I was having a good discussion with a close friend of mine who is on an elimination-reintroduction trial and having excellent results. As such, he was open to some of my paleo arguments. The catch is, he's been a vegan or near-vegan for a while and is only willing to make certain concessions on the animal issue. I know there have been questions like this before but I was hoping to get some input from the community, and I also think his individual case might be somewhat interesting to you all.
So, taking his constraints as a given for the time being, what problems/virtues do you see in the following, and what suggestions do you have?
He is willing to eat bivalves (he already eats mussels and scallops, and sometimes even a lot of them), but no other fish or shellfish. The idea is that bivalves are much simpler life forms; he is fairly sure they do not feel pain; etc. This is an interesting topic in itself, but I suppose that's for another time and place. (In fact, the only other place the word "bivalve" comes up on all of paleohacks.com is in this thread from September.)
He is willing to eat eggs from a farm where the chickens are treated well. Ideally he would see the farm and get to know the farmers. (Definitely possible where he lives.)
He does not digest coconut or avocado all that well. But I'm hoping that these things will be tolerated much better when he finally reintroduces them. I think he's done a lot of healing; he guesses he had problems with soy and-or gluten and-or excessive fructose in the past, but his digestion is feeling great these days. (Has already reintroduced bivalves with success, no eggs yet.)
He is iffy on dairy, so let's assume for the purposes of investigation that he will not or cannot eat it.
So, assuming that he continues gluten-free and soy-free, without excess fructose; and assuming that my arguments against PUFAs and omega-6's take hold (was cautioning him against his sunflower seed paste); and taking into account that he enjoys eating a wide variety of vegetables, including sweet potato, squash, greens, etc., and some berries for fruit -- then, how would the diet stack up? What about saturated fat? What about bivalves versus other fish and shellfish? Is there something you can't get from bivalves that you can get from other fish? Is whatever difference this is irrelevant in the light of the eggs?
Thanks for any ideas.
The first meat I ate again post-vegetarian was bivalves. I think that's probably pretty common... for me it was the beginning of the end, eating bivalves gave me the push I needed to reconsider my dietary habits, maybe that's how it is for him, too. Eggs are also a very good start, and I think knowing the conditions of the farm is a perfectly reasonable request.
Does the coconut digestion extend to the oil? I would find a good cooking oil that he can handle and cook vegetables in it to add more fat, maybe add uncooked olive oil although that may not be ideal.
There are also insects, which can be raised. I don't know if he has an opinion on whether or not they can feel pain, but most searches I've done say "no," at least until you stumble upon an animal rights website, and they pretty much think everything from sponges on up suffer intolerably. They're expensive to buy, but you can learn to raise them and it doesn't take that much space.
If he eats nothing but fruit, veggies, eggs and bivalves, that sounds pretty amazing. Maybe the powerlifting goals will be hard to achieve with so little protein, but the important stuff -- avoiding grains, legumes, gluten, sugar, most dairy -- is happening. I would check out what Nora G has to say about protein, because I recall her recommendations were quite low. I guess he'd have to search a bit for fat sources, but there's always olive oil.
There is no one paleo. Hunter-gatherers has a huge range of macronutrient intakes. Just avoid the crap. Also, nobody is perfect or needs to be perfect. What this person is headed towards is so much better than the typical bowl of Cheerios with non-fat milk in the morning that I wouldn't sweat the fine points.
Potatoes! If you eat 2000 calories of potatoes you get 60 grams of high quality protein and tons of nutrients.
Yes, they have lectins, but I don't think it's a huge issue with potatoes. No, don't eat the skin or any potato that is green or blemished, solanin is not good for you.
I know some paleos hate potatoes, and they are nightshades etc, but really, if the Irish could live on nothing but potaoes and milk for 300 years, I'm sure you friend could do well on eggs, potatoes and bivalves. Paleo does not have to be high-fat.
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