A Simple Guide to Going Vegan Paleo: Transition, Recipes, and Advice

Usually, you only see the words vegan and paleo together when someone is discussing which one is the better diet. But now, an increasing number of people are combining the eating philosophes of each.

So, what is vegan paleo? Vegan paleo is a very restrictive whole foods plant-based diet. It excludes processed foods, refined sugars, grains, and starchy vegetables. It may help with weight loss and reducing blood sugar levels.

Paleo is a new trendy diet that has become popular worldwide. It is very similar to Atkins but without the bad reputation. Some of the biggest names have been known to follow a paleo diet including Jessica Biel, Miley Cyrus, Matthew McConaughey, and even Kanye West.

The paleo diet is an attempt to recreate the diet of our paleolithic ancestors. Therefore, it includes a lot of protein, fat, and virtually no carbs.

What is the Vegan Paleo diet?

Trendy pegan diet. Paleo and vegan healthy products
Trendy pegan diet

Also known as the “Pegan” diet, vegan paleo is the vegan version of the paleo diet. A pegan does not eat any of the high protein animal foods that make up the basis of a paleo diet.

So, what does a pegan eat? Mostly fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Because grains were not cultivated in the paleolithic period, hunter-gatherers would not have eaten things like rice or wheat.

There is a lot of emphasis on eating a whole foods diet. Whole foods are foods that are as close to their natural state when harvested. The food does not go through any more processing than what is absolutely needed, such as washing and cutting.

A whole foods diet has been repeatedly shown to have profound health effects. The significant benefits of a whole foods diet include:

  • Lower cholesterol
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Regulation of blood sugar
  • Reduce risk and reverse heart disease
  • Reduce risk and reverse obesity
  • Lower risk of cancer
  • Lower risk of diabetes
  • Improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
  • Improve overall quality of life (physical, emotional, and mental)

The plant-based diet and whole foods diet are both backed by lots of research. Combined, the two will most likely have similar health benefits.

Vegan Paleo Diet Basics

Paleo diet sign on a table full of various raw vegetables, a bowl of chicken eggs and chicken

The paleo diet isn’t straight forward. If you’re keen to start a paleo diet, I highly advise doing your own research and speaking a dietician or nutritionist first.

Here are some basic principles of the paleo diet:

  • Nutritional Breakdown: 35% fat, 40% carbohydrate, and 25% protein.
  • Staple Foods: Whole vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and some tubers and ancient grains (quinoa and amaranth).
  • Foods to Avoid: All animal foods including dairy, wheat, rice, barley, oats, rye, corn, all legumes, starchy tubers, alcohol, sugar (except fruits), and all processed foods.

Looking at the foods to avoid, you will quickly see how restrictive a vegan paleo diet can be. Vegan paleo is not an easy diet to follow, and many may find it difficult trying to maintain.

For vegans, protein-dense grains such as quinoa and amaranth are acceptable even though they wouldn’t be allowed on the regular paleo diet.

The paleo diet is an attempt to return to a preagricultural diet. So you can not eat anything that is processed. Say goodbye to any snacks, junk food, and late-night pizza orders.

Vegan Paleo Meal Ideas

So you can get a better idea of what a vegan paleo meal would look like, here are a few examples and a typical day of food.

Vegan Paleo Meals

  • Crispy Plantains With Garlic Sauce
  • Zucchini Noodles With Avocado Sauce
  • Kimchi Fried Cauliflower Rice
  • Cashew Satay Vegetable Stir Fry
  • Grilled Zucchini And Green Bean Salad
  • Portobello Mushroom Steaks
  • Coconut Spirulina Superfood Smoothie
  • Tomato Zoodles Soup
  • Paleo Eggplant Parmesan
  • Green Bean And Mushroom Casserole
  • Paleo Flax Patties
  • Blueberry And Raspberry Pancakes
  • Carrot Noodles With Almond Sesame Sauce

Making meals will become a lot easier once you start to learn more about vegan paleo foods and possible combinations.

To help you at the start, use the internet and Pinterest for recipe ideas and meal plans.

Vegan Paleo Meal Plan

Monday

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: Blueberry And Raspberry Pancakes
  • Lunch: Tomato Zoodles Soup
  • Dinner: Zucchini Noodle Vegetable Stir Fry

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: Coconut Spirulina Superfood Smoothie
  • Lunch: Kimchi Fried Cauliflower Rice
  • Dinner: Carrot Noodles With Almond Sesame Sauce

Thursday

  • Breakfast: Vegan Paleo Granola
  • Lunch: Crispy Plantains With Garlic Sauce
  • Dinner: Cashew Satay Vegetable Stir Fry

Friday

Saturday

  • Breakfast: Paleo Strawberry Chia Protein Pop-Tarts
  • Lunch: Green Bean And Mushroom Casserole
  • Dinner: Portobello Mushroom Steaks

Sunday

  • Breakfast: Vegan Paleo Granola
  • Lunch: Paleo Vegetable Burrito Bowl
  • Dinner: Paleo Pad Thai

Important Things to Consider on a Vegan Paleo Diet

Kale, fried yams and avocado salad on a stone background

Due to the restrictiveness of a vegan paleo diet, there are few things to consider. Use this advice to stay on top of your vegan paleo diet and stay healthy.

Getting Enough Protein

“Where do you get your protein?” is the most common question to vegans but unjustified. However, if you’re a vegan paleo, they may have a point.

You need 25% of your diet to be protein. As you can’t eat a lot of the legumes and meat alternatives that provide vegans their protein, where do you get it?

Nuts and seeds are the answer. But you must be careful not to consume too much-saturated fat, which nuts and seeds are typically high in.

Opt for almonds, pistachios, and sunflower seeds. All three have around 6g protein per ounce and only contain 1 – 1.5g of saturated fat per ounce. This should help you hit your protein target each day without going over the saturated fat limit.

You can also include hemp and chia seeds, which are both excellent sources of protein. Add hemp seeds to salads and chia seeds to your smoothies. Hemp seeds have 11g protein per 30g, and chia seeds have 4.4g protein per ounce.

Check Your Carbs

When it comes to carbs, you really only have two choices. That’s sweet potatoes and plantains. Dr. Mark Hyman, a leader in functional medicine, recommends that people following vegan paleo eat quinoa and amaranth.

You will need to avoid all other forms of carbs to follow the vegan paleo diet correctly.

Pick Good Fats

Fat is an essential part of the paleo diet. It’s based on several key pieces of research that suggest saturated fat is not as bad as we first believe it to be. This is highly controversial within the professional nutrition industry.

Healthy fats to include are extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and other nut and seed oils. Bad fats are trans fats like hydrogenated and part-hydrogenated oil.

Don’t Forget the Micronutrients

As you will probably already know, getting some essential micronutrients can be difficult on a regular vegan diet. So, getting the same micronutrients on a paleo vegan diet is even more difficult.

B12 is the big one to consider supplementing. You simply can’t get this nutrient from plant foods. You may also want to consider supplementing calcium and iron. You won’t be eating many foods with high enough content of either of these nutrients.

The Benefits of a Vegan Paleo Diet

Currently, there are no studies on the health benefits of a vegan paleo diet. However, we do have research on the effects of a vegan diet and a paleo diet. It’s safe to assume that you would be able to realize some of these benefits on a vegan paleo diet.

Access to Richer Nutrients

Both the vegan and the paleo diet are focused on nutritious fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. All these foods are rich in nutrients and offer various health benefits.

Both diets also have a focus on eating whole foods. This is not essential to a vegan diet, but many vegans try to eat whole foods where possible. Eating foods, especially plant-based whole foods, is incredibly beneficial to one’s health.

Research has shown that a plant-based whole foods diet can lower cholesterol, blood lower pressure, prevent heart disease, prevent and reverse obesity, reduce the risk of various cancers developing, and much more.

These benefits are due to the quality of nutritious foods you will eat under a whole foods plant-based diet. You will be eating more nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, fiber, protein, and healthy fats.

Balances Blood Glucose Levels

The paleo aspect of the vegan paleo diet demands that you avoid refined sugars. This helps you to avoid spikes in your blood glucose levels. You won’t get sugar crashes on this diet.

This balance of blood sugar levels has made the paleo diet popular for those looking to prevent and reverse diabetes. If you have diabetes, it is recommended that you first speak with a dietician or doctor before going vegan paleo.

Lose Weight

The majority of people that eat a vegan or paleo diet lose a significant amount of weight. Vegans tend to lose slightly more than those on paleo. It’s therefore likely that those following a vegan paleo diet would lose some.

Many observational studies have shown that vegans are generally thinner than people on non-vegan diets. Several randomized controlled studies have shown that the vegan diet is the most effective diet for weight loss.

It’s easy to see why. Due to vegans exclusion of all animal products, vegans eat far less fatty and sugary foods. They generally eat less junk food and are far more conscious of their health and weight than non-vegans.

Promotes Heart Health

Both the vegan and paleo diets have been found to improve your heart health. Randomized controlled studies have shown that a vegan diet is useful for reducing blood sugar and lowering cholesterol.

Studies have shown that the paleo diet can be useful for lowering bad cholesterol and improving good cholesterol.

One study on paleo showed that those following the paleo diet were able to reduce blood pressure, total cholesterol levels, and triglycerides in just two weeks.

Downsides to a Vegan Paleo Diet

Nothing is ever perfect, and everything has its downsides and risks. Especially when it comes to diets.

There is Very Little Research Available

While we have research for both vegan and paleo diets on their own, we have very little credible research about vegan paleo. Therefore, we don’t know the real benefits or risks associated with this diet.

All we can do is look at the current research for both individual diets and make conclusions based on the evidence we have. We can also observe those who follow a vegan paleo diet to see the benefits and risks.

It’s Restrictive

The vegan diet is already quite restrictive. Adding the paleo element makes it even more stringent. The whole foods aspect can make it challenging to stay on track, depending on where you live and your access to foods.

To follow the vegan paleo diet correctly, it must be well thought out and managed to ensure you‘re getting all the nutrients your body needs to be healthy.

Eating out is another issue that can affect a vegan paleo’s social life. The exclusion of grains, legumes, and dairy makes finding a meal in a restaurant incredibly tricky.

Getting Enough Calories

On vegan paleo, you exclude foods like legumes, grains, and meat. These are calorie-dense foods that you do not have access to. Therefore, getting enough calories on a vegan paleo diet quickly becomes an issue.

High calories plant foods are mostly nuts and seeds. However, many nuts and seeds also come with high-fat content, which is limited to a vegan paleo diet. Finding this balance of calories, fat, and protein can be difficult on a vegan paleo diet.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Magnesium, iron, and calcium are difficult to come by on a vegan paleo diet. Deficiencies are, therefore, an issue on this diet and will probably need to be supplemented.

Getting enough protein can also be challenging. A regular paleo diet has a focus on meat, so getting protein is simple. Once you add the vegan element, it can become challenging to get adequate levels of protein. You will have no access to meat or processed vegan alternatives, such as tofu, that is high in protein.

FAQ

What is healthier: Vegan or Paleo?

When comparing people on vegan and paleo, vegans are generally in better shape. They have lower cholesterol, lower levels of obesity, and reduced rates of diabetes.

Can vegans do Paleo?

Yes, but it is a heavily restrictive diet and must be well managed to remain healthy. You may need to supplement some of the essential micronutrients to avoid any deficiencies. Vegan paleo is not considered a long-term diet choice. It can help you to lose weight and possibly reverse some health issues like heart disease and obesity.

Vegan vs. Paleo: Which is better for weight loss?

A vegan diet is much more useful for losing weight. Vegans lose an average of 5kg on the vegan diet and are generally thinner than those on a non-vegan diet. Vegans also have lower rates of obesity.

Polina

Author:

Polina

Blog owner, pole dance instructor, fitness athlete. Vegan for 10+ years

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