The premise of the Paleo diet is to eat like our ancestors did, a diet that includes meat consumption. Well, a new study suggests that maybe this is not the diet that ALL our ancestors prescribed to! In fact, ancient Egyptians ate a primarily vegetarian diet.

By studying the hair of ancient Egyptians, a team of French scientists were able to determine that Egyptians ate a primarily vegetarian diet on a very consistent basis. Given the abundance of resources available to this particular ancient civilization, it appears that a vegetarian diet was more of a choice than a necessity.

The article published in “Inside Science,” explains that, “eating lots of meat is a recent phenomenon. In ancient cultures vegetarianism was more common.” But this is not to say that the ancient Egyptians weren’t eating meat because they didn’t have ready access to it everyday (the way we do), scientists highlight the fact that fishing was a common practice along the Nile. And yet, scientists did not find fish proteins in the Egyptian diet, but rather it just seems that a diet high in fruit, vegetables, and grains was part of their cultural tradition.

Living alongside the Nile River, Egyptians were provided with all the nutrients they needed to have abundant agriculture, allowing their vegetarian diet to flourish. Scientists were rather shocked that over spans of hundreds of years, as the Nile region grew more arid, Egyptians were able to adapt their agricultural practices to maintain a strict vegetarian diet. When the Nile receded, all they had to do was move the crops closer to the water…what a concept.

Looking at our current diet and current system of industrialized agriculture – along with the rising water shortages, environmental impacts, and harm done to animals – it seems like we could stand to take a page from the Egyptians and make a cultural shift to a plant-based diet.

After all, the ancient Egyptian civilization was able to thrive for thousands of years, so what are we doing wrong?

Image source: Semhur/Wikipedia Commons