Many people seem to maintain intense attitudes, preferences, prejudices, and beliefs about certain foods. These sometimes seem pretty strange to others.
Often, that applies particularly to meat. In high school, for example, I knew someone who would not believe that meat was animal flesh. She insisted that it came from the supermarket and became very upset if anyone tried to talk with her about what it was before that. I’ve known another person who likes meat, but could never eat ground meat because the thought of it disgusted her. Another person I know can only stand to eat red meat if it’s ground up.
Most of us know (or are) someone who won’t eat seafood, or red meat, or any meat, or anything animal based. My wife tends to dislike produce that is nonstandard—tomatoes that aren’t red, potatoes that aren’t white, etc. Some grownups never progress beyond eating what children eat: pizza, chicken fingers, pasta, soda, etc. I’ve known people who don’t really like anything not prepared in a restaurant, or anything not fast food, or anything not prepared by their mom.
Food prejudices run pretty deep and can seem completely irrational, or even harmful, to others. (Vegans think the stuff paleos eat will slowly kill us. Paleos would similarly criticize the limits vegans place on what they can eat, and we would team up together to criticize eaters of standard Western diets.)
Of course, in a cross cultural context, we all have many prejudices. I’m not big on eating insects, or brains, or fermented blood, for example. If I had grown up in a different culture, I might think of those as delicious. Some of the foods Westerners take for granted can seem strange or disgusting to others.
When switching to paleo or discussing paleo with others, it’s easy to run into these food prejudice traps. While there is no specific food required in paleo, we tend to push meat. Lots of people hate the idea of eating meat or think that eating more than small amounts of meat (especially ruminant or “red” meat, which paleos often prefer) is inherently unhealthy. Many more people are disgusted by organ meat, which in a paleo context is though of as best health practice. I myself have trouble with some organ meat, although I love marrow and like liver when well-prepared. We eat some stinky fermented vegetables such as kimchee (which I used to find gross, but now find…OK). The idea that saturated fat has been “proven” to cause heart disease has been so strongly pushed over the last 30 years that many people I speak with have a horrified reaction to the idea of deliberately eating things like lard, tallow, or bacon grease. I’ve learned not to talk about some of this so that I don’t offend people. Think about that: if I simply tell people what I like to eat, without suggesting that they might want to do the same, some of them will think I’m a jerk for doing that.
More commonly, of course, paleos are weird for what we don’t eat. If I really list all of the common foods I don’t eat, most people find it nonsensical or just incomprehensible. “What’s an industrial seed oil?”
Since starting to eat this way, I’ve found it helpful to deliberately create in myself an irrational disgust for non-paleo foods. On a rational level I know bagels taste good, but I have decided make them yucky in my own head. Same with processed “crap in a box.” If I make it, emotionally, a non-food, it’s easier not to eat it. I imagine that it’s rather like eating kosher or halal.
I don’t really have a final point to make here, except to note that our reactions to food are very powerful and often not amenable to rational discussion. I think that’s something to keep firmly in mind in discussions of diet.