+Herbi Vore: "Please stop calling meat-eating humans "omnivores" it insults true omnivores such as bears and pigs. Omnivores cannot get atherosclerosis. Omnivores don't have flat grinding molars and unhinged jaws. Omnivores don't have to cook the flesh and aren't turned off by the smell of rot. In fact most omnivorous animals are scavengers. We're biologically herbivorous and calling those of us who try to be something we're clearly not an "omnivore" is incorrect. Humans are nothing like omnivores despite eating as if they were one."
Humans are biologically and socially omnivorous. It really is a matter of definition. But it really doesn't matter, and we (as a community) need to stop harping on the point.
Please allow me to clarify.
✦ Definitions ✦
An omnivore is a being that is biologically equipped to regularly consume plants and animals, with the option of dropping the latter. By contrast, carnivores must consume animals to remain healthy, and herbivores are generally ill equipped to internally process the remains of other beings, and certainly not for extended periods.
Yes, humans are healthier when they eliminate animal products from their diet. Yes, there are a plethora of moral problems with killing and consuming sentient beings. Yes, we have biological characteristics that we commonly associate with herbivores, just as we have characteristics that are usually found in carnivores, but we have the most in common with omnivores.
✦ Ineffective Advocacy ✦
Trying to make an argument for veganism based on our physical makeup is a trap that should be avoided. You say humans have an unhinged jaw with molars, they say humans have canines, you say humans have longer intestines, they say humans have forward facing eyes. Comedy ensues.
It's a nonsensical argument that proves nothing, and since it's so very rarely an argument that resonates with necrovores, then trying so hard to prove this point isn't effective advocacy and doesn't save the lives of animals.
IMHO, demanding that humans be thought of a herbivores does more harm that good.
✦ Effective Advocacy ✦
If someone tries to argue that dentition, or ocular orientation, or some other factor makes humans "herbivores" or "carnivores" or "omnivores", your best way through the conversation is to not have it. If you must, explain that such characteristics are not exclusive to one classification or another, and perhaps give examples.Then move on to more effective advocacy, such as health concerns, or environmental issues, or moral considerations.
✦ Examples ✦
We could consider cats as a clear example of a predator, which I think is a really good choice since they are obligate carnivores that cannot survive without meat protein. However, dogs have pretty much the same oral construction and can thrive nicely on a vegetable based diet.
Gorillas are herbivores, only straying from this in exceptionally rare (usually highly stressful) situations, but when they do eat flesh they do not use their canines to do so; the only use they put their canines to is for social display (i.e. intimidation and expressing emotions).
All this by way of suggesting that we humans, having cuspids of a much smaller size which are also never actually used for processing flesh, cannot reasonably be classified as meat-eaters based on our teeth.
However, when you consider the hugely negative impact that eating meat has on human health, but that we thrive on plant based diets, then it seems fairly clear that humans are not well equipped biologically to eat meat regardless of other factors, don't you think?
etc., etc., etc., wash, rinse, repeat.
✦ Conclusion ✦
It doesn't matter if humans are actually carnivores, or actually herbivores, or actually omnivores; there is no doubt that humans have been thriving as vegans for many thousands of years, and there's every indication that there have been vegans as long as there have been humans. As such, killing and eating other beings is a choice, and it's a bad choice, and how one makes that choice is the thing we need to be talking about if we want to make the world vegan.
+Herbi Vore: "I'm an herbivore and unlike the rest of my species I don't hide from that fact. I also don't label those few who consume flesh as 'omnivores' because it would be as silly as labeling a hamburger loving horse an 'omnivore'"
Back in university, I participated in a social experiment in which I was subjected to the question, "Why do birds fly?" I thought about it, and then gave a clear, concise, and thorough answer. I was then asked, "OK, sure, but, why do birds fly?" I answered again, and was asked again. I answered differently, and was asked differently. This went on for an hour, after which I was dismissed.
The next day, I was told I had not passed the previous test, and would need to try again. I was then asked, "Why do fish swim?", and went another hour with the same pattern as the first.
The third day, I was told I had not passed, but this time I informed the proctor that it doesn't matter how I respond, and that this was the whole point. I was immediately passed.
The lesson being taught was that sometimes it doesn't matter how well you explain a thing, or how clearly you express yourself, because sometimes you will meet people who cannot hear your answer.
+Herbi Vore, you remind me of that lesson.
This post is one in a series in which excerpts of discussions on veganism from other threads are reposted (or paraphrased) for the sake of expanding the conversation. As always, your thoughts and questions are welcome. See the full collection via the #spommveganchats hash (or perhaps with a more robust search, such as goo.gl/JoxZC).
(for anyone requiring/desiring more context, the original conversation can be found at goo.gl/37rs7)