We Evolved to Eat Vegetables and Meat, Not Grains and Dairy
MyPlate is a graphic from the USDA that advises Americans how to eat. But I think it’s based on bad history (and bad biology too). It tells us to get almost half of our calories from grains and dairy. Yet through almost all of our history (or prehistory), we fed ourselves by hunting and gathering, and that didn’t involve grains or dairy.
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate mostly vegetables, as well as some nuts and fruit. That’s what they spent all that time “gathering.” And they ate meat (grass-fed, of course), fish, and eggs whenever they could. That’s the “hunting” part. They didn’t eat grains because meaningful consumption requires farming. And they didn’t eat dairy because that requires domestic animals.
The first humans started farming about 12,000 years ago, and most people’s ancestors started even more recently. That covers up to 2-3% of our history as a species, and much less of the Homo genus’ history. Most anthropologists agree we haven’t farmed long enough to evolve major changes in our nutrition needs. So how could we need grains or dairy?
We’re hunter-gatherers, only recently domesticated and still hungry for our natural diet.
For more information on food, I recommend The Calorie Myth: How to Eat More, Exercise Less, Lose Weight, and Live Better, by Jonathan Bailor (HarperWave 2013).
© 2014 by David W. Tollen. All rights reserved.