At first glance, it looks as though vegan and paleo diets don’t mix. One relies completely on plant-based foods, while the other is inspired by what cavemen ate. And their hunting-gathering habits that include meat.
Despite this major dissimilarity, they both offer a layer of flexibility. As well as convenience and creativity when it comes to preparing food. When you take a look at both their elements, you can find a diet that’s tailored to your needs.
Ideally, you should opt for an eating lifestyle that you feel comfortable with. Here, we will take a look at the vegan and paleo diet pros and cons to see exactly what they have to offer. So, let’s jump right in!
Paleo Diet: Pros and Cons
While the key to human advancement, industrialization brought a rise in cheap, readily available, and ultra-processed foods. All in an effort to sustain the growing population. But, the consequences for those who eat processed foods can be seen in the spike in chronic diseases. Such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.
That’s where a paleo diet came into play. The concept of the paleo diet began in the 70s and it quickly skyrocketed in popularity. Since then, the paleo community has shown great interest in this way of eating. And has focused on eliminating processed snack foods from their day-to-day eating plans. (1)
- Can be consumed: coconut oil, eggs, fish, fruits, lean meats, nuts, olive oil, seeds, shellfish, vegetables, and a bit of honey. Some root veggies in moderation like cassava or sweet potatoes due to the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients they contain.
- Cannot be consumed: alcohol, cereals, coffee, dairy products, legumes, white potatoes, whole grains, and salt. Including refined vegetable oils such as canola, refined sugars and grains, and the majority of processed foods.
- There is no focus on portion size or the number of calories. Some diet plans let a couple of cheats (non-Paleo) meals a week. Particularly when you are getting used to the diet. The goal is to make it easier to stick to it. (2)
The whole purpose of the paleo diet is to take us back to our roots and fill the plate with a lot of meat, veggies, fruits, and nuts. While skipping the legumes, processed foods, and grains. When you make that drastic shift from a Western to a paleo lifestyle, it can be quite overwhelming.
After all, you are eliminating the food groups that you are used to eating. It’s also a time-consuming and costly ordeal. But, given the high nutrient intake, it can prove useful for overall health. It’s only natural that nutrient-dense foods are the “bread & butter” of this diet.
It’s about filling your belly with plenty of minerals, vitamins, and fiber. This is exactly what you are getting from the veggies you eat. Then, there is fruit. Fruits are a great source of phytochemicals, which are essential for the body.
Nuts can also keep you fed due to their satiating fats. Seafood is equally beneficial, teeming with omega 3 fatty acids and protein. According to widely accepted nutrition research, the paleo diet led to a notable drop in both systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. (3)
With healthy eating, paleo people can come a long way. Due to its high vegetable and fruit intake, the paleo diet is packed with potassium. Thus, it can help people with hypertension achieve healthy blood pressure.
Other than keeping the blood pressure in check, this diet offers a plethora of other health benefits. Based on reports from the National University of Natural Medicine the diet has the potential to improve insulin sensitivity and satiety. It may also establish a cholesterol balance. (4)
When you eat paleo, you munch on healthy foods that can benefit your general health. High-fiber intake is critical for gastrointestinal health and curbing inflammation. This diet is often lower in simple sugar and carbohydrates.
If you do decide to implement this diet, pay attention to how you feel and consult with a specialist. Despite the numerous advantages, more research is necessary to understand the diet. With that in mind, take a look at its pros and cons:
- Pushes the idea of quality over quantity.
- Packed with vitamins, nutrients, good fats, and minerals.
- Reduces high blood pressure.
- Improves cholesterol.
- Offers satiety and better insulin sensitivity.
- May boost longevity.
- Difficult to follow due to the lack of convenience foods.
- Removes many food groups.
- Time-consuming and very expensive.
- Tricky to stick to in the long run.
How Do I Flavor the Food on A Paleo Diet?
Can I eat salty or cured meats? This is a question that often pops up among people who recently started a paleo diet. To live longer and feel healthier, the paleo diet discourages the use of salt. But, there is a way to adapt without sacrificing flavor. The key is seasoning.
Anything from onions, garlic, ginger, black pepper, star anise, mustard seeds, to turmeric and paprika can give your raw food that oomph factor. When people can, they opt for eating only sustainably raised meats and high-quality raw food. Like fresh produce, nuts, and seeds.
The good thing is, many deli meats come free of additives. So, you can look forward to adding them to your paleo diet.
Do Doctors Recommend Paleo Diet?
The paleo diet might have some potential. Some experts like this dietary pattern because it is high in antioxidants, potassium, and fiber. Whilst being low in simple sugar, salt, and carbohydrates. It focuses on sustainable GMO-free foods and grass-fed meat varieties.
By discouraging people from processed foods, artificial colorings, and ingredients, it is possible to achieve optimal health. However, there is a lack of long-term clinical reports about the value and possible risks of the diet. That’s why it’s best to consult with an expert if you plan on using it. (5)
Why Paleo is Bad for You?
The paleo diet has the potential to be beneficial and nutritious. But, it may also put you at risk of vitamin D and calcium deficiency. Plus, people may eat high amounts of protein and saturated fat which are well over the recommended levels. This amplifies the possibility of cardiovascular ailment, kidney problems, and some cancers. (6)
Can You Lose Weight on Paleo?
Many people who are eager to give paleo a try also want to know if they could use it to curb the excess pounds. One study of 70 women found that after 6 months of the diet, volunteers managed to achieve a weight loss of about 6.5 kg (14 pounds) on average. They also experienced a notable drop in belly fat. This means that the paleo diet might have some weight loss potential. (7)
Vegan Diet: Pros and Cons
There is a steady shift in health trends. Recently, more and more people have turned to a plant-based diet. Reports indicate that roughly 6% of American consumers claim they are vegan. People have been eager to go meat-free and raise awareness of the impact of meat consumption. (8)
The primary goal of vegan diets is to swap meat with high-quality substitutes that are both natural and fresh. Vegans connect sustainable and ethical lifestyles with wellness and wellbeing. This drives the demand for ethically-prepared products.
- Can be consumed: fruits, veggies, like starchy vegetables, grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts.
- Cannot be consumed: meat, seafood, dairy, eggs, and honey.
- Instead of monitoring the caloric intake, vegans simply munch on products within their diet group and focus on whole foods that offer all the vitamins and minerals they need.
The reasons people choose a vegan diet can vary. Some do it to amplify their health. A person believes healthy eating, mainly plant-based products can help them avoid some ailments. Others do it to refrain from hurting animals.
On a vegan diet, your priority would be to not eat consumables made from animals. That includes butter, cheese, ice cream, milk, mayonnaise, and other foods that are very popular in a Western diet. Experts suggest that vegans may display improved heart health and a decreased possibility of some ailments. (9)
People who skip meat have a lower chance of developing high cholesterol, blood pressure, and obesity. The odds of getting diabetes also subside, alongside the possibility of developing ovarian cancer, breast cancer, and cancer of the GI tract.
This could mean that veganism may benefit longevity and reduce the intake of daily calories. Proper nutrition is an extra perk. People claim that by eating real food, like when you eat beans, pickled foods, fruits, veggies, and nuts, which are a staple in veganism, you can keep your overall health in tip-top shape.
That’s because you are supplying the body with a hefty dose of antioxidants and fiber. Vegan meal plans also seem to be packed with folate, magnesium, potassium, vitamins E, C, and A. Even if the iron comes from plants, you can still replenish the iron intake on a regular basis from the food you eat.
But, not every vegan dietary pattern is the same. For example, with a poorly maintained and managed diet plan, you might not have the proper amounts of essential fatty acids. You can also lack zinc, selenium, niacin, and vitamin D.
So, it is critical to select fortified and whole plant foods. To avoid any vitamin deficiencies consult with your doctor. They may suggest you take calcium, zinc, or vitamin D supplements. This is to replenish your nutrient intake and keep your health in check.
This diet is also good for a healthy kidney. It can curb blood sugar and reduce the possibility of poor kidney function. But, there is very little science to confirm this claim. Another major benefit of the diet is the potential for it to protect the system against some carcinomas. (10)
Because you will be eating a lot of fruits and veggies, you can reduce the risk of cancer to a certain extent. Of course, diet alone isn’t enough to eliminate the odds of dying from cancer. But, they are a stepping stone to a properly functioning immune system and health.
Whereas when you eat more processed snack foods, it is possible to increase the risk of overall cancer. With that in mind, here are the pros and cons:
- A hefty dose of plant-based food.
- Can offer a good balance of cooked or raw plant foods.
- Packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
- Often contains less cholesterol and saturated fats and more dietary fiber.
- Vegans tend to be thinner, have decreased blood pressure, serum cholesterol, and risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Increases the risk of some nutrient deficiencies. A special concern is calcium, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and B12. (11)
- Takes plenty of work to maintain a balanced and healthy diet because of the lack of protein and healthy fats.
- Can lack diversity.
What Are the Negatives of Vegan Diet?
When eating vegan meals, it is important to be extra careful to consume enough vitamin D, zinc, and iron. As well as omega-3 fats and calcium. The fad diet is popular, but, you should plan your meals. With nutrients ultra restrictive diets it is essential to avoid any nutrient deficiencies.
Do Vegans Eat Eggs?
Some vegans are open to eating eggs. Technically a vegan diet won’t feature eggs. Eating eggs is called ovo-vegetarian. Since egg-laying doesn’t hurt the hens in any way, it is considered OK to add them to a vegan diet.
Are Vegan Diets Good for Weight Loss?
To achieve weight loss with this restrictive diet, you would need to focus on fiber and limit the processed goodies. Vegetables increase potassium levels, which means it is good for the heart and shedding some extra pounds.
This restrictive eating may be difficult to get used to for some people but can offer some weight loss results. The drop in cured meats and empty calories can come in handy. It’s worth a mention that some people also prefer popular diets with sustainably raised meats when they can’t cut out meat completely from their eating regimen.
They can eat cereal grains and fewer carbohydrates to achieve the desired result. Others opt for a gluten-free diet, especially if they have an underlying health condition. For someone that maintains restrictive eating on a regular basis, it’s good to talk to a specialist. They can give you advice on how to manage ultra restrictive diets and achieve a lowered insulin response.
When you start any diet, you consume fewer calories. This deficit is making the body rely on fat for extra energy. Both options have their limits. While you are not technically required to limit the carbs on a paleo diet, you should be limiting refined carbs and processed goodies.
When you go vegan, the goal would be to eliminate meat or animal by-products. You can enjoy brown rice and if you want, you can also include carbs, especially refined carbs in the diet. But, do have in mind that refined carbohydrates drive the risk of obesity and overeating. So, do what’s best for the body and can offer a long-term result.
Now that you know what to expect from both of these diets, you can choose the option that suits you best. Which one is your preferred option? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!