Let’s look at a brief outline of the history of the evolution of animals, including humans on earth, including what happened to their food supply when the industrial revolution arrived.

We Should be Basing Our Food Choices on What is Best for Our Body

What we eat today is decided mainly by the food industry and their advertising agencies, not evolution. However, that is not in our best interests!

Given a free choice, animals in the wild continue to eat what is best for their bodies. They depend on intuition and just keep eating the same old food. Thus, boring, but appropriate for their metabolism. Incidentally, it helps them maintain the ideal weight, healthy teeth, etc

We now have lots of reliable evidence on the evolution of man from our ape-like forebears. In this case, we can trace back to the earliest mammals, and then further back to when their ancestors emerged from the oceans and started to walk on land.

An Evolutionary Timeline

evolution

Study of these fascinating timelines reveals interesting facts:

Virtually all fish are carnivores.

360 million years ago

The earliest land animals were reptiles and amphibians. They were, and still are, primarily carnivores. Their livers metabolise food just as ours do.

160 million years ago

The first mammal to appear was a carnivore.

There was plenty of food in the tropical climate, therefore the huge increase in plants and animals led to a wide choice of both plant and animal food.

70 million years ago

The first major global cooling event occurred.

The oceans around the poles turned to ice which led to a dramatic fall in sea levels. Much of the lush jungle cooled to the point where it turned into open landscapes covered with grass.

The dinosaurs became extinct following a giant meteor collision with earth.

Ruminant animals, capable of thriving on a diet of grass, evolved.

7 million years ago

It was choice time for apes – plants or meat.

Some apes chose plant food. They developed a large gut to enable the digestion of tough plants, and lived where there was plenty of food close by in the remaining jungle. After supplying the gut there was just enough energy remaining for a small 350ml brain.

Other apes gradually learned to become carnivores. Killing animals and eating their meat provided more energy-dense and easily digested food.

There were animals to prey on by the million all over the planet. The apes that ate predominantly meat required a small gut leaving surplus energy for their brains to grow from 350ml to 1,500ml.

About 200,000 years ago

Modern man evolved with his big brain. Tall stature, he had an ability to hunt over long distances during the day.

Man hunted animals rather than gathering plants. There is strong fossil isotope evidence that humans were the top-level carnivores eating meat and fish.

When Did Things Start to go Wrong?

Instead of living on our planet without disturbing it, we started altering it. We entered the age of the Anthropocene. At this time, man became a significant influence on the climate and our environment.

Human intelligence sowed the seeds for our undoing starting with the extinction of the megafauna.

About 60,000 years ago – man reached Australia and found 2 tonne wombats and 1,000 kilo kangaroos. These animals were exterminated for food.

About 12,000 years ago the next major problem arose: the first agricultural revolution.

Man worked out how to farm wheat, arguably a big mistake. It resulted in a huge increase in food supply.

The Advent of Agriculture

Humans settled in the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East, creating cities. There was a population explosion. The irregular supply of water from rivers required supplementation by irrigation. As a consequence, rival cities such as Babylon and Uruk went to war over food.

The evolution of the slave trade, 1619 to 1865 – enabled the second agricultural revolution to combine with the rise of capitalism to produce cheap tobacco, sugar, and eventually, cottonseed oil.

The second half of the 19th century saw two other important changes caused by man’s intelligence. The industrial revolution created a transformation in the way food was produced.

Nature gave way to manufacture. The windmill that produced stone-ground flour was replaced by the steam-driven steel roller mill. This led to the invention of highly refined white flour. Suddenly cheap carbohydrate, sugar, and starch were readily available.

The Arrival of Vegetarianism

The concept of a vegetarian diet being superior to the food humans had eaten for millennia was first broached by the ancient Greeks.

Likewise, it was warmly embraced in the late 1800s by the newly formed 7th Day Adventist Church. Led by Ellen G White, hand in hand with an early prominent recruit to the cause, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg of Corn Flakes fame.

They believed that: “A religious life can be more successfully gained and maintained if meat is discarded, for this diet stimulates intense activities, lustful propensities, and enfeebles the moral and spiritual nature.”

Belinda Fetkke has written an excellent article about the Church’s involvement in the food industry if you want more detail.

Their teachings quickly dominated the emerging science of dietetics. In the 1960s doctors and politicians proposed the Diet Heart Hypothesis with the hope of reversing the rising tide of heart attacks.

These diseases are now known to be caused primarily by excess sugar, carbohydrates, and tobacco. And, with a contribution from seed oils. However, in the mid-70s, fat, particularly animal fat, was thought to be the cause.

This is arguably one of the worst medical blunders of all time.

Dietary Guidelines and Modern Disease

The introduction of the 1977 dietary guidelines marked the beginning of our declining health. There is now a dramatic upsurge in the incidence of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other manifestations of what is now known as metabolic syndrome.

The Diet Heart Hypothesis failed. It should never have become established. However, these guidelines remain, largely unamended to this day.

The modern standard American or Australian diet is a disaster. Switching to a well-constructed vegan or vegetarian diet is a significant improvement.

Optimal health is more readily achieved by following the example of our ancestors. Namely, eating a meat-based diet supplemented with plants when sufficient meat is not available.

I believe it’s not appropriate to invoke ethics or innate plant food superiority when considering human metabolism.

*image courtesy freepik.com


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