous, off-cuts of meat.

These are full of nutrients and would've been eaten 2 million years ago. Nowadays, we tend to look at them in disgust or throw them away. If you eat the whole animal, you're wasting less food, providing yourself with more nutrients and you're probably saving money since off-cuts of meat tend to be cheaper!

5) Plants made up calories when animal food was unavailable

In times of scarcity when animals were no longer around, tribes would move location to find more animals to hunt. Sometimes animal food was lacking which meant it made sense for hunter-gatherers to gather food from plants which were stationary and would not run away.

Whilst they didn't provide as many calories as animals and required more work to collect, they were still a source of calories and micronutrients which enabled us to survive and could help supplement our diet with nutrients not as commonly found in animals.

The Dietary Landscape

When you look at the dietary landscape as shown above you can see how the choices you make with food can affect your health. You can also see that it's possible to obtain nutrients from both plant and animal foods.

The yellow zones indicate how the named diet could affect your health e.g. you could follow a keto diet full of fast food and your health would likely be worse than someone who followed a keto diet and ate a range of fatty cuts of meat and consumed salad alongside that.


The Sapien Framework itself encompasses the consumption of nutrient dense animal and plants foods whilst the Sapien Diet itself is focused around mostly nutrient-dense animal foods with some plant foods.

The Sapien Framework uses the knowledge of our ancestors and strives for nutrient-density within the human diet by advocating for the consumption of both whole animal and plant foods as much as possible.

Still unconvinced? Then I suggest checking out this article on "Why We Should Be Eating More Meat, Not Less" or the video below!


Richard Laursen is a contributing writer to Sapien.org. In his free time he likes to run and optimise his diet to fuel his athletic ambitions. You can follow more of his work at runrich.co.uk.

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