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Would a caveman really do this??

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breeanreyes
breeanreyes Posts: 228 Member
I was in a recent conversation with a friend of mine who happens to own the local health food store, and she was telling me about a study that was done that shows that eating meat causes cancer so she's going to start getting more of her protein source from vegetables. Apparently this study looked at different countries whos diets were high in meat and compared them with countries whos main diet was low in meat. They then compared the cancer per capita population, and voila, meat causes cancer. At the time I didn't have any facts on the subject so I didn't argue with her, because I really didn't want to sound like a caveman while defending our ever precious ability to eat meat... all the time. So I did a little research on the study and others like it. These are all observational studies and not a one had the experimental study to back it up. In essence, the same study could show a link between bicycle riding or pet owning and instances of cancer as well. Obviously I realize that these 'studies' have no merit at all. However, it did make me think about a few things. Is it actually realistic that cavemen ate meat ALL the time? And how much of their daily protein actually came from storable sources like seeds and nuts? An almond or walnut tree can't run from you, a deer and a rabbit can. I am not a hunter myself, but my hubby is a very avid killer of all meats, and I have been on more hunts than not that don't prove successful. Is it really in our chemical makeup to eat meat three times per day and could it actually be less beneficial than we believe it to be? I know that a lot of us on the hunter/gatherer trail don't eat but twice per day, but still? Does modern day conveniences like grocery stores, refridgerators and freezers turn our lifestyle into something less authentic than we intend it to be? Or did cavemen actually consume a similar amount of meat, but just more at one time when it was available? Any thoughts?

Replies

  • wineliketopaz
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    Correlation does not equal causation.
  • Cerebrus189
    Cerebrus189 Posts: 315 Member
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    When we think of the term "caveman", our minds conjure up images of hunter/gatherers with very defined roles depending on sex. Females would probably gather all day, moving at slower paces and gathering as they went, whereas males were probably better at hunting down large and small game.

    I think some animals are easier to catch due to them being slower and so the idea that meat could be plentiful probably depended on the hunter's skills, and size of their family units (better to have two or three generations of hunters rather than just one). That being said, they also didn't waste the organ meats, and probably only had to catch small game once every few days. I'm not sure if they were large clans of caveman or smaller family units but larger game probably wasn't captured unless they had larger family units or clans due to their hunting resources in capturing large game. So the meat had to be enough to feed all for a few days. I think they probably were very resourceful and used other forms of meat besides large animals including bugs, egg, squirrels, rabbits, and who knows what else. Their diet most definitely consisted of gathered foods such as vegetables, seeds, nuts, and fruits.

    As for your friend, she is clueless but to each their own. If she's not willing to look at the research, and know for sure that what she believes in is scientifically backed, I wouldn't even bother. Each person must come to their own conclusion regarding their diet.
  • breeanreyes
    breeanreyes Posts: 228 Member
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    Very interesting Cerebrus, I think cavemen would have definitely made use of the easiest things to catch such rodent type animals and bugs and such, so they may very well have eaten meat very often. I was stuck in the terms of large game and forgot about the little ones I can't see myself eating haha. I am definitely not arguing that meat may cause cancer, I was just wondering if our very meat heavy diet may not be as true to nature as we think, but I am not stating I believe yes or no, I am just considering making sure some of my fat/protein come from other sources as well, I am not currently a big nut or seed eater.
  • strychnine7
    strychnine7 Posts: 210 Member
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    We actually know, unequivocally, that hunter-gatherers ate plenty of meat...

    How?

    Because they still do. Look up the San Bushmen and Inuit tribes.
  • Akimajuktuq
    Akimajuktuq Posts: 3,037 Member
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    Different paleolithic people ate different foods according to what was available. One thing they all have in common as that they went for the fat!

    Some people did not "gather" hardly at all and had a diet based almost totally on animals. I'm speaking specifically of the Inuit, whom I know best because I live with them. (And my child is Inuit too; I'm so proud!) Even Inuit diets varied according to region. All Inuit ate whales, seal/walrus, caribou, bears, fish, ducks, geese, etc. Some groups also ate shellfish, sea urchins and sea vegetables. There was only access to berries for a tiny portion of the year, but the Inuit definitely took advantage of those as well. However, most plants, and even Arctic hares (too lean), were of little interest because they were not nutritious enough to bother with. Getting food takes energy so it doesn't make sense to expend more energy than the food provides.

    I eat lots of coconut oil. Totally not culturally appropriate for me or my daughter. However, phsysiological differences between humans are very minimal. I think that most foods that benefited paleolithic people, no matter where they were from, will also benefit me. I actually believe that I would do best on an almost all animal fat and meat diet but since it's not a reality to achieve that I am more than willing to adopt an Inuit/Polynesian eating plan. lol Hey, they're both sea-going, right?

    I'm glad you looked further into those studies. I've clued in long ago to the problems within the "science" of nutrition and how the scientific research is affected by politics, personal bias/pride, profits, etc. It's frustrating, and heart-breaking to continue to hear people regurgitating all these accepted truths without being able to think critically. Most people have great difficulty believing that the food industry, government, pharmaceutical companies, whatever, would ever lie to us or actually harm our health. Well, healthy people aren't good for profits, so what kind of advice are we likely to get from those kinds of powerful organizations?
  • breeanreyes
    breeanreyes Posts: 228 Member
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    I also failed to think about the arctic tribes, thanks for bringing them up! This discussion is very fascinating, I'm glad I started it, you all have definitely brought up some incredibly valid points! That's why I love this group, no one came back with a 'just 'cuz' response or made a snarky remark. I knew that I would get answers that I hadn't thought to the questions I asked, thank you for responding.
  • Cerebrus189
    Cerebrus189 Posts: 315 Member
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    Different paleolithic people ate different foods according to what was available. One thing they all have in common as that they went for the fat!

    Some people did not "gather" hardly at all and had a diet based almost totally on animals. I'm speaking specifically of the Inuit, whom I know best because I live with them. (And my child is Inuit too; I'm so proud!) Even Inuit diets varied according to region. All Inuit ate whales, seal/walrus, caribou, bears, fish, ducks, geese, etc. Some groups also ate shellfish, sea urchins and sea vegetables. There was only access to berries for a tiny portion of the year, but the Inuit definitely took advantage of those as well. However, most plants, and even Arctic hares (too lean), were of little interest because they were not nutritious enough to bother with. Getting food takes energy so it doesn't make sense to expend more energy than the food provides.

    I eat lots of coconut oil. Totally not culturally appropriate for me or my daughter. However, phsysiological differences between humans are very minimal. I think that most foods that benefited paleolithic people, no matter where they were from, will also benefit me. I actually believe that I would do best on an almost all animal fat and meat diet but since it's not a reality to achieve that I am more than willing to adopt an Inuit/Polynesian eating plan. lol Hey, they're both sea-going, right?

    I'm glad you looked further into those studies. I've clued in long ago to the problems within the "science" of nutrition and how the scientific research is affected by politics, personal bias/pride, profits, etc. It's frustrating, and heart-breaking to continue to hear people regurgitating all these accepted truths without being able to think critically. Most people have great difficulty believing that the food industry, government, pharmaceutical companies, whatever, would ever lie to us or actually harm our health. Well, healthy people aren't good for profits, so what kind of advice are we likely to get from those kinds of powerful organizations?

    Beautifully written, Akima!
  • Shadowknight137
    Shadowknight137 Posts: 1,243 Member
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    Different paleolithic people ate different foods according to what was available. One thing they all have in common as that they went for the fat!

    Some people did not "gather" hardly at all and had a diet based almost totally on animals. I'm speaking specifically of the Inuit, whom I know best because I live with them. (And my child is Inuit too; I'm so proud!) Even Inuit diets varied according to region. All Inuit ate whales, seal/walrus, caribou, bears, fish, ducks, geese, etc. Some groups also ate shellfish, sea urchins and sea vegetables. There was only access to berries for a tiny portion of the year, but the Inuit definitely took advantage of those as well. However, most plants, and even Arctic hares (too lean), were of little interest because they were not nutritious enough to bother with. Getting food takes energy so it doesn't make sense to expend more energy than the food provides.

    I eat lots of coconut oil. Totally not culturally appropriate for me or my daughter. However, phsysiological differences between humans are very minimal. I think that most foods that benefited paleolithic people, no matter where they were from, will also benefit me. I actually believe that I would do best on an almost all animal fat and meat diet but since it's not a reality to achieve that I am more than willing to adopt an Inuit/Polynesian eating plan. lol Hey, they're both sea-going, right?

    I'm glad you looked further into those studies. I've clued in long ago to the problems within the "science" of nutrition and how the scientific research is affected by politics, personal bias/pride, profits, etc. It's frustrating, and heart-breaking to continue to hear people regurgitating all these accepted truths without being able to think critically. Most people have great difficulty believing that the food industry, government, pharmaceutical companies, whatever, would ever lie to us or actually harm our health. Well, healthy people aren't good for profits, so what kind of advice are we likely to get from those kinds of powerful organizations?

    Pretty much all of this,

    Where I live, one of the most common staples of the "indigenous people" (Maori) is kumara; pretty much sweet potato, which has made up a significant bulk of their calories for a very long time. They also eat meat - hell, drove a bloody species extinct doing so (the Moa) - and fish. So they leaned more towards a starch and protein diet over a high fat one, like the Inuits - that isn't to say they were very low fat or anything, no, they utilised fat from birds and animals they killed very well. It was all and all very balanced, and they thrived off it.

    I'm part Maori, however I'm also part British (and part French), so, by rights I suppose this means I can tolerate the foods from all three of their Paleoithic origins. It doesn't really matter; humans are so ridiculously similar that most foods should be interchangeable - I can eat sweet potato or I can eat white potato, an Irishman (sorry for the stereotype) can probably do the same without any ill effect.
  • primalkiwi
    primalkiwi Posts: 164 Member
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    Do we see any giant carrots painted on the walls of caves decorated by our ancestors? Me thinks not!
    My background is in anthropology with a loosely woven thread drawing together interest fields in food and eating, Pacific peoples (pre contact Pacific art and peopling of the Pacific)and a bit of cave art on the side. Not a vegetarian or vegan amongst them that I've ever come across in the anthropological record.
    When we think about our paleolothic ancestors and what they ate we tend to think of the big game that can take days to track and kill and requires a community effort to do so with accompanying community feasting and celebration as rite of passage. Small game is easily obtained on a regular basis by a skilled hunter using snares, slingshots and other devices. Fish, mussels,clams and similar protein sources like eggs can also be easily obtained by the less skilled.
    It is also possible that what we fashionably call 'intermittent fasting' was a regular occurrence according to the seasons and abundance of game. I think many of us can identify with how we tend to need far less food once we start eating this way and how hunger is no longer an issue.
    Preservation of meat is also a possibility - I have seen evidence of birds etc stuffed into giant kelp bladders then filled with fat to seal and preserve, same with other meats and bamboo etc. Done this way the longevity is remarkable. Drying is another possibility for meat.
    Bear in mind that not all seeds and nuts are that easy to get to. Ever tried cracking a macadamia or hulling sunflower seeds one by one between your teeth? It starts to make hunting look appealing!

    While your friend is entitled to her opinions I truly hope she is not using her role in the health food business to push mis-information and her opinions onto others.
  • caribougal
    caribougal Posts: 865 Member
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    I guarantee your friend is referring to the China Study, which has been thoroughly debunked. But, people still hear about it and watch Forks Over Knives and suddenly think a "Plant-based Diet" is the holy grail.

    http://rawfoodsos.com/2010/07/07/the-china-study-fact-or-fallac/

    http://welldonechef.com/forks-over-knives-indeed.html
  • Freyja2023
    Freyja2023 Posts: 158 Member
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    I personally don't agree that 'meat' is the cause of cancer. It is the corn fed, hormone filled meat from the store shelves that may play a part in illness and disease. I have crohn's disease and find that I can eat all the clean, grass fed, wild game meat I want without any troubles with my crohn's but the moment I eat corn fed commercial meat products i am sick. There are a lot of documentaries out there proving that corn feed animals in feed lots are fed nothing but toxins and are so unhealthy and i believe we are what we eat.

    I haven't watched fork over knives but my sister did, I did watch "Fat Head" and though i personally wouldn't have taken the challenge he took to prove the movie Supersize Me wrong, the doctors and experts he has in the video are very informative. They don't use the term Paleo or Primal but that is the diet they talk about and the history of mankind and the types of food they ate.

    I also agree with others and would say that our 'caveman' ancestors ate alot of meat. They didn't just rely on the large game they caught but on the small ones as well. And they were very efficent at drying and storing their food as well and could store large game to have throughout the winter months when the meat they needed would have been a little more scarce to find.
  • LavenderBouquet
    LavenderBouquet Posts: 736 Member
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    I think it really depends too on what "cavemen" are being referenced to. They were ancient peoples who lived in areas where meat constituted almost their entire diet and others whose diet was much more plant based. It doesn't "seem" as though there were any drastically differences in their health, from what I've read. IMO if the meat-eaters weren't healthy as a result of their diet, they wouldn't have survived such harsh conditions for so long. The study you're referring to seems very similar to the documentary Forks over Knives, and I really didn't appreciate their methods as they seemed to leave some things out on purpose and pull causation from a very complicated web of interrelated things.

    EDIT: Also to add, I agree that the mass produced meat we are eating today is drastically less healthy then it used to be.
  • amandammmq
    amandammmq Posts: 394 Member
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    We actually know, unequivocally, that hunter-gatherers ate plenty of meat...

    How?

    Because they still do. Look up the San Bushmen and Inuit tribes.

    Some of them still do. Some of them do not. I just watched a program about tribes in New Guinea, and actually getting meat is pretty rare. They survive off of starchy roots like manioc.
  • MikeFlyMike
    MikeFlyMike Posts: 639 Member
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    China Study - love it.
    China study part II : http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8587032.stm

    You can find a book or documentary which proves anything. I have seen forks over knives as well as several "vegan" movies about how bad meat is. If you really dig into the issues, it is more about processed foods and CAFO meat. I agree - all that stuff is indeed horrible. (soy is the worst and unfortunately something vegans turn to often for protein).

    As I introduce people to primal/paleo - now I start very simply by doing the "shop the perimeter" thing (I don't even preach no bread to start) - but don't buy any food in a box or can for a month. They will begin to get healthier immediately.

    I started out evangelical as I became educated in my journey. Now 15 months in, I let people see how I eat and am able to maintain a healthy life.
  • norcal_yogi
    norcal_yogi Posts: 675 Member
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    caveman/woman didn't have very long lifespans either. obviously due to a number of reasons, many of which we have overcome in our current society. but still....

    i'm not into eating a lot of meat for personal reasons (and not all rational reasons i can admit). i don't feel good eating a lot of meat (physically, mentally, emotionally).
  • breeanreyes
    breeanreyes Posts: 228 Member
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    The lifespan thing isn't necessarily true though, from what I understand as long as they could keep from injuring themselves or getting eaten by a larger predator, they really didn't die from any ailments such as cancer or long drawn out illnesses like we do today.. who the hell wants to live till 90 if your bed ridden and dependent on others for everything? Live long, die fast I say!
  • jenn26point2
    jenn26point2 Posts: 429 Member
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    Very interesting conversation. Thanks for starting and to all contributors. I will be watching this discussion as I have nothing to add that wasn't already stated.
  • each_day_stronger
    each_day_stronger Posts: 191 Member
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    Hey former vegetarian here to say that there are a lot of studies that seem to suggest meat= cancer/obesity/everything bad ever. It's part of why I did it for 4 years.

    The thing is I didn't really lose fat during those years. I did lose weight when I stopped eating french fries though. And I did lose weight when I tried eating more paleo and adding meat back into my life.

    I would recommend The Vegetarian Myth and Fat Head. The China Study was a cool idea, but it's been debunked. The fact is it's freaking HARD to figure out info on nutritional stuff. It's hard to conduct a study, it's hard to tell the difference between causation and correlation. I like Gary Taubes's stuff, but even that's not perfect.

    And keep in mind when we say meat we often mean corn-fed, hormone processed, mistreated animals that are then churned into chicken nuggets. Pretty different from say a local, fresh, organic, slap o' grass-fed steak.