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(Comparative Anatomy and Physiology Brought Up to Date--continued, Appendix 1)

APPENDIX 1: The Carnivorous/Faunivorous Vegan

Acknowledgment: This appendix, including its title, is inspired by Moir [1994].

The objective of this brief appendix is to remind vegans, especially those who fall into the ego trap of self-righteousness, that, by and large, no one is really a "pure" or "true" vegan. Even the most obsessive, nitpicking, label-reading vegan is not a "pure" vegan. The reason is that virtually everyone not only indirectly uses animal products, but everyone also consumes some fauna or animal foods, even if inadvertently.

Breast-fed "vegan" infants are actually carnivores. This potentially distressing state of affairs (to the extremist) usually begins at birth, at least for those who are breast-fed. Moir [1994, p. 88] informs us (boldface emphasis mine):

Lactivory is an adapted form of carnivory in that the food source, milk, is derived directly from animal cells (Moir, 1991). It follows that no young mammal is initially herbivorous (White, 1985); all are carnivores for some period. While this is a general rule for mammals, there is ample evidence that it applies to a large range of invertebrates as well as diverse vertebrates; the initial development of the young borne of eggs, whether oviparous or viviparous, is explicitly dependent on succour from the female in the form of yolk or nutrient transfer.

Moir [1994] points out that most herbivorous mammalian neonates cannot use or obtain the normal food of adults. Further, most single plant foods are inadequate to support growth to maturity--they lack amino acids, typically lysine, and other nutritional factors (e.g., vitamin B-12). Finally, the significant energy and rapid growth requirements of a juvenile animal require food that is very high quality and easy to digest. Plant foods cannot meet the demanding requirements, but carnivory--including insectivory and lactivory (milk) can. (The amino acid profile for milk is said to be "close" to that for animal tissues.)

Carnivorous diet for infants is a necessary survival tactic. Moir concludes [1994, p. 99]:

The apparent carnivory of juvenile herbivores is a necessary tactic to satisfy the requirement for available amino acids, particularly the lysine and methionine, required in a highly concentrated and digestible form that is constantly and universally available. While plant proteins, particularly rubisco [ribulose bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase, a protein], have the required amino acid structure, digestibility, biological value and concentration required, the levels and availability fluctuate because of seasonal and structural changes (Minson and Wilson, 1980) and other interfering substances (Carpenter, 1960), except in very specific niches. Therefore, the only way for young herbivores to realize their growth potential and survive to reach reproductive maturity is to behave nutritionally as "carnivores."

Thus we see that every "vegan" child who is breast-fed really starts off his or her life as a carnivore. And so does every other mammal, whether folivore, frugivore, or faunivore.

Note: The above is not intended to discourage breast-feeding by vegan mothers, or to increase the negative attitudes (i.e., hatred) frequently displayed by allegedly compassionate vegans towards dairy.

Every vegan is actually a faunivore. Finally, readers should know that every vegan is actually a faunivore because of the inadvertent consumption of insects. From Taylor [1975, p. 33] (italic and boldface emphases both mine):

There's one last point I might call attention to in this consideration of our indirect eating of insects: strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a vegetarian, for vegetarians generally eat more insects than do non-vegetarians, simply because a larger percentage of their diet consists of food of plant origin. The more fruits, nuts, and vegetables in one's diet, the more insects one is going to eat. Since insects are animals, and their presence in our foods of plant origin is ubiquitous--although generally undetected--we cannot escape the fact that the so-called vegetarian is no vegetarian. Man is omnivorous [faunivorous], whether he wants to be or not.

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GO TO PART 1 - Brief Overview: What is the Relevance of Comparative Anatomical and Physiological "Proofs"?

GO TO PART 2 - Looking at Ape Diets: Myths, Realities, and Rationalizations

GO TO PART 3 - The Fossil-Record Evidence about Human Diet

GO TO PART 4 - Intelligence, Evolution of the Human Brain, and Diet

GO TO PART 5 - Limitations on Comparative Dietary Proofs

GO TO PART 6 - What Comparative Anatomy Does and Doesn't Tell Us about Human Diet

GO TO PART 7 - Insights about Human Nutrition & Digestion from Comparative Physiology

GO TO PART 8 - Further Issues in the Debate over Omnivorous vs. Vegetarian Diets

GO TO PART 9 - Conclusions: The End, or The Beginning of a New Approach to Your Diet?

Back to Research-Based Appraisals of Alternative Diet Lore

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