All too often we’ll see pictures of heavy steaks, sometimes buttered or wrapped in bacon, with maybe a small vegetable side dish. This is not my idea of the ideal Paleo diet. I think that what is getting missed is that you are encouraged to get in at least some protein with each meal. This does not mean a whole side rack of lamb and that the asparagus has to be individually wrapped in bacon. In fact, many plant sources supply enough protein on their own to stand alone for that snack or meal. So to answer the question
Can a Vegetarian do the Paleo Diet?
This is a big and important question! One of the defining factors we seem to see floating around is that the Paleo diet is food that is either wrapped in bacon, or heavy on the meats. In fact, it just means that this food was available back in the Paleolithic era when our genes were laid out to what we know of today as modern man.
The answer is “No!” There are a bajillion delightfully delicious plant-based meals or dishes that absolutely do not need the addition of meat because that plant or dish has a good source of plant-based protein.
Here are some good examples of plant-based proteins that are allowed on the Paleo diet:
- Spirulina: 6g Protein / 10 gramsA blue-green algae, spirulina is a highly bio-available complete protein containing all essential amino acids. At 60% protein (the highest of any natural food), it’s a plant-based protein powerhouse that blends beautifully into green smoothies.
- Hemp Seeds: 16g Protein / 3 TbspWith a perfect ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 EFA’s, hemp seeds are another bio-available complete protein rivaled only by spirulina. A simple and great addition to a multitude of dishes, from salads to sauces or smoothies
Fruits and Vegetables Rich in Protein:
1 avocado : 4g Protein
- This creamy fruit adds thickness to sauces, soups, and smoothies. High in vitamin E, this anti-oxidant rich food fights against aging while the fiber keeps your gut health and helps you to lose weight.
1 cup broccoli: 5g Protein
- Broccoli is the king of the vegetables being rich in vitamins and protein. It reduces allergic reactions and reduces inflammation in the body. It’s also packed with glucoraphanin which the body processes into a compound that fights cancer.
1 cup spinach: 5g Protein
- Some lesser-known benefits of this leafy green is that it eases constipation and protects the stomach so you stay free of ulcers.
2 cups cooked kale: 5g Protein
- This powerhouse is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Packed with nutrients, anti-oxidants, and phytonutrients, this Paleo food has many anti-cancer benefits as well as lower blood cholesterol and risk of heart disease.
1 cup boiled peas : 9g Protein
- These little pearls of protein are one of the perfect weight-management foods. Low in calories, high in anti-oxidants and strong anti-inflammatory properties, this “safe-legume” is happy it made the Paleo list
1 cup cookedsweet potato: 5g Protein
- This starchy food is a good source of vitamin C, B6, and magnesium and iron. It improves our resistance to stress by strengthening our immune system.
Nuts and Seeds Rich in Protein:
1 cup Almonds: 7-9g Protein
- While this sounds like a delicious option, keep in mind that one cup also serves up a whopping 824 calories. So if you don’t plan on eating much for the day, this might be a viable option occasionally.
1 oz. Cashews: -4.4g Protein
- This option serves up 161 calories and 13g of total fat. These little nuts are fll of proanthocyanidins, a class of flavanol that stop cancer cells from dividing by starving them.
1 oz. Sesame seeds: 6.5g Protein
- ( 3 tablespoons of tahini – 8 grams) This tasty crunchy seed is a wonderful texture enhancement to many foods improving satiety not to mention the health benefits of improving oral health by helping prevent tooth decay and halitosis.
1/4 cup (2 oz.) Walnuts: 5g Protein
- Weighing in at 366 calories for this protein infusion, but that’s also 4g of fiber to provide satiety to balance things out. Otherwise walnuts are a healthy source of B6, B7, helps improves cholesterol and is rich in Omega 3
1 oz. Pistachios: 5.8g Protein
- Most of the fats in pistachios are unsaturated, and the “pistachio effect” of shelling the nut improves satiety leading to less consumption. This nut has more potassium and vitamin K than other nuts.
I hope this helps answers some questions about whether or not meat is always a requirement for a healthy and balanced Paleo meal.
Are you a vegetarian interested in the paleo diet?
Let me know in the comments below