Questioning the ethics of the Paleo Diet

Creative Commons License photo credit: TheBusyBrain

Do you remember the cartoon Captain Caveman? That’s exactly the image that comes to mind every time I hear someone mention the Paleo diet. Don’t worry. I’m not going on a tyrade about how it’s the latest diet fard or even questioning the legitimacy of its claims…or wondering out loud why it pretends like we haven’t evolved over the last 10,000 years.

What if we ate like our Paleolithic ancestors? That would be lots of lean meats, nuts, fresh fruits and vegetables; no grains, salt, sugar, legumes or dairy products. Some people do, and it’s called the Paleo diet — short for Paleolithic, which refers to the era before agriculture took hold, a movement away from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle that resulted in settled societies, and, eventually, Twinkies and couch potatoes.

 Washington Post

I would like to start a conversation about the ethics of this diet.

Did you cringe when you saw the picture at the beginning of this post? Many yogis choose to eat a vegetarian diet based on the  first yama on the Eight Limb Path of yoga, ahimsa (non violence). And yet the paleo diet is becoming more and more popular in the yoga world. So how about it, what do you think about yoga and vegetarianism? 

Eating meat is inherently inefficient, as it takes 16 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of flesh. And because the industrial world is exporting grain to developing countries and importing the meat that is produced with it, farmers who are trying to feed themselves are being driven off their land.

~ The Good Human

Is this dietary regimen sustainable for our planet?

Weigh in.

Do you follow the Paleo Diet? How does it conflict with or support your yoga practice, on and off the mat?

Posted by:

- who has written 7 posts on Yoga Modern.

Maura Manzo is the Contributing Health Editor at Yoga Modern. As a yoga teacher and health coach, Maura is committed to helping people become the best version of themselves possible. All of her classes and programs are creative and empowering and fuse in her sense of humor. She is also a lululemon athletica Ambassador. In 2010, she raised $20,000 for HIV/AIDS programs in South Africa in collaboration with Off the Mat, Into the World® and has trained extensively with Seane Corn and OTM. She is committed to creating community and believes in the power of collabortion. Maura is co-founder of The Art of Letting Go: A Maya Tulum Yoga Vacation and also currently writes recipes for Philadelphia Magazine's Be Well Philly blog. To learn more about Maura and her upcoming workshops, visit her website.

5 Responses

  • Hannah says:

    Thanks for starting this conversation. The paleo diet….I think that in the pure form this diet is fine. If you really look at its origins, the diet doesn't have people eating HUGE quantites of meat. Sadly that is the modern interpretation and the diet is adopted for purely selfish and image obsessed reasons.

    Eating 2 pounds of bacon a day may help to achieve those ripped abs, but that image is fleeting and unsustainable.

    • dsunshine says:

      –Apple-Mail-216-642902416 Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable Content-Type: text/html; charset=windows-1252 approve

  • Lisa says:

    growing grain has ruined the ecology of its environment. Look at the Vegetarian Myth book. I was a vegetarian for 10 years my insulin would not have stood it for much longer.

  • prettyhumanbeings says:

    This is a good way to start into a conversation we should be having around all of our food and its origins whether it is meat, grain, fruits, vegetables etc. Factory farming of animals and meat distribution and cultivation has gotten a lot of press, which is good and has led people to make changes (free range, locally raised or no meat altogether) that better supports our own livlihood and the general life system we are connected to.
    I think that ORIGIN is something that needs to be considered for our plant food sources as well. The Paleo diet takes an interesting twist on origin–that is, human origin and evolution. But what about where that super market tomato came from and the fuel and labor that it took to get onto my plate? Also interesting is to consider the original forms of the fruit and vegetables we eat and the heirloom varieties that have been almost wiped out by monocultures. Talk about origins!
    Thanks for this topic and opening up the conversation!

  • Ryan says:

    Conscious eating is what has led many Yogis to vegetarianism. It can also lead one to eat a paleolithic diet. There are obvious similarities; for instance, both yoga and paleolithic guidelines stress eating fresh food. There is conceivably as much death in horticulture as in pastoralism and meat production, and it is not possible to quantify and compare animal death to plant death. How many plant deaths equal an animal death? It is an absurd question. The only way to find truth is through conscious action, wherever that may lead. It has led me to veganism, back to omnivory, to vegetarianism and again to (paleolithic) omnivory. And I am in no way not connected to my food, having visited slaughterhouses and volunteered on farms. Such experiences have only heightened my consciousness of the role of food in life.