Hunters and Gatherers

by (77348) Updated August 18, 2011 at 7:15 PM Created August 14, 2011 at 10:50 AM

I'm wondering how many of you do a meat and animal fat fast? because going paleo isn't about always having high fat high protien. They had to WORK for that, and could go weeks without a kill, relying on the vegetation areound them. Don't forget whole, raw fruits, nuts, and vegetables are not bad for you. No caveman ever walked out of a cave with paleo brownies, cheesy meatballs, or boiled eggs. (they would have eaten the chicken, not domesticate it and feed it for eggs)

I know, realistically, we can now eat whatever we want, but most deadly diseases came from agriculture and animal domestication.

I'm just wondering and interested in daily diets, because so much is asked and answered with fats and protiens, but not much is said for the quality (grass fed, free range, organic.).

Does eating tons of grain fed beef, chicken, and their by products; milk and eggs, make A PERSON "paleo" OR "VLC??

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11 Replies

18383 · August 14, 2011 at 2:41 PM

I disagree with your assumptions.

First, it is not known to what extent paleolithic cultures depended on plants for food. My suspicion is that it was a lot less than you think. There was probably more and plentiful game to be had. Moreover, there were likely to be different proportions based on the environment. In other words, there was no one paleo culture. Humans are nothing if not adaptable. Even of the last remaining HG societies, at least a couple ate almost nothing but meat. See, for example Steve Phinney on Pemmican and Indigenous Diets

"There have been many arguments among nutritionists who say that The Inuit are genetically special and only they can eat that kind of a high fat diet, and now you’re saying the Native Americans through the Plains area did the same thing."

That’s correct. And not just Native Americans on the Great Plains. I have also been doing a research project with Dr. Jay Wortman in British Columbia. Our observation is that First Nations people who lived along the Pacific Coast from Vancouver all the way north through the Panhandle of Alaska, we find they, again, ate a diet that was probably 25% of energy from protein and upwards to 75% from fat. Up there, again, the berries were only seasonal, and maybe five percent of energy, averaged over the whole year, came from carbohydrate.

Second, most people here would agree with you that agriculture introduced some terrible things, but I don't think animal domestication is one. Domesticated animals are no less "paleo" than domesticated spinach. It's the advent of certain processing techniques that allowed us to eat things like wheat and seed oils that have caused the havoc.

You might be interested in reading some other views of what paleo is, such as Is Paleo even Paleo? And does it even matter?. Excerpt:

  • It’s very difficult for us to know with any certainty what paleo people ate or how they lived.
  • The vast majority of studies of modern hunter-gatherers (HGs) have been ethnographic in nature, and as such are heavily influenced by the researchers own assumptions and objectives. This is a problem in all research, but it’s particularly notable in the anthropological literature.
  • Modern HGs are not analogous to paleolithic HGs. Even limited amounts of contact with modern people can have a profound impact on the diet and lifestyle of HG populations. This means we can’t simply study modern HG groups and assume that their habits reflect our distant ancestors.
  • Observer bias and influence are also issues with studies of modern HG populations. Professor Gumby (and others) have noted that the people they study will often change their dietary habits while being studied, perhaps to impress the researchers. In my family there’s a funny story about me when I was 8 years old eating a whole plate of spinach when a special guest came to visit for dinner one night. I hated spinach and wouldn’t touch it any other time. Turns out this phenomenon is common in anthropological field studies.
  • Along the same lines, modern HGs aren’t living in their traditional habitats. They’ve been displaced from their more optimal habitats by agriculturists and pastoralists. This means the diet they’re currently eating is probably atypical – “more akin to a ‘fall-back’ or ‘subsistence’ diet than an optimal one”, as Professor Gumby put it.

Another excellent post is The Only Reasonable Paleo Principle

And you might consider taking a less authoritative tone. "Whole, raw fruits, nuts, and vegetables" are bad for me. They may not be bad for you.

55320 · August 15, 2011 at 3:33 AM

Well if you wanted to be really realistic, you'd smash a bunch of rats and lizards with a rock and boil them in a pot. Or you eat a bunch of bugs. That tends to be what hunter-gatherers do when faced with game scarcity. This counts as "gathering" in many studies of hunter-gatherers. It's not like they are eating vegan when the men don't make a big kill!

Yes, you can find eggs when foraging in the wild, though you probably wouldn't find a dozen unless you got lucky.

But the Paleolithic era spanned 2,590,000 years, some eras in the Paleolithic people killed a large abundance of fatty game, other eras people faced scarcity.

Either way, I don't think many people here advocate grain-fed meat and you'll find few threads on things like paleo "brownies." To contrast there are probably hundreds of threads here on pastured meat and game. I personally eat vegan sometimes if I don't have access to grass-fed meat and while it might help you figure out how much animal foods you need or to find new plants to eat, I've never experienced any notable benefits from it.

24012 · August 15, 2011 at 3:32 AM

Quite the loaded post Yvette. I don't think you meant to be so controversial but I hope you can see how your post felt like a bit of an attack. Everyone here is just trying to do the best they can. You seem to feel that paleo works best with lots of raw foods and minimal animal products which is fine if that's what makes sense to you and makes you feel good. Most of us here are trying to live in the modern world while taking ques about our dietary choices from our ancestors. Few here are re-enactors although we definitely see some who sleep on the floor and don't bath because grok would never have done otherwise. To each her own. One of the overriding concepts of the paleo lifestyle is personal responsibility. We each have to decide what is best for us as individuals given our own metabolisms, food intolerances, economic resources and lifestyles. Again I think we are all trying to do the very best we can with what we have and with where we are in our lives.

I certainly have done my share of meat/fat fasts. They are great for weight loss for many. There is a lot of carb talk here but the range of intakes is quite wide. Many do LC or even VLC mostly as a function of our our metabolisms. Some just feel better, lose weight more easily or just enjoy a diet that is heavier on animal protein and fat. And it's a fine choice if it works well for you.

I've never seen a statement by anyone that paleo eschews raw fruits or vegetables. Many here eat them regularly. The inclusion in the diet though is personal choice. Some do not do well with them so for them they are "bad". Some thrive on them - you sound like you may be one of them- so inclusion in the diet makes complete sense. Some thrive on bacon and eggs for breakfast and for them that is their paleo based on their own situation, likes and dislikes. You may choose fresh fruit and nuts. That's a great choice as well.

I guess I would just say to try not to get too hung up on what others are doing with their paleo lifestyles. Figure out what works best for you and do that. Then offer up your personal information results and experiences for others to consider. But try not to judge other people's choices. Everyone is doing it their own way given the rather simple structure that covers the paleo umbrella ( no grains, no legumes, no seed or other crap oils) Some eat dairy, some eat rice, some high carb, some low carb, some are big meat eaters, some are vegetarian. It's all good. Or we need to allow it to be so anyway. This is a journey in every sense of the word. My paleo diet has changed significantly over the years as I try to read my own body and respond accordingly. Most of us here truly are trying to learn, rethink and evolve and that's always a good thing.

This paleo concept has evolved to a place where we are not trying to eat exactly as our ancestors ate. First of all we don't know exactly what they ate. Different groups ate different things at different times of the year. It's interesting to understand as fully as possible what they were eating and to try to apply the concepts gleaned from this knowledge to our daily lives but that's not necessarily going to end with the best diet for everyone. It is the final outcome of the diet, the health rewards, the satisfaction the food give, the ease of working the diet plan into a busy modern life, that is the top priority for most.

I do believe that the quality of the food is important as well. Most here do. I eat fewer animal products now because my standard at this point is not to ingest any animal products from animals that were not raised in a humane fashion. Not because that's how my ancestors did it but because of my abundant love and respect for other animals. I believe eating CAFO meat is not paleo since it seems to me that we would only want to ingest animal products from animals that were allowed to eat their natural diet and live as they were intended to live just as we espouse that for ourselves. I am hopeful that more people will continue to strive for the best choices for animal products. I now choose to eat less meat so I can afford better quality products from well-treated animals. I think it's a valid choice and hope that more people will do the same but in the end it's personal choice.

I hope you'll decide to stick around. This one didn't go so well but many of us have had similar experiences and lived to tell the tale. It sounds like you have a great interest in the paleo diet and this is a great place to learn and grow and share.

12804 · August 14, 2011 at 11:04 AM

First off eggs are definitely a paleolithic food.

Second I don't think most people on this site care about being "paleo"(whatever that means?).

I agree on the sentiments toward the high fat/pro issue but the rest of your post is garbage.

Medium avatar
5619 · August 15, 2011 at 7:36 AM

I really didn't want to chime in...but here goes:

Wow, Yvette. Really causing a stir your first time outta the gate! I think you'll find that the confrontational, authoritative vibe doesn't really get much done here...unless you're the confrontational, authoritative leader of our little enclave (I say this with the utmost tongue-in-cheekness). Now that we have that out of the way...

Espousing the politics of beef is a tricky thing round these parts. I say that because:

  1. Politics are detrimental to the open discussion of the more important topic of health (and hopefully, once everyone eats nothing but grassfed beef, CAFO beef will all but disappear!)

  2. You really can't argue with the results, even when only eating sub-par grain fed CAFO beef.

Like everyone else has told you, we're not in the re-enactment game here. That is a very common newbie mistake. I find that Samuel Clemens said it best:

"It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt."

Don't take that the wrong way, but with a grain of salt and a step back. I only mean, maybe it's still time to stand back and watch, listen and learn. I've learned SO much here, and did so by reading and listening for quite a bit longer than I've been asking and answering. Once I started the ask/answer process, I did it in a humble way...and BTW, you better have your game pretty tight or you'll be called out faster than an Iriquois could skin a rabbit (which is why I tend to only observe the more scientific discussions round these parts). Instead of making blanket statements about how healthy things are or aren't, or how they fit into Paleo or don't, maybe take into consideration that grassfed beef is more expensive, and may not be available to people in all areas of this country. (As a note, I agree with you about not buying CAFO products. I won't eat conventional beef, and always look for alternatives. BUT I do eat bacon and eggs slathered in pasture butter almost every day, and I'm healthier than an 18 year old Cro Magnon, and I'm almost 30.)

We love newcomers. I especially do, because I love spreading the word about Paleo throughout this country, and helping people get healthier. I love it because when Americans start making better food choices, they tend to positively impact their community and our food system.

So, stick around, relax and try and ease your way in. There's some pretty heavy hitters here on PaleoHacks. I'm sure they'd rather have an intellectually rewarding conversation with you, rather than a flame-war that ends in your frustration/banning/quitting and a lost avenue of positive change for all of us.

11555 · August 14, 2011 at 11:10 AM

I skip breakfast every other day for a light amount of IF - 7pm to noon. I occasionally (less than once a week) have all vegetable meals. I think it's probably a good idea to to a protein fast occasionally to induce autophagy, and I need to do so more often IMO.

On the other hand I eat more fish and eggs in proportion to meat than many here, since my relatively close ancestors would have eaten a lot of those, and also because IMO we evolved (especially during the bottleneck) in areas where we ate a lot of fish & seafood. Those would have been a pretty steady supply. Even meat may have been quite a steady supply given that we managed to drive a lot of large mammals into extinction. That sounds like a bunch of very effective hunters. Humans would have gathered eggs from nesting sites including cliffs. We're pretty daring when we see food we want.

Added: If you think we don't talk on this site about meat quality - grass-fed etc - you clearly haven't spent much time here. Your post reads as rather confrontational, or at least stereotypical of views on paleo. IMO that will get some unhappy responses. You will get better responses if you change that and take a look around before making assumptions.

Medium avatar
10077 · August 14, 2011 at 3:42 PM

Answering the question directly, no I do not do a meat fast. I'm here because I like to eat meat, not because I live in a cave.

In terms of recreating ancestor life I was hoping that this post was going to deal with hunting and gathering. We spend an hour a day eating and 24 hours a day living. What are arms and legs for? Stuff like that instead of the 24/7 dietary fixation.

All this makes me want to smoke a fish (fresh coho's on sale) and reread Francis Parkman.

18437 · August 14, 2011 at 12:08 PM

I eat plants and animals...more animals than plants. But as I now understand this is a carb % question some days I'm just naturally zero or VLC and some days its HC with lots of potatoes and fruit. I eat what I feel for at the time.

Oh yeah, and all grass fed animals. I saw you don't think we talk much about that around here, but I assure you its discussed to an exhausting degree ;).

And i skip breakfast almost everyday (call it IF if you will)...so normally two meals a day.

446 · August 15, 2011 at 2:39 PM

There is a great danger with paleo/primal perspectives that some people assume the natural environments (forests, woodlands, grasslands) we see in today's world are similar to those of our ancestors.

In reality, huge swathes of the western world has been deforested in the last 100 years, never mind the last 1000. The notion that a hunter-gatherer people would wait weeks for a kill is not necessarily accurate.

Where I live in Britain, our valley was a known medieval hunting ground during the 12th century, where it was said you could shoot an arrow blindfolded and hit a deer -- indeed, huge swathes of Britain were forest in this period and were teaming with life. On Mediterranean islands with low population density and low pollution, the wildlife can go utterly crazy -- profuse beyond imagining.

So it is likely that for a small population of HGs, meat would not actually be that hard to come by at all. And do not forget ... you don't have to "hunt" an animal, you can also "trap" it.

2180 · August 15, 2011 at 1:30 AM

First, I believe eating patterns differed depending on the climate and location. It's possible that we started in Africa near the equator, but certainly there were eventually inhabitants of temperate climates with four seasons. The likelihood is that more fruit would have been eaten in the summer when available to put on some weight so that in the winter, during scarcity, one could have survived by burning his fat. We see this principle in other animals. So yes, fasting makes perfect sense, but not in order to replace it with vegetables. When you eat only fat and protein you don't need food 24/7. I eat once a day and sometimes skip once or twice a week.

There's no way to simulate the exact way prehistorics ate for a multitude of reasons. Grain fed meat is a necessary compromise for those of us with small bank accounts. There's nothing harmful in it, it's just short on omega-3 and other nutrients. I supplement it with Kerrygold grass-fed butter (which is a bargain for under $3 at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's :-))

77348 · August 16, 2011 at 10:12 AM

It would seem to me I touched a nerve with a few of you. The others have earned my highest respect. the ones that didn't chime in were the "yes I eat steaks B/L/D/ high fat high protien for every snack, too, don't care if its grain fed or full of antibiotics." Maybe they thought they'd be shunned. not at all. I've read plenty of great replies with no implications other than fighting off trolls who could DIAF. (I've moderated forums before, and trolls like cliff would be stomped)

Thank you, thank you, thank you to those who participated. Much love. and special thanks for the newbie welcome from Futureboy and Karen for a prompt and thorough response, and the lot of you who actually get what I'm asking and replying kindly. It's OK to disagree... no need to be an arse about it, no?

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