Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Russia

First Contact:


gather% / fish % / hunt %
fat % / protein % / carb%

A rough estimate to help us understand how carnivorous and how ketogenic these people were before being exposed to western civilization


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About the Tribe

Even (formerly known as Tungus) are an Indigenous people of Eastern Siberia living in five regions of the Russian Federation: Sakha Republic (Yakutia), Khabarovsky krai, Magadanskaya oblast, Kamchatsky krai and Chukotka. Today, Even number over 22,000 people according to the 2010 Census. Nomadic Even were reindeer herders and hunters; and also fished seasonally. The primary activities of settled Even on the Sea of Okhotsk were fishing, gathering, and hunting marine mammals. Even of the northeastern part of the Sea of Okhotsk coast call themselves Orochel, i.e. ‘reindeer people’, ‘owning reindeer’ (Popova 1981: 5). Even of the Magadan oblast call themselves Menel, which means ‘seated people’, ‘living in one place’ (Popova 1981: 11). Even from the Lower Kolyma river call themselves Ilkar – «real people» (Petrov 1991: 3). Even also have an internal distribution of names: Namankans (sea Even or people of the coast) and Donrytkans (‘living in the deep taiga’ or ‘people of the deep interior’ (Popova 1981: 6–7).

The Evens are hunter-fishermen related to the Evenki that live in the Chukotka, Kamchatka and Magaden regions. Also known as Lamuts and Tungas, they have traditionally lived in chums, wigwam-type dwellings covered with bark or fish skin, and made a variety of things from birch bark.

Like the Evenki, the Evens are unique in the world in that they have a small population but occupy a huge expanse of land. There are only around 17,000 Evens but have traditionally lived in an area covering 3 million square kilometers, an area roughly the size of Western Europe, that embraces mountains, taiga and tundra. Their neighbors include the Yakut, Yukagir, Chukchi and Koyak.

The existence of the Even as a distinct group is partly the work of the Russians who defined them as a distinct group rather than a subgroups based on their language and cultural elements. Over time they became more distinct as they borrowed features from other groups such as the Koyak methods of herding reindeer and the dwellings of the Chukchi and Koryak.



Importance of Animal Products

Even people as well as Evenki people do not have a word for «hello» or «goodbye» in their languages. When Even meet each other they usually say: yav bultanny? Which means ‘how was the hunt?’ Or yak ukchenek, ‘what’s the news?’ A combination of reindeer herding with fishing and hunting is at the core of Even culture. Since Even people were mostly living in mountainous regions, an important food source is the wild mountain sheep (Ujamkan). But there are also others such as wild reindeer (Bujun), moose (Toki), bear (Nakat), musk-deer, (Buchen), marmot (Chamak), different birds and fish. Nonetheless, reindeer are at the core of Even culture and spiritual life. They say: Oron bidjin – Even bidjin, Oron acha odjin – Even acha odjin (As long as there is reindeer – Even will exist. If reindeer disappear – Even will also disappear). Even use reindeer as transport for hunting and for milking. If hunting or fishing was not successful they would resort to slaughtering their own reindeer for food. The connection to reindeer is very close, so this would only be done as a last resort. A reindeer would live for a long time in the family, especially transport reindeer (Gildak) and people preserve a close connection to every reindeer. 

Nimat - Customary Law Many Indigenous Peoples have the tradition of gifting, sharing and reciprocity in their system of social relations. Formally, gift and gifting are voluntary in these societies, but in practice are required; enabling a system of social relations based on the gift that is wider than just economic relations (Godelier 2007). Nimat is the customary law of Even and Evenki. This law is related to hunting and reindeer herding traditions. In literature it is often written that Nimat is a sharing law, but this is a simplification of this tradition. It is more than just sharing. After a successful hunt, a person who killed an animal(s) would offer this as the gift to a friend or his relative. He usually takes only the stomach with intestines or anything else, which would deteriorate quickly. Other parts of the animal usually stay at the place where it was harvested. Then he went home and told his friend or relative that he has a gift for him (Nimat) and that he can find this gift in a certain place. Then he explains him how it can be found. That person had to go then to find it and bring the game back home and share it among other members of community (Gayun – sharing and distribution of game between members of community). He had to decide which part of the animal(s) everyone would get. (Osenin 2017) Nimat is a fundamental law for Even people and food culture is deeply connected to this law. Game caught by one, is also for others: shared with all, and not only between those who are involved in the hunting, but also visitors will get their share – «Nemada» (share of the hunting without participation in it). Not only relatives but also neighbors, and even random people enjoyed unlimited hospitality and fell into the category of the Mata - a person who got a share of the game after hunting. In the past, this custom, and law in the understanding of Even people, pervaded all areas of their lives: it has an explanation in terms of economy, in particular, distribution practices, and in terms of social life, as a mechanism for establishing friendly and, under favorable circumstances, kinship relations on the exchange. It was also deeply rooted in the mind of a hunter, who believed that hunting success depends largely on the goodwill of the host-spirits. In Even traditions the custom of Nimat was elevated to the level of law. But the punishment for violation of this law would come not from people, but from nature. Even believe that after a successful hunt for a mountain sheep, wild reindeer or any other animal; if you do not share with your relatives or friends, then you will not have hunting luck, you will get nothing. The custom of sharing game is a kind of social relations between people, but also relates to the relationship between the society / individual and nature: the need for sharing caused by the traditions based on Even and Evenki notions of our connection with the earth. This was also an attempt to establish social relations with the world of nature and the spirit world in order to ensure vital functions and continued life. The apparent reason for sharing – the expectation of reciprocity and gift not only from a person, but from the nature/ earth/host-spirits (because the hunter did the «right» thing). The accumulation of moral benefits, exceeds the scope of social links and moves into the sphere of relations between «humans – animals – spirit-owners.» Nimat provides territorial and economic relations between the nomads not only between relatives but also between unrelated clans. Probably, this custom helped Even and Evenki peoples settle Siberia so widely, where they had to live on the land occupied by other ethnic groups. So Even people are a very hospitable people, their hospitality has even been spoken of as being unlimited. They have another custom called Idekhe. This is about the slaughter of reindeer for guests and people close by. When you have a guest or when someone close by to you comes to your camp, reindeer herders make Idekhe.


Even use reindeer also for milking. They can milk reindeer from July to February. An adult productive female reindeer (Nyamichan) can produce approx. 1 liter of milk per day with a fat content of up to 19%. Even add it to tea. They also beat milk using a whisk (Itaki), which is then added to Even bread and blueberries.


For Even, the favorite dish made from reindeer milk is Kebel. To make it, fresh reindeer milk is filtered through a dense sieve and cooled down. Then you need to add 1/2 of teaspoon of leaven diluted in a tablespoon of milk and slowly, slowly stir, gradually adding it to 0.5 liters of reindeer milk. Within 15 - 20 minutes the milk will ferment and become a yogurt, then you add blueberry, cloudberry or Even bread and a tasty delicacy is ready. It is usually served for breakfast and you can work for a full day with the reindeer, without feeling hungry. But the most important thing is the leaven preparation: You need fresh abomasum of a just slaughtered reindeer, turn it inside out and, without washing the contents fill it with the fresh reindeer milk. Hang it in the Chora (Even traditional tent) above the fire with smoke and then dry it in the shade. You can also prepare a leaven from the abomasum of the wild mountain sheep – Uyamkan.


The slaughter of a reindeer (Idekhe) or the occasion of a successful hunt for wild reindeer or mountain sheep means time for a feast for an Even family. The first dish is always made from the intestines of animals – a stomach soup (Chalmi, Hilta hilen). When you slaughter domestic reindeer, you immediately make an incision in the solar plexus and cut a blood vessel located along the spine, this is blood for making blood sausage. It turns out a lot of whey and with that you can make a sausage with a bright color. The entrails should be carefully and completely pulled out from the body so as not to spill the contents of the rumen onto other organs. The rectum (Momikan) and cecum, (Mevki) should be kept for the preparation of blood sausage. Other entrails: rumen (Goodi), abomasum (Orakan) and omasum (heŋŋi) should be washed with warm water. And the small intestine (hilta) and duodenum (Kurikich) are washed very carefully, without washing out the contents because they contain a variety of useful enzymes for human consumption, especially in the small intestine. In the old days, the bouillon from stomach soup without fat used to be given to malnourished people who had been hungry for a long time. It can be lethal to eat immediately after a long period of hunger. To such people, do not give a lot of the stock, only small portions every half an hour to revitalize the flora inside their stomach. After only a day or two, this person could drink more bouillon and eat nonfat cuts of viscera. Gradually he/ she will recover after this dish. Many people have been revived thanks to this knowledge. After washing the intestines, you put them into a large pan of boiling water in a specific order. First the rumen, then the abomasum, the midriff and the duodenum. At the end, you put in the small intestines. The small intestines are not boiled for long and are removed after 2 - 3 minutes, otherwise they will dissolve, and the bouillon will become bitter. After boiling all entrails, they are cut into small pieces and added to the bouillon. This soup is poured into bowls and served hot. Even food culture is diverse and rich and a wealth of knowledge is embedded in the Even food system and it is important to preserve, use and develop this knowledge system. Our food systems are little studied and the taboos and sacred knowledge surrounding it offer rich insights and clues as to how Even people can thrive moving forward into the future.

In Topolinoye 30 years ago an elder reindeer herder was lost. His name was Golikov Dmitry Gavrilovich. Afterward he couldn’t explain how it happened. He just went to search for his missing reindeer, without light, food, tent or any other things. They were looking for him for a long time and had not found him. We thought that he and his riding reindeer had been killed by a bear or that there had been an accident. After 1.5 months, this herder came by himself into the camp, which was 700 km away from his herd. He was exhausted and had been starving for a long time. Reindeer herders immediately slaughtered a reindeer and made a bouillon from the stomach soup to give to him. He survived. All reindeer herders are aware of this method from their parents. Story told by Maria Pogodaeva

The Even have traditionally been reindeer herders and hunters. Originally reindeer were used primarily as beasts of burden but as their traditional hunting methods changed they began to rely more on them as a source of food and hides. Today, some Even maintain very large herds of reindeer, with the largest in the 1990s having around 2,000 or so animals. The migration routes are often well defined and in many cases have been followed for centuries by particular clan groups or ethnic groups.

The Even eat nearly every part of the reindeer, including marrow, tendons, gristle and the soft parts of the hooves and horns. They regard eating the meat and tissues raw—particularly the lungs, kidneys and liver—as healthy. They also eat gathered plants, locusts, berries and nuts. Sufferers of frostbite were traditionally treated by wrapping them in the carcass of a freshly killed reindeer. Burns were treated with reindeer blood.

Even Hunting Life

The Even hunted of deer, elks (moose), bears, rabbits, foxes, mountain goats, musk deer and other animals for meat and for fur. When hunting wild reindeer they employed a domesticated reindeer attached with a lasso that would entangle any reindeer that tried to fight it. This deer would be maneuvered by a hunter to the leader of the herd who would try to battle it.

Before firearms became widely used the Even hunted bears alone with a spear and knife. The hunter encouraged the bear to charge and when it did the hunter threw a piece of cloth in the air to get the animal to rise up on its hind legs, leaving its chest area exposed. The hunter then kneeled and extended the spear forward. When the bear tried to lung for the hunter it impaled itself on the spear. The hunter usually had a dog with him whose purpose was to distract the bear if something went wrong with the hunt, allowing the hunter to escape.

The Even used powerful bows when hunting elk (moose) and crossbow-like contraptions to hunt small animals. Mountain goats were ambushed from a hiding place, deer were often killed only after being wounded and chased, sometimes for several days. In the winter the Even followed animals and track them on skis. The Even also fished and hunted nerpas (seals). During the salmon migration season they sectioned off parts of rivers and caught large number of fishing. To catch other kinds of fish they use square and conical nets.

Importance of Plants

They also eat gathered plants, locusts, berries and nuts.

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Transition to Industrialized Food Products

History of the Evenki and Evens

Until around a century ago no distinction was made between the Even and Evenki—ethnic minorities that are recognized as different today. The two groups are more alike than they are different. Their lifestyles, Tungus-Manchu, Altaic language and traditional religions are similar. The main difference is that the Even live mainly in northeast Russia and the Evenki live in the southeast and north central areas of Siberia. The two groups have been physically separated from each other long enough that some different characteristics have emerged.

Tungus-speaking people emerged in ancient times in Siberia. The ancestors of the Evens and Evenki were closely related to the Turkic-speaking Yakut. Around the 11th century B.C. a northern branch of the Tungus began to have contact with the ancestors of the Yukagir. Threatened by the ancient Turks, Tungus-speaking people began migrating to the west, north and particularly the northeast. In the 15th and 16th centuries the people that became the Evens and Evenki settled on the shore of the Sea of Okhotsk. Even though this area was very sparsely populated there were conflicts with other people that lived there, particularly with the Koryaks over grazing pastures for reindeer.

The consolidation of the Evenki as a distinct group with a distinct territory took place after the arrival of the Russians. The Russians set up a system of tribute and in the process of defining which group gave them what they helped the groups establish territories with roughly-defined borders. 

The Evenkis used to be called the Tungus. Describing them in the 1820s, the explorer John Bell wrote: 

"They have no homes where they remain for any time, but range throughout the woods and long rivers for pleasure; and,wherever they come, they erect a few spars, in clinging to one another at the top; these they cover with pieces of boiled birch bark, sewed together, leaving, a hole at the top to let out smoke...They can not bear to sleep in a warm room, but retire to their huts and lie about the fire on skins of wild bears. It is surprising that these creatures can suffer the very piercing cold of these parts."

"They are very civil and tractable, and like to smoke tobacco and drink brandy...I have seen many of the men with oval figures, like wreaths, on their foreheads and chins...These are made, in their infancy, by pricking the parts with needles and rubbing them with charcoal...They have many shamans among them, I was told of others, whose abilities for fortune-telling far exceeded those of the shaman."

"The women dressed in a fur-gown, reaching below the knee, and tied about the waist with a girdle...made of deer skins, having their hair curiously stitched down and ornamented...The dress of the men consists of a short jacket with narrow sleeves made of deer skin, having the fur outward; trousers and hoses of the same kind of skin...They have besides a piece of fur, that covers the breasts and stomach, which is hung about the neck with a string of leather."

"Their arms are a bow and several sorts of arrows, according to the different kinds of game they intend to hunt...In winter, the season for hunting wild beasts, they travel on what are called snow shoes...They have a different kind of shoe for ascending hills, with the skins of seal glued to the boards, having the hair inclined backwards which prevents them from sliding on there shoes...When a Tungus goes hunting into the woods, he carries with him no provisions, but depends entirely on what he has to catch."

After the arrival of the Russians the Even were forced to expend more effort to producing furs for tributes to the tsar and less energy to traditional hunting. The introduction of firearms also changed their hunting style dramatically. Some hunters wore a hunting hat with ornaments made of walrus ivory.

Since the break up of the Soviet Union the Evenks and the Nenets have suffered catastrophic declines in life expectancy and high rates of sickness and death that have prompted speculation that some of those groups may become extinct. [Source: Library of Congress, 1996]

Jan 1, 100

Total Dietary Regulation in the Treatment of Diabetes


Aretaeus of Cappadocia (30–90 A.D.) is the second to describe diabetes and uses 'to run through' or 'a siphon' to explain how one urinates unceasingly until death.

Aretaeus of Cappadocia (30–90 A.D.), living under the emperor Nero, and writing in Ionian Greek, was the second to describe dia betes, and the first known to have called it by the name (6taffaively, to run through; Śwaffhrms, a siphon). In a passage translated by Schnée", Aretaeus outlines some of the principal symptoms, the progressive course, and the fatal prognosis. He anticipates modern conceptions of a failure of assimilation, conversion of tissue into urinary products, and possible origin of some cases in acute infections. He was retro grade in treatment, for he advised a non-irritating diet of milk and carbohydrates, and hiera, nardum, mastix, and theriak (opium?sugar?) as drugs. He is commonly credited with being the first to regard diabetes as a disease of the stomach; but his vague notion of a dis order akin to ascites hardly entitles him to a claim upon this false idea which was productive of so much truth in the period from Rollo to Cantani.

“Diabetes is a strange disease, which fortunately is not very frequent. It con sists in the flesh and bones running together into urine. It is like dropsy in that the the cause of both is moisture and coldness, but in diabetes the moisture escapes through the kidneys and bladder. The patients urinate unceasingly; the urine keeps running like a rivulet. The illness develops very slowly. Its final outcome is death. The emaciation increases very rapidly, so that the existence of the patients is a sad and painful one. The patients are tortured by an unquenchable thirst; they never cease drinking and urinating, and the quantity of the urine ex ceeds that of the liquid imbibed. Neither is there any use in trying to prevent the patient from urinating and from drinking; for if he abstains only a short time from drinking his mouth becomes parched, and he feels as if a consuming fire were raging in his bowels. The patient is tortured in a terrible manner by thirst. If he re tains the urine, the hips, loins, and testicles begin to swell; the swelling subsides as soon as he passes the urine. When the illness begins, the mouth begins to be parched, and the saliva is white and frothy. A sensation of heat and cold extends down into the bladder as the illness progresses; and as it progresses still more there is a consuming heat in the bowels. The integuments of the abdomen become wrinkled, and the whole body wastes away. The secretion of the urine becomes more copious, and the thirst increases more and more. The disease was called diabetes, as though it were a siphon, because it converts the human body into a pipe for the transflux of liquid humors. Now, since the patient goes on drinking and urinating, while only the smallest portion of what he drinks is assimilated by the body, life naturally cannot be preserved very long, for a portion of the flesh also is excreted through the urine. The cause of the disease may be that some malignity has been left in the system by some acute malady, which afterward is developed into this disease. It is possible also that it is caused by a poison con tained in the kidneys or bladder, or by the bite of the thirst-adder or dipsas.”

"Aretaeus’ writings were unknown in Europe until 1552. His aim in treating what was clearly type 1 diabetes was to overcome the  diabetes: the biography 12 intense thirst, and to this end he began with a purge and followed it with a variety of mixtures to soothe the stomach."

Diabetes: The Biography

Jan 1, 100

Total Dietary Regulation in the Treatment of Diabetes


A Roman named Aulus Cornelius Celsus describes diabetes 2000 years ago.

Hippocrates (460-377 B.C.) made no mention of any condition clearly recognizable as diabetes. A notion concerning the quantity of urine, in a passage translated by Richardson from the third book of the Epidemics,” is like that of Celsus, but the first known recognition of diabetes occurred at about the height of the Roman power. 

Aulus Cornelius Celsus (30 B.C.–50 A.D.) wrote as follows: 

“When urine, even in excess of the drink, and flowing forth without pain, causes emaciation and danger, if it is thin, exercise and massage are indicated, especially in the sun or before a fire; the bath should be infrequent, nor should one linger long in it; the food should be con stipating, the wine sour and unmixed, in summer cold, in winter luke warm; but everything in smallest possible quantity. The bowels also should be moved by enema, or purged with milk. If the urine is thick, both exercise and massage should be more vigorous; one should stay longer in the bath; the food should be light, the wine likewise. In each disease, all things should be avoided that are accustomed to increase urine.” 

In this compressed passage, Celsus gives the first description of diabetes, introduces an error (fluid output greater than intake) destined to endure eighteen centuries, and touches some modern treat ment. It is not known to what extent this knowledge was original with Celsus or handed down by predecessors. At any rate, the recog nition of the disease was so new that it had not yet received a name. 


Aulus Cornelius Celsus (c. 25 BC – c. 50 AD) was a Roman encyclopaedist, known for his extant medical work, De Medicina, which is believed to be the only surviving section of a much larger encyclopedia. The De Medicina is a primary source on diet, pharmacy, surgery and related fields, and it is one of the best sources concerning medical knowledge in the Roman world. The lost portions of his encyclopedia likely included volumes on agriculture, law, rhetoric, and military arts. He made contributions to the classification of human skin disorders in dermatology, such as Myrmecia, and his name is often occurring in medical terms about the skin, e.g., kerion celsi and area celsi.


Jan 1, 205

A Comparison of Ancient Greek and Roman Sports Diets with Modern Day Practices


Galen says on usage of broad beans as food: "Our gladiators eat a great deal of this food every day, making the condition of their body fleshy – not compact, dense flesh like pork, but flesh that is somehow more flabby."

In terms of diets, we also know that specific types of athletes were fed in ways that matched their needs and improved their performance. One such form of sport was the ancient gladiator, and here we learn from Galen, that beans were highly recommended in order to build bulk into such athletes. Galen even goes so far as to state that the bean should be boiled long enough in order to avoid flatulence [28].

On broad beans: “There is also much use made of these, since soups are prepared from them, the fluid one in pots and the thick one in pans. Our gladiators eat a great deal of this food every day, making the condition of their body fleshy – not compact, dense flesh like pork, but flesh that is somehow more flabby. The food is flatulent, even if it has been cooked for a very long time, and however it has been prepared, while ptisane gets rid of all flatulent effect during the period of cooking.”

Jan 1, 210

A Comparison of Ancient Greek and Roman Sports Diets with Modern Day Practices


Celsus preferred beef while Galen preferred pork in terms of providing the best nutrition.

 In the early days, athletes relied on their trainer to make sure that their dietary needs were met. However, it was not long before medical doctors took over, and the first sports physicians were created. In a report from Philostratos we learn [23].

“...The Sicilian style of fancy food gained popularity; the guts went out of athletics and, more important, trainers became too easy on their pupils. Doctors took the lead in introducing permissiveness, setting it up as an adjunct to their treatment...from these Doctors athletes learned to be lazy and to exercise after sitting around stuffed with enough food to fill an Egyptian or African meal sack; they gave us chefs and cooks to please our palates. They turned athletes into gluttons with bottomless stomachs.”

However, whilst it was popular or fashionable to have a physician designing your diet, it seems that these medical doctors did not always share the same opinion about what the athletes should eat. Celsus, who was not trained as a medical practitioner, although he wrote a great deal about medical practices, and Galen, who was medically trained, did not agree on the type of meat that was the “strongest”, that is to say the most nutritious, for an athlete. Celsus preferred beef whilst Galen, who was particularly enthusiastic about the advice given, considering him to be an expert on diet and exercise [25], gave the Olympic gold, so to speak, to pork, which he felt was the most nutritious form of meat. Maybe this was based on his own positive experience with pork when he was a medical practitioner in Pergamon where he took part in the training of gladiators.

Ancient athletes would most likely not have been able to afford very much protein in the form of meat, and would as a consequence not have eaten meat on a daily basis. However, we know from Celsus [19] and Galen [22] that meat in the form of terrestrial and aquatic livestock was considered nutritious, and was classified among the “strong” foodstuffs. Celsus and Galen [19,22] could not, however, agree as to which meat was the “strongest”, Celsus [19] favoured beef, whilst Galen [22] never misses a chance to sing the praises of pork, which alongside fresh milk was his favourite food.

“Among food from domesticated quadrupeds pork is the weakest, beef the strongest. And so also of game, the larger the animal the stronger the food yields” [19]

“Flesh, when well concocted, produces the best blood, especially in the case of animals such as the pig family, which produce healthy humour. Pork is the most nutritious of all foods, and athletes provide a very visible test of this. For when, after identical exercises, they take the same amount of a different food on one day, straightway on the following day they appear not only weaker but also obviously less well fed.”

“Beef itself gives a nutriment that is neither small in quantity nor easily dispersed; yet it produces blood that is inappropriately thick” [28].

“Lambs also have flesh that is very moist and productive of mucus. But that of adult sheep is more productive of residues and more unwholesome. The flesh of goats is unwholesome too, with bitterness” [28].

Poultry was also considered a nutritious foodstuff, although here size mattered. Celsus [19] ascribed poultry to the “medium” class of foodstuffs, whilst Galen was not so generous in his appraisal, preferring once again to extol the virtues of pigs and terming poultry meat as “poorly nutritious”.

“Likewise of those birds, which belong to the middle class, those which rely more on their feet are stronger food than those which rely more on their wings; and of those birds which depend on flight, the larger birds yield stronger food than the smaller, such as fig-eater and thrush. And those also which pass their time in the water yield a weaker food than those which have no knowledge of swimming” [19].

“The family of all winged animals is poorly nutritious when compared with that of terrestrial animals, especially pigs: you would find no flesh more nutritious than theirs” [28].

Fish too were classified as a “middle” foodstuff by Celsus [19], although here preference was given to the oily fish such as mackerel in comparison with bass and mullet. This is in accordance to general recommendations today concerning intake of oily fish like salmon and tuna, although the reason given here is to prevent heart diseases. Galen goes one step further in his assessment of fish, telling us that they are not appropriate for athletes but should rather be reserved for those who are weak and ill.

“The fish most in use belong to the middle class; the strongest are, however, those from which salted preparations can be made, such as the mackerel; next come those which, although more tender, are nevertheless firm, such as the gilthead, gurnard, sea bream, eye fish, then the flat fish, and after these still softer, the bass and mullets, and after these all rock fish” [19].

“But from all the above fish the nutriment is best for those who are not in training, and the idle, frail and convalescent. People in training need more nutritious food, about which there has been previous comment” [28].

“...the best milk is just about the most wholesome of any of the foods we consume”[28].

“For cows´ milk is very thick and fatty, while milk from the camel is very liquid and much less fatty; and next to the latter animal is that from mares, and following this, ass´s milk. Goat´s milk is well proportioned in its composition, but ewe´s milk is thicker” [28].

“Its continued use also harms the teeth, together with the flesh surrounding them, which they call “gums”. For it makes these flabby, and makes the teeth liable to decay and easily eaten away. Accordingly one should rinse the mouth with diluted wine after consuming milk, and it is better if you put honey with it” [28].

“Moreover it is neither unwholesome nor very markedly productive of thick humour, a common charge against all cheeses. A very fine cheese is the one highly regarded by the wealthy in Rome (its name is bathysikos), as well as some others in other regions” [28].

“Among pulses, beans and lentils are stronger food than peas” [19].

“However, they [Figs] do not produce firm, strong flesh like bread and pork do, but a spongy flesh, as the broad bean does” [28].

Jan 1, 1267

The Popes and Science


A Friar Bacon is punished (for writing too much) "He was ordered to be confined to his cell in the monastery and to be fed on bread and water for a considerable period"

Unfortunately, difficulties occurred within Friar Bacon's own order. It is not quite clear now just how these came about. The Franciscans of the rigid observance of those early times took vows of the severest poverty. There had been some relaxation of the rule, however, and certain abuses crept in. The consequence was the re-assertion after a time of the original rule of absolute poverty in all its stringency. It was Friar Bacon himself who had chosen this mode of life and had taken the vows of poverty. Paper was a very dear commodity, if indeed it was invented early enough in the century for him to have used it. Vellum was even more expensive. Just what material Bacon employed for his writings is not now known. Whatever it was, it seems to have cost much money, and because of his violation of his vow of poverty Roger Bacon fell under the ban of his order. He was ordered to be confined to his cell in the monastery and to be fed on bread and water for a considerable period. It must not be forgotten that this was within a century after the foundation of the Franciscans, and to an ardent son of St. Francis the living on bread and water would not be a very difficult thing at this time, since his ordinary diet would, at least during certain portions of the year, be scarcely better than this. There is no account of how Roger Bacon took his punishment. He might easily have left his order. There were many others at that time who did. He wished to remain as a faithful son of St. Francis, and seems to have accepted his punishment with the idea that his example would influence others of the order to submit to the enforcement of the regulation with regard to poverty, which superiors now thought so important, if the original spirit of St. Francis was to be regained.

Jan 1, 1673

Directions for Governing the Appetite Or, Directions against Gluttony


Richard Baxter, a priest born in 1615, wrote about the sin of gluttony and says the causes are both excess and "Or else it may be an excess in the delicious quantity, when more regard is had to the delight and sweetness than is fit."

I. Gluttony is a voluntary excess in eating, for the pleasing of the appetite, or some other carnal end.

(1.) It is sometimes an excess in quantity, when more is eaten than is fit.

(2.) Or else it may be an excess in the delicious quantity, when more regard is had to the delight and sweetness than is fit.

(3.) Or it may be an excess in the frequency or length of eating; when men eat too often, and sit at it too long.

(4.) It may be an excess in the costliness or price; when men feed themselves at too high rates.

Common gluttony is when it is done for the pleasing of the appetite, with such a pleasure, as is no help to health or duty, but usually a hurt to body or soul; the body being hurt by the excess, the soul is hurt by the inordinate pleasure.

Yes, it is a kind of gluttony and excess, when men will not fast or abstain when they are required, from that which at other times they may use with temperance and without blame. If a man is accustomed to not eat excessively nor deliciously, yet if he will not abstain from his temperate diet, either at a public fast, or when his lust requires him to take down his body, or when his physician would diet him for his health, and his disease else would be increased by what he eats—this is an inordinate eating and excess to that person, at that time. Or if the delight that the appetite has in one sort of food, which is hurtful to the body, prevails against reason and health so with the person that he will not forbear it, it is a degree of gluttony, though for quantity and quality it is in itself but ordinary.

By this you may see:

1. That it is not the same quantity which is an excess in one, which is in another. A laboring man may eat somewhat more than one that does not labor; and a strong and healthful body may eat more than the weak and sick. It must be an excess in quantity, as to that particular person at that time, which is, when to please his appetite he eats more than is profitable to his health or duty.

2. So also the frequency must be considered with the quality of the person; for one person may rationally eat a little and often, for his health; and another may luxuriously eat more often than is profitable to health. Ecclesiastes 10:16, 17, "Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child, and your princes eat in the morning. Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles, and your princes eat in due season, for strength and not for drunkenness."

3. And in point of costliness, the same measure is not to be set to a prince and to a ploughman; that is luxurious excess in one, which may be temperance and frugality in another. But yet, excessive cost, which, all things considered, would do more good another way, is excess in whomever.

4. And in tastiness of diet a difference must be allowed: the happier healthful man need not be so particular as the sick; and the happy ploughman need not be so particular, as state and expectation somewhat require the noble and the rich to be.

5. And for length of time, though unnecessary sitting out time at table is a sin in any, yet the happy poor man is not obliged to spend all out so much this way, as the rich may do.

6. And it is not all delight in food, or pleasing the appetite, that is a sin; but only that which is made men's end, and not referred to a higher end; even when the delight itself does not tend to health, nor alacrity in duty, nor is used to that end, but to please the flesh and tempt unto excess.

Jan 1, 1674

Sir Thomas Willis

Diabetes Mellitus


Thomas Willis treats diabetes by recommending diet high in sugar to replace leaking sugar, discovered sweet taste of pee.

1674 - Diabetes Mellitus by Sir Thomas Willis - Oxford

"In 1674, Thomas Willis treated diabetes by recommending a diet high in sugar, in order to replace the sugar being leaked by the kidneys, thereby inadvertently hastening patients’ deaths." via David Haslam

"Thomas Willis pensively sipped from his glass. It was sweet, even a little delicious. In 1674 the Oxford University physician was far from the first doctor to taste urine, but he was the first Western doctor we know of to connect the sweetness of urine to the condition of its owner, a person suffering the effects of diabetes. Willis was baffled by his findings and recorded his experience in Pharmaceutice rationalis: “But why that it is wonderfully sweet like sugar or honey, this difficulty is worthy of explanation.” Sickening Sweet

Jul 21, 1768

Royal College of Physicians of London


First mention of chest pain in England.


Michaels recounts that William Heberden, one of the “most learned physicians of the day,” presented the first properly recorded cases of chest pain to the Royal College of Physicians of London on July 21, 1768. The afflicted “are seized, while they are walking . . . a painful and most disagreeable sensation in the breast, which seems as if it would take their life away if it were to increase or to continue.” These attacks would continue for months, or even years, until the final blow came. Heberden called the condition angina pectoris (severe pain of the breast) (Michaels 2001, 9).

Dec 1, 1778

John Rollo

Observations on the Diseases Which Appeared in the Army at St. Lucia in 1778 and 1779. To Which Are Prefixed Remarks, Calculated to Assist in Explaining the Treatment of Those Diseases. With an Appendix, Containing a Short Address to Military Gentlemen on the Means of Preserving Health in the West Indies


Dr Rollo, who later recommended a meat diet, writes 20 years earlier while stationed in St Lucia, that the civilized town Carenage with sugar production had far greater disease than the fishing village of Gros Islet and attributes it to a difference in diet.

Observations on the Diseases Which Appeared in the Army at St. Lucia in 1778 and 1779. To Which Are Prefixed Remarks, Calculated to Assist in Explaining the Treatment of Those Diseases. With an Appendix, Containing a Short Address to Military Gentlemen on the Means of Preserving Health in the West Indies 

in the fourth chapter the author describes the situations of the island, in which the men specified in the table were fixed, and endeavours to determine which are the most healthy. For this purpoSe he gives a comparative view of the health of the natives compared with that of the troops. 

He observes, that "at Carenage-town the People are:

  • short-lived, 

  • have annual attacks of fever, 

  • yellow and meagre countenances, 

  • small legs, except when eedematous, 

  • so that they have the appearance of persons worn out by disease. 

At Gros Met, we are told:

  •  the inhabitants live longer,

  • are not fo subject to disease, at least not the same degree or duration,

  •  and that they are fuller in the face,

  •  and more hearty.

At Souffrir the inhabitants have:

  •  cheerful countenances, 

  • and nearly in a state of health with those of Gros Islet, 

but this, our author thinks, may be attributed to a better diet rather than situation. "

On the extensive plain to windward of this place very few diseases appear, and they are mostly internments : the countenances here of the women, of the children, and even of the men, have some degree of resemblance to those of the European, the female has the red on her cheek, and the child has all the marks of health.


Carenage, formerly known as Le Carenage, is one of the most popular bays located in west Trinidad. This bay, which is a famous sea bathing and liming area, got its name out of the practice of "careening", or cleaning out the waste materials in sea vessels, which was carried out in the area for centuries.

Initially, Le Carenage was the name given to the river flowing into this bay as well as the valley were the river flowed.

The Carenage valley, possibly because of its extremely fertile soils was essentially an agricultural area where crops sugar-cane, cotton and coffee were grown. In fact, the area contained ten sugar mills, five rum distilleries and a workforce consisting of 607 enslaved Africans and 131 'free' people of colour. Owners of the estates comprised of 19 families (64 whites), including the Dumas, Noel, Dert, Mercie families.


Gros Islet (English: Large Island) is a community near the northern tip of the island country of Saint Lucia, in the Gros Islet Quarter. Originally a quiet fishing village, it has gone on to become one of the more popular tourist destinations in the country.[3]

Settled by the Carib (and possibly Arawak), the area was first identified as Gros Islet in a French map from 1717.[4] The community was a Roman Catholic parish, as the first priests who arrived on the island settled in the village in 1749.[5]

Who were the Carib? - Possibly a carnivore population. 

The Carib Indians were primarily fishing people. They took to sea in their long canoes to catch fish, crabs, and other seafood. Hunters also shot birds and small game. In some Carib communities, farming was an important food source, with cassava, beans, squash, and peppers being grown. Other Carib groups did little farming and acquired peppers and cassava through trade or raiding.

Jan 1, 1793

The Vegetarian Crusade


Founder of the Bible Christians Church, William Cowherd, joined the Swedenborgian New Jerusalem Church in Manchester in 1793 and embraced the politics of Christian spiritualism, pacificism, and meatless dietetics.


The Bible Christians migrating to Philadelphia did so with the full support of the movement’s founder, William Cowherd, who preached that it was only possible to live an authentic religious life in an agricultural society.

In 1793, Cowherd, tired of the sectarian quibbles and professional jealousies that seemed to pervade Anglicanism, left his pulpit and became the spiritual leader of the Swedenborgian New Jerusalem Church in Manchester. He embraced the radical politics of the movement, including its Christian spiritualism, pacifi st worldview, and meatless dietetics. Cowherd quickly realized, however, that even the Swedenborgians were affl icted by interpersonal conflict and power plays. Infl uenced by the radical politics of Thomas Paine and William Godwin, Cowherd decided to start his own movement.  At the heart of the Bible Christian Church were three guiding principles: temperance, pacifism, and a meatless diet.  In the early years of the nineteenth century, Cowherd’s church grew, primarily drawing members of Manchester’s working class with the promise of salvation for their souls and free vegetable soup for their stomachs.

Jun 12, 1796

John Rollo

Diabetes It's Medical and Cultural History


Dr Rollo meets Captain Meredith and explains the meat diet to cure diabetes.

Diabetes Its Medical and Cultural History

"From that period I had not met with a case of Diabetes, although I had observed an extensive range of disease in America, the West Indies, and in England, until 1796." "Captain Meredith, of the Royal Artillery, being an acquaintance. I had seen him very frequently, previous to his going on camp duty in 1794, but then he had no disease; however, he always had impressed me, from his being a large corpulent person, with the idea that he was not unlikely to fall into disease. (Editor: Another instance of Rollo's clinical acuteness.)" "On the 12th of June, 1796, he visited me, and though I was at once struck with the diminution of his size, yet, at the same time, the colour of his face being ruddy, I received no impression, otherwise than of his being in health: a moment's conversation, however, convinced me of the contrary ...... 

"He complained of great thirst and a keenness of appetite; his skin was hot, dry and parched; and his pulse small and quick. He told me his complaints had been attributed to an old disease, and a liver affection. The thirst, dry skin, and quick pulse, marking a febrile state, depending probably on some local circumstance, and connecting these with the keenness of appetite, Diabetes immediately suggested itself to me. I enquired into the state of his urine, which I found in quantity and colour to be characteristic of the disease; and was at the same time much surprised, that for the two or three months he had been under the care of a Physician and Surgeon, the circumstance of the increased urine had not been known to them. The patient told me, as he drank so much, the quantity of urine had appeared to him a necessary consequence; and of course never having been asked about it, he gave no information. I directed him to keep the urine he next passed, and, on examination, it was found to be sweet; in consequence of which the disease became sufficiently ascertained." 

At another point in the case history, Rollo states that Captain Meredith was 34 years of age and was 71 3/4 inches tall. At the time of beginning of the special treatment, the symptoms of diabetes had been present seven months or more and his weight had fallen from 232 to 162 pounds. A view held by some at that time was that diabetes was a primary affection of the kidneys. However, Rollo developed the idea that the disease was "a primary and peculiar affection" of the stomach in which, due to some morbid changes in "the natural powers of digestion and assimilation," sugar or saccharine material was formed in that organ, chiefly from vegetable matter. It was on this basis that he advocated the use of an animal diet together with certain medication designed to quiet the overactive stomach and to diminish the appetite. 

Following initial bloodlettings, Rollo's treatment of Captain Meredith was as follows: 

"1st. The diet to consist of animal food principally, and to be thus regulated: 

Breakfast. One and a half pint of milk and half a pint of lime-water, mixed together; and bread and butter. 

Noon. Plain blood-puddings, made of blood and suet only. 

Dinner. Game, or old meats, which have been long kept; and as far as the stomach may bear, fat and rancid old meats, as pork. To eat in moderation. 

Supper. The same as breakfast." 

"2dly. A drachm of kali sulphuratum to be dissolved in four quarts of water which has been boiled, and to be used for daily drink. No other article whatever, either eatable or drinkable, to be allowed, than what has been stated." 

"3dly. The skin to be annointed with hog's lard every morning. Flannel to be worn next the skin. The gentlest exercise to be only permitted; but confinement to be preferred." 

"4thly. A draught at bed-time of twenty drops of tartarized antimonial wine and twenty-five of tincture of opium; and the quantities to be gradually increased. In reserve, as substances diminishing action, tobacco and foxglove. " 

"5thly. An ulceration, about the size of half a crown, to be produced and maintained externally, and immediately opposite to each kidney. And, 

"6thly. A pill of equal parts aloes and soap, to keep the bowels regularly open."


A special diabetic diet was undoubtedly one of the foremost therapeutic measures, even before the age of insulin. Even before it was recognized that diabetes was a disorder of carbohydrate metabolism, various kinds of diet had been recommended. A change to a diet decided purely pragmatically, which was nevertheless very effective, did not come until JOHN ROLLO (d. 1809), a Scottish physician, who, in 1797, had achieved good results with a meat diet, made his recommendation (MARBLE; ANDERSON; BECKENDORF). He gave a particularly detailed account  The History of Diabetes mellitus 85 of the case of Captain MEREDITH of the Royal Artillery, who became diabetic at the age of 34, and who was very obviously overweight. His diet consisted of a breakfast and supper of milk mixed with lime-water and bread and butter, while his dinner consisted of pudding made of fat and blood and mature, preferably rank pork. In this way he had - without being conscious of it - excluded carbohydrates almost entirely from the diet. The patient of course lost a great deal of weight and felt extremely well. 

A second patient was less cooperative and therefore died at the age of 57, 19 months after treatment was begun, mainly - as ROLLO pointed out - because during his last three months he indulged in such things as apple pudding, sugar in his tea, and wine. 

The "meat diet" was used well into the 19th century, although gradually it was considered wiser not to cut out all carbohydrates, and patients had a certain amount of carbohydrate added to their diet, even though that caused some glycosuria. This kind of diet was initiated in the middle of the 19th century, mainly by ADOLF NIKOLAUS VON DURING (1820-1882) and RUDOLF EDUARD KULZ (1845-1895). The latter even distinguished between harmful and harmless carbohydrates and found that levulose, inulin, inosit, mannite, and lactose, as well as some root vegetables like celery, comfrey, etc. caused no deterioration of the metabolic condition. But it remains true that many specialists did recommend a carbohydrate-free diet with a lot of meat and fat (DICKINSON; PAVY; SEEGEN; R. SCHUMACHER, STEPP). 

Oct 19, 1796

John Rollo

Diabetes Its Medical and Cultural History


Captain Meredith is cured of diabetes on Rollo's meat diet. The simplified therapy is thought to be animal food.

Captain Meredith began the above treatment on Oct. 19, 1796. Two days later the quantity of urine passed in twenty-four hours had fallen from seven or eight quarts to six quarts. By November 1 the quantity did not exceed four quarts and on November 4 "he drank only three pints of water, and made only two quarts of urine, which to him and his servants (who had been in the habit of tasting his urine from curiosity) was not sweet." As time went on, the opium at bedtime was discontinued and the rubbing with hog's lard was left off. The latter was found to be a "troublesome and disagreeable" part of the treatment. Rollo decided to simplify therapy to include those features which were considered really essential: animal food, confinement with limitation of activity, and hepatized ammonia. The hepatized ammonia (ammonium sulphide) was used in place of "kali sulphuratum," originally prescribed, with the thought that it might be "a more certain and active medicine than the other on the stomach, in diminishing its action." 

Captain Meredith was directed to keep notes regarding his symptoms, diet, medication and progress of his illness. He did this quite faithfully, recording his transgressions as well as his attempts at cooperation. When at times he indulged in apples, bread and beer, Rollo found it necessary "to point out in stronger language the impropriety of such deviations." By December 30 the patient was free from abnormal thirst and polyuria, was regaining some of his lost weight and felt well. Continuation of treatment with a somewhat more liberal allowance of bread in the diet was prescribed.