Last updated on April 12th, 2017
Saturday Short Takes
My focus this week is on the Paleo Diet, which gets a lot of press all over the world, pro and con. The basic premise of paleo eating is that the 10,000 years of the agricultural era has been too short a span for evolution to adapt us to farmed foodstuffs. So the paleo dieter avoids grains, dairy, and legumes. Cutting grains generally means cutting carbs, whether or not cutting carbs is the stated goal. Therefore, I view paleo as in the family of LCHF diets. Frequently, paleo is characterized as “eating like a caveman,” but that’s mostly by those who oppose it.
1. From Vegetarian to Paleo
If you can believe Anna Medaris Miller, writing in U.S. News & World Report Health, “Vegetarians-turned-paleo eaters . . . are everywhere, despite the diets’ apparent contradictions.” Miller backs up her sweeping generalization with a whole half-dozen examples, giving the most attention to that of Lindsay Tupper, a one-time vegetarian who now eats meat and blogs at Paleo Fitness Mama. The article mostly seems to be trying to talk vegetarians out of making the switch. Even the featured photograph undercuts the appeal of paleo-eating. Instead of red meat, it shows three grilled chicken breasts. If chicken breast is the epitome of meat-eating, I’d as soon be a vegetarian myself. Miller doesn’t mention the guy who would be my prime example of the vegetarian to paleo transformation: Robb Wolf.
2. Vegetarian and Paleo TOGETHER
Instead of switching completely, some vegetarians are attempting to combine their meatless approach with a grain-free and/or dairy-free approach. The term “Pegan” has been coined to cover this odd combination, as in the article “Paleo + vegan diet = the Pegan food plan.” This article on the SundayWorld.com credits Dr. Mark Hyman of the Cleveland Medical Center with inventing “the Pegan way of life.” Reading on, it appears that the Pegan way of life is a vegetarian diet with chicken, fish, and eggs added. Grains are allowed. Dairy and sugar are avoided. I could go along with some Pegan meal suggestions, such as eggs, fish, nuts, avocado and green beans, but not others, such as fruit and quinoa.
Blogger Maggie Savage, a gluten-free vegetarian, has attempted her own version of the meat-free, grain-free diet. In an article for The Peterborough Examiner, she admits that “a grain-free life has been pretty tricky for me.” She was accustomed to living without wheat, but not without rice, too. Why go rice-free, then? Savage, a nursing mom, found that eliminating all types of grains improved her baby’s digestion.
3. Paleo Down Under
Judging by the stories that pop up in a web search, paleo-eating is especially popular in Australia, with much of the credit (or blame) going to a celebrity chef and TV personality named Pete Evans. He’s paleo author and a judge on the reality show “My Kitchen Rules.” I’m not sure if “rules” is being used as a noun or a verb in the title, but apparently the show features a cooking contest. Evans just returned from a month long tour of the United States. According to a gossipy article by Penelope Kilby for the Daily Mail Australia, Evans spent his time in the U.S. “spruiking his controversial Paleo lifestyle.” Yes, “spruiking.” That’s Australian slang for promoting or selling, as in “giving a spiel.” Or as in “preaching,” which is the term used in the article’s title. (Evans also spent part of his time in the U.S. visiting The Fat Head Farm of popular low-carb blogger Tom Naughton and family.)
After describing the “natural glow” that Evans “sported” as he emerged from the airport terminal, Kilby notes that some people want him fired from his judge role on “My Kitchen Rules.” Supposedly it’s because of views Evans has spruiked on feeding babies the paleo way (such as including bone broth and liver in their diets). However, I suspect it’s more because he’s ruggedly good-looking, fit and trim, and highly successful. I get the same sort of jealous reaction.
Not to fear, though — Evans has announced on social media that he is returning for another season.
And I’ll be right here, blogging away. You can’t keep us ruggedly handsome, low-carb types down.