It’s long been thought that the human traits, such as larger brains, that first appeared in Homo erectus around 2 million years ago were tied to a dietary shift involving greater meat consumption. However, a new study questions the narrative that “meat made us human.”

The study, “No sustained increase in zooarchaeological evidence for carnivory after the appearance of Homo erectus,” was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and found flaws in the idea that humans began to develop into the species we are today as a result of increased meat consumption.

While there is historical evidence for an increase in meat-eating following the appearance of Homo erectus, the study points out that the increase is likely tied to an increase in research on the time period, rather than an actual increase in meat consumption.

According to, lead study author W. Andrew Barr of George Washington University said:

“Generations of paleoanthropologists have gone to famously well-preserved sites in places like Olduvai Gorge looking for—and finding—breathtaking direct evidence of early humans eating meat, furthering this viewpoint that there was an explosion of meat eating after 2 million years ago. However, when you quantitatively synthesize the data from numerous sites across eastern Africa to test this hypothesis, as we did here, that ‘meat made us human’ evolutionary narrative starts to unravel.”

The study concluded, “Our analysis shows no sustained increase in the relative amount of evidence for carnivory after the appearance of H. erectus, calling into question the primacy of carnivory in shaping its evolutionary history.”

Their findings are groundbreaking in the realm of evolution and beg the question: If animal-tissue consumption wasn’t the catalyst for human evolution, then what was?

One possible alternative is the increased use of controlled fire which could increase nutrient availability through cooking, though significant research will need to be done.

With the change in evolutionary narrative, there’s less room for people to rely on meat-based foods by citing their importance in evolution. It could just be plant-based foods or fire that played a key role in human development!

Learn How to Cook Plant-Based Meals at Home

Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental wellbeing, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, gut health, and more! Unfortunately, dairy consumption also has been linked to many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, prostate cancer, and has many side effects

For those interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend purchasing one of our many plant-based cookbooks or downloading the Food Monster App which has thousands of delicious recipes making it the largest vegan recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.

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