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Vegan Paleo Diet

author image Berit Brogaard
Dr. Berit Brogaard has written since 1999 for publications such as "Journal of Biological Chemistry," "Journal of Medicine and Philosophy" and "Biology and Philosophy." In her academic research, she specializes in brain disorders, brain intervention and emotional regulation. She has a Master of Science in neuroscience from University of Copenhagen and a Ph.D. in philosophy from State University of New York at Buffalo.
Vegan Paleo Diet
plate of vegan paleo food Photo Credit: Olha_Afanasieva/iStock/Getty Images

The Paleo Diet is an eating style that mimics how hunter-gatherers, living during the Paleolithic era, 2.5. millions years to 10,000 years ago, used to eat. It consists of seafood, lean meats, roots, nuts, vegetables and fruit. The logic behind the diet is that because our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed meat, fruit and vegetables, our bodies adapted to these kinds of foods. So, the diet is more in line with the mechanisms of our digestive system. Since meat is one of the main components of the Paleo Diet, it can be difficult for vegans who do not eat animal products to follow this diet; however, vegans can adapt some of the principles behind the Paleo Diet.

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The Paleo Diet

The Paleolithic Diet, or Paleo Diet, focuses on foods that can be hunted or fished such as fish and meat, as well as foods that can be gathered such as eggs, insects, seeds, roots, nuts, vegetables, fruit, herbs and spices. The diet prohibits dairy products, grains, legumes, refined sugar, salt, processed oils, soft drinks and alcohol. Although many of our hunter-gatherer ancestors probably did not cook their food, the Paleo Diet allows foods to be cooked. A sub-community of paleo dieter, known as raw paleo dieters, prohibit cooking as they maintain that our bodies haven't adapted to cooked foods.

Health Benefits and Risks

There are several health benefits to the paleo diet. The consumption of large amount of vegetables and fruits is in line with the recommendations of the American Heart Association, which states that a diet low in bad fats and high in fruits and vegetables can prevent cardiovascular disease. Paleo dieters who eat a lot of fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna and sardines, further get the benefits from a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids. These fats may help lower the cholesterol. The main risk of the Paleo Diet is that since dairy products are prohibited, it may be difficult to get enough calcium. However, eating spinach and other green leafy vegetable that are high in calcium can prevent calcium deficits and the subsequent breakdown of bone tissue.

A Vegan Diet

A vegan diet is akin to a Paleo Diet in that it prohibits dairy products; however, it differs in a number of respects. Vegans are not allowed to eat any animal products including dairy products, fish, meat, eggs and honey. To ensure a sufficient intake of protein, vegans normally eat a variety of legumes and soy products. Some of the soy products, such as soy milk and soy cheese, function as substitutes for dairy products. Other soy products such as tofu serve as meat substitutes.

A Paleo Diet for Vegans

It is difficult to be a strict vegan and follow a Paleo Diet at the same time. The Paleo Diet discourages the consumption of legumes and processed foods, such as tofu and soy milk, which are among the staples of a vegan diet. To get enough protein, a strict vegan paleo dieter would need to eat soy beans and plenty of roots and nuts in addition to large amounts of fruits and vegetables. However, vegan dieters can also follow some of the principles of the Paleo Diet without cutting legumes and soy products. For example, they can opt mostly for foods that can be gathered, but supplement with legumes and soy products to ensure a sufficient intake of protein.

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