an imaginative look a palaeolithic life

The Lower-Palaeolithic diet

Seeing as it’s en vogue these days to eat like ones ancestors I decided to write a diet plan based on the lower Palaeolithic era.  This diet is also suitable for raw foodists, seeing as fire wasn’t used by humans until the middle Palaeolithic era.

The problem with evolutionary ancestors, is that we have so many of them.  I mean, whose diet do we emulate?  Homo sapiens idaltu? Homo heidelbergensis? Homo ergaster?  Homo habilis?  Australopithecines? Tree-shrew-like primate ancestors? Proto-mammals?  Fish?  Single celled organisms…?

This diet focuses on what our lower Palaeolithic ancestors ate, i.e. Homo habilis and possibly early Homo ergaster/erectus.


– You’re not allowed to eat without doing exercise first.  Walking is probably the most authentic exercise for this stage in our evolution, tree climbing too if you really want to emulate the lifestyle of Homo habilis. H. erectus/ergaster were not physically adapted for tree climbing.  H. habilis was.  (The difference is in the shoulder joint and arm length, i.e. whether they could comfortably dangle from tree branches with one arm, chimp style.  H. habilis could, H. ergaster/erectus couldn’t.)

– You’re not allowed to cook anything, because you haven’t figured out how to start, control or use fire yet.  Fire is something you flee from in terror.

– You’re only allowed to eat using lower Palaeolithic tools.  Look at the kinds of tools that chimps use, you’re allowed to be a bit more creative than chimps (not much more) and also include stone tools you made yourself, so long as you don’t cheat and look up on the internet how to make middle Palaeolithic tools.  They had neither the internet nor middle Palaeolithic tools in the lower Palaeolithic era.

– Select the foods you eat from the list below as your hunger dictates.  Homo habilis didn’t know what a vitamin was.  They just ate what they could find or catch, whenever they felt hungry, which was probably most of the time.  Their bodies would have made them crave foods with particular nutrients in them if they were deficient, e.g. if they weren’t eating enough fat, they may crave bone marrow and go and smash up some more lion kill bones to get hold of it.

– All foods from the middle Palaeolithic onwards are forbidden.  So no woolly mammoths or other large animals, unless you happen to find their carcass lying around, and if you do it’s probably already been mostly eaten by something else.

Foods that are allowed to be eaten:

Road kill that’s already been eaten by another animal – don’t forget to smash up the bones to get all the yummy bone marrow out, it’s a very important source of healthy fat and protein.  H. habilis would scavenge lion kill like this, but only after the lions had gone away, because a lion would win a fight with a H. habilis and then eat the H. habilis.  H. habilis could probably chase vultures away with sticks and stones though.

Insect, bugs, caterpillars etc.  Use a thin stick to get ants out of ant hills.  Even chimps can do that, Homo habilis was brainier than chimps.

Eggs stolen from birds’ nests, and any baby birds you happen to find too.

Any small animals that you can catch.  Chimps catch and eat small monkeys.  If they can do it, so can habilis very likely.

The fruit, nuts, seeds, leaves and/or roots of any wild plant that has any nutritional value.

That’s it really.  Cultivated varieties are not allowed.  Wild varieties only.

Disclaimer: anyone who’s daft enough to try to follow this diet does so entirely at their own risk, and in full knowledge of the fact that eating road kill without cooking it will probably give you a very severe case of gastroenteritis and probably quite a few parasites as well.  Also, modern humans are descended from generation upon generation of humans who lived after Homo habilis and used fire and cooked meat.  Cooking not only kills pathogens and parasites, it also makes many foods, including meat, easier to digest.  The human gut has changed a lot since fire was first used, and raw meat is not easily digestible for modern humans and may not provide enough nutrition.


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