How to Incorporate Paleo into Vegetarian and Vegan Lifestyles
Eating Paleo does recommend the inclusion of animal protein like the cave men used to eat. However, you can enjoy eating Paleo and gain considerable health benefits without making animal protein a part of your Paleo plan. Whether you choose not to eat meat because of ethical, religious, or spiritual beliefs, you can make the best vegetarian or vegan choices within the framework of your obligations.
If you don't eat meat because you feel that it's the healthier way to go, give the foods on the Paleo "yes" list a try. Here's why: Your body is the most nutritionally sufficient and balanced with the inclusion of meat products.
Countless stories of folks who took on the vegetarian way of life because they were trying to take the very best care of their body have found that their health declined over time on that plan, only to discover that their health skyrocketed after they started eating animal products again.
If you choose not to eat animal products because you're concerned about the treatment of animals or global issues, thankfully, there are now ways to source meat, fish, and eggs responsibly.
Perhaps you just don't like the taste of meat or have been a vegetarian for so long that eating meat just turns you off. Or perhaps you do eat some eggs and fish. Whatever scenario fits you, you can embrace the Paleo lifestyle, from making sure you're getting adequate protein to eating real, quality food.
Get enough protein on the Paleo diet
If you eat some eggs and fish, try to build your plate with these foods as your protein and use the plant-based proteins only as the exception, not the rule. Eating plenty of eggs and fish along with veggies, fruits, and nuts ensures that you get the protein you need.
On the other hand, if you choose not to eat any meat, fish, or eggs, you have to look to other vegetarian protein to get your nutrition. The most optimal choices are organic, dense protein sources, like non-GMO plant-based foods, including the following:
Beans: Lentils, black beans, pinto beans, and red beans
Full-fat pasture-raised yogurt and kefir
High-quality protein powders, hemp, or pea protein
These beans have the lowest impact on blood sugar. Having your blood sugar spike up and down causes you to become unhealthy and overweight. If you buy canned beans, be sure to rinse them a couple of times before eating, which rinses off the starch and salt and reduces the gassiness that beans cause for many. If you're preparing dried beans, soak them for at least 12 hours.
Don't look to string cheese, cottage cheese, or conventional yogurt or dairy products as your protein sources. These foods may cause congestion or inflammation in the body. In fact, a lot of people are finding that they're intolerant to dairy.
If your body shows signs of a dairy sensitivity, such as feeling tired after eating any dairy products, constant sniffles, coughing, or acne or skin rashes, then making dairy your protein source is definitely not going to move you toward health.
Avoid frankenfoods on the Paleo diet
Whether you decide to eat a little meat, eggs, or fish or stick with plant-based proteins, avoiding frankenfoods is of upmost importance. Frankenfoods are made to look like real foods but are nothing more than fake foods from head to toe. They're the worst of the worst of processed foods. These foods are genetically engineered and full of allergens, preservatives, additives, and flavor enhancers. In a word, yuck!
Frankenfoods are processed soy and meat alternatives. Unlike soy foods, such as edamame, tempeh, and traditional miso, which are closer to their natural state, these foods are a far cry from anything real. Some vegetarians don't eat any eggs or fish and are looking for ways to expand their protein sources. You do have to get your protein somewhere. But look past these food products for your options.
This stuff just isn't healthy for anyone. Period. In fact, these options aren't even foods. They're food products, usually a mixture of a wheat protein with a subpar oil. Avoid the following frankenfood:
Tofu hot dogs
Veggie chicken wings
Veggie "sausage" links
All these "food" items should be in a landfill and not in your kitchen!
Reconsider adding some animal protein to your diet. However, if you're holding steadfast on vegetarianism or veganism, make sure your protein sources are as healthy and as natural as can be. Also, make sure you're getting plenty of healthy fats and loads of fruits and veggies. People who take the vegetarian approach tend to have intestinal, inflammatory, and autoimmune types of problems and healthy fats help reduce that inflammation.