As a species, humans have been eating meat, cheese, butter and eggs for all of human history so how is it we came to believe that these foods are bad for us? One thing is for certain. We wouldn't have eaten these foods if they were bad for us.
Is it possible we've got everything backwards with food and nutrition and we're headed in the wrong direction? Most likely with our increasing rates of illness and obesity along with declining health.
Here at Sapien, we believe that for optimal health we should be including more animal foods in the diet, not less. Animal rights' activists in the last 50 years have taken over the conversation and skewed the data and have convinced our culture into assuming meat is bad for us and the planet without ever investigating whether this is scientific fact.
Meat is not bad for us or the environment.
3.5 million years of meat eating made us human an continue to make us healthy today. Let's begin by going through a six step journey on how we evolved.
There were plenty of megafauna roaming the Earth on all major continents. We could easily hunt these animals and they provided us with a bounty of fatty meat.
We know this from radio isotope nitrogen levels from early human remains. There are over 27 lines of evidence showing that humans were high level trophic carnivores. We used tools and our superior intellect to become the apex predator.
This changed our digestive system. We evolved away from subsisting on low quality plant foods and instead required highly nutrient dense animal foods. We can't ferment large amounts of plant foods like our ancestors.
Our small intestine got longer (this is where we extract nutrition from meat) and our hindgut got shorter (this is where plant fermentation takes place). We're a completely different species now requiring different nutrition.
Scientists believe early humans began scavenging carcasses. This slowly changed our stomach pH from our primate ancestors to a very acidic environment to be able to handle this. Our stomach acid pH is lower than many carnivores and, similar to another scavenger, the hyena.
There's much more science, but the point is we became human because of meat and animal fat. This is how our brains grew and we evolved from plant eaters.
Our bodies evolved to thrive on the nutrition from meat and animal fat and substitutes aren't as good.
When we look at data from modern hunter-gatherers this allows us to have a little glimpse at our past. However, many giant animal species have died out, making us more reliant on plant foods.
Plants are something we would eat when we couldn't get any animal. We studied these societies and found that plants acted as "fall-back" foods within the diet.
Plants have a lower bioavailability of nutrients compared to animal foods. Even what’s listed on food packaging or the USDA food data isn’t accurate. Our body is not able to absorb all the nutrients, but animal foods DO allow us to get far more of them.
One such example is iron.
Red meat, eggs and similar foods actually provide some of the MOST complete nutrition on Earth.
This quote comes from a peer-reviewed scientific study.
When you look deeper into it, plant-based foods, or perhaps it's more accurate to say, plant-based diets, are the major cause of deficiencies because of their lack of bioavailable nutrition.
Development of the human brain is also extremely important, especially in developing children. However, many of these nutrients critical for brain development are found in animal foods, not plant foods.
Plant sources of omega 3 have very low bioavailability and are converted to usable DHA at only 0 - 4% which is extremely low.
However, you can get fully formed DHA, iodine, and iron from seafood and other animal foods.
You also get arguments that it's possible to get enough protein on a plant-based diet. But plant and animal proteins aren't equal. Hint: animal proteins are superior.
Protein in beef is almost 3 times as bioavailable than in beans. If you’re eating navy beans instead of beef for protein, you'd have to eat around 3x the calories to get the same protein.
This is the opposite of what we need in a word where obesity and diabetes is increasing within the population at an alarming rate.
But for some reason, it's taboo to talk about the benefits of beef. This is just science.
If you compare the micronutrient content of an animal food such as sardines with other plant foods, you find that sardines are far superior (liver would be even better).
Sadly, through a lot of cultivation, most fruit is really just a bunch of sugar because that's what our taste buds prefer.
And when you look at blood markers on those following a low carb, high fat, animal-based diet, you find that triglycerides, HDL and glucose improve along with a reduction in weight.
This is very rarely reported in the media and is little heard by the public.
There are people like Dr. Eric Westman who works with very low-income people in North Carolina, helping to reverse diabetes and obesity with cheap grocery store ground beef, eggs and even McDonalds patties.
We should be lowering glucose and insulin, not meat - for longevity and health. The real dangerous diet is one of constant glucose and insulin spikes from processed carbs and sugar.
There's a lot of science out there. Plenty of studies showing the superior effects of low carb diets which are often high animal foods and fat.
The problem is they aren't reported in the media often, if at all.
One study showed a high-fat diet REVERSING type 2 diabetes in 60% of patients in 1 year.
This is incredible yet it got zero media coverage. Very strange.
There are also people who have cured a whole range of health conditions just by eating meat. The two pictured below have been eating just meat for 19 years and feel and look fantastic.
This actually shouldn't be surprising given that our ancestors ate this way and our body is designed to do best on an animal-based diet.
Since eating mostly animal foods, Brian has never felt better, has endless energy and just feels great altogether His health has improved, even from a low carb diet.
It's not just him either. There are thousands of stories like his.
Now we come onto perhaps an even bigger issue. The environment.
Before we dig in deeper, I need to make it clear that the meat we have today, even those conventionally grown in feedlots is PERFECTLY healthy and nutritious.
Now, one of the biggest arguments against animal consumption are the greenhouse gases emitted by animal agriculture. But do people really think that animals cause more pollution than those emitted by fossil fuels from transportation?
It's deception used by animal rights activists.
The real problem is fossil fuels.
You can find lots more great resources on Sacred Cow talking about the power of the regenerative agriculture system to heal ourselves and the soil.
Back to the story.
If people really cared about emissions and food they’d be promoting eating less rice which produces tons of methane. They’d also tell people not to eat potato chips which are the #1 producer of greenhouse gasses.
Yes, that's right. Chips have the biggest carbon footprint of any food.
People talk a lot about the methane from cows. But the methane from cows is part of a cycle.
Methane is a short lived gas. It only stays around for 10 years and is a flow gas. This means
it’s recycled. It goes from the grass, into the cow, into the air, and back into the grass.
We don’t have more cows than 45 years ago. The herd size has stayed the same - so cattle is not an issue. However, CO2 stays around for 1000 years - it’s a stock gas.
It's a one way street. It goes from the ground and pretty much stays in the atmosphere. For a long time.
This is the REAL problem.
The graph below compares the difference between CO2 production from fossil fuels to food production and other land use.
It makes it pretty clear what the real problem is.
Calculations about land use are misleading. 85% of land for grazing cattle can't be farmed
What should we do with this valuable land? The obvious answer is to use it for grazing cattle.
This is more of the stuff you don’t hear about. And then there's the soil.
Plants and crops mainly take from the soil, while animals give back to the soil. Plants take nutrients and need fossil fuel inputs. Animals give back to the soil with their urine and manure.
The health of a nation is dependent on its soil - this is where carbon is sequestered. Tilling the soil and growing monocrops ruin it.
Many farms are using animals on pasture and are actually putting more carbon into the soil than they’re producing.
In fact, all cattle spend the first ⅔ of their life on pasture but nobody in the mainstream media wants to talk about this.
Most cattle do go to feed yards, but they have plenty of space. Admittedly, they aren't optimal.
Grass finished sustainable operations are much better, but the reality is thisis our current system - we have to live with it, and try to improve it.
Only about 11.6% of a cows diet over their life is edible to humans. The other 84.4% of a feedlot cattle's diet is inedible to humans. They ARE NOT competing with us for food.
Modern cows are actually adapted to eat grains and they only eat them for a few months
They are fed leftover products from the creation of biofuels.
It’s an efficient system - they are recyclers, also eating leftovers from distilling alcohol.
These are things that would just go to waste otherwise and certainly aren't edible to humans.
There are no hormones or antibiotics in the meat you eat either. Cows get a little in a feedyard but all of it is taken out 60 - 120 days before animals are processed. The meat is thoroughly tested to ensure there is nothing left in the meat.
There’s so many safeguards and rules no rancher would ever risk having a trace of it in their animals. It would be a financial disaster!
Cows are great in the sense that they take poor quality protein and turn it into high quality, bioavailable protein.
Most people are probably wondering if there is an alternative. Spoiler alert. There isn't one. Calculations about feeding the world with only plants are incorrect in many ways so we're going to dive into this.
The alternative is we would just have to grow millions more acres of pesticide soaked corn, wheat, and soy.
People talk about meat like if we don’t eat it there’s some free source of food with no impact.
Monocropping is the real problem with plant production.
We don’t have another way to grow enough food to replace meat. And this food wouldn’t be a good nutritional replacement either.
What about the ethical argument?
25 times more sentient animals die producing crops.
“55 sentient animal lives lost to produce 100 kilograms of useable plant protein. That’s 25 times more killings than to produce the same amount of rangelands beef.”
And this doesn't even include how many habitats and ENTIRE ecosystems are devastated clearing the land for monocropping.
Animals are going to die for any food you produce so you might as well get the good nutrition by eating them.