Vegan Vs Paleo – Is One (or Neither) Right for You?

With increasingly larger segments of society focusing on their health, the question of what foods should be put in our bodies is a topic of wide interest.  If you are like many Americans, the amount of data being thrown your way about this diet and that one is daunting and difficult to navigate.  Of the many diets currently out there, two of the most popular are the Paleo and Vegan.  Both have avid followers who proclaim their diet to be the correct one.  Here is a look at the basics of each:

Paleo: Followers of this diet believe in eating only those things that our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate.  In other words, lots of veggies, some fruit, grass-fed animals and wild-caught fish.  No processed foods and especially no grains or sugars.

Vegan: Vegans eat only plant-based foods.  No animal products including no eggs or dairy.  Like Paleo’s they eat a lot of veggies, but they also eat grains and can eat processed foods and sugar as long as eggs and dairy aren’t part of them. 

The Debate

Paleos claim that a vegan diet isn’t healthy because vegans eat grains, which contain gluten, and they often turn to processed products such as refined soy for protein. Many vegans also eat refined sugar.   On the other hand, Vegans defend eating grains by pointing out that many healthy cultures have eaten forms of grain for 10,000 years and it is referred to as “the staff of life.”

Vegans claim that the eating of animal protein by Paleos leads to health problems due to its acidic nature.  They are also passionately opposed to the raising of animals for food as it is taxing on the environment, and they oppose the killing of animals for food as cruel and inhumane.  In counterpoint, Paleos point out that there are abundant non-agricultural grass lands that can naturally sustain grazing animals, and the cycle of life and death cycle of animals is natural and inevitable.

Finding a Diet That’s Right For You

The fact is, there is no one diet that is correct for everyone, including Paleo and Vegan. But there is a right answer to the question, which is the right diet for you?  If you were to sift through all the science, the statistics, and the passionate debates on both sides, you would likely conclude that there is some common ground on which both sides agree, and you could take away wisdom from both camps in order to craft a diet that is correct for you.   Eating lots of fresh vegetables is a point of agreement.  Avoiding highly processed foods, whether animal or plant-based, is also something Paleos and Vegans can agree on.   With those as starting points you could experiment with eating whole grains to see if those agree with you or are problematic.  If problematic, leave them out of your diet.  Try dropping all animal protein from your diet for a time and see how you feel.  Then try only eating grass-fed animals and wild-caught fish.  Your body will tell you what it wants and will thrive on.

There are things that are right about Paleo and things that are right about Vegan, but the answer to what is the right diet for each of us comes from listening to our own bodies. If we can do that, the right answer is just around the corner.