By now, you probably don’t need convincing about the benefits of the Paleo diet. It really is a natural way to eat and the perfect antidote to modern diets filled with processed foods, artificial ingredients, and sugar. In a hectic modern world, it is one area where we can make things a little simpler and enjoy better health at the same time. But what if you are a vegetarian? Do you have to give up on a diet where meat plays a central role? Actually, no. Vegetarians can follow the Paleo diet too. it just needs a little more thought and maybe a couple of changes.
Obviously, it depends just what you mean by a vegetarian. Nowadays, vegetarianism covers a huge range of options. If you are an extreme case, things can be easy or next to impossible. For example, some people eschew red meat but have no problems with chicken, fish, eggs and all the rest. For this group, Paleo is really no harder than for anyone else. Sure, you will not be eating big steaks, but there are lots of good protein sources in your diet.
Likewise, if you are on the more extreme end of Veganism then Paleo will be very hard and in all honesty probably not the best choice. A radical vegan diet is limiting and it is hard to get all the quality nutrients you need. cutting out more things could begin to compromise your ability to stay healthy.
But what about the rest of the vegetarian population? Should they be thinking about trying the Paleo diet? Well yes. It is impossible. Part of the diet will not be tough at all. In fact, vegetarians usually have a head start on the rest of us.
One thing people find difficult when adjusting to Paleo is how to get variety and flavour in their food. Anyone who has followed a vegetarian diet is usually good at using vegetables in a load of different ways and producing some delicious dishes. Using herbs and spices to create this flavour, rather than sugar and chemicals, is just normal.
The problem is protein. Many vegetarians become dependent on protein sources that are products of agriculture (think soy steaks.) These aren’t possible on a Paleo diet. And if you are strict Vegan, you will also find it more difficult to get healthy fats, lots of which come in meat.
So what are your options? The first one is eggs. You may have read that too many eggs are bad, but this is outdated science. Eggs are a great source of protein. However, it is important to eat eggs that are from a quality source. If you are eating a lot, you don’t want them to be battery hen produced. Besides the ethical objections, they are a poor quality food source compared to their free-range cousins. You also need to vary preparation. Don’t eat boiled eggs every day. Fry in coconut oil, boil, scramble and try any other way you can think of.
The second option is to adapt things a little and this will make more sense for most. A dozen eggs a day can be tough to do for any length of time. This really isn’t such a bad thing. Paleo is great but following Paleo 90% is also great and will give you most of the advantages without two problems. So how should you cheat? Here is a list of things that are bending the rules, but will make things a little easier.
These are all protein sources that are suitable for veggies and should make life easier. The ultimate solution would be to add in limited quantities of high-quality fish or even meat. If you are a vegetarian for ethical reasons, this might be tough or even impossible. But if you can source free-range products it might be worth considering. Animals that are raised in excellent conditions, fed with high-quality food and slaughtered as humanely as possible are a world away from the mass-produced meat that most people eat. This is an individual decision with no right or wrong answer but is something to think about if you are a vegetarian looking to follow the Paleo diet.