I first time I had ever seen or heard about Daniel Vitalis was at a class he taught at IIN. I loved his talk so much that I watched it 3 times. I showed parts to my friends and family, and I think about Daniel’s term “domesticated humans” often. Maybe it’s the hippie side of me that wants to live in the countryside while running around naked with my future children and the youngest attached at my hip and/or nipple, and eat abundantly out of our garden that finds him appealing. Or perhaps it’s the other side of me, my New Yorker side that finds his matter-of-fact attitude refreshing, and admires his ability to have the most perfect slides with photos that are just as straight forward and witty as he is. However, it wasn’t until the Bulletproof Conference that I realized the feelings were not mutual. People were actually walking out during his talk!
Daniel began is talk explain how we are all Great Apes. Just like dogs are technically wolves, we are technically apes. This puts perspective on what Daniel is all about. He says we are domesticated humans that live in a way that is extremely different from the way our indigenous ancestors did. Daniel showed a slide of conventionally raised chickens that are in cages and piled up on one another. He said “we would never live like that, right?” And proceeded to show us a slide of the outside of a high rise apartment building with perfectly symmetrical windows lined in a row. A building that most city dwellers aspire to live in. The result- some giggles from the audience. Some head shaking.
Daniel says the major difference between a farm and a zoo is the difference of domesticated and wild animals. On a farm we want the animals to live until their productivity runs out. In a zoo, the animals are encouraged to live in the most natural way for their full lifespan. This is Daniel’s goal for us- to live more like the zoo animals, wildly.
Part of living more wildly is getting more familiar with our squat. Did you know that the squat is the most natural way for us to sit? Babies can hang out in a squat all day long. It takes some loose hips or a practice of hip opening stretches and maybe some yoga to achieve a flat footed squat. When we poop, we should be squating. Sitting on a toilet seat actually cuts off the flow of our poop and causes a lot of strain and can lead to injury. Daniel says this is why there are telephones hotel bathrooms! People didn’t like that one. Daniel uses a log, or a stool (all puns intended) from a tree he cut outside that’s the same height as the toilet. This enables him to put his feet on the log/stool in a squatting position. The best way to do this is with the full toilet seat up so you’re on the ceramic part. He then proceeded to show us apicture of this process. If you can do a flat footed squat easily then you should have no problem just using the toilet. Pooping like this feels like a guilty pleasure to me and I love it.
In our indigenous tribes the men would hunt while the women would stay home with the other women taking care of the children, sharing and chatting all day. The men would come home and they would eat. Dinner was followed by a fire that the tribe gathered around. Around the fire they would smoke, do drugs, and enjoy one another. The couples would go to their respective spaces and have sex. Because of this tradition, Daniel explains that it’s natural for us to be warm in the evening. He says that “room temperature is the new smoking.” Daniel says we should be cold in the morning and warm at night. He believes we are becoming physically weak as we manipulate temperatures in our surroundings in unnatural ways. In the wintertime, Daniel keeps the windows open at his home in Maine while he sleeps under a warm blanket which forces the heat to come from the inside, and proceeds to take a cold shower in the morning. I love the idea of keeping the windows open at night during the winter. Again, maybe it’s the hippie in me.
Apparently, dust is really dander from our bodies. Our homes are full of toxic ingredients from our cleaning products and the hidden mold we are unaware of. Some people, after cleansing their bodies of these toxins and molds (especially in coffee, wine, and other foods) can physically feel when they are in a place where there is mold present. Daniel explained that modern homes and buildings are extremely unnatural and in fact, mold is natures way of rejecting the structure. Daniel says “there is more toxicity in the home than in the LA smog.” Keep the windows open! Let the air from outside come into your home!
Daniel and I spoke briefly at his booth about the limited diet we are eating today and I’m really glad he touched on this in his talk. Daniel’s four kingdoms of food include plants, animals, fungi, and bacteria. He is also into herbalism, there’s more on this on his website and in his product line. The average person eats roughly 30 species of foods a year where the indigenous peoples ate 200! The problem with eating so few species this is that we are not giving our cells enough genetic information through the foods. For example kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cabbage are all the same species. If we can expand our horizons to eat different species we can communicate to our bodies and our amazing cells to fight of diseases like cancer and to keep us well. A great way to find more species of foods is to forage locally. This actually sounds really cool to me so if anyone knows of foraging groups in LA please let me know! (hippie). Daniel says that our bodies are genetically stupid and we need to be giving them more genetic information. Mushrooms are an amazing way to teach our cells. Mushrooms teach cancer cells to kill themselves and we want our bodies to be eating them. Fermented foods are ancient and there’s a reason why many ancient civilizations and cultures have their own version on them. Eating fermented foods keeps our gut flora thriving and provides us with amazing health benefits. Basically, all we have to do is look at what hunter-gatherers ate. By showing our bodies there’s more genetic information available to them we can keep them functioning optimally.
Daniel’s hierarchy of foods is as follows. It moves from the top which are the most nutrient dense and medicinal to the least nourishing, and damaging.
Daniel encourages us to fill our homes with plants, to drink spring water, invest in an air filter, and retain a connection with our landscape. By doing this we make our homes and lives most like our natural environments and make it more hospitable for our inner animal.