Paleo vs Vegan

Religion, politics, and ‘diet’.  There is a social rule to never bring up politics or religion at a dinner party, and we need to add ‘diet’ to that list.  It seems a lot of people have their own strong opinion of what works best.  However, It never fails, when I go out in public and someone finds out what I do for a living, they want to know my opinion of what they should eat (sometimes bringing up the subject to simply try to prove their opinion is right).  Not that I mind helping a neighbor out, but I always warn them up front, “Don’t get me started!”.  From the beginning, I tell inquiring minds, that no one really knows for sure that they are right, and if they say they are, run for the door.  I do say I have data to support my hypothesis, and then offer to show them the data…in my office, not at a dinner party. It is too difficult for me to leave the tip of the iceberg exposed…I have a hard time not spilling the whole jar of candy.  I have to practice self control and dole out just a few tasty morsels.

Nutrition goes really deep.  It seems the deeper you go the deeper it gets, and like the roots of a tree, it goes off in many directions.  So when I get the proverbial, “What should I eat”, as they are nibbling on pizza (should I give them the ‘pizza effect’ lecture?), and sipping on beer (the ‘liquid bread’ lecture?), I wonder where I should start, and what can I say in just a few minutes that will help them realize how critical nutrition is to the quality and length of their life.  If you are looking for a simple answer you won’t get it from me.  I don’t have an “elevator speech” (that 2 minute conversation that sums it all up), when it comes to nutrition.  So when people ask me, “Which diet is better, Paleo or Vegan?”, at least they are narrowing down the subject matter. Here is a recent article, my tasty morsel, that helps to summarize this heated debate.

That being said, here is my ‘dinner party’ response to the Paleo vs Vegan question.  First and foremost, when the average person is eating SAD (the Standard American Diet),

and they switch to Paleo or Vegan, there will be positive health changes with both choices, initially.  I mean, anything is better than beer and pizza! Buyer beware…either one of these two diets can be modified into a variation of the original intent, and is subject to the individual’s interpretation of the diet.  A lot of times I see franken-foods being substituted for REAL food in both diets. From the vegan foods that are man-made modifications of something that doesn’t resemble anything in nature, to what some consider to be paleo foods with additives that were never consumed by our ancestors.

After the initial health benefits you will notice from cleaning out your SAD pantry, and switching to Paleo or Vegan, it boils down to which diet can be sustained for the long haul, plus continue to empower your health and the health of the environment.  Which diet is supported by the most relevant and up to date scientific research?  There are a lot of really smart people with alphabet soup after their name that endorse one side or the other of the debate.  However, after 30+ years of studying nutrition and counseling thousands of individuals, I have come to the conclusion that (if that inquisitive dinner guest forces me to voice my personal opinion), Paleo is the way to go.  It is easy to follow, lowers inflammation, maintains proper blood glucose levels, improves blood profiles, requires no counting, calculating, or having to eat every three hours, it is humane to the animals and the earth, there are no food combinations to remember, it heals the gut, children thrive on it, and it is the way our ancestors have eaten for 2 million years.  Call it what you like.  Paleo, Primal, Cave Man, Ancestral. I call it smart. Now let’s eat dinner.