The publisher of Art De Vany’s book was kind enough to send me an advance copy of the The New Evolution Diet to read and review. It will be released tomorrow.
The New Evolution Diet: What Our Paleolithic Ancestors Can Teach Us about Weight Loss, Fitness, and Aging by Arthur De Vany is an excellent addition to the growing library of books that remind us how we used to eat before the age of agriculture.
It was about three years ago this month that I was exposed to the ideas of Art De Vany. At a holiday party I was hosting a guest pulled up his website. The next morning I began my journey into evolutionary nutrition. Later I would purchase the 7 hour DVD lecture which would become the genesis for The New Evolution Diet book. Professor De Vany first exposed me to the idea of Cold Weather Training and Intermittent Fasting. To say his influence on me has been important would be an understatement. I am now 20 pounds lighter and almost never get sick.
The New Evolution Diet goes after the usual suspects: sugars, processed foods, grains and dairy. Some early reviews complained that his diet is lower in fat than other books on the paleolithic diet. I don’t believe this is something to be alarmed about. It really speaks to the resiliency of the diet itself. Once you remove the neolithic foods, it will work fine at lower levels of fat too. De Vany has been practicing this form of eating since he was 47. He is now 73 years. It would be wise to listen to someone with this many years experience on the diet. Instead of feeling threatened that my diet may be too high in fat, I am excited to know that it will still work if I reduce the fat level.
As a side note, I follow a seasonal paleolithic approach. I consume more fat in the winter and more carbohydrates in the summer. Unlike Professor De Vany, I live significantly north of the 37th parallel (Seattle) and rely more on animal fat during the winter months for fat soluble vitamins.
Throughout The New Evolution Diet he promotes seafood as an excellent food source. In his DVD lecture series, he explained that during the Ice Age humans migrated towards the coasts and began consuming much more seafood and sea vegetables. Weston A. Price in his 1939 book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration documented how important food from the sea was to the health of many indigenous cultures. This may just be anecdotal evidence, but have you noticed how people near the coast lines seem to be healthier than those in the middle of the country?
My favorite chapter of the book was The Metaphysics Behind the Diet. This is De Vany at his best. As an economist who studied complex systems, he used that training to study human health. This chapter explains how the human body is a collection of decentralized complex systems. Hopefully this chapter will cure readers of any notion that you can precisely control your health through regimented exercise and calorie counting.
There are many brilliant people in the paleo field now. I don’t believe anyone is as wise at Arthur De Vany. I highly recommend The New Evolution Diet. I also recommend his 7 hour DVD lecture series from 2008. The afterword of the book was written my one of my favorite thinkers – Nassim Nicholas Taleb.