Was Walt Whitman a follower of the ‘Paleo’ diet?

There are many takeaways from a series on health written by Walt Whitman in 1858 and recently published online, but one thing is clear — the celebrated American poet was not a fan of vegetarians. 

“Let the main part of a diet be meat, to the exclusion of all else,” he wrote.

The series called “Manly Health Training”, which Whitman wrote under the pseudonym Mose Velsor for a New York paper, was discovered by a graduate student last summer and was digitized for the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review.

While there are about 125 pages of tips and insights – including worries that diseases spread by prostitution threatened man’s ability to procreate – the New York Times pointed out his allegiance to meat, aligning him with the modern Paleo diet.

The path to a “noble-bodied, pure-bodied” according to Whitman, was an almost exclusively meat-based diet of lean meats. He said vegetarianism had a weakening effect, and did not mince words.

“We have seen New England and New York vegetarians, gaunt, hard, melancholy, and unhappy looking persons, that looked like anything else than a recommendation of their doctrine — for that is the proof, after all,” he wrote.