Do we really need animal products? And how much wild nature do we need on average?

And I would suggest you do this, as it is incapable of feeding our population (especially in the necessarily fertilizer-free, wildlife-rich world I assume we would both like to see).

In an overtly simplistic sense, yes, yes it should. But that’s not how the world works. Giant pandas, for instance, eat ludicrous amounts of bamboo because their stomaches can’t digest it properly (they have the digestive system of a carnivore).

All of which are possible on a plant-based diet. All of which are extremely rare among hunter-gatherers, some of whom consume diets consisting of ~90% meat.
How about those living in the arctic circle, what kind of “horticulture” should they practice?

It’s fine if you want to ignore our questions, no need to keep talking in circles. But thinking you know it all is the surest sign you don’t, my friend.


Thank you for providing this opportunity to clarify what I have been trying to say.

On your first point—I completely agree that mind and body are one thing: my “body” is the me that can be seen by others, my “mind” is my subjective experience of being that body. And I completely agree that any dichotomy between them is a civilized construct; if I gave the impression of believing in it, I take it back. In fact, as I see it the assumption of a disembodied mind is one of the very pillars of civilization, along with the assumption of human separateness and superiority.

Regarding your reference to misanthropy: if I gave any such impression I take that back too. I am human, and want to be a healthy member of a healthy species, which can only come from a healthy relation to the world we are a part of. I believe that civilization is a terrible sickness that has been growing in our species for a long time, and believe most fervently that we are learning from it, and beginning to get well (even though that may be hard to see on the surface).

“…the topic at hand…”—I realized that my earlier posts could be considered “off topic” for the original title of this thread, but it had already ramified in so many directions that when I saw something in DomesticatedLevi’s post that rang a clear bell I just jumped in there—it didn’t feel right to start a new topic.

On your last question—I too can see that the number of us in the world today is frighteningly out of balance, but that is just one of the countless frightening consequences of civilization, like the horrible treatment of other animals which has been a central subject of this thread. Of course we all do the best we can to make some kind of difference from where we’re at, but I don’t think we can figure out what to do about any of this mess all by ourselves (that would be a truly civilized pretension). For really substantial answers we must turn to the larger intelligence of the Earth, which we have held ourselves apart from for so long. The only way I can see to do that is through my physical senses, which are my bodymind’s connection to the whole rest of the world.

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Thanks for clarifying. I didn’t mean to put words in your mouth or take issue with going “off topic”, but rather to ask: how can we go back to a smaller population? (Without wishing our fellow humans ill or simply waiting for a crash).

I look to tribal & alternative customs for inspiration, but -for example- I don’t believe I have any friends interested in “sharing” a wife, let alone children. Perhaps economic hardship could change this. Perhaps I am just a freak. Who knows?

There must be some way we can soften our return tho - which I do believe was the impetus of the OP’s suggestion for horticulture (see, we are on topic!).

I see this as a major logical fallacy. As SharpRock says, there is no such thing as “more” sustainable - it either is sustainable or it isn’t. And the fact remains that even if everyone in the entire world went vegan, we would STILL be living unsustainably - because it’s not just about the food. It’s the oil and gas our society uses to power factories, the logging (which is NOT all because of animal foods, billions of people use unrecycled toilet paper) and mining, the vast amount of water used to create consumer goods and grow crops, etc etc etc.

It just isn’t possible to distill the problem of humanity exceeding the carrying capacity of the land down to eating animals. This is completely irrational. Though I understand how comforting it can be to feel that the world’s problems could just be solved by a simple individual choice. And how empowering it could be to know that by making one daily choice, I am now absolved of being part of the problem of modern-day humanity.

But it’s just not true.

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Back to the original question of the thread, my firm belief based on everything I’ve researched about diet and nutrition is that we evolved to need animal foods in our diet, period. This goes way beyond B12 - the majority of the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids, etc our bodies need come from animal foods.

Before you string me up or post endless links of vegan propaganda pieces (I was going to say articles, but the vast majority of the ones I’ve read skew science to serve an agenda, so I’m sticking with propaganda), hear me out. Yes, plant foods are rich in vitamins & minerals, etc. But by and large they do not exist in the FORM our bodies can utilize. Yes, our bodies can convert many/most/all (not sure?) into forms that we CAN use, but we just don’t do this efficiently compared to true herbivores.

Take omega-3’s, for example. Plant oils are rich in omega-6’s, naturally. The problem with just eating omega-6’s is that we evolved to have a certain balance of omega-3’s to omega-6’s, because the former are anti-inflammatory to the body while the latter are inflammatory. Too many omega-6’s, and you have chronic inflammation problems (like the majority of people in modern societies).

Yes, there are some plant sources of omega-3’s, and all plants have some amount of omega-3’s. But the plant form of omega-3’s is ALA, which is not the form our bodies can use. We need EFA’s or DHA’s, and while our bodies can convert ALA into EFA, it only does so at an efficiency rate of 8%. Cows and other grass-eaters, on the other hand, convert ALA at a rate of 100% efficiency. They were, quiet simply, designed for it.

Not only were we not designed for it, but we were designed to be dependent on herbivores to be our intermediary, converting nutrients from the plant world into the forms that we need to survive. If we had evolved to eat plants exclusively, we would convert the nutrients ourselves just fine - but we don’t.


Alright, it gets ugly when one of us will talk down to the other. I am not going to go there, none of us should. It is misdirected to say I claim I know it all. I have a number of qualified doctors and as convincing studies as any, to refer to, regarding health this way. And you suggest that continuing to use animals is the sustainable way, that using vegetation isn’t, since we can’t just say more or less sustainable, so it would have to be shown how the same number will live sustainably still using animals. Do you hunt for all your meat? Or are you using meat from animal agriculture? I show already there isn’t sustainability with that animal agriculture. And I show wildlife is drastically diminishing. So how is either of those sustainable, but not using vegetation? And you can’t really mean that the pandas are not living in a sustainable way, do you? There are many more edible plants available than there are animals which also eat, from the primary nutrition with the original amino acids, fats/oils, and carbohydrates, to use. And there are vegetable foods we can digest, not such as bamboo.

Yes, we need less people for what is sustainable. But we don’t have that now. And civilization is not sustainable. How are you going to live in the sustainable way? With use of animals?

No, what I referred to about diabetes, cancer, heart attacks and strokes can all be avoided, and also reversed, with the healthiest way of eating I referred to, not with being a know it all, but from those doctors who have saved many patients lives this way, and the convincing studies.

I am not talking about native people living around the arctic, I am talking about me, and such looking for what is really sustainable for us, like me. It sure doesn’t apply if your plan is to live among the native people around the arctic, or where people can only depend on catching animals, with no alternatives. But most of us won’t come to that.

Growing useful vegetation among other natural vegetation that is compatible will work.

What questions have I ignored?

I’ve read a good article about people rewilding arable land to grazing land with free-roaming herds : link to article.

"Letting arable land lie fallow and returning it to grazed pasture for a period – as farmers used to, before artificial fertilisers and mechanisation made continuous cropping possible – is the only way to reverse that process (soil depletion), halt erosion and rebuild soil, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. The grazing livestock not only provide farmers with an income, but the animals’ dung, urine and even the way they graze, accelerates soil restoration. The key is to be organic, and keep livestock numbers low to prevent over-grazing.

In direct contrast to grain-fed and grain-finished meat from intensive systems, wholly pasture-fed meat is high in beta carotene, calcium, selenium, magnesium and potassium and vitamins E and B, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) – a powerful anti-carcinogen. It is also high in the long-chain omega-3 fatty acid DHA, which is vital for human brain development but extremely difficult for vegans to obtain.

Much has been made of the methane emissions of livestock, but these are lower in biodiverse pasture systems that include wild plants such as angelica, common fumitory, shepherd’s purse and bird’s-foot trefoil because they contain fumaric acid – a compound that, when added to the diet of lambs at the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen, reduced emissions of methane by 70%."

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I think if you live far away from the equator and your trying to not have your food shipped from far away it’s reasonable, maybe even necessary, to eat meat. Sometimes winter is really long and that kale isn’t really enough, this makes me think of Ishmael when Daniel Quinn was like “the plant eaters store food for the predators”
Frank primal answers I think that eating animals can be extremely sustainable and in a lot of cases downright necessary because we have pushed out a lot of predators and have only taken out herbívora where it has been necessary, a lot of natural places have an unbalanced relationship there. Also I’m only talking from experience in living in Northern California and there being an extreme surplus of rabbits at some times and in Texas having animals like the Axis deer be introduced and now with no natural predator also having a severe surplus, I think eating meat can absolutely be sustainable. That being said, this does nothing to address the issue that we cannot feed the people of this planet and be anywhere near sustainable and much less regenerative which is what we surely need. People cannot go on eating meat in the conventional way of modern culture. But individuals can find ways to sustainable eat meat often times in a way that can also help tend local ecosystems. I honestly don’t see why the topic of eating meat is an issue. Practices that regenerate the land should be sought out and practiced, ones that don’t should be left behind, including eating meat and vegetables and drinking water if that means your getting it from a plastic Fiji bottle.

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I really don’t eat kale much, and I don’t ever buy Fiji or such bottled water. I don’t think still that it is productive to continue on with this with those with entrenched opinions. Information is available online showing that staying with plant-based food is more healthy for us, that it is logically more sustainable, as energy and nutrition is available through plants, and only secondarily or teriarily available through animals that must eat much more until they are killed to get the energy and nutrition that came from plants through them, again while it is not as healthy for us. It is better to let natural predators return to natural environments for them rather than replace them and replace natural grazers with domesticated animals. But I don’t just agree with vegans who say this works well enough with staying in civilization. The way humanity can go on is without civilization, with simplicity and primitive ways in natural environments, using what is really needed, and putting back into the environment what it needs, such as reseeding. How it should be for us would involve our own conscience for us to decide. I agree that for those who will live really closer to the poles than the equator using animals would be more important. I would still seek to live, with others who go with me for that, nearer to the equator than either of the poles, such as earlier humanity did.

Im curious who has entrenched opinions here that you are referring to? Also I’m curious as to what studies you speak of that show staying with plant based food is better for us, I would also like to say that humanity is made up of many different kinds of people with different bodies, gut microbiomes, digestive capabilities, and different cultures. I think that a sweeping statement of a one diet is right is very dangerous. If you are citing The China Study as your central study for that conclusion I would inform you that it is highly disputed and the science has been found to be very flawed.

I’m curious about other studies you may be referencing and would love to read them if you have some links. I will say almost all of the studies on diets in general that I have read are flawed in some way, often because of how they are gathering their data, which is(in almost all the studies I have read) by getting the subjects to take a questionnaire ever day or two and list what they have eaten and the amounts, but very often when these questionnaires(which are based on memory) are looked into more, they barely have enough calories to sustain a person of around 100lbs with a life style, which could suggest they are not remembering perfectly, or that the calorie theory is flawed or at least not fully understood(which I think it may be). I also disagree that eating plant based is logically more sustainable. I think in some ecosystems in the world people may find eating mostly or exclusively plant based may work in a sustainable way. But I am also sure that given a dense forest area it’s quite difficult to cultivate substantial crops without drastically changing and controlling it, but can be quite a good place to allow wildlife to thrive and have a relationship with the populations that occupy these spaces. I’m curious your thoughts on Daniel Quinn’s ideas on totalitarian Agriculture?

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It seems the claim cited that the very extensive China Study is flawed is reactionary. There is no more extensive study. It is still consistent with a number of other studies throughout the last century. That it is discredited from certain business interests is no surprise to me. The message that some foods are better for us and some hurt our health will be fought. If you would be open indeed to information I direct you to for showing this, see the Forks Over Knives movie, it has a great deal of information and it is shown in interesting ways. Among evidence shown was the history of mortality with heart attacks and strokes in Scandinavian countries. During World War II, the mortality from such health issues dropped remarkably, it was when meat and animal products were not available to the public. They became available again at the end of the war, and the mortality from such health issues shot right back up to where it had been. Forks Over Knives is available on DVD and through Netflix, it could be accessed through the site, it is from doctors who demonstrate the way of eating is so healthy, and they have saved lives with it, reversing health problems.

I don’t mean agriculture as it is known with civilization, with speaking about things growing that we would need.

I think you were right with this one, maybe my views are a bit entrenched. I went to the forks over knives website and because, I’m normally really don’t like to watch movies, I surfed around and was let down with no scientific citations or content in general on the site mixed with a lot of things they are trying to sell you. After a very small amount of digging I found too much reasonable critique for the science behind that movie, which in a big case is just The China Study, to be flawed that I didn’t seem it was worth it for me to dive deeper. Oh well haha. I guess people just gonna do what they think is right! I will say if you do some very meager surface level digging for science saying that diets that include meat can also be very healthy and cure disease and do all te same things forks over knives says about plant based diets, you will find it. So, something to be said about the non-concrete essence that is the ever shifting scientific community and their views and studies.

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I wouldn’t want to drag a topic out. Yet it seems you post communication that you would like me to answer.

“I’m curious about other studies you may be referencing and would love to read them if you have some links.”

As you said this, I gave a link not for you to look around for what information would be on the site, which I think is mostly good recipes they are helpful with, but for the movie that I think would still be there and is the most thoroughly convincing, though you dismiss it while it has doctors behind it with results they show because you see critique of it from some who are not doctors, I see some serving business interests, that would be involved in that.

In the book I would have you look at, as you asked for information you could read about this, there is this said:

Americans are sick, tired, and over-medicated. Every fifty-three seconds someone in the United States dies of heart disease, which, as the nation’s number one killer, claims about 600,000 lives per year. Cancer, now the second leading cause of death, takes the lives of more than 1500 people per day. Meanwhile, nearly 10 percent of the population has diabetes; and our children are getting sicker, as indicated by the startling fact that obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past thirty years. We have turned to the medical system for help, and it has delivered medication in a big way: Nearly 70 percent of Americans are on at least one prescription drug, more than 50 percent take two, and 20 percent are on five or more prescription drugs. Despite the billions of dollars being spent on pharmaceuticals, the needle almost never moves downward on the rates of chronic disease, and the people still feel lousy and sick.

Health statistics aren’t just about numbers on a page or data on a statistician’s ledger. These are our mothers, fathers, siblings, and children. These are our friends. The health crisis is taking a real toll on our daily lives, profoundly affecting the personal happiness and productivity of millions of us every single day.

There is good news, though. Research is revealing with greater certainty that we understand the main cause of this epidemic: an American diet that derives more than 90 percent of what we eat from animal-based and processed foods. Understanding the cause means there’s hope! The research tells us that if we change to an entirely different way of eating, we can dramatically alter our health destiny.

Modern pioneers like T. Colin Cambell, PhD; Caldwell Esselstyn, MD; Dean Ornish, MD; John McDougall, MD; Neal Barnard, MD; and others are leading the charge. Thanks to these doctors and researchers, along with an emerging body of scientific evidence from all corners, we now know that a whole-food, plant-based diet is more powerful at preventing and treating chronic diseases than any medication or procedure. We are so convinced by the evidence that we believe if this diet came in a pill, it would be heralded on the front pages of newspapers and magazines around the world for its effectiveness.

There is a movement under way as hundreds of thousands of people, if not more, are trying the whole-food, plant-based lifestyle for themselves and finding great success. We have personally seen remarkable results in our own medical practice, not to mention experienced it in our own lives. Here are just a few of the significant life-changing results you may expect:

Prevent and reverse the leading chronic ailments. A whole-food, plant-based diet can prevent, halt, and even reverse heart disease and diabetes. Other diseases that are also positively impacted by this type of diet include: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, and overall mortality. Cancer is also significantly affected by this diet. In fact, the foods that make up this diet are the exact same foods that were recommended in the first “surviving cancer” dietary recommendations. There is also evidence that a plant-based diet may reduce the risk of diverticular disease, gallstones, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and kidney disease. Furthermore, after switching to a plant-based diet, people routinely report experiencing or seeing in others improvements in a range of ailments, including osteoporosis, arthritis, headaches, acne, asthma, sexual dysfunction, reflux, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, dementia, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, infertility, insomnia, and sleep apnea. They even find themselves experiencing fewer or less intense colds, viruses, and allergies.

Reach your ideal weight. Our friend Doug Lisle likes to point out that humans and their domesticated pets are the only earthly creatures that suffer from being overweight and obese … in spite of the fact that we’re also the only creatures who practice portion control! Why is this the case? It’s simple. All the other animals on earth are eating foods that are appropriate for their species. If we also eat foods that are appropriate for our species – whole, plant-based foods – then we, too, will be able to eat without portion control and will naturally reach a comfortable weight.

Improve mental clarity Eating a whole-food, plant-based diet improves cognitive function and protects against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Most people experience greater clarity of thought, improved ability to concentrate, and better memory.

Experience only positive effects, not “side effects”. Perhaps you would choose to transition to a plant-based diet to reverse heart disease or reduce your diabetes medications, but now you could see that you would welcome into your life an abundance of positive effects. These can include better mood, sounder sleep, improved bowel function, and more vibrant skin. You will have more energy to do the things you love, like playing with your children or grandchildren, biking, gardening, walking, swimming. You may even want to exercise more. By contrast, as we’ll discuss more, medical procedures and medications can have all sorts of major unintended negative consequences.

Have a sense of well-being and empowerment. You are in control of your health. You do not have to settle for compromised health or believe that you are destined to succumb to chronic disease. You can live with less fear that a heart attack can happen at any time or that you will be struck by the same chronic ailment from which other members of your family have suffered.

Save time and money. Whether you have health insurance or not, you will likely have to pay out of pocket for at least some of your health care expenses if you are sick. Fewer trips to the doctor and fewer procedures and pills equal more time and money you can spend in other areas of your life.

The Forks Over Knives Plan, pages 15-18

Maybe I phrased this weird, I’m looking for studies that I can read. Research papers. Clinical documents.

This is so obvious for me it hurts. Of course eating Whole Foods would be better at treating disease than medication or procedure because you are finally addressing core issues in the standard American diet instead of treating symptoms. But Whole Foods that contain well sourced meat, and Whole Foods that contain only plant based foods, is the point I’m am completely not convinced of.
But for me I think we do need animal products, I’ve been vegan for years of my life and for me I noticed that I put animals on a pedestal whenever I was in nature. I would walk through the forest and be so drawn to every animal I saw always wanting to reach out my awareness and connect with them, to understand and be sensitive to them. And at the same time I would unintentionally objectify plants and water and rocks and mountains, when I was focusing on the sentience of animals as being the center of the wild I lost sight of te rest of my family, today I need to eat animals because my body wants it and my psyche knows that for me to once again realize my place with nature I have to love all of the family members regardless of what way they choose to express themselves, whether it be with breathing and motion or bubbling and flowing or standing and listening, and In order for me to be present and recognizing of the life and personhood that runs in our entire family, I can not remove myself from any aspect of the life death rebirth cycle.

Quoted for truth. This is something I’ve done a horrible job of trying to get across to Frankprimalanswers. The connection itself is important, because people take better care of things when those things directly affect them. Some might say “why protect the fish in the sea if we don’t need them?”, or “why keep animals from going extinct if we can’t eat them?”. Such people have reduced, but not eliminated their connection; mostly they’ve just forgotten it.

Interesting discussion. I’m wrapping up writing a book on many of the subjects in this thread. It’ll be available at-cost on Amazon in January. “EcoPatriarchy: The Origins & Nature of Hunting”. In particular, there is a chapter on rewilding earth, and another on rewilding self. The ethos detailed and explored is similar to that of anarcho-primitivist anthropologist Layla AbdelRahim, and others. It’s packed with sources. There’s a facebook page Ecopatriarchy, and you could contact me about the book at

I’m a new member, so jumping in just now.

I was a vegetarian for 21 years. I felt good on the diet the entire time, however I did not make the connection with dental/ and bone health. I was vigilant with nutrition, but as we know there is a lot of incomplete and biased information out there. The vegetarian/vegan diet without supplements is not good for meeting a superlative longevity. It is lacking in the correct amounts and proportions of fat soluble nutrients, lacks B12 and there are active forms that are required. And it is complex carb heavy to meet protein requirements, raising insulin beyond the levels to maintain health long-term.

Environmentally, if one is not a hunter/gatherer, then pristine land must be cleared for you. This land clearing leaves many inhabitants without a home and they go looking elsewhere. Eventually, there is no more elsewhere and they die. If no-till is not being used, many lives will be destroyed that were still hanging on in that diminished piece of agricultural land. Synthetic fertilizers destroy soil-organisms that work to release nutrients to the roots of plants. That is not even getting to pesticides, herbicides, and deterrents used. This creates the viscous circle of needing fertilizer.

Human population rose drastically with the advent of agriculture. Now with contraception, we can decide how many children we actually want to bring into the world humanely. That is the best way to get to a point where humanity can go uncivilized, but most won’t do it. So, the best diet for our bodies is also the best diet to reduce the population. A factory-farm free, 100% pastured/grass-fed with plenty, and I mean plenty of greenery, foraged when possible will be conducive to health and can feed less people and will minimize planetary destruction. I eat oysters every other day for omega3’s.

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Sounds like you are a keto person just like myself.

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It should be an obvious thing to people, more than maybe what it is, that if you live in civilization eating what is available to people there, you’re going to need supplements to take with that. If you eat what is available in civilization and avoid what is from animal agriculture, which is most unsustainable in this world, you will need supplements for vitamin B12. It is not that any animals are producing that vitamin, only soil bacteria produce it, and all animal life depends on this vitamin from the soil bacteria. If we were not cleaning the produce from where where it was grown, which being done as it is in our civilization would rid it all of bacteria producing vitamin B12,. the produce could be rinsed and cooked, and vitamin B12 would adequately remain. With the vitamin, and avoiding processed food along with animal products, you would have the most healthy way of eating, according to very convincing studies. What is still the most important thing is coming to live in the most sustainable way in the world. Living with involvement with civilization does not work for that. So there is alternative to that needed.