I’ve been living the paleo/primal/real foods way for a while now and…
- Most paleo folks hate dislike are not really fond of vegetarians.
- A bunch of folks tried out ‘vegetarian-paleo’ and it sucked their efforts were not too fruitful (at least not shared publicly on the web).
In this post…
- I will try to act as a mediator/translator between the vegetarians and paleo community explaining one side’s arguments to the other.
- I will take a stab at making the generic vegetarians a little (more) healthy by recommending a make-believe ‘vegetarian ancestral diet’.
- I will be talking only about ‘vegetarians’ in this post. No vegans. No frutarians.
- Being vegetarian does not mean you’re healthy by default.
- Being vegetarian does not make you better than anyone else in any damn way. The relationship between morality and food is just as stupid as the relationship between wealth and happiness.
- I come from a country where a lot of people are vegetarian by birth (almost never by choice) and you need to be one of them to understand ‘why’ they are vegetarians. So my argument here might be more pertinent to these folks than those who chose to be vegetarians.
- Anything titled ‘vegetarian-paleo’ is retarded. It’s an oxymoron for all practical purposes… you know like Microsoft Works.
Paleo is a simple dietary lifestyle that is based on foods being either in or out. In are the Paleolithic Era foods that we ate prior to agriculture and animal husbandry (meat, fish, shellfish, eggs, tree nuts, vegetables, roots, fruit, berries, mushrooms, etc.). Out are Neolithic Era foods that result from agriculture or animal husbandry (grains, dairy, beans/legumes, potatoes, sugar and fake foods). – From www.paleodiet.com
A vegetarian does not eat meat, including red meat, game, poultry, fish, crustacea, and shellfish, and may also abstain from by-products of animal slaughter such as animal-derived rennet and gelatin. An ovo-lacto vegetarian is a vegetarian who does not eat animal flesh of any kind, but is willing to consume dairy and egg products. – From www.wikipedia.org
To the vegetarians:
While a lot of paleo folks are against a vegetarian diet, I, personally, am not against any way of eating (except this guy’s twinkie diet) as long as it encourages consumption of wholesome and real ingredients. Make no mistake, the folks who hate you because you don’t eat meat actually care about you. They believe that the pinnacle of human health was reached when man ate meat and you can’t hate them for trying to help you make the choices that (they think) are best for you.
Keep in mind that these paleo rock-stars are not idiots like your average dietitians/nutritionists. These folks are a part of the select few (I’d say 0.0001% of the population) who have the balls to go against conventional wisdom that is prescribed worldwide today by doctors, nutritionists, dietitians, the respective governments and well, the World Health Organization itself. Check out some of their advice – ‘Eat more meat’, ‘Saturated fat is good for you’, ‘Skip the olive oil. Go for the butter’, ‘Eat lard’, ‘Don’t eat breakfast’. For someone to make such bold statements/claims there absolutely has to be solid evidence available. And guess what… there is. Look into Dr. Loren Cordain’s ‘The Paleo Diet’ or Robb Wolf’s ‘The Paleo Solution’ or Anthony Colpo ‘The Great Cholesterol Con’ or T. S. Wiley’s ‘Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar & Survival’. I kid you not, ~ 30% of each of these books (~ 100 pages in each book) has nothing but references of published literature! These guys are extremely well-versed in nutrition and the human body and understand extremely well, how what goes in your pie-hole can lead to your coffin. These guys are indeed elite.
My point? Keep an open mind. Listen to what these guys have to say. Decide for yourself if it fits your bill. Don’t just hate.
To the paleo folks:
It’s not that vegetarians think meat eaters are evil (at least not everyone), it’s just that they find it hard to wrap their heads around ‘killing something for food’ when it is possible to live without doing so (note that I said ‘live’ and not ‘thrive’). Realize that these folks haven’t eaten meat in a long long time and have been taught over and over again that a vegetarian diet is the healthiest diet there is. They, like most of us, think that they are making smart choices (remember the days you proudly ordered ‘Whole wheat toast with no butter please!’). So even if you do convince them that meat is what resulted in brain development in the early man and that eating grass-fed meat is the healthier option, the texture, taste and smell of meat along with other psychological challenges make the transition painful and, in most cases, impossible.
Proof that stress can get to cavemen too!
While it is true that being vegetarian is unnatural and will not provide the best nutrition possible, it is also true that the benefits of meat consumption can be easily negated with bad meat choices (grain-fed/farm-raised), less than optimal sleep, a polluted environment, chronic stress and lack of exercise. So, as important as it is to fine tune nutrition, it is critical to grab other low hanging fruits (eating real unprocessed foods, avoiding grains and sugars, increasing activity level, weight training, getting adequate sleep etc.) first up.
My point? Claiming that eating meat is the be-all-end-all of health is BS and won’t work. There are other changes that can be made in an existing generic vegetarian diet/lifestyle that will produce numerous health benefits. Respect a person’s food choices and try to work with/around it.
Please note that I too have read The Vegetarian Myth and I’m only trying to explain a vegetarian’s perception of food. So please don’t waste your and my time with emails/comments talking about how a vegetarian diet also results in bloodshed and you absolutely have to kill to live blah blah blah. You’ll only be preaching to the choir.
So what is a vegetarian’s ancestral prescription for health and longevity?
1. Eat real food: No brainer. I’ve spoken about this plenty and you can read about it here. Also, be sure to check out this post about how to gradually transition to clean eating.
2. Drop the grains: Grains include wheat, oats, barley, rice, quinoa etc. Just drop ’em. This post will teach you how to gradually reduce/quit grains.
3. Control the sugar: Enjoy your fruit and honey in moderation and drop all other types of sugars. Yep even the zero-calorie sweetener.
4. Love your nuts: Ok that did not sound right. Anyways include nuts as a part of your diet.
5. Don’t worry about macro-nutrients: Unless you’re marching towards a certain aesthetic/performance goal.
6. Don’t fear the fats: Saturated fats are your friends. Enjoy the coconut oil/butter as a part of everyday cooking. Here is a list of other awesome fat sources you can enjoy often.
7. Include a protein in every meal: Since your protein sources are limited, include eggs, cheese, paneer, cottage cheese, whey protein powder and tofu/tempeh (for women) in your diet. Regularly.
8. Eat starch only when you need starch: Sweet potatoes, yams, squash, beets and other starchy vegetables/tubers are your best options.
9. Fish Oil: Please, please, please swig some everyday.
10. Move like the hunter: Sprint, jump, push, pull… you know like when we they used to hunt critters.
11. Sleep like a baby: Getting enough sleep is extremely important in controlling stress and systemic inflammation.
Now the above will be an ideal vegetarian diet. What are some sensible detours that will let you live disease free but also let you enjoy some of the sinful neolithic foods available today?
1. Lentils/Beans: Yes, they contain lectins and yes, they give some people the runs. But if you can tolerate them and the carb-load they provide, lentils/beans are definitely a fair compromise. Tip: Soaking lentils/beans in water overnight (prior to cooking) has proven to remove some of the toxins.
2. The infrequent rice indulgence: The key word here being ‘infrequent’. If you did this everyday then you’re just too stupid to live long enough anyways.
3. The occasional sugar-high: When it’s time destroy that plate of cheesecake! The key word here being ‘high’. Sugar = cocaine. Do it rarely… the sugar I mean.
Since this turned out to be a long-ass post, I will elaborate in the near future by dedicating one blog post to each of the above points.