I'm interested in trying out a paleo/primal diet for weight loss and anti-inflammatory reasons but I'm wondering how much I can actually incorporate into my diet given limited financial resources. How much meat do you really need to eat to be effective?
I'm semi-vegan in that I only eat animal products from a confirmed humane source (must be pasture raised, grass fed, wild caught, etc). This does limit my meat intake because I simply cannot afford the fresh high-quality meats all the time. I would note that while I have moral reasons for doing this, eating CAFO or grain-fed non-pastured meats (including any kind of farmed fish) also makes me violently ill, so it wouldn't be an option even if I didn't have these moral convictions. In general I have two servings of lean meat a month (pasture raised turkey or grass-fed buffalo usually) and a couple servings of fermented dairy per week.
Otherwise I am almost entirely gluten-free and only eat quinoa as a grain on a regular basis. I also eat beans but no other legumes, and I'm 100% soy-free. Most of my diet consists of veggies and I'm making an effort to increase leafy greens in my diet. I'm highly allergic to preservatives as well, so those have no place in my diet.
My doctor has been quite unwilling to talk about my dietary requirements, so I could use general advice on adopting a paleo diet/lifestyle. Thoughts?
I think 1/2 lb to 1 lb per day is best. See http://perfecthealthdiet.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/Food-Plate-600dpi.jpg.
Also, eggs and dairy can displace meat from the diet and are inexpensive.
Talk to farmers at a local farmers market about their animals. Some of the best, most nutritious food comes from cows and chickens raised natural and happy. Not that I needed a reason to love meat, but the fact that I buy grassfed beef that produces almost no annual waste, and might even help re-enrich our depleted earth (and my body) with essential minerals, is a good reason to eat natural meat.
I eat as you eat Marie (eat animal products from a confirmed humane source (must be pasture raised, grass fed, wild caught, etc). I've worked on my budget over the years and have managed to work in more meat to my diet. Perhaps you can start trying to find an extra $6-$7 a week to add pound of grass fed ground beef in? Then keep trying for more?
You don't have to eat meat at all as is evidenced by a few vegetarians we have running around here so yes what you are already doing is doing something. If you CAN squeeze in some more animal protein all the better but just do what you can do. I assume you are fermenting your beans? If not you should add that into your practice. You are on the right track for sure!
As far as meat goes, if you can't afford a lot of it right now, don't sweat it. I eat a lot of canned salmon or mackerel, eggs for breakfast, and usually buy a pound of liver or ground beef (both grass fed) a week, and make it into a large meal to spread it out, usually stew. Even at Whole Foods, you can find grass fed liver for $4.99/lb, and Trader Joe's has grass fed ground beef for ~$6.
The rest of my diet is pastured dairy (Kerrygold butter ftw), starchy fruits, tubers, and white rice, and leafy greens.
Oh, and liberal amounts of hot sauce.
I transitioned into eating paleo a couple of months ago after being vegan for 10 years and am having similar financial issues with buying good meat.
I eat 4oz wild caught fish (usually salmon from trader joes, its $8/lb) 5 days a week and 4oz of grass-fed lamb the other two days (I buy online from Azure Standard at $8/lb but you have to be in their drop off zone). I don't bother with fowl because I figure I need the minerals (zinc and iron) from the red meat and omegas from the fish and eating chicken or turkey would be a waste of money when you look at it from that standpoint. I don't do well with eggs although I wish I did because they are cheap and nutritious. I am allergic to dairy so none of that for me. I feel like having a small portion of meat every day keeps me feeling the benefits of paleo without reverting back into the illness I had before going on the diet.
Watch out with the beans and quinoa. I ate tons of them when I was vegan, and now that I have cut them out I have serious problems when I slip up.
I'm not sure what the bottom limits are on meat consumption and benefiting on paleo, that is a really good question. I went from almost no meat, to meat most every day. The one thing I remember from childhood is eating beef liver or chicken gizzards every month or two because my mom was worried about us kids getting enough B-12, but trying to be as vegetarian as possible. There are certainly a number of hunter-gatherers who live on a mostly starch diet, with meat as more of a garnish than main course. The precedent has been set, but how you'll do on something like that, only you can find out.
It sounds like you are on a pretty tight budget, but if there is a way you could save up and invest in a freezer and a quarter or half cow, you could get grass finished beef for under $5/lb. that way.
There are other options out there too. A whole lamb or goat is among the more affordable options too, and if you buy them direct from the rancher you'll know exactly what they ate. Grassfed butter can certainly cover some of the bases missed in meat. Learning how to cook the less desirable parts of animals can save some money sometimes, but if you are in a market that values exotic cuts, they can actually end up being more expensive, so that's a crap shoot.
I know this might be a bit of a rough jump if you're mostly vegan, but have you considered clamming, crabbing, shrimping, fishing or hunting for yourself? Or bartering with a hunter for some venison, pheasant, rabbit, etc? I've had some pretty emotionally/spiritually fulfilling experiences when I've either been responsible for taking the life for my nourishment myself, or have spent time talking to the person who did that for me.
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