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Why one Paleo pioneer wants you to eat less meat


Photo: Jez Timms
Photo: Jez Timms

Whether you’re a meat-and-veggie eater because it’s all the rage at your CrossFit box, or you’ve ditched processed stuff because dinosaurs never indulged in a box of Easy Mac (at least, as far as we know…), the Paleo way of living and dining isn’t slowing down anytime soon. But some of the diet’s devotees are deciding to ditch the meat—and they call themselves “pegans.” (That’s Paleo-vegan—not to be confused with “veggans.” Obviously.)

Boyd Eaton, a retired physician and professor who penned the pro-Paleo book The Paleolithic Prescription back in 1988, says it’s time for Stone Age-esque eaters to cut the meat out of their diets.

“I am convinced we have a real problem with sustainability,” Eaton told the Chicago Tribune. “Raising and feeding beef and other forms of animal protein is just non-sustainable.”

According to Eaton, while animal protein provides plenty of health benefits, the ideal diet should consist mostly of plant proteins. “That would be desirable, not necessarily for health reasons, but because it’s so much better for the environment and the sustainability of our planet,” he told the Tribune.

The idea isn’t new: Mark Hyman, MD, (author of The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet) follows a pegan diet, and told the Tribune that Paleos and vegans really aren’t so different. Both diets include a lot of nuts and vegetables, and cut out dairy and highly processed foods. However, Paleo’s main sources of protein—animal products—are decidedly non-vegan, while veganism’s protein-packed legumes and grains are Paleo no-nos.

The happy-pegan compromise, according to Eaton and Dr. Hyman, is a bit of cheating on both sides. Eaton’s recommended plant protein sources include hummus, lentils, falafel, roasted beets with walnuts, and roasted butternut squash with tahini.

“Anybody who eats a whole lot of varied vegetable and plant source foods is getting an acceptable protein and amino acid composition to their meal,” Eaton told the Tribune. “You just have to eat a lot of different plant and vegetable sources.”

Is Paleo-vegan peace on the horizon? Dinner party hosts everywhere are giddy with anticipation at the thought of their guests breaking bread (or at least sharing some falafel) together. —Alison Feller

Thinking about giving it a try? Here are 35 Paleo-friendly recipes that don’t include meat