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Humans are not carnivores, and we’re not at the top of the food chain, as many people like to say. Instead, we’re closer to being herbivores.

For the first time ever, researchers measured the trophic level of human beings, which tells us where species fit on the food chain, and found that we fall in the middle (we’re omnivores). However, meat-eating is on the rise globally — something that isn’t good for people’s health, animals, or the environment.

The extensive study, as reported by Nature and published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined what people eat and trends in different countries.

“We are closer to herbivore than carnivore,” said Sylvain Bonhommeau, the leader of the study. “It changes the preconception of being top predator.”

The researchers also discovered that although meat eating has been down in the United States and some other countries for several years, the fast-growing economies of China and India are driving a global increase in eating animals and animal products.

Some might say this carnivorous trend is good, but how is that? Eating more meat causes diseases and other health problems for humans, kills and treats animals without respect, and it harms the earth at dangerous levels.

What are the effects of our increasing consumption of meat …  

… on animals?

Eating animals kills them but also hurts them in other ways — ways they certainly do not deserve.

… for our health?

Meat consumption has been linked to many diseases, and many people have improved their healths by reducing or eliminating meat from their diets.

  • Meat is killing us. Here’s an infographic that summarizes news and studies pointing to the harmful effects of eating meat.

… for the environment?

The environmental impact, including carbon emissions, water use and more, of producing meat is much higher than the impact of producing vegetable foods.

So if we want to save ourselves, the planet, and animals, we need to reverse the trend of increased meat consumption and choose plant-based foods.

Before we leave you, here’s one more enlightened reading suggestion to check out: “Why Eating Animals Is A Social Justice Issue.”

 Image Source: Zhang!/Flickr

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31 comments on “News Flash! We’re Not Carnivores, A Study Finds”

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4 Years Ago

"What are the effects of our increasing consumption of meat on animals? Eating animals kills them but also hurts them in other ways — ways they certainly do not deserve. Factory farming treats animals horribly."

"Humane certified," "free-range," "welfare approved," "organic," "local"" farms are not any better: www.humanemyth.org Consuming flesh is not the only thing that kills animals. Exploiting animals kills animals.

Elizabeth M. Salerno
4 Years Ago

OH YES!!! Thank you! I did finally find her via the link to some Flickr page!!! Adorable! I would really like the little figurine with the veggies in her hands! So cute!

Susan Lewey
4 Years Ago

Well said Damian!

Damian A. Dimock
4 Years Ago

Actual carnivores have a very different anatomy, like the ability to eat raw flesh, and with fangs. The modern man is an omnivore. We CAN eat whatever and survive, and so it is a choice we must make: eliminate animal products from my diet, in this day and age why not? What most consider to be the main distinction between ourselves and animals is the ability to make an ethical decision to not kill and eat them: how we consciously express morality.

Bill Ames
4 Years Ago

Humans are omnivores! Study some anatomy, we are no more like herbivors than we are like carnivores.

Cyndi Robinson
4 Years Ago

So true. Good article. I was vegetarian for 16 months was still eating eggs, and diary. Loved cheese and ice cream. I suffer from uncontrollable HIGH blood pressure. Even with this diet it wasn't helping so I decided to take the plunge and go a vegan diet. Aside from still eating honey I don't eat any animal products at all. In two months I have dropped a much needed to lose 15 pounds. And by the 2nd month my blood pressure is finally in the normal range. Something it hasn't been in...in YEARS. PLUS Im saving lives. What a great thing and the reason I became a non meat eater in the first place. My improving health is just a benefit from not being part of the killing. I feel better than I have in yrs.

28 Mar 2014

How are you saving lives by not killing animals? That makes as much sense as some dog fighter saying he is saving lives because he no longer kills dogs. The point is you don\'t have the right to kill animals, you\'ve never had the right to kill them that not killing them can be considered some kind of a favor to them or some kind of work on your part. So you don\'t save animals (neither do vegans as they merely stop killing animals. It is the vegans that become activists that save lives). By consuming honey, you actually kill animals, and here is why:

Bees are insects, and insects are among the most diverse group of animals on Earth. Insects possess a brain, a nervous system, nerve cells and defecate just like any other animal. They also possess awareness and intelligence (not that someone\'s intelligence can dictate the value of their life) that enable them to make smart and rational decisions and the way decisions are made in a bee\'s brain bears uncanny resemblance to the way that decisions are made in a human\'s brain. To learn more about these fascinating animals, www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-5XjWZlosgand

As for how cruel honey (including manuka honey or any other type of bee honey) is:

"Bees will defend their honey with their lives if the hive is threatened and die after using their sting. When the honey is stolen by humans, the bees are fed a replacement sugar like corn syrup or sugar syrup which is devoid of the nutrients bees need and therefore the bees suffer from diseases and parasites as their health weakens. To save money on having to feed the bees the syrup when they are not producing honey over winter, farmers often burn the hives and start a new colony in the next spring. Queen bees normally live for 7 years but are routinely killed each year and replaced with a new queen to prevent swarming, when the older queen takes her colony to escape into the wild. Queen bees are raped by artificial insemination, and the male bees crushed to obtain the semen. Queen bees as well as other bees are transported in cardboard boxes through the post and many die in transit. Bees in farmed hives regularly suffer the travel of hundreds of miles stacked on trucks to different locations. " ― Dr. Will Tuttle, The World Peace Diet -- www.amazon.com/World-Peace-Diet-Spiritual-Harmony/dp/1590560833

Agave nectar and a product called "Bee Free Honee" (www.beefreehonee.com) are some of the cruelty-free solutions to honey.

I should also add that you are eating a mostly plant-based diet, not a "vegan diet." The vegan diet (meaning the diet of a vegan) is the ethical diet that represents the philosophy of veganism but the vegan diet is only one aspect of veganism. Veganism is against the exploitation, domestication, killing, trading, breeding of animals for consumption but also for

• entertainment: no zoos, circuses, marine parks, rodeos, greyhound/horse racing, etc.,

• clothing: no products that come from animals such as wool, mohair, shearling, leather, suede, nubuck, silk, fur, angora, cashmere, ivory, pearls, seashells, down/down feathers (found in many pillows, bed comforters and similar "fluffy" things such as ski jackets; the label should indicate if it contains down or not),

• cosmetics: no products that contain animal ingredients, including beeswax, which is commonly found in lipsticks, lip balms and candles (there are vegan cosmetic products and candles),

• testing, experimentation, "research": no products tested on animals,

• the "pet" industry: not buying/breeding/selling animals but rescuing/adopting/fostering homeless animals.

And because veganism is not a diet, there is no such thing as "mostly vegan" "partially vegan" "80% vegan" "100% vegan" "strict vegan" "fully vegan" "veganish" "vegan except on family gatherings/holidays." We are either vegan or we are not; we are either against the exploitation of animals at all times or we are not. Anyone who eliminates animal products only from his/her diet for whatever reason (e.g. to lose weight, to improve health) and has not yet internalized the selfless and ethical philosophy of veganism is not a vegan but a plant-based eater/dieter.

Elizabeth M. Salerno
4 Years Ago

I'm not trying to change the subject... But I NEED to know: what is that adorable little doll in the photograph?

Angel Rose Munoz
08 Dec 2013

Hi @Elizabeth M. Salerno, That is a chibi version of the humanoid Jpop singer Hatsune Miku , I Love her!<3 http://youtu.be/XyTmXLWCazw

Tom Linscott
4 Years Ago

Bull Shit! How do you think we as a species survived the Ice Ages? Eskimos ate only wild animals before becoming civilized by the white man. We are omnivores just like the Bears.

Pearl V Lotus
4 Years Ago

Humans are frugivores. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=427701787328133&set=pb.427609870670658.-2207520000.1386439073.

Carl L. Peacock
4 Years Ago

...studies also show that the earlier herbivorious peoples were also near sighted, and didn't hunt very well...:-)


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