Vegan vs. Paleo

June 28, 2018
by Jillian Gordon for Thrive Market
Vegan vs. Paleo

They may seem like total opposites, but vegan and Paleo diets have a lot more in common than you might think. For starters, both diets focus on getting back to the basics by incorporating more fruits and veggies into your meals and avoiding dairy. So while one approach puts meat front and center and the other avoids animal-based foods, both eating plans pack in the nutrients when done right. Here’s a closer look at eating Paleo and vegan.

What Is the Paleo Diet?

Sometimes referred to as “the caveman diet” or the Neolithic diet, the Paleo plan is based on eating the same foods that were available thousands of years ago when our hunter-gatherer ancestors foraged for berries, vegetables, tubers, meat, and fish. The concept behind the diet is that our bodies haven’t evolved enough to sufficiently digest agricultural and processed food like dairy, grains, and refined sugar. Supporters believe that diets high in processed foods can negatively affect our health.

Paleo Breakfast Sausage

Paleo Q&A

Knowing what makes the cut on a Paleo diet can be a little tricky. Here’s a quick rundown of what foods are diet-approved to help with your Paleo meal planning.

Is rice Paleo?

Most Paleo followers would argue that rice isn’t approved since it’s a grain, but others assert it’s more Paleo-friendly than most since it doesn’t contain bran but rather is just the rice kernel. Still, it’s best to go with a vegetable rice alternative (think cauliflower rice).

Is quinoa Paleo?

No. Though quinoa is technically a gluten-free seed, its high carbohydrate content makes it a Paleo no-no.

Is oatmeal Paleo?

No. Not only do oats contain phytates (antioxidant compounds found in whole grains), but they can often include traces of gluten as well.

Is honey Paleo?

Yes. While high in sugar, honey that’s produced naturally is okay for a Paleo diet.

Is peanut butter Paleo?

No. Peanuts are legumes, which are not approved on the Paleo diet.

Are eggs Paleo?

Yes. As a naturally produced protein source, eggs make the cut.

Are lentils Paleo?

No. Because lentils are legumes that contain phytates, they’re not approved on Paleo.

Is dark chocolate Paleo?

Yes (in moderation). Provided it doesn’t contain refined sugar (coconut sugar is a suitable sub), dark chocolate can be enjoyed on a Paleo diet.

Paleo Diet Rules

Load up on protein: While Paleo doesn’t mean meat all the time, you want protein to make up 19 to 35 percent of your daily calorie intake.

  • Skip the gluten: Grains and legumes, both of which require processing, are no-no’s on the Paleo diet.
  • Skip the dairy, too: Opt for non-dairy alternatives like coconut, cashew, or almond milk-based products.
  • Incorporate non-starchy veggies: Opt for low-carb greens that are low in sugar with a low-glycemic index.
  • Eat more fiber: Increase your fiber intake with fresh fruit and veggies.
  • Eat healthy fats: Non-legume nuts, avocados, fatty fish, and grass-fed animals are all great sources of healthy omega-3 fats.
  • Opt for unprocessed foods: Eating unprocessed foods will help you reduce your sodium intake and know exactly what’s going into your food.
  • Balance acid with alkaline foods: Balance your intake of high-acid foods like meat and fish with alkaline foods like fruit and veggies.

5 Best Paleo Products

Stock your pantry with these Paleo-approved snacks and meal-making must-haves.

EPIC Sea Salt & Pepper Pork Rinds

An upgraded take on a go-to snack, these pork rinds are non-GMO, antibiotic-free, and seasoned with black pepper, sea salt, onion powder, and garlic powder.

EPIC Turkey Cranberry Sage Bone Broth

Get a dose of protein in every sip of this soothing broth, made with organic turkey, cranberries, celery, carrots, and sage.

Thrive Market Organic Beef Jerky

Our pasture-raised, grass-fed jerky is perfectly tender and full of flavor thanks to organic coconut sugar, organic honey, organic apple cider vinegar, and natural smoke flavoring.

Nutpods Hazelnut Dairy-Free Creamer

This might sound nutty, but you can totally enjoy creamer on a Paleo diet, especially when it’s made with non-dairy coconut cream, almonds, and natural flavors.

Primal Kitchen Garlic Aioli Mayo

Creamy, zesty and totally Paleo-friendly, this garlic-infused spread includes avocado oil, cage-free eggs, and rosemary.

Paleo Shopping List

A Paleo eating plan is much easier when you’re well prepared. Here’s a quick look at what should top your shopping list. Find a full Paleo shopping list here.

  • Meat: Beef, pork, lamb, poultry, jerky, bacon, eggs
  • Fish & Shellfish: Salmon, halibut, bass, red snapper, swordfish, crab, lobster, shrimp, clams, scallops
  • Oils: Coconut, olive, macadamia, avocado, ghee
  • Veggies: Asparagus, broccoli, carrots, peppers, cauliflower, zucchini, spinach, sweet potatoes
  • Fruit: Avocados, apples, peaches, plums, mangos, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, watermelon, lemons, grapes, figs, pineapples

Paleo Recipes

Eat like a caveman and cook like one, too, with these Paleo-friendly recipes (and find even more here).

Paleo Pancakes

No dairy or flour here! This shortstack uses coconut flour, coconut oil, raw honey, eggs, and almond milk for the perfect syrup companion.

Sweet Potato Spanish Omelette

This any-time egg dish layers in sweet potatoes, onion, fresh herbs, and freshly grated nutmeg for a wholesome and satisfying meal.

Moroccan Shakshuka

This dish isn’t just fun to say, it’s bursting with bold flavor thanks to thick tomato sauce, exotic spices, and eggs.

Beef and Broccolini Stir-Fry

If at first you don’t succeed in eating Paleo, fry, fry again! This stir-fry recipe will get you on the right track with grass-fed skirt steak, protein-rich bone broth, and hearty vegetables.

Grain-Free Burrito Bowls

Fuel up with a warm bowl of cauliflower rice topped with spice-rubbed skirt steak, grilled onions, cherry tomatoes, and ripe avocado slices.

Cauliflower Braised in Tomato Sauce

Not all Paleo dishes are meat-driven. Skip the brisket and braise an entire head of cauliflower in a rich roasted tomato sauce, a blend of spices, salty kalamata olives, and anchovy fillets.

Cedar Plank Salmon With Grilled Veggie Kabobs

Get a dose of omegas with a delicate filet of wild-caught salmon marinated in mirin, coconut vinegar, raw honey, and coconut aminos and cooked on a cedar plank for smokiness.

Paleo Lamb Burgers With Pistachio Pesto

Looking for a burger you can sink your teeth into? This recipe calls for ground lamb, exotic spices, and a mint-infused pistachio pesto.

Roast Chicken With Orange and Fennel

Traditional roast chicken gets a major upgrade with fennel, sumac, and a sweet orange-anise glaze of raw honey, red wine vinegar, and star anise.

Paleo Bacon Cheesecake

Two guilty pleasures combine for a surprisingly Paleo-friendly dessert. A creamy filling of cashews, maple syrup, and bacon bits is cradled in a crust of pecans, dates, and almond flour and topped with a cashew butter caramel sauce.


What Is Vegan?

Like vegetarians, vegans don’t eat any meat whatsoever. But a vegan diet takes things a step further by eliminating all animal products, including dairy, eggs, and any animal byproduct. “Veganism” doesn’t only include food, but is a philosophy. Many vegans also eliminate animal-derived materials from their clothing and beauty products. Veganism continues to grow in popularity. In fact, a 2014 report claims that 2.5 percent of the population claims to be vegan, and famous vegans (including Alicia Silverstone, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, and Ariana Grande), contribute to the growing trend!

Vegan food

Vegan Q&A

Not sure what foods count as vegan? Here’s a quick rundown.

Is honey vegan?

We’ve covered this controversial topic before, but vegans traditionally exclude honey as it’s produced by bees.

Is peanut butter vegan?

Yes. Generally a mixture of peanuts, oil, and salt, peanut butter is typically vegan.

Are bagels vegan?

Most of the time. Surprisingly, dough that is boiled is often times vegan. However, recipes that call for eggs, egg wash, or honey don’t make the cut.

Is pasta vegan?

Usually. Most pasta made with semolina and whole wheat flour is vegan. However, fresh pastas are often made with eggs added to the dough, so stick with the dried options.

Do vegans eat fish?

No. Vegans avoid any and all animal-based food.

Is bread vegan?

Yes if it’s traditional bread dough, made with yeast, flour, water and salt, but read the label. Some breads also contain milk and eggs.

Is soy sauce vegan?

Yes. Soy sauce is a favorite condiment for adding flavor to many vegan dishes.

Is ketchup vegan?

Yes. Ketchup is still allowed on a vegan diet.

5 Best Vegan Products

These tasty vegan buys make an animal-free diet a breeze.

Louisville Vegan Jerky Co. Maple Bacon Vegan Jerky

Made from textured soy protein, tamari, maple syrup, and a blend of savory spices, this smoky gluten-free snack is downright addictive.

Thrive Market Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

Our version of everyone’s favorite multitasking pantry staple is totally organic, non-GMO, and made from sustainably harvested coconuts.

Coconut oil

Thrive Market Organic Coconut Milk

For vegan recipes that require a dose of creaminess, opt for the silky texture of our organic, non-dairy coconut milk.

NuGo Dark Chocolate Vegan Protein Bars

Non-GMO crisp brown rice, toasted coconut, and crunchy almonds are drenched in luscious dark chocolate for a decadent snack that also delivers 10g of protein.

Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Morsels

Whether baked into cookies or enjoyed on their own, these gluten-, dairy-, and allergen-free nibbles will satisfy that chocolate craving.

Vegan Food List

Starting a vegan meal plan? Here are a few items to add to your shopping list.

  • Protein Sources: Flaxseed, nuts, beans, lentils, textured soy protein, plant-based protein powder, tofu
  • Veggies: Leafy greens, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, green beans, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, beets, radishes
  • Fruit: Apples, bananas, oranges, pears, berries, plums, apricots, peaches, pineapples, mangos, avocados, tomatoes
  • Grains and Seeds: Quinoa, chia seeds, brown rice, farro, bulgur wheat, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds
  • Non-Dairy Alternatives: Almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, rice milk, cashew milk, cashew cheese
  • Oils: Coconut, olive, avocado, grape seed, macadamia

Vegan Recipes

No meat? No problem! These vegan recipes bring big flavor all on their own. You can find even more recipes here, here, and here.

Vegan Mushroom Bolognese

Comforting and filling, this savory medley of cremini mushrooms, marinara, fresh rosemary, diced onion, and garlic makes for the perfect vegan pasta companion.

Jackfruit Jambalaya

This one-pot, Southern-inspired dish packs a punch with tender jackfruit, creole seasoning, chopped bell peppers, and a hit of hot sauce.

Vegan Salted Caramel Matcha Latte

There’s a latte to love about this iced matcha beverage, which includes a rich caramel sauce at the bottom of the glass.

Fermented Turmeric Iced Latte

Get a probiotic boost with every refreshing sip of this iced latte, made with almond milk, fermented turmeric, coconut nectar, and cinnamon.

Vegan Meze Board

Vegans, meet your entertaining go-to. Give your kitchen a break by loading up your platter with stuffed grape leaves, artichoke hearts, quinoa tabbouleh, and creamy hummus.

Vegan Spring Rolls

Want to eat like a vegan? Just roll with it! Chili lime jackfruit and shirataki noodles make this plant-based finger food an instant hit.

Vegan Sweet Potato Casserole

Put a vegan spin on your favorite comfort food casserole, and be sure to include heaping handfuls of vegan marshmallows.

Vegan Chickpea Patties

These chickpea patties, made with almond flour, spices, and coconut aminos, are great on their own or stuffed into a pita for a quick bite.

Maca Chocolate Bark

This chocolaty treat is loaded with good-for-you ingredients like goji berries, cranberries, almonds, pecans, and a fermented superfood boost from maca powder.

Red Velvet Energy Bites With Beet Powder

You can’t beet desserts made with secret, healthy ingredients like chocolate performance protein powder and beet powder.

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This article is related to: Healthy Diet, Paleo Recipes, Vegan Recipes, Vegan Ingredients, Beef Recipes, Vegan Meals

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