In one of our recent posts, we shared a simple 3-day meal plan that included a vegetarian lunch option. In response, a reader asked a very good, very common question:
Is it possible to have a vegetarian or mostly vegetarian paleo-style diet? Just curious as I had always thought they were incompatible.”
The short answer?
Yes. Paleo-primal can be mostly (or even entirely) vegetarian.
Basically, “paleo” means eating real, whole food. This includes veggies, fruit, animal proteins, healthy fats, nuts and seeds.
It also means avoiding processed foods, grains, legumes, refined sugar, and chemically altered fats and oils.
“Primal” adds the option of high-quality dairy for those who do okay with it.
For many people, animal proteins are an important part of a healthy, nutrient-dense diet. Having spent 10 years as a vegetarian (sometimes vegan), I can say with certainty that I need at least some animal protein to truly thrive in body and mind. The vast majority of clients we see at Alchemist Clinic do too.
That being said, there is no one best diet for everyone, and it’s totally possible to leave out (or greatly limit) meat and fish and still adopt a paleo-primal eating pattern.
For those who omit most or all meat and fish but do fine with dairy, primal may be preferable to strict paleo because of the addition of dairy protein (in the form of ghee, grass-fed butter, hard raw cheese, and full-fat yoghurt, for instance).
And some people following an otherwise paleo-primal diet do add limited quantities of rice, quinoa and/or lentils. Among these, white rice is generally the easiest on the digestive system. Just to be clear, these foods are not strictly paleo-primal, and for people struggling with excess body weight, blood sugar issues or other health conditions, adding them may make things worse.
Yet—it bears repeating—there is no one best diet for all people (or even one person for all times). The optimal eating pattern is individual, responsive and relational.
And…a paleo-primal diet (even if not vegetarian) can be very plant strong. Ours sure is.
Personally, I almost always save meat and fish for dinner (and even do fine going without them for a few days so long as I have eggs and/or full-fat Greek yoghurt). Meanwhile, Randy needs more meat more regularly. But this too varies, depending on activity level, season of year and a host of other factors.
Chinese Medicine is really good at taking all these factors into account when crafting a customized eating plan for a particular individual with particular goals and needs. (That’s part of what sets Alchemist Eating apart, in the growing field of paleo-primal diet help options.)
And, according to Chinese Medicine, hot summery months are a perfect time for most folks to emphasize plant-strong meals.
Indeed, it’s one of the shifts we make, as the days get hotter and hotter. (For other seasonal adjustments, see our post here.)
So, for today’s inspirational meal, we’re sharing a typical one as of late:
Wild, local, fresh shrimp stir-fried with green onions in Kerrygold butter and surrounded by a rainbow of organic veggies
As you can see, we added some organic lunchmeat leftover from Randy’s lunch for good measure.
But much of the plate (like most of our dinner plates) was filled with organic veggies—some raw, some sauteed, some steamed. Avocado—a super-healthy fat source—made its usual appearance too.
If you’re skipping meat and seafood, you could sub pasture-raised eggs, hard raw cheese or full-fat yoghurt. (Really though, the shrimp were spectacular.)
And if you have other veggies of choice, totally load them on—we have favorite standbys but also like to mix it up, depending on what’s organic and local.
If we were living in a cold climate during autumn or winter, would our plates look like this? No frickin way.
But for hot summery days in south Florida, plant-strong paleo is exactly what we’re wanting.
(Oh, and we’ll take a splash of sugar-free, paleo hot sauce with that too.)
What sorts of veggies are on your plate these days? And where do you land (or not) on the plant-strong paleo spectrum? Please share in the comments!
Considering one-on-one help crafting your optimal diet (with or without meat)? Go here to learn about our programs.
And to get started with us, sign up for our free newsletter, where we share helpful approaches to food and eating.
Go here to learn more and sign up.
- Just one thing - April 18, 2017
- Getting really simple - April 11, 2017
- In sunshine and shade - March 30, 2017
- Not waiting for perfect - March 8, 2017
- Three things I’m loving lately - February 21, 2017
Please send your questions or comments along! You can call me at 970.631.5804, or just fill out the form here.
I'd love to support you in creating a simple, abundant way of eating and living. To get started with my free newsletter, sign up here.
With subscription, you’ll get my free ebook Keep It Simple: Primal Eating with Ease.