Ve­gan vs Paleo: one side doesn’t fit all Love your guts

Ve­gan, veg­e­tar­ian, paleo, gluten-free and more ... one size does not fit all

Northern Rivers Style - - CONTENTS - Genna Pyewacket is a natur­opath spe­cial­is­ing in nutri­tion and func­tional medicine, prac­tis­ing in per­son in Lis­more or via Skype. Email gen­ GENNA PYEWACKET

VEGETARIANISM and ve­g­an­ism are by no means new fad di­ets. They have been prac­tised and pro­moted for decades as ways of liv­ing which ad­dress an­i­mal cru­elty in in­dus­trial farm­ing, en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity and, ac­cord­ing to some, health.

Like many, I have been drawn to the sim­plic­ity and ide­al­ism of an all plant diet. I ded­i­cated 14 years in to­tal to the life­style (six years be­ing ve­gan).

How­ever, things are never as sim­ple as they seem. While some peo­ple thrive on an­i­mal prod­uct-free di­ets (for at least a pe­riod of time), oth­ers do not.

It ap­pears di­ets are not one size fits all, and that be­ing at­tached to ide­ol­ogy over ex­pe­ri­ence might not be so good for some of us in the long term.

Preg­nancy, age­ing, pu­berty and stress might also in­crease our nu­tri­tional needs and get us to look to a broader se­lec­tion of foods to meet them.

So, how to re­solve the is­sue of ide­ol­ogy and phys­i­ol­ogy so that you can have a cow and eat it too?

A whole food move­ment of farm­ers and pro­duc­ers is ded­i­cated to small-scale sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture that hon­ours hu­man, an­i­mal and en­vi­ron­men­tal well-be­ing.

These op­tions are usu­ally avail­able di­rect from farm­ers at farm­ers’ mar­kets or from a lo­cal butcher/gro­cer who works with pro­duc­ers.

Ben­e­fits of in­clud­ing sus­tain­ably pro­duced, pas­ture-raised an­i­mal foods in your diet in­clude:

Com­plete pro­tein

While plants do con­tain amino acids (pro­tein build­ing blocks) they rarely con­tains all the es­sen­tial ones needed in one food. Food com­bin­ing be­comes es­sen­tial for her­bi­vores, which can be tricky and still leave you with­out enough. Plant pro­teins also con­tain a lot of carbs, which can throw out your blood sug­ars, af­fect­ing en­ergy lev­els and hor­mones, and be prob­lem­atic to gut health.

Es­sen­tial min­er­als

While plants do con­tain min­er­als they aren’t great sources of es­sen­tial ones like zinc, iron and plant chem­i­cals called phy­tates and ox­alic acid can make ab­sorp­tion dif­fi­cult. An­i­mals which are pas­ture raised on their nat­u­ral diet are high in min­er­als in the form that our bod­ies are de­signed to sponge up.


This es­sen­tial B vi­ta­min is only found in an­i­mal prod­ucts, so if you are a strict ve­gan you will need to take a sup­ple­ment of the syn­thetic form. It is re­spon­si­ble for many pro­cesses in the body, in­clud­ing en­ergy pro­duc­tion, red blood cell for­ma­tion, car­dio­vas­cu­lar and ner­vous sys­tem health and even can­cer pre­ven­tion. Be­ing de­fi­cient can lead to se­ri­ous dis­ease.

Omega 3

Some plants can con­tain a cer­tain kind of omega 3 (ALA) that re­quires con­ver­sion in the body. Con­ver­sion is poor though, so if this is your only source of omega 3, you may still be com­ing up short. Add to the mix an­i­mal sources of ALA from grass-fed, pas­ture-raised an­i­mals (in­clud­ing dairy and eggs) and EPA/DHARICH fish and seafoods. EPA sup­ports anti-in­flam­ma­tion pro­cesses in the body and DHA is ben­e­fi­cial for our brain health and can help­ful in learn­ing and be­hav­iour dis­or­ders in kids, and cog­ni­tive func­tion/mem­ory in adults. Both of the long chain fatty acids are only avail­able in seafoods.

Per­haps a bal­anced ap­proach to con­scious con­sum­ing in the mod­ern world is a mostly plant-based diet, in­cor­po­rat­ing care­fully se­lected, lo­cal, sus­tain­ably pas­ture-raised an­i­mal foods, while lis­ten­ing to our body and dis­cussing with our health prac­ti­tioner how to ad­just ra­tios to suit our re­quire­ments at that spe­cific time ac­cord­ingly.


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