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Is the Paleo or Vegan Diet the Healthiest?

Updated on October 23, 2016
Chuck Bluestein profile image

At age 16 I was a volunteer at a hospital bacteriology lab. I became a chemist for U.S. government. Then I studied health & related fields.

Paleo & Vegan Diet

Logo for paleo and vegan diet.
Logo for paleo and vegan diet. | Source

Paleo, Vegan or Pegan Diet

This article is about what is the healthiest diet. Being overweight is a health problem. First the vegan diet is about not killing animals.

It is not about the healthiest diet. For example a diet where you just eat candy is a vegan diet. It is very unhealthy.

Now here is something interesting I found on the Paleovaganista site. It says:

According to many, a vegan cannot eat according to paleo principles. I beg to differ. A raw vegan diet, for example (which I strayed from 3 years ago) is entirely paleo minus the animal flesh.

Granted, some raw vegans eat soaked/sprouted grains that paleo dieters typically avoid–yet many raw-foodists eliminate grain entirely.

Note that if you sprout a grain then it is no longer a grain or a seed. Grains are seeds of grasses. For example a wheat sprout has no gluten in it like the grain wheat. Now the paleo diet is short for the paleolithic diet. In fact the paleo diet is against eating foods that you cannot eat raw like grains or beans. But you can sprout them and then they become a vegetable.

It is supposed to be based on the idea that we evolved to eat the foods that our ancestors ate. But they are vastly different foods depending on where they lived. Remember they could not go into a store and buy the food that they wanted. The people who lived in America could not eat any buffalo since none existed in that part of the world. They now know that what they called buffalo were really bison.

They ate food based on two criteria: If they could get it and if it tasted good. The idea of health never entered into it. In fact in 1950 the FDA stand on food was that food had no effect on health like drugs did. The only purpose of food was to fill up the stomach. So we are just supposed to throw away any discoveries that we have made about food. There have been lots of discoveries among food. Should we just ignore them?

Also anyone can take the paleo diet and say this is how they ate. I will give you an example of this and modern research. Loren Cordain Ph.D. is the world's leading expert on Paleolithic diets and founder of the paleo movement. He has an article called Salt: When Did It Ever Become Paleo? It says:

A disturbing notion has now crept into virtually all of Paleo diet cookbooks: salt is OK. Recipe after recipe seems to include either salt or sea salt as a key ingredient. Whoa! Where the heck did this idea come from? Certainly not from the peer review scientific which preceded and defined the modern Paleo Diet concept, indicating that added salt was never part of humanity’s original fare [fare means food, it is fair to talk fancy]. Perhaps this erroneous belief has been promoted by popular, non-scientific Paleo bloggers? I don’t know, but it is time to set the record straight – added salt, be it sea salt or otherwise, definitely should not be part of contemporary Paleo diets.

But salt is put into all processed food and it is biblical. They rubbed into the wounds of Jesus to make him suffer more. On another article of his website, Sea Salt; Between The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea he says:

I am flattered by the huge number of Paleo books and cookbooks released to market and available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other outlets. These books and authors are a testament to the worldwide success and effectiveness of The Paleo Diet.

Unfortunately, as I browse Paleo cookbooks and magazine recipes, I see that many authors have decided to add sea salt to their recipes, presumably in lieu of regular salt. Before I get into the scientific details let me make it clear from the beginning that neither sea salt nor conventional manufactured salt should be considered “Paleo,” as both were rarely or never consumed by our hunter gatherer ancestors, and both maintain nutritional qualities that adversely affect our health when consumed regularly.

When Joel Fuhrman M.D. was asked about sea salt, he laughed gave this analogy. If you add minerals to heroin, it is still heroin. See the bad thing about salt is all the sodium. Now as an example of what Dr. Cordain is talking about, I got an article about it at the top of a Google list and an impressive looking website. It is called Is Salt Paleo. Instead of having one expert, it has many-- Sally Barden Johnson, Registered and Licensed Dietitian, Aimee McNew, Certified Nutritionist, Kinsey Jackson, Certified Nutrition Specialist®, Max Shippee, Fitness Guru and CrossFit 1440 Owner, Molly Pearl, Recipe & Meal Plan Creator and Jason Glaspey, Founder of Paleo Plan. It also tells about each person. It says:

Unrefined salt is Paleo when consumed moderately, as when added to taste to a whole foods Paleo diet.

It then as a whole thing about refined salt and natural salt and how sodium is a necessary mineral. Okay. Now here is what is wrong with this. Salt is not a food. It does have sodium just like iron oxide (rust) has iron and calcium carbonate (chalk) has calcium. They are not foods either. I suggest not eating non-foods so you don't end up like Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley (the king of pop and rock), Whitney Houston, Heath Ledger and Brittany Murphy. How radical is that-- not to eat things that are not food.

They put salt in all processed foods since it is addictive and makes you eat more. It makes you fat in water weight and does many nasty things to you like giving you osteoporosis. The author of the paleo diet also says that Jack La Lanne said "If it was made by man, don't eat it." Here is a business lesson. A doctor's income is proportional to sickness. In other words the healthier people are, the less they make. Food manufacturers make more money by you getting fat and eating as much as possible.

I will give you an example to make it more clear. If your little girl is walking to school and you are worried that she is going to be bullied, she is not going to be bullied by bushes or trees, cats, dogs or other animals and not by Mexicans or Muslims specifically. It will be human beings. If your little girl is walking to school and you are concerned that she is going to be raped or murdered, it not going to be done by bushes ,trees, dogs or cats. It is going to be done by humans.

What is wrong with salt? Mainly it is not a food but has the sodium of 100 pounds of food. Eating 100 pounds of food at one time will kill you. So if you dissolve 4 ounces of salt in water and drink it, you will die of hypernatremia. This is not too much processing. It is too much sodium. You can also die from too little sodium. But can you guess what causes this? It is not caused by too little sodium in the diet. I wonder if registered dietitians know this. There was a famous case of it in the news. So what causes it? Drinking too much water.

Now humans and animals that consume no salt, never get high blood pressure. That is correlation. So they need causation to prove anything. So they took wild animals (rats and chimpanzees) that never get high blood pressure. They gave them salt and they got it and the more they gave them, the higher the blood pressure. So here is a 5 minute video of Michael Greger M.D. that shows that salt kills over 1,000 Americans per day. Of course conventional meat is highly salted.

Remember no animals or plants, even seaweed, have salt in them. They have sodium, iron and calcium in them but have no salt, rust or chalk in them. Plant and animals are food if you have not figured that out. They have carbon and calories in them.

Introducing Science Into the Debate

First animal foods have no fiber whereas all plant foods have plenty of fiber. So they analyzed the feces of paleo people that is also called fossilized feces, coprolites, paleopoo or paleopoop. They found that for 99% of our existence we ate a diet loaded with whole plant foods. They ate much more fiber that the people did in rural China or rural Africa.

Previously these have been discarded or ignored. Now they are being analyzed. They found that the human body is naturally designed to eat fruit. Note that when you eat fruit, there is no need to kill any plants. They fall off if not picked. It also explains how fiber keeps the person to eat less. See video on it at the bottom.

High Blood Pressure May Be a Choice by Michael Greger M.D.

Other Healthy Diets

So eating food that is not processed will do wonders for you. Even just not eating salt will do wonders for you. Everyone says salt tastes good. Is that really true? Think about it. It does taste salty but does it taste good? Well I have a radical idea. Taste it and you will probably spit it out. Give it to a child and see if he likes it or spits it out. Here is an article all about salt and even tells why studies show that the more salt you consume, the less salt related problems that you have. See How to Live 30 Years Longer.

Mark Hyman M.D.has an article that says:

Let’s focus first on what is in common between paleo and vegan (healthy vegan), because there is more that intelligent eating has in common than there are differences. They both focus on real, whole, fresh food that is sustainably raised.

This is wrong since a vegan diet means just eating no animal foods. It does not say what you should eat but he does. Note that health oriented people do recognize that grains are not as healthy as fruits and vegetables. The CDC and American Heart Association says that Americans should eat more fruits an vegetables. Also Americans love eating meat like Bill Clinton loves eating burgers. He was a vegan but found it too limiting. Dr. Hyman's article is worth reading.

Maybe you have heard that stress is the worst thing for health. So if giving up a very unhealthy food is causing you enough stress then don't give it up yet. In fact maybe the idea of going outside your comfort zone is generated by a saying-- "Misery love company." Now I like Dr. Fuhrman's nutritarian diet. See What is Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutritarian Diet? It says:

Simply put, a Nutritarian diet is a way of eating which bases food choices on maximizing the micronutrients per calorie. A Nutritarian diet is designed with food that has powerful disease-protecting and therapeutic effects and delivers a broad array of micronutrients via a wide spectrum of food choices. It is not sufficient to merely avoid fats, consume foods with a low glycemic index, lower the intake of animal products, or eat a diet of mostly raw foods. A truly healthful Nutritarian diet must be micronutrient rich and the micronutrient richness must be adjusted to meet individual needs.

Note that he is responsible for making kale a perceived as healthy food. Whole Foods markets uses his Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) scale and it gives kale a score of 1,000. Now his diet is not focused on saving animals or eating the way people used to eat that had to find or kill every scrap of food. His diet is focused on health and preventing disease. In fact if everyone follows him, it would hurt the doctor's business.

He is known as the country's leading expert in the no food diet or better known as fasting. In fact a doctor (N.D and D.C.) supervised his fast and it was longer than the fast that Jesus did. His methods are based on the latest research not on people who did not have toilet paper to wipe themselves with. His stand on meat is to eat as much as you feel that you need to. Note that I used to be a chemist working for the U.S. federal government.

Paleopoo: What We Can Learn from Fossilized Feces by Michael Greger M.D.

Why Bill Clinton Quit Vegan for Paleo: Dr. Hyman


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    • Chuck Bluestein profile image

      Chuck Bluestein 23 months ago from Morristown, AZ, USA

      They found that if one ate 10% meat or less it was the same as eating no meat.

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 23 months ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      This is an interesting and informative article. I followed a vegan diet for a while but have modified it to a plant based, while grain diet.

      I occasionally eat meat, and I try to listen to what my body needs.

      Thanks for writing.