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Are paleos and vegans coming from the same place?

by (2255)
Updated about 13 hours ago
Created December 30, 2010 at 1:46 PM

It seems that many paleos are ex-vegans and given how far apart the two diets seem should this be a surprise? You would think that they are at completely opposite ends of the diets spectrum but I'm inclined to think that ideologically they are considerably closer. It seems to me that both vegans and paleos are interested in the same things even though their conclusions are very different - their health, the environment, ecology, how to feed an overpopulated planet, animal welfare, the rights of tribal and other indigenous people. The common thread being people who think about what they eat, why they eat it, where their food comes from, etc. The real opposites to paleos are the people who eat what is in front of them unthinkingly, follow CW and take government food advice at face value. I suppose it is no surprise then that vegans who realise their diet is not working then go on to discover paleo as they are not likely to abandon veganism in favour of the same old junk the general population eat.

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12847 · September 07, 2013 at 1:28 AM

Since when do plants contain b12 in reliable amounts?

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10151 · January 17, 2013 at 7:50 PM

Hedonism has more to do with wearing dreadlocks and hemp sandals...a serious vegan would dump the badges...

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10151 · January 17, 2013 at 7:48 PM

Uh, I think that SURVIVAL had something to do with why they ate meat, and is the reason meat tastes good to modern humans.

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10151 · January 17, 2013 at 7:45 PM

Veganism is not fueled entirely by cannabis, but it leans in that direction. Paleo existed in 30,000 BC, but veganism comes out of the summer of love in 1967. An altered, artificially created state.

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10151 · January 17, 2013 at 7:38 PM

Vegans go back to Venus. We're booked to capacity with Paleos at the Mars Hotel.

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3422 · January 17, 2013 at 4:14 PM

I meant that those who are ethically motivated eat tend to eat much differently than those who are health motivated. Processed sugar is technically vegan...

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3422 · January 17, 2013 at 4:04 PM

Veganism is not 'purely about morals...' Plenty of vegans simply feel that they're doing what's best for themselves.

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3422 · January 17, 2013 at 4:01 PM

I will add that folks who eat vegan or vegetarian tend to eat a much different diet than those who are in it for their health.

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2255 · October 22, 2011 at 10:39 AM

I agree with you. The best point about the violence of eating animals was made, I think, in Against the Grain where Manning basically says that the very very few animals that we have successfully domesticated traded 'freedom' for a 'good death'. This in no way excuses modern farming practices which are inhumane but points out that the life and death traditionally domesticated animals get/got is considerably easier and less violent than they would get in the wild.

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2255 · October 22, 2011 at 10:35 AM

I think I'll ignore this answer as not helpful.

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2153 · October 19, 2011 at 2:58 PM

Also, I challenge you to live in a hunter/gatherer society and thrive without eating animal products. Good luck

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2153 · October 19, 2011 at 2:52 PM

see my answer for a response...I downvoted you. :)

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5531 · October 19, 2011 at 12:59 AM

Well said. As much as I have a problem with what veggies do eat, I have an even bigger problem with what they don't. Where's The Beef?

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41341 · October 19, 2011 at 12:18 AM

Well if some book says we don't need animal products, you've convinced me!

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39821 · October 18, 2011 at 11:30 PM

It's going to take you a long time to claw your way back up to proper nutrition after your vegan misadventure. Trust me, I know.

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56596 · October 18, 2011 at 11:19 PM

[citation needed]. Limited Wants, Unlimited Means is quite old and outdated, but even it does not contain any of the ideas you are presenting except for one chapter that is the insane ramblings of John Zerzan.

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279 · January 07, 2011 at 9:29 PM

It seems awfully odd to imply that (at least ethical) vegans aren't motivated by analysis. Ethical veganism is built upon a foundation of analytic philosophy. Science is used to determine how to flourish on a diet free of animal products.

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78407 · December 30, 2010 at 5:33 PM

who says ethic beliefs are not evolutionary needs? Veganism goes for a emotianal reconnection to animals and plants. Its also a spiritual sacred journey. Maybe its the basis to become paleo. Animal without right, wouldnt become grass fed. Animal Liberation ist a way to good quality meat. ITs the fundament to get good food, real food. Good Milk good meat.

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263 · December 30, 2010 at 4:17 PM

True, but I say the basis of most veganism is emotional. You can be emotionally attached to a paleo diet but you've still got science behind you at some point. Being vegan is literally unhealthy.

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263 · December 30, 2010 at 4:07 PM

Look at it this way, a discussion about the Paleo diet can descend into furious nitpicking about micronutrients and hormone levels, while a discussion about veganism can descend into trying to quantify precisely how evil someone is if they eat steak, or how complex the brains of a fish are. Veganism is much, much more emotional than Paleo in general.

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8858 · December 30, 2010 at 3:51 PM

Still, one cannot help but notice the degree of emotional attachment of most paleo eaters, too (I, for one, connect with it based upon more than just science).

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78407 · December 30, 2010 at 3:30 PM

Some people they hang around with are radical ELF and ALF. Animal Liberation. Whatever say they. Green Anarchy is also Animal Liberation, so it is Vagan and Paleo together. Some forest camps have vagans and paleo people.

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2255 · December 30, 2010 at 3:21 PM

I agree with you - absolutely!

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263 · December 30, 2010 at 3:17 PM

I know Jensen eats meat, he says the vegetarian myth saved his life and has mentioned that he enjoys eating meat in several of his talks. I don't think Zerzan is vegan either, he's written essays against agriculture itself and has never mentioned practocong veganism as far as I know.

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10768 · December 30, 2010 at 3:14 PM

I've met some vegans who were into it for ethical reasons and others who had learned that it was a great way to improve their health. Some are a mix betweent the two reasoning sets. I think vegetarianism might be an improvement over SAD, but paleo beats every other plan for overall health.

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4553 · December 30, 2010 at 3:11 PM

Indeed. Emotions and animal rights are what drives the vegans and vegetarians I've met. Once they skim a small bit of The China Study or other such vegan/vegetarian supporting work, the mind is made up and nothing is further looked into- science wise.

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11 Answers

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3651 · December 30, 2010 at 4:04 PM

I think we share some ideas in our reaction to CW and modern factory farming but I think my main opposition to vegetarians and vegans comes from a different place.

There are a lot of high profile people in the vegetarian spectrum who are pushing for meatless diets to replace the CW diet as the healthiest. The last thing we need is another McGovern Committee run by vegetarians making it impossible to be paleo.

That is why I oppose their efforts publicly even if I might give them a few nutritional highfives privately. In the end the majority of vegetarians live on veggie burgers made from wheat and soy and those are the farthest things from paleo eating as i can imagine. I can't agree with proponents of those foods even if we share the very easy to understand common ground that eating vegetables seems like a good idea.

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5531 · October 19, 2011 at 12:59 AM

Well said. As much as I have a problem with what veggies do eat, I have an even bigger problem with what they don't. Where's The Beef?

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8858 · December 30, 2010 at 4:23 PM

When I first read the question I thought it was insane. But the poster gets me thinking about about how we connect to food. Vegans see things through this Panglossian lens, "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds." In this idealized worldview, plants surrender themselves for our sustenance and cows live with wolves, and even the wolves take up grass. It's a fairy tale and a utopian vision.

When we contrast this with paleo, we see an analytical, scientific bent that appeals to a lot of people. Most people, I think, just want to be healthy or lean or cure disease. Or all three, really. They want to know what to eat in order to be healthy. A practical solution. Typically, any strict dietary intervention works wonders for people because it reduces processed crap food. People improve. This happens with both vegan and paleo diets, although paleo diets happen to be easier to implement in the long term and are more effective. So food becomes religion. I was blind but now I see!

And this can lead into a paleo fairy tale which is that "our" method is the only one that works, and it becomes dogma. But I bet if we examined the paleo diets of 100 regular posters here we would find, among the commonalities, many striking differences. Heterodoxy!

I'd like to think that the main difference between vegan and paleo is that heterodoxy is permitted and even encouraged. For the most part, I see that on this board and it's encouraging.

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279 · January 07, 2011 at 9:29 PM

It seems awfully odd to imply that (at least ethical) vegans aren't motivated by analysis. Ethical veganism is built upon a foundation of analytic philosophy. Science is used to determine how to flourish on a diet free of animal products.

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10768 · December 30, 2010 at 3:10 PM

I think paleo and vegetarians can easily agree that the modern standard diet sucks for humans.

Presuming that the vegetarian choice is being made for health reasons, and not ethical ones, then we are matching groups of people who are just trying to improve our health levels. We just landed on differing sets of information, and then acted upon that learning.

It turns into a whole different thing when the vegetarian choice is being made for ethical reasons. Ethical choices are much harder to quantify as compared to evolution and biochemistry. Not a thing that will be settled anytime soon.

In summary, to each his own, and please pass me the grass-fed steak cooked in matching grass-fed butter.

Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce
3422 · January 17, 2013 at 4:14 PM

I meant that those who are ethically motivated eat tend to eat much differently than those who are health motivated. Processed sugar is technically vegan...

Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce
3422 · January 17, 2013 at 4:01 PM

I will add that folks who eat vegan or vegetarian tend to eat a much different diet than those who are in it for their health.

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2255 · December 30, 2010 at 3:21 PM

I agree with you - absolutely!

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263 · December 30, 2010 at 1:55 PM

Ideally, at least, the Paleo diet depends more on science while the vegan diet depends more on a moral stance. If a Paleo person sends you a long video to watch it's probably going to be a Gary Taubes lecture, while a vegan will probably send you "Earthlings".

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263 · December 30, 2010 at 4:17 PM

True, but I say the basis of most veganism is emotional. You can be emotionally attached to a paleo diet but you've still got science behind you at some point. Being vegan is literally unhealthy.

7d5d98a0453db2ae67358a3169888aca
263 · December 30, 2010 at 4:07 PM

Look at it this way, a discussion about the Paleo diet can descend into furious nitpicking about micronutrients and hormone levels, while a discussion about veganism can descend into trying to quantify precisely how evil someone is if they eat steak, or how complex the brains of a fish are. Veganism is much, much more emotional than Paleo in general.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be
8858 · December 30, 2010 at 3:51 PM

Still, one cannot help but notice the degree of emotional attachment of most paleo eaters, too (I, for one, connect with it based upon more than just science).

B3c62d89cd47b7d7209b6a99243d0ded
10768 · December 30, 2010 at 3:14 PM

I've met some vegans who were into it for ethical reasons and others who had learned that it was a great way to improve their health. Some are a mix betweent the two reasoning sets. I think vegetarianism might be an improvement over SAD, but paleo beats every other plan for overall health.

0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e
4553 · December 30, 2010 at 3:11 PM

Indeed. Emotions and animal rights are what drives the vegans and vegetarians I've met. Once they skim a small bit of The China Study or other such vegan/vegetarian supporting work, the mind is made up and nothing is further looked into- science wise.

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2153 · October 19, 2011 at 2:57 PM

My personal opinion is that vegans don't want to cause harm to another being. They say that killing an animal to eat it (even as humanely as we do the killing these days) is a violent act; which it is. And, might I add, that nature is a violent act. Those zebras getting eating by lions suffer. Nature isn't happy bunnies and butterflies. Nature is a violent, unrelenting bitch. They see that there are other things we can eat, which makes killing an animal for them to live is unnecessary. The problems arise when they go around spouting their "but is soooo healthy for you, eating animals will kill you!!!!" without any science to back up their claims.
When I meet vegans who don't eat meat because they don't want harm to come to another living being in order for them to thrive, I have no complaints. I'll keep eating my steak and uncured bacon, and you can keep scrambling tofu. I get my panties in a gigantic bunch when they start spouting off about how bad animal products are for us. Umm....we are the most prolific species on the planet because we stalked, killed and ate animals way back in the day. If eating animals is killing us, how did eating animals turn us into the species that dominates Earth?

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2255 · October 22, 2011 at 10:39 AM

I agree with you. The best point about the violence of eating animals was made, I think, in Against the Grain where Manning basically says that the very very few animals that we have successfully domesticated traded 'freedom' for a 'good death'. This in no way excuses modern farming practices which are inhumane but points out that the life and death traditionally domesticated animals get/got is considerably easier and less violent than they would get in the wild.

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6235 · December 30, 2010 at 7:17 PM

Another thing we have in common is how the diets work. There is a strong simple underlying principle that just gets applied to food.

You can get very detailed, but I can explain either how to eat vegan and how to eat paleo with a single sentience.

I think that, in addition to the focus on natural food by nature, gives us an underlying agreement and orientation that is different then the scatter shot nature of conventional wisdom.

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3422 · January 17, 2013 at 4:08 PM

There is plenty of contradictory science to be found. You follow the science that you believe. Period. There are thousands of studies to support veganism. Just like the thousands of studies that oppose.

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1005 · January 17, 2013 at 6:47 AM

although paleo diets and vegan diets seem very different, I've followed both, and I consider them both healthier than the SAD diet

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198 · December 30, 2010 at 3:37 PM

Veganism is purely about morals and the belief that animals should be treated equally and not used by man for man's own needs. Some vegans take this as far as not using oxen to help sow the land to plant the next harvest and not using service animals for the blind. The dietary aspect is born out of that, not out of wanting to be healthy.

I had a discussion about this with a good vegan friend of mine and he pointed me to here for more information. http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/faqs/

I have always believed that mankind evolved eating animals, and if not for the ability to hunt, cook, and eat meat, we would not have evolved to where we are now. Some vegans would argue that if there were no animals, man would have found some other way to evolve to where we are now, but I highly doubt that. How else would we have gotten the levels of proteins and fat (fish oils!) that helped our brains grow to handle more complex processing?!?

Thus, I would say no, there isn't a similarity between paleo and vegan. Paleo is born out of evolutionary needs, whereas veganism is born out of ethical beliefs towards the treatment of animals. There might be a closer similarity between paleo and vegetarianism, but I don't understand a dietary movement that shuns animal meat, but says it's OK to eat their eggs and milk...

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10151 · January 17, 2013 at 7:45 PM

Veganism is not fueled entirely by cannabis, but it leans in that direction. Paleo existed in 30,000 BC, but veganism comes out of the summer of love in 1967. An altered, artificially created state.

Ed7403e397077dd1acdbf25c7f6e56ce
3422 · January 17, 2013 at 4:04 PM

Veganism is not 'purely about morals...' Plenty of vegans simply feel that they're doing what's best for themselves.

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78407 · December 30, 2010 at 5:33 PM

who says ethic beliefs are not evolutionary needs? Veganism goes for a emotianal reconnection to animals and plants. Its also a spiritual sacred journey. Maybe its the basis to become paleo. Animal without right, wouldnt become grass fed. Animal Liberation ist a way to good quality meat. ITs the fundament to get good food, real food. Good Milk good meat.

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78407 · December 30, 2010 at 3:10 PM

I see paleo people of a group of different intensions. Some wanna have fitness. Some more close to nature diet. Some experimenting. Some show love to animals. Some see paleo as a animal friendly diet.

Some Paleo People also live in Stoneage or primitive skills camps. Some are hunting some are buying stuff in the suppermarket.

Maybe Derrick Jennsen with endgame, and John Zerzan writings, can be paleo and vegan media.

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78407 · December 30, 2010 at 3:30 PM

Some people they hang around with are radical ELF and ALF. Animal Liberation. Whatever say they. Green Anarchy is also Animal Liberation, so it is Vagan and Paleo together. Some forest camps have vagans and paleo people.

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263 · December 30, 2010 at 3:17 PM

I know Jensen eats meat, he says the vegetarian myth saved his life and has mentioned that he enjoys eating meat in several of his talks. I don't think Zerzan is vegan either, he's written essays against agriculture itself and has never mentioned practocong veganism as far as I know.

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-10 · October 18, 2011 at 11:12 PM

If people read primitivist books (i.e. "Limited Wants, Unlimited Means") it is clearly denoted we do not REQUIRE animal products in any way. Even the few remaining gathering societies that live on the fringes of civilization (probably not an abundance of food) can still obtain all of their nutrients from plant sources. They ate meat for the same reasons we do now: because it tastes good (hedonism/sadism) and tradition. Neither of which are good enough reasons to deny the rights of any other sentient being.

E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c
12847 · September 07, 2013 at 1:28 AM

Since when do plants contain b12 in reliable amounts?

Thumbnail avatar
10151 · January 17, 2013 at 7:50 PM

Hedonism has more to do with wearing dreadlocks and hemp sandals...a serious vegan would dump the badges...

Thumbnail avatar
10151 · January 17, 2013 at 7:48 PM

Uh, I think that SURVIVAL had something to do with why they ate meat, and is the reason meat tastes good to modern humans.

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2255 · October 22, 2011 at 10:35 AM

I think I'll ignore this answer as not helpful.

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2153 · October 19, 2011 at 2:58 PM

Also, I challenge you to live in a hunter/gatherer society and thrive without eating animal products. Good luck

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2153 · October 19, 2011 at 2:52 PM

see my answer for a response...I downvoted you. :)

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41341 · October 19, 2011 at 12:18 AM

Well if some book says we don't need animal products, you've convinced me!

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39821 · October 18, 2011 at 11:30 PM

It's going to take you a long time to claw your way back up to proper nutrition after your vegan misadventure. Trust me, I know.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad
56596 · October 18, 2011 at 11:19 PM

[citation needed]. Limited Wants, Unlimited Means is quite old and outdated, but even it does not contain any of the ideas you are presenting except for one chapter that is the insane ramblings of John Zerzan.

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