I Eat Paleo

April 5, 2012

(Photo by Kimtaro)

Russ Crandall (Domestic Man) recently wrote a post called “The Difference Between Eating Paleo and Being Paleo”, which was featured on Free The Animal.

I came across the post a couple of days ago. At first I liked it, even though on the same day Russ’s post was published, I had happened to post something completely contradictory: I Can’t Eat That, I’m Paleo. Still, I found Russ’s post well written and funny, and I didn’t mind reading a different angle on the issue. But then I kept thinking back to his post, and it just wasn’t sitting well with me. What started out as a comment in response ended up being this.

For what it’s worth, although this blog may be called The Primalist, I don’t consider myself the least bit extremist. Heck, I don’t even eat pork, so I couldn’t possibly worship bacon. And although I do indulge in grain-free treats, I’m not a fan of paleo baking. Furthermore, more often than not, I just stay quiet rather than preaching (lame) or wasting my time trying to convert someone to the Paleo Diet.

Also, I don’t really fault Russ for writing his piece. I’m sure it was sparked by shenanigans witnessed at a conference which I did not attend, as well as on various blogs, which I may not follow. It can be frustrating when you feel that something you are a part of and care about is being misrepresented. And I don’t feel that Russ is targeting or pointing fingers at the average paleo blogger, but rather probably a small but loud minority that are what he considers extreme or are, according to him, toeing that line.

So why did I keep re-visiting Russ’s post in my mind? A couple of reasons. First, I feel that unless someone is committing what could constitute a “crime”, there’s isn’t a need to “police” the paleosphere. Every community will have some extremists. Some members of the group might cringe at such behaviour. And sometimes such a reaction is warranted. But those extremists do not define the group, and certainly don’t warrant a disassociation from the entire community. Russ says:

“My point is this: just because there are crazies in the Paleosphere, we don’t have to listen to them, and we need to keep ourselves in check to make sure we don’t become them. An easy way to prevent this is to continually challenge ourselves to question our dietary standards, and to avoid dogmatism.”

Keep ourselves in check by whose standards? We’re all individuals, who express ourselves differently. I agree with not supporting dogmatism, but are we ourselves perhaps becoming “extreme” by taking issue with the likes of bacon socks? Do we really believe that someone who wears them actually worships bacon? When did we become so uptight and lose our sense of humour and fun?

Russ is worried that people will be turned off from Paleo by these various behaviours. Are we as a group that self-conscious?  I don’t think that we need to take responsibility for each other’s actions. Some people will like it while others won’t. So what? You can never please everyone.

My second concern relates to our common goal: helping people learn about this healthy way of eating and living. I believe that the only way to continue making progress in this direction is to continue spreading the word about the paleo diet. It’d be nice if we could all just go about our own business, eating our “real food”, and the world would take notice and follow suit. Sadly, that is unrealistic in today’s world, which whether we like it or not, is all about self-promotion. Look at veganism. Regardless of how you feel about it, you can’t deny that vegans have come a very long way in creating change in this world. Orpah did a Vegan challenge for goodness sake. And they didn’t do this by quietly and self-consciously swapping tofurkey for meat. Yes, there are a lot of vegan “extremists”. But there are even more ordinary Joe/Jane vegans. And what matters is their strong sense of community with a loud, clear, and unapologetic message for the world.

Saying something along the lines of, “I eat real food” is great. But unfortunately, it doesn’t tend to generate a lot of interest. Like it or not, people are drawn to categories and labels – it’s how we make sense of the world. “Oh, you eat Paleo”, they say, “I’ve heard of that…” The Paleo label is certainly not perfect. But it helps foster conversation. Will some people have negatives connotations about “Paleo” due to various “extremists”, or silly media spin? Of course. Some will, but others won’t. And at the very least, there’s dialogue taking place, in which many of these misconceptions can be clarified.

Russ’s first piece of advice:

Don’t tell people that you “are Paleo”. Hell, don’t even tell them that you eat “Paleo”.

Honestly, I’m tired of sidestepping around the topic and tiptoeing around people’s feelings. If I feel like it’ll potentially do some good, I will most certainly tell people that I eat paleo. I feel that not doing so would needlessly chip away at all the progress that the paleo community has made.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Aaron April 6, 2012 at 2:57 PM

I Eat Paleo too :)


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