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10 Arguments Against the Paleo Diet


Time to address the paleo diet, as it is one of the biggest dangers to what most vegans deem perilous: the persistent torture and slaughter of billions of animals a year and destruction of our planet. Yet, people who try the paleo diet seemingly do well initially health-wise, which makes it appear all the more appealing. But the truth is that people may thrive merely because they are switching from the standard western processed diet to one that includes more whole foods. The diet promotes health-promoting vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds and they also cut out dairy and processed foods, which are health-promoting choices. The major issue is the irresponsible emphasis on meat, meat, and more meat. Further, we have no long-term data on people eating this way, although the evidence on the risks of eating animal products is well-substantiated.

Here are the top arguments against this diet fad:

  1. Because there were multiple types of diets prevalent during the Paleolithic era (depending on location and food availability), great leaps of assumption have been made to suggest eating a meat-rich diet occurred at all. Many anthropologists suggest this argument is flawed. Two primary reasons for this include the fact that carbohydrates, found primarily in plant foods, are the preferred fuel for the brain and body and plant food availability was much more stable, accessible, and consistent, whereas animals were not.
  2. Even if the original paleo diet hypothetically looked as it is currently described, there are no health parameters that are comparable to our current culture to make it relevant to us now. Factors including lifespan (they lived to approximately 30 years of age), activity level, access to medical care, and overall food intake (they ate wild plant foods and animals, unlike what we have available to us today) are critical to consider when determining long-term health assessment.
  3. According to some anthropological experts, humans have not adapted physiologically, anatomically, or genetically to consume meat, especially in large doses. For example, the long length of our digestive tracts and type of teeth suggest a need to base our diets on whole plant foods.
  4. Research is consistent in finding associations between the consumption of meat and incidence of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, and certain cancers. Further, meat eaters tend to have higher BMI’sincreasing risk for most chronic diseases. Plant-based eaters have lower overall mortalitylower cholesterol,lower cardiovascular disease mortalitybetter blood sugar control and the ability to reverse type 2 diabetes, and possibly less cancer.
  5. People thrive with whole grains and legumes, which are excluded on the modern paleo diet. Whole grains and legumes provide fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals that are crucial for satiety and to meet nutrient requirements. Animal products contain zero fiber or phytochemicals, two of the most important nutrients for optimal health.
  6. Grass-fed or organic animal products still contain hefty doses of health-damaging saturated fats and dietary cholesterol, naturally occurring hormones like insulin-like growth factor 1 and heme iron, which promotes cancer growth.
  7. In order to sustain a large portion of the world on a paleo diet, we would need the resources of two Earths.
  8. Eating a large portion of calories from organ meats, grass-fed, and organic meats is extremely expensive and challenging. Compare organic beef, which costs $5.25 per pound to beans, which cost about $1.99 per pound, dried, which makes about eight cups cooked and can serve at least eight people.
  9. Eating animals contributes to the unnecessary horrific cruelty and animal suffering of billions of animals a year. We absolutely do not need animal products to survive. All nutrients from animal products can be found in plants, but better packaged. The only exception to this is vitamin B12, which the animals get from microorganisms in dirt.
  10. Not only do vegans get enough of all essential nutrients, we tend to meet nutrient needs better than omnivores. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics shows the plant-based diets meet all of our nutrient needs.

Image Source: Lord Jim/Flickr

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389 comments on “10 Arguments Against the Paleo Diet”

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11 Months Ago

Im citing some of this article for an essay im writing, who is the author to give credit to?

4 Years Ago

This just seems like a self serving article to gloat about veganisim, with constant referral to readers as "we", including vegans and excluding everyone else who is not. One of the main reasons why no one cares for vegans. Pompous, self serving assholes, always looking for that social seal of approval, but boasting about how they ate only carrots for 10 years. No omnivore does this, it is not us against them", so why imply that it is. No one cares and half these "arguments" are debunked with a 2 second google search.

Kristen Naylor Ingman
4 Years Ago

For the record...Meat consumption is a vegan (ethical) issue AND a health issue AND an environmental issue. For those of you so into eating meat and so harsh on anyone choosing to avoid meat for any or all of the above reasons, I'm sure very few of you are at the factory farms where the animals are being kept or working at the slaughter houses where they are being killed or at the processing plants where they are being sliced and diced. No, most of you are reaching into the cold case at the grocery where all the violence has been sanitized (and I use that term very loosely). Also, our paleolithic ancestors had to work hard for the few occasions they would have felt the need to expend the energy for meat. It is not part of any living organism's biological condition to waste energy unnecessarily. If you aren't willing to venture to the places mentioned above and work in those environments for your love of meat then your opinion on the matter is moot.

Cheryl Orifici
4 Years Ago

Paleo is not all about meat. I eat more vegetables than ever on this diet, and I feel great! I don't know how vegans eat all that processed soy, corn products, and every GMO laden thing under the sun. You make fine arguments about animals and how this affects sustainability (which I'm not arguing), but then consume consumer packaged goods that come from these huge corn and soy producing conglomerates. I'm not saying paleo is perfect. But veganism is not perfect either when it comes to healthy lifestyles or sustainability.

21 Oct 2014

What an ignorant comment! Not all vegans eat processed soy products, and GMO laden crap..I eat a very clean whole foods raw diet in which I grow most of my own food myself in nutrient rich soil.While there are many junk food vegans out there,there are so many that forgo all processed and inorganic food and food like products.

Nathan Brammeier
4 Years Ago

On point #1: I don\'t recall any Paleo experts saying that it is a "meat rich" diet. Unfortunately, that is what some people believe. Paleo for an eskimo would be meat rich, yes. But for someone on the equator, Paleo can mean a more vegetarian fare. Besides, I feel most "diets" should be based on fat, not meat.

#2: The lifespan argument is getting old. We seem to forget (or never knew?) that infant deaths were included in the average lifespan. Infant death rate was enormous back then, thus dramatically lowering the average lifespan. And do the authors of this article truly know what the lifespan was? Or are they just guessing?

#3: Our digestive tracts are actually SHORTER than they used to be - thus indicating a adaptation to a more meat based diet.

#4: I\'m not denying any of that research (even though it doesn\'t tell the whole picture - that would be a LONG discussion). But how many vegetarians actually eat healthy? The majority of them are eating highly processed products riddled with soy.

#5: This is NOT an argument against Paleo because the same could be said for people thriving on meat/fat based diets (Inuit, Masai). Different cultures have different dietary requirements.

#6: Again, the lack of research is evident. Where is the proof that saturated fat and dietary cholesterol are bad for you? Or are they still trying to tell us that Ancel Keys\' research was sound?

#7: This has to be the most ridiculous argument ever. The world WAS a Paleo diet up until the industrial revolution.

#8: No denying the expense argument. But you can find ways around it. And besides, cheap doesn\'t mean healthy. And with more nutrients that fat provides, you\'ll actually be eating less.

#9: I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with the animal suffering. Know your farmers. Know where you food comes from. We vote with our dollars! As an aside, is this article telling the Inuit to become vegetarian? Good luck growing beans and lentils north of the arctic circle...

#10: Basically just rehashing #9.

Ultimately, why argue? Just do what\'s best for you for crying out loud.

Patricia Quiñones Ortiz
4 Years Ago

Lizette Mimenza

Karl Egli
4 Years Ago

Totally agree, whoever thinks people 30000 years ago just ate steaks, just wants to believe what tastes best.

Gomes Valeria
4 Years Ago

Maria Antonieta Gonzalez

Uhu Eule
4 Years Ago

It seems that when u eat to much plants u tend to more hate and aggressive behavior against other lifestyles. Vegan ism is not a hateful religion and u shouldn't act like IS terrorists.

Scott MacGregor
4 Years Ago

Try paleo hygiene !


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