The Caveman diet: Why we're getting it wrong
On behalf of Plate for the Planet, Food Historian Colin Spencer has examined the nation’s historical relationship with meat and discovered that we are dinosaurs when it comes to why we still believe we should eat so much of it.
As part of the research, consumers were interviewed about their perceptions of why we eat meat with the majority (55%) adamant that the reason we eat meat now is simply because throughout history we have always eaten large amounts of meat.
Colin’s research has debunked that theory. Colin said: “In reality, the bulk of the caveman diet would have been vegetal, as hunting takes time, and would be fraught with danger and uncertainties. Eating meat was a very occasional treat and meat eating by the majority of society is actually very recent, roughly from the thirties of the last century.”
In recent years diets linked to historical ways of eating, such as the Paleo diet, have risen in popularity. In 2013 the Paleo diet was the most googled, however key aspects of such diets have focused on including meat with most meals which the research now suggests is incorrect. Plate for the Planet discovered that meat would be enjoyed rarely, and not equally, with the leaders of the clans or groups receiving the most and certainly not as part of every meal.
The combination of our misconceptions around why we eat meat and current meat consumption levels are also contributing to the harm being caused to the planet and our health. Colin’s research found around 75% of our diseases in the last ten years have stemmed from animal stock, the methane gas emitted from animals is also twenty five times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Colin Spencer explains: “The current level of animal livestock is the second greatest contributor to global warming and we need to address our meat consumption immediately. Eating meat is still attractive to most but with 70 billion livestock currently in the world compared to seven billion humans, the planet is struggling to maintain the current levels of meat consumption so we should be examining our beliefs and looking to make some significant changes. “
As part of the research, consumers revealed that they do believe the next big food debate will be around meat and its effects on the planet and in the future they expect to be eating less but better quality meat. Currently, 93% of people eat meat more than three times a week. However when asked about their approach to meat in the next ten years 60% of people believe they will only eat meat, in any capacity just once a week.
Colin Spencer continued, saying: “Consumers need to reassess their widely held belief in why we eat meat, in that it’s not as intrinsically entwined with their history as they may have thought, so that they can make a change towards less and better meat, for the sake of our health and that of the planet. ”