I was doing some searching around last night trying to find a new source for grassfed beef because my beloved Thundering Hoooves went tits up, and I stumbled across this interesting article by Sally Fallon and Dr. Mary Enig:
"The groups that depend on the blubber animals are the most fortunate in the hunting way of life," wrote Stefansson, "for they never suffer from fat-hunger. This trouble is worst, so far as North America is concerned, among those forest Indians who depend at times on rabbits, the leanest animal in the North, and who develop the extreme fat-hunger known as rabbit-starvation. Rabbit eaters, if they have no fat from another source - beaver, moose, fish - will develop diarrhea in about a week, with headache, lassitude, a vague discomfort. If there are enough rabbits, the people eat till their stomachs are distended; but no matter how much they eat they feel unsatisfied. Some think a man will die sooner if he eats continually of fat-free meat than if he eats nothing, but this is a belief on which sufficient evidence for a decision has not been gathered in the north. Deaths from rabbit-starvation, or from the eating of other skinny meat, are rare; for everyone understands the principle, and any possible preventive steps are naturally taken."
Normally, according to Stefansson, the diet consisted of dried or cured meat "eaten with fat," namely the highly saturated cavity and back slab fat that could be easily separated from the animal. Another Arctic explorer, Hugh Brody, reports that Eskimos ate raw liver mixed with small pieces of fat and that strips of dried or smoked meat were "spread with fat or lard."30 Pemmican, a highly concentrated travel food, was a mixture of lean dried buffalo meat and highly saturated buffalo fat. (Buffalo fat, by the way, is more saturated than beef fat.) Less than two pounds of pemmican per day could sustain a man doing hard physical labor. The ratio of fat to protein in pemmican was 80% to 20%. As lean meat from game animals was often given to the dogs, there is no reason to suppose that everyday fare did not have the same proportions: 80% fat (mostly highly saturated fat) to 20% protein - in a population in which heart disease and cancer were nonexistent.
I've been noticing a lot of posts by people saying they are eating tons of lean meat and veggies and then get sick, and blame it on "paleo". Are they perhaps suffering from fat hunger aka rabbit fever? People are usually quick to chime in with suggestions of adding enough fat to restore wellness, but I feel like some sort of "paleo psa" could avert the suffering to begin with. Or maybe people are just too socially conditioned to fear fat and it takes a lot of personal experimenting and even illness to overcome that fear.
asked byHappy_Now (24553)
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on August 06, 2011
at 01:58 AM
I've heard the innuit refer to this lack of fat as rabbit fever, because rabbits are low in fat, but I think when others hear that, they assume it's the rabit fever that has to do with a disease vector. Having the words 'rabbit fever' refer to two different problems I think may also be contributing to our problems. Every time someone hears that eating rabbits can give you rabbit fever, they immediately tend to assume it is the disease vector, because that is an issue that is much more well known and accepted. A local survivor preparedness group, including some of them into nutrition, was happy to assume we could all live well on nothing but vegetables and locally shot rabbits and deer. WHen I pointed out to them that they could not survive without adequate fat, they acted like I had gone insane.
on August 05, 2011
at 10:30 PM
I sort of think that a lot of those people who complain of not feeling well on the lean meat/veggies version of paleo are suffering more from lack of calories and/or suddenly slashing carbs than from true rabbit starvation.
on August 05, 2011
at 10:22 PM
Absolutely! Our society's anti-fat dogma DOES NOT APPLY ON PALEO. I blame Cordain and other Paleo bloggers/authors for focusing on foods low in saturated animal fats, because it's this misinformation that is giving those new to Paleo a tough time. Hurr durr, but we're supposed to get our fat from coconut and walnut oils? How can that stuff even remotely be associated with Paleolothic man? The only reason nut oils are encouraged is because a lot of people need something to transition to using more animal fat.
A lot of people like to refer to Paleo/Primal as a version of Atkins. /facepalm
on August 06, 2011
at 11:46 AM
For this to happen, you have to be eating extreme lean meat, such as what rabbits are. It's of no concern if you're eating beef, lamb or pork.
on August 05, 2011
at 09:41 PM
I wonder if this is due to a lack of essential fatty acids (omega3/6). Most people are trying to get omega 3s, so I suppose it's possible that someone not eating chicken, pork or common types of nuts could be missing out on linoleic acid. You see so much anti-linoleic acid talk in the paleosphere, but let's not forget that it's absolutely essential.
"Lean meat" is kind of a misnomer though unless it's chicken breast, which is almost inedible in my opinion. If the meat tastes even remotely good, it likely has a fair amount of fat in it. Removing visible gobs of saturated fat from a steak won't make it as lean as rabbit I would guess. I did buy a couple yak steaks once (seriously) that were so amazingly tough that I had to pitch the second one. Before trying it, I really had high hopes that I could become a regular yak eater, but such was not the case.