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The Vegan Paleo Diet: A Thought Experiment

After reading Melissa‘s latest post and seemingly encountering veg*ns all the time I’ve started to wonder about what would be the best synthesis of a vegan type diet with a Paleo type diet (elements of which could be incorporated in a poverty or emergency diet where fresh foods are limited). The Paleo diet, as it is and in its essence, requires animal products. It cannot function without them. As soon as they are eliminated, the diet is eviscerated and your health will suffer. This is why most people who attempt this must fail. It is simply impossible to strictly apply Paleo with the added prescription of no animal products. If one desires to be veg*n and wants to incorporate some of the wisdom found in the ideas of the WAPF and the Paleo diet, one cannot be dogmatic about their application and must recognize the fluidity of elements.

On the Paleo diet, one can afford to forgo all grains and legumes because you have meat. Without meat, this luxury is no longer possible and the health of your diet must take a hit but I do not believe that this means that your diet must, of necessity, be terrible. Some animal protein will always be preferable to none so a vegetarian diet that at least includes eggs and dairy will be better than a vegan one that does not. A pescetarian diet that includes seafood will be able to much more closely approximate a Paleo type diet. But for the sake of this, let us assume you are trying to be a vegan.

First, the uncontroversial elements of the diet. Vegetables, fruits, and nuts will make up a small part of this diet for the sake of micronutrition and starch. As always, fruits should be restricted somewhat because of the fructose content and nuts because of the toxin load and PUFA content. Green vegetables and starchy tubers are fine in any quantities. So far, some carbohydrate and fiber (for the sake of feeding good butyric acid producing bacteria) are covered. This leaves protein and fat.

Animal products are the primary sources of protein and fat in the Paleo diet. If you just consider for a moment the recommended cooking fats, almost all are animal derived. Almost all, but not all. This would mean that a vegan would have to limit cooking oils to coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, and red palm oil. All other vegetable oils are likely to be very high in PUFAs, not to mention the requisite high heat industrial processing required for their manufacture. Coconut products in general will serve the important purpose of providing fat in the diet. Coconut milk can be used often for recipes and should be preferred should you want to consume fake dairy. Other fake dairy products are likely to be high in toxins (soy) or PUFAs (almond and hemp) and I would rank them like so (from best to worst): coconut, hemp, almond.

As for protein, the best source of non-animal derived protein is going to be low toxin legumes and pseudo-grains. This would mean consuming lentils, split lentils, amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat. The pseudo-grains tend to have lower toxin loads than real grains, more nutrients, and are complete proteins. Among the grains, the only one allowed is white rice due to low toxins but this will serve more as a starch source than a protein source (brown rice can also be consumed so long as it is soaked properly). In all cases, it is imperative to prepare the food properly for maximum nutrition by sufficient soaking and optional fermentation. Other legumes are also potentially all right so long as you prepare properly with the exception of soy which should never be consumed in any form except fermented. It may also be good to avoid kidney beans as these have such a high toxin load that they can kill you if eaten raw. Grains besides rice should be avoided, especially the gluten grains though the occasional corn will not be so much of a problem.

Obviously, the macronutrient ratio of such a diet will be very different from the Paleo diet which is generally a high fat, low carbohydrate diet. Considering the fact that you will be avoiding high PUFA oils, wheat, and fructose I believe that this is likely to do you no harm. The Kitavan diet likely functions because, even though it is high carb, it is low in metabolic poisons like fructose and gluten grains. To make this diet high fat would be very difficult unless coconut consumption is through the roof and, in any case, is probably not a good idea since making it low carbohydrate presents even more difficulties as your protein sources come bundled with carbohydrate. A diet must be high carbohydrate or high fat, but not both.

All other general recommendations apply. Fat should be saturated, PUFAs should be under 4% of calories and so on. The standard vegan supplements plus the standard Paleo complement apply as well. B12, vitamin D, omega-3 (from algae), selenium, iodine, magnesium, vitamin K2, et cetera.

To summarize this, I would imagine the “ideal” vegan diet to be composed like so:

Starch: Tubers, white rice

Protein: Legumes (except soy and kidney beans), pseudo-grains

Fat: Coconut, red palm, olive, avocado, macadamia nut

Fibrous veggies, fruits, and nuts in moderation

Avoid PUFAs and sweets.

Considering how misguided the information given by the government and nutritionists for how to design a diet, I wonder how vegans who did their diet in this fashion would manage. So far, we mostly just see junk food vegans, whole foods vegans who usually include a lot of whole grains, and raw food vegans, all of which are likely get a large toxin load in their foods from the preponderance of (often ill-prepared) grains, legumes, and fruits.

EDIT: I would like to add that considering the delicate flavor and relatively low smoking point of olive oil, it would be less preferred for frying than other oils and that considering the sustainability problems of many red palm oils, those may also be likely avoided or limited. Coconut, avocado, and macadamia nut oils are the ones most preferred with the latter two providing more of a neutral flavor in cooking along with high smoke points. Cashew nut oil appears to also have a good fatty acid profile but I have been unable to determine what its smoke point is and it does not seem to be produced in large amounts in any case.

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Filed under: Diet, Nutrients, Veganism

One Response

  1. […] you choose not to consume meat then a few modifications must be made. I have outlined these at this post. Essentially, the diet will have to be a high carbohydrate, low fat diet as opposed to a high fat, […]

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