Paleo vs Vegan Diet – The Pro’s & Con’s

The Pro’s and Con’s of the Paleo vs the Vegan diet was the topic of last month’s Being Well talk

More than 100 people came to hear Elisabetta Politi, Nutrition Director of Duke’s “Diet & Fitness Center” give a complete description of both popular diets and concluded with the US News & World Report’s Diet Ranking.
She began with the Vegan Diet – which is a type of vegetarian diet that excludes all animal-derived ingredients such as meat, poultry, fish eggs, and dairy products. The ideal daily intake is 6 servings of grains, 5 servings of legumes, nuts, and other types of protein, like peanut butter, chickpeas, tofu, potatoes, and soy milk,4 daily servings of veggies, 2 servings of fruit and 2 servings of healthy fats, like sesame oil, avocado, and coconut. Baked goods (cupcakes and cobbler) made without butter, eggs, or albumin can be included.Vegan-Pyramid

In contrast, the Paleo Diet puts all animal proteins on the menu – meat, fish, reptiles, insects, etc. — and usually, almost all parts of the animals, including organs, bone marrow, cartilage, and organs. And also all animal products such as eggs or honey. Vegetabless, fruits, nuts and seeds are also included. The philosophy of the Paleo diet is that excludes any food not available to humans during the Palaeolithic period, including dairy products, grains, legumes, pr
ocessed oil and refined sugars.Paleo-Diet-Pyramid

Each diet has a risk of nutrient deficiency: The Vegan may need supplements of Calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, Zinc and Omega-3. These are all common deficiencies in our modern American diet that many people already take supplements for. The Paleo diet can have deficiencies in Calcium and Vitamin D.

In terms of weight loss and diabetes while on each of these diets – people following a Vegan diet lost more 30% more weight than those following the American Diabetes Association’s diet, and the vegan dieters reduced the number of diabetes medications they were taking by 20% more that the ADA group did.

Comparing the outcomes of folks on the Paleo diet in contrast to the Mediterranean diet, both lost about the same amount of weight, but the Paleo diet people decreased their blood sugar by 20% more than than the Mediterranean diet folks.

The question of “Does the high protein American diet cause increased cancer rates?”, as proposed by T. Colin Campbell in his 1990s “China study” of 6,500 adults living in China – few scientists agree and have not found scientific evidence for Dr. Campbell’s hypothesis.    Ms Politi reported that in general most experts agree that we would be better off eating more plant protein than animal protein, since the risk of cardiovascular disease increases eating red meat, but not poultry.

The issue of “Low Fat vs High Dietary Fat” is still being debated in the scientific community.
The Ornish diet (Vegan and low fat) is considered among the best to prevent heart disease but suffers from low in adherence – people have a hard time staying on this diet. According to a recent study, low-carb diets like the Paleo Diet are an effective way to lose weight and lower risk of heart disease.
US-New-and-World-Report-icon-400-300x114Ms Politi ended her presentation by presenting the US News & World Report’s Diet Ranking.

Vegan Diet Ranked 19th as the best diet overall, 7th for Weight Loss, 5th for Heart Health and 3rd for Diabetes.

The Paleo Diet ranked 34th as the best overall diet, 35th for Weight Loss, 34th for Heart Health and 33rd for Diabetes. The audience was surprised by these rankings and many questions were asked to clarify the reasons and differences of these diets.