Paleo vs. Vegan Diet: the Pros & Cons of Each - Dr. Axe

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Paleo vs. Vegan Diet — the Pros and Cons


[Below is my transcript of my video about the Paleo vs. vegan diet, along with supplemental information on the topic.]

In this video, I’m going to settle the debate of Paleo vs. vegan diet, and really go over all the benefits of going Paleo and maybe some of the cons. While I don’t eat a Paleo diet, it’s close … and I’ll explain why.

I’m also going to discuss the vegan diet, its great benefits as well as the cons of going that way. Many people ask if they should become a vegan or vegetarian, so I will weigh in.

I think that some of these answers are probably going to surprise you and enlighten you on those two diets.


The Paleo Diet

So let’s first talk about the Paleo diet, one of the most popular diets in CrossFit workout circles and, really, just growing around the country. The Paleo diet is modeled after what our ancient (specifically, Paleolithic) ancestors would have eaten thousands upon thousands of years ago.

And while I don’t actually love the term, Paleo, because of some of its background and the things it’s suggesting, I do think the Paleo concept of going grain-free can be greatly beneficial.

The Paleo concept is essentially thinking about what would a hunter and gatherer have eaten during that time. As a result, the big positive with Paleo is that you’re consuming a lot of wild-caught meats that are some of the best omega-3 foods as well as protein foods. Plus, you’re getting fruits and vegetables, so for that reason, the Paleo diet can be great.

The con with the Paleo diet is that for most of the people that follow it, they tend to consume probably a little bit too much meat, in my opinion, as well as some toxic animal substances. Plus, they really do not stress organic in that diet. For example, I’ve known people on the Paleo diet where their diet consisted of consuming conventional butter and fried bacon — if you eat that every meal, it could be considered a Paleo diet.

So again, the Paleo diet’s major benefits in terms of following that hunter-gatherer lifestyle, you’re getting more minerals, more omega-3 fats, more protein and more healthy fats overall in your diet. In fact, if you follow the Paleo diet in the right way, it’s been shown to help improve autoimmune illness and support weight loss.

The other thing is, some in the Paleo community recommend eating a lot of shrimp and pork. From the research that I’ve seen, both from ancient texts as well as modern-day science, pork carries parasites — it’s why you should avoid pork — and shrimp are bottom feeders.

In fact, according to the Water Watch Survey, shrimp nutrition facts are pretty scary. Researchers found that shrimp were by far the most toxic of all animals of the sea, way more toxic than tilapia, catfish and a lot of the farm fish today — shrimp was the worst.

As you can see, there are some cons with the Paleo diet, but overall, there are a lot of benefits of following that type of diet.

The Vegan Diet

Let’s talk about the vegan diet, which provide huge benefits of more enzymes, more vitamins and more minerals in your diet. When you look at raw vs. cooked foods, for instance, you’ll often see that raw food retains more nutritive value.

In general, vegan diets or doing a raw plant-based diet are so beneficial for improving energy levels, alkalizing your body, and reversing certain types of disease and certain types of cancer.

The issue is doing a vegan diet long term. Now, I’m not talking about for a few weeks or two weeks or a month. But if you stay on that the majority of your life, you cannot get enough benefit-rich vitamin B12, and then it’s very difficult to get the proper amount of amino acids and zinc and certain other nutrients, such as vitamin D, in your diet from consuming a vegan diet.

While most vegans realize this, they still tend to be very deficient in B vitamins and the right type of amino acids. Yes, you can address those deficiencies by taking a good, quality vitamin B12 supplement or a B complex supplement, as well as supplementing with protein powders. Nonetheless, following a strict vegan diet is going to leave you with deficiencies.

Now, I do want to say that there are different types of vegetarian diets that add in things like eggs and raw organic dairy products and wild-caught fish, like a pescatarian. You can follow those types of vegetarian diets and be absolutely healthy and have no deficiencies whatsoever.

And let me say this as well: There are some vegans that live to be over 100 years old, and they addressed their deficiencies. Their digestive system was healthy enough that it helped produce B vitamins for them. So again, you can follow being a vegan and live to be over 100. There are people that have been hunter-gatherers who also lived to be well over 100.

Related: What Is the Pegan Diet? Benefits, Downsides and How to Follow It


Final Thoughts

Now, if I’m comparing the Paleo vs. vegan diet and I had to choose for my entire life to follow one of the two diets, I would actually choose the Paleo diet regime before the vegan diet.

Personally, one of my favorite diets is following more of a traditional diet or a GAPS diet. A traditional diet, which is really what our ancestors ate, wasn’t just Paleo. You know, this diet is more than 6,000 years old, where you’re also consuming grass-fed dairy like benefit-rich kefir; plus, you’re getting in a lot of vegetables and wild meats. It’s kind of everything.

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