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What Does GSG Think About the Paleo Diet? Part 1 of 2

Robyn Openshaw - Aug 07, 2013 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: Will you blog on what is wrong with the Paleo diet? We have Crossfit fanatics all around us and they are pushing it. It would be nice to have something I could print off and refer to it. I know it’s bad, but I can’t explain why. The Crossfit teachers say they have empirical data to back up this style of eating for health.  –Marianne

Answer: I’d love to answer this!

The Paleo Diet is a fad. It’s also known as the “caveman diet,” and it is an iteration of what the D’Adamos made a fortune on, the Eat Right for Your Blood Type Diet. Both are grounded in the idea that you should eat what your ancestors ate. That’s the “empirical evidence” they refer to. However, you can find some clear evidence that debunks the false or tenuous links to Paleo being a solid nutritional program.

Let’s cover some main points.


Nutritionally speaking, if I’m trying to say something fair and balanced here, Paleo is better than the Atkins Diet, which may be the worst massively popular diet in history. (Unlimited bacon and eggs—enough said!) In theory at least, Paleo is a little better than the low-carb Atkins Me-Too diets, like South Beach and Zone. Those guys saw Atkins making millions, so they jumped in the stream, before the low-carb decade burned out. As all fads do.

Paleo is better than the decade of suffering through the “low-fat” insanity many of us grew up with, too, which radically changed the food supply for the worse and introduced many more manipulated, unnatural foods still being manufactured and sold to an unsuspecting public. Paleo is about the same, health-wise, as the totally ridiculous and easily discredited Eat Right for Your Blood Type, Dr. Mercola’s typing diet, and many others.

The Good and The Bad

Good things about the Paleo diet: very low salt, high vegetable consumption, and elimination of processed foods, hybridized grains, refined oils, fatty meats, and dairy products.

Hang on, though. Bad things include too-low consumption of high energy (carbohydrate) foods, eliminating even good grains and legumes. Another issue is the heavy load on the body of eating so many animal products. This causes higher cancer risk, kidney stones and osteoporosis, and draining the body of calcium to buffer pH due to such high acidity.

Trying to eat “Paleo” is extremely expensive. Worse, it may not even be duplicatable in the modern age (given the way meat products are manipulated in our marketplace) without massive off-the-grid effort.

Negative Evidence

The most clear empirical evidence AGAINST Paleo may be this:

In 2011, U.S. News & World Report ranked 20 diets based on health, weight loss, and how easy the diet is to follow. The Paleo diet ranked dead last, by the panel of 22 experts. The following year, 2012, 25 diets were ranked and Paleo tied for last place. Why? The experts “took issue with the diet on every measure.”

Their Evidence

Those who advocate for this diet say that indigenous peoples who follow this diet have no disease. The diet is a lot of lean, simply prepared meats, and wild vegetables. A LOT of meat. No grains. Low carbohydrate.

That’s the “empirical evidence” they’re referring to, that Paleolithic man had no cancer, heart disease, or auto-immune disease. While it’s true that Paleolithic man had no cancer or heart disease, dig a little deeper with your thinking, and remember:  CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION.

The problem is, other scientists have explained, that there are OTHER factors from the Paleolithic era that may explain much better why there was no degenerative disease.

A Modern View

For instance, low caloric intake, no processed foods, no chemicals in environment or water or dental materials, short average lifespans, and many other factors surely have some impact. Some of the experts who have reviewed the diet point to the disease risks of following this diet attempting to use foods available to us in the modern age, as well as flawed logic related to evolutionary theory.

The experts who review and criticize the Paleo diet say that the five studies on health implications of Paleo are too short, with a sample size too small, to be conclusive.

It may be true that the Paleo diet will lead to more muscle mass and less fat. (Almost any diet will that improves on the Standard American Diet – which isn’t hard to do.) But the diet that many Americans are doing under the “Paleo” banner isn’t at all the same as what cavemen ate. To the extent you can come even close to approximating what cavemen ate, which is difficult, nigh unto impossible, the diet is almost obscenely expensive, to the point that is simply unsustainable by most people.

So Paleo followers, therefore, default to a diet they THINK is clean and simple, but which actually may have quite a few deadly meat-processing chemicals like nitrites and nitrates, plus toxic sodium chloride and more. You have to be very serious about your diet, and very educated, to avoid those things, within the food groups Paleo tells you to eat.

My biggest general issue beyond the health implications, with the Paleo Diet, is that it’s utterly unsustainable, eating incredibly high on the food chain and taking more than your fair share of the Earth’s resources. One pound of beef costs 1,000 gallons of water and 20 lbs. of plant food, to produce! And no one could afford it, without government supports.

Because to do Paleo, you have to buy lots of organic, free range poultry, beef, fish and other animal carcasses.

(My event manager who travels with me is always saying to stop using provocative language. What I meant is, Paleo wants you eating a lot of dead animal bodies.)

Seriously now. (I’m not even a vegetarian. I just like to talk like one. And be one 95%+ of the time.)


My real point is, if government price supports were removed for meat and dairy, NO gallon of milk would cost less than $10, and NO chicken, turkey, beef, pork, or fish that is clean enough to eat would cost less than $20/lb.

Very frankly, it is a matter of time before those government supports collapse under their own weight! There are any number of economic “bubbles” very ripe for bursting, whose consequences will include the collapse of government price supports.

Most recently, at the beginning of 2013, we were within 24 hours of going off the “fiscal cliff,” before Congress pumped more air into our national fiscal flat tire. One of the common predictions for consequences of that event was that meat and dairy prices would skyrocket. It’s a temporary fix, for Congress to “save” us from the fiscal cliff. We have been headed towards disaster for a very long time, and our burgeoning debt and price supports cannot last forever.

A Modern Solution

You might as well learn NOW, before we’re economically forced to, to eat lower on the food chain. To eat foods that are inexpensive even without price supports. Greens, vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.

My next post will finish the Paleo topic talking about its ban on grain, its heavy limitation on fruit, and why we are not biologically adapted to eat as much meat as Paleo demands.

Posted in: Lifestyle, Whole Food

30 thoughts on “What Does GSG Think About the Paleo Diet? Part 1 of 2”

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  1. m says:

    I’ve never thought this diet was a good idea even though I didn’t know much about it. However, my husband has been suffering for almost 20 years with what we’ve come to think is leaky gut syndrome. We are just about to do the GAPS diet to help he improve. The diet is temporary, but even at that would you consider it ok?

    1. Robyn says:

      m, I have read some negative review of the GAPS diet but that’s a whole other report…..I recommend your husband work with Dr. Barbara Jennings in Denver on his leaky gut (she does remote work),

      1. Michele says:

        Thank you, i will get in touch with her.

        1. Michele says:

          Oh another quick question. I’m in Utah County, is there anyone you know of here or Salt Lake that would be good? Thanks again.

  2. Patti says:

    Hi Robyn! For the last 3 years I’ve been drinking green smoothies daily, eating lots of salads and beans (all kinds) and rice (all kinds, mostly brown). Well a few months ago I went to the dentist (holistic) and found out I had cavities in almost all my teeth!

    My dentist advised it was probably too many carbs. I also had been noticing I had lost muscle mass/strength. Also my vitamin D levels were very low although I live in So. California and am in the sun daily.
    I remembered back when I was a kid and very athletic and strong I ate meat. So I decided to give a try to adding a little grass-fed beef, wild caught salmon and organic chicken as well as pastured eggs from the farmers market. Although yes, more expensive, but eating it only a few times a week and adding a raw egg to my green smoothies has really made a difference in how I feel now. I have cut out wheat and other glutenous grains as well as beans. Perhaps a happy medium can be reached.

    1. Robyn says:

      Hi Patti, yes, the dental issue is one of the reasons I don’t advocate for all raw, or for no-meat-ever. It may be helpful for people to have bone broth or even a little clean animal products, probably the meat / fish more than dairy….for the reason you mention.

    2. Sandi says:

      I agree. I tried a raw food diet (many green smoothies) with no animal products ( 4 months)and made myself very ill. I couldn’t maintain my body temperature and became weak & caught infections easily. I discovered that I absorb minerals & nutrition better from cooked veggies, with raw eggs, bone broths, some meat & healthy fats. Grains, & legumes make me ill. My gut bloats & I will gain 3-4 pounds in water weight over night when I eat them. I feel tired, like my face has been slammed into a wall. My body can’t absorb b-vits from grains. I require animal proteins. My body handles it well, and I feel great when I eat them. I can handle some green smoothies, but not daily. 2-3/week.

  3. Christina says:

    I eat a modified version of the Paleo diet. I will tell you I’ve tried the vegetarian diet and Vegan. Both left me very ill. I severely lack B12 and could not process it with the vitamins and nutritional yeast. I consumed lots of smoothies sans dairy because we don’t get along anyway. It just didn’t work. I was horribly ill and had no energy. My husband has been begging to go Paleo so we bought a book and read up on it. It made sense.

    Not the whole caveman thing. This is the hype you talk about. It was written by a nutritionist. So many people have this false idea that Paleo means eating a ton of meat. It doesn’t at all. There are some who do, but we didn’t. We usually had eggs with our breakfast, but no meat at lunch. We’d have a large salad. Then we’d have meat at dinner (all grass fed). We snacked on seeds and nuts and veggies and fruit (lots of fruit). We avoided grapes, but ate up the berries and apples and oranges. We lasted strictly Paleo for one month…oh, no sugar besides what you get naturally from food.

    I felt great! I had never felt so good. I lost a few pounds at a healthy rate. I had my thyroid removed years ago due to Graves disease which is an autoimmune disease. I have arthritis and other issues. They all disappeared in about a week. At the end of the 30 days we added some rice and beans (because I love them) and we do eat those.

    I try to avoid wheat and with the exception of butter I avoid dairy completely (again, my body just doesn’t like it). I’m not as strict now and wish I were. What I want to get across to your readers is not everybody’s body is created equal. My BFF is a strict Vegan and is completely healthy and wonderful. I respect her decision and she respects mine. You have to do what works for your body. I wrote this because your reader is asking for info to talk to some Paleo bullies. This article that you’ve written would not work. It is not sufficient and does not truly embody the Paleo diet.

    They can come back at her with just as much evidence of how it works and is very healthy. Take Dr. Terry Wahls for example. Her studies on how diet works have completely turned MS around for patients. Just as you can’t knock those who follow a Vegan/Vegetarian diet can ward off the growth of cancer and developing diabetes, you also need to allow that much research has been done on the benefits of animal fats for our bodies. Instead of there being this meat/no meat bully contest out there, we should try to work together to do what best fits each of our particular bodies.

    1. Robyn says:

      Christina, I don’t know that the reader was wanting to reply to “bullies,” per se. And I do not teach a vegetarian or vegan diet. It isn’t either-or. There’s plenty of room in the middle, and as I’ve said many times, although red meat doesn’t appeal to me personally, there may be a place for clean, unprocessed sources of it in a healthy diet.

      What I’ve examined here in this report, which will conclude tomorrow, this just introduced it, is what the nutritionists and other experts who review the diet say about its sustainability, practicability, ability to deliver real health, and many other measures.

      In the report I talk about how any diet that gets people off refined foods, they will feel better. Paleo does that.

      1. Christina says:

        I don’t know…you’re statement about eating a lot of dead animal flesh kind of seems like you have the same belief most people who have not researched the diet believe. All you eat is meat and no carbs. It’s just not true. When researching a diet, I rely on lots of input from several sources, to include friends and family and their experience, which is why I tried a vegan diet. Your reasons for not trying a Paleo diet (a real paleo diet) are either not well stated or not well researched. I have been totally off refined and processed foods in the past and was still sick until this diet. Your article here, as at least one other reader stated, is very slighted. I have a feeling you read a few biased studies and talked to a few biased nutritionist prior to writing it. As another reader stated, I love your blog and follow a lot of your advice. I just want to see you remain unbaised and not rely on biased reviews. How many people did you talk to who had tried the Paleo diet prior to writing this article? How much research did you look at that showed the diet in a good light? Have you read the many,many success stories of people who were suffering from autoimmune diseases such as MS, Thyroid problems, Parkinson disease and the such who are now able to live a much more successful and healthy life? There’s lots of it out there. I never reply to blogs or articles like this. I was just really shocked when I read this on your blog. As someone who has seen the benefits of the diet, I hope you will do a little more research into the subject prior to posting more on it.

        “Hang on, though. Bad things include too-low consumption of high energy (carbohydrate) foods, eliminating even good grains and legumes. Another issue is the heavy load on the body of eating so many animal products. This causes higher cancer risk, kidney stones and osteoporosis, and draining the body of calcium to buffer pH due to such high acidity.”

        I also would like to add: my vegan friend’s one issue: kidney stones. Her main source of protein is beans. Beans are high in uric acid. My mother also suffers from gout and cannot eat beans. They will literally kill her kidneys. Also, Calcium…too much is just as bad as too little. This may be another reason the diet works for me. I produce too much Calcium and have…you guess it: bone loss. Crazy. Happened at 30. I just think you should be fair when assessing a diet.

        The paleo diet will rank lowest, because most people have no clue what the true paleo diet is. They think the same thing you do: You eat “a lot of dead animal bodies.” This is just not true. Yes, we eat more meat than a vegan or vegetarian or someone who is 95% vegetarian…but I actually eat less meat now than when I was on the standard American diet of fast food and processed food.

        Also, your political stance is dead wrong as is the cost associated with it. Eating Vegan was honestly much more expensive. I had to spend a ton of money on supplements and try to find ways to replace what was missing from my diet. The cheapest diet is one full of processed food. I wish the government would quit supplementing. Then we would all be forced to buy locally grown food, which is much more sustainable…which is also what I strive for in my diet.

        1. Robyn says:

          The vegan diet CAN be expensive—if you don’t follow some principles of keeping it simple. The vegan diet, if its high in greens, vegetables, and legumes, and whole grains is the most inexpensive diet there is. It’s what my mother raised a family of 10 on, on a single military income. A processed diet ties for a close second. 🙂 Just because a vegan has kidney stones doesn’t mean kidney stones are caused by eating plants. In fact, highly acidic foods like animal proteins, dairy, coffee, and soda are the primary causes of kidney stones. A vegan with a propensity towards forming stones, with a daily coffee habit, could easily have kidney stones. And some people who have gotten themselves into serious health issues can sometimes not eat a certain class of whole foods due to the disease—again, this does not make a plant-based diet a bad thing, nor does it make the Paleo diet any more sustainable or health-promoting.

          The Paleo diet ranks lowest because it’s extremely expensive and difficult to find truly organic meat. It’s not Paleo versus Standard American Diet—it’s Paleo versus sustainable and health-promoting.

  4. Anne says:

    I do not think that bashing another diet that helps people suffering from auto-immune disorders, gastrointestinal issues and any type of inflammation is a positive move. Those of us who advocate eating real food should band together. Each person is an individual and what works for me, may not work for you. I’ve followed your blog because I think it is a great message you are giving out to the world but this post has made me re-think my support.

    1. Robyn says:

      Anne, critical thinking has been a staple of this blog since I put it up. Your opinion welcome, too. In this report, I review the Paleo Diet, and in part of it talk about what’s great about it. It is rated dead last, or second-to-last, in how practical it is, and I believe that what people following Paleo are doing is not, in fact, what cavemen ate that kept them disease free. I think if you’ll read my report you’ll see it as a review rather than an emotional “bash” of any kind. Not everything is equally valuable and I am pointing out the problems with this fad diet.

      1. I’m really disappointed to read this. I’ve been a follower for a few years now and I actually do eat paleo about 90-95% of the time. I didn’t start eating it to free myself from disease. I did it for weight loss, higher energy, lower dependence on sugars, to rid myself of inflammatory grains and dairy, and to reverse some of the symptoms I was having. My keratosis pilaris, acne, severe sugar highs and lows causing mental haziness, fatigue, and the shakes, as well as restlessness have all disappeared since going paleo.

        It does not have to be expensive. Most people I know don’t follow paleo to be like a caveman. We’re NOT cavemen. We are modern people. Does paleo rank as an impractical diet? Sure – particularly if someone is going by the books with all free-range, organic meats, vegetables, fruits, and so on. Does an average person have to go broke on Paleo? Absolutely not. We are selective in what we purchase, and we have to do what we can to eat well on a budget.

        My paleo lifestyle is no more expensive than my previous lifestyle of going out to eat all the time. With a family of 6, that’s expensive. Now we’re eating way more fruits and vegetables than we EVER have. My kids are enjoying things besides filler junk food, and I’m not filling our bellies with things that cause reactions.

        Paleo may not be for everyone, but it’s really sad to see your stance on this and to see the generalizations on here.

        I’m not following some fad. I’m following what is essentially an elimination diet that keeps me, and my family, healthy.

  5. Darlene says:

    Robyn I would suggest that you have not properly conducted your research for this article. The first thing that really struck me as I read it was that you stated the “The Paleo Diet is a fad”. In what way do you define a fad. When can that label be applied. Wouldn’t green smoothies and “detox/cleanse” also be considered a fad?

    People who ascribe to the primal/paleo way of eating are not following a fad. There is absolutely nothing within the framework of eating in this manner (moderate protein, unprocessed foods, zero grains, low carbohydrate, and increased intake of saturated fats (coconut oil, grassfed butter)) that forbids a person from eating tons of healthful green foods, juicing, or having smoothies.

    Even your argument against the 1000 gallons of water for every pound of beef is misleading. Yes, it may indeed have that large of a footprint IF it is a feedlot cow. You are however ignoring that much of the protein in a primal diet can come from numerous other sources. You make it sound as if a person eating a primal diet is doing nothing but shoving cow in his mouth all day.

    Further, you are ignoring the latest evidence concerning grains and gluten. I have had two friends diagnosed with lupus in the last several months, do you know the first thing the rheumatologist told them.. “NO GRAINS”. Why? Because physicians are coming to understand the link between autoimmune disease, diabetes, cancer, and grains.

    I literally do not have time to take apart each one of your arguments and post the evidence otherwise. For the educated person, or for anyone who is interested in their health, the information is out there. What you have done by posting this article is convinced me that your opinion, and therefore your recommendations toward health are not fully thought out and researched. Sadly, you have lost me as a follower. As Anne stated above, your opinion comes off as bashing. If you want to continue to state that you are not bashing the paleo/primal community and yet still lead into the article with the statement “The Paleo diet is a fad”, go ahead. But I will make an educated guess that you will lose many health seeking individuals who are tired of this type of “my way is better” attitude. That your name is Green Smoothie Girl, and you label another way of eating as a fad… is literally laughable.

    Perhaps you should do a bit more research (not just cherry picked in your opinion’s favor) when you post the second article, the gross lack of research done for this one is telling.

    1. Robyn says:

      Darlene, I’m not sure you read my part 2 about grains. I agree with Paleo and others regarding hybridized grains. All grains are NOT are not inflammation-causing, though. Throwing out the baby with the bath water is unwise. People who are well into the disease cycle like your friend are VERY wise to avoid hybridized grains.

      I can’t even venture a guess on how many thousands of pages I’ve read on these topics. I don’t even KNOW anyone who has researched more on these topics. So, while I may have a different opinion based on the subject than you do, it isn’t lack of evidence that is the problem. How much water (and how much plant food) it takes to raise a pound of beef is pretty well documented in many sources.

      One interesting phenomenon that has NOT gotten popular press is the fact that undigested proteins in the blood, according to many of the docs I’ve been studying with all over the world in the last 3 years of cancer research, are at the root of so much cancer.

      I didn’t make it sound as if eating the caveman diet is “doing nothing but shoving cow in his mouth all day,” but there is a high emphasis on eating animal protein.

      I didn’t cherry pick, because it’s a short opinion piece on a blog. A scientific meta-study would be accountable to report on both sides. I’ve reviewed both sides extensively and feel comfortable predicting that the Paleo fad will fade and other movements take its place. I think some people are taking the good Paleo principles and adding OTHER good principles (other readers here have said that they eat grain on a “Paleo” diet, which is actually not the Caveman Diet, but the evolution of it by smart, educated people, to become something else).

      Green smoothies are a fad. So is detoxing. Totally agree!

      take care,

  6. Maybe there’s a different kind of Paleo diet out there because most the recipes I’m finding are using cauliflower as a base for bread-sticks or pizza instead of grains. Or things like 1 ripe banana and 1 egg for pancakes that don’t need any syrup added. Lots of veggies, nuts, almond milk, coconut milk, or coconut flour etc. I haven’t seen much meat in the recipes that are being sent to me. They even have fruit in them. Since going low carb has reduced my blood sugar I’m grateful for these kinds of recipes as I’m not big on eating meat.

  7. Andy says:

    Why don’t you just say that you’re a vegan, because it seems like you are. Are you worried about scaring people off by explicitly stating it or are you personally not opposed to it? I’m confused. This is the first time I have ever seen you reference anything about killing animals, the environment, or any other type of social responsibility. I’ve also never heard you use the word Co-op.

    1. Robyn says:

      Andy (the provocative / insulting parts of your comment deleted), I’m not a vegan or vegetarian. I talk clearly and consistently in my books and course about how people already know how to eat meat, that’s a personal decision I don’t have all the answers on, and I’m here to help people learn more ways to eat plants inexpensively and easily. Since we know that greens, vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole (non-hybridized / GMO) grains, and nuts and seeds are highly linked to good health.

      In fact, in my 12 Steps to Whole Foods course, I teach how to make kefir and yogurt from raw milk, and advocate for using organic eggs, for those who wish to eat them. I have many times, on this blog and elsewhere, said that there may be good reasons why animal products could be an important though minor part of the diet.

      I’ve also talked about co-ops, social responsibility, inhumane treatment of animals many times here on the blog and elsewhere, although eating plants for nutrition is my main message.

  8. Alanna says:

    Thank you Robyn! I’ve been waiting for you to review the paleo diet.

    I can’t address all of the negative comments here but I’d like to point out that your review is supported by current (and dated) scientific research–as well as scripture, intuition and an avalanche of anecdotal evidence.

    Also, citing the impact of high animal consumption on natural resources and the environment is simply stating facts. When people get defensive about the effect their diet has, it’s very telling.
    Keep up the great work!

  9. Jana says:

    Wow, you Paleo people are fierce. Robyn is telling people who are asking what her opinion is with facts supporting that opinion. Of course, everyone can have
    their own opinion, but don’t get rude about it regardless whether you eat Paleo, vegan, or vegetarian etc.

  10. TAmmy Kinder says:

    I know this post was about the Paleo diet, but I also saw the GAPS diet mentioned. I had one son that had abscence seizures and another son that had eczema. We went on the GAPS diet and after a few weeks the eczema was gone. It took longer for the seizures to go away, but after 8 mos on the GAPS my son is no longer having seizures. I had two naturapaths tell me that the GAPS was not good, but after reading the book it made since, because my son was having a lot of the symptoms. I have been reading health books for over 13 years and have come to the conclusion that different diets work for different things. One thing that everyone agrees on is that processed food needs to be eliminated. During the GAPS we could not eat grains, beans, starches, and most dairy in order to heal my son’s gut. And obviously that is what he needed because it worked. I am only writing this to hopefully help someone else. I seached and tried many things over 4 years to find something to help my son. Just wanted to let you know that I enjoy reading your blog, Robyn.

  11. Jessie says:

    I have an autoimmune disorder, and my doctor put me on a diet very similar to the Paleo Diet.. It has helped me tremendously. Before I made the change, I actually ate very healthy before, lots of organic sprouted grains, raw vegetables and fruits.. beans, nuts. But I still struggled very much with my health. But I cannot say enough how much the Paleo Diet has turned things around for me. Most people with autoimmune disorders struggle with chronic inflammation. Carbs and sugars.. even things that are “healthy” and natural like raw honey, maple syrup, high glycemic fruits, whole grains.. don’t help with the inflammation and can make it worse. Cutting out grains (except for quinoa which has a lot of protein) and cutting out a even the natural sugar sources and sticking with lower glycemic fruits and vegetables have lowered my inflammation significantly, balanced my hormones, healed my thyroid, increased my energy and my symptoms have reversed.

    When your cells aren’t inflamed anymore, your body can detox and heal itself better. I still eat plenty of raw vegetables and greens, low glycemic fruits, sprouts, nuts, beans.. I do not feel like I am lacking anything nutritionally. I do also eat grassfed organic meat and eggs, and goat cheese regularly.. however my diet isn’t based around animal products, and I eat plenty of plant-based meals. I have already cut out so much in my diet, I think if I were to cut animal products mostly out of my diet as well, I definitely wouldn’t feel as good and wouldn’t get the nutrition I need.

    This is an interesting blog post from a well known former Raw and Vegan advocate and author. She’s recently changed to the Paleo Diet and explains why she did: I think it’s an interesting read. The Paleo diet isn’t obviously for everyone, but I do not think this diet is a fad.. I think it can be used for medical purposes with great success for those who need it. And I do think more and more people do need it as health conditions dealing with chronic inflammation are on the rise. I think it’s good to keep an open mind.

    1. Kara says:

      Thanks for the article, Robyn. I’ve also been hoping you would write on this topic. I followed the 12 steps course for about a year and felt wonderful. Then I wrecked my gut from stress and other things, and had to start from scratch. For several months it seemed I was intolerant to just about every food group. I’m doing much better now, but am still seem having issues with beans (even soaked), and become bloated with too many nuts/too much fruit. I’ve had to add in a lot more meat than I’m used to, but I’m sure that as my gut continues to heal I’ll do better again with fibrous plant foods. I agree with one of the earlier comments that different diets can serve different purposes and can be effective for helping treat certain problems. For instance, if I were diagnosed with cancer, raw vegan would probably be my choice. For now, I’m more paleo but am hoping to get back to more plant-based. One thing’s for certain– hooray for bone broths! Cheap, the gelatin is gut-soothing, and you can stick lots of veggies in! And green smoothies (but they are not as delicious with very little fruit…oh well.).

    2. I’d like to know how you arrived at your claim that milk should be over $10/gallon and that 1 pound of meat should be $20 (also “One pound of beef costs 1,000 gallons of water and 20 lbs. of plant food” source please?). The farmers I purchase raw milk ($7.50/gal) and beef ($6/lb) from don’t receive any government support. I assume you are referring to conventional products. I do pay $20 for a pastured chicken, but that’s a lot more than 1 pound worth.

      1. Robyn says:

        Hi Rachel, it’s actually cheaper for a small individual, local, farmer to sell you raw milk—although legally he must do so without claiming that it is food or suggesting that you could use it as such!—than the commercial dairies that are supported by the government supports, and their suppliers are too. THe farmer you’re buying from doesn’t have to pay for pasteurization, nor does he have to pay for milk to be refrigerated, processed in jugs, and shipped across the country.

        If you grow corn for beef, or dairy cattle, you’re entitled to government subsidies. The powerful beef and dairy industries have negotiated prioritization from our government so that their products are affordable for the American public and they are more profitable. At the end of December last year, the news stories were predicting huge jumps in dairy and beef prices, those I quoted, if we fell off the “fiscal cliff.” Of course a Dec. 31 emergency session of Congress reinstated continued government support. But I do not believe it can possibly last forever. Thus my suggestion that we are wise to learn to eat more plant foods, and eat lower on the food chain.

  12. As a doctor who has studied nutrition for many years, including fad diets, I completely agree with your stance on the Paleo diet. A diet that includes meat is not sustainable for the environment and health. We get plenty of amino acids from plant-based sources such as; greens, vegetables, legumes and nuts/seeds.
    I advocate a 80-90% plant-based diet, especially if I’m working with a patient with one, or more chronic diseases (which is 65% of our population). I’m a proponent of only recommending healing foods, not animal-based products that induce inflammation.

  13. Corina Luu says:

    Hi Robyn, I love your site and I often recommend it to many of my clients. Thank you for all the hard work, research, and education you provide to us all. I do want to comment on the Paleo Diet topic. I agree mostly with everything mentioned, minus one detail…There is a misconception that this type of diet encourages one to eat ALOT of animal protein. The truth is, that our hunter gather ancestors probably did not have access to that amount of meat. They had to hunt for their food and eat lots of the vegetation as well. The real concept behind eating “Paleo” is to eat organic vegetables and fruits that are seasonal. By eating seasonally, one avoids foods that have been genetically altered to grow yearlong. As far as proteins, Paleo encourages animal proteins that were raised humanely or “free-range”, and they must be grass fed. As J.J. Virgin states: “you are what you eat, ate”. This simply means that if you are consuming meats that are not grass fed, then you are also consuming the GMO corn and soy based diets that those animals once were fed. Paleo is simply a more holistic way of eating: organic as God created things, free of pesticides and herbicides…Meat from happy animals that roamed freely and ate grass, as they were meant to do. Unfortunately, the heavy meat-eater misconception may have come from the many bodybuilder and/or workout communities. If alot of muscle hypertrophy is one’s goal, then of course, a bigger consumption of protein along with heavy resistance workouts are the answer. But for those of us who simply want a more holistic way of eating, then I feel Paleo is great. From personal experience, it has healed me of Hashimotos Hypothyroidism and my daughter of Leaky Gut.

  14. Corina Luu says:

    Oh! And fish, of course. Just remembered I didn’t comment on fish as I pulled out my salmon from the oven. Lol! Paleo encourages wild caught fish as well. We need not only eat of our four legged friends nor poultry. Wild caught fish is an extremely healthy way to get some protein as well.

  15. JT says:

    You might want to read up on nitrates and nitrites especially coming from a vege advocate, not that I am not, I get my greens too, but:

    When it comes to food, vegetables are the primary source of nitrites. On average, about 93% of nitrites we get from food come from vegetables. It may shock you to learn that one serving of arugula, two servings of butter lettuce, and four servings of celery or beets all have more nitrite than 467 hot dogs. (2) And your own saliva has more nitrites than all of them! So before you eliminate cured meats from your diet, you might want to address your celery intake. And try not to swallow so frequently

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