Audette is already a hero to some. Five years ago, the self-described
“computer nerd” released his self-published masterpiece, NeanderThin: A
Caveman's Guide to Nutrition.
At first, the book was only available in a handful of Texas health food stores, some of which took the book from their shelves. They found the book to be too radical.
“It’s still pretty radical,” Audette laughingly admits. “A film crew from CBS News was here a couple of weeks ago. For three days, they followed me around. The two closest whole-food stores wouldn’t let me in. They didn’t want to publicize my book.”
That’s right, the book is back. Only this time, it’s available at bookstores nationwide. Published by St. Martin’s Press, the new title is NeanderThin : Eat Like a Caveman to Achieve a Lean, Strong, Healthy Body. The writing style has changed somewhat, but the information of the original is still there.
Writing the book took just 60 days, but only after a decade of research. While a junior in college, Ray suffered severe pain in his joints followed by a trip to the doctor and a dismal diagnosis: rheumatoid arthritis. If walking with a cane wasn’t bad enough, imagine how Audette felt 12 years later when he learned he had diabetes and would probably be on insulin for the rest of his life. That was too much for the 33 year old to take.
The doctors told him precious little, so it was off to the public library. Audette learned through his own research that both diabetes and arthritis are autoimmune diseases and only occur within agricultural communities. With two apparently diet-related diseases making his life miserable, Audette decided to eat like the hunter-gatherers of yore who never suffered from diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or a veritable cornucopia of other modern afflictions.
And it worked. Audette’s glucose levels returned to normal almost immediately. His energy increased while his need for sleep decreased. In just a few weeks, his joints stopped hurting almost completely.
The suffering stopped, but the research continued. Audette found the articles and studies other low-carb diet authors and researchers quote in their books and studies, but something was missing. No one had written a book on the Paleolithic diet that John Q. Public could understand. So Audette decided to do it himself. If an author sells just one thousand copies of a self-published work, he’s considered successful. Over five years, Audette sold nearly 10,000 copies of the self-published edition of NeanderThin.
What makes NeanderThin different? The diet is strikingly similar to those found on the best-seller list. But in a book half the size of other low-carb diet books, Audette arguably beats the competition cold when it comes to explaining why his diet works so well. It’s his documentation of what early humans ate and the maladies they didn’t suffer versus what happened in the wake of agriculture that makes it hard to argue with the author. Not that he doesn’t take the heat.
“I’ve been out in places where people are going to argue with me a lot and I’ve had to put up with it from the get-go,” Audette says.
Despite his outstanding, easy-to-read documentation of what’s best for humans to eat (with all the doctor-ese documents listed in the back of the book, in case you don’t believe him), Audette’s book is, without question, the most controversial low-carb book ever. Why?
“People don’t want to believe that humans are animals,” Audette explains. “People put this artificial distinction between us and other species. Other animals should eat what they’re designed to eat, but hey, we’re not like them. We’re made by God and magic somehow. People don’t want to be rational about themselves.”
So what should humans eat? As usual, Audette makes the complicated quite simple: “Your body cannot require anything in nature it cannot acquire.”
On the ‘yes’ list: meats, fruits, leafy green vegetables, nuts and berries. No grains, no produce that’s inedible raw (peanuts, pinto beans and potatoes, for example) and no dairy. Sorry, no whipped cream on your strawberries. But think about it a minute. Did you ever see a wild bear nurse a puppy? Of course not. Why, then, should humans drink the milk of another species?
Critics often ask why we should eat more meat since meat-production is so hard on the environment. One argument is that domesticated animals compete with humans for food, eating perhaps three times the amount they provide. Not true, Audette says. Once again, low-carb logic flies in the face of what we’ve been told. According to an Oklahoma State University study, only 35 percent of the Earth’s landmass can be used for food production. Only one third of that portion is suitable for growing crops and this land area is predicted to shrink. Why? Global warming, the greenhouse effect and erosion, caused primarily by modern agriculture. The remaining two thirds of land will only support plants that can be consumed by animals, not by humans. Scholars say only by raising domestic animals on this land can we derive any food value from the resources it offers. Still think agriculture is good for you? World rice production in 1993 caused 155 million cases of malaria by providing breeding grounds for mosquitoes in the paddies.
Audette has obviously done his homework. He can even convert vegetarians, as long as they’re willing to listen. But the soft-spoken Audette doesn’t pick a fight with people who refuse to consider the facts. “I’ve gotten to the point where I try not to argue with these people,” he says. “I patiently listen to them and throw them a zinger or two and try to make them think. If I see that they’re starting to think then I’ll follow it up. I try not to get into spitting matches with vegetarians because nobody wins.”
But others are more than willing to try a truly natural diet. And the advantages of the Paleolithic diet go far beyond the joy of losing weight and lowering your blood pressure. Time after time, Audette hears from and about others whose switch to the Paleolithic diet results in nothing short of a miracle.
Take, for example, the story of a desperate mother whose own Internet research led to her discovery of the Paleolithic diet and Audette’s research. “She e-mails me and asks ‘Do you think this diet would help my 5 year old autistic son?’ So I send her a copy of the book. This is a vegetative autistic child. He bangs his head on the floor and stares at light bulbs, completely non-communicative. He just goes normal in a week. A month later, Mary is posting to the ‘net, ‘My son said for the first time in his life ‘I love you, Mommy.’ It’s going on. That’s the way that it’s been. Everything that’s an auto-immune disorder responds to this diet.”
So with his book finally available outside Dallas, Audette’s hometown, what’s next for the author? “I’ve had some experience of having it in some stores,” Audette says. “Three whole-food stores here in Dallas carried the book and each one sold over 600 copies. If I can keep those kind of numbers up in bookstores, I’ll be movin’ to a bigger house!”
While fame and fortune are nice, it’s not about the money. “I did this for a reason,” Audette explains. “It really ticked me off when I got diabetes. It really ticked me off because I already had arthritis and there is nothing they can do for it. And then diabetes came along and it’s the same damn deal: ‘Here you go, treat the symptoms ‘til you die, it’s going to be there all your life.’ And I just got mad. There are lots and lots of people who are in the same situation I was, that feel miserable and whose lives have turned to crap, and there’s no reason for it. No one told me what I had to go find out for myself. I’m actively promoting the book. I want to get enough sales that Paleolithic nutrition becomes mainstream. I consider myself a pagan missionary. I’m out to change the world with this book and I won’t stop until I do.”
And who can argue with that?