Even in communities of elite athletes and special operations military personnel there are vegetarians trying to follow their strict diets while trying to maintain their health, desired weight, and athletic edge. Vegetarians are stereotypically thought of as skinny, pale people that don’t possess the necessary diet to build a muscular, athletic body. This doesn’t have to be the case with the correct education on modifying the Paleo diet for a vegetarian.
Most vegetarian diets get a lot of protein from soy. Hint: Don’t eat soy! Typical vegetarian staples like Boca burgers and many meat substitutes all contain soy. Do not use soy under any circumstance, not as tofu either. The only permissible soy is organic, fermented soy that actually comes from a safe area in Japan. Miso paste is ok, but true Japanese miso only. All US soy crops are genetically modified to carry a gene for a pesticide directly in it. It’s either that or non-GMO crops have been contaminated. Soy also hides in many products as “lecithin”.
Avoid dairy as well. Some vegetarians use a lot of dairy. Hint: Don’t eat dairy! Pasturized dairy is noted in the functional medicine field for its mucogenic, toxic properties and can create or perpetuate food allergies.
Also avoid all corn and soy, both are all genetically modified (GMO) crop in the US.
A balanced Paleo diet for vegetarians (those who eat eggs) is very doable. But, here’s the deal on eggs; buy pasture-raised eggs from organic farms. These eggs are typically more expensive, but necessary. The closest substitute in most of our stores is eggs from cage-free hens that are organically raised. This means that the hens don’t get antibiotics or hormones but they are feed grain that is often full of soy (which is not ideal) and they usually don’t get to eat enough bugs and worms for a balanced diet. This is why pasture-raised eggs are key. Check out the following links:
To maintain optimum health, athletic performance, and to reap the anti-aging benefits of The Paleo Diet, the vegetarian must make an effort to supplement nutrients that are deficient in the vegetarian diet; omega-3 fatty acids, branched-chain amino acids, CoQ10, and L-carnitine, to name a few. Eggs are a great start, but the eggs must be very healthy and ideally consumed raw or as raw as possible since cooking cuts the nutrient density in half. There is no worry about salmonella with pasture-raised eggs in my opinion. In addition, using hemp protein is excellent. Protein from organic, non-GMO yellow peas and non-GMO brown rice is also good. The Vegan product soon to be launched by our company, Trident Nutrition, is an excellent blend of all of these proteins. Oh, and many vegetarians eat flax seed or flax meal and supplement with products that have both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Flax should only be consumed as fresh seed, ground right before using. If it must be pulverized, do so immediately before consumption else it goes rancid quickly. Vegetarians are generally unhealthy in terms of fatty acid ratio because they get too much omega-6:omega-3 in their omega fatty acids. The ratio should be 1:1 but most vegetarians, and most Americans for that matter, eat a diet that is 20:1 or 50:1 in omega-6:omega-3 ratio. This sets up rampant inflammation in the body. Inflammation is obviously bad for a laundry list of short and long term health issues.
Sprouted nuts, beans, and seeds are useful. We can reduce the amounts of toxic anti-nutrients and enzyme inhibitors in these foods by soaking and sprouting them. Soaking for 24 hours at room temperature has been shown to remove 66% of the trypsin (protease inhibitor) in mung beans, 93% in lentils, 59% in chickpeas, and 100% in broad beans. Soaked beans should of course be well-cooked in order to make them non-toxic.
Sprouting goes a step farther in reducing the amounts of enzyme inhibitors, in addition to converting some of the starches into sugars, and proteins into amino acids. Though some sprouts can be eaten raw, cooking them will eliminate more of the anti-nutrients.
All of this assumes, of course, that you’re starting with dried beans. The pre-cooked, canned versions won’t do for reasons mentioned in previous posts.
Food staples will be:
- All kinds of vegetables, cooked and raw
- Vegetable sprouts
- All kinds of fruits, usually raw
- Beans and other legumes: lentils, chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans, adzuki beans (soaked, sprouted, cooked)
- Starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Oils: grapeseed, olive, canola, coconut, flaxseed (unheated), hemp (unheated)
- Agave nectar (as workout fuel, not an all-purpose sweetener)
- Protein powder (hemp protein is a minimally-processed type) Total Vegan really rocks here. Use it!
- Tea and coffee (limited)
Paleo vegetarians, hopefully this helps, but a proper source of the eggs is critical! Using a pure omega-3 supplement is very important, e.g. our upcoming Omega Pure 950 from, and probably a CoQ10 supplement in the most absorbable form, ubiquinone. CoQ10 has been shown to treat hypertension, improve the efficiency of the heart, is important to overcome side effects of statin drugs, and can help athletes of all types, even the elite Navy SEALs, recover more rapidly from intense workouts. Vegetarian or not, extreme athletes need important nutrients for performance and recovery, be sure that you get them.