Veddha elder

One of the main driving ideas behind the Paleo diet is to imitate the eating patterns of our hunter-gatherer (HG) ancestors. The reason behind this is that we existed for thousands of years in better health than is seen after the introduction of agriculture. As part of the studies that have been conducted to test many of the hypotheses behind the Paleo diet, scientists have studied the habits of the last aboriginal peoples on our planet.

Interestingly enough, the Discovery channel has a new series starring Wes Stroud, previously of the Survivorman series called Beyond Survival. Here is how the show is described in promos:

Stroud seeks out the true masters of survival — the last indigenous tribes around the world — to learn their techniques, take part in their rituals, and share the secrets of how they’ve survived for thousands of years … before they vanish forever.

This caught my interest and I set my DVR to see what I might see that would either correlate or oppose what I know of the Paleo diet. In the first episode, Wes travels to Sri Lanka to visit the Veda and the Singhalese. Much like Robb Wolf and others have insisted, the Veda are lean and yet muscular, even if somewhat slight of build.

Veddha gathering honey

Some of the members are described as having been born in a cave, and the tribesmen hunt for significant portions of their food. In this video, you can see them setting traps for the wild game they eat, which may range from venison to rabbit, tortoises, wild boars or monkeys. Sadly, as modern society has encroached on their land, they have a much smaller area in which to hunt. Due to this, they have been forced to turn to growing crops of rice to provide enough sustenance for the family.

As I did my own searching on the Veddha, it does not sound like turning to farming has treated the people well:

The tribal chief blames a lot of modern illnesses afflicting the Veddha community on the loss of their culture and traditional lifestyles. ”When we lived and hunted in the jungle, we never fell ill because we ate what we gathered. Whatever illnesses we got were treated with herbs and plants found in the jungle. Hospitals, doctors and medicine were alien to us. Our women gave birth at home,” he says. But now many suffer from diabetes, blood pressure and chest pains, ”as if the environment has turned toxic”, laments the Veddha chief, who occasionally uses reading glasses.

These maladies sure sound familiar as the effects of the SAD as I wrote about before. It sounds like what I’ve seen from this episode backs up the claims of the Paleo diet and the Veddha serve as an example on the cusp of how agriculture can make things go so wrong.

Starting TOMORROW, October 1st, registration for ALL classes becomes mandatory. Please make sure to cancel early if you cannot make the class.

The penalty for no shows of 5 burpees per person that shows up for the class will also go into effect tomorrow. (Example: you don’t show and forget to cancel your reservation for 7pm and there are 10 people in class = you owe 50 burpees — ouch!)

WOD 09.30.10

Make Up Day

6 Responses to “Life of the Hunter-Gatherer: the Veddha”

September 30, 2010 at 10:17 AM

Can we start dressing like the Veddha too?

September 30, 2010 at 11:06 AM

How did the environment turn toxic? Just natural causes? Or man caused?

September 30, 2010 at 11:26 AM

That’s just the Veddha chief’s conjecture as to what happened. Not that the environment literally turned toxic, but that he has little other explanation for what is now afflicting his people.

Robb Wolf and other Paleo experts would strongly suspect the change in their diet as civilization has encroached on their lands.

September 30, 2010 at 11:55 AM

The Veddha have an uncanny resemblance to Dukes from Semi-Pro

September 30, 2010 at 12:39 PM

That’s cause both Dukes and the Veddha live a very natural, organic lifestyle. Dukes also got paid at the end.

September 30, 2010 at 4:18 PM

very interesting sir marcus