Paleo diet: humans did evolve to eat meat.

A video recently caught my attention. It was an interview with Andreas Moritz, founder of the Ener-Chi Wellness Center. He was explaining why he believes humans were not made to eat meat. Obviously he is a vegan and has a message he’d like to share. But this is a message which is inaccurate and harmful to those who follow his advice, in regards to the human ability to eat meat. Our physiology, our digestive tracts and our teeth show that in our Paleo diet days, humans did evolve to eat meat.


I have extracted pertinent excerpts from the video and will discuss each of Andreas Moritz’s points.

We are not designed to eat meat because we don’t have the teeth to rip out flesh from an animal. If you are a cat you can rip it and swallow it right away. Our teeth don’t have that design. They would fall out if you did that. …. The flesh is so tight that it becomes more easily chewable when you are cooking it. You break down the protein structures….

Human Maxilla. Canine tooth – third from the left, nice and sharp. Image courtesy of


This premise has been bandied about before, that our teeth were not designed for eating meat. It is a patently ridiculous idea. Just run your teeth against the two sharp canines in your mouth. Why are they there, if they are not to rend flesh? Why are they called canines? Evolution put them there because we needed them because we were eating meat. And it was raw meat in the beginning. I personally find that rare meat, which may as well be raw in my case, is much easier to eat than cooked meat, unless the meat has been cooking for a very long time. But our ancestors would not have even cooked the meat in the beginning. It would have been consumed raw.


But there is evidence that we’ve been eating meat for the last 2.5 million years. From the New Scientist:

“Humans evolved beyond their vegetarian roots and became meat-eaters at the dawn of the genus Homo, around 2.5 million years ago, according to a study of our ancestors’ teeth.

In 1999, researchers found cut marks on animal bones dated at around 2.5 million years old. But no one could be sure that they were made by meat-eating hominids, because none appeared to have suitable teeth.

Now an analysis by Peter Ungar of the University of Arkansas has revealed that the first members of Homo had much sharper teeth than their most likely immediate ancestor, Australopithecus afarensis, the species that produced the famous fossil Lucy.

Eating meat requires teeth adapted more to cutting than to grinding. The ability to cut is determined by the slope of the cusps, or crests. “Steeper crests mean the ability to consume tougher foods,” Ungar says. He has found that the crests of teeth from early Homo skeletons are steeper than those of gorillas, which consume foods as tough as leaves and stems, but not meat.”

As far as how long we’ve been cooking meat, there is no real answer. From Wikipedia:

There is no clear evidence as to when the practice of cooking food was first conceived. Most anthropologists believe that cooking fires began only about 250,000 years ago, when hearths started appearing.[] Primatologist Richard Wrangham suggested that cooking was invented as far back as 1.8 million to 2.3 million years ago.[][] Other researchers believe that cooking was invented as late as 40,000 or 10,000 years ago. Evidence of fire is inconclusive, as wildfires started by lightning-strikes are still common in East Africa and other wild areas, and it is difficult to determine when fire was first used for cooking, as opposed to just being used for warmth or for keeping predators away.

Excerpted from the video

“Plus the stomach has very weak hydrochloric acid enough to digest things like nuts, seeds, vegetables, grains fruit and so on. The body is not capable of digesting concentrated meat that requires five times more concentration of hydrochloric acid than we have.”

Okay, now we know that Andreas Mortiz has been a vegetarian for a very long time. If you eat only plant foods you will have a very low level of hydrochloric acid (HCl) in your stomach. This leads to poorly digested foods, heart burn, GERD and worse. But when you eat meat, the level of HCl increases to almost twice the levels of the vegan, to where meat is digested and passes through quickly.  In a study titled “The Gastric Digestion of Meat in Health and in Disease” by Dr. Martin E. Rehfuss and Dr. George H. Marcil it was discovered:

A quarter-pound of meat stimulates almost twice as much gastric juices as does a quarter-pound of bread or other carbohydrates, and is correspondingly better for normal digestion.

As many have discovered when ditching the carbs and increasing the meat, digestion improves dramatically. No more heart burn, GERD or gas.

Excerpted from the video

…. but cats sleep a lot. They need to. I went to Africa and saw the lions and they sleep 20, uh… sometimes three days in a row. And the (somethings) pass by, they raise their heads then they go back to sleep. So for them, they need to, that’s a completely different kind of species.

The lion. Quite unlike other cats. Image courtesy of


Actually, lions are the only cats with an advantage that allows them to sleep for so long. They live in prides and therefore have the advantage of numbers to keep the group safe. Most other big cats, like tigers, cheetahs, leopards, are solitary and only get together in pairs to mate. These cats do not sleep as much as lions. Typically, the solitary cats, such as the tiger, sleep during the day and hunt at night.  But in any case I’m not sure what the sleeping habits of lions have to do with humans being meat eaters. We are omnivores, not carnivores.



Excerpted from the video

You don’t see the same thing for herbivores. They are grazing animals. Gorillas, um, elephants, the strongest animals, um, the cows, that make milk, by the way, where’s the protein intake? From the air. Carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen. A horse, a wild horse, have big lungs. So they ingest all of those molecules that convert into amino acids, just as in our bodies.

And we are also not herbivores. Herbivores have adaptations that allows them to thrive only on plant foods. For example, ruminants, like cows, convert relatively useless vegetable amino acids into usable amino acids. And this is the first time that I’ve heard that cows get nutrients from the air. My research turned up this from Dr. Bernard Rosen:

“Grass is mostly cellulose. And cows, like us, can’t digest cellulose. So where do cows get all their nutrients? Cows have four separate stomach compartments. The rumen (one of the compartments) serves as a fermentation vat where microorganisms, such as bacteria and protozoa, break down the feed (hay, water, saliva, etc.) These microbes break down the cellulose into energy sources that the cow can digest (volatile fatty acids), and build protein, which again, the cow can digest. The rumen is quite huge (about 160 liters), and in an average cow, there are about 100 times as many bacteria as there are humans on earth.”

Then I found another interesting fact. In nature grasses are not cleaned and purified. What do I mean by that? They contain small bugs, grubs, larvae, etc. that the animals consume along with the grass! These small bugs are complete proteins! So, many of these so called “herbivores” (plant only eating animals) may in fact be eating small animals on the plants!

Excerpted from the video

Why did nature not put protein in breast milk? It’s at 1.4%. If the baby is breast fding for a year it will be .9% protein. So why would there be even less protein the older you grow? Because we don’t need to eat it.

Okay. I don’t know why there is so little protein in breast milk. But we know it is the best food for infants. If anyone knows anything about this, please reply in the comments section. I would hazard a guess, that the needs of the infant are very different than that of the developing child or adult, but I have no data to back that up with.

Excerpted from the video

That’s why the China study showed that in China, the largest ever study done on all diseases, no or virtually no cancers no heart disease, no diabetes in these countries in places or rural areas where people didn’t have access to animal protein.

All right, I’m not going to write a dissertation on what’s wrong with the China Study. Rather, I will send you to Denise Minger’s awesome article. While she agrees with many points that Dr. T Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, makes, she shows it is seriously wanting when it comes to proving the “heart-protective effects of green vegetables, and the three-variable linkage between animal protein, apolipoprotein B, and cardiovascular disease”

There is a lot more information out there about why humans are suited to eating meat. Two examples of humans thriving on a nearly meat only diet are the Inuit of Canada and Alaska and the Massai of Africa. The traditional Inuit diet consisted of animal fat and meat and more. From Wikipedia:

Inuit consume a diet of foods that are fished, hunted, and gathered locally. This may include walrus, Ringed Seal, Bearded Seal, beluga whale, caribou, polar bear, muskoxen, birds (including their eggs) and fish. While it is not possible to cultivate plants for food in the Arctic the Inuit have traditionally gathered those that are naturally available. Grasses, tubers, roots, stems, berries, fireweed and seaweed (kuanniq or edible seaweed) were collected and preserved depending on the season and the location.[][][][][][][] According to Edmund Searles in his article “Food and the Making of Modern Inuit Identities,” they consume this type of diet because a mostly meat diet is “effective in keeping the body warm, making the body strong, keeping the body fit, and even making that body healthy”.[]

As soon as “civilized food” was introduced, the health of the Inuit deteriorated. As for the Maasai, their diet traditionally consisted of meat, milk, and blood from cattle. Two extremely different climates and lifestyles, yet both thrived on an almost entirely animal based diet.

It is abundantly clear that our Paleo diet ancestors did evolve to eat meat. And therefore, so did we. Now, lets go out for a nice juicy steak!


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2 Responses to Paleo diet: humans did evolve to eat meat.

  1. larry December 4, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Here is a good video on meat:

  2. Susan January 31, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    One explanation of why protein is lower for babies in breast milk:

    On a side note, Vitamin B -12 is not found in fruits/vegetables (unless you eat them unwashed or eat sea plants). It is difficult to imagine we have evolved to eat a diet that is missing a vital component of every cell of our bodies.

    From wikipedia: “Vitamin B-12 plays a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, and for the formation of blood. It is one of the eight B vitamins. It is normally involved in the metabolism of every cell of the human body, especially affecting DNA synthesis and regulation, but also fatty acid synthesis and energy production. It is the largest and most structurally complicated vitamin…”

    What would vegans do if Vitamin B12 was not available as a supplement? Natural selection would not have us optimized to supplement with man-made pills.