The Paleo diet is currently one of the most popular diets within the fitness community and the general population. While the diet promotes the consumption of fresh vegetables, eggs, meat, fish, herbs, spices and some nuts, it has been strongly criticised by scientific experts for its condemnation of grain and dairy products and in some cases fruit.
These experts including dietitians and medical doctors are often critical of the paleo diet for its strict rules and the elimination of core foods such as dairy and grains, which, is not backed by credible scientific evidence.
Some have also raised concerns regarding the high saturated fat intake the diet promotes in the form of animal fats such as lard, duck fat, and butter in addition to its liberal use of coconut butter and oil.
What is a vegan diet?
A vegan diet is a type of vegetarian diet, in which only plant based foods are consumed and all animal products and byproducts (butter, milk) are excluded. This makes a vegan diet distinctly different from other forms of vegetarianism, which allow the consumption on some animal products, most commonly dairy, and eggs.
These days increasing numbers of people are turning to vegan diets than ever before, however their motivation to embrace such a lifestyle can often vary, with common reasons for adopting a vegan diet including concerns about animal rights, religious requirements and the environmental sustainability of meat and dairy production.
When adopting a vegan lifestyle it is important to do your research to ensure that you are obtaining all the essential nutrients your body requires to be healthy. Poorly planned vegan diets can quickly result in nutritional deficiencies that in the short term will result in you feeling fatigued and lethargic and in the long term can have some serious consequences to your health.
There are many foods which are able to be consumed on a vegan diet, these include:
Breads, cereals and grain foods
Fruits and vegetables
Nuts and seeds
Legumes such as kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils
How does a vegan diet fit into a paleo lifestyle?
Quite simply put following a vegan diet is incompatible with being paleo. This is because many of the foods that paleo promotes such as meat, fish, eggs, and animal fats are excluded by those following a vegan lifestyle.
In addition to this many of the foods that vegans require such as whole grain cereals, legumes, fruit, and even soy products are forbidden when following a vegan diet. Following a paleo diet in addition to being vegan would place an individual in a situation where achieving their nutritional requirements would be virtually impossible, resulting in a number of nutritional deficiencies in the short and long term.
Vegan is better
A vegan diet has been proven by many studies to prevent chronic disease, like type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease and encourage general health.
A study conducted at Loma Linda University showed that vegans live longer than meat eaters do.
Vegan eating explodes energy levels, improves digestion and vegans weigh an average of 30 pounds less than meat eaters do.
Can those following a vegan diet meet their nutritional requirements?
With sufficient planning a vegan diet can indeed be healthy and provide all the essential nutrients your body requires. For those considering adopting a vegan lifestyle it can be very beneficial to receive some expert advice from a registered dietitian, as they will take the time to analyse your existing diet and provide advice regarding alternative sources of key nutrients which following a vegan diet typically places you at risk of achieving an insufficient intake of.
These nutrients include calcium, zinc, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B12, and D.
Nutrition experts such as dietitians regard the paleo diet as one of the worst dietary regimes currently in existence.
It is certainly not appropriate for vegans, as it would require the avoidance of many foods that are critical for vegans to consume so that they meet their nutritional requirements, these foods include fruit, legumes, grains, soy, and some plant based oils.
It may not be fair to compare Paleo with vegan because there is an inherent difference in that vegan is not only a diet; it is a lifestyle and a philosophy. Vegans believe in earth friendly practices, the protection of all living things and a general motto of "veganism is compassion in action."
However, when only looking at foods consumed and comparing the diet itself at its core, vegan seems to win when your goal is general health and disease prevention.
There are over sixteen million vegans and vegetarians across the United States who have found out about the easy substitutions for meat in popular and well-loved dishes including pizza, burgers, and tacos while still maintaining their vegan and vegetarian lifestyle. Click here to learn about the diet definitions, benefits, risks associated with this diet, tips for those starting out, and the do's and don'ts of going vegetarian. You can avoid all the the pitfalls and make the transition to a plant diet smooth and easy for you, your family and your health.