No no, it’s not the “primal diet,” it’s a “primate” diet. Yes, in today’s post, we’re going to look at the diets of varying primate species on earth. I am not a scientist, archaeologist, paleontologist or any sort of expert. This is just a collection of information I have found in internet during my spare time.
Let’s start off with a question: You have discovered a new species of the CAT family, and decided to donate few to a zoo. Now, what would they feed the new cat species?
Domestic cats (the familiar type we know) are of the Family Felidae. Felidae includes Lion, Cheetah, Tigers, Jaguar and Mountain Cats. We all know what to feed these animals: meat, meat, meat. From smaller animals to bigger animals, the family of felidae are strict carnivores. Even if we came across a complete new species within this family (and I chose “Family” instead of genus or group because it seemed most appropriate for this purpose), we can easily speculate what to feed this new cat.
Now, if you were to put Human, Homo Sapiens of the Family Hominidae, what would you feed them?
The Family Hominidae includes: gorilla, chimpanzees, and orangutans. We know that these animals are all very intelligent, and behave very similar to human beings in the wild. We even giggle similarly! It is an already well-known fact that humans and some other apes, like chimpanzees or bonobos are very, very alike humans.
You can’t deny they are very, very intelligent.
Now what does the Family Hominidae (Great Apes) eat?
When we look closely at one particular species, the chimpanzees (only 1.6% genetic difference from humans), we find something very interesting. That they HUNT & KILL OTHER SMALLER APES.
Could this possible suggest that we are therefore meant to eat meat as well?
To be honest, this was one of the reasons why I quit vegetarianism about 2 years ago. I felt if chimpanzees eat it, it must be that we should eat them too! WELL, THAT’S NOT TRUE.
Meatarians, in their never-ending, but always irrational and fruitless, attempts to justify human flesh-eating often use the claim that “chimps eat meat, so we should also”. In doing so, they ignorantly or intentionally ignore the important quantitative and qualitative issues. In stating “chimps eat meat” it is implied that ALL chimps eat meat ALL the time (as would be the case IF flesh was eaten for legitimate nutritional purposes) and that the quantity is significant. Here, the 1.4% shows that flesh is a quantitatively-insignificant portion of the overall diet; especially so, as these data are for the time spent in “feeding on different food types”. The time spent in catching and eating animal flesh per unit of food consumed would be unrealistically high compared to that invested in obtaining plant-foods, since these do not run away or fight back. Also, that such ‘feeding’ on flesh is often accompanied by aggressive fighting and squabbling of the chimpanzees themselves over the distribution of the flesh, thus further increasing the time per unit of possible nutrition.
and more about the insect eating:
Termites, Macrotermes bellicosus, are the most significant insect consumed in Gombe, representing “87.4% … and … 86.3%” of the total time spent on eating insects in the two years documented, and since this feeding is sporadic, highly seasonal, and it peaks in the month of November when the hives split to form new colonies, it is clear that this is opportunistic feeding, and not related to any real nutritional need which would be indicated by daily consumption. Thus, chimp insect-eating is remarkably similar to humans eating junk-food for social, or opportunistic, rather than legitimate nutritional, purposes.
Wow! that clears up things a lot, doesn’t it? Or if that’s not enough, here it goes:
“Chimpanzees also go on “hunting binges” in which they kill a large number of monkeys and other animals over a period of several days or weeks. Such binges have always been a little mysterious.“[Ibid.]
“For chimpanzees, meat is a means to make political bonds and gain access to sexually receptive females. … As far back as the 1960s, the American primatologist Geza Teleki proposed that the predatory behavior of the Gombe chimpanzees had a strong social basis. The Dutch primatologist Adrian Kortlandt suggested that hunting was a form of social display, in which male chimpanzees revealed their prowess to other members of the community.
So hunting is a form of indicating your social status – not for nutritional needs. As I said, for chimps, just like it is for humans, meat is JUNK FOOD.
About the relationship of males & females:
Although females occasionally hunt, they more often receive a share of meat from the male who captured the prey. This state of affairs sets up an interesting dynamic between males and females. Sometimes a begging female does not receive any meat until after the male copulates with her (even while clutching the freshly killed carcass). … Such observations suggest that male chimpanzees use meat as a tool to gain access to sexually receptive females. The distribution of the kill to other male chimpanzees also hints at another social role for meat. The Japanese primatologist Toshisada Nishida and his colleagues in the Mahale Mountains showed that the alpha male Ntilogi distributes meat to his allies but consistently withholds it from his rivals. Such behavior, they suggest, reveals that meat can be used as a political tool in chimpanzee society.”[Ibid.]
Goodall points out in her section, Eating Meat, “Chimpanzees tear off chunks of meat with their teeth and hands, sometimes using their feet too when strength is required for dividing up the carcass. Almost always each morsel is chewed up together with a wadge of leaves, sometimes dead ones. These wadges, although they may be swallowed, are usually discarded along with any unwanted portion of the meat, such as pieces of bone or skin.” Thus, it seems the chimps are not eating the meat, as is commonly assumed, but extracting the juice, and thus very little protein or fat is actually swallowed or available for nutritional purposes… Other individuals “also chew the leaf-meat wadges that have been discarded by their luckier companions.”, clearly a monkey-see-monkey-do process of pure imitation and not related to any real nutritional needs. ” … If meat was a necessary or meaningful source for nutritional input, it would be consumed by all adults on a regular and consistent basis; it simply is not.
Sorry for the long quotation from the website, but this article has been one of the most fascinating ones lately.
Conclusion from this article:
So, given the vanishingly small amount of flesh actually consumed in the average chimp diet, the lack of significant nutritional input supplied by sucking the juice and not swallowing the meat itself, the fact that abundant amounts of proteins and fats are much more readily available in nuts/seeds, the presence of undigested meat in feces, the overwhelming evidence is that chimp flesh-eating is merely a SOCIAL pathology, as it is in the human. The argument that chimp flesh-eating implies that humans “should” or have a “need” for flesh is seen to be totally absurd, and absolutely insupportable by the facts.
Wow!! Amazing conclusion!
Further, the evidence of insect or meat remains in chimp feces indicates that these items were not properly digested and assimilated; if they had been, they would not appear in the feces, thus these facts undermine any implied nutritional input from these sources even further. Collagen, the most abundant protein in vertebrate bodies is “insoluble and indigestible”.
Thus, the argument that chimp flesh-eating or insect-eating is related to any significant nutritional need is seen to be absolutely absurd. In fact, the only items eaten every day throughout the year are fruit and leaves which comprise 81% of the feeding time; these are the staples, and the other “foods” are opportunistic and/or social in character, and thus not related to true, ongoing nutritional needs.
Last bit of the article reminding us that we are NOT ADAPTED to eat so much fat & protein.
IF the human species had “evolved” or “adapted” to flesh-eating as falsely claimed by most meatarian armchair anthropologists, then the physical tools (claws, sharp teeth, ability to outrun animals,…), the digestive chemistry, and the INSTINCT to do so would have also co-evolved, but there is no evidence that even suggests that these “adaptations”, that are absolutely necessary for any species to be able to catch, eat, and properly digest raw animal flesh, exist in the human. Of course, the “civilized” human, having absolutely NO instinct to catch, kill, tear asunder, and eat RAW animals, which would exist IF we had “evolved” to do so, always cooks his flesh; however, cooking animal protein and fats creates some of the most potent carcinogens known: nitrosamines.
Of course it is not wise to look at only one source. However even in some other articles I’ve found, they speculate that the hunting behavior is more to do with SOCIAL & POLITICAL purposes (especially for mating) rather than nutritional needs. (the second link is a great scholarly article by John C. Mitani and David P. Watts, that you should definitely check out.)
Back to the point I was trying to make:
besides this unusual behavior of chimpanzees hunting to gain a social status, the optimal diet of the Great Apes (Hominidae) is clear:
Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts & Seeds.
In my next post, I’m going to talk about why we are DIFFERENT from the other great apes, and how we were able to evolve to a highly intelligent species we are today. I think it’s very easy to guess what I’m going to be focus on just by clicking my “Veganism” link 😉
Thanks for reading!