How humans are not physically created to eat meat

Discussion in 'The big picture' started by Nickolas, Dec 7, 2011.

  1. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2011
    Messages:
    779
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    The use of the word "created" instead of "evolved" suggests perhaps a lack of interest in or ignorance of anthropology. Perhaps humans' "natural" state, from that point of view, is in the Garden of Eden, eating raw plants. Most animals don't make tools. No other animal besides man uses fire as a tool. Is it "natural" for humans to make tools and to cook? Anthropological evidence suggests it is part of our evolution to do so, as people used tools and fire before there were Homo sapiens sapiens (modern man). But that argument only works if one accepts the evidence of science.
     
  2. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Messages:
    2,215
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    36
    We are what we are. I don't think there is any disputing that.

    By my way of thinking we may or may not have been created by some omnipotent fellow or some other kind of intelligence. Either way its difficult to discount the processes of evolution and adaptation. It would seem that being omnivores has given us a significant advantage over other species. As I've said before I think the premise that humans are not designed/adapted/evolved to eat meat is just insulting.

    On the other hand, if the question is about how much we need to eat, or how much we should eat, or what type of meat (how it is produced etc) we can sustainably and ethically eat then we enter into a different discussion. And invariably the answer will be 'it depends'. It depends on the individuals circumstances.

    My personal opinion is that this is just another dogmatic issue that is standing in the way of permaculture becoming accessible to a broader population. As it stands this thread isn't really a permaculture discussion, but it could be.

    For me the permaculture system isn't as good as it could be unless it involves animals, and to respect that system I think there is a certain amount of flesh that will necessarily be consumed. I think it is naive to think we can practice strict vegan permaculture [I'm standing back to cop the flak on that one ;) ]

    Let me ask those who are opposed to eating meat at all, what are we to do with the roosters that are born within our system?
     
  3. Ludi

    Ludi Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2011
    Messages:
    779
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    I agree, Grahame. I think discussions about diet are extremely relevant to permaculture, and extremely dependent on individual circumstances. So to me, it isn't relevant to comment on how other people eat, except if they ask for help in designing a diet which fits their individual circumstances.

    Here in my region it is quite difficult to grow food plants, though native and introduced meat animals grow easily and are actually overpopulating. So for me, the most sustainable diet might be one high in meat, particularly hunted meat. I don't personally hunt and I don't personally eat much meat, though I can see how it might be beneficial if I did both hunting for meat and eating more hunted meat, rather than buying food at the store.
     
  4. Nickolas

    Nickolas Junior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2011
    Messages:
    91
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I'm back to talk about Bill misinformed views about vegetarian diet. Ref: Chapter 2.7 of ' Permaculture, A Designers Manual the section titled 'Pyramids, food webs, growth and vegetarianism'.

    I greatly admire Bill Mollison - his book is an invaluable resource as an agricultural usability manual for Planet Earth. His permaculture expertise is awesome. His comments on vegetarian diet, on the other hand, make me think that Bill knows next-to-nothing about vegetarianism. And, he apparently has the typical meat-eater belief that if you don't eat meat, you'll starve.

    Like many other meat-eating enviros, Mollison rationalizes eating meat as part of a normal human diet, which can be easily accommodated by permaculture activities on 4% of the arable land on our world - the percentage he gives as the ideal proportion of cultivated land in permaculture. His arguments are full of contradictions and misinformation.

    Mollison states that 'omnivorous diets (any sort of food) make the best use of complex natural systems.' What, nature can't keep itself in balance if we don't eat animals? I just don't know how the lacto-vegetarian Hindu population of India managed to feed their millions for all those thousands of years, growing grains, legumes, and vegetables on bite sized individual plots of land. Although it's true that all those sacred cows wandering around can be a bit of a nuisance.

    And, 'only in home gardens is most of the vegetation edible for people; much of the earth is occupied by inedible vegetation. Deer, rabbits, sheep, and herbivorous fish are very useful to us, in that they convert this otherwise unusable herbage to acceptable human food.' Acceptable to whom? Why, meat eaters of course! And, all that inedible vegetation does have other uses, doesn't it?

    'If we convert all vegetation to edible species, we assume a human priority that is unsustainable, and must destroy other plants and animals to do so.' But Bill, I thought with permaculture, we could manage to feed everybody using only 4% of the arable land. If we didn't eat animals, probably less. At present, most of the earth's arable land is given over to industrial agriculture, supporting animal production, and causing widespread environmental destruction.

    The typical Western diet includes about 6 - 10 times more animal protein than our bodies can use, and very little whole grains, or fresh fruit and vegetables. Our unbalanced and contaminated diet is the cause of terrible health problems which are a huge economic burden. It's hard to imagine how switching from beef to a legume and grain based diet could make things worse.

    Mollison says, 'In the urban western world, vegetarianism relies heavily on grains and grain legumes (e.g. the soya bean). Even to cook these foods, we need to use up very large quantities of wood and fossil fuels. Worse, soya beans are one of the foods owned (100% of patent rights) by a few multinationals. They are grown on rich bottomland soils, in large monocultural operations, and in 1980 - 82 caused more deforestation in the USA and Brazil than any other crop. Worse still, about 70% of the beans were either fed to pigs, or used in industry as a base for paint used on motor vehicles.'

    Is Bill advocating eating raw meat? Last I heard, meat must be well cooked to be safe to eat. And total energy input to grow, process, transport and cook grains and beans is a fraction of that associated with meat. Soy beans grown for humans represent a small percentage of total soybean production, which as Bill says, is mostly used to feed animals or for industrial applications.

    Mollison goes on to say, 'Much worse again, grains and grain legumes account for most of the erosion of soils in every agricultural region...' Well yeah! And again, mainly to feed animals. And using industrial, non-sustainable agriculture. Not permaculture. So tell me again, Bill, how does all this mean that we shouldn't be vegetarian?

    With the amount of people the world has to feed, the Western world's enormous meat addiction, and the numbers of people actually starving, it seems purely romantic to assert, as Mollison does, that 'sensible omnivorism is a good choice for those with access to semi-natural systems.' He means people who can grow a garden, keep a few chickens or rabbits, and recycle their wastes - proper permaculturists. What percentage of the US population do you think that might be? .1% or less is my guess. How many people even know what a semi-natural system is? Or permaculture, for that matter.

    Mollison states that 'City people using sewers would be better advised to adopt a free-range meat diet than to eat grain and grain legumes. Better still, all city waste should be returned to the soils of their supply farms.' I can see that recycling all our waste would be an excellent idea, but what would be the advantage of a free-range meat based diet? It could be an improvement on industrially raised meat, but not at our current levels of consumption. It simply isn't possible to support that with free-range production.

    Given that most food consumed in cities arrives in trucks anyway, it should cost less to transport grains and beans, pound for pound of nutrition. Plus, if land devoted to animal agriculture were given over to grains and legumes, we could feed all those starving people, and actually, we wouldn't need all that marginal land that is now used for grazing.

    Permaculture assumes a balanced diet of grains, vegetables, fruit, and animal products. Bill Mollison also envisions a stable population in proportion to the earth's resources, using population control measures. I suppose in that case, the earth could support an omnivorous diet. However, according to an Earth Save article on global warming and industrial agriculture, global meat consumption has increased fivefold in the past fifty years, and shows little sign of abating.

    Permaculture, A Designers Manual was published in 1988, before a lot of environmental research had been completed, before we were aware of the extent of environmental pollution caused by industrial agriculture - methane gas and deforestation, for example. Also according to the Earth Save article, because of animal agriculture’s high demand for fossil fuels, the average American diet is far more CO2-polluting than a plant-based one. In 1988, fossil fuels were still relatively inexpensive.

    Bill Mollison is a great source of info on permaculture systems. He is not a great source if you want to know how a vegetarian diet can help save the planet.
     
  5. mischief

    mischief Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2009
    Messages:
    1,665
    Likes Received:
    94
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    s/e
    Location:
    South Waikato New ZeLeand
    Climate:
    Cool mountain
    Umm...The Indian sub continent is not such a great example of how a vegetarian diet can help save the planet either.They arent doing so well with their landcare.

    But that is getting off the subject somewhat.
    Lotsa luv from a small amounts meat eater.
     
  6. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Messages:
    2,215
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    36
    You have certainly given us a lot to digest Nikolas ;)

    I'll have a good read and give you my considered response when the wife is out and the kids are in bed...
     
  7. philbert

    philbert Junior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2012
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Seems like there is a lot of comparing apples and oranges (eg: talking about Mollison's work and industrial meat production in the same sentence). Also, there is a bit difference between what a human can survive on, versus what it is healthy and sustainable (eg: you can raise subsequent generations of humans on). A human can survive indefinitely on milk and potatoes, but I don't think any society is going to survive on that sort of diet.
     
  8. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,721
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    I'll just pull out a couple of points...

    The SAD diet (standard American diet) does indeed cause health problems. But it is also full of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, refined grains, trans fats, as well as being lacking in nutrients. You can't point to meat and say it is to blame, because there is no way to prove that. We do however know that cultures that didn't have the sugar, HFCS, white flour before, but then start to eat it, also didn't have significant heart disease, diabetes, cancer etc until they started eating high carbs, irrespective of meat and saturated fat intake.

    Lots and lots of evidence of human cultures being very healthy on omnivore diets. Or meat-heavy paleo type diets.

    I think if some people want to be vegetarian, good on them - there are many compelling reasons to do so. Vegetarian meals are often far more interesting to eat too. But it's a nonsense to say that humans are not supposed to eat meat physiologically or evolutionarily when we've been doing it for hundreds of thousands of years.

    A case can be made for some humans ethically, or for personal health. I'm not convinced about environmentally - it looks to me like the best diet is a local one, and that is going to depend on far too many factors to generalise.


    " What, nature can't keep itself in balance if we don't eat animals? "

    In NZ (and a variation of this will be true in Oz), native species are still going extinct due to introduce predators. We also have land degradation due to introduced animals. If we took humans out of the picture (eg stopped deforestation, stopped over grazing) of course nature would keep itself in balance. It can't help itself. But what kind of balance? Whole species would disappear forever, and the land would take a very long time to regenerate. Does this matter? Why are the lives of some animals more important than others? Why are the lives of some animals more important than whole ecosystems?

    Humans are hunters of rabbits, stoats, possums, deer etc here because there are no natural predators here. I guess we could all go vegetarian and introduce some mountain lions, eagles, wolves and foxes instead (which would cause other problems of course). Personally I don't see much difference between a human eating a feral rabbit or a wolf eating. From the rabbit's perspective.
     
  9. flemgooz

    flemgooz Junior Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2012
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Reluctant meat eater

    I totally agree with everything in this post, and even as a meat eater, I concede that vegetarianism is probably the right path, but it doesn't address one basic fact, that I concede will always impede any evolution to worldwide vegetarianism, and that is meat is just plain yummy!!!!
    And all the flavours we add are a bonus rather than a disguise of the flavour.
    It may take longer to digest, requiring more energy but then you are satisfied longer, providing you don't have too much.

    Then I wonder about the aborigines, whose diet consisted of more meat than plants, that I am aware of.
    I do think the meat industry are really on the nose, and would gladly see them all go bankrupt.
    You either grow your own or try as much as within yourself to pay a bit more and buy ethical.
    My local butcher occasionally stocks rabbit that are caught wild in SA. I find that a nice treat.
     
  10. matto

    matto Junior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2009
    Messages:
    685
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Did Bill really say all that? Well, its clearly outdated, and there is plenty more evidence to say the Designers Manual was hastily published in '88.

    Holmgren has said that Fukuoka's natural farming is close to vegan permaculture.
     
  11. Farside

    Farside Junior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2012
    Messages:
    138
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    A city is a good example of a non sustainable system. It is true that you can't sustain such a high concentration of people with a free range system. It's not sustainable with the current factory systems either. Why do you think we're told we have to cook the heck out of everything in the first place? We have substituted quality for quantity. You simply can not make a non-sustainable system sustainable by adding a subsystem which is.

    I really think trying to jam permacultural principles into existing non-sustainable systems isn't going to make that system sustainable and I think Mollison even states this. Watch Geoff Lawton's intro to permaculture video. At one point he points to a zone 1 home garden and states "this is the future of our supply lines" 32:28 and he's talking about a sustainable urban model which means it's capable of supporting large populations. Look at the context within which he makes this statement and you can make some deductions about what needs to change in a current urban system.

    By necessity, human populations need to become more dispersed. An increase in biodiversity needs to take place. Humans need to become tightly integrated into these systems. what you do and don't eat is sort of beside the point as long as the person is correctly integrated. I'm sure Mollison et al reiterate this over and over. The thing is that if you happen to be vegetarian then you have to be more careful about your personal integration.

    From an energy audit perspective of the system, it is more important to utilise a cow's manure within the system than the cow itself because most of the energy that enters the cow is excreted again. This is why you try not to sell anything from your system that can't walk (or fly) off itself. The context of the word "Acceptability" of food forms is from an energy conservation perspective, not a moral or idealogical one. Acceptable to who means nothing in this case. If you are trying to build a system that is self sustainable and massively scalable, like what we need now, then you have to make that system as efficient as possible.
     
  12. philbert

    philbert Junior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2012
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    There is a book called 'The Vegetarian Myth' that debunks a lot of the supposed environmental benefits of vegetarianism. If people choose to be vegetarian or vegan for their own spiritual or ethical reasons, then more power to them, but it's disingenuous to suggest that it is the only way forward. I would love to know Geoff Lawton's opinion about whether permaculture (assuming everyone practiced it) really could feed the world at current population levels, and if so, what is the limit?
     
  13. Rambler

    Rambler New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2012
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I think it is interesting to see what unsustainable eating gets us. Initially, it brought us to agriculture, as game (wildlife) became scarce from either over-eating and / or climatic concerns. Looking at all unsustainable systems and you see that eventually the dominant remaining organism begins to eat itself. Mmm...human! The new white meat.
     
  14. Michaelangelica

    Michaelangelica Junior Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2006
    Messages:
    4,771
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The dominant organism on Earth is bacteria not humans
     
  15. springtide

    springtide Junior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Messages:
    359
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I don't know if i would put bacteria at the top of a food chain even if there are quite a few around.
     
  16. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2009
    Messages:
    5,925
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    0
    It's the bacteria in our guts that help us get to the food we eat - so they are closer to the top of the food chain than you might think!
     
  17. Grahame

    Grahame Senior Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Messages:
    2,215
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Also, as we know, there is really a cycle rather than a chain that ends at the top. The bacteria go to town on us when we die.
     
  18. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,721
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    Not to mention the worms!
     
  19. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2010
    Messages:
    1,016
    Likes Received:
    9
    Trophy Points:
    38
  20. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2009
    Messages:
    5,925
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Or at least we aren't made to eat GM unfermented soy...
     

Share This Page

-->