Guest blog writer, Paul Yeager here.
As of late, a lot of folks I’ve run into seem to hold two predominating notions concerning diet (perhaps one more than the other in many populations of dietary thinkers): one is that raw veganism is the ultimate end-all of human diet, and the other is that cutting edge science is able to successfully dictate to us what we should eat based on accurate findings. I’d like to deal a little bit with both, although this could of course be an entire book (a book I happen to have written by the way, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested).
I myself used to be among the folks I describe above. I was a serious follower of Gabriel Cousens, David Wolfe, Victoras Kulvinskas, Anne Wigmore, and many of the other figure-head pioneers of the raw vegan movement. I almost even moved to Tree of Life in Arizona–Gabriel Cousens’ raw vegan retreat center–so I could live in the desert practicing shaktipat yoga, doing sweat lodges, and eating nothing but soaked and sprouted nuts, seeds, salads, etc. –the typical raw biogenic vegan diet. However, during my obsession with attempting to be a raw vegan (and I say attempting because it never did/could work for me!) the fact of the matter is: my health completely collapsed.
I trusted Cousens’ writings (i.e. “Conscious Eating”) because they seemed to present a merge of science and new age spiritual thinking about the Divine in a way which I felt was cozy and quite socially comfortable. It brought everything together into a unified ideology of community and a supposed return to “tribal” ways of doing things. And if I could just follow this ideology completely and 100% of the time, then I would finally heal my digestion and achieve the results Cousens’ scientific references and supposed sort-of-clinical observations seemed to describe. And yet, during this time my health completely collapsed. My gut was an absolute mess, and by the way: I had a serious sugar addiction (and I have since realized many vegetarians and vegans also have this problem, which makes perfect biochemical sense to me now since animal protein with its full complement of amino acids supports blood glucose regulation).
I’d like to point out something which I now realize in hind-sight, which I did not at the time, which I find rather interesting, and a very weak point of the supposed “new” age movement; that is that the “New Age” consistently identifies with indigenous elements, cultural, mystical, etc. and seems to be offering a sort of revival of archaic and/or tribal ways of doing things. In fact, it is not doing that in a dietary sense at all. And here is how I discovered that…
One fine day I came across a book by Weston A. Price called “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.” Weston A. Price was a dentist in the 1930’s who was interested in why so many of his Western patients were suddenly getting more and more (exponentially more) cavities. He had this hunch that isolated tribal peoples (which he, in our current politically [quite] incorrect language referred to as “primitive”) might have better teeth. He spent a decade visiting nearly all of the remaining completely isolated tribal societies he could find on the planet, and their non-isolated relatives (the ones nearby near train tracks who had access to modern transportation and commerce, where they could get white sugar, white flour, and processed and packaged foods which had only recently been invented by industrialization).
He of course found, not unsurprisingly to me today, that the isolated counterparts of each anthro-genetic set of peoples which were not exposed to white flour, white sugar, still drank their milk raw, did NOT have access to modern medicine, often did not brush their teeth, still fermented their grains in a community grainery, lacto-fermented their raw veggies, drank raw unpasteurized milk, etc etc. –these peoples had always nearly ZERO dental cavities, space for their wisdom teeth to come in, better dental arch spaces, better mental health, easier childbearing, longer lives, no death from cancer, no allergies, and the list goes on and on. He cataloged all of this data as a true scientist does, with charts of very precise figures based on population gradients and detailed survey reports.
Of key significance to all of his findings, and *much to his disappointment*: among all of the indigenous tribes with these remarkably resilient states of bone, teeth, mental, and reproductive health (most notably), not ONE of them ate a completely vegetarian–and certainly not a VEGAN–diet. The nearest thing to it was the African Dinka peoples who, although they did eat mostly raw milk, eggs, and mostly cooked vegetables, still did eat fish every so often as they loved to dwell near water for this purpose. The Dinka stands out quite rarely in this regard, however. The neighboring Masai for instance, which had nearly the same number of cavities per population (almost zero, as with the Dinka), ate an extremely primal diet of raw milk and raw blood, both of which are extremely high in catabolic-supportive amino acids which support bone growth, muscle/ligament/tendon repair, and immune reconstitution.
And another major commonality to ALL of the tribes Dr. Price studied with these remarkable states of health and longevity were consuming saturated animal fat high in vitamin A and D, which of course flies squarely in the face of the current supposed “scientific” thinking of our day about fat and cholesterol–to further this discord, one of Price’s findings was that these cultures had literally zero presence of death from cardiac arrest–which shouldn’t have been a possible finding according to our current prevalent, supposedly “scientific” dictates concerning cholesterol.
Why have our current researchers and others wearing white lab coats working in expensive university labs kept this *very scientific* research of Dr. Price’s from the public? Just as a simple potential explanation: it doesn’t keep the funding coming–medical academia is thoroughly enmeshed in the industrial-pharmaceutical complex, and knows little (although it often attempts to purport otherwise) about nutrition.
Again, Weston Price was *very disappointed* that he didn’t find more vegetarian indigenous cultures with remarkable health. He too, even in the 1930’s, was of the popular persuasion that vegetarianism, being more “ethical” would of course naturally be supported by his investigation into indigenous cultures. But this was not what the data supported. And today, the data still falls squarely against veganism (for instance, with extremely high levels of osteoporosis in the elderly vegan population, since veganism is low in bone building amino acids and fat-soluble vitamins that support calcium metabolism–not to mention how veganism fails to properly limit harmful raw fiber intake [see Konstantin Monastyrsky’s truly cutting-edge research] and doesn’t provide enough fat altogether, and this is a giant subject on its own).
So, it’s interesting to me that everywhere we have a popular culture purporting to be part of a “new” age, consistently collectively claiming that it is supposedly reviving archaic or indigenous ways of doing things, when in fact the actual last recorded nutritional scientific observations (those of Dr. Weston Price) of archaic, indigenous societies are in direct contradiction with any semblance to this supposed “archaic revival”. We are what we eat, so the “new” age has certainly not succeeded at an archaic revival in the dietary sense, and I think that if it truly wants to be “new” then perhaps it could look more deeply and think farther outside the box in terms of exactly what the true archaic revival would really look like on an eating plane.
Best in health,