The Alt-Right’s Favorite Diet
John Durant, author of 'The Paleo Manifesto' and a controversial presence on Twitter, talks about the meat-heavy diet and right-wing politics.
Silicon Valley billionaire and Donald Trump backer Peter Thiel follows the paleo diet in hopes of reaching the ripe old age of 120, according to Bloomberg. Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders ate "paleo before paleo was a thing," per a People profile. But does paleo—which in its broadest sense refers to a diet centered on nuts, vegetables, and organ meats—lean in one political direction?
The Paleo Manifesto, a 2014 book about the diet, traces paleo's nutritional profile through a series of historical vignettes, explaining how our bodies haven't yet adjusted to the shock of the wheat-based "agricultural revolution." The book is apolitical, aside from its place in academic debates over the value of evolutionary psychology and evolutionary medicine. But John Durant, Manifesto's Harvard-educated author, is not: he's firmly on the alt-right.
Durant characterized the paleo diet that he champions as less avowedly political than previous iterations of the movement against processed foods.
"After World War II, pretty much all Americans ate the same processed food," he told me. "Historically, left-wing political polarization of the food movement happened first. The early organic movement was closely aligned with vegetarianism, and both were politically polarized as left-wing. And even today, not a lot of right-wing [people are] vegans. But that meant if non-liberals wanted a healthier real food identity—and identity is an important source of long-term motivation—it basically didn't exist. So paleo provided a real food identity that was less politicized than the dominant left-wing plant-based movement."
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