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The Hunger Project Bolen Report
Ohm Society
Nutrition Print E-mail
by Ron Kennedy, M.D., Santa Rosa, CA

Dr. Kennedy

Perspectives on Nutrition in Related Species

I recommend a no-meat, no-dairy diet, with eggs allowed, an ovo-vegan diet balanced in respect to complex carbohydrate and protein. This diet should be high in fiber and feature organically grown food. I could recommend this sort of diet for nutritional reasons, without reference to spiritual and environmental considerations, which also have merit. Healing happens faster for a person on this type of diet. Speed of healing reflects overall health and is of great interest to most doctors.

I believe there is, for each species, a natural, ideal type of food which leads to maximum vitality for that species. I believe that the type of food on which any particular species thrives best is determined by the adaptation that species has made to the available food over the past few million years.

We are primates, and we are descended from a common ancestor with other primates. Darwin was right. God created life through evolution. Our closest living relative is the chimpanzee, and the most primitive living primate is the lemur, a small nocturnal animal with big eyes, which would fit in the palm of your hand, found in Madagascar, an island off the southeast coast of Africa. Madagascar separated from the African continent in the Age of the Dinosaurs, and the species there have not had to compete with new varieties for a hundred million years. Therefore, evolution slowed on Madagascar, and the lemur has been almost completely unchanged all these years. The interesting thing about the lemur is that it is not a meat-eater. However, it has recently been discovered that chimpanzees in the wild do eat meat when they can. Somewhere along the evolutionary line, things changed.

Man and chimpanzee split off from the same ancestor somewhere around six to seven million years ago. Other mammals, notably the canines and the felines, were developing themselves into strictly meat eaters. They came to have teeth specialized for tearing meat, with claws capable of ripping prey to bits. They also developed short intestinal tracts for quick processing and elimination of meat, because meat rots faster than plant food. Also, they became swift and able to chase down breakfast, lunch and dinner. Primates share none of these characteristics.

Man's Ancestry and Diet

Man, in the meantime, came to eat meat. Why? This, indeed, is a good question. If you were an alien from another planet trying to classify the animals according to what they eat by looking at their anatomy, man would certainly be classified as a vegetarian. He has relatively benign-looking teeth, best adapted to grinding vegetable fiber. He has no claws but rather fingers and fingernails well-adapted to dissecting plants. He is not particularly fast; in fact, even slower than the bear and thus unable to run down a meal. He has a 28-foot-long intestinal tract! This long intestinal tract is designed for dealing with the more complex nature of plant digestion. All these characteristics indicate that, by nature, man's ancestors on the simian tree were vegetarians. This design apparently is rather ancient. In the meantime, man's digestive physiology has changed to that of an omnivore, also able to handle meats, preferably, from a digestive point of view, raw meats. However, man was designed to be a vegetarian and the presence of four canine teeth is not enough to say otherwise.

Fifteen million years ago, Africa was a land of dense jungle, beginning to give way to open plains and broken forests known as "savannas." In the forest was a species of ape which had developed the ability to walk on two, as well as four limbs. Around six to seven million years ago, one venturesome band of these apes came out of the forest to live part of the time on the savanna. The savanna was populated with large carnivores. Those ape-men/women who dared to walk more frequently on two legs were able to better see approaching danger by looking over the vegetation. They survived to reproduce, and thus did this band of ape-men/women become able, through natural selection, to walk exclusively upright. With their upper limbs freed, they found many interesting and useful things to do with them.

They became handy with sticks and stones, and because they stuck and stoned together, they survived without a lot of change in their anatomy. This all happened about five million years ago. This prehuman creature developed into several different varieties of human-like creatures: Australopithicus robustus (a giant who remained a vegetarian), Australopithicus africanus (a smallish creature) and Homo habilis, your direct ancestor. (This is the short course in paleoanthropology and human evolution.)

As his name implies, Homo habilis was very good with his hands. Handyman was so skilled with his hands that he eventually killed off the other two species of proto-humans. Handyman perfected his upright posture (paying a certain price in the form of lower back pain) and doubled the size of his brain; and by 1.5 million years ago became Homo erectus: the first fully upright man.

During all this time, "socialization" was proceeding — which means that man and woman were coming to depend on each other for survival. Man, always looking for a shortcut, took to killing other animals for food, while woman stayed closer to home and continued to gather plants. Homo erectus, as part of his newly developed hunting habit, completed the extermination of Australopithicus africanus and probably also the giant vegetarian Australopithicus robustus — unless a few of the later survived to become Sasquatch (this remains to be proven).

Around 200,000 years ago, Handyman's brain case again expanded, and this led to the development of Homo sapiens or "thinking man." Fifty thousand years ago there appeared a new variety of Thinking Man, Homo sapien sapien, "wise thinking man," with a high forehead and a new kind of vocal apparatus, allowing the sophisticated kind of speech to which we are accustomed, an audible representation of the hand sign language which it replaced. These people are called the "Cro-magnons," and they are " us."

This new kind of man then managed to kill off, or breed and blend with, another strain of wise thinking man, who we now call Neanderthal after the valley in Germany where their remains were first discovered. There evolution stood until the about four thousand years ago. The next step in evolution did not occur with an anatomical change, but probably with a neuro-chemical change. Humans began to appear on the earth, aware of themselves as more than animals, but also possessed of a soul. This evolution was a transformation, and we are still in the midst of it right now. I interpret your participation with this web site network to represent your stand for forwarding this stage of evolution. Part of the transformative process is a heightened awareness of the importance of our physical nature and the value of attending diligently to the well-being of our bodies.

So What About Now?

Human beings have always eaten what is easiest to obtain. For thousands of millennia, the diet was balanced between food of plant and animal origin. Then came agriculture, and the balance swung toward food of plant origin, principally cereals and grains. Only recently has modern animal husbandry made it easy to obtain meat again. We are now eating levels of meat probably unheard of in hunter/gatherer times.

So, why are we eating so much meat? The answer is: because we can. We are so absolutely able, we can manage to do things which are not in our own best interests. We also can smoke tobacco and drink alcohol. This fact does not make tobacco or alcohol in our best interests.

Human physiology and biochemistry is designed for a certain type of diet. Thanks to agriculture and animal husbandry, we have strayed so far from that diet that we no longer even know what that certain type of diet may be. Achieving optimal health means, for one thing, discovering and following that diet for which our evolution prepared us.

Related Hyperlinks:


  • Kliks M Paleodietetucs: A review of the role of dietary fiber in preagricultural human diets,Topics in Dietary Fiber Research, Plenum Press;1978:181
  • Dwyer J Nutritional studies of vegetarian children Am J Clin Nutr 35;1982:204
  • Lee RB and DeVore Man The Hunter Chicago: Aldine.
  • Cohen MN and Armelagos GJ Paleontology at the origins of agriculture New York: Academic Press 1984
  • Cassidy CM Nutrition and health in agriculturalists and hunter-gatherers. A case study of two prehistoric populations Nutritional Anthropology;1980:117-144.

The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.�Treatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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