If you've read this site frequently enough, you can probably tell I am one for dietary experimentation. Well, my current experiment has taken me to a place where I am interested in learning more about the "herbivore vs carnivore" debate.
Within a week, I realized that quite a few of my friends (4-5) were vegetarians, not including my own dad. Each of these friends were what I would consider to be "healthy/athletic" people, both in-terms of lifestyle and body types. This caused me to want to investigate things a little further (which is why Google is my favorite website).
Rather than re-state all of my interesting findings one-by-one, and turn this into a scholarly research article, I'd rather give the top-line, most interesting findings, and share my sources.
I found out that our human bodies have much more in-common with herbivores (plant-based eaters) than carnivores (meat-based eaters).
Intestinal tract - carnivores have intestinal tract lengths almost twice the length of herbivores. This is relevant because lots of times, meat can turn rancid after 4-5 days, thus the longer an intestinal tract...the longer it sits in your system....possibly turning rancid. (Eww.)
Acidity - it requires more acidity to break down meats for digestion. Carnivores have much more acidic stomachs and saliva than do herbivores. Apparently that of humans falls more in-line with herbivores.
Teeth - most carnivores (wolves, lions, bears, etc) have sharp front teeth and powerful jaws, but no flat molars meant for chewing. Carnivores have the inverse teeth description. Guess which matches human beings more closely.
As I said, rather than attempt to re-state every interesting finding, I'd prefer to point you to a few of the notable articles and websites and let you gather your own conclusions.
As I've written previously, I was also influenced by the story of Atlanta Falcons' all-pro tight end Tony Gonzalez. You can read the details here, but basically he had a couple health scares years ago while playing for the KC Chiefs. On a plane ride, he was turned onto the book, The China Study and had his entire attitude towards meat as a part of his diet changed instantly. While Tony Gonzalez is not a "strict" vegetarian, I am always a fan of people (athletes especially) who are willing to experiment and have open minds in the pursuit of the best health practices possible. His learnings eventually led to co-authoring a book based on his nutritional findings for athletes.
There are also other high-level athletes who have decided to jettison meat from their diets, like Milwaukee Brewers all-star Prince Fielder and UFC's Mac Danzig.
Danzig isn't the only mixed martial artist having success with a meatless lifestyle, Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields is also a vegetarian.
It's not just athletes who have found health and performance benefits in eliminating meat from their eating habits. A few of my favorite music artists like Common, Erykah Badu, The Roots, and Andre 3000 are vegetarians to one degree or another.
As I've maintained, this is far from a finished conclusion in my eyes. I don't really have a stance on things like activism or PETA necessarily. However after having a family member battle a form of cancer that is often-times attributed to dietary habits, the benefits of eliminating (or at least reducing) meat from my diet are tough for me to ignore. As I touched on earlier, a meat-heavy diet can be very acidic and harmful for the digestive system. I'll get into some pro-active measures and how they've helped the former UFC heavyweight champion in my next article.