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Newly Found Walt Whitman Series Reveals He Advocated for Paleo Diet

“Let the main part of the diet be meat, to the exclusion of all else,” Whitman wrote, in articles that have been lost for over 150 years.

Walt Whitman in 1887 in New York. (Photo: George C. Cox/Public Domain)

It turns out that Walt Whitman, known as the bard of democracy, also had some pretty strong views when it comes to diet, exercise, and even standing versus sitting while you work. 

In what some are calling the biggest new Whitman discovery in decades, 47,000 new words attributed to the poet have been discovered, the New York Times reports

The discovery, of a series of articles Whitman did for a long-forgotten New York newspaper, contains exhortations, practical advice, and a holistic philosophy of personal health, with an emphasis on moderation. 

The series was published in 1858, when Whitman was 39, in the New York Atlas. A graduate student in Houston discovered the articles last summer on surviving copies of microfilm, according to the Times. Entitled “Manly Health and Training,” the series is being published for the first time since the 19th century in the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review

Among Whitman’s advice? Eat mainly meat, “to the exclusion of all else,” a principle that presaged modern diet trends. Don’t be sedentary and stand up if you can. Make the use of “base-ball” shoes—then softer on the feet than more common footwear—more widespread. 

Mainly, though, his message is: keep moving. 

“To you, clerk, literary man, sedentary person, man of fortune, idler, the same advice,” he wrote, according to the Times. “Up!”