In a previous post, I shared a simple 3-day meal plan that included a vegetarian lunch option. In response, one reader asked:
“Is it possible to have a vegetarian or mostly vegetarian paleo-style diet? I thought they were incompatible.”
The short answer?
Yes. Paleo-primal can be mostly (or entirely) vegetarian.
“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 know from experience my body does better with at least some animal protein. Same goes for the vast majority of my clients.
That 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 eat paleo-primal.
For those who omit 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 add limited quantities of rice, quinoa and/or lentils. Among these, white rice is generally easiest on the digestion.
Just to be clear, these foods are not strictly paleo-primal, and for those struggling with excess body weight, blood sugar issues or other health conditions, adding them may make things worse.
But again, 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.
What’s more, a paleo-primal diet (even if not vegetarian) can be plant strong. Ours sure is.
Personally, I almost always save meat and fish for dinner (and do fine going without them for a while so long as I have eggs 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 excels at taking all these factors into account when crafting an eating plan for a particular individual with particular goals and needs. (That’s part of what sets Alchemist Eating apart, amidst the many 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. (For other seasonal adjustments, look here.)
So, for today’s inspirational meal, I’ll share 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 sautéed, 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 fantastic.)
And if you have other veggies of choice,load them on—we have favorite standbys but like to mix it up, depending on what’s organic and local.
Living in a cold climate during autumn or winter, would our plates look like this? No way.
But for hot summery days, plant-strong paleo is exactly what we’re wanting.
(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!