Paleo or Vegan? Vegan or Paleo? To keep my New Year’s resolutions this year, I decided to go vegan for a month. Vegan sounds so austere, doesn’t it? The word itself conjures up images of impossibly skinny girls with nose rings in crop tops drinking green smoothies or of happy little rabbits frolicking and crunching up carrots and cabbages in Mister MacGreggor’s garden. On the other hand, the famously short life expectancy of Neanderthal Man makes me somewhat reluctant to try Vegan’s nemesis: The Paleo Diet. If these two diets were superheroes, Paleo might be the Incredible Hulk and Vegan Clark Kent before his kryptonite kale. But given the tumult of the end of 2016, mild-mannered has a certain appeal.
A vegan diet eliminates all meat and dairy. A Paleo diet eliminates grains, legumes, and dairy. Both diets are based on whole foods, vegan is more plant-based, Paleo more meat-based. Both seem legitimate approaches to better living through conscious eating. Adopt either one and you are likely to keep your resolve and possibly meet your fitness goals. But which one is best for you?
For a balanced perspective, I sought neutral sources for information about each eating style. Nursingdegree.net lists 57 categorized health benefits of adopting a vegan diet:
- The reduction in saturated fats improves your health, especially your cardiovascular health.
- More fiber, better bowel movements and reduced risk of colon cancer.
- Magnesium. “Nuts, seeds, and dark leafy greens are an excellent source of magnesium.”
- More antioxidants that protect against cell damage and the formation of “some types of cancer.”
- Vitamins C & E: Vitamin C boosts immunity and helps bruises heal faster; Vitamin E is good for “your heart, skin, eyes, brain, and may even help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.”
- A vegan diet has an appropriate amount of protein. “Most Americans eat too much protein and in forms such as red meat that are not healthy ways of getting protein.”
Disease Prevention Benefits
- Cardiovascular disease
- Eliminates dietary cholesterol
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces risk of prostate, colon, and breast cancer
- Prevents macular degeneration and cataracts
- Alleviates arthritis symptoms
- Lowers Body Mass Index
- Weight Loss
- Increased energy
- Healthy skin
- Increased longevity
- Reduced body odor and bad breath
- Alleviates some allergies and PMS symptoms
The cons of a vegan diet are pretty much self-evident: no cheese, no bacon. A not-so-evident con of this diet is that it can lead to Vitamin B deficiencies in the long term.
A neutral source for information on the benefits of a Paleo was a bit harder to find. Paleo Leap lists the following published research for the Paleo diet:
- More satiating per calorie
- Good for weight loss
- Improves cholesterol profiles in men and women
PaleoDietEvoloved lists these benefits:
- Healthy cells – as the results of consuming both saturated and unsaturated fats
- Healthy brain – due to increased consumption of Omega 3 fatty acids
- Builds muscle mass and thus increases metabolism
- Increased vitamin and mineral consumption from eating vegetables in a wide variety of colors (“eating the rainbow”)
- Reduced allergies – grains are notorious allergens
- Reduced inflammation – due to increased consumption of Omega 3 fatty acids
- Weight loss – because of reduced carbs
- Reduced risk of disease: “The paleo diet isn’t perfect, but the main focus is to avoid foods that can potentially harm your health. The paleo diet makes it easy to avoid crap foods by giving you a simple blueprint; only eat what a caveman would be able to eat.”
There is another type of eating style called “Pegan,” which combines elements of the Paleo and Vegan diets and avoids trans fats, processed foods, refined sugars, and refined grains. And sounds like a good idea.
Next month I think I’ll try the Spanish Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet – which advocates olive oil, fresh veggies, fish, and moderate red wine consumption. Add a little chocolate to the mix and it will be perfect for Valentine’s Day!