First there were plants, animals, and fungi. For thousands of years, people went out in search of these things, and ate stuff that was either energy-dense, safe, tasty, nutritious, or all of the above. Then came farming. Some people got shafted — they worked hard but were denied the tastiest and most nutritious morsels.
Fast forward a few thousand years, and a movement called “paleo” starts. Contrasted with food that’s conjured up by food scientists and made in factories, paleo looks mighty fine. But paleo is nothing new . Many non-American cultures have been eating mostly whole foods for eons. Regardless, naming controversies ensue…what’s “paleo” vs “primal” vs “whole foods” vs “non-processed” vs “WAPF” vs “whatever the hell I feel like eating”? As the blogosphere widens, some popular bloggers declare that they are either no longer paleo, or that they don’t give a shit about the term “paleo”. Here are a few notable bloggers of that sort:
1. Don Matesz of “Primal Wisom”
He of the unpronounceable name (slight exaggeration). He of the controversial posts (not an exaggeration). I liked some of Don’s posts from 2009 to 2010. But then he started making some strange leaps in logic — check out a back and forth between Don, Stephan Guyenet, and Chris Masterjohn about fats and blood viscosity . His “farewell to paleo” was confusing to me, because he wasn’t switching to a diet of pizza and cookies. No, he was still eating whole foods that were mostly available in the paleolithic. More starches than before, less meat than before. Nowadays Don eats all or mostly plants, and blogs much less frequently. If you tend to eat more plants than the average “paleo” dieter, are interested in Chinese medicine, or just want to read some interesting comments sections, check out old Don Matesz posts.
2. Cheeseslave, aka Ann Marie
Cheeseslave never professed to be paleo. But when she wrote a post detailing why she was not paleo, all hell broke loose. Some people will look at her post, detailing how much she likes cheese, bread, and desserts, and speed-dial the paleo police. I personally worship at the altar of desserts. While sweet indulgences are an important item to eliminate or reduce if you need to lose weight, are battling certain diseases, or can’t control your eating habits… life is short and dessert tastes good (to most people, that is). I can’t personally relate to some of her other reasons for not being paleo, like cost and impracticality. Part of that stems from me not having to feed any kids, as well as saving money by cooking more than when I ate out a ton.
3. Melissa McEwen, from “Hunt Gather Love”
If you have a pot that needs stirred, Melissa will come stir it for you. Most of this stems from saying what’s on her mind, which can be upsetting if you adhere strongly to something that she blogs about. In her “Top 1 Reasons I’m Not Paleo” post, Melissa continues where Cheeseslave left off. The post centers on her central thesis: “I think defining your identity based on a diet is a bad idea”. I’d go so far as to say: “I think defining your identity is a bad idea”. That’s when bad stuff starts happening. Things as big as Middle East conflict, and as small as relationship quibbles. I never had the opportunity to define myself by my diet, because I discovered paleo while doing a PhD in nutrition. And there was no way I was going to ever mention to a fellow student or professor: “I’m paleo!” Hell, we’re the ones who study people who are on diets, not the one’s who are on diets, right? <—that’s tongue-in-cheek, making fun of academics, fyi
4. Mark Sisson, aka The Sisson, aka The Guy with the Abs
In the paleo family tree, one of the biggest splits happened in the mid 2000s. During that time, Paleo begat Primal. Primal respected his father, but didn’t adhere to the ways of diet soda and low saturated fat eating. Thus, Primal penned the tome “The Primal Blueprint”, which sold a bajillion copies and begat similar best-sellers by other authors. The first time I met paleo people in the wild, I overheard someone ask “Are you paleo, or are you primal??”. Well, that whole thing’s kind of a wash now. The cool kids don’t strictly adhere to any particular philosophy . Take a pinch of WAPF, a smidgeon of Ray Peat, a lesson from the ghost of Kurt Harris, and mix it up with some heavy cream and whatever the hell you like to eat or not eat, and you’ve got the seasoned ancestrally-eating veteran who can’t be labeled.
5. Lyle McDonald
Lyle McDonald was not, is not, and will never be paleo. I just thought it would be funny to list him here, because he coined the term “paleotard”. It’s actually in Urban Dictionary, believe it or not. If you’re not familiar with Lyle, he wrote a seminal volume called “The Ketogenic Diet” and helped thousands of bro-dudes get ripped in the past couple decades. He’s a huge (and self-proclaimed) jerk, but is also entertaining, and along with Alan Aragon one of the smartest nutrition people I’ve ever read. I frequented his forum about ten years ago and slowly grew immune to his ridicule, but just be careful if you’ve got thin skin. And if you’re interested in sports nutrition and haven’t read any of his books, you should get to that ASAP.