Which diet is healthier for you, vegan or paleo? Which way of eating is most likely the one our ancestors ate? Which approach to food will help you reverse type 2 diabetes, chronic illnesses, and autoimmunity?
What Is Vegan Diet?
Going vegan has simple rules. You’re allowed to eat anything that hasn’t been created by an animal or made from animals.
Veganism takes the rules of vegetarianism and builds upon them.
When eating a vegetarian diet, you’d avoid all foods an animal has had to die to create. That’s predominantly meat and fish.
When adopting a vegan diet, you follow this rule as well a second one, which dictates that animal by-products should also be cut from your diet. This phrase is used to describe foods that have been created by animals like milk, eggs, yogurt, and honey.
Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet
Although a well-designed vegan diet can have health benefits, it’s usually not the driver for its adoption. Instead, the primary driver is made from the belief that animal products should not be eaten.
Whether you switch for personal beliefs or health benefits is an important distinction to make because a vegan diet can be loaded with ‘bad for you’ foods and still be vegan. For example, a meal comprised of soda, french fries, ketchup, baked beans, and hash browns is vegan, but isn’t healthy.
However, if you’re eating a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables and you’re eating them in a way that controls your blood sugar, there are many significant health benefits.
Recent studies show that healthy vegan dieters have a much healthier gut microflora and a significantly lower level of inflammation, a contributor and premeditated conditions like heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
Scientists also show that a vegan diet is coincidental with a significantly lower BMI, lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of diabetes. If designed properly, science supports the view that a vegan diet is a lifestyle choice that will help you promote greater health and well-being.
What Is the Paleo Diet?
Often described as the caveman diet, the paleo approach to eating is designed to take your diet back to what our ancestors evolved on. If the foods you’re considering aren’t available before the invention of supermarkets, or even farms, it’s a food banned on the paleo diet.
The key question to ask yourself is, “could I have hunted and gathered this myself? Is it naturally made in a non-man-controlled environment?”
Let’s take a look at a few examples:
- Vegetable Oil – Requiring high heats and chemical extraction, vegetable oil would definitely not have been available before the invention of food processing — but olive, coconut, and avocado oil would
- Eggs – Eggs that are free-range would definitely have been available for you to hunt and gather
- Meat – This is a yes and no: grass-fed meat would have been available to hunt and gather, grain fed meat wouldn’t
Health Benefits of Paleo Diet
Most people choosing to eat a paleo diet cite weight loss or health as their primary driver. The general approach of high fat, high protein, and low carbohydrate lends itself well to sustainable weight-loss, and the absence of refined grains, sugars, and processed foods certainly forms the basis of a healthy diet.
A basis that has been correlated to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and blood pressure. Notice some vegan similarities?
Paleo vs. Vegan: What Is the Healthiest Diet?
Both a vegan and paleo diet have many notable health benefits if designed well. If you had to decide between the two, a paleo diet goes significantly further in defining which foods are healthful and which are health traps.
Looking at the reasons why you might choose a vegan or paleo diet, this makes complete sense because the drivers of veganism are often moral and the founding principles of a paleolithic diet are more often health-based.
The healthiest of approaches lie in a collaboration of the two, harnessing the rules of healthy eating that are well-researched and proven by science.
This means designing a diet that is full of:
- Anti-inflammatory foods like fruits and vegetables and low in inflammatory foods like fried foods and alcohol.
- Naturally available foods like carrots and grass-fed meats and low in man-made foods like refined grains and biscuits.
- Good quality fats like olive oil, avocados, and nuts, and low in poor quality ones like vegetable oils.
- Slow energy release foods like nuts, and low in high-sugar foods like candies and desserts.
- Vegetables and low in sometimes troublesome dairy, gluten, and starchy beans.
How does your diet stack up? Could you consider yours a mixture of vegan and paleo principles? We know our protein-packed Carrot & Zucchini Breakfast Muffins certainly could.