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 go 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 vegetarian. Nowadays, vegetarianism covers a huge range of options. If you are an extreme case, things can be either very easy or next to impossible. For example, some people simply eschew read 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 aren’t going to 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 is going to be very hard indeed and in all honesty probably not the best choice. A radical vegan diet is very limiting and it is really 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 giving Paleo a try? Well, actually, yes. It is really impossible. Clearly, part of the diet isn’t going to be tough at all. In fact, vegetarians usually have a head start on the rest of us.
One of the things 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 pretty 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 of course protein. Many vegetarians become dependent on protein sources that are products of agriculture (think soy steaks and the like.) These aren’t possible on a Paleo diet. And if you are strict Vegan, you are also going to 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 You may have read that too many eggs are bad, but this is outdated science.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 of them, you don’t want them to be battery hen produced. Besides the ethical objections, they are simply 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 is going to make more sense for most. After all, 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 very good and will give you most of the advantages without a couple of the problems. So how should you cheat? Here is a list of things that are bending the rules a bit, but will make things a little easier.
These are all protein sources that are suitable for veggies and should make life easier. Of course, 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 truly 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 certainly something to think about if you are a vegetarian looking to go paleo.