Savory peanut butter loves sweet jelly; a hard weight session deserves a rest day; and bacon and leafy can be friends.
Stereotypically, paleo diehards eat steak and eggs for breakfast, grunt in Crossfit, and guzzle butter coffee. Vegans post pictures of acaí bowls on Instagram, strike downward dogs on standup paddleboards, and love their green juice. However, the two lifestyles are actually more alike than you think—at least at the core of what they are.
Here are five things paleo and vegan diets agree on (and a new dietary philosophy that bridges the gap between the two extremes—labels aside):
1. Taste the rainbow.
Get your greens (and oranges, blues, reds, and yellows) on. Paleo and vegan diets are built upon eating as nature intended, which means earth-grown foods, including the most abundant source of nutrients—plants.
2. Eliminate gluten and dairy.
Gluten and dairy are two of the most inflammatory foods on the planet, with research revealing high correlations between gluten and dairy with leaky gut, digestive distress, skin breakouts, low immunity, autoimmune disease, and brain fog. While some vegan adherents do eat gluten and gluten cross-contaminants (soy, MSG, and oats), and some Paleo adherents do eat dairy (butter, whey, and hard cheese), traditional paleo and vegan diets are gluten- and dairy-free.
3. Remove processed foods and sugar.
Traditional paleo and vegan diets emphasize the importance of minimizing the Standard American Diet, especially processed foods with additives, hydrogenated oils, and sugar. The alternative? Building your diet on real, nutrient-dense foods like nature intended. Before Tofurky or paleo cookies appeared in supermarkets, these diets consisted of proteins, vegetables, some fruits and starches, lots of water, and healthy fats.
4. It’s a way of life.
The true meaning of the word “diet” in Latin is “way of life.” Paleo and vegan diets are about more than what you eat or don’t eat—they both also entail a total lifestyle that includes fitness, personal values, financial decisions, and the people you spend time with.
5. Eat to feel your best.
Most people first adopt a paleo or vegan lifestyle in order to feel better. Whether that means losing weight, lowering inflammation, connecting to your food, balancing blood sugar, or boosting energy, the goal of feeling one’s best is what keeps people in the game for the long haul.
Paleo and vegan lifestyles are more alike than not, and if there’s one thing they both agree on it is the belief that eating real food makes you feel good.