VEGAN vs PALEO
If you clicked on this article, it’s probably because you don’t know what the heck to do with your “diet” and you are utterly confused about all of the information that you’ve heard out there. Now, I hope I can put your fears and questions to rest with this read.
First and foremost, I’d like to start out with the fact that THERE IS NO WRONG OR RIGHT DIET. Your diet is going to be right when it fits your lifestyle, your health and social needs, and the one that makes you happy in the long run. With this in mind, I think we can all agree that a good diet consists of:
- An abundance of vegetables — they provide necessary micronutrients to fight cancer/ aging and they provide great VOLUME (read: eat more for less calories).
- Avoiding processed foods — choosing instead meals cooked at home and using whole foods (foods with one ingredient).
- Eating slowly and savoring every meal (I know, this is the hardest one. But trust me, it makes such a big difference to taste your food instead of scarfing it down).
- Support independent businesses, local if possible (not only will you be sure to get organic produce, but you’ll also directly help a family or small company financially instead of big corporations).
- And, of course you want to get protein. Enough for your body to function at its prime.
But how about we get to the fun part now? You probably came here to learn about the vegan vs paleo debate.
First off, I’d like to start off by pointing out everything that’s WRONG about the vegan diet
1. Vegans usually rely heavily on soy products.
Ok, so stay with me here. Soy contains phytoestrogen, phytoestrogen can mimic estrogen in the body, causing your hormones to go berserk. Not to mention the amount of pesticides and crap you’ll be getting if you consume it (soy has been called the land’s trash in the past). Sadly, vegans still use soy as their primary source of protein.
2. Vegan diets are deficient on vitamin B12.
Sure, you can get B12 from supplements, seaweed, yeast and other vegan sources. However, these sources have been shown to inhibit the body’s ability to absorb “true” B12 and instead contain cobamides that make the body raise its need for the vitamin.
3. Vegans can gain/ lose weight at a rapid pace if not diligently watching their diets.
Veganism can be a very fast and effective way to lose weight. However, this is something that many vegans do not want when they start their diets. Keep in mind, that veganism is very popular amongst individuals with eating disorders because of the promise of volume vs calories. This results in nutrient deficiencies and a lack of energy consumption.
Of course there is also the individuals (read: most of them) that turn to veganism as a way to stop animal torture and to hopefully cure them of disease. This makes it very hard for them to look at the diet as a way of eating, instead of as a way of living, therefore there is no further study into macro/ micronutrients for them.
Now let’s jump into the other side. Veganism can also cause rapid weight gain. This is because there is a lot of vegan junk food, a lot of grain consumption and a lot of processed food out there. This can be very confusing to some people, but just because a product is VEGAN does not make it low calorie or healthy by any means.
So, if you want to lose weight with the diet you need to:
- Increase the amount of vegetables you eat, especially those with a low glycemic index and a lot of volume.
- Eat fruit. Keep in mind that fruit IS high in sugar and should be consumed in moderation when trying to lose weight, but fruits do contribute some nutrients that other foods don’t and also satiate a sweet tooth.
- Try raw veganism. This means not eating any grains, legumes, oils, processed foods or anything cooked at a high temperature.
- Exercise. It can be anything. Walking, yoga, weightlifting, you name it. Take advantage of your carb intake, it will fuel your training much more efficiently than paleo or other diets.
4. Veganism has become a cult/ veganism is a trend.
I understand there are MANY people out there that turn to veganism because of the animals, the environment and for their own health. These people are not taken into consideration for this point.
I’m talking about the people that saw once on Instagram a very pretty acaí bowl and thought “WOW! That sounds delish! And everyone’s doing it, so it must be healthy!”. Yup, it happens. For these people, this way of living is not going to be sustainable or healthy. They will just follow the “trend” until it dies down or they ultimately get bored. Not to mention all of the other “practices” that they’ll follow in order to gain credit as vegans (juice cleansing, obsessively thinking/ cooking/ photographing food and shaming those who do not follow their ideals).
This last point ties in with veganism being a cult. I know that it is a harsh word, but there is a lot of controversy out there about vegans because they tend to be very aggressive towards those that do not have their same way of thinking or those that try and critique their diet/ way of life. Now, I understand there is a very strong ethical background to the diet but there is no need or excuse to shame somebody for eating a piece of bacon.
Now, I should point out that I AM a vegan and that I do it because I do believe that veganism has a lot of health benefits. Especially for me, dealing with a disorder that makes it very difficult for my body to deal with inflammation. Cutting out dairy and meat has proven to be beneficial up to this point. Which does not mean that I will not assess the situation later on to find out if this is the path that I need to take. Not to mention that I’ve always wanted to help the animals since when I was little we used to have up to 8 animals at our house. I also believe that farming has a negative impact on the environment, and if I can cooperate with a little grain of salt by being vegan, I’m willing to do so.
In a nutshell, the Paleo approach to eating is based on the notion that for optimal health, modern humans should go back to eating real, whole unprocessed foods that are more healthful than harmful to our bodies.
This means paleo followers should cut out dairy, legumes, grains, sugar and artificial sweeteners from their diets. Instead, supplementing it with meat (even organs), fruits, low carb vegetables (no starchy ones), animal/ vegetable fats and nuts.
Let’s list everything that’s wrong with THIS approach:
1. Limited micronutrient consumption.
Remember when I told you that a healthy diet has the addition of a ton of fresh veggies and fruit? Well… since paleo wants you to eat a fairly low carbohydrate diet, your daily budget for these food items tends to be on the low side.
2. Too many animal products.
Now, I’m not saying animal consumption is inherently bad, but what I am saying is that paleo abuses the practice. Paleo lives on the idea that we should eat like cavemen, but didn’t cavemen only hunt sparingly? Humans used to live on fruits and vegetables that they gathered from outside, meat only came about when they were lucky enough to catch something. This means that there were no supermarkets filled to the brim with every possible part of the animal, available at every waking moment of their existence.
3. Fat consumption.
Fat is NOT the evil (it’s no saint, either). Fat may not be as detrimental to health as we once thought, yet it still does not have a clear place in society. Unfortunately, animal fat does clog up the arteries and it does raise blood pressure (not as much as we thought, but still). Also, (and this might come as a surprise to some), fat does not work as an efficient source of energy. This may be because it takes longer for your body to digest it or because it is not the first macronutrient that your body uses as fuel.
If you are a fairly active person or a person that wishes to be more active, fat is not going to get you very far. I know there is a lot of individuals out there that thrive on a high fat diet, but I personally became miserable. I’ve always been an active person, which means that I am willing to go outside or workout whenever someone needs me to, but the time I was paleo I felt like crap. I was sluggish, I did not have endurance, I felt heavy, bloated and plain out miserable.
If you wish for me to write more on the subject, please comment below or leave a like. Thanks!