What are Vegan and Paleo Diets all About? Julie May 31, 2015 Essential Guides, Featured, Food Types, Health, Lifestyle, Vegan There’s been a lot of talk recently about both Vegan and Paleo diets. Is one better than the other? What are the pros and cons of each? Is it all a bunch of crap? I’m here to bring you my findings on both diets, what experts are saying, and hopefully together we can come to a better understanding of this debate. The Basics of Vegan and Paleo Clearly there is one major difference between both Vegan and Paleo diets, that being animal products. But first things first, let me define each for you. Vegan: Unlike vegetarians, who may consume eggs and dairy, vegans eat only plant-based foods — eschewing any animal products. Paleo: “Paleos” typically embrace the foods of our hunter-gatherer ancestors — such as grass-fed meat, wild-caught fish, roots, tubers, veggies and, to some extent, fruits — while avoiding grains, legumes, sugars, processed foods, dairy (for the most part) and most anything else that did not exist pre-agriculture. Essentially it’s the cave-man diet. The Vegan Argument Vegans believe animal products cause chronic disease and that a diet high in veggies, fruits and grains is best. People choose a plant based diet for three main reasons; health, animal rights, and religious reasons. Paleo Argument Paleos like veggies too, but think that grass-fed and wild meat play an important role in one’s health. They also believe that grains, starches and sugars are the real health killers. Vegan Pros In its healthiest form, a plant-based diet is undeniably healthy. Vegetarians report lower rates of obesity, risk of heart disease, and improved longevity. Of course, like everything else, it needs to be done right. When vegans create well-rounded meals, they tend to be high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. While being vegan prevents animal cruelty, it also lowers your carbon footprint. Feeding animals requires a lot of natural resources, as it takes tons of grain to feed animals, which requires energy and water to produce. Vegan Cons I don’t mean this to sound biased, but even experts will agree that it’s honestly hard to come up with any cons. When done correctly, there really are no health cons. Non-health cons (or really concerns/challenges) may include silly social concerns, such as being that “difficult” friend at dinner, and simply making sure you’re eating a well-balanced diet, and getting all the nutrients you need. You could eat potato chips, Oreos, and soda and call yourself a vegan, but clearly health is not your priority. Some may argue that a proper vegan diet is more expensive, but so are medical bills. You’re making an investment in your health through your diet. It’s hard to put a price tag on that. Paleo Pros Benefits of a Paleo diet include lower disease rates, allergies, and other such health concerns that our cave-man ancestors did not deal with. Healthy muscles, brain, gut, and cells are listed among the benefits, as well as the ability to lose weight, and then to maintain an ideal physique. When following a strict paleo diet, sugars, processed fats, and white grains are kept out of your diet; there are health issues associated with all of these things, which are simply not part of paleo eating habits. Paleo Cons Obviously there’s the environmental impact of a meat-based diet, which a vegan lifestyle avoids. And if you’re getting locally, ethically sourced meat, which Paleo puts a huge emphasis on, this diet is going to cost you big bucks. Some even question the science behind a paleo diet; the anthropological jury is still out on what our ancient ancestors would have been eating. There are some that believe that our ancestors got most of their calories from what could have been gathered, not hunted, bringing us back to a plant-based diet. Vegan And Paleo Conclusions Clearly there are differences and benefits to both Vegan and Paleo diets. But even the biggest difference isn’t necessarily that important. People obsess over the inclusion of animal meat as the biggest difference, but if you look closely at a healthy paleo and vegan diet, they’ve actually got a lot more in common than you’d think. For both diets, in their healthiest form, the bulk of the diet is fresh vegetables. That being said, if you take anything away from this article let it be these four things; the bulk of your diet should be fresh vegetables. If you chose to include meat, hopefully it is ethically sourced. Cut back on the modern processed junk. And dairy, according to both diets, is probably not your best friend. In terms of health, both diets could be beneficial for you. But, if you’re concerned about the bigger picture and helping animals, the planet, and yourself, you can’t deny that a vegan diet is the far superior option.