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
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:
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.
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.
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.