Paleo-diet subculture in New York

If you think the Weston A. Price folk are extreme in their diet, get a load of this excerpt from a recent NY Times story about modern urban “cavemen“:

ANCESTOR ENVY John Durant, Melissa McEwen and Vladimir Averbukh. Photo: Tony Cenicola/The New York Times: at the American Museum of Natural History

“LIKE many New York bachelors, John Durant tries to keep his apartment presentable — just in case he should ever bring home a future Mrs. Durant. He shares the fifth-floor walk-up with three of his buddies, but the place is tidy and he never forgets to water the plants.

The one thing that Mr. Durant worries might spook a female guest is his most recent purchase: a three-foot-tall refrigerated meat locker that sits in a corner of his living room. That is where he keeps his organ meat and deer ribs.

Mr. Durant, 26, who works in online advertising, is part of a small New York subculture whose members seek good health through a selective return to the habits of their Paleolithic ancestors.

Or as he and some of his friends describe themselves, they are cavemen.

The caveman lifestyle, in Mr. Durant’s interpretation, involves eating large quantities of meat and then fasting between meals to approximate the lean times that his distant ancestors faced between hunts. Vegetables and fruit are fine, but he avoids foods like bread that were unavailable before the invention of agriculture. Mr. Durant believes the human body evolved for a hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and his goal is to wean himself off what he sees as many millenniums of bad habits.

These urban cavemen also choose exercise routines focused on sprinting and jumping, to replicate how a prehistoric person might have fled from a mastodon.

In a city crowded with vegetarian restaurants and yoga studios, the cavemen defy other people’s ideas of healthy living. There is an indisputable macho component to the lifestyle.

“I didn’t want to do some faddish diet that my sister would do,” Mr. Durant said.

The caveman lifestyle in New York was once a solitary pursuit. But Mr. Durant, who looks like a cheerful Jim Morrison, with shoulder-length curly hair, has emerged over the last year as a chieftain of sorts among 10 or so other cavemen. He has cooked communal dinners in his apartment on East 90th Street and taught others to make jerky from his meat locker.

The tribe is not indigenous to New York. Several followers of the lifestyle took up the practice after researching health concerns online and discovering descriptions of so-called paleolithic diets and exercise programs followed by people around the country and in Europe. The group’s lone woman, Melissa McEwen, 23, was searching for a treatment for stomach troubles. She started reading the blog of a 72-year-old retired economics professor who lives in Utah, Arthur De Vany.

Mr. De Vany’s blog promotes what he calls Evolutionary Fitness. Like his disciples in New York, he believes that ancient humans could perform physical feats that would awe the gym rats of today.

His followers believe that he too is capable of fearsome feats. When Mr. Durant told a gathering of New York cavemen that he had seen Mr. De Vany at a seminar in Las Vegas, Matthew Sanocki, 34, asked if Mr. De Vany looked as muscular in the flesh as in pictures on his blog.

“He looks great,” Mr. Durant said. “You feel like he could, at a moment’s notice, charge at you and trample you.”

Already, the New York cavemen are getting attention from the patriarchs of the paleo movement. One such figure, Erwan Le Corre, a Frenchman whom the magazine Men’s Health said “may rank as one of the most all-around physically fit men on the planet,” stopped by Mr. Durant’s while visiting the city in December. The men sealed their friendship with what both described as a bare-chested — and in Mr. Le Corre’s case, barefoot — run across the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges on a frigid night…..”

Get the whole story from the New York Times.


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2 responses to “Paleo-diet subculture in New York

  1. That a very extreme vision of paleo 😉 I believe the paleo diet (in a less extreme fashion than mentioned above) to be a lot of common sense – a lot of which we have lost over the last years when it comes to food!

  2. That is a good first step.Now move out of your studio apartments and back to suburbia.Other things that paleo people did was to do all there own work them selves.Try mowing your own lawns,shoveling your own driveways,plant your own gardens.Think of it, if we all stop looking at physical labor as a punishment we could stop going to gym’s to stay physically fit.I have nothing against gym’s mind you they just seem like a waste of time.You could work hard AND get something accomplished.posibly with friends and win! Its a well known fact that people appreciate the things they work for more.

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