I hoped this day would never come. Alas, it was almost inevitable. Of the many #notpaleo concepts we face in the modern world, two of the biggest are politics and religion; the collision of the paleo ideas with 10K years of subsequent dogma has only just begun. State politics and codified law arose directly from the unintended problem of property rights inherent in the agricultural revolution. While shamanistic religion existed in the upper paleolithic, the theism of historical and modern religions (one in the same, really) is also firmly rooted in the agricultural revolution. In many ways, it’s hard to separate politics and religion as civilizations formed around agriculture.


The seeds of this article have been on my mind for a while, but its timing is a reaction to an article I saw yesterday in the Chicago Sun Times titled “Meaty fad diet goes back to Stone Age“. Here we go… Back to the 3.4 million year “fad”. The author added to the fad rhetoric by calling the paleo diet “silly”. That sort of title is pretty common in the anti-paleo polemics that circulate in the blogosphere. However, this was from what I presumed to be a nominally significant traditional media outlet. It was clearly written by a non-journalist, which is fine I guess, but it struck me as particularly poorly researched. There were no online responses when I read it, so I fired off a hasty, but I think accurate, comment. At the time of this writing, it’s the first of a few comments, but who knows what whims might change that.

Semi-Irrelevant Backstory

When I first read the article, I read every word, but stopped at the 2nd to last sentence of the piece: “Cornell McClellan is the owner of Naturally Fit… a personal training and wellness facility.” Maybe it’s not fair nor accurate, but when I think gym owner / personal trainer, I envision a wall of supplements and meal replacement bars and powders… you know…. merchandise that needs to be “moved”. Thus, I tend to take their advice on nutrition with a grain of yeah, right. In missing the last sentence, I missed something that would have changed my comment somewhat. Here’s that non-trivial sentence: “He is also the fitness trainer for the President of the United States and the First Lady.” Yes, you may {insert scratching record sound here}.

Let it be known that I am was in no way hostile to the Obama administration when I read the article. Sure, I could work up a reasonable critique of a dozen or so things I think were bad policy decisions, but my critiques of the Bush Jr. administration would be measured in hundreds or thousands. For reasons mentioned by neither Democrats nor Republicans, I find the health care bill to be flawed. It also strikes me as unconstitutional, but I went to the law school of James Spader and William Shatner. To the Presiden’ts credit, as a non-theist, the following may be my favorite quote by any U.S. President since James Madison:

“I’m somebody who deeply believes that the bedrock strength of this country is that it embraces people of many faiths and no faith. This is a country that is still predominantly Christian, but we have… atheists, agnostics… that we have to revere and respect….” Barack Obama, September 28, 2010.<

The only reason I’m writing this article is that I got curious and googled Cornell McClellan. It was then that I found out he’s 1 of 16 official members of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. It was only after finding that page that I went back to the article and connected all of the dots. I remain skeptical of its claim that Mr. McClellan has an “extensive knowledge of the human body and nutrition.”

The Meat of It

Cornell McClellan’s article really is garbage. I do encourage you to read the whole thing to take in the totality of its emptiness. The portrait of the paleo diet that he paints is more a cartoonish mischaracterization of the Atkins diet than paleo. And to be fair to the Atkins folks, it’s not a fair representation of them either.

The problem with this sort of article is that the average person sincerely looking for a way to improve their health is not likely to see through the unsupported assertions made by someone who’s a professional personal trainer backed by the President and officially promoted as an outstanding exemplar by the United States government. My thoughts and references follow each of the quoted snippets.

“a recent study has come out that refutes some of [the paleo diet’s] basic tenets. Findings from archeological digs in Italy, Russia and the Czech Republic suggest that cavemen did not only rely on meat for sustenance, as evidenced by traces of starch grains found on stones used for grinding and preparing food.”

Well at least Mr. McClellan did go so far as to read the Reuters blurb on this and maybe even the NYT piece [“page not found” error as of this writing]. However, the actual study did not reveal evidence of “grains” in the sense that would be appropriate for a paleo diet discussion of grains… namely, cereal grains such as wheat, barley, amaranth, millet, et cetera. The grains being referred to are grains in the sense that they are particulates; that is, the result of grinding. The popular science media misconstrued this research ad nauseum when it was first published. Its implications for paleo dieters are approximately zero. It’s been refuted many times, but Melissa McEwen provides my favorite critique thus far. It’s based on the actual study, not the other journalists’ general audience pieces, and she even bothered to include a relevant chart from the study that shows the non-grain plants in question.

Not trivial in the media coverage of this study was the post-publishing opining by some of the article’s authors. At least one made a wild and unsubstantiated guess that they used the ground plant material to make bread. I ask again, who among you thinks mashed potatoes are the same as bread? Perhaps we have to be scientists to make such a determination?

Archeologists were shocked to discover that our carnivorous ancestors actually were making and preparing foods such as roots, vegetables and perhaps even cracker-like foods.

Now this is just ridiculous. First of all, no serious scientist currently thinks our ancestors were “carnivores”. It is widely accepted by archaeologists and anthropologists that humans evolved as omnivores. I’d let laymen off the hook on this distinction, but Mr. McClellan knows better and is exaggerating for effect. The paleo diet approach simply echoes a range of foods our omnivorous ancestors would have had access to. Second, there are longstanding hypotheses and evidence of hominid “preparation” of roots and vegetables. The rest of us know that crackers were invented by the Keebler elves, no earlier than the First Age of Middle-Earth. Proving that humans made crackers in the paleolithic is about as likely as leading us to a magical elven forest.

These recent findings suggest that man cannot live on meat alone, but that hasn’t stopped thousands of people from signing up for the Paleo Diet.

Now we’re getting ridiculous-er. The paleolithic diet doesn’t suggest that anyone could, should, or would survive on meat alone.  I’m sure someone could make a case that humans could survive on meat alone, but it would remain a question of how long and how well. Scientists do hypothesize that Neanderthals were mostly carnivorous, but they’re a separate species and that argument is beside the point.

a meat-heavy diet isn’t recommended for most people. Not only do I discourage any diet that disallows entire food groups, but cholesterol levels are directly linked to the ingestion of animal products.

Meat-heavy is vague, unhelpful, and pejorative in a way the author clearly intended. Here we also have a legitimate disagreement on what constitutes a food group. Grain might be a Food Group™, but it is not a group of foods or nutrients required for human health. There are no essential nutrients found in grains that are not found in dramatically higher concentrations in the other “food groups”. Yes, grains, as a practical matter, are necessary to sustain the massive current global population of Homo sapiens with the current agribusiness-dominated farming system, but they are by no means necessary for individual people. Please examine your assumptions, Mr. McClellan.

The final claim about cholesterol and animal products is too big to discuss here. I’ll blindly assert his unsupported claim has been sufficiently refuted and address references should they be provided at some future time.

Eating a steak three times a day can potentially whittle your waistline, but the impact it’s having on your insides might not be as attractive. Sadly, Paleo dieters also are encouraged to limit fruit to small helpings, as it believed that our ancestors didn’t have access to the amazing produce offerings that we now do.

Until I see a citation for the “steak three times a day” charge, I’m going to assume that it’s again made up for dramatization of the author’s non-point. While our ancestors did eat a lot of meat when it was available, it wasn’t available in steak form three times a day. Such is life when you don’t have refrigeration and a pantry.

Paleo dieters are encouraged to adjust fruit consumption based on their current body composition and how much exercise they’re getting. Fruit generally has naturally high levels of sugar. Is it really sad to suggest that obese, sedentary individuals throttle back on their intake of sugar, while marathon runners shovel it down as needed?

Not only are these diet choices somewhat questionable, it’s also worth pointing out that our Stone Age ancestors were not eating factory-farmed meat, which is full of chemicals and hormones. Unless you have a spear handy and access to unlimited buffalo, you are going to have a hard time truly eating like a caveman.

Yes, the mythical all meat diet that excludes spuriously essential food groups and bans fruit would definitely be questionable. Unfortunately for the arguments of Mr. McClellan, that isn’t the paleo diet. The paleolithic dieters are fully aware of the problems with factory farmed, chemically-treated meat and make it a point to eat naturally fed (typically grass or pastured) meats. And yes, such meats are difficult to find at a fast food window, but they are often available at standard grocery stores. And as I’ve said before, paleo is a logical framework applied to modern humans, not a historical reenactment.

Finally, any diet that is as restrictive as the Paleo Diet is problematic because it requires cavemen-sized willpower, which means many people will soon abandon their hunks of meat for a modern-day helping of lasagna.

The willpower problem is a modern diet carbohydrate addiction problem, not a paleolithic problem. Direct links have been demonstrated between carbohydrate cravings and obesity (Spring 2008). In effect, suggesting that sufficient willpower is too difficult implies that we should all simply give up and submit to an unbreakable cycle of carbohydrate addiction. The cool thing about paleolithic diets is that most people find the addiction and cravings go away. Indeed, you find yourself quite full if you eat ample amounts of meat, fruit, and vegetables.

After discovering the naive nutritional understanding of “The First Trainer”, I’m a little worried for the President. I hope his doctors aren’t using similarly anachronistic, post-medieval methods. Nobody likes leeches and bloodletting.

McClellan’s sagelike advice? Don’t eat “Big Macs”. Deet deeeet deeet deet deeeet… This just in off the news wire.

Dear President Obama, myself and many others in the paleo community would be happy to update your nutrition regime. P.S. Please tell President Clinton he could probably use a bit more protein these days. Bonus: Many of us have a natural immune system resistance to TV and radio pundits. Which brings me to my next point…


Religion (in some forms) is fundamentally anti-paleo. Obvious culprits in this regard are Creationists. While I formally and warmly invite them to apply paleolithic ideas to their eating and exercise habits, it’s also pretty obvious that the paleo diet relies on the logic of Darwinian evolution. Some folks who believe in “intelligent” design may also be inclined to reject the logic of the paleo diet. The adaptive power of natural selection in evolutionary theory is a foundation of the paleo diet. If a divine force was guiding the process, adaptation would be irrelevant. It could be claimed that the “intelligence” knew all along that humans would need grain to force an artificially large population explosion, and therefore, paleolithic habits would be irrelevant.

I personally know Creationists who have been quite successful on the paleo diet. I wonder how they ignore the implications there. If their holy books tell them eating bread is a good thing, how do they reconcile that unhealthy advice with reality?

Corporate Interests

I don’t want to get all conspiratorial, but I think it’s at least worth considering financial influence in politics as it relates to pushback against paleolithic dieting. As the famous quote from the 1976 film All the President’s Men says, “Follow the money”. And lookey here, we just happen to be talking about one of the President’s men. The list below highlights a few publicly traded companies with direct financial interest in producing, fertilizing, transporting, and/or distributing paleo-unfriendly wheat & corn products for human consumption [2010 Fortune 500 Rank, $Revenue]. Major direct producers in bold.

  • Wal-Mart [1]
  • Exxon Mobil [2]
  • Chevron [3]
  • ConocoPhillips [6]
  • CVS Caremark [18]
  • Procter & Gamble [22]
  • Kroger [23]
  • Costco Wholesale [25]
  • Walgreen [32]
  • Marathon Oil [41]
  • PepsiCo [50, $43 billion]
  • Safeway [52]
  • Kraft Foods [53, $40 billion]
  • Sysco [55, $37 billion]
  • Coca-Cola [72, $31 billion]
  • Tyson Foods [87, $27 billion]
  • Rite Aid [89]
  • Publix Super Markets [99]
  • Deere [107]
  • McDonald’s [108, $23 billion]
  • Coca-Cola Enterprises [113, $22 billion]
  • Tesoro [139]
  • General Mills [155 $15 billion]
  • Smithfield Foods [163, $14 billion]
  • Pepsi Bottling [174, $13 billion]
  • ConAgra Foods [178, $13 billion]
  • Sara Lee [180, $13 billion]
  • Kellog [184, $13 billion]
  • Monsanto [197]

I’ll just leave it at that for now. Government subsidies of the crops in question raises an entirely different, yet equally important level of questioning. If I get requests to flesh this out further, maybe I’ll put some more work into it.

Vegan / Vegetarian

Noooooo… Not again! There are a lot of veg*ans out there. They’re politically active, they like to team up, and they [some] hate that other people eat meat.

Guilt by Association / Ad Hominem

We see this time and again in propagandists rallying against those of unknown motives trying to quash the idea that eating grains is bad (see the reference to Gwyneth Paltrow in the intro here). This is true in attacks on anti-gluten folks and anti-paleo folks.  Indeed Cornell McClellan injects this approach into his piece, “celebrities such as Megan Fox are rumored to owe their hot bodies to this ancient diet plan… there is no secret behind the body of your favorite celebrity”. Dismissing something as a celebrity fad is itself a fad and it carries with it a very real sign (in the semiotic sense) value. Its cultural meaning instantly evokes mental images of superficiality, imminent expiration, and flakiness. Thus, accusing something of being a celebrity fad associates the idea of hollow vapidity to whatever is linked to it. Propaganda 101, baby.


We have good reason to question the personal business motivations, political motivations, and religious motivations of individuals launching derisive attacks at paleo. The financial stakes alone are in the hundreds of billions (more likely trillions) annually. The perceived religious stakes are just as powerful and perhaps more, if slightly less lucrative and less…um… what’s the word I’m looking for here? The stakes for vegetarians can be just as powerful and personal.

There are reasonable arguments within the scientific community that are worth having. However, when pieces such as McClellan’s hit the media with such a gaping chasm between the known science and the claims, red flags should go off and alarm bells should ring.

Yes, our knowledge of the paleolithic environment in which humans evolved is less than 100% complete. However, we know a lot more about it than Mr. McClellan and other politically motivated paleo haters would lead you to believe. We know enough to help people in a very real and immediate way. I’ll link up a couple books below, and feel free to ask me questions if you’re not sure about where to start or where to go next.



UPDATE: Cornell McClellan is a vegan advocate!


Spring, B., Schneider, K., Smith, M., Kendzor, D., Appelhans, B., Hedeker, D., et al. (2008). Abuse potential of carbohydrates for overweight carbohydrate cravers. Psychopharmacology197(4), 637-647.

  1. Kevin - Paleo Playbo 14 years ago

    Thanks for the thorough destruction of an Obama adviser's article! What strikes me in addition to what you talked about is that McClellan is under the same pressure to promote the status quo that the president is. If you have some council member on the ideological fringes, that's clearly a risk to the individual's career. He's incentivized to stay there on the council where he has the power to help people (ahem: make lotsa money), so he's not gonna say something that goes against the policy of his boss. Another way in which the politicians can't help but be political.

    We seem to be on the same wavelength again. I've got a similar piece on the backburner.

    • Andrew 14 years ago

      Yep. As Dave points out below, it’s probably a good idea to at least consider that Mr. McClellan might be sincere in his belief that the paleo diet is unhealthy. However, sincerity isn’t an excuse for poor research and sloppy journalism. When combined with persuasion, sincerity and misunderstanding add up to dogma. And unfortunately, dogma is the best-case scenario here. When dogma hurts people, it’s doubly inexcusable.

      Of course, the worst-case scenario is a collection of outright lies for personal gain with an acute negative impact on the health of a potentially large number of people. In both cases, people’s health is at stake, so the motives almost don’t even matter.

      Your piece today touched on this stuff a little. I hope you have more in the works.

      • Abel James 13 years ago

        Great post! "Sincerity isn't an excuse for poor research and sloppy journalism." You're right on – it's a shame how often this happens, however. Passionate voices count for something, but that's not a good thing when they're spinning nonsense to the donkeyheaded masses.

  2. Jenna Shannon 14 years ago

    This is excellent! I think all the naysayers should be forced to spend an hour in a roomful of happy, fit, glowing Paleo eaters and then give their “review.”

    • Andrew 14 years ago

      Totally! Are you familiar with the “Sokal hoax”?

      About a decade ago, physicist Alan Sokal wrote a paper completely deconstructing the modern understanding of physics. It was so compelling that he managed to get it published in a peer reviewed scientific journal. Ultimately, it was complete rubbish that he intentionally orchestrated to highlight the idea that someone should know something about a topic before they critique it. In his case, it was the opposite, because he knows the topic so well, that he can even convince other professionals to believe it. I love that story.

      Unfortunately, Mr. McClellan didn’t pull off the hoax of tricking professionals to illustrate a point; he just tried to dupe the general public… A slightly less honorable pursuit, eh?

  3. Dave 14 years ago

    Love it.

    Quick thought on “conspiracies”: I think what appears to be conspiratorial in hindsight is the result of “social evolution”, just as one might assert “intelligent design” when looking at the outcome of biological evolution. Organizations that are successful tend to wind up aligned along similar goals, so it looks like there was conspiracy. But I’d actually guess it’s more that they happened to bumble down the same path, and that the non-aligned organizations just didn’t make it.

    Personally, I don’t think most people are smart enough to pull off a large conspiracy.

    • Andrew 14 years ago

      Thanks, and I agree with what you've added about the coincidental alignment of potentially sincere motives appearing to be a conspiracy. It's a good idea to resist the cynicism to label everything a conspiracy.

      I have problems with the word conspiracy. It has overtly negative connotations that go well beyond its definition. Healthy cooperation can be labeled a "conspiracy" by a 3rd party and it immediately takes on a nefarious meaning. Calling someone a "conspiracy theorist" insinuates they're wrong… even if they happen to be stating a fact. That's another linguistic shortcut/trick like the celebrity association thing I mentioned above.

      Anywho… That's kinda off-topic, but I do find it interesting.

  4. Richard Nikoley 14 years ago

    Though mine would have been my typical hit & run piece, I’m still glad you saved me the trouble, as this has been in my working queue since yesterday or whenever I got wind of it.

    Now I’ll just mention it in a link roundup or BULLSHIT! episode and let people know where to get the straight scoop.

    Good work, Andrew.

    • Andrew 14 years ago

      But by saving your time, I may have deprived the world of one of your deliciously vitriolic, while justified, demolitions of ideological pap.

      So… to Richard… You're welcome for the time saving (I guess).

      But to everyone else… I'm sorry.

  5. Andrew 14 years ago

    Turns out that Cornell McClellan is a vegan advocate! Duhn Duhn Duhnnnn…

  6. Ultimate Russell 14 years ago

    Awesome post! Can't believe this is the first time I've read your blog. But I'm adding it to my reader now!

    • Andrew 14 years ago

      The blog's only been online for about 5.3 weeks, 2 of which were spent with me in a sling unable to type because I forgot how to ride a bike and smashed my collarbone. If I'd died on the trail, future archaeologists may have called the remnants of my shoulder "grains", thus proving that neolithic humans literally lived by that morbid part in "Jack and the Beanstalk" about grinding bones to make bread.

      Wow… That was a weird digression… Anyway, I'm glad you found the site so soon!

      Thank you, and welcome…

  7. michaelf 14 years ago


    I'm one of those silly Christians who have adopted a paleoish diet, though I eat a lot more fatty cuts of meat than Cordain would recommend. I would like to give you a little smattering of why I follow loosely. First I would argue that we are Carnivores, not Omnivores, and that point I'm sure we could argue over for….ever! But our guts do not resemble "our closest ancestors", not even remotely. They resemble that of a wolf, but keep on believing adaptation would steer us so far away from our "closest ancestors". That God told us only to eat bread is silly. I've actually read that Manna may have been kefir, not a bread like substance that the world clings to.

    I would further argue that many "Paleo Dieters" have replaced their religion if they had one, with a diet as a religion. Science and religion are often reported in the same media you bash here as being far apart from one another. In reality, they are not. For the same reasons you critique dietary authors for their poor understanding of a topic, I would attack legalistic, moralistic writers who make the same kind of foolish claims in attack pieces against the church.

    Personally, I feel like the obesity epidemic has a very biblical theme to it. You guys(Paleo writers) are all little Josephs trying to lead a bunch of sheep out of Egypt(obesity), and they want to kill you because you want to take them away from the comfort of oppression(SAD).

    You guys go on ranting and raving about religion. I love you guys work in the caveman world. Your dietary advice is good and I'll continue reading. Just remember; just because you dont believe in the God, doesnt mean you dont have a god. Richard that goes for you too.

    • Andrew 14 years ago

      If you realize that the belief in Biblical superheroes is fundamentally the same kind of silly as belief in the superpowers of Thor, then okay. I'd be inclined to agree.

      Point of fact: I neither said nor implied that the Bible says to "only eat bread". And I agree it would be a silly thing to say because I have read the Bible. To the dismay of many Christians, I forgot to skip the historically inaccurate, inconvenient, evil, and ugly parts.

      The argument that the Bible doesn't "really mean" what is says is the perfect way to pretend to win any argument without having to stick to any point. Thus, it's not an argument I find compelling or productive.

      Point of fact: The Bible makes plain and unqualified recommendations of bread multiple times. It goes further and equates Jesus to the "bread of life". Maybe it means the "kefir of life", maybe it means the "autoimmune disease causing toxin of life"… I'm not going to hold you to either meaning. If I was an omnipotent god or an intelligent designer, I would hire better writers in the first place, and better translators after that. I'd try really really hard to get it right the first time and make sure it was coherent (not to mention factual and historically accurate)… especially if I was planning on hiding in outer space or the Nth dimension for a few thousand years.

      The tactic of religious folks to bring everyone up/down to their level by calling everything religion is spurious. What you're accusing people of is merely lifestyle on one level and dogma in some cases; that is not the same as religion. I wrote about why paleo is not,and cannot be, a religion last week. But for goodness sake, please stop equating "lifestyle" with "religion", it's simply bogus.

      You have effectively argued that one way religious folks reconcile paleo diets with the advice of their books is to redefine and/or ignore what's written in them. Since my original point was that the initial religious reaction to Darwin was similar to the current (perceived by me) reaction to paleo diet/lifestyle, and the initial religious reaction to Darwin is effectively identical to the argument you used to explain your acceptance of paleo, you have only helped to make my point.

    • Richard Nikoley 14 years ago


      Alright, sir. It goes for me too. But I would ask you to take note that I have been very outspoken about making paleo authoritative or dogmatic – of a religion. I even have a post about Paleo being neither authoritative nor dogmatic.

      Anyhoo, glad your taking the benefits you can get for yourself.

    • Aleks 13 years ago

      Last time I checked the human digestive system is most similar to a pig… which is an omnivore. Dogs are in between omnivores and carnivores.

  8. Author

    […] been too long but I had the urge. Actually, I have to thank Andrew over at Evolvify who did an outstanding and comprehensive post on a topic I was going to hit either today or tomorrow. But, he did such a job that it would have […]

  9. Eric 14 years ago

    I am also a crazy Christian following a Paleo Diet. I don't think the Paleo Diet is inconsistent with Judeo-Christian teachings or even "Creationism."

    First, the Bible talks about bread. Jesus ate bread during the Last Supper. Jesus made lunch for 5,000+ people with bread and fish. The idea that Middle-Eastern peoples are more adapted to grain is entirely within most Paleo thinking. There were people groups all across the globe during Jesus' lifetime. These people did not have the same diet as Jesus. As a half-white, half-Mexican Christian my ancestors didn't eat the same thing Jesus did and both of my ancestral populations are generally grain-intolerant. So, the fact that Jesus, a historical "mesopotamian" ate bread isn't inconsistent or surprising.

    Second, one of the central tenets of orthodox Christianity is "The Fall." Typically, this grand screw-up is only attributed to man's inherent nature. This view is incomplete. The Fall screwed up EVERYTHING and, by implication, also screwed up where and how people got food. Genesis specifically talks about man being forced to work the ground for food (agriculture) as a result of The Fall.

    • Andrew 14 years ago

      Please allow me to clarify: I want Christians to be pro-Paleo. The point of the post was to highlight underlying motivations some people have that would influence them to take a stand against paleo. It disturbs me when people make up arguments to protect their underlying beliefs (no, I'm not singling out religion here). In light of the updated information after I wrote the post, it seems even more likely that Mr. McClellan is a good example of that tactic.

      It appears that you're perfectly fine with what I see as inconsistencies. We could have a debate on whether there are really inconsistencies or not. Maybe that would get us somewhere, maybe not.

      However, there are certainly religious folks out there who think the paleo diet is garbage because it interferes with their interpretation of their religious texts. In such cases, I suggest that we're more likely to see their arguments manifest in the form of quasi-nutritionist junk science. It's those oppressive and misleading voices with which I'm concerned.

    • anand srivastava 14 years ago

      You should read the Temple of Eden. This was a place in the Fertile crescent where humans started agriculture between 12000 to 8000 years ago. Around 8K the place was no longer fertile enough, and people had to leave Eden. This is actually what the Bible means by "The Fall".

      So the Fall was caused by humans starting agriculture. So actually Agriculture is the poisoned fruit that humans ate and that caused us to leave the Eden. We are still banished, and would not return till we give up agriculture.

  10. michaelf 14 years ago

    As far as dietary recommendations go in the bible, The Makers Diet by Jordan Rubin, does a much better job of explaining that than I'd do, and grains although there, I would say are definately not the focus.

    I agree lifestyle is not religion, but neither were wooden statues. Its just something to worship that makes you feel better inside. The differences are in what we choose to worship. Lifestyle is very much a point of worship for people, mainly focused on how awesome they are themselves.

    Translation is a point I myself get stuck in. There is bountiful minutia in there that I'm sure is mistranslated, or misrepresented.

    I am not arguing at all that I am reconciling by redefining what is in the bible. You last paragraph there has me seeing circles, but I'll try to clarify what I meant…

    I try to live my religion in my lifestyle. The days of the book of Leviticus are gone. We live in a post resurection era that I'm not dead for eating a pig or a snake, I'm just dead because I'm a sinner. I don't have to live by any list of rules, I just have to live a Christ centered life. Darwin does not create in me the reaction you alude to. I think he made some great observations. My point in regard to evolution, is this, we obviously didn't evolve directly from chimps. There is as much grasping for straws in that department as in any vegan health store. Our guts are too dissimilar. I wish I could upload the stone age diet book to this site, but if you havent read it look for it. The Stone Age Diet by Walter Voegtlin. It is not in circulation anymore, the copy I have was copywrited in 1975.

    You guys aren't going to stop ripping religion I know. I'm ok with that. You're not going to run me off with that chip on your shoulder, but you might run someone off who needs your help desperately, and thats all I've got to say about that. Good luck!

    • Andrew 14 years ago

      Michael, please don't miss my comment to Eric above. I think it applies equally to your comments.

      No, humans definitely didn't evolve from chimps. Nobody who understands evolution believes that humans evolved from chimps. The estimated date for the most recent common ancestor is about 6 million years ago. Thus, chimps have been evolving for 6 million years under the adaptive pressures of their own unique ecology. Since humans also evolved for 6 million years separately, this results in a full 12 million years of evolutionary time between the two species. It is a dramatic mistake to assume that our common ancestor was any more chimp-like then than it was human-like then. We have a remarkable fossil record in the hominid (human, not chimp) line that shows characteristics of shifts in digestive machinery. I put together a paleolithic timeline to give a quick and dirty look at this.

      As a side note, the bit about non-theists having a chip on their shoulder misses the mark. All religions make scientific claims without evidence or merit. Do you have a chip on your shoulder because of your atheism toward Zeus? Maybe, but you probably just think Zeus is a silly idea… no chip required.

    • Dave 13 years ago

      Here's a download for the stone age diet http://zeroinginonhealth.com/library/Stone_Age_Di

  11. Geoff 14 years ago

    Great post man. Love the fortune 500 list. One point you missed on it though, is the contribution that oil companies have to the agro business, as a huge proportion of the fertilizers used are manufactured from fossil fuels. That says nothing about the running of the machines for processing, as well as the transportation from these centralized farms throughout the country.

    The one thing I took issue with was this railing against an all meat version of paleo. No where have I ever seen any kind of paleo prescription for any amount of vegetables or fruits. The tenets of the paleo diet are a restriction of grains, legumes and processed sugar. Nowhere in restricting these foods does it say that you have to eat vegetables.

    It's a convenient position to take saying that the paleo diet is not an all meat diet for purposes of refuting the article, but if you ask Dr. Harris or the Robb Wolf, they would tell you that it can be done in a healthful way without fruits or vegetables. As someone who considers vegetables generally unappetizing and unnecessary, I've been doing paleo this way for over a year and have yet to encounter any nutritional deficiencies of any kind.

  12. David 14 years ago

    I don't get why you think that a creationist can not reconcile the paleo diet with their beliefs. I am a Christian and I believe in creation. I also eat strictly paleo. I do believe that God created man and that we were not evolved from monkeys.

    However, I also believe that God did not create man with bodies designed to live inside an office all day or utilize electricity to create our own day and night. God created us to live in the world that was created for us. That world was wild and our early ancestors were hunters and gathers. Of course recently man has figured out how to insulate himself from the wild. He has created an artificial environment that his body was not designed for and the escalation in obesity and diabetes are the resulting factors. So whether you call this a paleo diet, ancestral diet or cave man diet even though I may not believe that man was roaming the earth 5 million years ago, I do believe that our bodies were created to eat this way.

    So while some may have a difficult time reconciling creationism with the paleo diet, I think that is a result of not completely thinking through the issue.

    • Andrew 14 years ago

      There is nothing in the Bible that would lead anyone to the paleolithic diet. Christians had an 1859 year head-start and failed to do so. The book starts off with milk, honey and manna from heaven, and ends with Jesus as "the bread of life". Sorry, religion doesn't get to claim credit for this one… not on my watch.

      How far do I have to think, David? Creationists* don't even believe in the "Paleolithic Era"! The word is literally derived from the period of hominid evolutionary history characterized by stone tool use. It ended ~12K years ago, and therefore predates the historical assertions of the human creation story in Genesis.

      Creationists can, and do, take advantage of many things science has given us that their world-view fundamentally precludes. The paleo diet is one of those things. Vaccines, which are entirely based on evolutionary theory, are another. Good for them, but I'm not going to get into the implications of that practice right now.

      The wisdom of paleo dieting is rooted in the parsimonious logic of Darwinian evolution. Denying the evolutionary history prevents one from understanding the depth of its application and its beauty.

      * "Creationism" is a slippery term, so some will avoid talking about the crazy beliefs on dinosaurs and the fossil record. I use it as a short-hand for "young-earth creationism", which claims the world is less than 7K years old.

      • Geoff 14 years ago

        There is at least one quote in the bible directly applicable to paleo:

        Genesis 2:17

        Do not eat the fruit of the technology

        that makes edible the inedible,

        for when you eat it you will surely die.

        Then again, they ate grain in the bible anyway, very weird.

        • Andrew 14 years ago

          This reads as completely metaphorical to me. Nobody used it to arrive at the paleo diet before Voegtlin's 1975 work, so applying it retroactively is kinda cheating. 🙂

  13. Andrew 14 years ago

    Thanks, Geoff.

    I didn’t miss the point about oil companies, though it would have been helpful if I’d elaborated on…

    “The list below highlights a few publicly traded companies with direct financial interest in producing, fertilizing, transporting, and/or distributing”

    I followed that up with tons of oil companies on the list. A full analysis of industries and companies with significant financial interest in paleo unfriendly products would be a large undertaking. The roots are way deeper than what I’ve shown here, but I think it’s a good “tip of the iceberg”. As to farm equipment, [John} Deere is on the list above as well.

    “Nowhere have I ever seen any kind of paleo prescription for any amount of vegetables or fruits. The tenets of the paleo diet are a restriction of grains, legumes and processed sugar. Nowhere in restricting these foods does it say that you have to eat vegetables… but if you ask Dr. Harris or the Robb Wolf, they would tell you that it can be done in a healthful way without fruits or vegetables”

    Sorry, but without a LOT of context, that’s just insanely wrong.

    If I wasn’t sitting here with a broken collarbone, I wouldn’t do this obvious research for you. First, see Loren Cordain’s site for The Paleo Diet™, thepaleodiet.com. The header consists of a green background filled with fruits and vegetables. The words that span the top of the page are: LEAN MEATS, SEAFOOD, FRUITS, VEGETABLES, NUTS. He literally wrote the book, so it’s kinda hard to ignore that. The Paleo Diet [book]

    And I’m no stranger to Robb Wolf’s work. There’s a reason it’s linked above the comments.

    “…shift to a way of ancestral eating that includes lean meats, seafood, seasonal vegetables, and fruits.” The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. Page 44

    “…while rounding out our meals with nutritious fruits, vegetables, and good fats to avoid the potential of too much protein.” The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. Page 67

    “Focus on the amounts and types of dietary carbohydrates, emphasizing vegetables…” The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. Page 118

    Aside from Robb’s book, I’ve listened to all of his podcasts… some of them twice. So when you tell me he advocates an all meat diet, I have to harness Will Ferrell’s character in Zoolander, “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!”

    Now perhaps you’d counter with Dr. Harris’ article “Plants and plant compounds are not essential or magic“. Hooray! We can survive on steak & bacon! Not so fast, let’s just take a look at one human essential: Vitamin C.

    Being a sailor, I’ve heard the ubiquitous “sailors used to get scurvy from lack of vitamin C” story more than average. The interesting thing about vitamin C is that, as an essential, mammals evolved to synthesize it themselves. Thus, they didn’t need external sources. Well… because of our pre-paleolithic ancestors’ consumption of fruit, the hominid line didn’t “need” to produce its own vitamin C. Oddly, we all have the gene coding for vitamin C in our DNA, but it’s been deactivated… also known as a “dead gene”. So… we do need dietary vitamin C. Everyone knows that vitamin C comes from plants so Dr. Harris is wrong, right?

    Dr. Harris has a rather strict science bias. I tend to think that rounds out the thinking on all things paleo, so I don’t find fault with it. His position on plant matter can be roughly paraphrased as, “Prove to me proximally by way of a clinically controlled dietary intervention that plant matter is necessary. I’ll believe it when I see it”. From an “ultimate” level paleoanthropological and archeological perspective, we could argue as to whether that dips too far into scientism and/or nutritionism, but that misses the point.

    Dr. Harris is still right on vitamin C. He knows that it can also be obtained by eating the brains, livers, hearts, tongues, et cetera of terrestrial mammals, as well as some seafood. And unlike the average American, Dr. Harris is cool with utilizing those dietary sources.

    So Dr. Harris is right because he advocates eating the whole animal tissue enchilada, and Cornell McClellan is still wrong. You see… vitamin C cannot be obtained in sufficient quantities in what we’d refer to as animal “meat”. That is… Mr. McClellan’s steaks, steaks, steaks characterization of the paleo diet is even a mischaracterization when compared to the most “extreme” meat advocate the respected paleo community has to offer.

    Vitamin C is but one example, but I’m not going to go further at the moment.

    • Geoff 14 years ago

      I didn't say that Robb Wolf advocates an all meat diet, I said that he would say that it can be done in a healthful way. The paleo diet is about avoiding foods that are not a part of our evolutionary experience, there is no prescription for the amount of any "paleo friendly" food that is required in a healthy diet. There is at least one podcast where Robb Wolf specifically addresses this point saying something to the effect of "or you could just get your vegetables from meat, like Dr. Harris recommends."

      As for the vitamin c issue, have you read Good Calories, Bad Calories? When Stefanssnn did his trials they said he would become vitamin c deficient in a week. Obviously he didn't, nor did he two years later. Vitamin C deficiency is less about lack of vitamin c in the diet and more about anti-nutrients preventing the utilization.

      • Andrew 14 years ago

        Avoiding things we didn't adapt to over evolutionary time is only one side of the coin. It's an oversimplification to frame paleo that way, especially in light of what I wrote in "The Myth of Food". What humans did eat is just as important as what they didn't eat. From within the perspective of a SAD culture, elimination of grains is likely the most effective first step, but that's only because our cultural perspective is skewed in such a way to make it the most effective first step.

        It's probably better if we don't get into a "he said, she said" without references a little more concrete than [paraphrase] "one time someone said _____". We also need to be careful not to indulge in confirmation bias by picking out a sentence here and there and using it as the foundation of our entire diet.

        Robb does have a post discussing an n=1 reader self-experiment.

        "My experiment was simple. I strove to mimic Stefansson’s diet as closely as possible for the month… I ate only meat and eggs… with seasonings like salt, pepper and the like… I also ate a good amount of grass-fed tallow in order to ward off the dreaded rabbit starvation, which occurs when protein constitutes too much of one’s diet, and to get enough omega-3s."

        This anecdotal, unsupervised, uncontrolled "experiment" was only run for one month so we can't read too much into it. Anyway, Robb's response:

        "Long term it seems like throwing in more veggies might be good to maintain a net alkaline balance. Is this the right Rx for everyone and every situation? No, obviously not" [emphasis mine]

        Stefansson's post-Inuit personal diet is a drastic oversimplification of the Inuit's diet. To imply that the Inuit only ate "meat" in the steak sense is simply wrong. Their diet consisted of all of the non-"meat" components of the animals as well. If you want to subsist on whale, seal, and caribou, make sure to eat the whole thing. This includes (among other things) the undigested plant contents of the caribou's stomach, the vitamin C rich skin of whales, and all of the organs. Also, the Inuit's diet fluctuated seasonally which resulted in opportunistic consumption of various plant materials.

        I agree that anti-nutrients are a problem for vitamin C utilization, but vitamin C is still necessary, and isn't found in steak, eggs, and tallow. The Inuit didn't have to worry, because they didn't follow Cornell McClellan's steak, steak, steak parody of paleo.

        • Geoff 14 years ago

          Your attempts to refute my position do not constitute proof of yours. This question boils down to what the null hypothesis is. Is the null hypothesis that humans can be healthy on a carnivorous diet, in which case the burden of proof would be on you to prove it's not the case, or is the null hypothesis that humans need fruits and vegetables to be healthy, in which the burden of proof would be on me.

          I don't see how anyone can make a case for the latter given what we currently understand about optimal foraging strategy, hunter-gatherer population studies, our natural aversion to vegetables from a very young age, Stefannsen's clinical trials, and various n-1 case studies, including my own which is now over a year long. Saying that someone should in the hypothetical realm become vitamin c deficient on a carnivorous diet, when this is totally invalidated experimentally, holds absolutely no weight. You can make other assertions as to other micronutrients that would not be found in sufficient quantities in a carnivorous diet, but I think you would similarly be hard pressed to find this borne out experimentally.

          We can both agree that we probably don't disagree on very much, and this difference is so minor in the grand scheme that it's probably not worth discussing further. At the very least, we can probably both agree that the reasons that "The First Trainer" gives for why an all meat diet is bad for humans are not supported scientifically.

          • Andrew 14 years ago

            Geoff, I'm not trying to refute your position on the viability of Inuit style diets. As I said in the OP:

            "I’m sure someone could make a case that humans could survive on meat alone…"

            Fine, I agree that we could debate the minutia and probably agree on a lot of things. What I am refuting is McClellan's characterization of the paleo diet and your assertion that I was just taking a "convenient position… for purposes of refuting the article". The question was whether or not the major works about the paleo diet reasonably available to Mr. McClellan represent it as reported. I continue to assert that they don't.

            I don't think your views are representative of (note: I did not say they're incompatible) paleo either. Namely, the Inuit aren't now, nor have they ever been, representative of an evolutionarily relevant paleolithic population. Even if you place them in the late end of the upper paleolithic historically, you'd still have to make the case that any adaptive genes in their population influenced the rest of the human genome enough to be significant to other populations. Their arctic ecology is nothing like the African ecology of hominid evolution during the Pleistocene (in which edible plants were significantly available). It's the same error pro-carb folks make when they trot out the Kitavans as a representative example of paleo. The Trobriand Islands are no more representative of hominid paleo ecology (in which significant game was available) than the arctic. That completely confuses proximate examples with ultimate causes. As such, it can be correct from a nutritionist standpoint, yet also myopic from an anthropological and archeological perspective.

            Perhaps coincidentally, your argument is exactly what I'm talking about in my critique of Creationists and paleo. Since they reject that the paleolithic era ever happened, they're restricted to talking about neolithic hunter-gatherer populations in service of protecting their ideology. I'm not implying that's your motive, only that your style of argument demonstrates the point I tried to make in the OP about missing the totality of paleo logic by wishing evolutionary history out of existence.

            The remaining hunter-gatherers are important to study. The biochemistry is important to study. The studies Dr. Harris recommends are important. But… looking at paleo from that perspective – at the exclusion of the actual paleolithic part – is like performing dentistry from the ass end of the horse.

  14. Geoff 14 years ago

    Ran out of room in the nested commenting, but I had to respond to that last bit.

    Paleo is a logical framework applied to modern humans, not a historical reenactment

    Those are your words, not mine. Based on that sentence, which I totally agree with by the way, I reject your conjecture about exclusion of the paleolithic part. The paleolithic part is useful for framing questions, but it has to take a backseat to the nutrition and the biochemistry.

    Still, the biochemistry should line up with the evolutionary back story, and if it does not, you need to check your premises. As such, it is my opinion that humans were primarily carnivorous during the paleolithic, and eating plant matter was, for the most part, a survival strategy during famine. Famine is where the selection pressure is most prevalent, which explains our adaptations that allow us to extract nutrition from these foods that I would label "sub-optimal." Famine was something that was probably not experienced often, and probably skipped most generations. It would occur during short, 3-5 generation periods of a volatile climate, which were separated by 50 generations of stable climates. This is consistent with the geology that we see in Africa from ~200,000 years ago.

    In looking for that Robb Wolf quote in the podcast archives, I didn't find it, but I did come across an interesting little tidbit which I think lends itself to this discussion, particularly in terms of how "representative" a carnivorous diet is in terms of what our actual paleolithic ancestry ate: http://robbwolf.com/2010/09/21/the-paleolithic-so

    • Andrew 14 years ago

      The paleo "logic" comes from adaptive pressure as understood by evolutionary biology. [Based on your famine hypothesis, I know you know this so it's strange that you still get it wrong.] The hypotheses (the logic part) start from there and are tested today by a range of sciences. And yes, if they are invalidated, better hypotheses are required.

      Your desire to "backseat" the ultimate explanations would be getting the logic I mentioned backwards. Further, that backwards approach is exactly how the dietary conventional wisdom of the 20th century arose. It resulted in rampant nutritionism and a lot of fat, sick people. It is a fundamentally myopic approach.

      We don't try to explain the universe by looking at the point of a needle and extrapolating what we see outward. Ask a physicist to predict Mt. Rushmore based on E=MC<sup>2</sup> and see how far you get.

      Your carnivore opinion is not compelling because it isn't supported by evidence. There is no reason to believe that paleo hominids ate plants only as starvation food, and ample evidence that they started off eating plants almost exclusively and started eating meat later.

      Your continued assertion that carnivory it is representative of the paleo diet is a gargantuan stretch. A bit in a Robb Wolf podcats isn't going to overturn the robust scientific research of the entire paleoanthropology field; it's also not going to unwrite Cordain's books. Since Robb's not an anthropologist, I think he'd be the first to say that. And I gotta think that random things about paleo that he's said in the history of his life take a "backseat" to the words he found important enough to include in his book… which I quoted above. As far as I can tell, he never made the claims you're torturing his words to make anyway, so it's a non-issue as far as I'm concerned.

      Carnivory: Compatible… maybe. Representative… no.

      P.S. If you're going to use a podcast as a reference, please also provide the time at which the important part occurs. I'm not interested enough to listen to an hour and try to guess which line you're referring to. 🙂

      • Geoff 14 years ago

        Podcast reference was to around minute 13 where he talks about optimal foraging strategy. He references work done at the Max Plank Institute around radioisotope studies, according to which "our ancestors were as carnivorous or more carnivorous than the arctic fox."

        All scientific theories are derived from evidence based on what is observed in the modern world. Even theoretical physics equations like e=mc2. You create your theories around these data points as a means to explain the data points, but when you have a data point that is unexplained by your theory, the black swan, it's the theory that needs to change, not the data point. In the case of the mass energy equation above, Einstein observed that there were conservation of mass issues that could not be explained by Newtonian physics, and had to come up with a new theory that explained those findings (don't quote me on that, haven't studied any of that in a long time).

        In the case of human nutrition, we have plenty of data points that show that a carnivorous diet seems to be sufficient nutritionally, consistent with optimal foraging strategy, consistent with the structure of our taste buds, and borne out by radioisotope studies; we also have data points to suggest that humans ate some plant material, and are at least capable of extracting nutrition from it, but we also know that these are typically "acquired tastes" that offer very little ROI with regard to time and energy spent foraging per calorie. Based on this, and what I know about more modern hunter-gatherers talking about feeding their pregnant women carnivorous diets to produce healthy babies, the fact that our bodies run more efficiently in ketosis, and the geology of Africa during the middle paleolithic, I think it is reasonable to hypothesize that humans were primarily carnivorous and were omnivorous out of necessity during survival periods.

        Cordain has obviously contributed a lot to the paleo community, but I still take everything he says with a grain of salt. He was straight wrong about saturated fatty acids, calling these fats "bad" in the original book. This is a claim he no longer supports, but it still calls into question much of what he wrote at least prior to 2006 when he changed his position on SFA and coconut products.

        Even if carnivory is not representative of The Paleo Diet(TM) as it is laid out in Cordain's book and Robb Wolf's book, maybe it should be. Maybe a diet with more of a carnivorous slant would be more representative of our evolutionary experience. But maybe it's easier to sell a diet chock full of veggies into a world where vegetables are health foods and meat is a guilty pleasure. Or maybe Wolf/Cordain/Sisson would rather err on the side of less restrictive keeping the tent wide, and for those of us who think vegetables are useless we'll figure that out for ourselves via experimentation.

    • Andrew 14 years ago

      And oh… got a quarter of a pastured cow this week. In honor of the popularity of this post, I'm having the Cornell McClellan version of the paleolithic diet tonight (they're on the grill as I type).

      <img src="http://evolvify.com/files/2010/11/steak-steak-steak-300×225.jpg&quot; alt="" title="steak-steak-steak" width="300" height="225" class="alignnone size-medium wp-image-2041" />


      • Richard Nikoley 14 years ago

        And I bought a box freezer today so I can do roughtly the same (and lamb, and pastured pork).

        Now I must get to my next post about the "New Vegan Diet:" Copraphagy!

  15. Juan 14 years ago

    Great exchange from everyone, particularly Andrew and Geoff. I'm glad you're blogging Andrew. Very good stuff. No wonder I haven't come across your blog yet; it still has that new car smell!

    @Geoff, would you please email me? I believe Andrew will be able to see my email and give it to you. (If you don't mind, Andrew). I have a question regarding the Voetglin book. Thank you in advance.


  16. Ishmael 14 years ago

    I am going to offer some straight-forward criticism of this article. If it comes off as condescending or offensive (as things not intended to often do on the internet), feel free to tell me where to stick it.

    Let me say first that I particularly appreciated your point about the origins of theism being located in the development of agriculture. Enki, the high god of ancient Sumeria, allegedly invented the plow. Quetzalcoatl told the Aztecs how to plant and harvest corn. And so on. This is key to understanding the nature of civilization. It is founded on organized religion as much as it is founded on economics.

    I agree with the basic points here regarding the nonsensical nature of the Obama trainer’s attacks on the Paleo diet, but I find the larger context in which this is set to be rather naive, seemingly missing the broader implications of what is going on here on a political/social level.

    You seem to almost be a supporter of Obama, while denigrating Bush, which is something I still find totally bizarre. You assert that he is somehow superior to George Bush – I would have to ask, in what way, exactly? From where I am sitting, Obama is basically a more charismatic, darker-skinned version of George Bush in almost every aspect imaginable. And his policies are significantly more extreme.

    He has escalated the war. He has continued the insane printing of currency (his administration is absolutely hellbent on Zimbabwe-style inflation). He has refused to put any regulations whatsoever on Wall Street. He has refused to prosecute, or even investigate the Bush Administration. He has actively continued the Bush policy of blocking any and all attempts at an independent investigation of the events of September 11, 2001. He has refused to reevaluate NAFTA. And on and on and on.

    And this is not some coincidence. It is, plainly and simply, a conspiracy. Just look at the currency manipulation. They are now printing 600 billion more in new money (in reality it will end up being 2 or 3 times that). A 5th grade student, with average intelligence, could figure out the fault in this after maybe two hours of reading on the fundamentals of economics. There is absolutely no possible way that this could simply be a result of “bad planning”. It has to be on purpose.

    I won’t go too far into this, as I am not here to give a lecture on economics, but I just want to make the point that the “mistakes” and “misunderstandings” of government officials are always on purpose. The people running things* did not gain such positions through dumb luck.

    *The president has no input whatsoever into policy, which should be obvious when one considers that these people do not even write their own speeches – they are given to them by professionals, who are told what to write by special interest groups and Non-governmental “foundations”, such as the Council on Foreign relations. This is all documented and admitted – I don’t really like to go into conjecture.

    The war is another good example. How in god’s name is this still going on, without anyone even attempting to explain why it is happening? These people are just too stupid to figure out what is going on? They count on you believing that. That they are idiots. That is why Bush was such a perfect figurehead to get all of this started. They design propaganda that makes you believe that you are smarter than everyone making all these decisions. They are able to design such propaganda, because they are smarter than you.

    Moving on. Let’s talk about health and diet.

    The plan for this future world, which the UN claims will be based on the Chinese communist model, is for everyone to be a vegetarian. Vegetarians have smaller brains, they are weak, they are passive and they are easily manipulated through emotional means. That is what they want people to be.

    And that is why you have this massive neo-religious movement called “veganism”. PETA is an NGO. It receives funding from the same foundations that fund such nonsensical concepts as “global warming” and “free trade”. That is to say, this is not a natural development. Why would humans, after having eaten meat for likely millions of years, decide that it was “wrong”? Why would such a demonstrably unhealthy diet be promoted by the government (the corporate profit aspect, which you mention, is only part of it)?

    Let us think about this massive coincidence of the president’s personal trainer just happening to be a vegan. How many vegan body-builders are there in the world? Less than ten, I would imagine. It is only someone with these religious beliefs about animal rights that would ever be a vegan. There is simply no other way to look at this. Just like with the economic principles I mentioned above, it is obvious, beyond any doubt whatsoever, after minimal research, that veganism is utterly unhealthy, and that a diet of meat, vegetables and fruit leads to ideal health. Arguing with a vegan about diet is like arguing with a Christian who believes the earth is 10,000 years old. They live in a separate reality, grounded in fantasy.

    It is very important to the reigning establishment that people, in particular men, be kept weak. That is why it is legal for them to put growth hormones (estrogen) in chicken. That is why GMO foods are legal. And transfats. It is also why homosexuality is marketed as a product, and fashion is now considered to be an aspect of masculinity.

    The bottom line here is that the agenda of promoting veganism as a “healthy lifestyle” is part of a larger agenda by the powers that be to replace fact with fiction, something that those who have controlled societies have done since the beginnings of history.

    So I will cease my rambling. But first, I might as well mention, with regards to your praise of Obama for his support of atheism, that this is something that is also a major part of the plan. I would go right along with you in pointing out the utter childishness of modern theism, but I would have to argue that even idiot Christianity is superior to atheism, as an atheist does not have the necessary grounding to stand and fight against opression. Every great warrior in history has had a belief in something greater than himself, and without that, men are as weak as vegans. Our natural beliefs (metaphoric truths) have been stolen from us by civilization, as you almost imply above, and replaced with theistic religions designed solely as a means of social control. This is a fact. However, it is the same forces of “progress” that have now sold us “atheism”, with all of these totally unscientific (untestable) ideas about Darwinism and “big bangs” – the explanations for which, when examined closely, make little more sense than the explanations for how Moses parted the Red Sea.

    These people, the government people, are not real. They are actors. It is that simple. Everything they say is designed to manipulate the consciousness of the public.

    Thanks for letting me rant. I am totally interested in reactions. Violent or otherwise.


    • Andrew 14 years ago

      When I read the first paragraph I was excited to see your withering critique!

      However, after the Bush vs. Obama stuff, your next few paragraphs about veganism basically agreed with what I wrote. Other than that, the only part I objected to in any significant manner was, "Every great warrior in history has had a belief in something greater than himself, and without that, men are [weak]". Here, you suggest that strength derives from delusion. Ironically, this is exactly the kind of thing someone from the power structure conspiracy (that you spent the previous few paragraphs deriding) would say.

      The only reason I put the throwaway line in there about Obama & Bush was to set the context that I am not a raving anti-Obama lunatic arbitrarily out to attack the current administration. As such, I don't feel compelled to defend a statement of non-bias… though I do view your economic views as simplistic and flawed. I hope you've subscribed via email or RSS because these are areas of my interest and I will write about them at some point.

      • Ishmael 14 years ago

        Nice reply.

        I am not sure that strength deriving from delusion is exactly what I meant, but I can see how it could be interpreted that way. I personally believe there is something beyond the physical world, though I would never be so cocky as to attempt to categorize or define it. In stating that men draw strength from spirituality, I am simply stating that Great Mystery, which certainly exists internally, if not externally, is from whence man has historically drawn his conception of higher morality, which is the basis upon which all warriors have built their personae. Without the belief in some type of higher morality, the “good fight” becomes meaningless, as maximizing personal gain becomes the only logical course of action.

        Christianity, if deeply flawed, does include many of the ancient metaphoric concepts which I think it is hard to dismiss as delusion (see Karl Jung’s commentary on Christian symbols). Obviously, taking these metaphors as factual is the standard policy of the modern age, and this is something which anyone viewing the religion objectively would find utterly ridiculous.

        The view you are advocating is not unique, and I suppose somewhat irrelevant to the message you are trying to deliver in this post. However, simply because I find this absolutist approach to human spirituality to be so damaging to human progress, I went ahead and threw in my 2 cents on the topic.

        And yes, I will continue on as a reader of your blog. You are clearly equipped with critical thinking skills beyond that of the average denizen of the internet, and your adult response to my comments, something all too rare in the tubes these days, was quite refreshing.

  17. theresa 14 years ago

    Hi, I just happened upon your site today. I think your writing and insight are both quite good; however, please research using quotation marks and punctuation. The general rule of thumb is to include the punctuation mark inside of the quotation marks. Please forgive me, but with all the time and energy you put into your articles and research, I would think you'd like to know this. : ) I'll keep reading!

    • Andrew 14 years ago

      Hi Theresa. You are exactly right. I know the rule, and have been arguing it with teachers since about the 4th grade (the same time my parents started getting phone calls because I refused to capitalize the 'g' in god). I have structural and aesthetic problems with the convention. Apologies for dragging you into my decades long feud with the quotation marks' attempt to subsume all other punctuation.

      I do generally appreciate it when people notify me of glaring errors. Thank you for trying to help and for the other kind words.

  18. Greg Linster 13 years ago

    Great article Andrew! People (especially those in cahoots with politicians) have such a hard time understanding the complexity of the human body.

  19. eric 13 years ago

    Reconstructing the actual conspiracy by which the US population's diet was shifted from animal products to grain products would be a fantastic research project. Too bad I have to earn a living investigating criminal conspiracies instead of public- policy conspiracies.

    My hypothesis is as follows:

    In the early to mid-20th Century, US agribusiness discovered that they could produce essentially unlimited quantities of grain in the Great Plains with the advances in mechanization, fertilization and pest control. And they could produce it so cheaply that they have had to get the government to pay farmers not to grow grain to prevent the price from collapsing.

    Agribusiness also discovered, with the new chemical processes that allowed the production of edible oil from grain, that certain food substitutes could be produced much more cheaply and profitably than the foods they were replacing.

    Problem: there is no profit in butter and eggs. A $4 1-pound package of butter requires $3.50 in ingredients (butter) to make. A $2 dozen eggs requires $1.75 in ingredients (eggs).

    Opportunity: A tub of margarine requires only 35 cents worth of corn oil to produce. A box of cereal takes only 75 cents worth of grain. The potential for increased return on investment is huge.

    Challenge: How to get Americans to substitute margarine for butter, and cereal for eggs, in their diets. And how to get them to pay the same money, despite the lower value of the ingredients.

    Solution: Tell them that the foods that they and their ancestors ate are killing them, and that the new foods agribusiness has invented will save their lives. Saturated fat butter will kill you, margarine will save your life. Eggs kill, cereal saves. Voila, $4 margarine and $5 cereal.

    So the motive to tell Americans the Good News about grain and grain oil is clear. But is there any evidence that the commercial interests that benefited from this were linked to the campaign to get Americans to eat the products these interests produce?

    The two groups that have done the most to alter the American diet are the USDA and the American Heart Association. The USDA is run by personnel from the upper management of the agribusiness industry (this is a hypothesis … it would need to be investigated). The AHA is a consortium of grain millers, pharmaceutical companies and drug manufacturerers (this is true; that is where AHA's money comes from).

    So we have a motive, and we have the means. Although Gary Taubes did not explore the political forces that produced the lipid hypothesis, and implied in his book that fifty years of grain propaganda were the result of one man's mania (Ancel Keys), there is enough evidence to hypothesize that those who benefited financially from the change in diet were the ones who urged such a change in the first place.

    A caveat: it isn't about this industry or that industry; ie, it isnt about ranchers vs. millers. Its about the finance sector that funds, by loans, the efforts of all industries. The money calls the shots, and if the money thinks that there is going to be better returns if grain production grows in their portfolio and meat production shrinks, the money will look for a way to make that possible.

    Now who will do the research to recontruct the history of how this actually played out?

    • Andrew 13 years ago

      I was hoping you'd do the research. It sounds like a worthwhile endeavor.

  20. peter 13 years ago

    There are zero comments after the article? Me thinks they moderate anything that might disagree with what they write!

  21. Author

    […] and they have tips for vegetarians. Tips like eat soy. That’s a good idea.) Please go see evolvify for a total tear-down of the release this quote crawled out […]

  22. Steven Platek 13 years ago

    Very nice analysis of that absolutely abysmal write-up> Thanks!

  23. Mark Right 13 years ago

    I loved this one.

  24. Anna 13 years ago

    “Not only do I discourage any diet that disallows entire food groups…”

    And then…

    “Cornell McClellan is a vegan advocate.”

    He cannot do both. Vegan diets disallow dairy and meat “food groups”, don’t they?

  25. Author

    […] and they have tips for vegetarians. Tips like eat soy. That’s a good idea.) Please go see evolvify for a total tear-down of the release this quote crawled out […]

  26. Author
    Scott Armstrong 12 years ago

    As to religion, you say that the holy books command eating of grains and how do we square that "unhealthy advice with reality?" That is a grossly inaccurate statement and simplification. First of all, and I assume you're especially referring to the Bible, nowhere does it "command" eating grains. Second, you can actually make the case, as many Christian primal eaters have, that Genesis favors meat and vegetables over and against grains, though the point of Genesis is not to proscribe biological behaviors.

    Bottom line? Assuming that religion (read: Christianity) is anti-primal is stereotyping and unfortunately, I see a lot of that in the Primal community.

    • Author
      Andrew 12 years ago

      If I was just making this up out of thin air, there wouldn't be Christian apologists advocating grains ("whole grains" though, yay!) in books like Maker's Diet (http://amzn.to/Q1tj17) and The Bible Diet (http://amzn.to/Q1th9q).

      There are tons of references to wheat in the Bible, so I'll just point out a few… Iin Exodus, unleavened bread used commanded as sacrificial offerings must specifically be made by wheat flour. Exodus 29:2, 23 I mean… I can get behind converting bread into smoke, but that's not the implication.

      Lest this be dismissed as "just an Old Testament thing" that Jesus nullified…

      "For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." John 6:33-35

      Referring to Jesus as "the bread of God" hardly makes it trivial. You know, because of that thing where Jesus is the whole point of Chrisitanity.

      Again… "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body." Matthew 26:26

      So sure, I might not be warping the nutty inconsistencies in the Bible the way you'd like me to. But… "yeah, but you're just interpreting it wrong" iis pretty much the gold standard for those trying to fit such a flawed work into a rationalized and contorted worldview. Very few books can be used to justify and condemn things like slavery… depending on whichever narrative one wishes to push.

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