5

votes

At what point do primal/paleo followers become cult like?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created April 22, 2010 at 6:13 PM

At what point do primal/paleo followers become cult like? There are cliches in any movement. Is the primal/paleo way a movement? Are we a cult? When do we cross that line? I ask because I am not a gym person, I just follow the way of eating and try to apply some form of minimalism to my daily life.

A6b7afacdb512b861716bca9e9226ad3

(333)

on September 06, 2013
at 04:01 PM

Great question (I know, it's 3 years old)! Having already left one cult, I am getting better at spotting controlling people. I've seen some here, but also lots of amazing info and a diversity of opinions. I hope it stays that way, because I enjoy this site very much.

Ebcbbdcb8b727e69e06eaa102d49a84c

(1804)

on April 23, 2012
at 08:38 PM

Yep for me CrossFit came before Paleo. If it wasn't for CrossFit I would have never found out about the Paleo diet.

24fcc21452ebe39c032be6801d6bbadd

(9812)

on April 23, 2012
at 08:04 PM

http://memegenerator.net/instance/19247254

7b11ed525ffa23bc7257684e27488a6a

(366)

on April 23, 2012
at 06:19 PM

@Dave S. It is Richard Wrangham, the primatologist, and his book is full of some logical flaws, as (for instance) he equates raw eating with raw veganism, and many of us paleo types do consume raw animal foods with very good results. Brace is an anthropologist who disagrees with Wrangham, btw.

7b11ed525ffa23bc7257684e27488a6a

(366)

on April 23, 2012
at 06:11 PM

Spot on. It is dietary righteousness and conversion of the heathen that makes adherents of 'whatever label diet' seem like cultists. I have noticed that extremely restrictive diets - vegan and zero carb, for example - lend themselves to this sort of mindset in some people. Not healthy, imho. Healthy eating and living trumps the labels which only re-enforce food choices as identity labels. Paleo is at least a pretty broad umbrella term.

F0e558010a2ecb31fa37b7c491596b8e

(3850)

on April 23, 2012
at 05:27 PM

Why exactly are you here?

8259ace7e6a3ca66f0a8f763f0d3e891

(-4)

on April 23, 2012
at 03:58 PM

Many of them start Crossfit first though....

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on December 01, 2010
at 03:18 PM

As to your assertion that "2. Prehistoric man was much healthier before the rise of agriculture." is faulty, I refer you to this most excellent post by Stephan Guyenet -> http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/03/paleopathology-at-origins-of.html

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on December 01, 2010
at 01:36 PM

Sorry, that should have been Wrangler, as in Richard Wrangler of "Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human"

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on November 24, 2010
at 02:03 PM

Oh noes! I haz dun mai furst wod! An ai wuz awl liek kin ai joyn dis kultz pls? Srsly, it roxors!

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on November 23, 2010
at 07:10 PM

Are you familiar with Cordain, Weangler and other paleo-anthropologists? I think there is actually quite a bit of evidence for what hominids ate during the paleolithic and how healthy they were. On the other hand, most of us here are not into re-enactment. We do not have actual paleolithic foods like mammoth (even modern apples are totally different). It is more about creating a similar metabloic environment to optimize health - and we pay more attention to science than anthropology! http://www.paleonu.com/what-is-panu

D9ad0d8ec9efab9a38349bf7caf305ad

(20)

on November 15, 2010
at 06:45 PM

Vrimj, thanks for the testimonial. Please understand neither I, nor anyone else here can take that as scientific proof of the efficacy of this diet! Nico, I think you may have missed my point. We are discussing the foundations of the paleo diet. Supposedly some people who existed before recorded history ate a diet which we can only surmise based on assumptions about them, and whose age at death is hard to pinpoint based on the data since there are no mortuary records, and very few of their bones have survived the ravages of time.

1568416ef28477d1fa29046218d83ddd

(6235)

on November 12, 2010
at 01:21 AM

What does that matter? I am not anthropologically trained anyway so I don't consider myself capable of examining the evidence. The thing I am an expert on is how I feel. I have lost weight without effort, my labwork has improved and most importantly to me I can skate for longer. It might surprise you but what convinced me was the viral disease rates and time on skates possible for one woman in her 30's in the 21st century. But I can't see why that would matter to you.

02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on November 12, 2010
at 12:45 AM

Bill- What claims about nutrition would you take to be provable?

D9ad0d8ec9efab9a38349bf7caf305ad

(20)

on November 11, 2010
at 07:20 PM

If they are not foundational, then where did the terms "paleo" and "primal" come from? The fact is that this diet is intended to reproduce/mimic/mirror the diet of man as he is supposed to have existed in the hunter/gatherer state before domestication of livestock and proliferation of agriculture. But there is no record of this existence since it comes before recorded history. And the archeological record is of humans who were not as healthy and had shorter life spans than modern man.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on November 11, 2010
at 06:55 PM

Those foundational principles are not foundational principles. If paleo makes you healthier, happier, lose weight, etc...that's good enough. The preponderance of evidence for paleolithic vs neolithic foods is just icing on the cake.

D9ad0d8ec9efab9a38349bf7caf305ad

(20)

on November 11, 2010
at 06:08 PM

What? No one wants to weigh in on the truthfulness of these basic foundational principles of the paleo diet?

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on November 11, 2010
at 05:01 PM

Oh crap! I'm gonna need some serious deprogramming!

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on May 07, 2010
at 06:45 PM

I just get a funny image of a band of nerds when I think about the question!

Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

(4089)

on April 23, 2010
at 02:26 PM

@Scott: totally agreed on the VFFs. Best shoes ever.

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on April 23, 2010
at 01:34 PM

Are there any paleo tele-evangelists? Or missonaries going to the Congo? Or do you have to pay to be saved?

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on April 22, 2010
at 11:12 PM

I don't think i've ever been in a camp or else a camp of just me. Food is too individual for that. By the way I live in a flat with my girlfried (who is celiac) and eats the same as me, one flatmate who eats mainly pasta, bread and pizza, and another who is very health conscious and practically vegan. Plus we are all biologists :) This encourages a relaxed attitude to other peoples food.

6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11478)

on April 22, 2010
at 10:32 PM

Richard at Free the Animal has a timely post today about how he got flamed for eating white potatoes ( http://freetheanimal.com/2010/04/one-potato-two-potatoes.html ).

64242a1130eb51f4852f78beed38b3d5

(1343)

on April 22, 2010
at 09:56 PM

Your reference to "cult" as a semantic weapon against people who embrace a primitive way is pretty damn close to where I am coming from. From my point of view, limited and constrained by Southern Baptist upbringing as well, the primal/paleo camps are segmented into many camps. The uber gym guys and gals and the science of food types to mention a couple. I too have learned from all sides.

64242a1130eb51f4852f78beed38b3d5

(1343)

on April 22, 2010
at 09:31 PM

I have to agree fully with though. Sanity is rare as is being open minded.

64242a1130eb51f4852f78beed38b3d5

(1343)

on April 22, 2010
at 09:20 PM

Over at Primalchat.com http://www.primalchat.com/2010/04/speartosser-spotlight-julien-smith-co-author-of-trust-agents/ this fellow stated cult like resources were not cool.

64242a1130eb51f4852f78beed38b3d5

(1343)

on April 22, 2010
at 09:18 PM

#VFF #FTW Those things rock!

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on April 22, 2010
at 08:25 PM

But do you use a flint hand axe or a mammoth bone club? Which one is more paleo?!

03aeff8d87a3b53a449b5b8e9158da98

(3268)

on April 22, 2010
at 07:57 PM

Thanks for giving me a laugh, Melissa!

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on April 22, 2010
at 07:47 PM

HERETIC! LET"S SACRIFICE HIM TO GROK!!!!1111

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on April 22, 2010
at 07:19 PM

I'm not sure paleo people could ever agree on everything long enough to be a cult...

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11 Answers

11
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on April 22, 2010
at 09:48 PM

Serious question- what does cult-like mean? Growing up Southern Baptist, for some reason my family had a big book of cults on our shelf that I loved to read. The point of it was to warn you that these "cults" aren't real Christianity and control people's lives, I just thought it was fun to read about all the crazy things people came up with. Later I realized that the Southern Baptist church probably also fit under crazy things people came up with and controlling people's lives, but I digress.

I think the word "cult" is a semantic weapon to use against people who are doing things that make people feel uncomfortable. I guess an example of this would be some people who are primativists and call into question civilization itself, but I've learned a lot from these people even if disagree with much of what they think. Lierre Keith comes to mind.

Once we start banishing people for eating grits or shunning non-paleo relatives we can call it a cult, but the fact that blogs like Whole Health Source or Mark's Daily Apple are some of the most popular shows we are opened minded to 20% or eating fermented grains or pretty much doing what's best for YOU. That's the crux of paleo- it's not about eating for other people or some cause, it's about making YOUR life better.

Me? I'll continue to have my weekly bowl of cheese grits and to date my boyfriend who eats narsty breakfast cereal every morning.

Edit: Yipes, right after I wrote this I saw the new Free The Animal post about Don from Thepaleodiet.com deleting his link to Richard's site because he endorsed eating potatoes! This is exactly what I don't want the paleo movement to become. Having now met hundreds of fellow paleo dieters in person, the ones that seem the healthiest are not the purists. In many ways I would like to not be associated with such a movement and would like my own philosophy to be called evolutionary eating or something, but paleo has kind of stuck.

64242a1130eb51f4852f78beed38b3d5

(1343)

on April 22, 2010
at 09:56 PM

Your reference to "cult" as a semantic weapon against people who embrace a primitive way is pretty damn close to where I am coming from. From my point of view, limited and constrained by Southern Baptist upbringing as well, the primal/paleo camps are segmented into many camps. The uber gym guys and gals and the science of food types to mention a couple. I too have learned from all sides.

0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on April 22, 2010
at 11:12 PM

I don't think i've ever been in a camp or else a camp of just me. Food is too individual for that. By the way I live in a flat with my girlfried (who is celiac) and eats the same as me, one flatmate who eats mainly pasta, bread and pizza, and another who is very health conscious and practically vegan. Plus we are all biologists :) This encourages a relaxed attitude to other peoples food.

7
0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19245)

on April 22, 2010
at 10:30 PM

It only risks becoming cult like when people begin following strong personalities rather than thinking about the ideas themselves. Especially when people learn about it through an authoritative individual. However a good diversity of opinion keeps people questioning, which is a good thing.

The principle of using evolutionary theory to understand diet, health, fitness and medicine is such a broad guiding philosophy that is can be applied to many different ideas and can result in a myriad of resulting thoughts and opinions.

A much bigger risk I see is people potentially isolating themselves from others through their food or lifestyle choices. Trying to convert people to anything or judging others on what they eat is a good way to push friends and family away be it paleo, vegan or anything else.

I will add two more things to this.

I do not really like the whole "Paleo" or "Primal" tags although I understand the necessity of having a shorthand word for ease of communication. I am not a Paleo person, for example in the same way a religious person is. I simply like to eat healthy food, not "Paleo" foods, if there is still such a thing. Evolutionary thinking is just a very useful guide.

Another risk is the belief that conventional = bad. While current food policy and nutrition is to influenced by ecognomics and politics and eating a paleodiet may turn this on its head it does not by any means mean that all conventional thinking is wrong.

7b11ed525ffa23bc7257684e27488a6a

(366)

on April 23, 2012
at 06:11 PM

Spot on. It is dietary righteousness and conversion of the heathen that makes adherents of 'whatever label diet' seem like cultists. I have noticed that extremely restrictive diets - vegan and zero carb, for example - lend themselves to this sort of mindset in some people. Not healthy, imho. Healthy eating and living trumps the labels which only re-enforce food choices as identity labels. Paleo is at least a pretty broad umbrella term.

2
D10ca8d11301c2f4993ac2279ce4b930

(5242)

on November 11, 2010
at 05:04 PM

When will paleo stop seeming like a cult is a better question. I think dialling back the groking/reenactment will do heaps for that.

2
9cf46db81eadfffb6464228079e12875

on April 23, 2010
at 01:17 PM

Scott - good question!

My personal feelings are simply this: anytime a group of people have a similar idea and are having fun with it as it gains momentum, it's then labelled as "a cult." From my personal perspective, our primal/paleo community may have many ideas, different at times such as the inclusion of dairy or not, but regardless as long as you express your ideas respectfully, others will respect you. For those non-paleo/primal, they label themselves as the outsiders and cement that name as they call us a cult.

Calling us a cult is the same as saying "THOSE people." The same has been said of the CrossFit community. I'm not a CrossFitter, but if I could afford it, I wouldn't mind giving it a shot. At the end of the day, people just like to belong. When people want to get leaner/thinner/healthier, but don't have the willpower and know it, they start downgrading the very thing that could actually help them if they only gave it a chance.

At least that is my perspective.

2
Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

on April 22, 2010
at 07:12 PM

You obviously haven't bought the Vibram FiveFin..., er, drunk the Kool-Aid yet, have you :)?

Seriously, though, I think that food is just as good an excuse for cultish behaviour as say, sex or religion. I hope, though, that the open-minded, experimental, logical, results-oriented approach of Paleo/Primal will keep us from getting too wrapped up in things. And the fact that Paleo is about eating as part of a sane healthy lifestyle as opposed to other concerns, such as not eating animals or eating as fuel for athletic endeavours or losing weight for your high school reunion will hopefully help too.

Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d

(4089)

on April 23, 2010
at 02:26 PM

@Scott: totally agreed on the VFFs. Best shoes ever.

64242a1130eb51f4852f78beed38b3d5

(1343)

on April 22, 2010
at 09:18 PM

#VFF #FTW Those things rock!

64242a1130eb51f4852f78beed38b3d5

(1343)

on April 22, 2010
at 09:31 PM

I have to agree fully with though. Sanity is rare as is being open minded.

1
B22e5946e28a1845a6006737e59edfc6

(2437)

on November 11, 2010
at 05:37 PM

When they join CrossFit

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on November 24, 2010
at 02:03 PM

Oh noes! I haz dun mai furst wod! An ai wuz awl liek kin ai joyn dis kultz pls? Srsly, it roxors!

Ebcbbdcb8b727e69e06eaa102d49a84c

(1804)

on April 23, 2012
at 08:38 PM

Yep for me CrossFit came before Paleo. If it wasn't for CrossFit I would have never found out about the Paleo diet.

8259ace7e6a3ca66f0a8f763f0d3e891

(-4)

on April 23, 2012
at 03:58 PM

Many of them start Crossfit first though....

0
1edb06ded9ccf098a4517ca4a7a34ebc

on April 23, 2012
at 04:46 PM

When people start asking what paleo/primal tattoo they should get. Wait a second....

0
7fc82eebafd44badc73c520f44660150

on April 23, 2012
at 04:37 PM

7 weeks ago. (I've been on paleo for 8 weeks) :-)

Mike

0
A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on November 24, 2010
at 02:00 PM

To Bill - please read from the following discussion:

http://www.thincs.org/discuss.cavemen.htm

Especially this:

Uffe Ravnskov Dear Stephen and all It is fascinating to speculate about the diet of man in prehistoric time. However, knowing how difficult it is to get reliable information about the diet of individuals living to-day, it seems a little absurd to guess what kind of food people ate 10,000 or more years ago, in particular which kind of fatty acids. And even if we knew, so what? Can we deduct anything about the influence of this diet on these peoples health, of which we know even less? Isn't it a subject much better suitable for a cosy after-dinner chat, than for creating scientific hypotheses? However, if you consider his recent papers good I would certainly like to read them.

The paper by Glew et al is a good example of another unfalsifiable hypothesis. Best wishes - and beware of electronic microorganisms! Uffe

Stephen Byrnes: Uffe: It really is not speculation about what people ate thousands of years ago as prehisotric remains and tooth analysis can reveal what the diet was. As far as health impacts, I think it is relevant: all you need to do is look at modern-day peoples who are, for all intents and purposes, the equivalents of our Ice Age ancestors. The field of nutritional anthropology is not as murky as some think. SCB

0
D9ad0d8ec9efab9a38349bf7caf305ad

on November 11, 2010
at 04:54 PM

Yeah, its a cult.

I find fault with two assertions.

  1. Viral diseases arose out of animal domestication.
  2. Prehistoric man was much healthier before the rise of agriculture.

These are silly and unprovable.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on December 01, 2010
at 03:18 PM

As to your assertion that "2. Prehistoric man was much healthier before the rise of agriculture." is faulty, I refer you to this most excellent post by Stephan Guyenet -> http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/03/paleopathology-at-origins-of.html

D9ad0d8ec9efab9a38349bf7caf305ad

(20)

on November 11, 2010
at 06:08 PM

What? No one wants to weigh in on the truthfulness of these basic foundational principles of the paleo diet?

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on November 11, 2010
at 05:01 PM

Oh crap! I'm gonna need some serious deprogramming!

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on December 01, 2010
at 01:36 PM

Sorry, that should have been Wrangler, as in Richard Wrangler of "Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human"

1568416ef28477d1fa29046218d83ddd

(6235)

on November 12, 2010
at 01:21 AM

What does that matter? I am not anthropologically trained anyway so I don't consider myself capable of examining the evidence. The thing I am an expert on is how I feel. I have lost weight without effort, my labwork has improved and most importantly to me I can skate for longer. It might surprise you but what convinced me was the viral disease rates and time on skates possible for one woman in her 30's in the 21st century. But I can't see why that would matter to you.

02736efa3fda31740e8890eed0cb663d

(1813)

on November 12, 2010
at 12:45 AM

Bill- What claims about nutrition would you take to be provable?

D9ad0d8ec9efab9a38349bf7caf305ad

(20)

on November 15, 2010
at 06:45 PM

Vrimj, thanks for the testimonial. Please understand neither I, nor anyone else here can take that as scientific proof of the efficacy of this diet! Nico, I think you may have missed my point. We are discussing the foundations of the paleo diet. Supposedly some people who existed before recorded history ate a diet which we can only surmise based on assumptions about them, and whose age at death is hard to pinpoint based on the data since there are no mortuary records, and very few of their bones have survived the ravages of time.

21fd060d0796fdb8a4a990441e08eae7

(24543)

on November 11, 2010
at 06:55 PM

Those foundational principles are not foundational principles. If paleo makes you healthier, happier, lose weight, etc...that's good enough. The preponderance of evidence for paleolithic vs neolithic foods is just icing on the cake.

D9ad0d8ec9efab9a38349bf7caf305ad

(20)

on November 11, 2010
at 07:20 PM

If they are not foundational, then where did the terms "paleo" and "primal" come from? The fact is that this diet is intended to reproduce/mimic/mirror the diet of man as he is supposed to have existed in the hunter/gatherer state before domestication of livestock and proliferation of agriculture. But there is no record of this existence since it comes before recorded history. And the archeological record is of humans who were not as healthy and had shorter life spans than modern man.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on November 23, 2010
at 07:10 PM

Are you familiar with Cordain, Weangler and other paleo-anthropologists? I think there is actually quite a bit of evidence for what hominids ate during the paleolithic and how healthy they were. On the other hand, most of us here are not into re-enactment. We do not have actual paleolithic foods like mammoth (even modern apples are totally different). It is more about creating a similar metabloic environment to optimize health - and we pay more attention to science than anthropology! http://www.paleonu.com/what-is-panu

7b11ed525ffa23bc7257684e27488a6a

(366)

on April 23, 2012
at 06:19 PM

@Dave S. It is Richard Wrangham, the primatologist, and his book is full of some logical flaws, as (for instance) he equates raw eating with raw veganism, and many of us paleo types do consume raw animal foods with very good results. Brace is an anthropologist who disagrees with Wrangham, btw.

-2
8259ace7e6a3ca66f0a8f763f0d3e891

on April 23, 2012
at 03:57 PM

The point that it becomes a cult is when it goes from, "Hey, this is a great diet! I feel good, I feel good, and I've lost a lot of weight," to, "You need to try this. Did you know people with (every disease) have been told to try Paleo and it totally cures them?!" This is when it goes from being a personal decision to personal quest to convert everyone else to your way of doing things. It's especially annoying coming from folks who've never been on ANY diet, so they're really just thrilled that anything "works" when they know damn well they never honestly tried anything else. It's also annoying for someone like me who has lost 60 lbs WITHOUT gimmicks. I know it will come as a total shock to many of you, but I just worked hard to not eat junky food and exercised more. I didn't totally eliminate ANY ONE THING.

BTW, anyone who says they've "examined the evidence that supports Paleo" is full of shit because it hasn't been specifically studied for long enough to prove anything. There are a lot of correlations that may be found at some point, but preaching them like they're fact does not make them facts. By looking at these things, you're not being "open minded," you're being faith based. It's the same kind of bullshit argument that "intelligent design" fukkerz use.

If Paleo works for you, fine, I'm happy for you that you're not a big fat fuck anymore, but you're not to tell me or anyone else that we "have to" try it and that it's a cure-all for eveerything that ails us.....because it's not.

F0e558010a2ecb31fa37b7c491596b8e

(3850)

on April 23, 2012
at 05:27 PM

Why exactly are you here?

24fcc21452ebe39c032be6801d6bbadd

(9812)

on April 23, 2012
at 08:04 PM

http://memegenerator.net/instance/19247254

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