Weird Veg Science

Paleo Tales of Caveman Cuisine

By Marco Pagliarulo, Weird Veg Science columnist for Lifelines Enthusiasts of the “Paleo” diet believe our ancestors from the Paleolithic era (“cavemen” from 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago – just before humans started farming) ate lots of meat but no grains or beans. Their logic follows that today meat is encouraged while grains and beans are a no-no. Here I present an argument that counters the “no grains, no beans” rule of Paleo dieters. Archaeological evidence shows that cavemen were in fact eating grains and beans, sometimes as staple foods – and they were even showing some culinary creativity! Join me in a walk back through time as we follow the trail of crumbs they have left behind… 19,000 to 23,000 years ago: At a site in Israel, archaeologists have found a collection of grains of wheat, barley, oats, millet, brome, and various grasses.[1, 2, 3, 4, 5] Grinding stones with grain residues were also found at the site, meaning these early humans were making flour![2, 4] Even more remarkable is that an oven hearth with grain residues was found at the site too, suggesting that dough made from the grain flour was baked![2] In light of the quantity… Read More

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The Veggie Edge for Athletes

By Marco Pagliarulo, Weird Veg Science columnist for Lifelines Vegan athletes assert that a plant-based diet gives them a leg up. Let’s explore the science behind this claim. Endurance exercise induces muscle damage and inflammation throughout the body [1].  Since this can impede tissue repair and the body’s recovery [2], minimizing inflammation is advantageous to the athlete. But what does this have to do with diet? Several human studies have investigated the relationships between dietary patterns and inflammation. Here’s what the body of  knowledge indicates: Meat-based diets and Western dietary patterns (characterized by high intakes of meat, sweets, and refined grains) are associated with chronic inflammation [3, 4]. Conversely, fruit- and vegetable -based diets are associated with decreased levels of  inflammation [3, 4]. High intakes of carotenoids and vitamin C (found mostly in plant-based foods) seem  to decrease inflammation [3]. The consumption of whole grains is also associated with decreased levels of  inflammation [3, 5]. One of the review papers even goes on to suggest that a diet high in vegetables, fruit, and whole grains may even protect the body against inflammation [3]. Aside from inducing inflammation, exercise may also induce oxidative stress [6] – an imbalance in the… Read More

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Monkey Speak, Monkey Do: Scientists Find Monkeys Have Language

By Marco Pagliarulo, Weird Veg Science columnist for Lifelines   Another distinction between humans and other animals has recently been dissolved. Humans are not the only species to have language with spoken words. The use of language is a characteristic we employ to distinguish ourselves from the rest of the animal kingdom. Although chimps, gorillas, and bonobos have been taught to use sign language or to write symbols, in each case they are using human language. Until recently, there has been no proof of a language originating from another species. A combined team of linguists and primatologists analyzed the alarm calls of Campbell’s monkeys living in Tiwai Island of Sierra Leone and in the Ivory Coast’s Tai Forest. They found that the monkeys communicate using a sophisticated language of their own, with spoken words and even with local dialects! [1] The following are some examples of Campbell’s monkey words and their meanings: – Hok warns of a serious aerial threat, usually eagles. – Krak warns of a leopard in Tai, but on Tiwai it indicates all predatory threats (including eagles). – The suffix oo softens the meaning of the root word: Hok-oo indicates a minor aerial threath (like falling… Read More

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