i have a problem with the modern interpretation of the paleolithic diet. some of my friends who adhere to the paleo diet eat mostly meats and veggies. they say that fruits and grains should be minimized.
but i find it hard to believe that ancient man didn't eat tubers, starchy grains, honey and fruits in abundance when they could find them. yes, they weren't the hybridized huge fruits we enjoy today. but no doubt there were smaller versions of figs, dates, peaches, pineapples and mangoes. i also believe that, when the time came for the fruit to ripen, they probably gorged on them.
moreover, with the large mammals that roamed the earth in early days, i believe that meat wasn't a daily part of the paleo diet. it took a lot of time and resources to kill the large mammals, dress them and bring them home. and yet my paleo friends eat meat every day.
i am concerned about the amount of meat that is eaten in what i understand to be the typical modern paleo diet. i am concerned not only for the health of the person eating it, but (moreso) because of the potential environmental effect if the paleo diet goes global.
in my gut, i believe that a lot of the paleo diet makes sense. but i think that it makes sense not because this is how paleo man actually ate, but because i think that americans are addicted to high glycemic carbs and don't eat an wide enough variety of foods. i guess that takes some of the romance out of the paleo diet, but i worry that the romance factor is causing a lot of paleo fans to eat too much meat anyhow.
i have been meaning to write this post for a while. i respect your opinions and hope that you will chime in with your thoughts. thank you!
You are free to believe what you want and eat / live as you so choose, we all are. No one knows anything 100% its just not possible. We all must do what we think is best for ourselves. Paleo is not a diet its a lifestyle and a very dynamic one at that. There is no religious dogma to follow, paleo embraces what it means to be 'human' as Nature designed us to be :) An open, mature exchange of thoughts & ideas is part of being Paleo. Articles in the NY Times or any other common publication always have an agenda we all must keep that in mind if we read such things.
Most of my family and my people in general rarely consume carbs in any great amount, its been this way for generations and I have relatives that are in their 80's that still hunt with the younger people.
The problem here is you have multiple questions and if you searched for those questions they have been discussed here multiple times:
I can't find it, but there was a question about what paleolithic people did if they couldn't find big game, and there are many types of animal products that are not big game. There are turtles, rodents, shellfish, fish, bugs, lizards...all kinds of things. So even if there was no mammoth, they were still eating animal products.
The very title of this question shows me that you are posting here without really looking through this site. If you believe we are misinterpreting things, you should first figure out what we believe. You will find a variety of opinions, some that may surprise you. Some people eat lots of fruit, other people eat very little meat. The truth is that Paleolithic hominids ate a variety of things, so you can chose a paleo diet that works for you.
Beyondveg.com is quite excellent for discussion of hominid morphology and diet. Yes, Ardipithecus ramidus and many other ancestral hominids ate mostly plants, but the hominids we are interested in are the ones that have our uniquely large brain. The bulk of the evidence is that in order to evolve that brain, we had to adapt to a source of dense calories and that was either increased animal products or cooked starch. Australopithecines and other mostly plant-eating hominids were significantly different from us, their digestive systems were adapted for more plant-based bulk and their brains didn't need as many calories because they were smaller.
I agree that it's kind of silly to minimize fruits, tubers, or honey (at least for people with good insulin sensitivity).
Grains give a lot of people problems for various reasons. But some people seem to be fine with eating a lot of grains. Grains were likely not consumed in large quantities by our paleolithic ancestors. See this paper for more on grains.
If you are concerned about the environment, don't worry about meat in general: worry about factory-farmed meat — as well as factory-farmed corn, soy, wheat, and rice. In other words, worry about all the stuff that paleo dieters tend to avoid. Save the environment: Go paleo!
I am also concerned about sustainability--that's why I choose pastured/grass fed meats and organic fruits and veggies from local farms. I do wonder if it will actually be sustainable for the whole world, because there are a lot of other factors feeding into that--like unchecked population growth.
However at the same time, I also know what is best for my body. I was a vegetarian for a long time (5 years) and followed that with a mostly vegetarian, low-fat whole food diet for even longer (about 10 years). While I was quite healthy by traditional markers (good blood pressure, cholesterol levels, blood sugar, rarely got sick, etc.), I was also quite overweight, suffered with depression and anxiety issues, and often lacked energy. My weight didn't begin to drop until I ditched the grains and upped the fat and meat in my diet. And I'm not particularly low carb since I still eat fruit (daily), starchy tubers and winter squash (2-3x/week), and traditionally prepared legumes (1x/week). My weight is still dropping steadily and my mental health and energy levels have improved dramatically.
I generally avoid describing my diet to friends and family as paleo since that word means so many different things to so many different people. Even in the paleo community I wouldn't really identify as paleo except in the most general sense of the term. I'm probably closer to primal/archevore. If I'm having a conversation about it (which is very, very rare anyway), I just say what I eat (fruits, veggies, meat, fish, healthy fats) and what I avoid (processed food, processed sugar, industrial seed oils, grains--especially gluten grains). That said, I am confused why your friends would consider your diet "not paleo" because of the fruit. I've read several paleo books and websites and have yet to see one say not to eat any fruit. Most just caution against too much fruit--especially non-berry fruits--if you are trying to lose weight.
Paleo is a framework for a simpler way of thinking about food, not a more complex one as your trying to make it. Most people use the evolutionary stance as a starting point and then tinker with foods on an individual basis to see what works for them.
The reason you see a lot of people in the Paleo community focus their diet on meat and vegetables is because thats what they have personally experienced the best results eating. I personally love to gorge on fruit, honey, and sweet potatoes but if I do it for more than a day, my energy and body composition will quickly remind me why I stick to meat and vegetables for the most part. Im sure your friends would love to do the same but experience similar issues with the health markers that they can see and feel on a daily basis.
From a sustainability standpoint, its impossible for us to try and control what the rest of the world is doing. As long as you personally buy the majority of your food from local, sustainable sources, then you are setting an example for others to do the same. Its hard enough getting my closest friends and family members to go Paleo and buy from sustainable sources, so I try not to concern myself with the other 9,999,999,990 of people that would probably not follow the perfect solution even if it existed.
hi--this is the OP, kathy, posting from another computer. a while ago i had read the sustainability thread mentioned above. it is that thread that got me interested in your site. i am still not convinced that the paleo diet can be made sustainable, especially as huge developing nations like china and india turn away from a plant based diet and move toward more meat.
just because a vegetarian diet based on soy, corn, wheat and dairy is NOT sustainable, that doesn't automatically mean that a pasture-raised meat-centric diet IS sustainable. this is especially true when one considers that in about 40 years we will be at 10 billion people worldwide. i find it hard to believe that, at that time, humans will be able to raise meat on the prairies and then process it and deliver it to the city centers in a sustainable manner. for 10 billion people, that is.
but getting back to my original question: do you really think that paleo man ate meat at every meal, like my paleo friends do? i guess i just find that very difficult to believe.
thank you again.
perhaps the real problem is over populating the planet.
i doubt paleo man ate meat at every meal, just as i doubt they ate fruit every day or tubers or grains. i bet some days they ate nothing and other days they ate bugs.
fruits and grains have a growing season naturally and so were not available daily; just seasonally. region to region i am sure there was a big difference in diet.
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