A woman at work put me onto a vegan diet that cuts out--besides the obvious meat, dairy and eggs--processed foods, sugar and anything fattening. On the diet you're supposed to eat nothing but fruits and vegetables (even olive oil is not recommended). I've been reading the website and there are a few people listed who have managed to cure their IBS symptoms by doing this. (http://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2005star/050406starjeff.htm
The author of this diet, Dr. McDougall, points out that "back in the day" meat was a luxury item that most people only ate at holidays. The artistocracy ate much more meat and were consequently much fatter and had fat-related diseases. Anyone who's had a look at Henry VIII knows what a fat artistocrat looks like (it didn't help that refined sugar was becoming the new fad in cooking at that time too). I do medieval re-enacting, so I know that most of what he says is true. Peasants did not eat a lot of meat; pigs were the only animals they raised solely for meat. Cows were for milk, bulls for plow work. Sheep were for wool and chickens for eggs. They would have only had meat from these animals when they became too old to be useful in their primary function, or if they had too many animals to support through the winter. Even then meat was probably sold for cash to pay taxes and rents. And a book I'm reading now says that milk was converted to cheese or butter; no one but babies drank it. Fish was much more likely to be found on a peasant's table. Also, there's the whole thing of meatless fasting on Fridays, Advent, and Lent, to name a few.
I think there's probably some truth in the fact that we're not made to eat as much meat as we currently do. If we think about our caveman ancestors, meat was a sometimes thing. Men went out, killed something, brought it home and cooked it. They didn't hunt everyday; hunting was dangerous and very energy-consuming. The calories spent hunting probably came close to equaling the calories consumed by the meat. What the women gathered--the plants--were what made up the bulk of the diet. When a hunt failed, there was still something back at the cave to eat. If we look at the apes we may or may not be descended from (regardless, they are our genetic kin), the ones which are omnivorous have a primarily plant-based diet.
I'm not ready to toally give up meat, but I think I can live with less. Has anyone else tried a vegan diet to help their IBS? I like chicken too much to give it up wholly, but I can stand to eat more vegetables (as long as said vegetables are in a soy or teryaki sauce) and reduce the amount of chicken I eat. I would have no problems giving up dairy, eggs and other meats.