Peace Between Paleo and Vegan Diets

There are many assumptions about the Paleo diet. The biggest is that it is a low-carb diet similar to the Atkins diet. For those who don’t know, the Atkins diet consists of eating fatty food such as meat, butter, lard, etc.

The Paleo diet is nothing like this. A Paleo diet instead tries to mimic the diet that our Palaeolithic ancestors ate. It includes not only certified organic grass-fed meat but also vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.

Another myth is that the Paleo diet consists of high proportions of meat and is entirely at odds with the vegan diet. However, I don’t see this.

Even though our Palaeolithic ancestors did eat meat, there were no KFC restaurants available during the Palaeolithic era where they could conveniently order a bucket of fried chicken. However, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds were widely and easily available, which meant a true Paleo diet is mostly plant based.

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Furthermore, our Paleo ancestors didn’t have access during the Palaeolithic era to meat produced from factory farms (CAFO meat). In factory farms, animals are confined and are injected with antibiotics, hormones, and painkillers. To mimic the sort of meat Palaeolithic ancestors ate, a Paleo dieter would either buy certified organic grass-fed meat or consume game meat. Both these meats, in my opinion, are far more sustainable and humane than meat from factory farms.

Furthermore, because game meat takes tremendous effort to prepare and certified organic grass-fed meat is expensive, this high cost helps to moderate the quantity consumed. It is as if there is a meat tax imposed.

The Paleo diet, in my opinion, is similar to a moderate vegan diet and is much more palatable and easier to understand when presented to the public.

There is no war between Paleos and vegans, in my opinion, because the two diets are very similar. A Paleo diet minus the meat and plus vitamin B12 pills equals a vegan diet.

The Dangers of Overcooked and Undercooked Meat

The most dangerous type of meat is meat from factory farms. This type of meat is often described as coming from confined animal feeding operations (CAFO). Animals in factory farms have high levels of pesticides, hormones, arsenic, and antibiotics (1).

If you do get meat, a major issue comes from cooking meat. Any time you cook meat at high temperatures, whether you’re grilling, frying, or broiling, dangerous chemicals are created (2, 3, 4), for example:

  • heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are linked to cancer, and
  • advanced glycation end products (AGEs) cause oxidative stress, inflammation and an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease.
That being said, undercooking meat is also dangerous because cooking destroys bad bacteria (such as E. coli) and worms (such as Trichinellosis) (5, 6).
The bottom line is if you’re going to buy meat, it’s best to get organic grass-fed meat to avoid antibiotics, hormones, and pesticides. You also need to cook the meat at just the right temperature, not too much that it produces HCAs, PBHs, and AGEs that cause cancer, inflammation, and heart disease, but not too little that bad bacteria and worms may still be present in the meat.

Can Vegans Make a Difference?

Yes they can.

Although there are many who go vegan to lose weight or get more fiber or antioxidants in their diet, those who are vegan for ethical reasons should see the decision to go vegan as a form of boycott.

I hate to see animals suffering and being slaughtered in factory farms. A boycott is an effective way for the average person to really make a difference in the world.

Boycotts work because money talks.

The video below by Sean Lee, a vegan digital nomad, explains how we can all make a difference by going vegan.

Update 8/11/15:

Below is yet another great video from Sean Lee about how going vegan can have significant impacts on the world, from environmental impacts to even helping to free up food to feed starving children.

Soy-Free Vegan Coffee in the Melbourne CBD

Melbourne is renowned for its coffee. In just about all coffee shops, vegans can pay about 50 cents extra for soymilk rather than dairy milk.

I personally avoid both soymilk and dairy milk as soymilk contains high concentrations of phytoestrogens and dairy milk contains high concentrations of estrone and estradiol, which are cow estrogens. In the study below, men who drank dairy milk regularly suffered from a significant drop in serum testosterone.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19496976

As easy way to avoid soy and dairy is to order pure espresso or a long black. A long black is similar to a latte except the espresso coffee is mixed with water rather than milk. The benefit or ordering a long black is you usually get double the amount of espresso coffee, which means double the amount of antioxidants.

The problem with the long black is that the taste of coffee by itself is strong. Another problem is that pure espresso or a long black has virtually zero calories (good for those losing weight but I personally want more calories).

This is when you need to get coffee mixed with a plant-based milk. My personal favourites are coconut milk and almond milk.

For lattes with coconut milk (that is, coconut lattes), I recommend Oli and Levi. There are two Oli and Levi cafes in Melbourne. There is an Oli and Levi on Coromandel Place and an Oli and Levi on Collins Street.

If you are concerned with the cost of coconut milk or the saturated fat content, I recommend almond milk. While just about any brand of coconut milk seems to taste good in coffee, coffee with almond milk only seems to taste good if certain brands are used. Personally I like to go to Little Bean Blue on Little Collins Street. The almond latte that this cafe prepares uses a brand of almond milk that is specially designed for coffee, meaning it tastes smooth and frothy.

Milk Drinkers Resemble Cows?

While standing in the cafe waiting for my almond latte today, I took note of the coffee orders taken. Most went for coffee with regular cows milk. Some wanted soy milk, coconut milk, or almond milk. Some even went for pure espresso (for example, long blacks).

I noticed something. People who ordered coffee with cows milk seemed much more chubby than those who ordered coffee without cows milk. Of course, being a vegan, I am extremely biased, and my observations may be coloured by wishful thinking or confirmation bias.

But I thought about it carefully. Cows milk is designed for cows. It makes sense then that those who regularly drink cows milk would themselves eventually start to resemble cows.

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Do Carbs Make You Fat?

bread being cut up with a knife

Do carbs make you fat?

Not necessarily.

You gain weight when you eat more calories than you burn. It doesn’t matter whether those calories come from carbs, protein, or fat.

However, most food that are high in carbohydrates (e.g. fruit) tend to have lower calorie densities than fatty foods (e.g. butter, oil, nuts, and meat). Fruits generally are not high in calories.

100g of blueberries has 57 calories.
100g of mango has 60 calories.
100g of banana has 89 calories.
100g of beef has 250 calories.
100g of mixed nuts has 607 calories.
100g of butter has 717 calories.