For the podcast this week, we discuss the difference between omnivores and carnivores. This is a continuation of our conversation which argues that humans should be classified as facultative carnivores and not simply just as omnivores. The distinction argued on this podcast is that yes, humans are omnivores. This means we can eat on various trophic levels but we can only thrive when the majority of our nutrition comes from animal sources, therefore, classifying us as facultative carnivores is more accurate.
An example of a true omnivore generalist would be a raccoon. Raccoons can eat basically eat anything and they aren't stressed one way or the other if they get the bulk of their nutrition from either plants or animals. Humans, however, are stressed when we get the bulk of our nutrition from plants. Eating plants and extracting nutrients from them forces our body to do things that it is simply not good at. For example, humans don't elongate the plant from the omega 3 fat, ALA into EPA and DHA, very well. We aren't good at converting beta carotene, the plant based vitamin A, into retinol which is the animal based vitamin A and the vitamin A we actually need. At best we convert 10% of ALA into EPA and beta carotene into retinol. Animals, however, are a great source of preformed EPA and DHA and preformed vitamin A, therefore when we get our nutrition from animals we don't have to convert these nutrients into their bioavailable forms. This puts less stress on our body and provides our bodies with the best chance at actually mobilizing and utilizing the nutrition found in food.
To learn more about the distinction between omnivore and carnivore and why it matters that humans be recognized as facultative carnivores, listen to this week's podcast.