Spit That Out!

The Overly Informed Parent's Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt by Paige Wolf

Blogging about green guilt, eco-anxiety, and finding practical, reasonable ways to keep our families safe and healthy.
April 2nd, 2012

Why I’m Not Going Paleo – But I’m Happy to Share a Steak

One thing you quickly learn after joining the Cross Fit “lifestyle,” is that the trainers advocate a somewhat controversial Paleolithic or “Paleo” diet. This modern nutritional plan is based on the premise that man was healthier and fitter when we consumed only what was available to us 10,000 years ago: lean meats, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. The no-carb-no-sugar plan differs from the Adkins diet in that sustainability plays a large factor. Gorging yourself on processed bologna is not OK.

Of course, going Paleo isn’t mandatory in Cross Fit culture and I personally don’t feel any pressure to get on the bandwagon. However, friends of mine have raved about how amazing they feel and how they don’t crave pasta or sweets at all anymore. And I believe them. I just don’t care.

I personally believe we are meant to eat a balanced diet from all of the available food groups. I like to choose sustainably and avoid processed foods when I can, but I don’t like to deprive myself of anything even if my body can “get used to it.” I think the time-tested idea of burning more calories than one consumes is an indisputable idea. I just wish I had the natural metabolism to be able to burn those calories faster.

In my book I talk about how I gave up red meat for a year and really didn’t miss it. But once I went back, I had no urge to give up cheeseburgers ever again. I just try to make sure they are grass-fed and pasture-raised.

Interestingly I have found some of my fellow “green mom advocates” are also Cross Fitters. Some follow Paleo and some do not, and I was curious how that fit into their green living ideals, as the environmental impact of meat is often discussed.

Tiffany Washko is a Paleo mom and blogger at NatureMoms.com:

“My decision to go Paleo was made in the aftermath of a decision to go grain free. I read so much stuff about how destructive wheat and grains are to the environment (just as much so as factory farmed meat) and also destructive to human health. The book Wheat Belly cinched it for me and since I was vegetarian there was little to do but go Paleo or I would pretty much be limited to fruits, nuts, and veggies. Right away I knew healthwise that I made the right decision. As for environmentally I kind of had to research and understand that much of the common info about meat being so bad for the planet comes from factory farming stats. A major tenant of paleo is to not eat factory farmed meat but rather local, organic, grass fed meats and wild game so it is like comparing apples and oranges. All those horrifying meat stats we hear do not apply! No one really knows the impact of these, if there even is one, because this is not the most common method for food production and plant based diet supporters and organizations don’t want to go there. Neither does the meat industry because they want us to believe that factory farming is a-okay.They simply do not care if local, pastured, organic, ethical, etc is better for the planet because they have an anti-meat agenda or a pro-factory agenda and will not budge no matter what the facts actually say. Meat eating in the way paleo suggests has been done since the dawn of man. Mass agriculture and factory farming are the newbies on the scene and they are the most destructive to our planet. I have eaten more consciously as a paleo (health and environment) than I ever did as a vegetarian, raw foodie, or vegan. I have been all three.”

Deanna Duke blogs at The Crunchy Chicken and also wrote the book The Non Toxic Avenger: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You:

“I’m Paleo but not currently doing Cross Fit. I second Tiffany’s comments regarding the environmental aspect of meat eating. As a long-time vegan it’s something I’m very sensitive about. I only buy organic, pastured, grass-fed and wild sources of meat. I have to say, I’m not a huge meat lover. Never have liked it for the most part. So, it can get somewhat wearing. I’m currently reading Primal Body, Primal Mind and it will turn you off of grains for good. I just stick with protein sources that I like and offset it with a lot of greens. Although the book I just mentioned says that, based on archaeological evidence, humans ate mostly meat sources for a long expanse of time during the ice ages when access to plants were nil.”

Interesting and valid points. But I believe if I choose mostly sustainably harvested and manufactured foods across the board, my eating habits will support positive and healthy consumer values. Maybe it would take some serious carb-cutting to lose another 10 pounds. But I’d rather work out hard to maintain a body I’m comfortable in and not have to sit out of ice cream dates with my family. I want pizza on Friday nights, and not the kind made with a “meat crust.” I want to enjoy and experience everything life has to offer – I just need to be better about moderating my portions…

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  • http://www.naturemoms.com/blog Tiffany

    Paige, I find that many paelo/primal folk follow the 80/20 rule. I am 90/10 or less but still this allows for the foods we love, like ice cream or rice with our sushi, etc. Once a week I go out for one of those two things… either local, grassfed ice cream or sushi with rice. I find that paleo people are not at all like vegans for instance, in that there are absolutely forbidden foods and if you eat them you can’t call yourself vegan. Paleo/primal is much more flexible. and I have yet to run into the paleo police. ;)

  • paigewolf

     Good point Tiffany, thanks!

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