For those of you who couldn’t attend the first-ever Ancestral Health Symposium that happened August 5th and 6th, I’ll try not to rub it in your face that you missed out on one of the most fantastic health events in the history of the universe. I won’t tell you how you should have soul-crushing regrets about not purchasing a ticket in time, or how you should feel so ill with remorse that you skip work for the rest of the week and sob quietly on your bedroom floor, lamenting. Because that would just be mean.
But seriously, you should have been there because this thing was all sorts of awesome.
For anyone who hasn’t read the smorgasbord of blog posts chronicling the symposium (or the live Tweeting from fast-fingered folks like Lindsay Starke, Diane Sanfilippo, and Jimmy Moore), here’s the gist. Six hundred attendees and an impressive lineup of speakers converged at UCLA for an epic two days of presentations. Superstars Brent Pottenger and Aaron Blaisdell deserve mega kudos for putting this thing together, and for extending their generosity in more ways that can reasonably expected of mortal beings (Brent played chauffeur for disoriented, diva-like presenters, and Aaron opened his lovely home to a bunch of paleo loonies who dribbled wine and steak juice all over the floor).
Fifty volunteers—whipped into docility by the fabulous Gavin Impett—manned the cameras, conducted interviews, endured merciless teasing, and otherwise ensured that nothing went kaboom during the event. These folks worked incredibly hard behind the scenes and somehow, by either elbow grease or sorcery, made the whole symposium run with nary a hitch. Considering this is the first time this event took place and no one really knew what to expect, the seamlessness of it all was pretty amazing. Great job, guys.
The pre-symposium potluck for presenters and volunteers was also fantastic. Here’s a picture of me and interviewer-volunteer Alyssa Rhoden, which is the sole piece of visual evidence I have that I was there. For anyone who needs more proof of my existence, there are other pictures floating around the interwebs too, in which I’m half-blinking or doing weird things with my face.
Seeing as I’m fashionably late to the AHS blogging parade, I’ll try not to rehash too much of what’s already been said. The recorded presentations are being uploaded here for your viewing pleasure, and if you want a detailed account of each lecture, other bloggers have already done a nice job of capturing the fine points.
Stuff I really, really liked about the symposium:
Diversity. I was pleasantly surprised by the range of ancestrally-inspired diets represented there. If you’ve read much of this blog, you probably know that my own diet is an unconventional blend of raw foods, paleo, and Weston A. Price principles—and up until now, I was never quite sure there was room for me within the “ancestral health” umbrella. This symposium changed my mind about that. Some speakers (and attendees) were of the low-carb persuasion, like Michael Eades and Gary Taubes. Others were either macronutrient-agnostic or welcomed a higher-carbohydrate approach, like Stephan Guyenet and Don Matesz. I shared a fructoselicious grapefruit lunch with Danny Roddy, whose own diet experiments led him to an eating style much like mine. I met an intriguing fellow named Lex Rooker who’s been eating but nothing but raw meat for the past decade, and on the other end of the spectrum, a “lacto-ovo paleo” dieter who eats no meat or fish (more on him in a moment).
All in all, the symposium reflected a major element of the ancestral health community, which is that there is no single ‘paleo’ diet. I’m confident in saying that the symposium would be a great experience for anyone interested in using an ancestral framework to improve their health, whether or not you consider yourself “paleo” by the popular definition. There was very little of the unchallenged groupthink sometimes infusing this type of event, and plenty of encouragement to question convictions about diet and fitness. Some intellectual dueling even occurred between two well-respected figures, Stephan Guyenet and Gary Taubes. The overall vibe was more “tribe” than “cult.” And that is a very good thing indeed.
People. As much as I enjoyed watching the presentations, I think the biggest perk of the symposium was the social aspect—having so many amazing people in one place, and being able to meet them in person. If you read this blog, chances are good that there’s something not-quite-mainstream about you. Maybe you’re like me—a food outcast who picks strawberries off appetizer plates at parties while everyone else eats the pizza and cake. Maybe you feel secretly sickened walking through the food court in malls, seeing various vegetable-oil-fried meals sliding down the throats of the masses. Maybe you really like to be barefoot… all the time. Whatever your quirks are, you’re probably a misfit to some degree, and you’ve probably just learned to suck it up and live with it.
Now imagine being in a room with 600 people who are just as weird as you are. They read the same blogs you do. They loved that same podcast you listened to last week, where the one dude interviewed the other dude. They wouldn’t be caught dead taking the elevator instead of the stairs unless both their legs fell off. All you have to do is say the word “No…” and they interject with “gluten.” It’s like being surrounded with clones of yourself, except your clones happen to be awesomer, cooler, and way more interesting than you are, so conversation with them is outrageously fun.
This is what the symposium was. A gathering of like minds. A community. It was a rare and wonderful experience.
Also, everyone was really good looking. I know that’s been mentioned a few times in other blogs, and there’s a reason for that. The people at AHS looked the way humans are supposed to look: vibrant, glowing, and as alert as one can be when running on four hours of sleep. Holy hotness, Batman!
Some of the new, wonderful people I got to connect with include:
- Melissa McEwen, who is whip-smart and almost unbearably adorable;
- Chris Masterjohn, who’s a rare blend of genius and modesty;
- Stephan Guyenet, who is every bit as zen-like and intelligent as you’d expect from his blog;
- David Csonka, who is not only a hoot, but managed to rise to eminence despite his questionable upbringing as a trumpet player;
- Robb Wolf, who announced his return to low-fat veganism and spent the whole symposium eating rice cakes (just kidding, he’s legit);
- Nora Gedgaudas, who is one of the sweetest and warmest people I’ve ever met;
- Tom Naughton, who (amazingly) remained in good spirits despite sleep deprivation, LA disgruntlement, and a battery of travel snafus;
- Don Matesz and his beautiful wife, both of whom are incredibly kind and polite;
- Richard Nikoley, in all his barefooted glory, who I finally got to thank face-to-face for sailing my China Study critique all over the ‘net (also, his wife is one foxy lady);
- Danny Roddy, lover of raw fish and tropical fruit, who stole my diet but is so cool that I won’t even consider suing him over it;
- Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet, who are as intelligent and approachable in person as they are on their blog (and whose book clearly influenced the shift towards a greater acceptance of starch among many attendees);
- Andrew Badenoch (AKA Evolvify), who rocks a kilt and has a subtle Evil Genius vibe;
- Debbie Young (AKA Grassfed Momma), who can best be described as the human equivalent of sunshine;
- John Durant, whose laid-back demeanor conceals his weird obsession with hair accessories and galoshes;
- Emily Deans, who is not only brilliant but also incredibly lovely and down to earth;
- J. Stanton, who is a smarty pants with an impressive ponytail mohawk (which I’m convinced is where he stores his smarty-pantsness);
- Jack Kruse (AKA the Quilt), who is a powerhouse of ideas and knowledge, and will no doubt be making tsunami-sized waves in the health world;
- and Diane Sanfilippo, who I only saw from afar but was wearing sweet boots and had arms so magnificent they could make a grown man weep (before crushing his head with their brute strength).
Add to that list the 50 volunteers and quite a few of the amazing attendees. I’m so excited to finally have faces to put on the names of some of the blog readers here. Meeting you guys seriously made my year. To quote Stephan Guyenet: “This is like being in the internet.”
Paleo and vegetarianism: let’s be friends!
My symposium presentation was called “How to Win an Argument With a Vegetarian”—which was a play on a similarly-named Vegsource article called “How to Win an Argument With a Meat Eater.” In general, I don’t recommend debating with vegetarians who haven’t picked a fight with you first, or thumping your chest screaming “MEAT! Rawwwwr!” in an effort to drag them back onto the animal-food bandwagon. Not only is diet-proselytizing obnoxious, but when your victim is sitting unobtrusively in the corner with cup of green tea and a Thich Nhat Hanh book, attacking them makes you look like a dipwad.
Heck, the vast majority of vegetarians I know (and I know lots) are totally awesome people, whose dietary choices stem from the desire to live a compassionate life, save geriatric ol’ Mother Earth, and hopefully improve their health in the process. Even though I don’t agree that shunning animal products will make you healthier or even make your diet more sustainable, I understand the motivations for going veggie (I was one for ten years), and don’t think war-like “conversion” efforts from omnivores are warranted. As Robb Wolf commented at the end of my speech, it’s better to spend your time helping people who are already receptive to change—otherwise, you can waste a lot of time shouting into deaf ears.
But that’s not really what I want to talk about in this post.
There’s a small but existent portion of the population that will always be vegetarian. Always. Maybe their motivation is ethical. Maybe they just can’t separate the sight of steak from the image of Daisy the cow mooing tragically at the slaughterhouse. Maybe their religion mandates meatlessness. Maybe it’s an ingrained part of their culture. Maybe they share a roof with T. Colin Campbell. Or maybe they just have an aversion to animal flesh and are drawn more to the bounty of the plant kingdom. Whatever their reason, no amount of evolutionary history, Lierre Keith quotes, or “population XYZ eats meat and is healthy!” arguments will un-vegetarianize them—so issues of optimality aside, a meat-free diet is what they have to work with.
I think, up until this point, the paleo community has either ostracized these folks or dismissed them as lost causes. How could a diet that defines itself by meatlessness be compatible with an ancestral framework, in which meat has always been present and perhaps even pivotal in our evolution? How can paleo folk see eye-to-eye with the vegetarians and their grain love, soy fixation, and neolithic mock-meats made from hunks of pure gluten?
Although I’ve generally seen more “us vs. them” vitriol coming from the meat-free community than from the paleosphere, the animosity definitely goes both ways. Which brings me to the point of all this. At the Ancestral Health Symposium this month, I had the pleasure of meeting a bona-fide meat-free, lacto-ovo paleo dieter. For real. This brave soul (let’s call him Aravind, because that’s his name) came to the symposium not because he wanted to freeload off beef jerky samples, but because he tailors what most people would consider a “vegetarian” diet into an ancestral framework. No grains except white rice for him. No excess fructose. No industrial seed oils. No soy—only small amounts of traditionally-prepared legumes. The only thing that separates him from the rest of the crowd is that his sole animal products are eggs and high-quality, grass-fed dairy.
And indeed, Aravind appeared to be in mighty fine health. When I shook his hand, he neither fell over nor crumbled into a pile of sawdust. You couldn’t distinguish him from the omnivores in the room—and had he not outed himself, we’d be none the wiser to his meatlessness. He was a stark contrast to the stereotype of “pale, sunken-eyed vegetarians” we’ve all seen wandering the aisles of Whole Foods.*
*I hate using this description, I really do—because I’ve also known “regular” vegetarians who looked fantastic, and junkfoodarians who get sick less often than their health-conscious counterparts, old people who stay bright and youthful eating their daily Maple Bars, and countless other examples of where diet doesn’t seem to correlate with appearance. But as someone who spent a whole lot of time around vegetarians and vegans in the past, there’s definitely a “look” about some of them that I like to call the Veg*n Deterioration Glaze. It doesn’t strike everyone… but you know it when you see it.
Aravind represents a rare, under-discussed intersection between ancestral eating and vegetarianism. And the more I’ve been thinking about this, the more I’ve realized how lame it is that this converging point is so neglected. By bashing vegetarians because of their meat avoidance, we’re alienating a chunk of the population that would probably be really, really receptive to other principles of ancestral eating, because they’re already likely to be health conscious. Instead of giving up when someone tells you meat is a no-go, why not discuss other areas they can improve on standard vegetarianism—like switching from gluten grains to “safe starches” like tubers and rice; eliminating processed meat replacements and soy products; avoiding added sugars; reducing omega-6 intake and replacing industrial seed oils with coconut oil, grass-fed butter, or ghee; emphasizing full-fat, raw-when-possible dairy; eating shellfish if it’s not an ethical concern; sourcing eggs from pastured hens; preparing grains or legumes traditionally to reduce toxins and anti-nutrients; and so forth?
I think Aravind summed it up well in a post on Paleohacks:
Paleo is about toxin avoidance. It is not about being a meatasaur, low carber, re-enactor, etc. I am a very proud member of this community and a very strong supporter of the movement. … This community is squandering a huge opportunity to gain the support of a crowd (like me) that is completely on board with the virtues of avoiding neolithic toxins and actually would lend support to our movement.
So back to the whole “win an argument with a vegetarian” thing. If you encounter a committed vegetarian who’s sincerely interested in being healthy, debating them about meat is probably the worst thing you can do. A better approach is to seek out areas of commonality and help them make changes they’re comfortable with, helping them design the best possible diet within the bounds of vegetarianism.
(By the way: There’s a reason I’m talking about vegetarianism rather than veganism here. As I mentioned in my presentation, I think the difference between veganism and vegetarianism is much greater than the difference between vegetarianism and omnivorism, both psychologically and in execution. I think it’s possible for many folks to pull off being a vegetarian with enough planning and high-quality, non-meat animal foods, but veganism is a lot trickier to stay healthy on.)
“Neolithic Agents of Disease”: the common denominator
In the spirit of emphasizing similarities, I also want to expand on something I talked about in my AHS presentation. A common anti-paleo argument from vegans and vegetarians is that plant-based diets—particularly the low-fat, starch-based ones advocated by Dean Ornish, Neal Barnard, John McDougall, and Caldwell Esselstyn—have been “proven” to prevent or reverse chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. (“So neener, neener, nah nah; we win!”) These diets eliminate animal foods, sharply limit fat, and embrace whole grains—making them the apparent antithesis to paleo eating. Ouch! Score one for the vegans, right?
Indeed, if we look at a starch-based diet and, say, a low-carb paleo diet in terms of what they both include, we won’t find much in common. Vegetables and… well, that’s about it. But if we look at them from the perspective of what both diets systematically exclude, that’s where some interesting similarities pop up. Whether you eat a nearly-carnivorous diet or a low-fat, plant-based one advocated by Dean Ornish, you’ll be avoiding:
- All forms of processed, refined sugar, including high-fructose corn syrup
- All industrial oils (including high-omega-6 varieties like soybean and corn oil)
- Refined grains like white flour
- Fruit juice and other sugary beverages
- Industrially processed foods*
* In his book “Eat More, Weigh Less,” Ornish recommends avoiding all processed or “convenience” foods with over 2 grams of fat per serving. I can’t say that I spend a whole lot of time reading the backsides of Hungry Man dinners and Little Debbie snacks, but my limited knowledge on the subject tells me most processed foods have way more than 2 grams of fat.
Now let’s compare that “avoid” list with what Kurt Harris refers to as the three neolithic agents of disease—the modern nasties driving many of our health woes:
- Excess fructose
- Excess linoleic acid (typically from high-omega-6 oils like soybean oil)
- Wheat or gluten
Ancestral or “paleo” diets specifically eliminate all three. Incidentally, the near-vegan diets with a track record for fighting disease eliminate the first two. And in many cases, they inadvertently slash wheat intake by promoting a more diverse spectrum of grains, tubers, and legumes than the average person on an industrialized diet consumes (in which grain products are overwhelmingly wheat-based).
For example, check out this McDougall Program health clinic menu and play “spot the starches.” Notice—first of all—the liberal use of potatoes, squash, and legumes rather than grains as the meal centerpiece. But even among the grain-containing items, how many use wheat? Only nine out of 26. Instead of seeing an endless stream of bread, crackers, pretzels, bakery items, cookies, and other common wheat-based foods, there’s an abundance of rice, barley, quinoa, and corn. And that accidental reduction of wheat (if it really is uniquely problematic among grains) may contribute to the success of whole-foods, plant-based diets in treating disease.
Moving on to one final thing:
Clarification. After my presentation, I noticed the quote “Salad is what food eats” started fluttering around on Twitter, attributed to me. This was actually said by an audience member and I just repeated it into the mic for everyone else to hear. Yeah, it’s a cute phrase. But considering I eat salad and have already been “outed” as a meat-based organism, I’m not sure I really like its implications.
Hey, Denise, you are making friends again with Ornish and Esselstine and McDougall! Is Campbell next? Good for you! Anyway, a really fun piece with a real point too, as always–thanks. Even though I still am–at least for the time being–a card-carrying Esselstyn/Campbellite, I have bought your about-to-be publisher’s “Primal Blueprint” and promise to keep on reading and thinking (and viewing-is there a video of you at work at the meeting?) Best, Chris
Hey Chris — glad to hear you keep an open mind, card-carrying Campbellite or not. 😉 The video of my symposium speech isn’t up yet (as far as I know) but I’ll link to it from my blog once it is.
I love the post. Carl Sagan once said: “Near the core of the religious experience is something deeply irrational.” I believe it. This is why I don’t do God debates.
The same thing is true for many vegetarians, and what you have written here makes a lot of sense.
Wow Denise, 2 blog posts in 2 week span? Are we seeing a new trend here?!? LOL
I know, right? I’m even replying to comments. What’s the world coming to?!
Nice post. I presume you’re familiar with the Jains and their diet? They’re the one example I’m aware of of a long-term successful vegetarian culture. I shared an office with a Jain for a couple of years, and it was very educational. They’re very aware of the nutritional shortcomings of their diet, and how to work around them. I wholly respect that choice, made from a legitimate ethical base with full knowledge of what they’re doing. And no nonsense about “people evolved to be vegetarian”. The ethical merit of the Jain choice, as I understand it, is that they know they’re carnivores, but choose not to be. I don’t share that choice, but I respect what they’re trying to accomplish.
I agree with Aravind’s take entirely.
Thanks for rubbing it in for us knuckleheads who didn’t go this year. I, for one, won’t be repeating that mistake.
And I’m kind of sorry to hear the “Salad is what food eats” wasn’t your quote. I also eat salad, but found that line hilarious.
Actually, Tuck, Hindus along with Jains, are two examples of long-term successful, ancestral vegetarians. Not all Hindus were or are vegetarian, but many were/are.
I first heard the salad reference on an episode of “That 70’s Show”.
“Kitty” (Debra Jo Rupp) serves “Red” (Kurtwood Smith) a salad for dinner.
His response: “This isn’t food. It’s what food eats!”
Hi Denise. I enjoy your posts very much. Very readable, reasonable and funny. Wish I could’ve made the AHS.
Thanks Ben. Come next year’s AHS if you can make it!
Denise, stop being so sensible! Bombastic and irrational makes much better headlines. 😀
That’s such a trumpet-player thing to say. 😛
Thank you so much! I have been struggling to integrate my increasingly vegetarian leanings (based on personal ethics, which I have no intention of imposing on anyone or arguing about) with believing that paleo had a lot of health promise. Your post has just pointed me in the right direction! 🙂
And in my personal experience and observations, I have seen both paleo and vegetarians/vegans who have been either equally and ugly vicious towards each other, or contemptuously dismissive. This is too bad though unfortunately, entirely psychologically explainable… But I hope to see more viewpoints embracing diversity and commonalities like the one you describe!
Denise – thanks so much for this post. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it. I cannot take credit for “coming out” unsolicited. We can blame my friend (questionable?) Kamal for calling me out in front of 100s of meat-eaters 🙂 I’m glad he did !!! I’m looking forward to more “us” and less “them”!
I got your back too bro. I don’t bring knives to gun fights either, and always have extra mags 😉
Forks over knives, knives over guns 😉
if your on facebook check out https://www.facebook.com/groups/116409718456748/
Theres a thread discussing veg*n paleo and a wiki doc with notes on how to do it. we could use your input.
Pixel – I have added my 2 cents to the thread on FB. When I have more time, maybe I can add a whole dime!
Thank YOU for inspiring much of this post! Kamal outing you was definitely a good thing, despite the initial perceived injustice of it all. He’s got a big heart. …Which I’m sure you’ll find out when you murder him in his sleep and devour his raw, delicious organ meats.
“I don’t eat meat unless it’s the organ meat of a friend I just killed because he pissed me off”….that seems like a reasonable position to adopt and hopefully will be considered a valid defense in the eyes of our legal system.
Actually I outed myself on PH a while ago, so I didn’t mind. I have to give Kamal props for deftly leading up to the outing under the guise of a question for you. The lesson learned is clear – never trust a cross dresser that looks like Audrey Tattou!
Raw liver with fava beans…. Hannibal Lector style! Oh, sorry soaked and fermented fava beans! LOL
re: “Salad is what food eats…” Too easy… 😉 I’ll just leave a related video that’s kind of funny: http://y2u.be/p-Ao6vgBJv8
Me and my vegan friends read this post with great delight tonight on a big LCD TV. They are the friends that I asked you a question about at AHS–the rare subspecies of vegetarian who knows about paleo, is learning about neolithic agents of disease, and is considering optimizing their meat-free diet armed with this knowledge. One even rarer subspecies has very very few members, such as my main man Aravind, who ventured all the way to LA as a lacto-ovo paleo.
A couple things: first, vegan-paleo newbies such as my friends are interested in why exactly you eat what you eat (seemingly a low-meat raw diet, influenced by local fare). Maybe I haven’t snooped around your site enough, but it would be cool if you did a more incisive expose on your current diet. The raw-journey series is nice, but the concluding post begs the question of why you eat what you eat, which inquiring minds want to know. My friend here was brimming with questions about raw vs cooked veggies and meats, protein quality, etc etc.
Second: are you going to go to school for nutritional epidemiology? Although it can get extremely tedious, you’re a whiz at it. One interesting study that was published last year looks at the results of randomized trials when compared to the results of cohort studies, when looking at the same food or nutrient, and tries to ascertain which foods or nutrients can be accurately studied using cheaper methods with retrospective data analysis. I think this concept could be cool to look at for paleo, as paleo randomized trials are few and far between. Maybe you can do it, because you like data?
Damnit, Kamal! We are vegan-paleo oldies, not newbies. >:)
“the rare subspecies of vegetarian who knows about paleo”
Actually the “raw food movement” really is the granddaddy of paleo here in the West and the Raw Food Movement is a vegan one.
When I first heard of the so-called “paleo diet”, I was like, “ok so this is the raw vegan diet with some meat and cooked items added. Basically it sounds like some raw vegans decided to add some raw (and cooked) meat, as well as some cooked (rather than sprouted) quinoa to their diet.
Other than that, both groups share much of the same recipes and staples.
Denise. Wonderful post. If there were meat drippings and wine spillings on my floors and furniture, I didn’t notice them. For having 100 people in a 1500 sq ft home, surprisingly little mess was made. Not that I’m gonna do a repeat any time soon, mind you. My cousin remarked that paleo parties are great because they never leave crumbs.
The food-goop spills probably got mopped up by all the bare feet.
“Crumb-free parties”: paleo’s new selling point. I like.
I appreciate the attention to the “no one paleo diet” approach. If we’re going to fully appreciate what paleo actually means, we can’t assume there is ever one “perfect” diet for a person. I don’t even think one diet works for a person through all stages of his or her life. Diet is something that should be re-evaluated whenever it’s not working for us anymore, and with an open mind and some vigor when it comes to discovering what feels best given the changes in other lifestyle variables… whether it’s seasonality, change in exercise, stress, etc. This is something Paul Chek talks about often in his teachings and I think that once we’re in tune with our bodies well enough, listening to them is a good idea.
I’m also glad that you’re refocusing the vegetarian arguments into common grounds that we can agree upon and help to encourage one another on. I am not a fighter and usually opt-out of conversations in this regard, but I think that if we can get people to make small changes (especially if they’re complaining of ill health and seeking answers), then it’s for the best. I had some religious vegetarians in my nutrition classes who thought that I was trying to imply that everyone should eat the way I do, without actually ever asking me what I thought. In fact, I told them that if they feel well and enjoy their lives as they are health-wise, then go on doing what they’re doing. Who am I to tell them they won’t enjoy a long, healthy life eating their traditional foods? It’s only when someone does complain of ill-health or is seeking remedies for possibly food-toxin induced or promoted issues that I’d ask them to question their approach.
Well, I’ve blabbed on enough now! Thanks for the shout-out. I’m looking forward to meeting you soon!
Diane @ Balanced Bites
Oh my goodness, your description of me was just.. oh I have no words! I knew the minute we met that we would be kindred spirits in this wacky world we inhabit!
I just loved talking with you and and I have some gorgeous pics of you. More posts soon.
See you at Wise Traditions! WOOT!!!!!!!!!!!
My kudos to Aravind! We eat meat, and I personally believe that grazing animals are one of the best ways to get protein (least harmful to the land). But the more I look at ancestral diets, the idea that our ancestors lived off steak is just less and less likely. There may have been a few times in history where bovines were killed regularly enough to be used in each meal, but more common protein sources were fish, shellfish, eggs birds, small mammals. After farming started, milk and some blood were the daily diet … you can take both without killing the animal, and the animals were precious. The Maasai drink some blood, but mostly they drink milk, and their iron levels are LOW.
Which gets back to iron levels: human beings don’t seem to handle iron very well. That is, we hoard it, esp. when it comes from mammals (not so much from fish, for some reason). High ferritin levels is one of the big issues in diabetes.
Beef also is full of neu5gc, which is an inflammatory for some people. That is in milk too. But it is missing from poultry, fish, or eggs.
Also eggs and milk are actually a “whole food” in that they are designed to feed a baby animal. You can survive just fine on an egg/milk diet, probably do just fine on just eggs, for that matter. I’ve fed many a baby animal on egg yolk and rice cereal, they did fine.
So you get this weird linguistic thing going on when people talk about “how bad it is to be vegetarian”. I think what most people, when they say that, are really talking about vegans, who, yeah, get most of their protein from soy and gluten, which strikes me as problematic on many fronts. I don’t see any such problem with a milk/egg diet, or a fish diet, from a nutrient point of view.
Anyway, our diet is skewed far more toward eggs and fish these days. The eggs partly because I can easily get GREAT eggs … we have chickens, which also are the garbage disposal and fertilizer system. Fish because I think fish are good for people, and I can get good fish easily too. We have plenty of good grass-fed beef too, but we are all finding we do better with the fish and eggs.
I think the vegies are key though. I’m working on growing more and more of our own, because it’s hard to get really good vegies. But ANY vegies are better than none.
The Masai also traditionally eat tons of plants and carbohydrate foods like bananas, yams, sweet potatoes, bananas, honey, and so on. I’m slowly making my way to that in my Masai series. http://www.westonaprice.org/blogs/cmasterjohn/2011/07/24/the-masai-introduction/
I love those Wacky Masai! 🙂
Hello Chris – Like the series so far. Looking forward to the exposition regarding the yams, sweet potatoes, etc. Is the punch line that they are more Kitavan-like than previously thought?
I wouldn’t say they traditionally eat a Kitavan-style diet, but “more Kitavan-like” might be somewhat accurate. The first thing to understand, of course, is that the Masai do not just live in a land of milk, but in a land of milk and honey. Without understanding that, we really do not understand the central themes of Masai culture because of course milk and honey are constantly paired in their rituals. They have always traded with their neighbors too, so they have eaten tons of carb-rich plant foods. It has, by and large, been an economic choice depending on their wealth and that of their neighbors, so it is somewhat different than Kitava where you have one people fairly isolated from other peoples and living together on an island.
Debbie, thanks! The information, in a much more condensed and smoother version, will be part of a book I’m working on to be released if things go well next year.
Just filled out my AHS survey and asked for more talks like yours in the future. It was one of the highlights – loved it!
There are several relevant threads on paleohacks. A couple that I can think of off the top of my head because they were asked by myself are…
–>Should we take breaks from meat? Did cavemen eat meat every day?
–>What is your opinion of the “island” paleo diet?
Awesome discussions over there, I hope Denis follows up with some shellfish/seafood inclusion to plaoe vs meat meat meat. i dont handle dairy well and i dont handle red meat well(its from the store tho..) but chicken/pork/seafood i handle just fine- ie, no inflammation. good thing because i adore everything seafood 🙂
And one of my first posts about a year ago, whereupon everyone hated me:
–>Paleo vs. vegetarian: A question of optimal health vs evolved compassion?
Great post, Denise, especially the vegetarian stuff. It’s perfectly possible for a person to believe that ancestral principles are a good guide to nutrition AND that non-human animals warrant quite a bit of ethical consideration. Neither of those ideas makes the other one false – just inconvenient.
But in that vein, there’s another species of eater to remember, and that’s someone who doesn’t make the distinction vegetarians make (flesh vs dairy/eggs) but who still thinks animal products are problematic and wants to limit them to some (nonzero) portion of the diet.
Melissa McEwen does a great job of this, often mentioning how someone could achieve a satisfactory level of health with a small, targeted use of animal products – but I wish this was a more common theme among “paleo” writers. Usually they treat the issue dismissively, either by saying “Agriculture kills animals too [and therefore we should not even try to care?]” or “Vegans are wrong about nutrition [and therefore they’re also wrong about everything else?]”
Wish I could have seen your talk, Denise. I hope it’ll show up online in some form.
Jim you are so right! That is precisely where I am at. I will eat mostly fish, say 2-3 times a week, a few eggs, an occasional bit of meat etc. but most of my diet is fruit and veg and some raw cheeses and fermented foods.
I find this to be IDEAL. Paleo with too much meat and fat for some reason makes ME meaty and fatty. 😦
to each his own!
That is no surprise. Eating fats without trimming the carbs at the same time does tend to cause weight gain. That is to be expected based on our current understanding of human metabolism.
Denise, I realize that we couldn’t have been comfortably seated with any less than a 10 person buffer between us at the post-AHS dinner, but here’s the topic I would have broached in reference to vegetarian arguments…
I hear this argument regularly raised by the carnivore contingent. Unfortunately, many of the images of primate canines stored in our brains are likely those of the males – which exhibit strong sexual dimorphism among many primates. In fact, the almost 100% vegetarian gorilla sports some serious fangs. It seems sexual selection (intrasexual) has shaped canines more than natural selection.
There is an argument to be made regarding primate dentition and carnivory, but I don’t think it’s as strong as it tends to be represented.
So… should the canine argument be ditched or bolstered? Thoughts?
Nearly all mammals have the same basic dentition: incisors followed by canines, followed by premolars and molars. Obligate carnivores like felines have molars. Obligate herbivores like gorillas have canines. Why?
Occluding heterodont dentition evolved early in the mammalian line, and its vast usefulness underlies the breadth of success enjoyed by our clade. So yes: ditch the canine argument. There are far better ones, if you’re inclined to make them.
I would like to make one point. I believe the consumption of some amount meat is beneficial for optimal health. We can debate whether that means we need to become Inuits, Maasai or Kitavans, but that is not a very fruitful debate IMO. I view my personal choice as sub-optimal. But as I wrote in the PH post, “good enough is good enough” since I think toxin avoidance can deliver the vast majority of the health benefits vis-a-vis SAD.
N=1…My Lacto (no ovo!) vegetarian grandfather lived to be 90 and until the last few months of his life, had incredible health physically and mentally. Genetics and epigenetics notwithstanding, I believe he led such a long, high quality life because
1) He ate full fat dairy – milk and yogurt. Not in huge quantities but enough to make a difference
2) He was a very spiritual and simple man. Daily meditation (multiple times per day), mindfulness and no ego/arrogance (even though he could intellectually crush anyone I know). This arguably may have been the single greatest factor influencing his longevity. Maybe the orthorexic tendencies that some (i.e me!) exhibit in pursuing nutritional nirvana, coupled with the hyper-stimulating world we live in is at odds with our desire to pursue ancestral health? Something to think about.
Same exact story for my grandfather. He was lacto vegetarian. (He MAY have eaten eggs, but not in large amounts.
He lived into his 90s, PERFECT health until he died.
To put things in perfect he was born in 1890, in a poor Indian village. He was NOT eating refined sugar and much as any vegetable oils. His food was farm fresh, that included grass-fed ghee, dairy and yogurt. No processed food at all!
Yes and I do agree you need some meat for optimal health. Sikhs are the fighters in India, they dominate the military because they eat meat. Not controversial, my vegetarian relatives fully acknowledge this.
Amit – The other thing that I’m guessing was applicable to your grandfather, like mine, was that the dairy was raw, unpasteurized, and unhomogenized. The cow was milked right outside the house in some cases, taken inside and then boiled, but not anything like UHT pasteurization / homogenization. Raw dairy is a completely different beast from the commercial stuff most are consuming and having issues with.
I view dairy as unessential if you are a full omnivore, but if you can tolerate it and/or don’t eat meat, is a wonderful part of an ancestral-like diet.
“..but veganism is a lot trickier to stay healthy on”.
Hmmmm…..? Is this really what you are implying or is the payroll at Weston Price that is tricky?
“Should dairy be recommended as part of a healthy vegetarian diet? Counterpoint”.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 May;89(5):1638S-1642S. Epub 2009 Mar 25.
“Because milk is not necessary for humans after weaning and the nutrients it contains are readily available in foods without animal protein, saturated fat, and cholesterol, vegetarians may have healthier outcomes for chronic disease if they limit or avoid milk and other dairy products. Bones are better served by attending to calcium balance and focusing efforts on increasing fruit and vegetable intakes, limiting animal protein, exercising regularly, getting adequate sunshine or supplemental vitamin D, and getting approximately 500 mg Ca/d from plant sources. Therefore, dairy products should not be recommended in a healthy vegetarian diet”.
“Osteoporotic bone fracture rates are highest in countries that consume the most dairy, calcium, and animal protein. Most studies of fracture risk provide little or no evidence that milk or other dairy products benefit bone. Accumulating evidence shows that consuming milk or dairy products may contribute to the risk of prostate and ovarian cancers, autoimmune diseases, and some childhood ailments”
“Evidence for acne-promoting effects of milk and other insulinotropic dairy products” (2011).
“Both, restriction of milk consumption or generation of less insulinotropic milk will have an enormous impact on the prevention of epidemic western diseases like obesity, diabetes mellitus, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases and acne”.
Enjoy the health-preserving animal foods:
How can someone who doesn’t even exist be on Weston Price’s payroll?
Richard, please see her last post.
I’ve read it. What about it?
Denise has an obsession with Campbell since he is a best selling author. Other than that, Campbell represents just the tip of the iceberg.
I don’t think Denise is the one with the obsession.
I am puzzled, as if Colin T Capmbell would be the only one in the room chanting the meat-cancer link. As said, he represents merely the tip of the iceberg. Even Millet’s own Harvard school of public of health website tells people to avoid red meat because of the cancer risk.
This clip alone contains about dozen screencaptures of the meat & Dairy -cancer link studies, all fresh material from recent years. See the clip so I do not have to copypaste every single source.
“Most Authoritative Report on Colorectal Cancer and Diet Ever Conducted: Links with Meat, Fiber Confirmed”
Thanks for providing some great color for those of us not able to make it this year. Definitely looking forward to your talk at the WAPF conference in Dallas!
Excellent post, as always.
“We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
– Benjamin Franklin 1776, signing the Declaration of Independence
Chris your Masai series is wonderful! It would be a great book.. hmmm, maybe it will be!
Awesome. That’s just about all I can say. Awesome. Thanks for filling us in!
I can’t wait to see your video!
Eating meat, in theory, is certainly healthy for humans. But eating meat, in practice, for most people, means eating more standard supermarket meat, loaded with toxins and chemicals, that comes from our industrialized feedlots and slaughterhouses. Fancy grass-fed, hand raised, humanely slaughtered meat is neither accessible nor affordable for most of us.
The same is true for dairy. The raw, straight from the farm, dairy products that were the norm 100 years ago have little in common with the chemical laden homogenized products of our current massive mechanized dairy farms. Raw dairy is expensive and hard to find.
And, if it’s true that you are what you eat, then it’s also true that you are what what you eat eats. The filthy stew of cheap grains, rendered animal fat, chicken litter and other waste that feedlot and dairy farm animals eat is truly a nasty thing to put in your body, even once removed.
So what’s the solution? I pretty much just eat fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables, tubers and some non-gluten grains. Fish from the ocean (as opposed to fish farms) are not too polluted yet especially certain species like sardines, herring and salmon.
Too many people seem to think that embracing the Paleo or Ancestral diet grants them a license to pig out on steak, bacon, ribs and spicy wings to their heart’s content. Unfortunately most of the health promoting aspects of meat eating have been destroyed by our modern system of producing meat in massive quantities as cheaply as possible.
Hey Denise — any chance you could post your AHS presentation (as a PowerPoint or a PDF) here? I don’t live in a place with “always on” Internet and I’d really like to see the slides. Richard Nikolay posted his, for which I am immensely grateful.
Thanks for all you are doing!
Hi Denise! It was so nice to chat with you at AHS. Can’t wait to read your book in 2012. And even though I am guilty of posting a picture of you with eyes half-closed, when I tweeted it, the immediate twitter feedback was how lovely you looked :-). No one said that about Robb Wolf (though he is very lovely too)
My hairstyle isn’t for storage, it’s for aerodynamics and cooling. I couldn’t be such a smarty pants with a full head of hair preventing heat dissipation.
And I greatly enjoyed meeting another smarty pants, even if you left the pants at home and rocked the smarty skirt that weekend.
Not sure if you have come across this blog:
He writes quite a bit for lacto-ovo vegetarians.
Please consider something far more cutting edge for your book subject then attacking a dead industry influenced source like the food pyramid.
Your original papers said you used to feel guilty sitting there eating your raw food feeling you were going to live forever while those around you weren’t. Perhaps this is the area to look too, how food or supplementation or other regimens can extend ones lifespan. It seems a waste to pander to the general public who eat pizza to get their dollars for a book that if they even do read what they buy, they are likely to go back to..please do something for the committed health seeker like yourself or you used to be atleast. Regardless of how many books or how much mass appeal you think it may have, atleast you’ll spend your next year researching items that will push the envelope of health instead of justifying the obvious.
Thanks, Denise, for being open to diversity. I get a bit tired of the anti-vegetarian rants on low-carb and paleo forums. I’ve been lacto-ovo* vegetarian since I was 14, which makes it now, what, 44 years? Yikes. (Oysters and mussels, too, actually. Lacto-ovo sessile-mollusk vegetarian.)
For many years I could eat anything within that box, but eventually as I aged I began to gain weight. Low-carb stripped it right off, although I probably eat more veggies and berries than most low-carbers.
I’m not Paleo (whatever that really is). But I tend to eat mostly fresh foods or fermented foods–very little in terms of “prepared” foods.
A big exception would be seitan, though. Pure gluten! Horrors!
I actually have my doubts about the gluten hypothesis. I’ve run into a couple of people in health food stores who were buying gluten-free bread along seitan–unaware that seitan isn’t gluten-free. Some people who are “gluten-intolerant” or “allergic to wheat” seem to have no problem with seitan, which has set me to wondering if the dreaded Neolithic Agent of Disease in wheat might be something other than the obvious–perhaps something destroyed by washing away the soluble elements (as in seitan) as well as something destroyed during fermentation.
I suspect that deliberate fermentation may be as old as cooking itself, but I don’t see it discussed much in the Paleo world…
Chris Kresser and Chris Masterjohn do talk about fermentation quite a bit when it comes to grains and even gluten. It’s possible that people eating fermented wheat/gluten are not responding negatively to it if the irritating part for them would have only been active before fermentation. There are many different elements that wheat breaks down into, any number of which we may react to- Chris K. posted on this (here: http://thehealthyskeptic.org/9-steps-to-perfect-health-1-dont-eat-toxins) after a talk we attended on the complexity of gluten sensitivity. I do think that some people can probably tolerate it just fine, especially if fermented, it’s just that largely that’s not the form that we’re berating in the paleosphere-at-large, know what I mean? That said, I’m pretty sure Mat Lalonde called seitan one of the 3 worst foods a human could eat… it sounds dreadful tasting, I don’t think I’d eat it in a famine.
I don’t know what you read that makes it sound “dreadful tasting.” On the contrary, it’s quite tasty, and has a long history in Asian cuisine. Unlike, say, tofu, it is chewy and takes up flavors readily. Grilled in coconut oil with a mushoorns, or fried up and then doused in curry sauce, it’s delicious.
Seitan is made by washing away the most water-soluble elements. This includes the starch, but also includes most of the lectins. Lectins assault intestinal cells (and many other parts of the body) by latching on to polysaccharides and staying put.
I don’t have a position on this because there is limited evidence. But I think there is a substantial chance that we are in the positions of Victorian-era doctors claiming that breathing “swamp air” and “night miasmas” cause malaria. There’s a correlation, but it has nothing to do with breathing the air.
As to it being one of the 3 worst foods a human could eat, this sounds to me as if Mr Lalonde is jumping to conclusions based on limited evidence. i.e. broad correlations show that wheat = unhealthy. Why is wheat unhealthy? Must be because Gluten = bad, therefore Purified Gluten = worst. Well, maybe.
I’ve seen lots of suggestive materials relating gluten to health problems, but almost all of them are studies that relate to the gluten content of bread.
Did you see the study a while back where the scientists studied arterial function in people after being given a milkshake and carrot cake, and blamed the following impairment on the saturated fat content?
Fermentation is so awesome!! We ferment so many things in my home 😉
I super appreciate this perspective. Being a science/logic lover, it is clear that a paleo diet is the best for health, but I have difficulty with the basic idea that it is acceptable to kill other sentient beings for my own sustenance. (James McWilliams sums it up best in his recent article in the Atlantic http://www.theatlantic.com/life/archive/2011/07/how-conscientious-carnivores-ignore-meats-true-origins/241828/)
I have been raw in the past, but find it unsustainable during the cold winters here in Canada, so am finding a balance between vegan-paleo and raw diet that is both sensitive morally and beneficial for my health. So far, I am loving it. Thanks again for the supportive post!
Only retarded and extremely ignorant people consider reducing fructose to be “a part of the paleo diet”. Your second to last post did so much good Denise to prove that everything they were saying about wild fruit is totally wrong, though it was clear anyway you proved it.
Orangutans don’t limit their fructose content. Figs and grapes, my favourite foods and the favourite foods of almost all the primates, are full up to the brim with fructose.
While I agree with your overall sentiment Padraig, it is just as ignorant to assume that figs and grapes are an appropriate food for humans simply because orangutans consume them.
We can learn a lot about human evolution and physiology by studying extant lower-order primate species, but we are not the same animal. There are millions of years of evolution separating us, and our digestive tracts are very different.
“While I agree with your overall sentiment Padraig, it is just as ignorant to assume that figs and grapes are an appropriate food for humans simply because orangutans consume them.”
I think it’s highly relevant. They are widely eaten and favourite fruits of Orangutans and Chimpanzees, and of me. Many fruits in our supermarket, like tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes, probably peppers, apples, etc., were not available to our evolutionary ancestors in large quantaties through most of the year. Since they were not available as much, it stands to reason we aren’t so equipped to eat them. They are more foreign to our bodies, we didn’t co-evolve with them to a high degree.
A person’s tastes and desires for eating, sensors for eating the healthiest food, can unfortunately be corrupted by things such as the addition for refined sugar. A person’s hormones and instincts can get all out of sync. I therefore think that it’s a good sign that I do like what the chimpanzees, orangutans, bonobos like, that my taste buds are still able to identify the good foods and I can still eat them.
We can learn a lot about human evolution and physiology by studying extant lower-order primate species, but we are not the same animal. There are millions of years of evolution separating us,
****and our digestive tracts are very different.****
Uh oh… spaghettio. This last bit betrays that you are just guessing in your analysis and in an attempt to say something concrete you’ve slipped on a banana skin.
The digestive tracts of man and the other extant great apes are remarkably similar, so much so in fact that it would be hard to tell one from the other in a close up view.
Joseph McCue, I will address your points one at a time.
1) A certain degree of fat near the liver is good. The mice were not fed anything like what they would eat in the wild, they have a very different natural diet to humans anyway.
2) Nobody knows how much food was around then, but I can tell you that if you look at a single tree in an orchid, the amount of fruit that is in a single foot cubed is incredible. Tons of fruit is stuffed together, as far as the eye can see. You couldn’t possibly not have enough. The idea of starving or often hungry paleo man and especially pre-paleo man is a myth. The primates in the wild almost never have a care about getting enough food unless their habitat is encroached upon by humans, that is the only time they ever need to work a bit to find enough food. Tons and tons of fruit is available in one square metre.
3) As stated above, the human gut is very similar to the guts of the other great apes, the teeth are practically the exact same. The only reason it’s “proportionally smaller” is because we’ve grown tall, right? My gut can handle tons of fibre, so can yours. The sugar you get on a very high fruit diet is high percentage-wise but still very low compared to what you would get on a standard american diet. I believe the natural human state is being very, very slim, like a lot of indigenous people you see. Many of them are not going hungry at all, that is the natural state.
4) This is the second time in two days I’ve heard this idea about western society consuming so much fructose. But in fact it’s mainly only in soda drinks that HFCS is ubiquitous… it’s the refined white sugar that is the culprit in most of the other foods… as far as I know? I’m no expert on what Americans are eating or aren’t eating and I don’t care so much, what I am arguing is that the fructose you could find in fruit could not be bad for you in the amounts reasonably consumed by a human, and ESPECIALLY that you don’t have to go so ridiculously low as some people suggest.
“Uh oh… spaghettio. This last bit betrays that you are just guessing in your analysis and in an attempt to say something concrete you’ve slipped on a banana skin.
The digestive tracts of man and the other extant great apes are remarkably similar, so much so in fact that it would be hard to tell one from the other in a close up view.”
I’m not guessing about anything. Just because you state something does not make it true. Your condescending tone betrays your lack of knowledge on this subject.
Gorillas derive 60%+ of their energy intake through microbial fermentation of fiber in there colon. Orangutans share very similar colons to gorillas since their branch off of the hominoidea into ponginae is much closer to the branch off of gorillas at homininae.
Humans can only achieve somewhere around 15% of energy production through colonic fermentation. This is due to the fact that the human large intestine is dramatically smaller (than primates and obligate herbivors), and that the small intestine makes up the majority of human digestive capacity.
Reduced large intestines = reduced space for intestinal flora, and thus a much smaller population of microbes to ferment non-digestible cellulosic plant matter.
Feel free to peruse this slide show: http://www.slideshare.net/ancestralhealth/dynamic-evolution-and-the-gut
There are even illustrative comparisons of the colons of chimpazees, orangutans, and humans.
“Orangutans share very similar colons to gorillas since their branch off of the hominoidea into ponginae is much closer to the branch off of gorillas at homininae.”
This would be funny if it wasn’t just sad. You clearly haven’t got the slightest clue what you’re saying, your sentence doesn’t even MAKE SENSE…. and if you mean much closer than to Humans (you do) then you are just plain wrong.
It’s a well known fact that humans are more related to gorillas: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hominidae
It shows that humans are vastly more related to gorillas than to orangutans… Please keep your crazy, ignoramous comments to yourself next time.
And it’s people like you that are the bane of the internet, who will come in and act like they are knowledgeable in something they in reality it’s the exact opposite. I think that you sould at least have read at least ONE BOOK on a subject like this before saying anything about it.
For now, you are marked down as a troll in my book, seeking knowledge and to be corrected by others without offering anything in return yourself except total guesses and half-assed things you think you picked up somewhere. You should be ashamed of yourself. I will not entertain any more idiotic nonsense coming from you.
Also, humans are exactly as much related to orangutans as gorillas are…. this is an absolute and clinical fact, undisputable…. because we shared a common ancestor. Of course, I wouldn’t count on you to understand the very basics of phylogeny.
“seeking knowledge and to be corrected by others without offering anything in return yourself except total guesses and half-assed things you think you picked up somewhere.”
I’m going to assume you didn’t bother to look at the slideshow link I provided and observe the textbook illustrations and measurements of primate colons, which are laid out in direct comparison to the human intestinal tract.
And thanks for the vote of confidence. It’s pretty cool to be the bane of the Internet. Kind of like being a sort of super-villain. Maybe I can get my mother to sew me an outfit.
Pradrig likes to make lots of claims, but rarely bothers to cite any source material. There are a couple of nonsense statements in his previous post as well. It seems most people here seem to understand this.
Where are the “nonsense statements” AM?
fwiw, the vast majority of people here and in general agree with me about fructose.
“The sugar you get on a very high fruit diet is high percentage-wise but still very low compared to what you would get on a standard american diet.”
Care to cite anything to support this assertion? High percentage-wise, but low compared to SAD makes absolutely no sense. It is either high percentage or not, unless you are suggesting that a 1000 calorie a day fruit diet is adequate.
A 90% carbohydrate fruit diet can not have less sugar than a 40% carbohydrate SAD at the same caloric intake.
“High percentage-wise, but low compared to SAD makes absolutely no sense. It is either high percentage or not, unless you are suggesting that a 1000 calorie a day fruit diet is adequate.
A 90% carbohydrate fruit diet can not have less sugar than a 40% carbohydrate SAD at the same caloric intake.”
It’s not at the same caloric intake. Most fruitarians eat like 1500 calories a day, the supposed “paleos” who know some things about it don’t dispute this… instead they act like you’d be “emaciated” or anorexic on an all-fruit and still have too high sugar.
I don’t know where you’re getting this crazy figure of 40% of a SAD diet…The typical SAD diet is notoriously high in carbohydrates also calories than those on SAD, like 1500 or 1600 calories. The SAD diet is full of bread and pasta and cakes and cereals and chocolate… only a pretty small fraction of it is fat and protein. Admittedly potatoe chips do have a lot of fat, but even they have a lot of carbohydrates also. The very idea of low carb stems from the very high carb SAD.
dammit, the post I just replied with is messed up in a part of it because the reply box wasn’t scrolling properly.
Just an aside–orangutans eat fish whenever they can get them, and even use primitive clubs and spears to flip them out of the water.
We’re not perfectly adapted to roughage. Orangs may not be perfectly adapted to fish. But we’re apparently both reasonably generalized at this point. Either than, or someone needs to get out there and stop these orangutans from eating so many fish.
Indonesians have long noted how similar orangutans are to humans–irrespective of their colons. Hence the Bahasa name “orang” (person) “hutan” (forest) –literally “forest person.”
Just going to throw a few coins in the fountain here …
Padraig: you’re an idiot. Your flame attempts are laughable, as is your pseudoscientific solipsistic trolling.
1) We call it fatty liver disease because it’s a pathological state.
2) There are no trees in an “orchid,” there were no orchards until 10,000 years ago, and chimpanzees migrate to keep up with scarce fruit resources because … they’re scarce.
3) I think David handled this one already, but I’ll add my own flavor: you’re an idiot.
4) HFCS breaks down into 55-60% fructose : 45-40% glucose. White and raw sugars both break down into 50/50. You’re right that you’re no expert: you’re an idiot.
As for your “critiques” of David’s phylogeny, it might behoove you to understand “the basics” of the English language before you go abusing it in an attempt to abuse and belittle others. There’s a productive and respectful conversation happening here, and I while I’m happy to entertain ideas other than my own, I’m inordinately displeased at being entrained in a lack of conversation. Your disrespectful, ignorant, and uncivilized tone has no place here, but it bears repeating: you’re an idiot.
You’re absolutely right Joseph, Padraig is an idiot, but just to be complete, there’s another difference between HFCS and sucrose which is imho more important than the ratios of fructose and glucose. HFCS is a racemic mix of monosaccharides, sucrose is a disaccharide. This means that the absorbtion of the fructose and the glucose is faster with HFCS than with sucrose which has to be enzymatically cleaved before. Another factor is the fact that in sucrose the fructose is only of the D-fructose kind, in HFCS both D- and L- form exist, both form somehow metabolized differently.
I think Dr. Lustig pointed out that the ability to break the fructose/glucose bond in sucrose is not the limiting factor.
“Retarded and extremely ignorant people” like Emily Deans, MD psychiatrist; or Kurt Harris, MD neuroradiologist? Both of whom presented at AHS?
I don’t mean to suggest that all presenters, nor all physicians, are correct in their views of proper nutritional health; but I find it difficult to use your descriptives for either. I see several issues here outside the problematic ad hominems:
1) humans metabolize fructose preferentially to replace liver glycogen and triglyceride stores. This means most fructose is transformed not into free fatty acids floating through the bloodstream, but into fat that stays within the liver. Mice fed a high fructose diet are subjected to the symptoms of fatty liver disease within two weeks.
2) the genus Homo did not exist as a primarily fruit-eating species. Probably neither did genus Afropithecus. Their habitat didn’t support the quantity required to meet caloric needs.
3) the human gut is proportionately smaller than any historical or extant primate. We are consequently less well-adapted to consuming fibrous or sugary foods in large quantities.
4) no one argues that fruit is bad for you. The claim is that we were typically unable to consume the amount of fructose (a 50% breakdown product of sucrose metabolism) that the average human in the industrialized world now consumes, and are poorly adapted to the relatively recent change. Just as linoleic acid and gluten were available in small amounts to our forebears, so also was fructose. It is primarily the quantity that is problematic.
I have to say I loved this post. I always feel inspired when I discover a way to regard what seemed to be contradictory and opposite sides as allies. Thanks for reminding us of that. And I wonder if Padraig and David Csonka can find that too 😉
“I’m going to assume you didn’t bother to look at the slideshow link I provided and observe the textbook illustrations and measurements of primate colons, which are laid out in direct comparison to the human intestinal tract.”
I did view it. Nothing strikes me as being totally different in humans. The diagram “gut part by species” that really has a standout for humans in the small intestine shows the intestine as being much larger, and it says “relative gut volume”. Why do they have to “correct” it for us? They have a clear agenda in mind, to “show” us something about why we can’t eat like the other great apes. Their more objective diagrams of the intestines shows they are not that different for humans.
1) There is no reasonable point to this statement.
2) Okay, obviously I meant to write “orchard”. I didn’t say anything like that there were orchards around back then, I said maybe you should view one today. Your statement about scarce fruit supplies is obvious tomfoolery on your part because it is circular. We know little to nothing about what chimpanzees did hundreds of thousands of years ago, we don’t have their ancestors’ fossils.
3) I’m going to have to disagree with you there…
4) I forgot about this. It doesn’t really concern me because I practically never take anything with white sugar in it anymore anyway. This means that the introduction of HFCS as a replacement to sucrose would have had even less of an impact. So for me to know this about sucrose would be just trivia for me. The so-called “specifics” of how these refined foods destroy people don’t really interest me, since these ideas of splitting food into its elemental parts leading to ideas such as fructose being bad turn out to be completely meaningless. I doubt anyone has ever used that information about sucrose to good effect.
“As for your “critiques” of David’s phylogeny, it might behoove you to understand “the basics” of the English language before you go abusing it in an attempt to abuse and belittle others.”
What are you talking about? As you are aware, I do know “the basics” of the English language. David’s first sentence was indeed badly constructed. Your second to last sentence: “I’m inordinately displeased at being entrained in a lack of conversation”…. is at the very least a totally bizarre thing to say considering that if you call this conversation… you are engaged in the conversation.
Joseph, you seem to be making statements that you know are false… and really just nonsense, don’t bother replying to me again.
I watched your lecture. The problem with Cordain speech,if I’d show it to my vegan friends, would be be that my friend would start to make fun of his chubby appearance and point out the fact that is he very much likely to be eating as he preaches.
Anyways, you have quite a battle ahead of you lady….lol. Who do you think is making positive contribution to the society, you or the skinny bitch?
I will await patiently to Neisy’s video presentation upload. About vegetarianism, I suppose you are aware that Jaminets are “guilty” not only of promoting some starch but also to care about all of their friends: they have included an appendix for vegetarians in their book. Certainly inclusive propositions seems more convenient in order to arrive to some consensus: vegetarians should include some shellfish too.
I’m curious what you think about Craig Stanford’s “Great Apes and the Evolution of Human Diet” lecture at the AHS (http://vimeo.com/27678635), as he talked about the fruits that African chimps eat being “utterly astringent” and tasting inedible to modern human palates, which seems basically the opposite of the point you made in a recent post about many wild fruits being more sweet and tasty than the common view would lead one to believe.
Nice to see you coming here Paleophil! =)
Needless to say I was again banned from that forum you continue to frequent that calls itself “raw paleo”, ostensibly for not being “interesting” enough.
From that website you offered:
“I will show that great ape species are adapted to a fruit-based diet, with meat playing a small but important role in at least one species, the chimpanzee. The overall goal of the paper is to point out the generalizations and false premises in the debate over ‘natural’ modern human diets from the perspective of the diets that our ancestors ate.”
Hmm…. in this he “shows” that “great ape species are adapted to a fruit-based diet” with meat playing a “small but important role” in at least one of the species… chimpanzees.
From watching the start of it, he seems quite reasonable. Unfortunately I can’t watch it all as it’s stuttering on my computer and I find reading something to be much faster. My bet Paleophil is that you’re misrepresenting what he said, and that rather it was more like *some* fruits would be utterly astringent to human diets.
IMO palatability matters about zero when we’re talking about wild fruit in our past. In the United States we don’t think live octopus, rotten eggs, or even Natto are palatable, yet in asia they love that stuff.
As her pervious post shows, many wild fruits are still very much full of sugar. Just because you don’t have a palate for the flavor doesn’t change the macronutrient ratio. Stanton say’s all the primates prefer fruit and many (chimps) will go great lengths to get it. Sounds like everything else is filler for when they can’t have fruit.
For those who haven’t seen Stanton’s speech, while fascinating, it left more questions for me than it did answers. Meat eating among chimps came across more as a behavioral/personality thing than a nutritional thing. Increased hunting around times of ovulation, social gathering, and testosterone flow… sounds like a pretty good way to show a chimp chick ready to mate that you’re her badass. He also mentioned one chimp who’s very presence would encourage hunting/violence. Strangely enough, that happens with humans too 😉 A bar on Friday night anyone? How about the main example chimp group used, sounds like he studied a generation with a violent group leader. What if the bulk of the information about human behavior was studied in Germany during the 1940s?
Another chimp group was noted for hunting very little and it didn’t make them any less healthy.
Meat “a nice little nutritional supplement.”
Of course, humans ARE great apes. I am sure world famous primatologist Craig Standford is referring to humans when he says the great apes!!!
I’m fairly new to the Paleo Lifestyle, though I’ve been off dairy and grains for a couple years, so I’ve spent the last two weeks clicking through link after link that stem from this post and learning so much! Thank you!
My question is: somewhere in all my reading someone mentioned finding a great source for edible palm kernel oil at the AHS. I’ve been unable to find the post again, and when I google “palm kernel oil” all I can find is inedible soap-making supplies.
Do you happen to know where to buy edible palm kernel oil? Thanks for any info you’ve got about this.
Search for red palm oil. You can probably find it at any health food store. There is quite a bit of controversy over it I think because of it’s impact on orangutan habitat. If that’s something you’d be concerned about, I think there are safe brands.
Oil palms yield two different types of oil, the red palm oil from the fruity part, and the oil that is pressed from the kernels. My recollection is that Spectrum, the company that makes various oils sold in healthfood stores, has a natural shortening (a natural equivalent of Crisco) that is simply palm kernel oil.
Ales, I checked this out and the Spectrum shortening is just palm oil, not palm kernel oil 😦
Thanks anyway though!
Oops! Typo! Meant “Alex”. Sorry!
Hi Denise (nice name ;)),
Thanks for the comment! I’m not sure what the source you saw was, but this is the only online site I’ve ever seen with food-grade palm kernel oil:
You might have some luck checking Asian markets, too.
Is there a reason you’re looking for palm kernel oil instead of palm oil? It looks like red palm oil is a lot easier to find.
Thanks, Denise! And I like your name too 🙂
So it’s my understanding that palm oil and palm kernel oil are very different from each other, with only palm kernel oil containing the healthier medium-chain fatty acids, like coconut oil contains. Is this incorrect based on your knowledge?
Thanks for the link too! I saw this site, but apparently I stopped reading when I got to the part about soap-making and didn’t see the part about it being food grade. Don’t know if I can handle 5 lbs. of it though! If it doesn’t go bad, that much could last me YEARS!
Mountain rose sells it too, but in 1lb.
They have about every kind of oil you can think of. Eugene OR where they’re based is known to be “natural” central.
See, I saw this site selling it too, but from the description, I couldn’t tell whether it was food grade or not. It only mentions using it for soap and “a multitude of other cosmetic and bodycare products”. But it is certified organic and “refined”, so do you assume it’s food grade?
Call them 🙂
Good idea, but when I went to find their contact info, I ran across the “Learn More” link on the palm kernel oil, and there it says, “Recommended for cosmetic and soapmaking use only.” Darn . . . .
But thanks for trying to be so helpful! I appreciate it greatly 🙂 Maybe this just isn’t something I need to worry about trying to find, since no one else seems to be big on it and it’s so hard to find. As I mentioned, I’m new to the Paleo Lifestyle so I’m just trying to feel my way through these early months of learning about fats. I’ve been dairy- and grain-free for a couple years, but feared fats. Now I’m CRAZY about good, healthy fats and I’m actually finally losing those last 5 pounds! Who would have guessed?!
Padraig wrote: “My bet Paleophil is that you’re misrepresenting what he said, and that rather it was more like *some* fruits would be utterly astringent to human diets.”
He didn’t specifically say that all the fruits were astringent, but he said that “we” (meaning moderners like Americans and Western Europeans) would find the fruits that chimps eat to be “inedible” and would “gag” if we put them in our mouths. Should you doubt me, here’s the whole relevant passage, that I found interesting enough to transcribe, starting at 7:58 in the video:
“If we were actually talking about Paleo people, the fruits that they’re eating are not recognizable to our fruits. So when we think fruit, I think of mangos or peaches, right? You go to the market and they’re delicious and you wait for them to be sweet and ripe and you know they’re sweet and ripe because they turn color and they get red or orange and you eat them and you feel them and you can smell them and all of the flags are there of their sweetness. None of those flags are very obvious if we’re talking about early human foods, so for instance chimps eat all of these fruits … and if you were to put one in your mouth, even though lab studies have shown that the sugar content is extremely high relative to any other foods the chimps have available to them in the forest, you’d probably gag, and in fact I could promise you that because I tried stupidly for one day of my many years being in the forest with chimps. I decided I was going to eat this stuff and I didn’t eat dinner the night before, which would make me hungry enough I figured to be able to eat this and beginning at dawn I started putting things in my mouth that the chimps were eating and even foods that looked, kind of, you know, one particular berry that they eat looks very much like a bunch of grapes. You put it in your mouth and … because we’re so acclimated to our hypersweet cultivated fruits, you just can’t eat it. It’s utterly astringent, [“Astringency is … the dry, puckering mouthfeel caused by tannins found in many fruits such as blackthorn (sloe berries), chokecherry, bird cherry, quince and persimmon fruits, and banana skins,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astringent%5D and that of course is also true of vegetables, right? So kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli; these things are intensely sweet…. [R]elative to whatever equivalents Paleo people would have been eating, our modern cultivated vegetables are absolutely almost bizarrely packed with sugars, and a nutritionist will tell you that. So the point is just that these early human diets, it’s important to remember, were really different than the diets that we construct today. So obviously we do the best that we can, but there is a fundamental difference.
One important food to point out is figs, which are a huge important food for many, many wild animals. Chimps will spend hours and miles searching and foraging for figs … and we think of edible figs, these are not edible figs, these are one of the thousands of species of figs in Africa [pointing to image of figs on screen] and most of them have high sugar content, some of them even have a high fat content, but very very few of them are edible to us. I mean they may be edible to local people who grew up eating them, who don’t seem to care as much about having these intensely sweet foods, as our palates do, but they don’t really closely resemble what we would call figs much at all.”
I eat some fruits myself and have greatly enjoyed Denise’s brilliant writings going back before she started this blog, and I was intrigued by Denise’s post on fruits, and I hope it turns out that at least some fruits are healthy for humans, or at least for me 😉 , so I wasn’t trying to misrepresent anything, nor was I trying to argue against eating any fruits. I’m looking to learn from folks who are open minded and genuinely interested in learning and sharing, like Denise, rather than in propagandizing and evangelizing.
Plus, as Grok seemed to suggest, just because many wild fruits may not taste good to us today doesn’t mean that they didn’t taste good to our ancient ancestors, and Dr. Stanford even mentioned that the local African people like the fruits that he found inedible. My question is whether it might be beneficial for moderners like myself to try to re-acquire some of the taste for more bitter, sour, seedy and fibrous fruits–more like the wild fruits he described, rather than focus only on the luscious sweet fruits that fruitarians and 80-10-10ers seem to emphasize? It would also be cheaper if I could acquire a taste for local wild fruits that I can gather for free, rather than rely solely on store-bought fruits. I’ve been experimenting with some wild local fruits, such as wild black raspberries and grapes this summer, which are rather tart, especially the grapes, which are very sour. They are much smaller than the berries and grapes sold in markets, much more sour, with much larger and harder seeds, and I perceived little to no sweetness. In these endeavors and in my question to Denise, I’m looking to learn more as well as have fun by trying new things without adopting any preconceived notions. Granted, the local wild fruits in my area are not necessarily anything like African wild fruits, but it is a little interesting that Stanford’s findings match those of my own little experiment rather closely. Have you, Padraig and Grok, tried any wild indigenous fruits?
Grok wrote: “As her pervious post shows, many wild fruits are still very much full of sugar.”
I know and I mentioned that myself, and Dr. Stanford also said that the fruits that the chimps he studied ate are full of sugar, but he emphasized that, despite this, that modern humans would not find them tasty or even “edible” (according to him) and his view was that it’s because that domesticated fruits and veggies have been made much sweeter still. I noticed that his report contrasted greatly with Denise’s, so I was interested to get her take on it. I find it useful to compare contrasting views and see where they agree and where they disagree and why.
By interesting coincidence, one of the fruits that both you, Padraig and Dr. Stanford mentioned was figs, the wild African versions of which Stanford said “these are not edible figs.”
I’m also curious what Dr. Stanford would say about monkey orange, soursop, canistel, masukus, and gingerbread plums. I’m not trying to be critical of either what he reported, nor of what Denise reported. I’m honestly curious.
Given all the negative reports and hypotheses about fructose lately, one of the interesting aspects of wild fruits and veggies is that, according to Dr. Staffan Lindeberg in Food and Western Disease (p. 51), they are actually higher in fructose, on average, than domesticated fruits. According to him, the sugar they tend to be lower in than domesticated fruits and veggies is sucrose.
Bottom line is, the paleo diet is not about reenactments. Don’t concern yourself with trying to eat like you ancestors, because you NEVER will. Your western palette is much different than your ancestors. Since you will never have access to the kinds of foods they ate, you will never have their palette.
I have no doubt those wild fruits taste just as good to apes and our ancestors as a modern banana tastes to westerners. Maybe even better, since most westerners will not go out of their way (let alone great lengths) to get something as bland tasting as a humble banana 😉
Think of it this way… how has your palette change just since you’ve been on a paleo diet? I know for me, all veggies many fruits were completely disgusting and unpalatable without being cooked and covered in cheese or some other salty fatty sauce. Now I find them sweet and always eat them plain. Fruits examples… I HATED melons before paleo!!! Now I absolutely love them! Tomatoes bitter before, now they taste like candy. Westerners have very perverted palettes.
To answer your question about whether I’ve tried wild fruits… yes, a few. I’ve had the Jaboticaba mentioned in Denise’s post a few times, and pretty much every wild Pacific Northwest berry that wont kill you. I liked them all. Also had many wild greens as well. I’ve eaten many other “less” domesticated fruits and liked them too. When shared with non-paleo family, the response wasn’t so positive. There are 100s of thousands of fruits. Most fruits want to be eaten. That’s how they disperse seeds. They are palatable/non-toxic to some kind of animal. Whether that’s humans or not is another thing 😉
Interesting… my palate hasn’t changed one bit since going paleo. I grew up on the Jersey Shore, with its plentiful bluefish and parents who love it, but I have always detested bluefish and any other seafood with a strong fishy taste. And, I still love the taste of crusty white French or Italian bread, potato chips, croissants, rich chocolate cake slathered in chocolate icing with big scoops of ice cream, etc.
Those foods (if I dare call them that) are calorically dense combos of carbs and fats (not to mention opioids or the food reward) you will always like them. Basic human physiology.
I’m not paleo, and I love tomatoes, melons, carrots, celery, grapefruit, you name it, I love it. No cheese, oil, or sugar needed. Maybe I am healthy eating gluten, cheese, and other so-called toxins because I love my fruits and veggies, and eat mostly those.
Most of the foods you said you’re eating are considered “Paleo”, Julie, and you’re avoiding 2 of 3 of the widely recognized Neolithic agents of disease. Maybe that could have something to do with it.
Paloephil wrote: He didn’t specifically say that all the fruits were astringent, but he said that “we” (meaning moderners like Americans and Western Europeans) would find the fruits that chimps eat to be “inedible” and would “gag” if we put them in our mouths. Should you doubt me, here’s the whole relevant passage, that I found interesting enough to transcribe, starting at 7:58 in the video:
“If we were actually talking about Paleo people, the fruits that they’re eating are not recognizable to our fruits. So when we think fruit, I think of mangos or peaches, right? You go to the market and they’re delicious and you wait for them to be sweet and ripe and you know they’re sweet and ripe because they turn color and they get red or orange and you eat them and you feel them and you can smell them and all of the flags are there of their sweetness. None of those flags are very obvious if we’re talking about early human foods, so for instance chimps eat all of these fruits … and if you were to put one in your mouth, even though lab studies have shown that the sugar content is extremely high relative to any other foods the chimps have available to them in the forest, you’d probably gag, and in fact I could promise you that because I tried stupidly for one day of my many years being in the forest with chimps. I decided I was going to eat this stuff and I didn’t eat dinner the night before, which would make me hungry enough I figured to be able to eat this and beginning at dawn I started putting things in my mouth that the chimps were eating and even foods that looked, kind of, you know, one particular berry that they eat looks very much like a bunch of grapes. You put it in your mouth and … because we’re so acclimated to our hypersweet cultivated fruits, you just can’t eat it. It’s utterly astringent, [“Astringency is … the dry, puckering mouthfeel caused by tannins found in many fruits such as blackthorn (sloe berries), chokecherry, bird cherry, quince and persimmon fruits, and banana skins,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astringent and that of course is also true of vegetables, right? So kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli; these things are intensely sweet…. [R]elative to whatever equivalents Paleo people would have been eating, our modern cultivated vegetables are absolutely almost bizarrely packed with sugars, and a nutritionist will tell you that. So the point is just that these early human diets, it’s important to remember, were really different than the diets that we construct today. So obviously we do the best that we can, but there is a fundamental difference.
One important food to point out is figs, which are a huge important food for many, many wild animals. Chimps will spend hours and miles searching and foraging for figs … and we think of edible figs, these are not edible figs, these are one of the thousands of species of figs in Africa [pointing to image of figs on screen] and most of them have high sugar content, some of them even have a high fat content, but very very few of them are edible to us. I mean they may be edible to local people who grew up eating them, who don’t seem to care as much about having these intensely sweet foods, as our palates do, but they don’t really closely resemble what we would call figs much at all.”
Thank you very much for that transcription, much appreciated! I have to acknowledge that he did say what your sentiments suggested. Note that I arrived at my “bet” after some reasoning of mine, which turned out to be wrong. I also have a book called Tree of Origin which he writes a chapter in that emphasizes the social aspect of hunting, how many members only get “a few scraps of carass”, and how it is/was used much more for social hierarchy and sexual selection that anything else. He did say meat-eating is plio-pleistocene human adaption, but nothing like this thing about fruits being inedible, this may be a new interest of his or maybe it was just that he wasn’t meant to write about it in this section of the book.
Still, let’s not go “wild” over this, this is rather an anecdotal story, being completely fair. I don’t see anywhere where Stanford has committed these views to formal writing. Sometimes a lecture can get a little informal like that. Here’s an example of how something like this could go wrong: I really, really, really hate watermelon. I tried to like it, but I just can’t. It’s one of the very few fruits that I just cannot stand. I think twice in my life I got it, and both times I just had to throw it away. I like eating yellow melons just fine, I like the smaller light-green ones, but I just cannot stand watermelon. It is repulsive to all my sensibilities. So I am vastly different to most other humans in this, so how different is it between chimps and humans??? Orangutan parents have to spend years teaching their young what the best foods are and where to find them. Stanford might also have been reading or thinking about others’ theories in forming this view. Yeah, I’m certainly not dismissing Stanford’s opinions based on the above, I do respect the guy as a moderate individual (I think I would dismiss other extremists with the same story though)… I’m not dismissing it but as I said, let’s not go “wild” here coming to all sorts of conclusions based on something for which the legs might still well fall from under it.
“I eat some fruits myself and have greatly enjoyed Denise’s brilliant writings going back before she started this blog, and I was intrigued by Denise’s post on fruits, and I hope it turns out that at least some fruits are healthy for humans, or at least for me 😉 , so I wasn’t trying to misrepresent anything, nor was I trying to argue against eating any fruits. I’m looking to learn from folks who are open minded and genuinely interested in learning and sharing, like Denise, rather than in propagandizing and evangelizing.”
I am glad you do seem open minded and genuinely interested in learning and sharing. I’m sure you can understand how saying that the fruits that primates eat in the wild are “astringent” to us, when it is the exact opposite that I would have thought and that Denise’s blog entry seemed to suggest and other information I have does, seems so foreign a concept to me. Craig Stanford also just isn’t that extremist type like Dr. Ludwig or the “zero carb” geniuses going around paleo sites. As I stated, I was banned from that “raw paleo” forum… as is anyone else who condones a high fruit diet. This creates a false impression that almost everyone who is interested in being on a paleo diet is against fruit which is obviously not the case.
“Plus, as Grok seemed to suggest, just because many wild fruits may not taste good to us today doesn’t mean that they didn’t taste good to our ancient ancestors, and Dr. Stanford even mentioned that the local African people like the fruits that he found inedible. My question is whether it might be beneficial for moderners like myself to try to re-acquire some of the taste for more bitter, sour, seedy and fibrous fruits–more like the wild fruits he described, rather than focus only on the luscious sweet fruits that fruitarians and 80-10-10ers seem to emphasize? It would also be cheaper if I could acquire a taste for local wild fruits that I can gather for free, rather than rely solely on store-bought fruits. I’ve been experimenting with some wild local fruits, such as wild black raspberries and grapes this summer, which are rather tart, especially the grapes, which are very sour. They are much smaller than the berries and grapes sold in markets, much more sour, with much larger and harder seeds, and I perceived little to no sweetness. In these endeavors and in my question to Denise, I’m looking to learn more as well as have fun by trying new things without adopting any preconceived notions. Granted, the local wild fruits in my area are not necessarily anything like African wild fruits, but it is a little interesting that Stanford’s findings match those of my own little experiment rather closely.”
I am really, really wanting to go to Africa to experience it for myself!!! =)
I’m starting to make a plan about going to Africa and getting wild seeds while I still can (if I still can), and preserving them in some way. Some seeds have germinated that are over 200 years old, Dr. Hayflick claims in How and Why We Age (an amazing book I would recommend), that seeds should be able to remain intact and able to germinate pretty much forever if preserved well. There are seed saver organizations around the world to try to preserve seeds, and they will surely help tremendously against GMOs, however I would really like to get the purely wild fruits from Africa and save as many as possible as many ways as possible before it’s too late. We owe it to our descendants, or what will be left of them in our pathologically diseased world.
“Have you, Padraig and Grok, tried any wild indigenous fruits?”
There are wild blackberries that grow around the countryside here that are absolutely delicious and very sweet tasting. Unfortunately we can’t eat them anymore because there is often stuff sprayed on ditches to prevent them from growing. But the sheer amount of the available is almost unbelievable. You could pick about 1000 euro worth of them in one day when they are in season, no exaggeration. That is only the ones on the sides of ditchs, imagine if there were no large fields of grass how many you could get!! Then they sell them in tiny little cases for 5 or 6 euro. People think that paleo man was always almost starving and desperate for food… I strongly believe this wasn’t the case at all, only when modern man comes along and disrupts their territory does food become an issue. But they do taste absolutely delicious.
Paleophil said: By interesting coincidence, one of the fruits that both you, Padraig and Dr. Stanford mentioned was figs, the wild African versions of which Stanford said “these are not edible figs.”
I find that absolutely incredible. I have spent so much money on figs, and eat several packs of dried figs throughout the week amounting to several dozens overall… I will go ahead and contact him over this and post back here if he replies.
“Given all the negative reports and hypotheses about fructose lately, one of the interesting aspects of wild fruits and veggies is that, according to Dr. Staffan Lindeberg in Food and Western Disease (p. 51), they are actually higher in fructose, on average, than domesticated fruits. According to him, the sugar they tend to be lower in than domesticated fruits and veggies is sucrose.”
How interesting. Another nail in the coffin of the fructose being bad theory.
I just found this somewhere else on the internet:
“My [brother] likes to tell how he … receive[d] an orange [when I was
born]. It was a big treat he says.” Now, that was in the Netherlands.
Growing up in BC Canada, however, there are wild blackberries and
strawberries sweeter than those in the store and blueberries ever so sweet
in the mountains, as there were all over the place in Newfoundland. Here,
the domesticated blackberries grow in the wild now and wild sweet berries
abound for the ambitious.”
Paleophil, this may be a trivial point, but you know how you said: “By interesting coincidence, one of the fruits that both you, Padraig and Dr. Stanford mentioned was figs”… actually this wasn’t really that much of a coincidence, at least not for me.
The very fact that other great apes do eat so many figs forms a large part of the reason I do eat figs. Chimps and orangutans, I’m sure bonobos also are known to be voracious eaters of figs, as I’m sure were early humans. Part of my whole theory of fruit, is that the reason that I love figs so much is because I am evolutionarily designed to eat them so much. Stanford’s contention that I wouldn’t even like wild types would appear to prove the whole taste theory wrong. I don’t believe it yet but I’ll look into it.
I find this astringent fruit idea interesting. Living in the Seattle area and involved in food, I have come across quite a few foragers and foraged/wild food sites/purveyors (typically berries- huckleberries and other wild blueberry variants, wild black, rasp and tays, wild gooseberries and currants, etc). You might see some listed as tart, but more tend to be listed as more flavorful than cultivated types. So, from the berry side at least, there can still be a lot of sweetness in the wild varietals.
Granted, that’s in this region- I’ve no experience at all with tropical/semi varieties.
Thanks, Grok and Alex, for taking the time to answer. From my research, I understand that palm oil and palm KERNEL oil are quite different from each other, and, like Alex said, and that it’s only the palm kernel oil that has the medium-chain fatty acids like coconut oil. I did find Red Palm Oil for sale, but I will see if I can find the Spectrum brand palm kernel oil Alex suggests. Thanks again!
And if anyone else knows anything about this, feel free to chime in 🙂
Enjoyed your deconstruction of the China Study, just recently found your site.
Regarding wheat: does it really have to be the bad guy here, or is it just that a balanced, varied, nutritionally dense diet is going to be healthier than an ultra-processed, chemical-laden, genetically modified mono-diet?
Even water can make you sick, or kill you, if you drink too much or tap it from a contaminated source. But, you don’t see anyone talking about water avoidance. Not yet, anyway. Give it some time.
Would love to see some data on physical activity levels, and how they correlate (or don’t) with various diets and disease markers.
Looking forward to your future articles.
“Regarding wheat: does it really have to be the bad guy here, or is it just that a balanced, varied, nutritionally dense diet is going to be healthier than an ultra-processed, chemical-laden, genetically modified mono-diet?”
Don’t anthropomorphize wheat, wheat isn’t a “guy”, it’s not even really a food. Only things that humans eat are called foods, humans do not eat wheat naturally. If you enjoy eating raw wheat, then by all means go ahead, pick it and eat it. Raw foods and highly processed foods are 100% different, it’s total nonsense to put wheat up alongside raw foods. Put it up against processed peas or something if you will, but wheat is still likely to come up looking bad compared to those foods also.
“Even water can make you sick, or kill you, if you drink too much or tap it from a contaminated source. But, you don’t see anyone talking about water avoidance. Not yet, anyway. Give it some time.”
That’s because water…. god I’m sorry but this paragraph is just so stupid that I honestly don’t know how to answer it.
“Would love to see some data on physical activity levels, and how they correlate (or don’t) with various diets and disease markers.”
If you can’t find data on physical activity levels then what world are you living in? Don’t you never read a newspaper? Honestly, come on. If you just googled it you would be drowned by data showing physical activity is good for you.
“Regarding wheat: does it really have to be the bad guy here, or is it just that a balanced, varied, nutritionally dense diet is going to be healthier than an ultra-processed, chemical-laden, genetically modified mono-diet?”
That’s what is so interesting about the China Study. “White rice” *should* be just as bad as “white flour”, or maybe worse, since wheat has more protein. I think there is plenty of evidence that wheat really IS a bad thing in the diet, and likely has been since the time of the ancient Egyptians (those mummies showed people who were in pretty bad shape, and those were mostly the RICH people). The reaction that happens in the gut when gliadin is ingested, alters digestion and causes at least temporary gut permeability, in all humans and in other animals. This changes the microbial mix in the gut, and also allows rogue peptides into the blood. Wheat is BAD STUFF.
If you look at the various cuisines in the world, there are places where large amounts of sweet fruits are eaten, and lots of rice, and fish. And people are generally healthy, with good bone structure and good teeth. I haven’t yet seen an example of a really healthy population that lived primarily on wheat though, anywhere in history. In Europe, you look at the farming population and you see crooked teeth, hair falling out, etc. Rome, Sumeria, Egypt, etc., you have bone problems, teeth problems, insanity. You have this really well developed “medical community” probably because so many people had chronic illnesses.
Grok (14:50:29) wrote: “Bottom line is, the paleo diet is not about reenactments. Don’t concern yourself with trying to eat like you ancestors, because you NEVER will.”
No worries Grok, I’m a mad scientist, not a blind reenactor, and I don’t assume that you or anyone else is a reenactor either. I’m curious about wild fruits and Denise’s excellent blog post piqued that curiosity, and I enjoy experimenting and learning. You do want me to try more fruits, right? You see, my body doesn’t handle a lot of fruits well (I know, it sucks), yet I love them, so I try to find ones I can handle, and adding the flavor variety also helps me to avoid becoming thinner than I already am.
I find I tend to learn a lot if I experiment and question assumptions, such as the claim I’ve seen a number of fruit promoters make, given without evidence in every case I’ve seen until Denise’s excellent blog post, that wild fruits are mostly sweet and luscious and that human beings originated in a tropical paradise filled with sweet, luscious fruits. If there are no benefits to my experiments, there’s no harm done, and if there are, that’s a bonus. Even if there are no health benefits, there’s the economic benefit of free food. 🙂 It’s not a big deal to me either way. So far my scientific curiosity, albeit that of an amateur, has served me well in quite a few matters.
Who are these alleged reenactors anyway? Can you name one? Does anyone do something just to “reenact” it? It seems more likely that people experiment, find something that works for them, then seek an explanation for it, and some find the Paleo explanation. Granted, some people get lazy in the reasons they give for doing things (as in “That’s not ‘Paleo’, so don’t eat it” or “That’s OK to eat because it’s ‘Paleo'” without giving further explanation or evidence) but when I ask people about why they eat what they do they tend to have more reasons than just reenactment. I find the key is to ask questions rather than make assumptions about people’s motivations and reasons.
Grok wrote: “Your western palette is much different than your ancestors. Since you will never have access to the kinds of foods they ate, you will never have their palette.”
Again, no need to worry. Please note that I wrote: “My question is whether it might be beneficial for moderners like myself to try to re-acquire SOME of the taste for more bitter, sour, seedy and fibrous fruits,” not “I AM GOING TO acquire ALL of the PALETTE of my ancient ancestors.” Do you see the difference? Also, I used to think along the lines of those statements of yours, that not much change was possible via diet and lifestyle alone, but over the years I have been astounded at what is possible–including things that I would have thought were completely impossible. Besides, there’s no major evil to fear in experimenting with wild fruits that I can see, as long as I educate myself about them and taste cautiously at first.
Grok: “I have no doubt those wild fruits taste just as good….”
I’m happy for you that you’ve already achieved certainty on that and you seem rather certain in general about matters regarding fruits and diets in general. I’m not there yet, or I wouldn’t have asked Denise a question about Stanford’s presentation.
Grok: Think of it this way… how has your palette change just since you’ve been on a paleo diet?
Much more than I imagined it would, which is part of why I am curious about this topic and why I was surprised by your initial statements above that seemed to imply that trying to change one’s palatte to acquire SOME taste for wild or wild-like fruits is futile. I have seen many other people report palate changes as well. Stephan Guyenet, one of my other favorite bloggers, even recently wrote that it typically only takes a couple weeks for one’s palatte to adjust from a taste for SAD fooods to a taste for simple traditional foods. Given that Africans of today like the wild African fruits that Dr. Stanford despised, I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch to think that I might acquire SOME of that taste for wild fruits.
Grok: I know for me, all veggies many fruits were completely disgusting and unpalatable without being cooked and covered in cheese or some other salty fatty sauce.
Sorry, but yuck! It was the opposite for me. You’re bringing back bad memories. 😀 I’ve always preferred raw fruits and raw or lightly cooked (such as steamed or stir-fried) veggies with very little on them, going back to my earliest memories–certainly not gloppy cheese (one of my least favorite foods of my youth was heavily boiled broccoli covered with gloppy cheese). I can remember as a child wishing and hoping that there would be salad with raw carrots with supper instead of thoroughly boiled carrots, peas, lima beans, etc. I remember trying broccoli at a gourmet French restaurant that was lightly steamed and lightly flavored with a natural orange sauce and I was in heaven! It was the first broccoli I had ever enjoyed. Boy did that beat the boiled broccoli in cheese mush (sorry Mom 😉 ). Then one day I tried raw broccoli and it tasted sweet and delicious and I asked my mother to let me eat mine raw instead of boiled. From then on she started to put some raw broccoli in the salads. Given how much better raw broccoli tasted to me than boiled, I was puzzled as to why anyone would boil it, and still am. Some people say the nutrient value is better boiled, but I wonder how much of that goes down the drain when the water is dumped. They can have those extra nutrients if they want to drink the water, I’ll take the good taste of raw or lightly steamed or chowed broccoli, thank you–especially the tops. 😉
Grok: Now I find them sweet and always eat them plain.
Fruits examples… I HATED melons before paleo!!! Now I absolutely love them! Tomatoes bitter before, now they taste like candy.
There you go! So your palette HAS changed, hooray! Given that your palatte has changed, do you understand now why I might experiment with mine?
Grok: Westerners have very perverted palettes.
Grok: To answer your question about whether I’ve tried wild fruits… yes, a few. I’ve had the Jaboticaba mentioned in Denise’s post a few times, and pretty much every wild Pacific Northwest berry that wont kill you. I liked them all. Also had many wild greens as well. I’ve eaten many other “less” domesticated fruits and liked them too. When shared with non-paleo family, the response wasn’t so positive.
Interesting. How did these wild foods differ from the domesticated versions?
Grok: There are 100s of thousands of fruits. Most fruits want to be eaten. That’s how they disperse seeds. They are palatable/non-toxic to some kind of animal. Whether that’s humans or not is another thing
I LOVE fruits and always have and I hope that I can find more that I can eat without ill effects. I’m basically a fruit addict who has learned to limit my intake to the ones I handle best and in quantities my body can manage, though it takes discipline and strategies to accomplish it. Do you think I don’t want to eat fruits? Good heavens, why wouldn’t I want to eat fruits–at least the yummiest versions? To me that would be like expecting that kids wouldn’t like candy. A foreign concept I just don’t understand. Interestingly, I notice that my body seems to handle wild fruits better than organic domesticated ones, though the latter taste much sweeter and yummier to me. This is yet another reason for my experiments.
Padraig wrote: “He did say meat-eating is plio-pleistocene human adaption, but nothing like this thing about fruits being inedible….”
I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean inedible for today’s hunter gatherers or for our ancestors, just for moderner’s palattes. Rather than see that as a road block, I see it as a challenge to experiment with. I’ve already managed to change my palatte to the point that I can enjoy fresh squeezed lemon juice with a little water and no added sugar.
Padraig wrote: “so how different is it between chimps and humans???”
I think there are interesting similarities. For example, I have read that chimps love custard apples (they are not indigenous to Africa but feral custard apples have made their way to some areas of Africa) and I have read some humans report that they are their favorite fruits (haven’t seen one yet myself).
Padraig: “let’s not go “wild” here coming to all sorts of conclusions based on something for which the legs might still well fall from under it.”
Definitely not. I’m not big on making conclusions anyway–I’m bigger on asking questions.
Padraig: “I’m sure you can understand how saying that the fruits that primates eat in the wild are “astringent” to us, when it is the exact opposite that I would have thought and that Denise’s blog entry seemed to suggest and other information I have does, seems so foreign a concept to me.”
Sure, that’s why I asked the question. Such wide variances in reports intrigue me. I hope my curiosity doesn’t cause any trouble.
Padraig: “As I stated, I was banned from that “raw paleo” forum… as is anyone else who condones a high fruit diet. This creates a false impression that almost everyone who is interested in being on a paleo diet is against fruit which is obviously not the case.”
That’s not the impression I get.
Padraig: “I am really, really wanting to go to Africa to experience it for myself!!! =)”
Yeah, that would be cool, assuming I didn’t get a bad case of malaria like someone I know.
Padraig wrote: “I’m starting to make a plan about going to Africa and getting wild seeds while I still can (if I still can), and preserving them in some way.”
Hmmm, wouldn’t it make more sense to help preserve the indigenous seeds and plants of your country (http://www.botanicgardens.ie/herb/census/threatnd.htm) than to import foreign ones that might potentially be invasive (http://invasivespeciesireland.com/) or even illegal? I think it would be neat to own land and work it so that only indigenous plants were on it and have indigenous permaculture food plants. Not for idiotic reenactment, but for fun and real benefits.
Padraig: “Another nail in the coffin of the fructose being bad theory.”
I suspect that the real problem is *processed* fructose (HFCS, soda pop, fruit “drinks”, excessive consumption of sugary fruit juices, etc.) rather than *all* fructose and even Dr. Lustig acknowledged towards the end of his most famous presentation that whole fruits are not a problem.
Padraig: ‘I just found this somewhere else on the internet:
“My [brother] likes to tell how he … receive[d] an orange [when I was
born]. It was a big treat he says.” Now, that was in the Netherlands.”‘
Yeah, my grandfather was born and raised in Ireland in the early 20th century and he said he had never seen an orange, banana, tomato or even an apple until he came to the United States (there were plenty of apples on the other side of the hills in the next county north, but it was off limits because it was in Ulster). I’ll bet there are a lot more fruits there now.
Padraig: “The very fact that other great apes do eat so many figs forms a large part of the reason I do eat figs. Chimps and orangutans, I’m sure bonobos also are known to be voracious eaters of figs, as I’m sure were early humans.”
It makes sense to me and not just because it’s reenactment. 😉 (just kidding) Fresh figs are one of the few domesticated fruits my body handles tolerably well–not dried figs, though. I also much prefer the taste of fresh figs to dried ones. Unfortunately, they are only available for a month or two each year at my local market, presumably when they’re in season, and my favorite green variety is only available for a few weeks.
I appreciate the long comment. I skimmed over it pretty good, and I think you may have read mine out of context a bit. I have a ton of work and a deadline today, so no time to reply right now 😦
I received an email reply from Dr. Craig Stanford himself today! As promised I am posting it here:
— On Tue, 23/8/11, craig stanford wrote:
You’re thinking of edible figs, not wild figs. Domesticated fruits only resemble wild fruits in a few cases. Have you ever tried eating the figs growing on the UCLA campus? There are huge figs everywhere there, very similar to what you would find in a tropical forest. I dare you to try to eat them…..
Same goes for many wild fruits…..wild crab apples versus cultivated apples, etc…..try a taste test.
As for the taste-means-good theory, what tastes good is sugary….think of all the wonderful tastes we’re programmed to like, that are terrible for you if eaten in large quantities….
Here’s a paper about figs:
1994 N.L. Conklin and R.W. Wrangham. The value of figs to a hind-gut fermenting frugivore: a nutritional analysis. Biochem. Ecol. Systemat. 22:137-151.
You make a good point about taste and fruits, but if you go to a tropical forest, you will not find many fruits that resemble, to your taste buds, anything you’d really want to ingest –
So unfortunately (at least from my point of view), he seems to be reiterating his views about wild fruits being unpalatable for modern humans.
The point he says of mine that’s good is that in a perfectly natural environment, in theory the tastier a food is the better it should be for our health. Otherwise we wouldn’t be drawn to eat it. Though he does criticize it a bit also…:
When he says: “think of all the wonderful tastes we’re programmed to like, that are terrible for you if eaten in large quantities….”
I can’t think of anything natural that is like that. Only unnatural things.
“As for the taste-means-good theory, what tastes good is sugary”
But the wild fruits highly often have more sugar in them as Denise showed. Maybe I am nitpicking a bit now, perhaps he meant something else. It doesn’t change the situation if the wild fruits containing the sugars are much less tasty.
As for custard apples: Well there are hundreds of thousands or millions of different varieties of fruit. The amount of fruits out there are ridiculous. Could it be that humans had so encroached on these great apes territories that this was all they could eat? Come to think of it, there could be thousands of different varieties of figs also. There wouldn’t be JUST ONE type of wild fig.
The paper he linked to is from our friend “Wrongham”, the abstract basically says “great apes eat a huge amount of them and we aren’t sure why.”
Paleophil wrote: “I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean inedible for today’s hunter gatherers or for our ancestors, just for moderner’s palattes. Rather than see that as a road block, I see it as a challenge to experiment with. I’ve already managed to change my palatte to the point that I can enjoy fresh squeezed lemon juice with a little water and no added sugar.”
Interesting. When I used to eat garlic, I NEVER got used to it even in the slightest way, I always hated it. This is what got me to give it up eventually… how could it be good for me when I would never have eaten it primordially? However fruits may be rather different, and the human may be much more adaptable to changes in fruits because of their exceptional nutritional value and co-evolution with mammals and primates.
Paleophil said: “I think there are interesting similarities. For example, I have read that chimps love custard apples (they are not indigenous to Africa but feral custard apples have made their way to some areas of Africa) and I have read some humans report that they are their favorite fruits (haven’t seen one yet myself).”
Paleophil said: “Hmmm, wouldn’t it make more sense to help preserve the indigenous seeds and plants of your country (http://www.botanicgardens.ie/herb/census/threatnd.htm) than to import foreign ones that might potentially be invasive (http://invasivespeciesireland.com/) or even illegal? I think it would be neat to own land and work it so that only indigenous plants were on it and have indigenous permaculture food plants. Not for idiotic reenactment, but for fun and real benefits.”
No, no, no, I think you misunderstand me. I don’t want to plant them at all, I want to preserve them. They wouldn’t be affecting the ecology at all. Thanks for those links though. The genetically modified fruits and the domesticated fruits are crossing with the wild ones. This is an irreversible process that would wipe wild plants from the world forever. While it is true that ideally we should preserve wild species from Ireland also, and the entire ecology of the world could get back to “normal”, the idea of all natural wild fruit that our ancestors ate being gone would be by far the priority at this stage IMO.
Paleophil said: “It makes sense to me and not just because it’s reenactment. 😉 (just kidding) Fresh figs are one of the few domesticated fruits my body handles tolerably well–not dried figs, though. I also much prefer the taste of fresh figs to dried ones. Unfortunately, they are only available for a month or two each year at my local market, presumably when they’re in season, and my favorite green variety is only available for a few weeks.”
Oh, the fruit distributors I go to get them all year around here, sometimes from Israel, sometimes from South America. They are extremely expensive though: 13 euro for a tray of them. If you can find a fruit/produce distributors in your area, you might be able to open yourself up to a much wider variety of food, fresher and cheaper also. The fresh figs are completely gone off in about two days, you generally have to eat them all on the day that you buy them, even one day later they are noticeably much less fresh. This is of course why they’re not generally sold in supermarkets. But there must be so many varieties of figs in the wild, some appealing to chimps, some to humans, there’s no one type of wild fig.
Pradrig: “It’s not at the same caloric intake. Most fruitarians eat like 1500 calories a day, the supposed “paleos” who know some things about it don’t dispute this… instead they act like you’d be “emaciated” or anorexic on an all-fruit and still have too high sugar.
I don’t know where you’re getting this crazy figure of 40% of a SAD diet…The typical SAD diet is notoriously high in carbohydrates also calories than those on SAD, like 1500 or 1600 calories.”
Again, you are making stuff up without citing anything. SAD is about 52%, carbohydrate, 15% protein and 33% fat. Average caloric intake for 2003 was apparently about 2750/day. (Both easily found with google.) Do the math. Unless the average American was eating their entire carbohydrate intake as sugar, the sugar intake on a fruitarian diet is either higher or about the same as the SAD. Sugar being defined as fructose, glucose or sucrose, i.e. not complex carbohydrates.
I have no firm opinion on the fruitarian vs paleo diet, but reading your posts, I’ve noticed you occasionally slip in these false statements, as if you are attempting to purposefully or subconsciously mislead the discussion. You also rarely (maybe never?) cite any source to back up your claims. As such, I find your posts mostly useless distractions.
AM, PLEASE DON’T TALK TO ME AGAIN. DON’T REPLY BACK. PLEASE. I feel like if you ask me something about what I’ve said, I need to reply back to it. Please leave it be after this. I am not asking you things.
Don’t accuse me of “making stuff up again”. You know I am not making it up, I am saying what I know, sometimes estimates. I cannot search for everything. If I am making stuff up then why would you even bother talking to me and bringing me back again and again?
Okay. Now, I have searched google and I could not find 52%. I found:
“The standard American Diet is 80% carbohydrate. ”
In fact I found a couple of percentages, the lowest being 55%. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090611142405.htm
“Do the math. Unless the average American was eating their entire carbohydrate intake as sugar, the sugar intake on a fruitarian diet is either higher or about the same as the SAD. Sugar being defined as fructose, glucose or sucrose, i.e. not complex carbohydrates.”
Complex carbohydrates are sugar. They are defined as sugar. You cannot define sugar as simple sugars, that is ridiculous. Maybe in common parlance you would say sugar is white sugar, ie. sucrose, that is not what sugar is. To suggest that I was talking about simple sugars is just a joke like all your other posts.
Also, complex carbohydrates could actually do more damage than simple sugars. Firstly because you can eat so much of them together unlike the simple sugars in fruit, secondly because their spike persists for so long.
“As such, I find your posts mostly useless distractions.”
WELL DON’T READ MY POSTS THEN AND STOP ASKING ME ABOUT THEM AND JUST DO NOT TALK TO ME AGAIN!
Here is your statement: “The sugar you get on a very high fruit diet is high percentage-wise but still very low compared to what you would get on a standard american diet.”
The statement is false, yet you will not admit it. Even after defining all carbs as “sugar”, the numbers are similar for fruitarian vs SAD diet. I bother replying to your posts so that OTHERS will not be misled by your incorrect statements and will read your posts with this in mind.
Standard american diet is not 80% carb, that is complete BS. Carb intake can not be 80% when fat intake is 20-30%. That article you cite contradicts itself. It states “And the main issue is that the carbohydrate intake has increased over time for men and women from 45% to 52% and 42% to 49%.” then states “The standard American Diet is 80% carbohydrate.” in the next paragraph. Great source you found there!
Since this isn’t your blog, I suggest that telling other people what to do is inappropriate.
“Now, while most Americans get only about 33 percent of their calories from fat”
Western diet: 55% C, 23% P, 22% F
This is what I’m referring to as made up statements: “The SAD diet is full of bread and pasta and cakes and cereals and chocolate… only a pretty small fraction of it is fat and protein.”
Again, completely false. According to your own sources, fat and protein make up 45-50% of the SAD.
Factual arguments can only be made if the facts are correct, yet you admit to not looking up the facts. It seems that your zealous belief in the fruitarian diet has compromised your ability to think and argue logically.
AM, don’t repedetively call something “made up”. That expression is like something a small child would use.
You are not a smart individual so don’t you for one second think you are debating anything with me. I’m not here to correct your sorry ass on every stupid mistake you make.
I would just like to reiterate my original point: that fruitarians eat far less sugar overall than people on the Standard American Diet.
Great response. I see you didn’t bother responding to any of the questions of fact I raised about your claims.
heathertwist: “I haven’t yet seen an example of a really healthy population that lived primarily on wheat though, anywhere in history.”
Be careful that you’re not creating a false dilemma. There aren’t only two options: either a no-wheat diet or a mostly-wheat diet. I don’t doubt for a second that eating too much wheat, or any one food source, deprives the diet of needed nutrients or potentially interferes with normal digestion. But, what about populations, or individuals, who eat moderate amounts of wheat, yet are healthy?
Not everyone can tolerate exposure to pollen, but does that mean pollen is a universal toxin that everyone should avoid?
Padraig wrote: “So unfortunately (at least from my point of view), he seems to be reiterating his views about wild fruits being unpalatable for modern humans.”
Right, but he doesn’t know me and he doesn’t know what I can eat. I’ll bet he wouldn’t think that sour wild river bank grapes would be edible to a moderner like me either. Maybe he would classify me as a traditionalist like the African locals he met who eat those “inedible” fruits?
Padraig: “The point he says of mine that’s good is that in a perfectly natural environment, in theory the tastier a food is the better it should be for our health. Otherwise we wouldn’t be drawn to eat it.”
Yes, if our brain reward system drove us to eat lots of toxic foods the human race would have had difficulty surviving. Our adaptability to different foods appears to be one of the factors that enabled humans to spread across the globe and led me to call us humans “adaptivores.”
Dr. Stanford: “think of all the wonderful tastes we’re programmed to like, that are terrible for you if eaten in large quantities….”
Padraig: “I can’t think of anything natural that is like that. Only unnatural things.”
Right. Since when are wild fruits necessarily “terrible”? I’ve never heard of hunter gatherers consciously restricting their calories, though their intakes are limited by availability, such as due to seasonality, and as Dr. S. pointed out, even tropical rainforests have some seasonality. One possible downside of the modern food system is that much of the seasonality is eliminated.
Dr. S: “As for the taste-means-good theory, what tastes good is sugary”
Right, and the point being? The sugar leads us to energy-dense wild foods that also contain other nutrients and phytochemicals that we don’t fully understand. Heck, even many animals classed as carnivores eat wild fruits, such as wolves, coyotes, bears and so on. It was even discovered recently that coyotes make mental maps of where the fruit trees in their territory are (just like hunter gatherers) and when the fruits will start dropping. Are they poisoning themselves with toxic sugar?
Padraig: “But the wild fruits highly often have more sugar in them as Denise showed. Maybe I am nitpicking a bit now, perhaps he meant something else. It doesn’t change the situation if the wild fruits containing the sugars are much less tasty.”
Well, wouldn’t it raise the question of why someone should follow the dogma of 80-10-10ers who tell people to eat the sweetest domesticated fruits? It doesn’t guarantee that they’re wrong, but it does raise this interesting question.
Padraig: “Come to think of it, there could be thousands of different varieties of figs also. There wouldn’t be JUST ONE type of wild fig.”
I’ll bet there’s at least one wild species of fig I could eat. Too bad I don’t live in Africa to try them.
Padraig: “The paper he linked to is from our friend “Wrongham”, the abstract basically says “great apes eat a huge amount of them and we aren’t sure why.”
It also says “the digestibility/fermentability of soluble and insoluble fiber components may explain the attractiveness of figs to many frugivores.” Since chimps have longer GI tracts and more fiber-fermenting bacteria, they may be better adapted to figs than we humans, though that doesn’t necessarily mean we aren’t partly adapted to them.
Padraig: “I don’t want to plant them at all, I want to preserve them.”
Wouldn’t you need a climate-controlled vault to do that effectively?
Paleophil said: “Right, but he doesn’t know me and he doesn’t know what I can eat. I’ll bet he wouldn’t think that sour wild river bank grapes would be edible to a moderner like me either. Maybe he would classify me as a traditionalist like the African locals he met who eat those “inedible” fruits?”
It’s quite possible. As for me, right now I’m too busy trying to like the non-expensive fruits that we do get more so I’m not tempted by “non-foods”. I’m astounded by the amount of non-fresh fruit in stores…. no wonder some people don’t think they like fruit… I feel sorry for them. I would never eat some of that stuff you get in small shops like grapes, eugh. Sometimes I think I’m living a kind of version of the potato famine, the famine is of real, fresh, proper fruit.
Paleophil: “Yes, if our brain reward system drove us to eat lots of toxic foods the human race would have had difficulty surviving. Our adaptability to different foods appears to be one of the factors that enabled humans to spread across the globe and led me to call us humans “adaptivores.”
Actually Paleophil, to be honest I don’t really like that sentiment. Humans are best designed to eat a particular type of diet that came in Africa. Sure we can tolerate other foods, so can all the other great apes. Some monkeys can get quite cranky without their cup of joe in the morning. =))) (okay I did make that up, but they do like coffee and beer and smoking so I don’t see why not). Maybe what turns me off this idea is that I saw one guy on a forum saying that “we are evolved to eat anything”, meaning anything that we can eat we should, which is obviously an extremely inaccurate thing to say. We are not evolved to eat mud for example.
Paleophil, I was most surprised at your exchange with Grok about not wanting to re-enact paleo man living in Africa. I most certainly do want to re-enact him and his diet, his diet ***WHEN HE COULD GET WHAT HE WISHED FOR*** was/is the one we are optimally designed to it. (Of course when I say “he” I mean he/she, it is just the way language is, I didn’t design it.) This is the same way for every single organism in existence, so long as they are in their natural environment, or something very close to it. You take them out of their natural environment… anything can happen.
Paleophil: “Right. Since when are wild fruits necessarily “terrible”? I’ve never heard of hunter gatherers consciously restricting their calories, though their intakes are limited by availability, such as due to seasonality, and as Dr. S. pointed out, even tropical rainforests have some seasonality. One possible downside of the modern food system is that much of the seasonality is eliminated.”
The fruits of the mango tree are available all year around. There are wild fruit available at every point in the year. Forget frosty weather, that is for people in the northern hemisphere, though indeed… we did go through a major ice age not an insignificant length of evolutionary time ago. Sometimes I wonder if it wasn’t the ice age that kicked the whole pathological thing off… pushing humans to develop huge brains and so on, that leads us to the stage we’re at now… close to armagaddon.
Paloephil: “Right, and the point being? The sugar leads us to energy-dense wild foods that also contain other nutrients and phytochemicals that we don’t fully understand. Heck, even many animals classed as carnivores eat wild fruits, such as wolves, coyotes, bears and so on. It was even discovered recently that coyotes make mental maps of where the fruit trees in their territory are (just like hunter gatherers) and when the fruits will start dropping. Are they poisoning themselves with toxic sugar?”
Yeah exactly!!! It doesn’t make evolutionary sense that an animal would intentionally choose anything less than absolutely optimal to it. The people who think otherwise just don’t believe in or don’t understand evolution.
Paleophil: Well, wouldn’t it raise the question of why someone should follow the dogma of 80-10-10ers who tell people to eat the sweetest domesticated fruits? It doesn’t guarantee that they’re wrong, but it does raise this interesting question.
Yes, I agree with you on this. The situation I was referring to was this scenario of wild fruits being practically inedible. The more I think about it though, the more I believe that only some fruits are inedible. I mean think about how if you go into a supermarket, 100% of the fruits are human edible and delicious to humans, right? =) But in the wild, it might be like 15% are like this, and 15% are “alright” and 15% are like crab apples or lemons… pretty terrible but you could learn to get used to it. In fact, if anything like what is in the supermarket does exist in the wild…. then it might be like stumbling across a type of “paradise” of the best tasting fruit, ie. the best for us. I’m not saying this is what it’s like, I know artificial selection is a terrible thing… however I’m just laying these ideas out there.
Paleophil: I’ll bet there’s at least one wild species of fig I could eat. Too bad I don’t live in Africa to try them.
Yes, me also. Too bad I don’t even live in America close enough to where I could taste the figs on UCLA campus Stanford talks about. I don’t suppose I could somehow hitch a ride on one of the fruit ships.
Paleophil: It also says “the digestibility/fermentability of soluble and insoluble fiber components may explain the attractiveness of figs to many frugivores.” Since chimps have longer GI tracts and more fiber-fermenting bacteria, they may be better adapted to figs than we humans, though that doesn’t necessarily mean we aren’t partly adapted to them.
Yeah, some people say humans are adapted to everything (err… like you a bit earlier), but no organism can be adapted for everything… you could equally say we’re adapted to nothing. It might be said we’re adapted to being flexible in what we eat, but we’re not as well adapted to any specific foods as the other great apes are.
Paleophil: Wouldn’t you need a climate-controlled vault to do that effectively?
Yes, though you could fit thousands of seeds into a relatively small compartment, even a suitcase or crate maybe. Climate-controlled wouldn’t have to mean powered, which would of course mean continual care being taken of it.
I was thinking of chronicling my expedition, I could use a video camera and continually explain what I was doing. This way, they could be reasonably sure they had the right seeds. I could do many, many things with the seeds. For example I could put some deep under the sea (probably I would need an expert diver to do this). I could put others in places I knew would remain frozen. All in the hope that some would remain viable. Maybe we could even convert some of them to computerized DNA… now it’s true… we do not know if everything about a plant is located in its DNA or if we’re getting it all correctly, etc. There is also the fact that the seeds may be a bit damaged and their growth may not be as it would once be, so that wouldn’t be natural either. But as stated above… partially adapted is the best we can hope for anyway. Once the GM armageddon starts, there will be no end to the carnage and ****ery with nature it will induce. We just have to hope that the basic minerals, the soil, the sun, the air, the proper amount of radiation etc. are still there. Hopefully they don’t invent something like “mineral modification” in the future!!!
Of course, getting some government research facility to do it also might also be helpful. But you can’t trust governments with anything. Who knows what types of corruption might come into play in the future. Perhaps after a while numerous organizations would start to claim they own the only truly natural seeds. These people are allowing the GMOs to take over, are you really going to trust them with it all over again?
I’d like to know what you think about my “plan”. I don’t really have anything worked out yet but I will try, I will read everything I can possibly find on seed preservation, this is a long-term plan. I must become more interested in conversing with people online over this also, unfortunately I’ve been a bit disillusioned by my attempts so far, including being very sharply filled with damaging cortisol, adrenaline and tons of stress hormones from a discussion I had on “friends of the earth” uk with some guy who seemed to think GMOs were just fine and dandy, perhaps it helped my understanding overall though. Okay, time to quit typing. =)
Hi! I just learned about this blog. I like absolute facts the best. For example what do we know for sure about the future? We will die. What is the ultimate cause of death. It is birth. I am vegan but I like to eat my honey. If I had been at this event, I would have loved to have met you.
Have you heard about this? In the last 3 years, 6 MDs have written 6 books about vitamin D. They explain that it is really a hormone. In 2007, Time Magazine chose vitamin D as one of the top 10 medical breakthroughs of the year. In 2010 the RDA of vitamin D was tripled.
Moores Cancer Center is proposing that cancer is a vitamin D deficiency. The doctor of public health there, Cedric Garland, says that enough vitamin D (lifeguard levels) will eradicate breast cancer. Chistaine Northrup M.D. has an article on the Oprah site saying that vitamin D can prevent breast cancer. Dr Oz has a Youtube video about vitamin D preventing breast, colon and uterine cancer. What is the downside? Vitamin D costs pennies or it is free from the sun.
@Padraig Hmm, this exchange is getting lengthy and I don’t want to make people have to scroll forever. I know you were banned at RPD, are you a member of another forum where I could respond to your latest comments?
@Paleophil, not really related forums. Do you have any suggestions?
Yes, I see you’re a member at Giveittomeraw. I sent you a message there.
I’ll just clarify here what I meant by adaptivore–not a species that can eat anything, but one whose diet is relatively flexible compared to other species and can adjust with time to the foods of a new wild habitat, thus enabling the spread of our ancestors across the globe. If they weren’t somewhat adaptive, they wouldn’t have been able to do it. Adaptivore suggests that it takes time to “adapt” to novel foods and thus can’t be as easily used as an excuse to eat foods that were never human staples until relatively recently and junk foods the way omnivore sometimes is.
Okay, excellent. I used to be a member of rawfoodsupport.com, which I found to be pretty good, but I was banned for something like 2 weeks and the ban never got lifted. I used to also say I ate meat there, and they are raw vegan so that didn’t go down too well there. Thanks for your clarification on what you consider adaptivore, I do agree with that way of looking at it. If you gave 100 different novel but potentially toxic foods to western humans, indigenous Africa tribes and chimps, my guess is that western humans probably would survive the best by a slight amount. However if you gave just all oranges, mangos, bananas, and occasionally meat to all of them, my guess is western humans probably would survive the worst by a slight amount.
For some reason I don’t really like the tone on giveittomeraw. The people there are so “campy” and just don’t really seem serious about diet. And they seem to consider useless and meaningless anecdotes to be gospel. Though, they do that sometimes on forums like rawpaleoforum as well. If 3 people kinda sorta thought they noticed their skin getting a bit worse on a high fruit diet… that does NOT mean fruit caused it. It is extremely hard to pin these things down to anything. And you have people clueless to the core that continue to shock me and make me stressed.
I find the same with 30bad (30 bananas a day). I thought I would love that forum first, but I am very cynical about that person “freelee” and her partner who are attempting to make money from “training” people to eat the fruitarian way. There is something not quite right about that. There was also a fruitarian festival in England a while back where people brought their own tents and stayed for nights, but the cost was something like 600 euro. I can’t understand this, fruit should be free. I think Freelee and her associates are a very bad development in the world of food policy. It’s a step towards corruption of their message. People are always really tempted to change or modify their message when money is involved. Did you know that sometimes people get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to speak? For example doctors, by pharmaceutical companies, who will then promote their drug and continue to prescribe it. I hate all of those people pushing pharmaceuticals so much, they are murderers and torturers, brain cell killers, etc. Not as bad as the scientists modifying genes of course, but still despicable people.
Oh, I somehow forgot to say Paleophil that I never got your message at giveittomeraw. It’s not on my wall there, nor in my inbox or email that I can find.
Then send me a friend request. I’m Paleophil there too.
I already added you as a friend.
I have just started reading diet blogs like this and you know what – it is making it so obvious to me there is still a lack of good research on diet because if we had clear believable results from honourable research we would know what to eat and there would be no need to experiment with all these different diets- not really knowing if its really the right way. You could have been on diet A for 15 years and then find out it was totally wrong etc. Most research just looks dishonest or plain stupid when you look closely.
elwoode: Yes, there is a lot of research lacking, and a lot of assumptions are being made by the paleo, ancestral crowd. Are all grains really the Devil, or is it just that we shouldn’t engineer insecticide into the DNA of our food supply? Is all dairy unfit for human consumption, or is it just that CAFO’s, hormones, antibiotics, pasteurization and homogenization all create a vastly inferior product?
There IS plenty of research on marketing and human psychology. We are a consumerist society and we love brands and labels, and that’s how we identify with and judge others. So, we can’t just eat sensibly, we have to eat “paleo” or “ancestral.” We can’t just exercise, we have to do “crossfit.” Once that brand or label starts defining who you are, rational thought and logic are practically useless against the emotional attachment that develops, and that’s why this isn’t going away anytime soon.
“So, we can’t just eat sensibly, we have to eat “paleo” or “ancestral.” We can’t just exercise, we have to do “crossfit.” Once that brand or label starts defining who you are, rational thought and logic are practically useless against the emotional attachment that develops, and that’s why this isn’t going away anytime soon.”
Ben, I find this paragraph to be presumptuous and a bit offensive.
Using such words as “paleo” and “ancestral” can be a logical and meaningful way of describing our diet. You should not have problems with people describing their diet. “sensible” can mean anything, these words just helpfully make it more specific. The problem I have is people with very low carb diets who seem to have hijacked the term “paleo”. Perhaps the words “paleo” and “ancestral” should be reserved, as we are unsure how people in ancient times really ate.
I have never even heard of the term “crossfit” (though admittedly I have a bad memory so I may have heard of it sometime), so I have no idea what you’re talking about. You can count me and many others out of this “brand or label” and “emotional attachment” idea. I ALWAYS try to be totally objective, so does Paleophil and Denise. So you can speak for yourself.
Denise have you always been this pretty or did eating this way make you look like this? You are GORGEOUS! 🙂
You can find really beautiful people who smoke and eat horribly. After the age of 30, it starts to show, but Denise is only 23 or so.
Denise! I can’t believe a pic with little ole’ me made the website. So exciting!!
I realize I’m coming late to the party, but I thought some of your readers might be interested in a recent post I wrote for my blog. I am also bothered by the idea of “veggies versus paleos”, so I wrote up a piece on our commonalities and the important policy changes and food movements that we would all be interested in. Together, we can be a real force for change!
Here’s the link: http://ethicaleats.blogspot.com/2011/08/get-real-chance-for-real-progress.html
Loving all of your articles so far. Very informative, well-written, and researched. Just wish there was more supporting research to support specific recommendations in diet rather than a bunch of biased research eager to be debunked. But, at least we have some idea of what to avoid:
“Now let’s compare that “avoid” list with what Kurt Harris refers to as the three neolithic agents of disease—the modern nasties driving many of our health woes:
Excess linoleic acid (typically from high-omega-6 oils like soybean oil)
Wheat or gluten”
I simply desired to say thanks once more. I’m not certain the things I might have implemented without the type of points shown by you over such a topic. This has been the frustrating setting in my position, nevertheless viewing the well-written approach you resolved that forced me to cry for delight. Extremely grateful for the guidance and in addition trust you really know what an amazing job you are always carrying out instructing men and women using a blog. More than likely you haven’t encountered all of us.
I just saw this video with your speech Denise! I thought the videos that went along with it were quite fitting. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=EqXQ3RRDH_E&oref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fembed%2FEqXQ3RRDH_E%3Fwmode%3Dopaque
Thank you for posting this one! I have been looking into paleo because I like the ideal of eating wild food and indigenous nutrition, but I have been slightly turned off by their vegetarian bashing because I just cant bring myself to be a “meat eater.” Always didn’t like the texture of it. Always been an animal lover. Always been uber sensitive. And once I saw how they were slaughtered, even on organic sustainable small farms, my heart broke. Not many people are this sensitive and I admire them in some ways. They are free to eat whatever they choose without emotional consequences. I do eat daily eggs and raw butter now which has enhanced my raw diet. I feel keeping a balance is important. Raw food is based on spirituality (the garden of eden idea) and paleo is based on science (archaeological findings). When you marry the two you get magic 😉
Raw food is not “based on spirituality”, it is based on science. Conversely, much of the modern implementation of so-called “paleo” is anything but science. It’s propagated by some delusional people who have belief systems directly opposed to reality. And I hardly find it “admirable” that they would eat what they want without consequences. Obviously, there is no such thing as “raw butter”.
Please do explain how there’s no such thing as “raw butter.” I’m a little confused by that.
Butter doesn’t occur naturally, it has to be processed in some way. This may technically fall under the criteria of raw, but not what most people think of when they think of raw. I know there is a sizeable amount of people who consider themselves raw who eat all manner of stuff that is obviously heavily processed, but maintain that since it wasn’t heated above ~40 degrees celsius that it’s still raw.
Putting raw milk in a jar and shaking it (that’s all it takes to make butter), doesn’t seem much different than pealing a banana, or heaven forbid blending one. I get what you’re trying to say, but it doesn’t in any way mean that this/these mildly processed foods aren’t raw or unhealthful.
Now if you’d said butter is not a whole food, I’d pretty much agree. Raisins and prunes are not whole foods either. Doesn’t mean they’re not healthful or can’t be beneficial to a diet… but it might be a decent idea to keep their consumption in check.
Thank you Grok 🙂 *big hug*
I am actually choosing to eliminate butter/dairy again. It was helpful for a time I suppose, but I am personally noticing negative effects from it.
I’m glad to hear it. You will be doing so much better from it.
I wonder where jars grow and where the milk comes from. Perhaps Grok feels that jars are so simple that they would be trivial to produce in the wild and that a primitive person would immediately see their uses? And they would go and take milk from another mammals tits (tits is an actually formal word, I looked it up). Of course they wouldn’t, not in a million years unless they were really starving to death and then they would kill the whole beast.
The oldest “jars” were probably skins. I’ve seen this in documentaries for more modern nomads still: they hang the skin on posts and fill it with liquid. That was how kefir started out too, being fermented in a goat-skin bag hung at the door of the tent. Skins were used for hauling any liquids, and the Inuit used them for fermenting meat in. It’s hard to say how long skins were used for liquids, but probably about as long as humans have hunted animals. The bladder of an animal is a natural “balloon”.
Gourds and parts of some plants are also great jars, and have been used that way a long time. And hollowed-out logs, which are used by pre-farming people for making beer etc. from local fruits. And don’t forget bamboo: bamboo makes a great cup or jar, and is used as a container in cooking too.
The first “real” pottery found so far is about 18,000 years ago though. Goat domestication is about 10,000 years ago. Long enough that some genes have adapted for dairy, in some peoples.
Impossible Heather! 😉
I think I meant “envy” instead of “admire.” I guess that’s what I get for typing fast 😉 But in fact, I do feel it is important to be sensitive, loving, peaceful and kind. I wouldn’t trade that for the ability to eat meat, or anything else, at all…
Oh, and being based on spirituality is not a negative thing. Some people, like myself, put more trust in spirituality instead of science because science is always changing. Studies come out which disprove other studies all the time. On the contrary, being in touch with our inner truth is always reliable.
Well I think it’s a difference in linguistics then. For me actual science never changes, only what people call science changes. Science is not something that changes depending on who calls themselves scientists or who has fiscal power in the world, science is for me the actual way something is.
Denise Minger writes:
“There’s a small but existent portion of the population that will always be vegetarian. Always. Maybe their motivation is ethical. Maybe they just can’t separate the sight of steak from the image of Daisy the cow mooing tragically at the slaughterhouse. Maybe their religion mandates meatlessness. Maybe it’s an ingrained part of their culture. Maybe they share a roof with T. Colin Campbell. Or maybe they just have an aversion to animal flesh and are drawn more to the bounty of the plant kingdom. Whatever their reason, no amount of evolutionary history, Lierre Keith quotes, or “population XYZ eats meat and is healthy!” arguments will un-vegetarianize them—so issues of optimality aside, a meat-free diet is what they have to work with.
… How can paleo folk see eye-to-eye with the vegetarians and their grain love, soy fixation, and neolithic mock-meats made from hunks of pure gluten?”
This is nothing short of a cartoon caricature of ethical vegans full of ad hominem attacks and does nothing whatsoever to respond intelligently to the ethics driving most vegans. I have a hard time taking seriously people who trot out the “always” argument as if they have the ability to perfectly predict the future – whether it’s that there will “always” be some vegetarians or that there will “always” be some carnists. Who endowed you with such powers of perfect prediction anyway?
It’s also pretty clear that individuals can maintain optimal health both on a diet that includes small portions of meat, dairy and eggs as well as on a carefully planned vegan diet. If both these are equal then why don’t you get serious and speak intelligently about the real issues being brought up by vegans instead of dismissing them with this kind of drivel?
Well, Denise is an English major. I don’t think she means to offend, but as I’ve made the point before I don’t think she always means precisely what she says and sometimes puts stuff in for effect. The bits I find offensive are 1) “daisy the cow mooing tragically at the slaughterhouse” – which I think shows a total lack of respect for other animals and 2) “paleo folk”… which I have pointed out many times, and indeed Denise has pointed out to some extent herself, followed a diet which looks FAR more like a fruit-based vegetarian diet. The people who took the name “paleo” are full of crap, man always at over 90% fruit when it was available (which it was all year round), just like all the other great apes. Those meat-eating people are not true paleos at all, it sickens and upsets me that some people could be so deluded.
Denise is clearly amazingly intelligent and is very capable of producing vast amounts of work of the highest quality. She is very young now, 24 or something, I hope in the future she will write in a more serious style. Serious doesn’t have to mean academic nonsense and technical terms, just meaning exactly what you say, carefully looking over it for mistakes and not putting things in to caricature people or for allegorical affect. I said this before also but was completely ignored, humour and serious analysis don’t mix.
Those “heavy meat-eaters” I meant to say. Man only ate a lot of meat when times were really bad and he was starving. But it’s true that he always probably ate a little… for example things like termites.
And by “meat-eaters” I mean people who eat organic, raw meat. People who eat lots of cooked meat and think they’re living a “paleo” diet are insanely off the mark and are putting themselves at huge risk of cancer, kidney failure, bone deterioration due to an acid-filled body, and so on.
Right. If the intent is to promote a “paleo” diet for a small number of people who, ostensibly, *need* foods of animal origin in their diet then why not promote a well-planned vegan diet for everyone else? Granted, a very small number of “paleo folk” who live disconnected from larger society may have a smaller footprint (environmental, animal suffering, etc.) than the most committed vegans living an urban life but if she’s advocating “paleo” for the masses then it has to be scalable, which it doesn’t appear that it is, while veganism for the masses *is* scalable.
Denise claims that she’s passionate about “knowledge acquisition” yet trivializing ethical concerns such as “Daisy the cow mooing tragically at the slaughterhouse” demonstrates either willful ignorance or a disdain for “knowledge acquisition”. In this instance it looks like Denise broke her shovel before even starting to dig for understanding.
Cynthia and Padraig, I think you’re both misinformed and missing the point.
For one thing, humans are leagues different from the other great apes precisely because they a) began to eat animal products far more often and in larger quantities earlier (as evidenced by change in dentition, brain mass, and digestive tract length) and b) began to use fire to soften foods for digestion. For another, it’s unwise to assert that fruits were available throughout most of the year in large quantity during most of human evolution because a) no great apes consume 90% fruit, humans included and b) anthropoid migration from the forest to the savannah, with subsequent loss of hallux opposition, effectively removed fruiting products from the diet in the quantities other primates were/are able to enjoy.
Tertiarily, man at no point ate meat only during starvation; it was a preference when available, much as it is with chimps. In fact, when human females began to menstruate in such a fashion as to become chronically at risk for anemia (as no other primates do), it dramatically increased the need for iron, and thus meat in the diet. As a sidenote to this, fat consumption is more than twice as efficient in terms of caloric sufficiency, and easier to digest. This is a huge part of what drove our explosive brain expansion. Very few plants are high in fat. Draw your own conclusions.
Lastly, I read Denise’s passage as an attempt to build a bridge between the conflicting dietary goals and ideals of vegans and “paleo folk.” She’s not mocking anyone, and I don’t read anything as cartoonish or caricatured; rather, she’s checking in with the various more common reasons for avoiding animal products as a way to remind belligerent “paleo folk” that there are valid reasons for choosing that path, and to try to avoid some of the bellicosity and bullying that vegan folks sometimes experience from the carnivorous set.
I speak as a former vegetarian of ten-years’ duration. I make no claims to speak for Denise or other “paleo folk.” But I do think the evolutionary evidence, scant as it is and unproductive as it is to speculate, pretty unequivocally argues that man is not only the most exquisitely adapted primate to meat-eating, but that in fact this dietary change was the largest factor driving our evolution.
@interrobung, it’s apparently easy to assert that I’m “misinformed”. If you think that Ms. Minger was not caricaturing vegans/vegetarians then you should agree that the following is not a caricature of “paleo folk” either:
“There’s a small but existent portion of the population that will always be paleo. Always. Maybe their motivation is nutritional. Maybe they just can’t reconcile the plant food on their plate with something that is nutritionally worth having. Maybe their religion mandates carnivory. Maybe it’s an ingrained part of their culture. Maybe they share a roof with Deniser Minger. Or maybe they just have an aversion to plant foods and are drawn more to the bounty of the animal kingdom. Whatever their reason, no amount of evolutionary history, Albert Schweitzer quotes, or “population XYZ eats plants and is healthy!” arguments will un-paleo them—so issues of optimality aside, a plant-free diet is what they have to work with. … How can vegan folk see eye-to-eye with the paleos and their love of flesh, lactation fluid fixation, and neolithic offerings made with chunks of dead bodies?”
There is nothing that unequivocally proves that meat eating was the largest factor driving human evolution. Easy to state and hard to prove. Where is your “unequivocal” evidence? I suspect you’ll trot out some research papers but so could the folks arguing the opposite. Here, why don’t you spend some time checking out The Humane Hominid’s blog http://paleovegan.blogspot.com/2011/11/its-curtains-for-expensive-tissue.htmlby-date=false or http://paleovegan.blogspot.com/2011/12/coming-up-short-grain-blamers-and.html and see how Ms. Minger compares (very poorly, I would say).
Oops, here’s that first link again: http://paleovegan.blogspot.com/2011/11/its-curtains-for-expensive-tissue.html
The only quibble I have with your attempt at character is the phrase “neolithic offerings made with chunks of dead bodies,” and that is only factual: nothing neolithic about that.
I appreciate the links to PaleoVeganology, and the relink that included a link to the Nature article being cited. That being said: it’s a large leap to say that just because the ETH isn’t on solid ground, meat wasn’t essential to our evolution. As Padraig correctly points out below, primates have larger brain size in general (and the best eyes in the mammalian taxa) due to our need to recall the location of ripe and safe fruit in four-dimensional space-time. However, the anthropoids left the forests millions of years ago, lost hallux (big toe) opposition in order to stand taller, and were unable to use fruit as a main source of calories for the last several million years (having relinquished that niche for what we can perhaps assume was some preferable niche on the ground).
This niche must have contained a novel caloric source. Whatever that was, it seems to have encouraged shortening of the gut (though this is not necessarily related to brain size, as the ETH claims). Something at a similar period of time drove the massive expansion of our brain volume (which is considerably larger than other primates). If our brains are larger than fruitivores, and our brain expansion began to accelerate when we came away from fruit, then fruit cannot be the answer. Likely, the answer was protein and, more importantly for brain development, fat.
The first link was a well-reasoned discussion, but the second was sort of pedantic and combative. It didn’t reflect well on the author, or the points y’all are trying to make, and left a sour taste in my mouth due to its negativity.
Lastly, I’m not trying to convince you to change your ways. I just want the conversation to be more civil and logical. Thanks for responding with candor and civility.
“The only quibble I have with your attempt at character is the phrase “neolithic offerings made with chunks of dead bodies,” and that is only factual: nothing neolithic about that.”
Sure it is. In paleolithic or “ancestral” times how did humans obtain their chunks of flesh? Presumably from hunting right? The domestication of animals and the consumption of their bodies is a neolithic development and is essential to most “paleo folk” who want to eat a “paleo” diet. Grass fed, pasture raised, etc. etc. is neolithic not paleolithic.
Sorry, without anyone actually knowing *exactly* what happened it’s a large leap to say that meat was *essential* for human evolution. We could go on like this forever. But no matter what, is there enough evidence to conclusively state that the inclusion of animal products is a necessary component of good health? According to the official position of the American Dietetic Association they’re not necessary. If anyone wants to quibble with that they should take it up with the ADA. I come back to the original point of my response to Deniser Minger – if there are a few people who are convinced (after discounting a placebo effect) that they absolutely need foods of animal origin then fine – go ahead. For everyone else what’s wrong why not advocate vegan choices, which, for the average person work wonderfully well and offer so many positive outcomes?
“For one thing, humans are leagues different from the other great apes precisely because”
Hold on, I don’t agree with this initial premise of your statement. DNA evidence has shown that chimpanzees/bonobos are vastly closer to humans that they are to gorillas/orangutans. Humans aren’t “leagues different” at all, we are much more like chimps than chimps are like gorillas. The only big difference with humans is that we have a much larger brain.
“they a) began to eat animal products far more often and in larger quantities earlier (as evidenced by change in dentition, brain mass, and digestive tract length) and b) began to use fire to soften foods for digestion.”
Look at the bonobos’ teeth: http://www.profimedia.si/photo/bonobo-or-pygmy-chimpanzee-showing-teeth/profimedia-0010472790.jpg
They are practically *exactly* the same as our own. It may seem paradoxical to people who’ve been fed the modern drivel about teeth, but LESS enamel is needed when a diet consists of more soft fruit. The enamel is only used for eating hard vegetables, as exemplified by the Paranthropus Robustus’ “robust” teeth and large molars. Only a little enamel is needed for the teeth of chimps/bonobos and orangutans who eat a lot of fruit.
I used to have extreme teeth problems on a “normal” diet. I couldn’t eat apples at all, I couldn’t even eat some types of bread crust!!! Now I eat as much acidy fruit and have zero problems whatsoever!!!! I still brush the same, the only difference is that I now floss and use Aloe Vera toothpaste. The fact that my teeth are so perfect now and NEVER gave me trouble in the past about 5 years (having been filled every 3-6 months once upon a time), went a long way to show me the way of things. Monkeys and apes don’t suddenly get teeth rotting and falling out when they’re 10 years old. It’s all from modern nonsense.
As for your remark about intestines: you are quite right that human intestines changed, they became a little shorter. I do think that Dr. Wrangham has some little point here, in that humans started to cook their food more and that may be why we have slightly shorter intestines. I lightly cook brocolli a lot nowadays, but fruit is still number 1.
“For another, it’s unwise to assert that fruits were available throughout most of the year in large quantity during most of human evolution because a) no great apes consume 90% fruit, humans included”
This is untrue. It is not unwise to assert fruits were available throughout most of the year, they are available throughout the ENTIRE year in the parts of Sub-Saharan Africa where humans originated. I researched this and it’s 100% correct. Not all fruits are ripe at all times, this is a big part of why primates grew such huge brains… to be able to find the right fruit at each time of the year. And the fruit is generally plentiful, there is enough fruit in a really small area to last an entire year. One metre cubed in the vast canopy can contain an amount of fruit that you would fine unbelievable. Obviously the fruit is organic and perfectly fresh.
You say also that no great apes consume 90% fruit humans included. My response is that they would if they could!!! If the fruit was available, as it would be in the forrest under natural conditions, they would eat it much more. There is no area of the world or ecosystem that humans haven’t damaged. Having said all that, Orangutans have indeed been found to eat up to 90% fruit in the wild if you do your research.
“and b) anthropoid migration from the forest to the savannah, with subsequent loss of hallux opposition, effectively removed fruiting products from the diet in the quantities other primates were/are able to enjoy.”
Humans only left Africa about 70,000 years ago. The agricultural evolution only started about 10,000 years ago. This is all only in the blink of an evolutionary eye, and in no way enough time to evolve them past the time of eating fruit. Besides, there was such social and cultural upheaval and chaotic mating scenarios that the normal process of natural selection hardly survived. As soon as language started and the typical climate of there being an alpha male or high ranking males fighting for females I think you can say goodbye to all subtle natural selection – (even though this is not necessary for the above point to stand since it wouldn’t be enough time to evolve the means to deal with the new foods anyway!!!).
“Tertiarily, man at no point ate meat only during starvation; it was a preference when available, much as it is with chimps.”
This is total nonsense, now you sound like a well-meaning and thoughtful individual. You might have read it in a popular book, but the truth is that this mentality of going after the meat was one of humanity’s earliest theories of evolution and how man “graduated” from the jungle. The book Man The Hunter epitomized the sentiment at the time – man allegedly outgrew his jungle home, banished the “lower” animals from harming him and emerged victorious by virtue of his superior intellect and hunting prowess. This pleased both the researchers and public at large. There was just one problem: It was all complete nonsense!!! In a newer book Man The Hunted Sussman and Harte show that man was in fact the one being hunted and eaten the vast majority of the time. And there is growing acceptance of the fact that fruit formed a very large fraction of paleo man’s diet… if not almost it all.
Chimps in fact TURN DOWN MEAT IN FAVOUR OF FRUIT. Even after they have hunted they sometimes THROW AWAY FRESH MONKEY MEAT IN ORDER TO EAT FRUIT INSTEAD. YES, THROW IT AWAY, AFTER ALL THAT EFFORT. It is in a documentary, I think it’s the BBC, you can probably find it on youtube. They throw away the monkey meat. They mainly only hunt for practice in case times do get bad, and they do have to rely on this secondary fruit source.
“In fact, when human females began to menstruate in such a fashion as to become chronically at risk for anemia (as no other primates do), it dramatically increased the need for iron, and thus meat in the diet.”
Oh… there are plenty of examples of how to get iron from vegetarian sources. Meat is not an amazing source of either protein or iron, as the numbers show. And too much iron or protein can be very bad for you, as studies clearly indicate. Fact is that iron deficiency, like a lot of deficiencies, is not caused by having too little iron (or remedied effectively by loaded up with iron), but by having other vitamins and minerals such as copper and vitamin c being imbalanced in the first place… thereby putting the entire system out of balance and causing bottlenecks and imbalances all over. Many people who eat plenty of meat have an iron deficiency in today’s society. Many who don’t eat a huge amount of iron have iron overload.
“As a sidenote to this, fat consumption is more than twice as efficient in terms of caloric sufficiency, and easier to digest. This is a huge part of what drove our explosive brain expansion. Very few plants are high in fat. Draw your own conclusions.”
Please get over this idea of the starving paleo man. Paleo man was extremely rarely hungry. When he did he would eat whatever he could get. It had NOTHING to do with brain expansion. As I already stated, brain expansion occurred because of the huge amount of fruits in the forest… some fruits make people sick, some aren’t fully ripe and there’s little way of telling, some fruits are just plain digusting and the primate won’t want to waste any time gathering them. And man certainly didn’t grow a huge brain in the middle of him being starving, nevermind it being a “huge part” of it. Nobody who has seriously investigated and has a lot of experience with this subject suggests that.
“Lastly, I read Denise’s passage as an attempt to build a bridge between the conflicting dietary goals and ideals of vegans and “paleo folk.” She’s not mocking anyone, and I don’t read anything as cartoonish or caricatured; rather, she’s checking in with the various more common reasons for avoiding animal products as a way to remind belligerent “paleo folk” that there are valid reasons for choosing that path, and to try to avoid some of the bellicosity and bullying that vegan folks sometimes experience from the carnivorous set.”
Well my term for them is the “supposed paleos” or “alleged paleos”, and it should be Denise’s as well going by the fact that she realizes that in paleolithic times man ate a huge amount of fruit. Nobody viscerally gets the urge to hunt down and eat raw animal protein. It’s a joke.
The caricature of the vegetarians was IMO mean and degrading. I also believe it was cruel to mock the cow’s dying cries for help, little as they may mean to her. I do not trust people who don’t like or care about other animals. For me how you treat other animals is sort of like how you would treat other humans if all the social stigma and repercussions of being nasty to other humans were removed.
“I speak as a former vegetarian of ten-years’ duration. I make no claims to speak for Denise or other “paleo folk.” But I do think the evolutionary evidence, scant as it is and unproductive as it is to speculate, pretty unequivocally argues that man is not only the most exquisitely adapted primate to meat-eating, but that in fact this dietary change was the largest factor driving our evolution.”
The evidence is getting overwhelming in terms of man having been a fruit-eater. Even Darwin stated in his time that man appeared to be “frugivorous”. Forget this stupid idea of man going out hunting and bringing home the meat, I don’t know where it comes from (true, some native tribes who are also not acting as their ancestors did do it, they can go off the beaten track as much as we do) but it’s certainly not what prehistoric man did.
“There is nothing that unequivocally proves that meat eating was the largest factor driving human evolution. Easy to state and hard to prove. Where is your “unequivocal” evidence?”
yeah, firstly he says the evidence is very “scant” and how much it’s “unproductive to speculate”, then in the next part of the sentence he’s saying it’s “unequivocal”. Typing without thinking and no reliability, contradicting himself in the very next clause.
@Padraig, I’m going to try to respond to most of what you said, despite its combative, pedantic tone. To be perfectly honest, it’s a bit disorganized and rambling; please forgive me if I miss something.
1) Genus Homo is extraordinarily different, phenotypically, from genus Pan, even though we share 99% of the same genotype, and are closer to each other than either of us to any other genus. That being said, most DNA is start codons, stop codons, and junk, so the 99% sharing is not as meaningful as it sounds.
2) I looked at the picture of bonobos teeth, which were very pretty. But I was hoping the link showed a comparison of dentition, which it didn’t. Comparing genus Pan dentition to genus Homo yields subtle but anthropologically important differences, just as comparing Homo to Australopithecus does. But I’m not talking just about enamel thickness. Changes occur in relative size proportion of dentition, total jaw size, and muscular attachments as well. These give us a better idea of what diet may have been like.
3) I’m glad your teeth are much better, and I agree that the Standard American Diet is to blame for most dental caries.
4) Human gut length is not “a little shorter,” but considerably shorter. We have by a large margin the shortest gut length compared to our size of any primate, and anthropological evidence indicates this change began to occur when we moved out of the trees (attachments, size, and shape of ribs, vertebrae, etc.). Digestive tract length is longest in animals that eat mostly roughage, followed by more frugivorous species, then omnivores, and finally carnivores. Our forebears left the trees millions of years ago, not right before they left Africa, and over the millions of years in between their gut length shortened. They cannot have maintained access to the canopy due to changes in pelvis size and shape and the loss of hallux opposition, which means they lost that frugivorous niche. One must assume they abandoned it for a good reason, but that reason probably wasn’t the less-efficient consumption of vegetables because a) it’s less energetically efficient than fat and b) our gut length shortened dramatically instead of lengthening.
5) You’re right that orangutans are primarily frugivorous. I almost mentioned them as an exception in the last post, but figured it was a small quibble. They’re also the most genetically distinct of the great apes.
6) I agree that anthropoids spent a large part of their time avoiding being hunted, for millions of years. They didn’t reverse that process until probably relatively recently, and Australopithecines probably weren’t great hunters. They were probably frightened apes who scavenged meat and killed small animals when they could. And while I can believe you that there is a documentary somewhere showing chimps exchanging meat for fruit, it’s not the normal observation. Perhaps the meat was spoiled and the fruit fresh. Perhaps, more convincingly, the fruit was spoiled (as chimps have shown a strong predilection for fermented fruit due, we suspect, to the alcohol produced therein). Regardless, the majority of writing on the topic indicates meat is highly sought after as a source of nutrition in most chimp communities, and traded at very high prices by those who have it.
7) And sure, there are lots of plant-sources of iron. That doesn’t change the simple fact that heme iron (found only in animal products) is absorbed with roughly 20x efficiency as plant-iron, due to the ionization of the enterocyte iron transporters. Further, by far most iron deficiency is due to loss of blood and inadequate dietary replacement, not absorption co-factor issues, and by even farther most iron overload is due to inborn errors of iron metabolism, not dietary overload. Furthermore, animal products are the most easily-absorbed sources of protein, though this discrepancy is mostly due to the vastly larger quantities or protein in animal products, and less due to metabolic preference. That being said, there is still a small metabolic preference for animal protein over vegetable protein. As a medical student who sees patients all day, every day and who has to memorize the tiny specifics of these pathways, I’m just going to pull rank on the iron and protein issues.
8) This is copy-and-pasted from my response to @Cynthia, above: As you correctly point out, primates have larger brain size in general (and the best eyes in the mammalian taxa) due to our need to recall the location of ripe and safe fruit in four-dimensional space-time. However, the anthropoids left the forests millions of years ago, lost hallux (big toe) opposition in order to stand taller, and were unable to use fruit as a main source of calories for the last several million years (having relinquished that niche for what we can perhaps assume was some preferable niche on the ground). This niche must have contained a novel caloric source. Whatever that was, it seems to have encouraged shortening of the gut (though this is not necessarily related to brain size, as the ETH claims). Something at a similar period of time drove the massive expansion of our brain volume (which is considerably larger than other primates). If our brains are larger than fruitivores, and our brain expansion began to accelerate when we came away from fruit, then fruit cannot be the answer. Likely, the answer was protein and, more importantly for brain development, fat.
9) Hunting requires expansion of brain size. Eating more fat encourages brain size expansion.
10) I didn’t read Denise’s words as mocking the cows’ cries, but perhaps I’m wrong. And I don’t believe she is indifferent to animal suffering. I know I’m not wrong there.
11) Humans are not going to reverse evolutionary course now and quit consuming animal products as a species. It’s just not going to happen. The best we can hope for (and I do hope) is more humane treatment of the land, the plants we grow on it, and the animals we use as food sources. I happen to believe that the best way to accomplish this in a capitalist society is to use my dollars as the votes they represent: to buy organic, to buy range-fed, and to research my sources and avoid CAFO products. I think this does far more to encourage good farming and good land-use practices than simply avoiding the issue or struggling in vain to change it. I’m not suggesting you begin eating animal products if you’re morally opposed: that would be pedantic, cruel, and counterproductive. But I do think my way is more likely to engender positive change than yours.
I hope you find this as adequate, thorough, and respectful as I intend it.
“Humans are not going to reverse evolutionary course now and quit consuming animal products as a species. It’s just not going to happen. The best we can hope for (and I do hope) is more humane treatment of the land, the plants we grow on it, and the animals we use as food sources. I happen to believe that the best way to accomplish this in a capitalist society is to use my dollars as the votes they represent: to buy organic, to buy range-fed, and to research my sources and avoid CAFO products. I think this does far more to encourage good farming and good land-use practices than simply avoiding the issue or struggling in vain to change it. I’m not suggesting you begin eating animal products if you’re morally opposed: that would be pedantic, cruel, and counterproductive. But I do think my way is more likely to engender positive change than yours.”
Just like Denise Minger you’re using a language of absolutes and utter certainty. Evolution is nothing but a series of changes. Human history has been nothing but a series of changes. If you’re eating “paleo” because you either feel it benefits your health or that you prefer the taste of animal flesh then be honest about it. If you’re in this for “positive change” then why do you even try to change anything if you don’t believe that humans will change their behaviour? It seems to me that vegans are far more hopeful than you are. The vegans I know are extraordinarily conscientious, very well informed and tend to buy organic, environmentally sound and cruelty-free more than most people. They firmly believe in encouraging good farming and good land-use practices. They don’t avoid issues nor do they believe that they are “struggling in vain”.
On an aside, since you mention moral opposition, I’m curious why you think it is acceptable to do to nonhuman animals that which we would not do to human animals? As a medical student you, hopefully, realize that the physiological traits from which “do unto others” is derived are the same for most nonhuman animals as for human animals – namely consciousness, cognition, emotions, pain and suffering.
I don’t intend to be absolutist, just pragmatic: pardon the colloquial nature of my language. Humans are extraordinarily unlikely to reverse evolutionary course, and are extraordinarily susceptible, over time, to more humane methods of accomplishing the same goals. And while I agree with you that vegans, in large part, tend to fit the mold you’ve poured; I’m unsure what would make you claim that any do so measurably moreso than I do. That’s an ad hominem counterproductive to the discussion. And frankly, while I find the anthropological arguments interesting (and the ones I’ve espoused quite compelling), I think it has little bearing upon the issue because it’s mostly conjecture based upon highly circumstantial evidence.
Further, I don’t think it’s wise to put much stock in anthropological researchers with a vested interest in their findings: vegan anthropologists who claim early hominids ate mostly fruit and primal anthropologists (the term I’ll use instead of “paleo,” since y’all want to contest that) who claim early hominids ate mostly meat each have their own Pygmalion bias. Their conclusions should be avoided entirely except where the broader scientific community is in agreement (which it isn’t, entirely). So let’s neither of us engage that part of the debate.
My diet is based upon an understanding of optimizing my health using the best available biochemical, genetic, and physiologic evidence. Most grains are unsuitable for human consumption without time-intensive traditional soaking and fermenting methods. This is due to the evolutionary pathways developed by grasses (of which all grains are simply domesticated versions) in order to ensure reproductive success (e.g. the coating of their seed-product with phytic acid and other undigestible “antinutrients.” Grains containing gluten (wheat, rye, barley, oats, amaranth) are far worse because mammals haven’t the digestive enzymes to break it down fully. Consequently, our immune systems react to it as they would any foreign protein: by initiating an inflammatory response to control and attack it. This gaps the tight junctions between the enterocytes of the small intestine and allows pro-inflammatory cytokines, prostaglandins, and leukotrienes to circulate freely throughout the body. What results is mild, low-level, but constant planetary inflammation. This puts the body at risk, in the long-term, for autoimmune disease, inflammatory disease, infection, and a variety of other sources of pathology: not a good scenario. And while not all grains contain gluten, most are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which our bodies need in exponentially smaller quantities than we tend to consume across all diets in industrialized countries.
Legumes, while less bad, also contain quite similar “antinutrients” in their seed-coats, the evolutionary purpose for which, again, is to protect the plants’ reproductive success. The good news about legumes is that while most of them require some level of fermentation/soaking/acidification to remove their antinutrient coats, this is typically a far easier process than it is with grains. The bad news is that they are still extraordinarily high in omega-6 fatty acids, and consequently feed into the inflammatory cycle I just mentioned. The worse news, though entirely avoidable, is that soy is perhaps the worst of the legumes: it is an endocrine disruptor of the HPA axis and its gonadal subsequents, and its phytic acid coating is harder to remove. The Chinese discovered this 3,000 years ago when they figured out that the soy covered with a funny colored coating (later determined to be fungi of the genus Aspergillus) did not make them ill. Thus was born miso and tofu, fermented soy products that largely avoid the problems of non-fermented soy. But I challenge you to find tofu products made with a true fermentation process rather than the quick-ferment that has allowed tofu production to expand in industrialized countries. It’s really very difficult, and quick-fermentation does not do the job.
All of this is a precursor to the following: grains and legumes are, not entirely but for the most part, inferior sources of nutrients. While on a vegan diet, it is very difficult to cut out grains and legumes, thus very difficult to get proper caloric intake. Hence, my conclusion that veganism is suboptimal from a pure health standpoint. Doable? Absolutely. With relative ease? Far from it. Nutritionally optimal even under the assumption the one has the time and money to do it right? I can assume potentially, but I haven’t any certainty on that, and it’s predicated upon a Kipling’s If.
As an endnote, as a medical student I certainly realize that there is relative professional scientific consensus upon the following: a tiny handful of animals experience something like what we might call consciousness, defined largely as self-recognition; a larger but still quite small set of animals experience something like what we understand as cognition, though this number dwindles dramatically if we define it as having an apparent theory of mind; many animals (most if not all mammals and many though not all birds) experience something like what we would call emotions; most (though by no means all) experience pain, but many who experience pain do not experience what we would call suffering. This all being the case, most of our animal food supply does experience pain and has the very clear potential to experience it as suffering. All the more reason to advocate for humane methods of animal husbandry and slaughter.
@interrobung, nothing you have said here indicates that humans have, in this day and age, the need to consume any animal products whatsoever. The reality of millions of full-on vegans in rich countries and billions of practically vegan (think poorer people in rural areas of the majority world) are living testament to that. Consuming a small amount of animal flesh may indeed be “optimal” but are you able to both measure and offer evidence of that optimality in terms of health and longevity and does it really matter?
As for the consciousness, suffering and cognition of nonhuman animals. You say that “a tiny handful of animals experience something like what we might call consciousness”. I might point out that humans are only one of that “tiny handful” and should therefore be worth barely any consideration whatsoever. No? Anyway, your arguments dismissing the nonhuman animal experience leading to the conclusion that the answer is “humane methods of animal husbandry and slaughter” are simply speciesist. Here, read this as a more erudite response than anything I could say: http://paleovegan.blogspot.com/2012/01/speciesism-creationism-treat-it-that.html
You say speciesist as though the word “anthropocentric” were not an already coined and completely sufficient word for what you describe. But frankly, I’m more of an intelligentist or cognitionist than either of the above. I don’t eat octopuses because I find them fascinatingly intelligent, emotionally expressive, and perhaps cognitively capacious: they are the most intellectually challenging creatures among invertebrates, and I recognize that. I also don’t eat cetaceans or apes, nor do I agree with the predominant methods of their capture or study, though those are clearer examples. I believe in humane methods of animal husbandry (up to and including slaughter) for animals already within the food chain, and who show no signs of self-cognition. Keep in mind mourning the loss of others is not the same as recognizing the self.
And I never claimed contemporary humans have a need to consume animal products, just a clear evolutionary propensity for doing so as the most exquisitely-adapted primates to the rigors of carnivory, buoyed by a clear incentive that is outside the simple domineering master-slave dialectic your’e drawing. In fact, I find that dichotomy in and of itself both oppressive and poorly reflecting reality.
And while—taken as a whole—animal products provide superior nutrition, it is also certainly the case that humans cannot live on them solely (though a few tribes do quite nearly that for long stretches of time), while they *can* live solely on plant products. But you’re taking the fallacy of “making an is into an ought” and setting as the centerpiece of your argument. The fallout from that is where I point out that the majority of peoples living a close-to-vegan lifestyle are in abject poverty and would love nothing more to eat animal products. Grains and legumes have always been the foodstuff of the poor. That doesn’t mean your argument has to be poor as well.
You say “intelligentist” or “cognitionist” as though the word “speciesist” were not already coined and a completely sufficient word for how you describe yourself. Your prerequisite of “self-cognition” is about as arbitrary as every other speciesist argument out there. Humans may have potential for many things but perhaps we should deny any and all protections for humans who, say, are illiterate or maybe those who score below, say, 70 on an IQ test? I will note that octopuses, cetaceans, apes and even (gasp!) humans are either currently within or have been “within the food chain” in different parts of the world. Obviously the (aribtrary) lines that you have drawn mean nothing to humans who include these animals in their “food chain”.
That’s an extraordinarily sweeping assertion that the majority of peoples living a close-to-vegan lifestyle are in “abject poverty”. This is simply fallacious and reflects a distinct lack of first-hand knowledge. Take the village where my grandparents lived in India. No one lived in “abject poverty”! By Western standards they are, yes, materially poor people but absolutely no one lacked for food, clothing, shelter, community, meaningful work and meaningful lives. Would these people have liked to eat more animal products – some of them, yes. But in general almost everyone will tell anyone who asks that dietary health is better achieved through eating more vegetables. On both sides of my family (living in “abject poverty”) my grandparents lived active, healthy “close-to-vegan” lives until their very last days – living to be 96, 91, 89 and 83 – and this was fairly representative of most people. Generally what killed people in their generation was usually an infectious disease. A generation or two later their children and grandchildren are eating much more in the way of animal products and dying at earlier ages of diseases of affluence – namely heart attacks, diabetes, and cancer. Your argument that materially poorer people “would love nothing more to eat animal products” is actually insulting because it also implies that they are uniformly ignorant and your assertion fails to acknowledge the fact that eating grains, legumes and vegetables actually kept these people healthy for a very long time.
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Haha, you’re adorable. :3 I saw you on the rawbrahs, and I had read your blog before and enjoyed it but didn’t know your name.. Then got all excited when I made the connection! Lol anyway, do you have any opinions on edamame? I haven’t found anything on your site yet about it and I’m trying to figure out whether or not it’s healthy. I eat mostly vegan and as much raw as possible and don’t consume wheat (I eat some brown rice and quinoa). But I sometimes include some fish. And I put raw honey in my herbal sleep aide tea every night so I suppose I’m not that vegan. Haha.
Enjoyed the article, always nice to get some perspective on things, although as a paleo-vegan (don’t get a brain cramp just yet :D) I found it slightly condescending.
I’m so curious to ask if anyone in the ancestral health community has considered how we ate for millions of years before we developed technology to alter our food? Before industrialization, agriculture, weapons/tools, and even before fire? We would have had little to no ability to tackle and kill wild animals with our hands, much less milk them. I eat no soy, very little ancient grains/legumes, and the rest raw greens, fruits, nuts, and seeds.
This is where we spent the majority of our formative years as a species, and is mainly the diet of every other herbivorous animal on the planet, including our apparent ancestors. Without technology we would have only been able to eat mainly raw plant foods (maybe the occasional egg, forest-fire burnt antelope, and an insect here an there).
This seems to make the most sense to me, but I haven’t heard anyone address this perspective from either the paleo community or the vegan community. I’m genuinely curious, and open to learning from others thoughts on this.
By the way, all the things you listed for reasons people might stay vegetarian/vegan didn’t include that it simply feels great! That’s why I do it 🙂
Much love ❤
I’ve been studying it for some time, and also done my own foraging etc. More to the point, they have coprolites and isotopic evidence of what people ate back when. Mostly, about the time our brain started getting bigger, we started eating more protein foods. Shoreline foods are easy … your average 5-year-old can catch a dig, catch a turtle, frog, or snake, or dig up crocodile eggs (there is a youtube video showing Aborigine kids doing just that! While mama croc watched! And the kids eat the eggs raw.). Insects were a big food source too, and still are in much of the world. It looks like there were *later* adaptations that allowed some humans to eat inland foods and still get the DHA they needed, from plants.
I do have a problem with the idea that “meat” in the sense of “mammal meat” was the main staple in previous ages though. I do think mammal meat might be problematic for at least some people. The neu5gc issue is real, and very likely much of the US has way too much iron (both because of the relative cheapness of beef, and because many common foods have added iron). I have not found any “healthy culture” that centered around mammal meat … in fact, there are few cultures that ever had the ability to eat it often. Fish, eggs, dairy, and poultry were and are staples, and ruminant meat was for feasts mainly. The Maasai drink mainly milk and some blood, but don’t butcher cows often. The Inuit ate sea mammals and fish mainly. The only verifiable culture that ate a fair bit of mammal meat were the Plains Indians, but the times when we have a history of that was after the introduction of the horse. People before “technology” could and did kill large animals, but it’s doubtful it was a daily occurrence or a staple food.
Ah, very interesting thank you! The brain increase is the one thing I was hung up on. I wonder how long it would take to show brain decrease/deficiency eating only plant foods, assuming that was the evolutionary process.
Now I just have to figure out why I feel so much better without animal fats; I’ve been mostly vegetarian for 10 years, and only recently went vegan, as well as dropping the grains/soy/gmo’s and excess sugars of all kinds (due to pre-diabetes and various other health problems brought on by a toxic lifestyle/relationship/mindset) I do have intestinal scarring from a surgery long ago, and ate a very typical western diet even during the vegetarian years.
When I occasionally try some meat/animal fats now and then, I get overheated and lethargic, my mind slows, I get major indigestion, and once things finally work their way through, well, lets just say I get the impression on many levels that it was just a very toxic experience in my body. This happened with salmon, chicken, and dairy.. all organic.. and with plenty of enzyme supplements.
I wonder if its possible this kind of diet that I am eating is good for ‘cleansing purposes’ (for those who suffer from issues of excess), and incorporating some healthy animal fats into a similar diet would be good for ‘building’ purposes (for those whose bodies are troubled by problems of deficiency). It seems that both diets work very well for different people in regards to healing illness and regaining vitality. And then of course, diet isn’t *everything*, but I’ve had such dramatic results in my life, that I feel it is very important.
Either way, I think dropping the grains/soy/GMO’s, and processed and excess sugars/flours/starches, eating much more whole enzyme rich organic greens and produce, and getting plenty of good fats, might really be more important than whether one eats meat or not. I’ll keep my mind open to possibly including some animal fats into my diet again if I start feeling off.
Food choices have the potential to heal and change so much of our personal and social problems, and I think it’s so important that people are able to learn and communicate about these things openly without dogma or bickering – so again, I really appreciate you taking the time to offer such an informative response!
Much love 🙂
It does sound like you are really working hard to get your health back. My life turned around when I dropped gluten and dairy, and a slew of health problems went away. But it took years and years before I could actually have “good digestion” again. And it was plants that helped with that … konjac for one, coconut oil (and MCT), loads of greens, Vit C, IP6 (from rice bran), kimchi, and now, seaberry. I’m pretty sure it was the gluten that killed my gut. My kids didn’t inherit any of the issues we have, but they grew up without gluten. They also got loads of good food, and their brains developed REALLY well.
Another thing is that after you are an adult, esp. and older adult, you have different nutritional needs. And guys are different than gals. Younger people need more iron, more protein, more DHA. Older people tend to get overdosed on iron, and not be able to digest meats as well. If you look at what the longer-lived Asians eat, it’s a lot of rice and greens, with most of the protein coming from eggs, fish, poultry and some pork, and have a bunch of “remedies” for digestion, including konjac. I’ve become convinced that the fatty acids in egg yolk, which includes Omega 7, is about the perfect mix of fats and also easy for most people to assimilate, unless, sadly, they have an egg allergy. Seaberry oil has some of the same fats.
And yes, I think communication is what it is all about! We are all doing a massively parallel food experiment. Some of the results will be more desirable than others, and as we communicate, we’ll figure out the big question: “What should human beings eat?”.
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“Also, everyone was really good looking.”
Not everyone. The 3 ladies pictured in the photo above are not *really* good looking. Out of the 3, you are the best looking, what I would call “moderately cute” but the lady beside you is unattractive as is the woman behind her.
The funny thing is, when I saw that photo I thought, “you can tell they aren’t raw vegans”. When I saw your profile pic, I thought “cute, but not as beautiful as the raw vegan women”.
I’m neither raw nor vegan (though I do love raw food), but I can’t help but notice that the overwhelming majority of raw vegan women really are *really* good looking. I’ve yet to see a “paleo” that holds a candle to them.
I’m not even sure its the diet. It could just be that genetically average to below-average looking women are drawn to the paleo diet while genetically above average looking women are drawn to raw vegan.
Its a hit or miss with the guys. Some raw vegan guys are hot, some are not. Some paleo guys are hot, some are not.
But with women there is a clear gap in beauty between the two groups.
Visual Analysis, you’re some derp. I am dumbfounded by some of those things you came out with.
1) For someone whos name is “visual analysis”, you clearly don’t have an absolute clue of the first thing about visual perception. That single picture is NOT the type of thing you can judge the attractiveness of anyone from. That is a poor quality indoor picture, the faces are shiny and completely discoloured. It was a PHONE photograph. I truly find it hard to understand how anyone could be that clueless about attractiveness and visual perception. It’s Neisy’s opinion from the fact that she was there that they’re attractive. She saw them.
2) Cute is a completely different thing from attractive. Cute means… jesus, learn english, seriously.
3) “The funny thing is, when I saw that photo I thought, “you can tell they aren’t raw vegans”. When I saw your profile pic, I thought “cute, but not as beautiful as the raw vegan women”.”
Right, so you were completely wrong on that prediction and yet instead of being humbled by it you came in with incredibly stupid claims of your own.
4) “I’m neither raw nor vegan (though I do love raw food), but I can’t help but notice that the overwhelming majority of raw vegan women really are *really* good looking. I’ve yet to see a “paleo” that holds a candle to them.”
This is complete anecdotal nonsense. There are many attractive paleo women, and there are MANY, MANY unattractive raw vegan women. Even fat raw vegan women for the ones that go crazy on oils and nuts. You can see this just by browsing around forums.
5) “I’m not even sure its the diet. It could just be that genetically average to below-average looking women are drawn to the paleo diet while genetically above average looking women are drawn to raw vegan.”
What an insanely stupid “analysis” of confounding factors. Are you actually a real person typing this?
6) “Its a hit or miss with the guys. Some raw vegan guys are hot, some are not. Some paleo guys are hot, some are not.
But with women there is a clear gap in beauty between the two groups.”
It’s the same with women. god. I almost want to give you something, to concede that something you’ve said is actually a valid or legitimate opinion but I can’t.
To sum up your “patterns” are all in your head and you don’t know anything.
“It’s Neisy’s opinion from the fact that she was there that they’re attractive. She saw them.”
– Oh most definitely we’re dealing in personal opinions. I gave mine, based on my experience both with online photographs/videos and in real life at various paleo and raw vegan events.
“Cute is a completely different thing from attractive. Cute means… jesus, learn english, seriously.”
– Again, its not that deep. No need to get all hot-n-bothered
” ‘The funny thing is, when I saw that photo I thought, “you can tell they aren’t raw vegans”. When I saw your profile pic, I thought “cute, but not as beautiful as the raw vegan women”….
Right, so you were completely wrong on that prediction and yet instead of being humbled by it you came in with incredibly stupid claims of your own.”
– Wrong on what “prediction”? My understanding is that the women pictured above are not raw vegans, no?
“This is complete anecdotal nonsense.”
– Oh for sure. My own personal opinions and anecdotes. Never claimed otherwise.
” There are many attractive paleo women”
– Oh I’m sure there must be and I’ve seen a few for myself, but not many.
“and there are MANY, MANY unattractive raw vegan women.”
– I’ve seen a few, not many.
“Even fat raw vegan women for the ones that go crazy on oils and nuts. ”
– I don’t necessarily equate “fat” with “unattractive”. Facial attractiveness has more to do with symmetry and striking features.
“You can see this just by browsing around forums.”
– Well I’ve seen fat people who go raw to lose weight, so they are still fat until they reach their target goal weights.
“It’s the same with women. god.”
– Not in my personal opinion based on anecdotal experiences.
” I almost want to give you something, to concede that something you’ve said is actually a valid or legitimate opinion but I can’t.”
– That’s ok. You are a stranger to me, as I am to you, so it hardly matters either way.
“To sum up your “patterns” are all in your head”
– Well, of course they are “in my head”, they are my own personal opinions afterall.
Don’t take things so seriously. Relax. This ain’t that deep, brah.
I’m stunned by your rudeness of publicly commenting on your opinion of the attractiveness or lack thereof of people who are probably reading this blog! Perhaps you could post your photo so we could comment on you diet! Whatever it is I suggest you change it, as well as your parents, who apparently forgot to teach you manners. You are apparently on the same diet as Padraig whose reply to your ugly post had nothing to do with commenting on your internet rudeness and everything to do with whether he concurred with your commentary or not! Good god people, whatever you’re eating, don’t!!
Aravind is not surprising. He’ of South Asian/Indian descent and his literal “ancestral diet” would have been a “paleo-lacto-vegetarian” one. Hindus have been eating that way for thousands of years. Even today in India you can find extremely healthy lacto-vegetarians who manage to eat as close to the way their ancestors ate thousands of years ago. I know many people think “wheat” when they think of India but actually there are thousands of different types of rice alone that are indigenous to India, as well as amaranth and thousands of other “non-grain” grains, or grain like substances that were plentiful before mono-agriculture made its way there. India has always been a storehouse of a wide variety of amazing and healthy foods. Currently many Indian suffers from obesity and diabetes and this is because of their rejection of these healthy ancestral foods and the adoption of a “modern” western diet based on mono-agriculture. And yes Monosanto has established itself firmly in India now as well.
Even so, you can still walk down to the bazaar and have your non-gmo wheat freshly ground for making roti. So even the wheat there is not as bad as ours here in the West. But aside from wheat they still have hundreds of their previously thousands alternatives available.
I just noticed a new movie on Netflix called Food Choices. I’m no expert but it sounded like old information and pure propaganda on plant-only diets.
Also, a 2-hour Canadian radio documentary (with mostly American experts interviewed) on Fat and Sugar can be heard here: