From Vegan to Paleo? What?
I’ve touched on this before; is it better to delve right into a 100% Paleo diet, or ease your way in?
I strongly encourage the former, with one exception, and this is based on one of the things I experience in my own transition to following the Paleo diet: when one is making the change from a vegan diet to a Paleo diet.
“What?”, you might be thinking? “How does one do a complete 180 and make that broad of a change?”
Not overnight, I can tell you that much.
If you’d have told me, about ten or eleven years ago, when I was a strict vegan (this included no honey, not wearing wool, the whole nine yards), that in a decade I’d be eating flesh and omitting soy and TVP, I’d have thought you were completely nuts.
So what changed?
I tuned into my body.
While I feel I approached my vegan diet quite carefully (in comparison to some friends I had at the time who did not, in fact, eat any animal products…but also did not eat vegetables or fruit!), after about a year and a half, and around the time I began racing Ironman, I began dreaming about eating fish. I wanted to eat it so badly, yet I felt horribly guilty because at the time, I felt it was morally wrong.
After about six months, I went ahead and ate some fish. And I loved it. Over the next few years, I tinkered with my diet quite a bit until I found Paleo in 2005, and the rest is history.
So how do I rationalize?
I only eat wild fish, free-range poultry, grass-fed meat. I support only humane farming practices, and the use of the entire animal (bring on the marrow!). I feel strongly that we as humans are on the top of the food chain and do indeed need to eat flesh in order to reach optimal health. I love animals and continue to oppose cruelty to them such as that found in cosmetic testing or laboratory experiments.
I am completely at peace with where I’ve landed.
I feel quite compelled to share this as I have met many people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, thinking it’s the healthiest way to eat. I’ve received questions from readers asking how I can eat meat, since it ‘rots in the guts’ (not sure how that myth ever got started).
If you are vegan or vegetarian, I’m not directing this post at you to tell you you’re ‘wrong’, rather just to encourage you to educate yourself about the harm you’re doing your body when you ingest things like grains and legumes (and dairy, if you’re a lacto-veg kinda person).
Furthermore, ask yourself if you really feel great or not and if the latter, consider making a change. Constant belly aches? Soy. Acne? Gluten. Low energy levels? Lack of iron. All caveats of being vegetarian.
This is one situation when easing in might feel more comfortable- as you’re simply making the transition to adding more protein versus someone who I’d counsel to go full Paleo right away, which would be if they’re coming from a standpoint of needing to stop eating a diet of candy and fast food…immediately!
Start with what feels comfortable; often, clients report feeling best trying a little bit of wild fish to start, and then allow yourself to process the concept in your mind at your own rate.
Then, you can reach a balance with which you’re comfortable and at peace.
Your body, and mind, will thank you!