History of the “Modern” Paleo Diet Movement

Here’s a timeline, certainly not comprehensive, but probably more than enough to bore you. I’m trying to hit the major developments.

  • 1939 – Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price’s is published.
  • 1973 – Stephen Boyden’s “Evolution and Health” is published in The Ecologist.
  • 1975 – The Stone Age Diet: Based On In-Depth Studies of Human ecology and the Diet of Man is self-published by Walter L. Voegtlin, M.D.
  • January 1985 – “Paleolithic Nutrition. A consideration of its nature and current implications” by S. Boyd Eaton and M. Konner in the New England Journal of Medicine.
  • 1987 – Stone Age Diet by Leon Chaitow (London: Optima).
  • 1988 – The Paleolithic Prescription: A Program of Diet and Exercise and a Design for Living by S. Boyd Eaton, M. Shostak, and M. Konner.
  • January 1997 – Paleodiet.com established by Don Wiss.
  • March 1997 – The Paleodiet listserv established by Dean Esmay and Donn Wiss.
  • April 1997 – The Evolutionary Fitness online discussion list is created. Art DeVany is its anchor and Tamir Katz is a regular participant.
  • April 1997 – Jack Challem published the article “Paleolithic Nutrition: Your Future Is In Your Dietary Past.”
  • 1999 – Neanderthin by Ray Audette is published.
  • November 2001 – Evfit.com established by Keith Thomas (“Health and Fitness in an Evolutionary Context”).
  • December 2001 – The Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain, Ph.D., is published.
  • April 2001 – Wikipedia’s page on Palaeolithic diet is created.
  • 2005 – Art DeVany’s first paleo blog.
  • 2006 – Exuberant Animal by Frank Forencich is published.
  • 2008 – Art DeVany’s Las Vegas seminar.
  • 2009 – The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson is published. Art DeVany announces ‘The New Evolution Diet’.
  • 8 January 2010 – The New York Times features the paleo lifestyle in its ‘fashion’ pages.
  • 26 February 2010 – McLean’s (Canada) publishes a general audience review of the paleo movement.
  • February 2010 – Food and Western Disease by Staffan Lindeberg is published.
  • March 2010 – Paleolithic lifestyle page is created on Wikipedia.
  • September 2010 – The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet by Robb Wolf is published.

Contributors to this timeline include Keith Thomas, Paul Jaminet, and Ray Audette (the latter two via blog comments). Any errors are mine.

Of the folks above, my major influences have been Cordain, Eaton, and Konner.

What would you add? I’m tempted to include the Jaminet’s book (Perfect Health Diet) and Dr. Emily Deans’ blog. Paul Jaminet mentioned Jan Kwasniewski’s Optimal Diet of 1990 (or was it Optimal Nutrition?), but is that just “the Polish Atkins,” as some say? Very high fat.


3 responses to “History of the “Modern” Paleo Diet Movement

  1. The Doctors Eades talk about a hunter-gatherer diet as the diet we were meant to eat in 1996. See chapter 2, Curse of the Mummies of their book Protein Power. The section The Diet We Were Meant to Eat says evolutionary forces “molded our physiology to function optimally on a diet consisting predominantly of meat supplemented with roots, shoots, berries, seeds, and nuts.”

    See the Protein Power Blog for a discussion of why they weren’t more explicit about recommending this in Protein Power.

    In The Protein Power LifePlan from 2000, they explicitly recommend a paleo diet in chapter 13, LifePlan Nutrition. In the section The Purist Approach they detail a very strict paleo diet, “for those people who wish to approximate a Paleolithic eating pattern in a modern world” and recommending it to people with severe complications of diabetes and those with auto-immune diseases. This way of eating even eliminates caffeine and alcohol.

    PPLP also details a way of eating they call the Dilettante approach which recommends natural and organic meat, eggs and produce, but allows dairy, legumes and ancient and/gluten free grains. It might be characterized as a diet influenced by Weston A. Price, even recommending cod liver oil.

    Hope this helps.

  2. Great list! I think the online communities, such as Paleohacks, and conferences, such as the Ancestral Health Symposium and PaleoFX deserve mention.

  3. I think your idea to add Perfect Health Diet is right on. Paul has brought a great deal of information to the paleosphere–especially important is his insight regarding the topics of starch as a biologically appropriate food and of chronic infection as a major cause of degenerative disease.