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
Click this Slide deck Gallery to see high quality images of the tribe, daily life, diet, hunting and gathering or recipes
About the Tribe
I had now been several days without tasting anything besides meat: I did not at all dislike this new regimen; but I felt as if it would only have agreed with me with hard exercise. I have heard that patients in England, when desired to confine themselves exclusively to an animal diet, even with the hope of life before their eyes, have hardly been able to endure it. Yet the Gaucho in the Pampas, for months together, touches nothing but beef. But they eat, I observe, a very large proportion of fat, which is of a less animalised nature; and they particularly dislike dry meat, such as that of the Agouti. Dr. Richardson, also, has remarked, “that when people have fed for a long time solely upon lean animal food, the desire for fat becomes so insatiable, that they can consume a large quantity of unmixed and even oily fat without nausea:” this appears to me a curious physiological fact. It is, perhaps, from their meat regimen that the Gauchos, like other carnivorous animals, can abstain long from food. I was told that at Tandeel some troops voluntarily pursued a party of Indians for three days, without eating or drinking.
Charles Darwin, Voyage of the Beagle (1839)
Importance of Animal Products
The gaucho diet was composed almost entirely of beef while on the range, supplemented by yerba mate (erva-mate in Portuguese), an herbal infusion made from the leaves of a South American tree, a type of holly rich in caffeine and nutrients.
Book about adventures with a Gaucho (lots of meat eating)
Importance of Plants
Transition to Industrialized Food Products
Sep 17, 1832
Journal of Researches into the Natural History & Geology of the countries visited during the voyage round the world of H.M.S. Beagle
Charles Darwin: I had now been several days without tasting anything besides meat: I did not at all dislike this new regimen; but I felt as if it would only have agreed with me with hard exercise. I have heard that patients in England, when desired to confine themselves exclusively to an animal diet, even with the hope of life before their eyes, have hardly been able to endure it. Yet the Gaucho in the Pampas, for months together, touches nothing but beef.
September 16th.—To the seventh posta at the foot of the Sierra Tapalguen. The country was quite level, with a coarse herbage and a soft peaty soil. The hovel was here remarkably neat, the posts and rafters being made of about a dozen dry thistle-stalks bound together with thongs of hide; and by the support of these Ionic-like columns, the roof and sides were thatched with reeds. We were here told a fact, which I would not have credited, if I had not had partly ocular proof of it; namely, that, during the previous night, hail as large as small apples, and extremely hard, had fallen with such violence as to kill the greater number of the wild animals. One of the men had already found thirteen deer (Cervus campestris) lying dead, and I saw their fresh hides; another of the party, a few minutes after my arrival, brought in seven more. Now I well know, that one man without dogs could hardly have killed seven deer in a week. The men believed they had seen about fifteen dead ostriches (part of one of which we had for dinner); and they said that several were running about evidently blind in one eye. Numbers of smaller birds, as ducks, hawks, and partridges, were killed. I saw one of the latter with a black mark on its back, as if it had been struck with a paving-stone. A fence of thistle-stalks round the hovel was nearly broken down, and my informer, putting his head out to see what was the matter, received a severe cut, and now wore a bandage. The storm was said to have been of limited extent: we certainly saw from our last night’s bivouac a dense cloud and lightning in this direction. It is marvellous how such strong animals as deer could thus have been killed; but I have no doubt, from the evidence I have given, that the story is not in the least exaggerated. I am glad, however, to have its credibility supported by the Jesuit Dobrizhoffer, who, speaking of a country much to the northward, says, hail fell of an enormous size and killed vast numbers of cattle: the Indians hence called the place Lalegraicavalca, meaning “the little white things.” Dr. Malcolmson, also, informs me that he witnessed in 1831 in India a hail-storm, which killed numbers of large birds and much injured the cattle. These hail-stones were flat, and one was ten inches in circumference, and another weighed two ounces. They ploughed up a gravel-walk like musket-balls, and passed through glass-windows, making round holes, but not cracking them.
Having finished our dinner of hail-stricken meat, we crossed the Sierra Tapalguen; a low range of hills, a few hundred feet in height, which commences at Cape Corrientes. The rock in this part is pure quartz; farther eastward I understand it is granitic. The hills are of a remarkable form; they consist of flat patches of table-land, surrounded by low perpendicular cliffs, like the outliers of a sedimentary deposit. The hill which I ascended was very small, not above a couple of hundred yards in diameter; but I saw others larger. One which goes by the name of the “Corral,” is said to be two or three miles in diameter, and encompassed by perpendicular cliffs between thirty and forty feet high, excepting at one spot, where the entrance lies. Falconer gives a curious account of the Indians driving troops of wild horses into it, and then by guarding the entrance keeping them secure. I have never heard of any other instance of table-land in a formation of quartz, and which, in the hill I examined, had neither cleavage nor stratification. I was told that the rock of the “Corral” was white, and would strike fire.
We did not reach the posta on the Rio Tapalguen till after it was dark. At supper, from something which was said, I was suddenly struck with horror at thinking that I was eating one of the favourite dishes of the country, namely, a half formed calf, long before its proper time of birth. It turned out to be Puma; the meat is very white, and remarkably like veal in taste. Dr. Shaw was laughed at for stating that “the flesh of the lion is in great esteem, having no small affinity with veal, both in colour, taste, and flavour.” Such certainly is the case with the Puma. The Gauchos differ in their opinion whether the Jaguar is good eating, but are unanimous in saying that cat is excellent.
September 17th.—We followed the course of the Rio Tapalguen, through a very fertile country, to the ninth posta. Tapalguen itself, or the town of Tapalguen, if it may be so called, consists of a perfectly level plain, studded over, as far as the eye can reach, with the toldos, or oven-shaped huts of the Indians. The families of the friendly Indians, who were fighting on the side of Rosas, resided here. We met and passed many young Indian women, riding by two or three together on the same horse: they, as well as many of the young men, were strikingly handsome,—their fine ruddy complexions being the picture of health. Besides the toldos, there were three ranchos; one inhabited by the Commandant, and the two others by Spaniards with small shops.
We were here able to buy some biscuit. I had now been several days without tasting anything besides meat: I did not at all dislike this new regimen; but I felt as if it would only have agreed with me with hard exercise. I have heard that patients in England, when desired to confine themselves exclusively to an animal diet, even with the hope of life before their eyes, have hardly been able to endure it. Yet the Gaucho in the Pampas, for months together, touches nothing but beef. But they eat, I observe, a very large proportion of fat, which is of a less animalised nature; and they particularly dislike dry meat, such as that of the Agouti. Dr. Richardson, also, has remarked, “that when people have fed for a long time solely upon lean animal food, the desire for fat becomes so insatiable, that they can consume a large quantity of unmixed and even oily fat without nausea:” this appears to me a curious physiological fact. It is, perhaps, from their meat regimen that the Gauchos, like other carnivorous animals, can abstain long from food. I was told that at Tandeel some troops voluntarily pursued a party of Indians for three days, without eating or drinking.
Jul 21, 1906
A Book of the Week - Diet and Dietetics by Gautier
Luckily, no band of prophets has yet risen to urge us to confine our eating exclusively to meat. And yet an exclusive meat diet has in certain circumstances been tried and not found wanting, as long as the meat is accompanied by fat.
At the present moment we are in the midst of one of those periodical outbursts of discussion concerning food. Plentiful evidence is afforded by the various catering companies that ideas and theories on the subject are taking the definite and practical form of a return to dishes of greater simplicity than were fashionable before the movement began. So many dogmatic opinions are expressed and propagated, that those who, without being fanatics, desire to order their lives intelligently in regard to the food they eat, will be glad to turn to a scientific authority like M. A. Gautier, whose Diet and Dietetics (Constable) has constantly been translated into English by Dr. A. J. Rice-Oxley. The work is a very learned one, and we may as well say here that it is not our intention to attempt any criticism of the innumerable analyses contained in it. The broad result only concerns the reader who wishes to have sound guidance in regard to diet, without caring to devote a large proportion of his time to what, after all, is a mere detail of existence. There are certain main propositions to which he would like an answer.
On one side he is admonished by certain zealous reformers to give up meat and confine himself to a vegetable diet. M. Gautier, who carries out the Apostle’s injunction to be temperate in all things, does not endorse the teaching of the vegetarian. He quite recognises that a man may be strong without eating meat. The street porters of Salonica and Constantinople live chiefly on rice and figs, and drink water or lemonade, yet it was their strength which gave rise to the saying, ‘as strong as a Turk.” Many men and women have become better in health after adopting a vegetarian diet, and it serves as a check to arthritic, gouty, or rheumatic diathesis. Morally speaking, it tends to produce softness and gentleness of manners. Need we recall the fact that “the mild Hindoo” is a vegetarian? The main disadvantage is that “in order to obtain a vegetable alimentation sufficiently nutritive and varied, the vegetarian is obliged to have recourse sooner or later to exaggerated weights of food.” This our author properly describes ‘‘as a method of alimentation all the more fatiguing for the stomach and alimentary canal because it encumbers them with a quantity of useless matters. The herbiverous animal is constructed so as to digest vegetables, but man digests them very incompletely and more laboriously.” To some extent the difficulty has been got over by using a mixed vegetarian diet, which is still further varied by milk, eggs, fatty bodies, cheese, sugar, and wine. In this shape the diet is well fitted to a passive and peace-loving race, but M. Gautier does not recommend it to those who are hard-working and energetic.
Luckily, no band of prophets has yet risen to urge us to confine our eating exclusively to meat. And yet an exclusive meat diet has in certain circumstances been tried and not found wanting. Says our author:
Some men obliged to live a very fatiguing life, the trappers and hunters of the pampas of America and Siberian steppes, the inhabitants of very cold climates, the fishermen living on the banks of the frozen sea, etc , can eat almost exclusively, without suffering from it, enormous quantities of meat or fish, but on two conditions—that the meat be accompanied by its fat, and that the individual subjected to this diet lead a very active life in the open air.
Darwin relates that the Gauchos of the American pampas live for months on the fat meat of the oxen they watch over. The Esquimaux can get along very well by eating from 5lb. to 6lb. per day of reindeer or seal’s flesh, so long as it is not too lean, but contains a due proportion of fat. These facts might furnish some argument for an exclusive meat diet, but our author is antagonistic to exaggeration in this respect as in the other. He observes quite properly that ‘the well-to-do classes are only too carnivorous,” and his own recommendation is that the best food for the general is a judicious mixture of meat and vegetables.
From a bill of fare that he draws up for the obese, wherein he closely follows Mr. A. Robin, it will be seen that he takes a fairly liberal view of a man’s requirements. He would begin in the morning by giving him who has to say, like Sir John, “Old do I wax and fat,” at eight o’clock an egg, some lean meat, and a very small quantity of bread, following this up at ten o’clock with a couple of eggs, a still smaller quantity of bread, and a glass of wine well diluted with water. At twelve o’clock he would give him some lean meat and bread and vegetables and another glass of wine diluted with water. At four o’clock he recommends tea without sugar and nothing to eat with it. At seven o'clock the patient is to dine on a fair quantity of lean meat, taken with bread and butter and vegetables. He does not seem to allow any wine with this last meal, but he remarks that such a regimen only corresponds to 1,290 calorties per day, and as the average adult loses from 2,100 to 2,200 calories per day he will have to make up about 900 calorties from the combustion of stored-up fats.