What do the Paleo Diet, the Primal Diet, and the WAPF Diet have in common? A love of ancestral health. In their own ways, each of these diets is committed to eliminating processed, industrial foods in favor of the traditional diets that humans have been eating for thousands of generations.
I spent this past weekend at the Weston A Price Foundation 12th Annual Wise Traditions Conference where I was honored to speak in a small capacity as part of a Real Food Bloggers Panel. I also got to catch up with old friends, make new friends, and rub shoulders with people from all parts of this growing community. I ran into many different kinds of eaters, too. Paleo eaters. Primal eaters. WAPF eaters. GAPS eaters.
You know what? We all got along just fine. In fact, we were downright friendly. We had far more in common than you’d think — particularly if you’ve been reading some of the more divisive blog posts and Facebook conversations of late.
First, let me offer up a few clarifications:
- Paleo Diet — These eaters want to mimic the sorts of diets our paleolithic ancestors ate. Sometimes called the “Caveman” diet, the Paleo Diet eschews all grains, legumes, and dairy. They also avoid all processed foods, including modern refined vegetable oils and refined sugar.
- Primal Diet — These eaters also want to mimic ancestral diets, but they allow a little wiggle room for raw and fermented dairy and the super-occasional traditionally-prepared grain (strictly for those with no related digestive or metabolic issues). They also allow limited room for “sensible vices” like the occasional glass of red wine, nibble of dark chocolate, or slice of raw cheese, and place a large emphasis on getting plenty of rest, natural movement exercises, and eating “clean” foods from organic, wild, or pasture-raised sources.
- WAPF Diet — These eaters are strongly influenced by the research of Dr. Weston A Price and his work studying the diets of healthy traditional cultures. As with the first two diets, they eliminate all processed industrial foods from their diet including modern refined vegetable & seed oils and refined sugar. They emphasize a diet rich in the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K-2 from animal foods raised on pasture or caught in the wild. They also emphasize other dietary commonalities among traditional cultures such as the inclusion of bone broth, fermented foods, and organ meats. If grains are eaten, they are traditionally prepared. And, of course, nuts, seeds, and legumes are all soaked or sprouted prior to eating, too. If dairy is eaten, it’s from pasture-raised cows and is as unprocessed as possible (raw non-homogenized milk, raw cheeses & butter, naturally-fermented kefir, yogurt, & buttermilk).
Among all these groups, you’ll find various subsets of adherents dedicated to healing various digestive and metabolic maladies. They may prescribe slightly more stringent dietary rules, such as fewer carbs, more “safe starches,” complete elimination of grains, or healing protocols of probiotics.
When I look at these groups, I have a hard time seeing all these so-called differences. That’s because each label is a “Big Tent” — a sort of umbrella term that accepts various iterations of the “perfect diet” based on individual biochemistry.
For example, there’s no reason why a self-proclaimed Paleo dieter couldn’t add more nutrient-dense seafood, organ meats, broths, tropical oils, and fermented veggies to their diet. If they did, they’d suddenly fall well within the norm for a WAPF dieter. Would that person then refer to themselves as a WAPF dieter? A Paleo dieter?
My point? We’re all ancestral eaters, all completely dedicated to eating Real Food. So, why the infighting? The needling? Are we just that competitive?
This is the main reason why I started the Fight Back Friday blog carnival a couple of years ago. I love that each Friday we get a collection of recipes, news stories, and anecdotes from all around the blogosphere. I love that there are Primal dieters, Paleo dieters, and GAPS-dieting WAPFers all posting in the same space.
I don’t expect us all to sing kumbaya around a campfire anytime soon, but I sure did enjoy picking apart conference lectures at the lunch or dinner table this past weekend as we all chowed down on the Exact. Same. Meal. together.
The exact same meal.
We have more in common than we think.
(photo by cheeseslave)