Paleo vs. Vegan: What side are you on?

paleo vegan

When I was about fifteen years old, I was a “red meat vegetarian,” because I wanted to be something but didn’t want to be a vegetarian. I just knew that something about a conventional omnivore diet felt boring to me, as though I needed the way I ate to say something about who I was. Like most things at that time, I dropped it after several months and just ate whatever I wanted for a number of years before temporarily swearing off meat entirely. 


During that time I often felt off, and even more often felt very ill, until I became acquainted with Paleo.


The Paleo diet has plenty of notoriety, and its participants (myself included) can sometimes come across asHow people think Paleo folks eatHow people think Paleo folks eat cult-like. And while it often butts heads with veganism, I’m here to tell you why Paleo eaters and vegans might have more intersections than points of departure. Sure, one refrains from any and all animal products and by-products and the other can be found singing the praises of something called “bone broth,” but I really believe that we have more in common than we might think.


I often hear of couples that have totally different personalities, but stay together in successful relationships because they share the same core values. It may not seem like it at first glance, but vegans and Paleos have a lot of the same values, too. Let’s take a look. We might be able to stay together after all.


We both care where our food comes from.How people think vegans eatHow people think vegans eat


Organic, grass-fed, raw, fair-trade, local: these aren’t just sexy buzzwords to us. We want our food to be sustainably grown and/or raised, and we value our conscience — and the nutrition that comes with it.


We can almost always agree on dairy.


Vegans have their soy, and Paleos tend to go for almond milk or some other nut option, but we can mostly agree that no grown human needs to be drinking cow’s milk.


More than anything, this is how we all really hope to eatMore than anything, this is how we all really hope to eatWe all really love vegetables. A lot.


Kale or spinach for breakfast as a side or in smoothies, big giant salads for lunch, and even more veggies as snacks and for dinner: We may differ when it comes to how we get our protein, but we can always stand together for veggies.


We’re all just trying to take care of ourselves the best way we know how.


Some of us are lactose intolerant. Some lose sleep over the thought of eating animals. A lot of us are allergic to gluten, or have health issues that put us on special diets; and some of us just like being Paleo or vegan. 


We all know what it’s like trying to go out to eat on a restricted diet, but we also know how good we feel when we stick to what we know and believe. And that’s the biggest thing we share — a desire to feel better, to be better, and to find the power to make it happen through our food.


Photos: Top photo taken at Verdant Tea, of items on Birchwood Cafe pop-up menu; bottom photos taken at Seward Co-op.


Megan Flynn is a blogger and self-proclaimed foodie with dreams of a literary life. She has a master's in Children’s Literature and an affinity for cultural studies, good food, bookstores, and those first few weeks of autumn. She runs a consulting business called Cave Girl, where she advises people on all things Paleo; and she's the Assistant Editor to The Eighty Twenty, an online magazine for women who lean toward Paleo. Her hobbies include running, cooking, taking photos, crying over her favorite music, and blogging away at Freckled Italian. She currently resides in Minneapolis with her fiancé, where she drinks coffee, writes personal essays, and tries to keep the house clean.