Paleo and Vegan Diet: What’s the Difference?

June 21, 2019

Both the Paleo and Vegan diet have created a huge splash in the health and fitness industry for the past few years. You must have read or heard about these two on TV or social media. But what are these diets, really? What makes them good and different from each other? Which is best for your lifestyle?

Know the difference between vegan and paleo diet. (Image Source: Make Change)

Paleo and Vegan are actually the exact opposite of each other.

Paleo vs Vegan Diet: Overview of the Two

Paleo diet, as its name suggests, tries to mimic the food available in the Paleolithic era. This means you can only eat fruits, vegetables, meat, and nuts. This means it excludes dairy, grains, processed sugar, or anything that is available after the invention of agriculture. Basically, it’s like eating the caveman diet or going the “hunter-and-gatherer” way.

The Paleo lifestyle stems from the idea that Paleolithic humans are bigger, stronger, and live longer than humans in the Neolithic era. In the latter period, the concept of agriculture was invented and developed to dramatically change what humans consume.

Vegan or veganism, meanwhile, is a lifestyle originally used as a protest against animal cruelty. Vegans, therefore, only consume plant-based food. To preserve animal life, they do not eat any animal products and byproducts, including milk, eggs, and honey. They also do not wear clothes made from leather.

While veganism has its moral roots, many who embraced it believes that a plant-based diet offers healthier options. This would include fruits and vegetables that have high nutritional value with very low calories.

The key difference between the two is that Paleo advocates animal meat for its nutritional value, while Veganism eschews meat for moral reasons. As with any other forms of diet, these two have their own set of pros and cons.

The Benefits and Risks of a Paleo Diet

Understand the different qualities and benefits of a paleo diet. (Image Source: Healthline)

The Paleo diet is about eating food that humans ate before the agriculture (planting crops) period. It requires the consumption of meat from a variety of food sources. This includes fish and even wild ungulates, such as free-range cattle and deer. In Australia, for example, Kangaroo is a popular choice for those looking for lean meat.

Animals of any type can be eaten, cooked, or prepared in any way, as long as they do not contain ingredients that have been absent in a caveman’s diet. This means no breading or sugar. And since cavemen did not own cows, the Paleo diet avoids dairy products.

In terms of nutrients, the Paleo diet encourages more consumption of protein and fat, more than the USDA 2010 Dietary Guidelines suggests. On average, one can consume 39% of calories from fat (higher than the 35% recommended) and 38% of calories from protein (way higher than the recommended 10% to 35%). Only 23% of the calories in the diet attribute for the carbohydrates (way less than the suggested 45% to 65%).

The Paleo diet also gets rid of refined sugar and carbohydrates, which is the primary contributor to weight gain, high cholesterol, and Type 2 diabetes.  Since fruits and vegetables are part of the whole thing, Paleo is rich in fiber, balancing the body’s blood glucose level for a healthy cholesterol level. The addition of fiber makes you feel full, which is great for managing and losing weight.

The Vegan Diet

As previously mentioned, the vegan diet shuns animal meat or any byproducts derived from animals. Vegans get their protein from legumes, nuts, seeds, soy, whole grains, and vegetables. All types of fruits, whole grains, or vegetables are allowed, which includes rice and quinoa.

What are the benefits of a vegan diet? (Image Source: Medical News Today)

People who adopt veganism are generally leaner physically speaking, and have lower levels of cholesterol. Because of this, they also have a lesser risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and hypertension than people in a non-vegan diet.

Since there are no animal and animal byproducts involved, you can eliminate saturated fat, greatly lowering your risk of high cholesterol and heart disease. And since drinking milk and other dairy products is discouraged, you do not get any form of dietary cholesterol.

To get the nutritional balance their bodies need, vegans include nuts and legumes, aside from the usual fruits and vegetables. They also get protein from soy, as it comprises the same “whole” protein found in animal meat.

Since fruits and vegetables play a big chunk of the vegan diet, individuals following this lifestyle always get a good amount of fiber. This is great for managing blood glucose level, as well as for losing weight. And speaking of losing weight, you can go to this page to see exercise routines ideal for vegans to maintain an ideal weight and energy level.

Compare and Contrast

Since Paleo and Veganism sit on the separate ends of the spectrum, they both have nutritional deficits as they omit certain food choices. Both shun dairy products, which are an excellent source of calcium needed for stronger bones and teeth. Leafy green vegetables and fortified soy milk, however, contain calcium and are ideal alternatives.

Neither Paleo nor Vegan promotes the absorption of enough Vitamin D, which is an important nutrient for the body to better process calcium. To offset this, you are encouraged to spend five to ten minutes out in the sun, early in the morning as your body can produce more Vitamin D that way. Try to get some sun 2 to 3 times a week.

The Paleo diet may be high in protein and fiber, but critics argue that restricting your body of processed food may be detrimental. The modern human body cannot be compared to a paleolithic caveman – both have different variables and factors that affect their daily living.

Similarly, the vegan diet is criticized for not having all the nutrients the body needs. Many vegans have iron deficiency, although this can be addressed by eating dried beans, leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, etc.), and molasses. Vegans also do not get enough Vitamin B12 found in meats.

What People Following Paleo and Vegan Diet Say

Those in the Paleo diet will tell you they feel better, especially those with autoimmune disease. They swear on the improvement of their degenerative diseases and they have better control of their appetite and cravings for processed foods.

People on a Vegan diet, on the other hand, feel so much better about their body by getting rid of processed foods. They stand by the fact that everything humans could ever need can be found in plants. They say they are leaner and have better metabolism.

Some vegans prefer to eat raw fruits, veggies, seeds, nuts, and grains to obtain vitamins, minerals, and digestive enzymes. These are vital to assist digestion, easing inflammation, and achieving optimal body weight.

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