Poor Mokolo the gorilla. Obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and heart disease were all killing this animal. It also had the testosterone levels of a typical “Soy Boy” and developed OCD-like behaviour: obsessive hair plucking. The staff at the Cleveland Zoo couldn’t figure it out. Eventually, they stopped feeding him “fortified fibre biscuits” and increased his intake of leafy greens. The result? Fat Mokolo dropped seventy pounds and didn’t pluck his hair as much.
Our authors start off “Chapter Two: Are Humans Omnivores?” with this anecdote to drive home a point, “Every animal has a biologically appropriate diet, including humans.” For most of our existence, we humans have eaten a lot of animals plus “honey, roots, tubers, leafy material, and fruit.” So far so true I say. What has happened in recent decades? These foods have been supplanted with “highly processed food-like substances.” Again, this is true although I like “food-based products.”
The rest of this chapter confronts the vegetarian argument that humans did not eat meat in the distant past because we don’t have claws and large canines designed to rip meat from bones. Our authors point out that we didn’t need these things to eat meat because humans make tools and make fire. Moreover, it was our relatively massive meat consumption compared to other primates which allowed our brains to become so big. Looking again at plants, Rodgers and Wolf note that traditional cultures soak, sprout and ferment many plants to make them more digestible. Would our primitive ancestors been able to do this while living a nomadic life? I wonder.
The takeaway from this chapter is that humans are omnivorous. We eat plants and animals. This is very straightforward argument and uncontroversial unless you’re a anti-meat zealot. Of course, nothing will move those people from their anti-meat position. The only quibble I have with this chapter is this quote, “Looking at the historical records, it’s very clear our ancestors ate animal products.” I think they mean archaeological records since historical records only go back a few thousand years.