Studies show vegan diets help with weight loss, reverse diabetes, and lower cholesterol. So do Paleo diets. The conversation can get heated. Each camp dogmatically adheres to their diet and cherry-pick studies validating their point of view. After reading dozens of studies on vegan and Paleo diets, even I can become confused.
Food is medicine, and my job as a doctor involves advising people about the most nutrient dense foods to prevent, treat, and even reverse chronic disease. I’m aware that what to eat can become complicated, confusing and contentious. What’s an eater to do?
I vote for becoming a Pegan, or Paleo-Vegan, which combines both diets’ strengths and focuses on real, whole, fresh, sustainably raised food.
Finding Common Ground
Paleo and vegan camps might seem to agree on little, but both diets share some common foundations. Here are some of their similar tenets:
1) Very low in terms of glycemic load, meaning low in sugar, flour, and refined carbohydrates of all kinds.
2) High in vegetables and fruits. The deeper the colors, the more variety, the better, which provides a high phytonutrient content protective against most diseases.
3) Low in pesticides, antibiotics and hormones, and low or no GMO foods.
4) No chemicals, additives, preservatives, dyes, MSG, artificial sweeteners and other “Franken Chemicals” that you would never keep in your pantry.
5) Higher in good-quality fats. Most camps advise good-quality fats from olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados
6) Adequate protein for appetite control and muscle synthesis.
What About Those Differences?
Paleo and vegans disagree among other things. Let’s look at some of them:
For millions of Americans, gluten creates inflammation, autoimmunity, digestive disorders and even obesity. We started consuming grains recently in our evolutionary history and they can be part of a healthy diet, but not in unlimited amounts.
All meat is not created equally. Eating sustainably raised, clean meat, poultry and lamb can be a part of a healthy diet. But eating meat also puts pressure on the planet, including more water use, more climate change and more energy inputs. Eat meat as a side dish or condiment, and only consume grass-fed and sustainably raised.
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