Naturalism And The Anthropology
Of The Human Diet
By: Mark Blackburn, MBA
What is a Human Diet? Is it: What the USDA
says it is? What the Cattleman’s Association
says it is? What they still eat in rural China,
where they never have heart attacks or cancer?
Is a human diet similar to what some other
animals eat? And, if so, which animals?
When I was a boy I read most of Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan books.
These books were about life in the strange dark continent of Africa. They
detailed the (then) sum of man’s knowledge of life in the jungle, and life
among the wild beasts of the jungle.
The point was often made that part of the reason Tarzan became so much
stronger than a normal or 'civilized' man was because he ate so much meat.
He ate the same as the great anthropoid apes from whom [some say] we are
descended…fresh meat (uncooked meat) from the kill.
I didn’t really like eating meat, but, because I wanted to be strong like Tarzan,
I gave in to my Father’s demands that I eat more meat.
Burroughs was enormously successful in promoting two radical ideas
around the turn of the century--One was that humans should eat more meat.
This coincided with the British Beefeater movement, which was a concerted
effort to get the British to eat meat.
The other was to reinforce the then recently introduced Darwinian "Theory of
Evolution," in which it was postulated that the ancestors of man were apes.
The Caveman illusion:
Most of us think about early man in terms of a Neanderthal stooping in front
of a fire on which he just roasted a brontosaurus burger, or perhaps a
drumstick from a pterodactyl. I know all the books I read as a boy had just
such an illustration.
So, I ask you three questions:
Did your ancestors eat mostly meat?
Did man eat more meat 10,000 years ago than today?
Were our ancestors carnivores?
Does it matter what apes eat? Does it matter what early man ate?
Let me ask another question. Most land animals are divided into one of the
following dietary habits:
Carnivore, Herbivore, or Omnivore. Into which of these do you see Humans
Carnivore (Dogs, Cats, lions, tigers, wolves, etc.)
Herbivore (cattle, rabbits, elephants, horses, most dinosaurs, sheep)
Omnivore (Pigs, Bears)
We are modern men and women. We live in houses, we drive cars. We buy
stocks, food, drugs, sex, rock 'n' roll, and books, over the Internet. Most of us
get most of our food from grocery stores or at restaurants.
But as advanced and dignified as we all are, we all arrived in this life naked
and helpless. With a very cursory look to the other mammals, we should be
able to deduce that we (as Human infants) should subsist for our first few
years almost entirely on Human breast milk.
How many know that they did? I did not. If you did, you have a much lower
incidence of allergy, asthma, and have a stronger immune system. Your IQ is
also higher than those who like me who were given some substitute for what
is obviously "Human Baby Food."
It’s interesting to note that no other mammal drinks the milk of another
mammal. Only Western man in his arrogant ignorance has vastly degraded
his own health and well being through such an illogical, costly, contrivance.
It might interest you to know that while Mother’s milk has life-giving enzymes,
no formula and no cow’s milk (as it’s served in the USA) has any at all. In
fact, due to our pasteurizing of commercial cow’s milk, it is rendered toxic to
Pasteurizing kills all the essential enzymes. Therefore, if you took a calf
nursing milk from its mother, and pasteurized it's milk before feeding it to the
calf, the calf will die within several months, for lack of enzymes and usable
Nature would instruct us that drinking the milk of another animal is foolish. If
we’re a duck, we should quack like a duck. If we’re a human baby, we
should eat nature’s obvious food for human babies, not a hideously distorted
and depleted substitute from another species, which has components such
as lactase to which all humans are allergic.
Natural man lived without our houses and cars. He had no personal
computer. He entered the world naked as we have, but he was more
comfortable that way than Americans seem to be.
He had few clothes until he ventured into colder areas. He interacted directly
with his environment in a wonderful way.
Do you know what it is like to interact directly with your environment for more
than a few hours? I’m reminded of the charming story of the Igor Boutenko
Family of Ashland, Oregon.
This family of four went on a little hike together in 1997. They hiked from
Mexico to Canada in six months along Pacific Crest Trail. During this time
their food consisted 80% of edible plants found on the trail.
Although they saw many animals, they did not find it necessary to hunt, kill,
or eat any of them.
Obviously ancient men and women lived in a natural setting. There were no
gas stations, McDonalds, or Drug Stores--not even a Border’s Bookstore.
There was just the environment and humans.
That environment was populated with many other animals and plants. How
did early man know what to eat? There were no Chocolate Chip Bushes, no
Big Mac Trees.
To determine a proper diet from a natural and anthropological perspective, let’
s examine 3 key areas:
1. Human History
Man’s natural diet in his natural setting is probably his correct diet. By
studying what man ate in his natural environment, we can come to some
conclusion about the original & optimum diet for man.
It is necessary to study the diet of man prior to 10,000 BC to get correct
information, as since this time electricity, refrigeration, biotech agriculture,
machinery and modern appliances have greatly degraded the diet of man.
And, the distortions brought about by grain agriculture beginning about
10,000 years ago should be dismissed as the beginning of distorted,
mechanized human feeding.
2. Human Taxonomy and Biological Adaptation
Man is classified as a primate. As such our body’s structure and system
bears much in common with other primates. We are 98% anatomically
identical to a chimpanzee.
Our digestive system from our dentition to our colons is structurally and
functionally very similar to the rest of our primate cousins. Throughout the
animal kingdom similar digestive systems digest similar types of food.
Therefore it should be assumed that our natural diet could quite easily be
very similar to, or identical to other primates. Biological adaptation includes
the study of the character, temperament, and behavior of living things by
species or families.
3. Human Health
Man’s health is largely affected by his diet. So is his longevity. If we want to
study proper diet, we should embrace the latest information on diet and it’s
effect on health & longevity.
An Excursion to our Natural Roots
Let’s suppose I take you to a remote but tropical part of the planet. There are
no other humans within 100 miles. I wind you up and let you go except for
one thing. I’ve removed from your memory banks all memory of eating.
You have no recollection of what you used to eat. You are in your "natural"
environment. What will you eat? Are you a carnivore? Will you accelerate
rapidly and viscously pounce upon your prey, sinking your teeth into its
Will the victim's blood spurting into your mouth increase your blood lust? Or,
will you be attracted instead to beautiful and fragrant flowers and to the soft
sweet juicy fruits, which abound in your natural habitat?
Anthropologists say we were once exclusively fruiteaters
The most recent and widely held view of the historical diet of humans is that
early man was exclusively a fruit eater.
Dr. Alan Walker, an anthropologist of John Hopkins University has turned the
science of Anthropology on it’s ear with his abrupt dismissal of the "cave-
Using electron microscopes to study fossilized teeth and fossilized human
remains, Dr. Walker’s research team has proven that our ancestors until quite
recently were total fruitarians.
The essence of the Walker research is that even though humans have
adopted omnivorous eating practices in very recent history, our anatomy and
physiology have not changed—we remain biologically a species of
The adaptation to fruits (and some vegetables) has occurred over 60 million
years. A few hundred years or even a few thousand years of perverted eating
will not change our dietary requirements.
Although confirmed and accepted by the scientific world, this disclosure of
early man’s diet is still not widely known or understood by the general
public. The New York Times carried a feature article on the Walker research
on May 15, 1979.
We have answered the question of the history of the human diet. This history
has profound bearing on current human dietary needs.
Let’s return for a moment to our "excursion to our Natural Roots." Will you
find a few juicy scorpions and maybe a lizard to eat? How about a freshly
hatching ostrich chick and a small dog?
If you have revulsion at the thought, it is because you are not a carnivore or
omnivore. Besides having none of the anatomical traits of a carnivore, there
is nothing in the character of a man that seeks to hunt and kill other animals
the way a carnivore or omnivore would.
Since you are a fruit eater you would be guided by your sense of sight and
smell and taste very readily to a sweet tasting piece of fruit.
Incidentally, next time an ever-so-helpful meat eater tries to tell you there’s no
variety in a vegetarian diet, you might mention that there are, in fact over
160,000 edible plants in the world. If you tried a new one every single day
from your birth, you’d be 438 years old before you tried them all.
When you eat one simple apple, you are ingesting over 191 known friendly
phyto-chemical compounds. Many of these are much more valuable than the
outdated vitamins we learned of as children. Eating one apple launches over
1300 chemical reactions in your frugivore gut to properly break down and
dispatch the molecular components of the apple.
If you ingest a piece of meat or dairy your gut does not have the strong acid
required to digest it.
An allergic reaction takes place. Excess mucous is summoned to coat the
toxins and pass them as quickly as possible. But, because meat or dairy
have no dietary fiber, they pass extremely slowly, putrefying along the way,
filling your digestive tract and body with toxins and varnishing your colon
with layers of impacted mucous.
Human Taxonomy and Biological Adaptation
But, wait! What about the great Anthropoid Apes--the ones who taught
Tarzan how to hunt for wild game?
Sorry, friends, this only occurred in the fictional world of Tarzan. Real apes,
just like gorillas, monkeys, chimpanzees, orangutans, humans, etc. are
frugivores (meaning "fruit eaters").
All are members of the Primate order, and all are anatomically similar. With
minor exception all primates are frugivores. When Burroughs wrote Tarzan
of the Apes, he was either complicit with the Beefeater movement, or just
Clearly, however, Burroughs understood the extreme importance of
identifying the ancestral human diet. By propagating the myth that early man
ate meat, Burroughs gave license to millions of people to eat something they
were not otherwise disposed to do. He even convinced many of you who
thought early man ate more meat than we now do.
Contrary to what we might think, during the period of recorded human history
beginning with the Egyptian empire on and through the 1800s, eating of
animals was rare and indulged in generally only by the rich and then on
Please note that the amazing, highly dexterous and articulated hands shared
by most primates allow us to peel bananas and pick and eat fruits very
easily. No other order besides primates can pick a soft ripe peach from a tree
and eat it. You are marvelously adapted to be a fruit eater.
Let's face it--most animals can run away from humans. They are faster than
we are. If we were meant to be carnivores, would we not be faster than our
prey? But there is another answer: we can eat food, which doesn't run
away---food like bananas, berries, or celery.
It should be noted that Primates who stick to a primate diet of fruit do not get
diabetes, cancer, or heart disease, or any of the other leading causes of death
in omnivorous America.
Incidentally, all primates have blood types like humans. None of them eat
differently in a natural setting based upon their blood type (debunking "Eat
Right for your Type").
I recall telling my good friend Doug at Hewlett-Packard that I was a
"frugivore." He had inquired about my eating habits. Then, one day when he
and a group of my colleagues were discussing sending out for a pizza, he
said, "Oh, Mark won’t have any of that—he’s a frugivore."
I'm sure none of them had ever heard the term ‘frugivore.’ Well, Doug was
right on both counts.
I wouldn’t have pizza, and I was a frugivore. What struck me, though, was
the fact that they were all frugivores, too. They just didn’t know they were.
What is the cost of not knowing you’re a frugivore? It’s Staggering. It’s
living in the most unhealthy country in the world--a country where over 50%
of its citizens have at least one chronic illness.
It’s living in a country where over 50% of its men will die of heart disease, and
another 30% will die of cancer. It’s a country where 6 of the 10 leading
causes of death are quite preventable--but aren’t prevented, simply because
almost nobody knows they are actually frugivores.
Our own Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in its landmark 1977
study entitled "Dietary Goals for the United States" wrote:
"It has become clear that only by preventing disease rather than treating it
later, can we hope to achieve any major improvement in the nation's health.
Our diets have changed radically within the last 50 years with great and very
harmful effects on our health. Too much fat, sugar, or salt can be and are
linked directly to heart disease, cancer, obesity and stroke, among other killer
diseases. In all, six of the ten leading causes of death in the US have been
linked to diet..." the study states.
Yet, in many countries, which still eat a frugivore diet, our six leading causes
of death in the USA are unheard of.
If 6 of the 10 leading causes of death are dietary diseases, isn't it OBVIOUS
that there exists a profound problem with our DIETS! Is this rocket-science?
Every major independent health study conducted in every country of the
world confirms what we know in our frugivore gut: being a complete
vegetarian (avoiding all animal foods including dairy) is the healthiest
possible diet. Followers of vegan diet reduce the likelihood of dying of
America's number 1 killer by 95%!
In the early 1990s Dr. T. Colin Campbell was winding down the largest dietary
study ever undertaken: the Cornell-Oxford-China Study. This study was
independently funded by Cornell and Oxford Universities, and not by any
government or farm bureau supported by a conglomeration of factory farms.
It was unbiased. It is the ‘Grand-Prix’ of all dietary studies. This study has
profound implications for all unhealthy Americans:
There is no threshold of health improvement as one removes animal
products from the diet: "Our study suggests that the closer one approaches a
total plant-food diet, the greater the health benefit."
Consumption of cooked animal-based proteins are more closely correlated to
cancer than is consumption of dietary fat.
A diet rich in a variety of plant foods--stems, roots, shoots, fruits & flowers.
(the historical human diet) is clearly optimal for health.
Another prodigious diet-researcher I would like to cite is:
Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D. His "Fasting and Eating for Health" is an outstanding
reference on proper human diet.
Dr. Fuhrman stresses that being slightly hungry much of the time is a good
thing. He confirms that in all laboratory observations all test species live
longer as they eat less food. Indeed in many cases cutting the food intake in
half will nearly double the lifespan.
For this reason, Dr. Fuhrman presents the concept of eating the "Highest
Nutrient per calorie Ratio."
What foods is he speaking of? Not potato chips. They would have among
the lowest Nutrient/calorie ratios. Besides fresh fruits and vegetables, Dr.
Fuhrman stresses eating lots of leafy green vegetables.
Another implication of research of others as well as Dr. Fuhrman is that of
each man or woman having an allotted amount of food to eat. When you
have eaten your allotment, you die.
If you eat your allotment more quickly, your life span is shorter. If you eat
your allotment more slowly, your life span is longer.
Many of us have recently concluded a raw foods prep class in Carmel. I have
made the transition to 100% raw or living foods, with excellent results.
From the perspective of replicating the natural human diet in a natural setting,
eating raw or living foods is about as good as you can get.
We have answered the following 3 crucial questions:
What did early man eat? Fruit & Vegetables.
What do other primates eat? Fruit & Vegetables.
What does the latest diet research teach us to eat? Fruit & Vegetables.
Now, one last time I will ask you, "Why do you eat what you eat?"
Go back to that remote place where your memory of what you eat had been
Start living again as a natural man or woman.
Yours For Health & Longevity
By: Mark Blackburn, MBA
Sacramento, CA. September 1999
Article: Naturalism and the Anthropology of the Human Diet