On paleo becoming a status competition with religious purists:
The other thing is that with any comprehensive approach to food, just as in politics, it becomes a status competition to be who can be the most pure. Right? “I am more paleo than thou.” And it happens in the vegan community. Once a lot of vegetarians started eating fish well then the true believers needed a new word, so they’d all be softies.
Domenech: Like The Simpsons’ episode where the guy says, “I don’t eat anything that casts a shadow.”
Durant: Exactly! Yes, that seems to happen in any group. You get your purists and there are folks saying out there how if every meal isn’t grass-fed beef, then you’re going to get kidney stones. You know, silliness like that.
But if modern religions emerged, in part, to improve health, then maybe a little religion is exactly what we need.
Durant: Different eras of human history have different health challenges and during the Paleolithic it was avoiding wild animals, and getting enough food, and things like that. In the agricultural age it was avoiding germs and infectious disease, that was the dominant health challenge. Today the health challenges are different. The health challenges are motivating people to move more, avoiding a diet, heavily industrial diet that can make you overweight, and taking daily actions that will prevent these chronic health conditions.
During the emergence of Judaism the importance of daily actions was huge. You know, in the Jewish tradition it wasn’t always about belief or attitude. Taking daily actions was extremely important. When you realize that many of those daily actions were hygienic actions that helped people avoid germs, you’re like oh, all right, so they had many of these rules where they had to wash their hands multiple times a day, just like we do today. And so in some sense today we have to find ways to motivate ourselves and take the daily actions required to be healthy human beings.
You can find the rest of the interview here, including commentary on whether paleo is a fad, eating on a budget, and what vegans get wrong (and right).