Paleo Libertarians

By Tierney, John | Reason, April 2014 | Go to article overview

Paleo Libertarians


Tierney, John, Reason


John Durant is the author of The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health (Harmony), which tells the story of how he discovered his inner hunter-gatherer. He offers practical guidelines for making the transition to a meat-heavy, low-carb diet favored by humanity's paleolithic ancestors.

In December, New York Times science columnist John Tierney interviewed Durant at New York's Museum of Sex. They talked about the cultural and political history of today's industrial diets, why so many libertarians have gone paleo, and more.

Q: Give us an overview of The Paleo Manifesto.

A: A lot of the health conditions that people suffer from today--diabetes, obesity, auto-immune conditions--basically are mismatch conditions. By mismatch, I mean a mismatch between our primal genes and our primal biology, and how we evolved, and the lifestyles we lead today: our diet and sedentary activity patterns. The basic concept is by mimicking key aspects of our ancestral lifestyle or lifestyles you can prevent the onset of a lot of these chronic health conditions.

Q: Why are so many libertarians drawn to the paleo concept?

A: It's multifaceted. The first thing is that if you look at the organic movement and the existing food movement, it really sprang out of vegetarianism. If you look at the early organic movement, it's almost exclusively vegetarian. And there was a lot of political and ideological baggage that came along with that point of view. So there were a lot of people who were interested in optimal health, or simply just good health, who felt excluded from the food movement because it meant buying into all these other beliefs. So there was latent demand for a point of view like this.

Another factor is that libertarians tend to understand the power of spontaneous order--of how you can get very intelligent outcomes from decentralized solutions, like in an economy. You can have an emergent order. …

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