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Go Vegan Paleo – The Best Diet for Your Health and Conscience

You might have heard of the Paleolithic (or Paleo) regimen as the “caveman” or hunter-gatherer diet, and that description isn’t too far from accurate. The idea of the Paleo diet is to consume only foods and beverages that could have been consumed in the Paleolithic period (10,000+ years ago).

It sounds simple enough, but if you think about it, we didn’t have much technology back then – no agricultural or animal husbandry techniques to speak of. So all those grains and dairy products most Americans have been eating are a big no-no in the caveman’s book.

Vegan Paleo

But fortunately for vegans, dairy is already out of the picture. For the most part, the Paleo diet isn’t so different from the vegan diet, and research shows that at least 14% of hunter-gatherer societies derived more than half of their subsistence from plant foods. It’s possible to be a Paleo vegan – but there are some elements of the vegan diet that wouldn’t have been on the caveman’s menu. To find out more about what’s okay to eat and what should be thrown out to the wild dogs, check out the following vegan Paleo diet lists.

What’s on the Menu?

1. Nuts & Seeds: Available during the Paleolithic period, nuts and seeds would have been rich in potential energy, filling a substantial role in vegan hunter-gatherers’ diets. While they probably didn’t choose to be vegan, their diets depended heavily on the environment – and without any animals, the default vegan rule would have applied. Today, you can get valuable protein and healthy oils from nuts; and seeds can be used to add flavor and texture to bland dishes.

2. Vegetables & Fruits: As far as veggies go, you should choose ones that can be eaten raw. You can still cook them, but try to avoid anything that couldn’t be eaten raw. Your best options for authentic fruits are berries.

3. Oils: Plant oils like olive, flax seed, and nut varieties are encouraged.

4. Beverages: You can drink water, tea, coffee, limited amounts of fruit juice, and alcohol in moderation. After all, those cavemen could have made some kind of rudimentary moonshine still.

The Junk in Your Diet That Has to Go:

1. Meats, Eggs & Dairy: You already know this part – stay away from the animals and anything that comes out of them. In the Paleo diet, cows, pigs, and any related products (this includes all things dairy) are officially wiped from the menu. Technically, wild chickens and turkeys would have been available to hunter-gatherers, but they’re not quite vegan-friendly. You can strike them from your list of vegan Paleo foods.

2. Vegetables & Fruits: Potatoes and legumes (like peas and green beans) are off-limits. You should also try to avoid overly sweet fruits and excessive consumption of dried fruits. Remember that cavemen did not eat breads, pastries, oatmeal, bagels, processed cereals, doughnuts, or baked goods of any kind.

3. Beverages: Limit your alcohol intake, avoid too much sugary fruit juice, and avoid any artificial drinks.

Vegan Options

Because a lot of your protein comes from whole grains, it might be tough to go Paleo – you won’t be consuming the meats and animal products that hunter-gatherers might have had access to. If you’re having trouble getting the nutrients you need, you can cheat with peanut butter, legumes, and potatoes (which are allowed in some of the less stringent Paleo diet regimens). As long as you add processed grains and baked goods to your vegan list of inedibles, you should experience the benefits of the Paleo diet.

Why Eat Like a Caveman?

The Paleo diet has been growing in popularity as more and more people have realized that modern food is dragging us backwards rather than helping us advance. While it can be difficult to follow at first, the health benefits are outstanding: your risk for cancer, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, gastrointestinal disease, and other currently prevalent health issues can decrease significantly.

You’ll also experience increased athletic performance, clear skin, natural leanness, and general good health. As a special bonus, you’ll feel as if you’ve been freed from the overly consumerist society that’s built on mealtime. You’ll be buying local produce and avoiding fast food and most other restaurants; so you won’t be contributing to the horrors of animal mistreatment – a benefit you already enjoy as a vegan. With the Paleo diet, you’re doing the best thing for your body and for the planet, so get out your caveman club and beat down some lettuce.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

tim January 24, 2011

good diet for keep fit!

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Shane Ares-Villemin Goodsky July 9, 2011

I’m totally like into this Vegan Paleo diet as a way to get things that only existed 10k years ago from my mouth to my butt to keep me alive,,,,but I have yet to have found anything edible from that time or like a place to get it from? Do you have,,like guides thet can help me,,i think i might be starving soon.
S.A.V.G.

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Donna January 30, 2012

I’ve been doing vegan paleo and it’s great. It’s better than raw because I can do so many more foods that I missed and it’s better than standard paleo because I don’t have the fatigue from eating all those animal products. I make breads, muffins, desserts, pizzas, entrees, you name it. It’s fun and creative and I feel better than ever. This should be a new trend to follow. Vegan paleo rocks.

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Patrick July 1, 2012

To Donna: Vegan Paleo should still hold true to the idea of eating no grains for better health. How are you making breads, muffins, and pizzas??

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Mande July 17, 2012

It is a common misconception that to bake you need flour from a grain. Flour can be made from grinding the husks/outer shells of different fruits and vegetables. It’s a great alternative for celiac/gluten sensitivity.

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Peter May 8, 2012

Hey all,

I’ve been vegan for many years now and am really interested in paleo. I was already building down my soy consumption, because I felt it isn’t good for me. It makes me feel ‘watery’ instead of energetic and strong (I’m a 28 y/o male) and I heard it could mess up prostate function due to oestrogen (can someone varify?).

My question is: as soy (processed) isn’t paleo, the paleo diet should fit my desired diet by staying vegan (which I intend to do for life), cutting out the soy and eating potatoes for protein? If I shouldn’t bake potatoes due to ‘paleo law’, what ways to eat potatoes are allowed? And what vegan and soy-free ways are there to get my protein?

Thanx!

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Laura May 10, 2012

Hemp protein is a great soy-free way to get protein.

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Mande July 17, 2012

Tubers are generally frowned upon in the Paleo diets. There are some interesting alternatives that may not be too far off the path of Paleo, like soaking dry beans for 24 hours to remove large percentages of the antinutrients. However, beans, dry, soaked, or cooked are still also on the no-eat list.

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allison June 29, 2012

coconut grows in all tropical areas of the world. it is an amazingly versatile plant and provides many food and health benefits. it is HIGHLY recommended on every paleo plan i have seen. i am full on paleo, but my daughter is a life long vegetarian. i am trying to find a comprehensive resource for her experience the benefits of paleo without compromising her personal ethics- any suggestions anyone? i have gotten her some hemp protein to start with. as for your comments on cows and pigs being wiped of the menu- that is completely false. this is, after all, the 21st century. paleo encourages that any meat or eggs consumed be pasture raised. i plan to start raising my own chickens. we paleo types buy as much as we can from the farmers markets and/or whole foods. we try to mimic a paleolithic lifestyle as much as is REASONABLY possible. this extends waaayyyy beyond just food. we try to follow our circadian clocks concerning sleep, and avoid using alarm clocks. we wear shoes that encourage natural (re: barefoot) foot movement. we avoid chemical products as much as possible; using vinegar and baking soda for most of our personal care and household cleaning needs. we walk. a lot. outdoors. and our preferred form of workout is crossfit, which is based on functional movement. just saying.

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Cory | The Maui Taoist July 30, 2012

Aloha,
I do the vegan Paleo diet….. I have for a long time, I was a carnivore in a previous life, then did a month long fast and switched to a frutitarian when I emerged. For a year I live almost exclusively on fruit. Then I added veggies and legumes. I do not any grain but I love nuts and seeds including quinoa.

For me the Paleo diet is ok but wanted to keep the vegan thing going as I have lost 70 lbs and feel great. Just substitute (what I do) red beans, lentils, etc. where the Paleo has meat. Everything is great with me three years so far and thriving!

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gabriel August 7, 2012

This makes me depressed, I would very much like to be vegan on my paleo diet. But as that I am doing strength training protein is huge must, while trying the same time keep things lean. I don’t see how this would work well for me?

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Molly August 31, 2012

I’d just like to add that some of the Paleo stuff about raw foods ie: tubers, legumes etc which need to be cooked, is based on science which is controversial, to say the least.

Just a couple of months ago, scientists in South Africa found evidence that humans may have been using fire for a million years – that’s plenty of time to adapt to cooked food :)

A vegan diet is quite limited already; and legumes, lentils and seeds such as Quinoa provide very good sources of protein and nutrients. I don’t think that they should be written off on the basis of science that the scientists themselves are still arguing over.

I’d also like to add in something which I really feel is missing from these Paleo and Raw approaches – fermenting !! I am a bit of a fanatic fermenter, but fermenting not only reduces antinutrients, it also makes more nutrients available from the fermented foods, as well as adding beneficial micro-organisms.

Lactobacillus will ferment almost anything and are omnipresent in our environment. I can’t believe that our ancient ancestors didn’t take advantage of this to prepare and preserve foods. I highly recommend Sandor Katz’s Wild Fermentation as an excellent field guide to this approach.

I also highly recommend Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple as the most thoughtful approach to the Paleo lifestyle out there. He’s not a fanatic, which is refreshing and advocates a more relaxed 80%/20% approach. Obviously, we can’t do this as Vegans :) :) but as Paleo Vegans (I’m Gluten free as well) I think this 80/20 rule is useful when it comes to things such as legumes, quinoa and tubers. The science is still out, so why deprive ourselves of useful, nutritious and delicious food sources ?

Also, I hope you don’t mind me adding this link, but it contains some truly fabulous Paleo Vegan recipes :)

http://www.vegiehead.com/vegan-paleo-recipes.html

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Chef Iguana October 13, 2012

Meal planning, eh??

Breakast: bananas, either smothered, or dipped in a mix of almond butter, olive oil, and some sweetener ( maybe coconut sugar or agave… I usually use maple syrup, but…) …..

Okay, so now you feelin pretty good, right?

Let’s move on to lunch…..

Is … a salad…. mostly fresh beet greens, with finely cut slivers of raw beet, finely cut red onion, shreds of red cabbage+zuchinni+carrot, fatty chunks of heirloom tomato, maybe some mashrooms……all tossed in a mix of olive oil and lemon juice (tiny bit of salt)…. topped with an avocado fan, and scattered with chopped walnuts, garlic slivers, and then drizzled with a dressing made from balsamic vinegar, olive oil and (usually I use maple syrup, but…) either raw agave or coconut sugar..

and so by this point, you feelin pretty good…. so what’s dinner?

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Kelsey November 18, 2012

For baked goods, I’ve had a lot of success with chickpea flour. It works in place of wheat flour and other higher carb flours such as corn flour. I’ve made breads, pizza crust, muffins, and pancakes using many different types of flour, and have found chickpea flour to be the most effective (in combination with flax “eggs,” the most paleo-friendly egg alternative in my opinion).

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