Talk:Omnivore

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Old discussion[edit]

here's a question: omnivores eat plants and animals, correct? however, i, like many human beings, eat mushrooms, which are neither plant nor animal. what does that make me? -Zodiac Digital

Omnivore is a species concept, so it doesn't say anything about an individual. However, you might want to look at -vore for fun. Carnivore/Herbivore is not particularly accurate, and really is only useful for large animals -- and with the older three kingdom classification (and, even then, ignoring Prokaryotes). In the old taxonomy, fungus is a plant. Ted Talk 20:34, 26 June 2006 (UTC)

I edited this piece previously in order to add an opposing scientific view from a Harvard professor to avoid the assumption that meat consumption was solely responsible for the evolutionary increase in human brain size. Why brain size is even discussed here is a mystery to me.

Also, I amended: "Primates (including human beings)" to "Many Primates (including human beings)" due to the fact that some primates are strictly carnivores, for example Horsfield's Tarsier, while others are herbivore (i.e. Orangutan).

I recommend it be switched back or edited again to reflect these ideas.—Preceding unsigned comment added by 68.99.13.246 (talkcontribs)

It's a mystery for me what the term "omnivore" is actually meant to mean. If it means animals who, as a matter of fact, eat both plants and meat, then it makes no sense to speak of "true" omnivores (as in the header of the list of "Animals that are true omnivores"). An animal is or isn't an omnivore. Cows are omnivores (since they are often fed slaughterhouse residues). Cats are omnivores (almost all cat food has a large percentage of vegetables).
Actually, from the way the term is used, it gives the impression that an omnivore is an animal who is "meant" to eat both plants and meat. Meant by whom? Implicitly, it seems what people have in mind is "meant by nature". As if there was some such thing as "nature" that "means" for us to do this or that. Of course, Creationists can believe that. Darwinists should not.
It's also unclear whether the term is supposed to apply to a species or to individuals.
David Olivier 22:30, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

I forgot the diffination for an organism that eats both plants and animals, but that isn't the true diffination and it is a commonly confused diffination. An Omnivore is an organism that eats at different trophic levels or rather different food chain levels.--Blackmage337 (talk) 20:32, 14 August 2008 (UTC)

Humans and domestic animals[edit]

Sorry, but humans are omnivores. Look at the reference given in the article (reproduced here). It is from a vegetarian website. The point the author makes is: "All the available evidence indicates that the natural human diet is omnivorous and would include meat. We are not, however, required to consume animal protein. We have a choice." [1]. Further, he states, "Humans are classic examples of omnivores in all relevant anatomical traits. There is no basis in anatomy or physiology for the assumption that humans are pre-adapted to the vegetarian diet. For that reason, the best arguments in support of a meat-free diet remain ecological, ethical, and health concerns." But who really knows?

Domestic animals are normally not classified. They will eat whatever we might feed them. Sometimes, people will classifiy them based on their natural ancestors, if they are known. By this, cattle are herbivores. Their anatomy is designed for it and their nondomestic relatives are, regardless of any animal protein humans may feed them in a feedlot. It is more problematic with dogs, since we are still trying to work out the natural ancestors. Ted 18:53, 3 June 2006 (UTC)

I removed the part about enzymes in saliva as it was used to suggest its a herbivore only thing, since after almost all mammals produce enzymes in their saliva which aid in digestion. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 216.185.23.91 (talk) 17:51, 10 January 2012 (UTC)

Regarding the enzyme, humans produce enzyme ptyalin which is exclusive to herbivores. Also other factors show that humans are physically herbivores (no claws, perspiration through skin pores, rear molars for grinding, longer intestinal tract, ~20x weaker hydrochloric acid than omnivores/carnivores, more developed salivary glands). This article, as well as some of the points in the comments above seem very uninformed and biased. This is one of the major downsides of wiki: popular opinion matters more than an informed approach. 84.253.211.53 (talk) 03:17, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

If you have a reputable secondary or tertiary source, by all means, let's discuss it. See the section on reliable sources and on primary, secondary, and tertiary sources for more! Ljpernic (talk) 04:01, 3 May 2014 (UTC)

Disputed banner[edit]

There is just too much POV and inaccurate stuff on this page. It seems like a propaganda page for jutifying meat eating.

The definition that is given is disputable. It was changed (June 3) for the specific purpose of including humans among the omnivores. It is generally quite unclear whether the concept of an omnivore means:

- an individual animal who eats both plants and animals;

- a species (or other group of animals) all members of which eat both plants and animals;

- a kind of animal who was "meant" (by "nature", God or some other willful entity) to eat both plants and animals.

All these meanings are regularly conflated, making the very notion of an omnivore moot.

Currently, the article says:

Omnivore refers to the species. Popular use sometimes refers to individuals (particularly humans). This article uses the species designation.

However, it is certainly untrue that all humans, in particular, eat both animal flesh and plants. So in what sense are humans supposed to be omnivores?

Referring to the purported definition is of no help: generalized feeders, with neither carnivore nor herbivore specializations for acquiring or processing food. If it refers to the actual practice, then cows are omnivores, since they are perfectly able to digest animal food (they are regularly fed recycled slaughterhouse guck). If it doesn't refer to the actual practice, what does it refer to? What "mother nature" intended? The whole issue is full of an implicit appeal to the purported intentions of some kind of mother nature.David Olivier 16:09, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

It refers to their biological makeup. Basically, feeding specialization can be looked at in three ways:
  1. Obtaining the food. Carnivore specializations include talons, claws, jaw structure (think T. Rex), stealthy behavior, etc. Not only hunting, but also scavenging. Herbivore specializations include tongue modifications, lip modification, grazing behavior, etc.
  2. Eating the food. Carnivore specializations include dentition (tearing teeth), claws, etc. Herbivore specializations include dentition (crushing teeth), jaws designed for chewing plants (mortar & pestle), etc.
  3. Digesting the food. Carnivore specializations include stomach enzymes for breaking down meat, short intestines, etc. Herbivore specializations include multiple stomachs, stomach enzymes for breaking down vegetation, long intestines (takes longer to digest), etc.
Omnivores have a little of everything. Bovine (cattle) have the specializations for herbivore, but none of the specializations for carnivore, despite what we might feed them in a feedlot. Gray wolves lack the herbivore specializations, and simply don't get much nutrition out of grass. It is a matter of looking at biological adaptation. Would you rather use that language? That humans are biologically adapted to eat both meat and plants? I can write it that way if you want. Ted 01:12, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

And then what on earth justifies a blanket assertion such as: Omnivores lack the specialist behaviour of carnivores and herbivores, searching widely for food sources, and therefore may be better able to withstand changes within their ecological niche.??? How do you measure how specialized an animal is? Is an herbivore who can eat all sorts of plants more "specialized" than an "omnivore" who can eat only voles and peanuts? That is a perfectly vacuous sentence, the only purpuse of which is to say how nice it is to be an omnivore.

In the end, over half the article should just be trashed. I'm not sure there is any use for the notion of an omnivore at all. It is a 19th century notion, that has about zero scientific utility.

David Olivier 16:09, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

Some comments. "It was changed (June 3) for the specific purpose of including humans among the omnivores." Actually, the definition has always included humans. I am the one who added the quote in the leader paragraph. I didn't do that to "change the definition", but to reference a vegetarian source. The definition of omnivore has always included humans. It does not mean that humans can't be vegetarians. In the same way, humans are classified as bipedal, land-dwelling animals. That doesn't mean we can't swim or walk on all four. Many of these definitions are somewhat fuzzy. While the scientific utility of such classifications may have been reduced in recent years, it is not true they have zero utility. In any case, it is a species concept (although biologists sometimes will use it to describe populations that are unusual -- such as species that are normally frugivores, but a certain population is omnivorous). I'll see if I can come up with a more understandable definition.
Should we also include "humans in general do this" into the "murder", "holocaust" etc. articles then? Just because a human CAN do something, doesn't mean that they'd do so naturally. It's a chain of conditioning and external influence that causes it. Scientifically, humans are herbivores - external influence such as culture and acquired taste (due to it) are what change this. "the definition has always included humans." - try to eat raw meat. You'll get horribly ill. Continue doing so and you'll die. Get your facts straight. 84.253.211.53 (talk) 03:30, 3 May 2014 (UTC)
In general, it's a good idea not to add to a thread that's eight years old. This discussion is long since settled. If you want to discuss topics relevant to how the article stands now, feel free to create a new section on the talk page with relevant issues specific to the current article and (as always) bring reliable sources! Ljpernic (talk) 04:06, 3 May 2014 (UTC)
I agree with your take on the pseudo-evolution comments. They should go. Ted 19:25, 14 June 2006 (UTC)
David, your argument that we could call cows omnivores because they are fed meat is a strawman argument. Cows do not naturally eat meat. Humans, on the other hand, have been shown to eat meat as far back as we are able to record, and the fact that both humans (early and modern) and our closest primate relatives eat meat make it likely that our nearest common ancestors also ate meat. I know people hate to make assertion about what humans "naturally" do, but I can't see how people can argue about whether or not early humans were "naturally" eating meat: it certainly wasn't fed to them by anyone. Likewise, humans "naturally" walk on two legs. Nothing in this article or in what I just said appeals to "Mother Nature" or her "intentions," and certainly no one is discussing what humans are "meant" to do. 199 16:52, 15 June 2006 (UTC)

Inconsistent with the Herbivore definition[edit]

Although the Omnivore definition appears to be fairly complete, and I think appropriately lists Humans as omnivores, it is inconsistent with the herbivore definition, which lists humans as herbivores. Although there is an attempt to distinguish by stating that humans are traditionally herbivores, I think the evidence does not support this assumption, and that the herbivore definition needs to be expanded and corrected. The omnivore definition is mostly acceptable.

Indeed. I've noticed a number of people inserting, for lack of a better term, 'vegan propaganda', into a number of articles. 24.252.195.3 (talk) 03:33, 19 May 2008 (UTC)

New Edits[edit]

I am over the next few weeks going to take on the task of editing this to be able to remove the stub. I look forward to comments but please allow me to finish working things through before reverting, editing or throwing any bouquets or brickbats in the discussion. Thank you very much for your understanding in this matter. AlanD 23:16, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

Intent I am an environmental biologist with a specific interest in evolutionary biology. My intention is to produce a NPOV article outlining the term Omnivore. Omnivores are not "supposed" to be that way nor is it to do with what they "do" eat. Omnivores are physiologically adapted to digest plant and animal matter. There is a need for this category and it is not outdated. Omnivores are as different from Herbivores and Carnivores as they are from each other. The dentition and digestive system of omnivores are very specifically adapted to eating plant and animal matter. Yes carnivores do occasionally eat plant matter. Yes we do feed animal matter to herbivores. These things may be mentioned in an aside but they are not the same thing at all.

AlanD 23:30, 10 February 2007 (UTC)

I've been meaning to update this article too and started the other day, though haven't edited the article. I'll be happy to back you up if there's something you need, just leave me a message. Firelement85 06:54, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

Brilliant, thanks. I'm thinking we'll need a list of omnivorous (spp. d'oh, I'll use a spell checker on the article I think, lol) species but may be best to focus primarily on mammalian ominivores (others can add anything about other families later). Dentition, digestive system, behaviour and so on.

I very much want to avoid any imprecise language. Natural Selection is a powerful enough tool to explain how animals are adapted to their nieches without talking about them being "meant to" or being "designed for" certain things.

I think when it come to the list of species that we need to split up the Primates... a bit of a large and diverse group. Even the Apes show great diversity. I do want to avoid a human-centric view on the world and evolution but this is being written by humans for humans so those species closest to us from an evolutionary POV (Bonobos, Chimpanzees, Gorillas, Oragutangs (spp.)) could do with individual mentions.

Oops I've gone off on one. How does that sound anyway?

Images are an issue for me. I'm never 100% on the criterion etc. What I really could do with is comparitive diagrams of the digestive system (and dentition) of Omnivores with Herbivores and Carnivore. Some pictures of a few other omnivore species would be good too (including a human, lol).

Anyway, I've been up half the night with the baby so I'll be saying toddle-loo for now. Thanks for the offer and I hope that sounds alright.AlanD 11:22, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

  • The best way to deal with humans I think, is to have a section just related to humans, I've recently been edit warring with someone who is a vegetarian about whether humans are omnivores and I think that this is really the area that needs the most detail as normal people, those without scientific background are easily confused and can be overwhelmed by the language used so remember to keep it simple but also don't go too soft, it's a fine line I suppose, a lot of people don't understand Natural Selection.

I'll have a look for images that are already uploaded that may be approprite (Image law on Wikipedia drives me nuts) but I'll see about creating some if they are needed. Firelement85 12:10, 11 February 2007 (UTC)

Cheers!AlanD 18:22, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
I'll be tackling this next week as it'll be half term and I'll have the time then.AlanD 22:14, 12 February 2007 (UTC)
Heck I don't own the page but I do feel I need to apologise for promising and not producing. VERY busy week. I will be updating this ASAP. Please though feel free to comment on my proposal below.AlanD 08:41, 22 February 2007 (UTC)

Idea for discussion[edit]

I've an idea... Howsabout we roll herbivore, ominvore, carnivore and insectivore into one article with redirects from those terms? One article, animal feeding. Might be better than trying to pad out these terms seperately. If the sections fill out properly then they can be split off at a later date. This will also allow comparisons to be drawn between different feeding groups.AlanD 11:38, 21 February 2007 (UTC)

Discuss:

Inuit Diet and health[edit]

Im not sure how objective the author is being with this one the way they talk about the Inuits. While they certainly get along fine with an almost all meat diet I am told they have one of the shortest life expectancies of any ethnic group - perhaps it should be toned down a little as right now it does read a bit like an add for the new "Inuit wonder diet". NZNicholas 23:39, 2 August 2007 (UTC)

Bats[edit]

I don't think that bats belong in the list of omnivore species. Individual bat species are either carnivorous or herbivorous, not both. -- Dougie WII (talk) 21:22, 28 December 2007 (UTC)

Humans omnivores vs. herbivores[edit]

Humans as omnivores is not a universally accepted scientific fact. Certainly the diets of most humans is omnivorous, but there is substantial debate over whether the human body is more suited to an omnivorous diet or a herbivorous diet. The article only mentioned one side, so I moved refs and info (with different wording) from the vegetarianism article to cover both sides of the argument. Okiefromokla's sockpuppet/talk 20:40, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

The recent reversion was because (including my point in the edit sumary) that the information was included already in the previous paragraph that humans have the capability to consume meat. We don't need to point out specifically the teeth, because, in realtiy, this is one of the arguments used against omnivorism, as human teeth (blunt canines/cuspids included) are in no way capable of biting into a live animal, (except for maybe a mouse), but certainly not large animals. Cuspids are small and blunt, and do not stand above the other teeth, which makes it impossible to use them in eating meat (meat is consumed when prepared, but in no way do cuspids aid in eating prepared meat, nor are they necessary to do so), and they would be useless in eating a live animal. So it is silly to say that in the article. Again, it's redundant of previous statements that humans can digest both plant and animal food. Okiefromokla's sockpuppet/talk 03:46, 10 January 2008 (UTC)
Before even engaging this debate the following should be answered: why is the advocacy in favour of vegeterianism even necessary on this page? Both of the paragraphs on humans could be cut to one sentence, in my opinion. Marskell (talk) 13:02, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
I agree, some of the recent comments here seem to amount to a WP:SOAP violation. There are very few scientists probably all of which have a political agenda that support the humans-as-herbivores idea. Can't this conversation be moved to its own page or to a page on vegetarianism or something? I really don't believe this belongs in this general scientific article that is meant to address a broad range of animals. -- Dougie WII (talk) 15:12, 13 January 2008 (UTC)
Ok, Marskell and Dougie's arguments make a lot of sense to me. Any "debate" would be if humans are more suited to herbivorism (vegetarianism), not to question if humans can process animal products (which makes us omnivore by definition)... so it really doesn't belong here. I have just removed the discussion of humans all together and inserted "human" to the list of animals considered omnivorous. That makes a lot of sense to me, as the article is about omnivorism in general, not human diet. Sorry for bringing this up, everyone! Okiefromokla's sockpuppet/talk 17:49, 13 January 2008 (UTC)


Thanks SockPuppet, I agree with you in this respect. This article really has nothing to do with Human diet specifically, although I appreciate the fact that you have added Humans to the list. I feel very strongly about what Wikipedia should be, and as such, I don't think Wikipedia is a place that should be used for opinions or ethical subjectivism. Some human cultures are canibalistic, in which case they eat other humans (needless to say, that's gross). That is still considered carnivorism. Eating a mouse, by your example, would still be considered carnivorism. There is no defined point of time in human advancement at which point we would be considered a carnovoire or not. Fact is, humans in general eat meat, whether they ate meat as cave men 10,000 B.C., or in a sushi restaurant in the year 2040, is besides the point.[User:Todd82TA]

Todd82TA, you're missing the point on most things completely, so I'll not comment on your statements.
Okiefromokla, "being able to process animal products" is not what would make them or make not omnivores - cows can also process meat products if they are fed them - they are just not very well suited to do so.
It seems to me, that for humans as omnivores the discussion is still going on (and may never be solved conclusively) - fact is, that we are not very well suited to eat raw meat (or feel a strong impulse to eat raw meat) or even many raw vegetables. All these only became available to us by the earliest forms of technology - that is fire and cooking/roasting. As fire as a tool is available to us for 0.5 to 1 million years, one can argue we are now adapted to cooked food - which wouldn't make us a "classical omnivore" (adapted by evolution to eat raw meat and vegetable matter), but a different category alltogether.
While philosophizing about this is all very well and interesting, doing so in the article would be original research and must be avoided. Still, I would suggest not listing humans as omnivores, as humans are a very special type of animal (i.e. in this case the only one known to cook its food) and as such may not fit the category and is still discussed. So I don't think humans should be removed from the list because they are obviously not omnivores, but because it is not obvious and that they are so. (If you search for omnivores in google scholar, you will find that the term is indeed mostly used on a individual basis, different from what the article describes - e.g. comparing health of vegetarians against that of omnivorous people) 65.37.189.161 (talk) 06:09, 21 September 2008 (UTC)
Just had a look at the German stub - and that states, that the term is not a scientific term and that no precise definition exists - now that is something one could include here - that matches the result from my google scholar search, from which it seems that scientists/biologists are not so much bothered putting humans (or even animals?) in exactly one or the other category. 65.37.189.161 (talk) 07:47, 21 September 2008 (UTC)

sub-classes[edit]

I've recently been thinking about this, shouldn't their be different classes for omnivores such as:
true omnivores- organisms that "need" to consume both plants and animals
Carnivorous omnivores- organisms that can survive off of only meat but can also eat plants, but can not survive off of only plants
Herbivorous omnivores- organisms that can survive off of only plant, but can also eat meat, but can not survive off of only meat (humans, cats, dogs)
Herbacarnivorous omnivores- organisms that eat both plants and animals but can also survive off of either by itself.
I have know idea if there is such a scientific classification such as this so if someone could elaborate on it it would be appreciated. (DrakeLuvenstein (talk) 15:48, 15 December 2008 (UTC))

I think the idea has its merits, but I also think it would be difficult to say which species are what.
This would put us in longer discussions about the differences of "surviving" and "living", not forgetting there are differences even in the same species. Not to mention the questions "what if they were in a different habitat?" or "what if we feed whales with soy beans?"

I think that the definition should be sush as "organisms which can both eat animal and vegetal food sources". A subcategory could be: Mandatory omnivores. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 91.64.114.196 (talk) 00:01, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

Why prose?[edit]

This page currently contains a notice about converting a large portion of it from a list format to prose. Why? It seems like this is one of those articles, or sections of articles, that would work best as a list.rowley (talk) 22:08, 28 December 2008 (UTC)

I removed that, the way it's presented now is fine, at least in context of the overall shape of the article. -- Dougie WII (talk) 22:46, 28 December 2008 (UTC)

Back on track[edit]

Speaking as a vegetarian, I find this discussion both embarrassing and dismaying. It's turned into an arena for those who have a bone to pick with vegetarianism (to use a particularly ironic metaphor). We need to remember what the article (and the discussion) is supposed to be about. There are animal species (and plant and fungi species, for that matter) that are adapted primarily for herbivorous, carnivorous, or omnivorous diets. This article is for discussion of these characteristics; our personal dietary preferences or pet theories have absolutely no bearing on this. This is not a forum for evangelizing or for revising natural history. It's a simple encyclopedic entry about what the word "omnivore" means.rowley (talk) 22:20, 28 December 2008 (UTC)

On the contrary, it seems to have turned into a soapbox for those who want to redefine omnivore to exclude humans. People don't have to eat meat to be healthy, but if we look at humans they way we look at any other species, we are omnivores.--66.162.55.2 (talk) 18:42, 11 March 2009 (UTC)

http://profile.myspace.com/Modules/Applications/Pages/Canvas.aspx?appId=104283&appParams=%7B%22show_user_id%22%3A%22152181648%22%7D hitlist him —Preceding unsigned comment added by 98.71.222.76 (talk) 22:54, 10 March 2009 (UTC)

an organism that eats both plants and meat. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 72.177.216.89 (talk) 01:29, 6 April 2009 (UTC)

Carrionarian[edit]

Not many people know what a carrionarian is, and it looks like there is no article in Wikipedia. I would love to write the article if I knew how and if I had the time to figure it out.

For those who don't know about carrionarianism... we believe that it is wrong to kill an animal. We don't, however, believe that it is wrong to eat dead flesh that hasn't died as a product of murder. Therefore, roadkill and meats found while dumpster diving are suitable for consumption. In other words, any meat that will otherwise be thrown out is acceptable. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 208.120.228.69 (talk) 18:58, 7 May 2009 (UTC)

Sloths, squirrels[edit]

Is it not misleading to feature sloths and squirrels on a list of mammals "omnivorous by nature"? Sloths are mostly folivorous. The article mentions: "Some two-toed sloths have been documented as eating insects, small reptiles and birds as a small supplement to their diet." Squirrel#Diet too, portrays predatory squirrels as interesting exceptions among the family's behaviour in general. In accordance with the classification as defined in this article ("refers to the adaptations and main food source of the species in general, so these exceptions do not make either individual animals nor the species as a whole omnivores."), I suggest removing sloths and squirrels. ---Sluzzelin talk 00:31, 28 February 2010 (UTC)

to simplify:[edit]

It is my belief that cannanbalism, vegetarianism & carrionarism are all choices whereas omnivore, herbivore & carnivore are just a part of nature - our bodies ability to gain the necessary nutrients we need to survive. Omnivore being an animal (inc human) whose body has the ability to break down necessary vitamins & minerals from either vegetables or meat. This means an omnivore can lead a healthy life style eating either a vegetarian diet or meat based diet or combination of both. Carnivores need meat in order to survive, they may be able to eat vegetables but the body is unable to break them down sufficiently to provide necessary nutrients to live. Herbivores need vegetable matter to survive, if a herbivore was feed a meat based diet its digestive system would collapse.Vegiebychoice (talk) 11:12, 9 June 2010 (UTC)

Species considered omnivorous[edit]

This section is very poorly written, poorly sourced, and I think fulfils the criteria for doubtful & harmful that justifies its removal/rewrite. I will post my biggest issues below, and intend to rewrite this section if no one wants to bring it up to Wikipedia standards.

While virtually all mammals may display 'omnivorous' behavior patterns, depending on conditions of supply, culture, etc. - 'Sentence fragment. Assertion is inconsistent with other sections. There is no reason “omnivorous” should be encapsulated in quotes, and even if there were, using single quotes in this way is bad grammar and against WP:MoS.

Mammals will generally prefer one class of food or another, with optimized digestive processes. - Asserting that mammals have both a preference and a uniquely developed digestive system for “one class of food or another” is probably a doubtful and harmful claim. It is poorly written, unsupported, in conflict with other statements in the article, and the term “classes of food” in this use is barely colloquial, let alone scientific.

Depending on the species of bear, there is generally a preference for one class of food or another as plants and animals are digested differently. - Like the one above, this statement is nonsensical as a whole, and the main assertion is both doubtful and harmful. A general preference for one “class” of food is exactly contrary to well-established research on all bear species, or an absurd oversimplification at best. See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070215083202.htm, http://www.bearbiology.com/fileadmin/tpl/Downloads/URSUS/Vol_8/Raine_Kansas_8.pdf, and http://www.jstor.org/pss/3872525.

Humans, chimpanzees and all hominoidea digest fruit best […] - A blanket statement; a peacock term that is neither true nor reliable. The concept of there being a “best” in the digestive system is a gross and inaccurate simplification of a complex physiological process.

[...] but can also resort to meat consumption depending on cultural factors or food supply. - Painted with bias. Hominidae do not need to “resort” to consuming meat. This and similar language throughout this article convey an inaccurate message that omnivores are merely herbivores that can eat meat in a pinch.

[…] Humans generally rely on more technology for most of the meat products in advanced cultures too. But there is no necessity for meat intake when food is available and meat is not digested as well as fruit since fruit digestion involves opposing digestive processes, often reversing digestive difficulties created by meat intake. [12][13] - The writing is very poor here, and again the claims are unsupported and simplified to the point of absurdity. The two citations do not directly support the broad claims made anywhere in this paragraph. Whether meat intake is necessary for a healthy diet is a complex, oft-debated issue that cannot simply be slipped into a closing paragraph with unrelated citations. Neither citation provides any support for “reversing difficulties created by meat intake”, and the author has formed conclusions from the second citation (#13) that attempt to extrapolate some new implication of the study, ignoring the complex variables involved with the case. Ultimately, it is unsupported by the actual empirical results described in the article.

Finally, the idea that fruit digestion involves “opposing forces” is more akin to magic than to animal physiology. I have read Wikipedia’s guidelines carefully, and this paragraph certainly meets the doubtful and harmful standard justifying immediate removal. I am posting here first to allow the author(s) to contest my concerns. Adhillon (talk) 21:42, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

I guess a good part of this section has been removed, for the reasons that you identify. I might try and clean up the grammer if there is no response from the original author in the next few days. Part of what seems to be driving the terrible presentation of the material to date has been that the strict general classification of "vegetarian"/"carnivore"/"omnivore" is not that important for zoologists. In identifying the ecological niches that animals occupy, they will attempt to identify the specific plants/fungi/animals that each species regularly or irregularly consumes. This data is far more relevant from a zoological/ecological perspective than a general classification. Especially interesting is when changed conditions cause a change in ecological niche for sub-set of the population, including in response to human encroachment, as that can be the starting point of rapid evolution (Galapagos finches, etc). Omnivores, as a very general rule, are more opportunistic and less specialized in their environmental niches. But I do not believe that serious zoologists are interested in battles over whether to classify squirrels as omnivorous.
There is likely a decent place for differences in dentition and digestive system length (ruminants, etc.), but it should be noted that these differences exist along a continuum and are often contradictory to behavior (e.g. pandas have a pointy dentition and a short, uncomplicated digestive system, although they consume a grass for primary nutrition in the wild). Perhaps more complicating is fruit or nut consumption, which favors a ""carnivore-type"" dentition and digestion. Pure grass consumption would be extremely difficult or impossible for a squirrel to live on. It would seem obvious from the examples previously cited that most of the battles on this page are around non-grain consuming animals that are not specialized or obligate predators, having a dentition and digestive system well-adapted for either fruit, nut, or animal consumption, and able/likely to consume some mix of all three of these depending on particular circumstance and positive/negative ecological pressures. If we skip the rhetoric about "natural"/"unnatural" and just cover known behaviors in different environments, it would seem to be a way forward to a decent article. Punctum (talk) 15:07, 25 July 2010 (UTC)

"The concept of there being a “best” in the digestive system is a gross and inaccurate simplification" I'd like an opportunity to clarify. What I refer to as "best" is based on the fact that diseases and/or digestive disorders are best avoided with the foods that are digested best for a given species. Plants and animals are not digested equally for the great apes mentioned above. Please consider disease or digestive disorder risks associated with the intake of varied food classes to operationalize the concept of digesting "best" since any mammal can behave as an omnivore.

[...] but can also resort to meat consumption depending on cultural factors or food supply. - "Painted with bias. Hominidae do not need to “resort” to consuming meat." "[C]an resort, not "need to resort". If there is a difference in disease risk or digestive quality related to the intake of a given class or type of food, one can certainly make the assertion that a great ape would be resorting to a dietary compromise for supply or cultural gain.

"This and similar language throughout this article convey an inaccurate message that omnivores are merely herbivores that can eat meat in a pinch." It wasn't my intention to convey that. I want to clarify that 'omnivore' is a loosely defined term, in contrast to herbivore or carnivore. Can we agree on that? Next, my intention is/was to convey that herbivores, granivores, frugivores, etc, may consume meat in whatever quantities they want or need to but health conditions reflect the foods digested with difficulty for a given species. There is no questioning the omnivorous behavior of virtually any mammal. But to do something is not the same as to be something. So far the concept of 'omnivore' has been presented loosely, using circular reasoning- One is an omnivore because one primarily consumes meat and plants... One primarily consumes meat and plants because one is an omnivore...

"The two citations do not directly support the broad claims made anywhere in this paragraph." I am late addressing this but I could easily tighten it up and add more citations to support. The citations did point to differences in insulin levels and acid production related to meat intake, in contrast to fruit digestion.

"Whether meat intake is necessary for a healthy diet is a complex, oft-debated issue that cannot simply be slipped into a closing paragraph with unrelated citations." True. I am new to Wiki and I was confused about discussing the process here. I intended to add more credible references and explanation.

"Finally, the idea that fruit digestion involves “opposing forces” is more akin to magic than to animal physiology." In contrast to meat consumption, fruit digestion involves opposing biochemical digestive processes, not "opposing forces" or magic. If I provide more references on the insulin response, acid production or list additional differences of digestive processes involving iron absorption, enzyme activity, etc, would you be receptive?

Thank you for the feedback. I agree that some of my contributions were poorly written. (H.fructus (talk) 15:58, 30 July 2010 (UTC))

Pandas aren't bears.[edit]

^^ — Preceding unsigned comment added by Fatesdecision (talkcontribs) 04:24, 22 September 2011 (UTC)

Since when? SL93 (talk) 01:06, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

Pandas also AREN'T herbivorous by nature, they are biological/morphological carnivores that can/choose to primarily eat bamboo. It's even arguable that this is a major contributing factor to their nearly inevitable extinction, their lack of sex drive is often attributed to this. Also because they are geared to eat meat but don't their bodies are often suffering the effects of lacking fat and other nutrients, e.g. if a Panda gives birth to 2 cubs it has to abandon 1 due to the poor diet choices of the Panda leaving it barely able to produce enough milk for a single cub let alone 2. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 216.185.23.91 (talk) 18:00, 10 January 2012 (UTC)


Claims about human beings[edit]

I find it rather strange that this article does not emphasise how omnivorous human beings are. This website:


http://science.jrank.org/pages/4860/Omnivore.html

says that human beings are the most omnivorous of all animals. Interestingly, it also stresses pigs and bears as very omnivours animals. The website does not mention rats - but I have always understood that rats, too, are a very omnivorous animal (in fact, I once read in a book, many years ago, that rats and human beings are the two most omnivorous animals and also the two most ubiquitous animals). ACEOREVIVED (talk) 09:28, 25 January 2012 (UTC)

Also, the article says that human beings engage in collaborative group hunting - but was that only the case when we were still hunter-gatherers, before the agricultural revolution? Personally, I would have thought that the only form in which people in many countries do collaborative group-hunting today is when they go to their local supermarket! ACEOREVIVED (talk) 00:40, 26 January 2012 (UTC)


|It's just Wikipedia being Wikipedia again; depending on which sources the editors in question deem 'notable' (ie their point of view), edit hijacking has probably claimed this article like so many others.| CormanoSanchez (talk) 22:16, 6 February 2012 (UTC)

Flexible predators[edit]

Does anybody recall what the term for an opportunistic predator, which will switch prey species when one is driven extinct or nearly extinct is? —Quintucket (talk) 21:14, 5 February 2012 (UTC)

Wikipedia, are you serious?[edit]

The fact that humans are omnivorous is not "disputed". The pro-vegetarian, highly biased and unscientific articles with their own agendas are not a reliable sources. It's like stating that evolution is disputed because some creationists fanatically don't want to believe in it. Or that holocaust is disputed because some people don't want to believe in it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 93.136.89.247 (talk) 03:10, 14 February 2012 (UTC)

No, it is more like saying something is disputed because there are dozens of doctors with MDs, PHDs, and other such certifications that have said that humans are herbivorious. Being that there are well respected members of the scientific community disputing a fact warrents a little "disputed" tag next to it. 50.135.250.142 (talk) 10:17, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

There is no serious controversy about humans being omnivores[edit]

As sometimes happens in Wikipedia, some people with their own agendas are unwilling, or unable, to put aside those agendas in the interest of a neutral POV. Let me be clear that I am sympathetic to the vegetarian lifestyle (though I'm not quite there myself) for ethical reasons. Yet I can put aside those sympathies and state the obvious fact that humans are omnivores, and our ancestors have been for millions of years. Everything from bones of prey species found at homo erectus, homo heidelbergus, homo neanderthalis, and ancient home sapien sites, to our unspecialized dentition, makes this clear. We need larger quantities of protein, and we have a thicker layer of subcutaneous fat, than other primates, both of which point in the direction of historic meat-eating, yet on the other hand, unlike most other placental mammals, we cannot synthesize vitamin C, which points in the direction of needing to ingest plant matter (in particular, fruit). Even our anatomy suggests omnivory. In particular, we do not have the claws and large canines of carnivores, nor do we have the long digestive tract of herbivores. In this way, we are like other classic omnivores: pigs, rats, etc. The fact that we are omnivores has no bearing whatsoever on the question of whether as modern humans we can, or should, be vegeterians for ethical reasons. Our omnivory is simply a scientific fact. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Pgordon2 (talkcontribs) 02:25, 15 April 2012 (UTC)

It isn't put as disputed because random people "with their own agendas are unwilling" to say humans are omnivores. It is put as disputed because there are many scientists that will say that humans are herbivores such as Milton R. Mills and John A. McDougall. You are incorrect to say that we need a large amount of protein. Most, such as the World Health Organization, say that you only need about 5% of your diet to be from protein, this being added with several safety cushions, not the absolute minimum required. It makes sense now to just not include humans since it isn't showing every single one to avoid the debate. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 50.135.250.142 (talk) 10:22, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

I don't know Mills and McDougal, whether as scientists or biologists, nor yet as writers, but if you are quoting them fairly, their views on our omnivory aren't worth a cup of cold nettle juice on a warm winter's day in Antarctica. To characterise an organism as herbivorous, that for the most part elects to eat as much animal food as it can get, and relishes wide ranges of plant food as well, whether first-world-educated or hunter-gatherer, an organism that has an alimentary canal intermediate between that of a specialist carnivore and a specialist herbivore, but pretty generally similar to most omnivorous mammals, and with dentition to match, suggests too much sense of humour and too little sense of logic or relevance for a scientist, so pardon my scepticism of the chain of reporterage. If you reckon that a matter is to be settled to indulge your tastes in what to call "scientific facts" <phew!> by your being able to adduce the views of "... many scientists that will say that humans are herbivores such as Milton R. Mills and John A. McDougall", then pray accept my commiserations, but while I don't know what you think is a "scientific fact", I can tell you comfortably that for a start, that one won't fly. You would do better to go back to some elementary textbooks and work your way through. Let us know if you need help. Then you can go and tell M & Mc that you are willing to help them in turn.
And "only 5% of your diet in the form of protein?" You are serious? Without qualification concerning the nature of the protein or the rest of the diet? That is your idea of a small amount? And your idea of why to call us herbivores? And the absolute minimum of protein we require, you would regard as grounds for classifying us as specialist herbivores? Like cattle? Or hoatzins? Or specialist carnivores like Felis, or Gasterophilus or Plasmodium? What makes you so shy of instead classing us with pigs and baboons? Tell you what; I'll compile a diet for you that is meat-free and nutritious and sanitary, guaranteed to keep, say, cattle sheep and goats healthy, not to mention hundreds of other herbivorous species. After you have subsisted on nothing else for a couple of months, you come back and try an avowed human carnivore on a corresponding meat diet, say something that the sainted Dr. Atkins dreamed up. <ugh!> Then after another month condemn me to a diet of my own making, with a nice line in flesh, fowl, fish, fruit, filberts, flabs of flocolate, and all those horrible omnivorous foods. Then we can compare notes and see who has the happiest gut, teeth, heart, and all that sort of thing.
My money is on the omnivores.
But I at least don't base the validity of the article on that.
Must try harder. JonRichfield (talk) 12:04, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

Tags and rags[edit]

EWikist put in a couple of tags about style and source. Perhaps they are justified, and perhaps the shortcomings can be fixed, but the tags are so non-specific that I for one have no idea what parts are supposed to need editing. Please supply enough detail to support an initiative. I am not inclined to rewrite the article as it stands without any idea of what to start on. JonRichfield (talk) 06:45, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

The primary concern I had was with the tone--the "copy and pasted" tag was a result of that. Certain sentences, such as those containing the words "we" or "in summary" make the article sound like a published paper of some sort; this doesn't mean it's inaccurate, but rather incongruent with the general style of writing for Wikipedia. Because of this tone, I wanted to raise the concern that the content could have been taken from another source (one which does not adhere to the same Manual of Style), as opposed to being written specifically for Wikipedia. Sorry for the confusion, and happy editing! EWikistTalk 13:57, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

Hmmm... OK. I'll have a look. Thanks. Wish me luck! JonRichfield (talk) 14:08, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

OK again. I have had a quick look and committed some violence. You need not worry about the cribbing; the text you mention was my own wording out of my own head and refs. I am in a hurry just now, so please have another crit. If all is perfection, I forgot to remove the tags. If not, well, that is a messy, much-bedraggled article and with a few hints I might inflict further surgery, Cheers, for now JonRichfield (talk) 15:10, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

I'd say that we should leave the tone tag on, but, judging from what you said, the copy-and-paste tag definitely does not belong here, so I'll remove that one. Great work! EWikistTalk 21:37, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

Moved to here[edit]

The following sentence was previously added by me to the lead, primarily as a "guide" for those seeking relevant information. The links provided intended to serve the purpose of introducing topics that are not adequately covered in the article, if at all. This seems out-of-place, therefore I am moving it here:

Specific morphology of trophic adaptation and evolutionary modularity of metabolism is responsible for their optimization and broadening the range of usable resources within a varied, scarce or changing biogeographic ecosystem.

~Eric F 74.60.29.141 (talk) 22:17, 11 October 2012 (UTC)

Essay[edit]

The "Definition" section seems more like an essay ("On Why 'Omnivore' is a Meaningless Term"), rather than an encyclopaedic definition. For example:

One might be tempted to impose a taxonomic definition, irrespective of actual diet, appealing to the Carnivora as a taxon in which, in spite of their being Carnivora, most species in the order eat at least some vegetable matter.

Or:

Nor is it rewarding to argue whether to call an animal an omnivore because it eats mainly animal food at one stage of its life, and plant matter at another, even though many diverse animals do so and in many different ways.

I don't think there is/has ever been a notable movement to create an "Omnivoria" taxon, nor does anyone choose to lable animals as one thing or another because they feel it is "rewarding" to do so. IMO this section should be severly trimmed to say that an omnivore is an animal that eats both meat and vegetable matter, while explaining that this isn't always as clear a distinction as one might think (with examples). Iapetus (talk) 12:28, 7 February 2013 (UTC)

I wrote most of that section quite some time ago, and admit on re-reading it that it is overdue for a bit of conditioning. However, your remarks are not in all respects apposite. The text did not suggest that the concept of omnivory is meaningless, only that treating it in terms that might be thought to be taxonomically meaningful would be misleading at best. Nor does it suggest that there ever was or should or should not have been any movement to do anything with the term, let alone create a taxon "Omnivora" or "Herbivora"; it merely pointed out that the term is used widely and carelessly in senses that present no problem to zoologists and ecologists. It is however common for to non-biologists (i.e. the majority of our readers) to imagine that such words are of a rank and significance similar to say, "Carnivora". To clarify the matter for such people is a duty.
Please note that in science it is in every way appropriate to label organisms and other entities with the names of taxa because it is rewarding to do so; why else would one do it? Would you like to explain why one would use an unrewarding system of semantics? what one "feels like" doing is a more complex matter, but a taxonomist "feels like" labelling taxa because it is useful, helpful, and in fact essential in science and to some extent even in everyday non-technical matters. Do you have any alternative suggestion? Perhaps you would prefer the term "useful"?
Now, do you feel like cooperating with me in the editing of the text? If not, I would be quite happy to do so myself and invite you to criticise the new version before putting it to bed. (By the way, I applaud your courtesy and constructive attitude in not simply deleting the text you disagreed with, as many participants do rather than being constructive.) JonRichfield (talk) 19:14, 8 February 2013 (UTC)
Jon Richfield makes some good points. Rather than just criticize, help with editing. For me this article is fine the way it is, especially since no one has stepped forward to do a rewrite. The article is informative enough and well enough sourced and conforms to Wikipedia formatting. No one has come forward to rewrite since 2008, and 2012 so I am removing tags. This article seems to be written by a knowledgeable person. ---- Steve Quinn (talk) 05:00, 15 June 2013 (UTC)
I would tend to disagree. I don't think it was appropriate to remove the tags, especially the tone one. I'd also add a pov tag. My opinion is that this article needs a major revision. Going to see what I can do. Ljpernic (talk) 22:43, 29 September 2013 (UTC)

Major overhaul[edit]

Just did a major overhaul of the article. Made a few sections less essay-like and more straightforward. Added a few citations needed. Simplified the parts about "fuzzy logic". If there are any suggestions or problems, let me know! I'm watching the page, so reply below. Ljpernic (talk) 23:36, 29 September 2013 (UTC)

Question of whether people are adapted to eat meat[edit]

I removed the addition about people not being physically or genetically adapted to eat meat with the source from michaelbluejay.com because it doesn't pass muster as far as sources go. I don't think it is out of the question to include this long standing vegetarian apologia about people not being evolved to eat meat, but it has to be really thoroughly sourced, and not fall under WP:Fringe Ljpernic (talk) 13:20, 4 November 2013 (UTC)

Sorry, JNW's edit apparently beat mine out. Also, I hate sinebot.Ljpernic (talk) 13:20, 4 November 2013 (UTC)