A study published in the journal Cell Biology has shown that Bronze Age European warriors lacked the genetic mutation that allows adults to digest milk, suggesting that the widespread practice of Europeans drinking cow’s milk we see today came about much later than previously thought. It shows that even Europeans, like many other people in the planet today, were biologically ill-equipped to digest milk as adults not that long ago. Researchers analysed DNA from 14 skeletons found on the ground of a battle that happened 3000 years ago around the Tollense river in northern Germany and discovered they did not have the lactase persistent mutation that allows digesting milk after weaning. 

The research shows that the lactase persistence we see in Europeans today did not appear 8000 years ago with the first European farmers, as a previous 2007 study suggested. Other studies have shown lactase persistence was widespread across the region by 1000 C.E, so this means that the gene in question spread through the population between 3000 and 1000 years ago, much more recently. The results also quashed the 2015 theory that the gene was imported to Western Europe at about 5000 B.C.E. by the Yamnaya people, cow-herding nomads from the steppes of modern-day Russia and Ukraine. Other studies have revealed that the theory that our ancestors Homo erectus eat more meat than the hominids they evolved from could be false as it may be the result of a problem in evidence collection. All this new research is gradually unveiling that the idea of consuming animal products being “the norm” in prehistorical human societies may be wrong,  because it may be the result of confirmation bias from carnist scientists who try to justify why they are still consuming such products despite the evidence of the health problems they cause. 

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.