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Miki Ben-Dor, PhD on The Humans Eating Fatty Meat For All of History

Updated: Jul 4, 2019

Miki Ben-Dor, PhD - Peak Human Podcast


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Alright we have a special episode today. We’re lucky to hear all about Miki’s new paper looking at the complete story of our dietary past and humans being high-trophic level carnivores. He gave me a sneak peak at this awesome 40 page paper he’s submitting for review.

Miki Ben-Dor got an undergraduate and masters degree in economics and then went back to school later in life to study paleoanthropology. He’s now Post doctoral fellow at the department of archeology of Tel Aviv University. You can find some great presentations on youtube and his paper “Man the Fat Hunter” published in 2011.

Love the work he’s done - he’s hit it from all angles and it all lines up. We ate meat for all of human history. Ok here’s a bit of business to take care of - Let’s see how concise we can make this. Get your own grass finished meat at Nose to Support the show on Patreon at / peak human. Preorder the film at Watch highlights from the film on the Food Lies youtube. Get daily content on the Food Lies instagram, twitter, and facebook. SIgn up for the newsletter on Get on the waiting list if your a health coach, doctor, or other healthcare practitioner at I think there’s too many things at this point. Maybe just pick 1 of these and go for it.

I really appreciate it. At this point we’re a community powered company. We’re scrambling around here at SAPIEN trying to make this all happen without outside money or influence. Really love this tribe. We can’t go back to the glory days thrusting spears at wooly mammoth and gorging on fatty meat, but we can still try to bring the community together and spread the word and focus on our own health and people around us.


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  • Miki completed his undergrad and masters in economics and switched later in life into paleo anthropology

  • His research is largely focused on the reconstruction of the human diet and the relationship between plant vs animal foods and the proportion of each as far back as 2 million years ago

  • If we want to understand human evolution we have to go much further back than just modern hunter gatherers 

  • Gut morphology similar to carnivores

  • When we compare humans to chimpanzees, Miki has calculated that to be 77% smaller colon and about 60% longer small intestine which is exactly the direction of carnivores 

  • The size of our stomachs is another cue

  • Gut pH is very convincing too since herbivores have a more basic stomach pH whereas omnivores have more acidic and carnivores have very acidic stomachs and scavengers have the most acidic, humans are most similar to scavengers 

  • The size and number of human adipocytes is closely related to carnivores vs herbivores

  • One of the main differences between their diets and today’s diets is bone marrow, Miki believes our ancestors ate a lot of bone marrow and had the ability to break bones which appeared broken to get the marrow 

  • Liver is also the first thing that humans would go for when they killed their prey 

  • The evolution of the Savannah vs forest and how this changed the diet 

  • It’s easier to hunt larger animals than smaller animals 

  • Humans ate plants for all of history, there is no question that we ate them, the only question is how much 

  • Hypercarnivore is defined as a carnivore that eats 70-80% of energy from animals and the rest from plants 

  • If you want to be safe, eat 80% from fat and meat 

  • Using the Hadza to reconstruct the human diet is completely inaccurate 

  • You also can’t use modern hunter gatherers to see what our ancestors ate 

  • Everytime we find plant matter in human remains, everyone celebrates but it doesn’t tell us anything about how much they ate 

  • Isotopic discoveries are more reliable than archeology and definitely shows that we are mostly carnivorous

  • Humans do not want to spend energy gathering plants when they can spend that energy hunting animals

  • Humans have higher fat reserves than other animals which allowed us to get through periods of starvation and we can afford to because we don’t chase or escape we don’t need to be fast

  • All large carnivores eat large animals and are hypercarnivores 

  • Miki thinks we spread across the globe because we can hunt animals of any size, with plants you have to use trial and error and adjust to them 

  • Wherever humans went, these large animals decreased and that humans could have been the reason for the decrease in megafauna

  • Domesticating plant foods and animals was about 10,000 years ago 

  • As we approach agriculture revolution we started eating more plant foods but our stature also decreased and our brain size decreased 

  • Fat was prized for all of history and plants are fallback foods

  • He tried to find evidence for plants in the human diet and couldn’t, all his evidence showed was that humans were carnivores 

  • Papers showing mixed diets are misleading and these scientists are not reporting proper evidence  


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