Gorillas are practically vegan. They eat plants, mainly leaves. “There is a virtual absence of foods of animal origin.”
In this study (http://jn.nutrition.org/cgi/reprint/127/10/2000), some scientists studied the diet of wild western lowland gorillas, from the Central African Republic. The gorillas ate about 200 different species of plants. However, they were eating practically no meat. Gorillas do not hunt. They do not fish. They do not keep chickens, cows, goats, or sheep. Gorillas do eat a few insects and other creepy-crawlies now and then. In other words, a wild gorillas’ diet is 99.9% vegan.
How much fat, protein, and carbohydrate did this vegan diet supply? By calorie, the diet was 2.5% fat, 15.8% carbohydrate, and 24.3% protein. That’s a lot of protein! Gorillas mainly eat leaves. Leaves are low in calories, but a lot of their calories are in the form of protein. To get enough calories, a gorilla has to eat a lot of leaves. But if it eats enough leaves to get enough calories, it will automatically get enough protein.
The scientists estimated that these wild gorillas were getting 57.3% of their calories from the fiber in their diet. Dietary fiber includes things like cellulose, hemicellulose and pectin, which are found only in plants. These substances are made up of long chains of sugar molecules. But animals cannot make the enzymes to break them down into sugar again. Thus, they will pass through your small intestine intact. But in your large intestine, they will be broken down by bacteria. Bacteria can make the enzymes that break down fiber. This process is called fermentation because it does not use oxygen in the form of O2. This fermentation process produces some short-chain fatty acids, such as butyric acid. These short-chain fatty acids are an important source of energy, particularly for the cells that line the large intestine. To learn about short-chain fatty acids, click here
Photo by jnissa