The Diet of Primitive Peoples

The Diet of Primitive Peoples

 I saw a meme on Facebook and it got me thinking. Here’s what the meme said: “Vegetarian is an Indian word for ‘Bad Hunter’” It’s funny, and it was meant to be a joke on vegans or vegetarians, but it also shows what some people believe about our ancestors.

I have eaten the Standard American Diet (SAD), and I have also gone Paleo, Vegetarian, and Vegan. My current diet is more of a Bible based diet. But, it’s based in reality of history and scripture, not in American ideas of what that is.

I am very interested in health, and fitness. I love spiritual things. I also am a survivalist. In my life all of these things are interconnected. So, this discussion about food actually works for my health and fitness ideology and my survival ideology, as well as my spirit.

But, enough about me; I just wanted the reader to know where I stand on the issue of a meat-based diet vs. a plant based diet, and how primitive peoples lived. Because you cannot claim to have a diet, spiritual, health or survival ideology based upon primitive peoples, if you forget to include the following:

     1. Primitive peoples did not eat like modern Americans eat. They did not gorge themselves on 3 square meals a day that was full of poisons, and food addictions, like refined sugar.

     2. Primitive peoples survived on far less food than what modern Americans consume. They often fasted for spiritual and health reasons. They also by necessity lived a feast or famine lifestyle. This means they ate when they had food, and they went without when food was scarce.

     3. The basis for their diets was what they grew or foraged. Native Americans grew what is known as the 3 sisters, corn, squash and beans. They made corn meal for bread, or gruel. They ate and gathered the plants around them while those plants were in season. They had a very solid plant based diet. Even the humans living as hunter/gatherers had huge plant based diets. They also had gardens. But, they were wild gardens. They knew exactly where to go to get the various foods they needed, even if they didn’t actually cultivate the garden. The entire world they lived in was their garden.

     4. Their view of hunting was very spiritual in nature. They cared for the animals and saw them as kindred spirits. They were not cruel, they only took what they needed and used all of it. They had primitive means of preservation of meat so their usage of meat was reduced because of this. They did not hunt animals and fill a freezer full of meat. They had a different view of hunting and using meat as food. They did not eat meat at every meal. Only modern Americans or Europeans eat meat at every meal. Primitive peoples, and the poor worldwide, do not eat like we do.  It is stated that when the Europeans came to North America the forests were chocked full of game. They were not hunted out, because the natives did not over hunt. There are stories of the animals coming up to people, because they had no fear of man.

     5. The diets of primitive peoples were more of an 80/20 type of diet. They ate mostly plant based, supplemented with meat. Meat was not the center point. They did not raise animals for food, so meat was not as readily available unless it was hunted.

These are facts that need to be considered when the subject of survival or health and ancient peoples is looked at. They were not like us, in modern America. They trusted that God would provide for them. They ate as the seasons went, and as opportunity arose. This is why Europeans often considered them thieves. They took what they needed or what they felt led to take, when the opportunity arose.

Of course there are some possible exceptions to what has been said here. Such as the Inuit peoples who ate mostly meat and fish. I believe they still ate differently than modern peoples, in regards to amounts, and how often. They also had feast and famine, although they had less concern for meat going bad in frozen conditions. The Inuit peoples also remained healthy despite the fact that they ate mostly meat. They got vitamins from the sources they had available. They avoided many diseases like cancer and heart disease we suffer from, which I attribute to the man made oils, and chemicals we consume. There are other peoples who consumed strict diets. But, despite these exceptions, I think we can safely say that primitive people did not eat like we do today.

So, what can we draw from this? Well for me, it caused me to tweak my diet. I was vegan. And I still mostly am. But, the fact that primitive peoples and the Bible said that meat was alright to eat always raised questions in my mind. Plus, my survival views or plans included meat, although it was also largely plant based.

Basically, I started to practice a Bible based/primitive diet. I am mostly plant based. I try to eat organic everything, and would prefer local. I will eat meat; but, only on special occasions, like holidays, or if I go out to eat, or to a friend’s house. I do not force people to cater to my needs. Even at these times, my plate will lean heavily toward plant based. When I do eat meat I only eat the meat the Bible allows. I also try to eat organic when I consume meat which is hard. I avoid meats that I think are contaminated such as fish from the ocean.

When I eat breads, I try to eat unleavened bread; which is bread without yeast. Such as, wraps, tortillas, flat breads, pitas, naan, etc. That is biblical. I also try to get whole grains in any grain product I consume. 

Fasting and eating only when hungry, is another thing that needs to be taken from this information. Fasting is good for health, it’s good for the spirit, and it’s good for a survivalist to have in their tool belt.

Ancient peoples did not eat as we eat. We must keep this in mind when we discuss our so called primitive diets, or our primitive survival skills. We have removed ourselves from what is natural and healthy. Much of our modern ailments can be linked to our diets, and our unhealthy unnatural lifestyles. I would encourage anyone reading this to change your diet, drink pure water, and fast regularly. It will heal you, and keep you healthy.

As time goes on we might discover that this COVID lockdown will lead to major dietary changes. It’s easier to make decisions to change early, rather than being forced to change later. There are things worth fighting for or against, but there are other things that are not.

( Photograph of a primitive shelter near Pounds Hollow, Shawnee National Forest, Southern Illinois)

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