The Paleo diet is pretty popular in the USA and is supposedly based on what cavemen ate before the Agricultural revolution. The idea is that we as humans evolved to eat what cavemen ate and are not meant to eat high-carb diets. It’s a step up from the Atkins Diet but is firmly in the high protein – low carb camp. Paleo diet apologists suggest that our hunter gatherer forefathers ate tons of meat and very little starchy foods. This of course it at odds to the vegan diet but is very interesting. If we’ve evolved to eat meat above and beyond grains and vegetables there’s a potential issue with being healthy and vegan.
Is the Paleo Diet the most appropriate form of nutrition for humans?
I’ve puzzled over this topic because some of the strength and fitness people I read support the Paleo way of life. Previously, I’ve been suspicious because they seem to eat a huge amount of meat and I’m not certain that volume was available to cavemen. This idea is supported by natural history programmes I’ve seen where hunters haven’t appeared to be very successful. Hunting doesn’t work well in the wild, with spears rather than guns, it’s a tough job. Then there was the program about the guy who went to live in the wilds in Canada to live off the land. He struggled, to say the least in his hunting efforts.
The amount of meat the Paleo people seem to suggest we should be eating goes beyond what cavemen would manage to hunt successfully. So I left it at that, the Paleo diet didn’t seem to feel quite right, so I’m staying vegan! Ha. But there’s more….
Introducing John A. McDougall, M.D. and more Paleo information
John A. McDougall, M.D. is a clever bloke and very much in the vegan camp. According to his site he’s a
Physician and nutrition expert who teaches better health through vegetarian cuisine. John A. McDougall, MD. has been studying, writing and “speaking out” about the effects of nutrition on disease for over 30 years.
Dr. McDougall believes that people should look, feel great and enjoy optimal health for a lifetime.
I have just read about his thoughts on the Paleo diet in a recent newsletter of McDougall’s. It’s a brilliant myth busting piece of work that’s well worth the read. I like it because it’s great science, taking evidence from all relevant areas of science. For example, quoting renowned anthropologist Nathanial Dominy, PhD, for “Hunter-gathers, the majority of their calories come from plant foods”. That to me is sufficient to blow the whole thing out of the water. If they ate mainly plants then the current Paleo diet thing is preposterous! Simple.
There is a lot of supporting evidence in both the newsletter and the video below. Very compelling evidence at that.
The Paleo diet is unsustainable
Quoting directly from the Paleo bible, written by Dr. Cordain, the whole Paleo diet way will not work on planet earth. It’s well established that it takes something like ten times the energy cost to produce a pound of beef than to produce a pound of grain, while the water cost is even higher – as much as 2800 litres of water to make one hamburger (taken from the video below)! To finish the article McDougall says
Dr. Cordain finishes his 2011 revision of his national best-selling book The Paleo Diet, by warning, “Without them (starches, like wheat, rice, corn, and potatoes), the world could probably support one-tenth or less of our present population…” (p 215)
Ouch! It just can’t work! Paleo is no good for this planet, while a plant based diet can be sustained on this planet and of course is a lot better health wise and for the animals. The following video is a lecture on this subject from McDougall and is well worth wathcing. It’s 54 minutes and is packed with loads more information and interesting facts, rather than opinion.