I WOULD like to comment on the letter from E Sanderson (ViewPoints, October 19) in which he asserts that humans are herbivores. I would like to politely disagree.

While I can agree with him that eating excessive amounts of low quality cooked meat, sausages and burgers is bad for one, especially those that contain large quantities of nitrite preservatives, eating meat in moderation is not.

In reply I try to look at the evidence (being a retired biologist). Scientists try to avoid making woolly assertions.

I start by observing that human dentition is that of an omnivore. If we had not evolved to eat meat, we would not possess incisors, which tear meat into digestible portions.

Furthermore, we do not possess the huge molars such as those of cows, which grind plant material into a very fine paste, and of course we cannot digest cellulose, which is the largest single component of most plants: true herbivores can.

I move on to point out that the earliest known true humans are omnivores.

I conclude with the fact that, in the UK, much of Wales, Northern England and Scotland is quite unsuitable for growing cereals (the soil is too thin and rocky), but is excellent for the sustainable production of extensive livestock, especially sheep and cattle.

This has been carried out for thousands of years, with “hefted” flocks and herds. What else would we use for this huge area if we were all vegetarians?

I believe that the way forward is for the human race to eat much less meat as part of a varied diet, but to eat much better quality meat when they do so.

BOB JOHNSTON, Liberal Democrat councillor, Radley ward, Vale of White Horse District Council, Kennington Road, Kennington