What's the current conclusion about humans being omnivores vs herbivores?

And particularly, how is this relative to time? That is, is possible herbivoreness a "strictly" modern phase in human evolution? Or has it even occured yet?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The only people who claim that humans are herbivores rather than omnivores are basing that claim on ideology rather than science, since it is an observed fact that the vast majority of humans do eat meat when it is available. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Jul 5, 2018 at 4:50
  • $\begingroup$ do you have links to articles that claim that "herbivoreness a "strictly" modern phase" or any reference where you got this question? $\endgroup$ Dec 2, 2018 at 21:10
  • $\begingroup$ @aaaaa I'm using it as a heuristic guess, since to distribute a diverse vegan meal to other than self-sufficient countries one needs some tech behind it, since stuff has to be transported around. Obviously herbivoreness might also be a location-dependent thing. In cold and short sunlight areas meat may have been one of the only foods available during e.g. winter months. $\endgroup$
    – mavavilj
    Dec 3, 2018 at 12:22
  • $\begingroup$ the guess should be based on something, and that is a lot of things to consider. I would suggest you start search on scholar.google.com for paper that studied some of that $\endgroup$ Dec 3, 2018 at 13:50

2 Answers 2


Humans are omnivores as they can eat and digest meat. Early humans were hunters and gatherers and meat was a part of the menu from time immemorial. I don't know the exact technic term but some of our teeth were designed to handle meat (canines?). Sure, people can willfully limit their diet to plants only but from the biological point of view humans are omnivores.


I suggest you read this excellent review by Luca, Perry and DiRienzo:

Evolutionary Adaptations to Dietary Changes, Annu Rev Nutr. (2010) 30: 291–314.

I quote:

The evolutionary history of hominins has been characterized by significant dietary changes, which include the introduction of meat eating, cooking, and the changes associated with plant and animal domestication.


Meat is a critical food resource for modern human hunter-gatherers, along with plant foods (...) The earliest evidence for meat-eating in hominins dates to ~2.5 Mya.

There seems to be a scientific consensus about the fact that the human digestive system has evolved to consume both animal and vegetal foods.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .