The Paleo Diet in a (Macadamia) Nutshell
The Paleo Diet, also called the “Caveman Diet” is one that emphasize protein and minimizes carbohydrates, modeling itself after the diet of the Paleolithic Era. Some guidelines of the Paleo diet:
- Oils are restricted to those from fruits or tree nuts
- Salt should be limited
- Meat, chicken, fish, nuts (except peanuts and cashews), and eggs provide protein
- One cannot eat grains, sugar, dairy products, or potatoes
- Berry and vegetable intake should be increased
Why People are Eating like Cavemen
- The Paleo diet minimizes highly processed food, like foods with added sugar and salt
- According to the New England Journal of Medicine, “low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets [are] more effective in promoting weight loss than time-honored, low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets advocated by the American Heart Association”
- This diet advocates high amounts of natural fiber, which reduces chance of constipation, lowers cholesterol, and lower risk of coronary heart disease and diabetes
Is Meat Really So Bad For the Environment?
So the Paleo Diet may have you wondering, “Should I be eating more meat?” In spite of claims that meat is horrible for the environment, some studies have shown otherwise. Some claim:
- Grass-fed livestock is an essential part of the sustainable agriculture, “Manure revitalizes soil (in lieu of chemical fertilizers or chipped-in compost), and grazing encourages plant growth.”
- The growing popularity of soy, a staple of vegetarian diets, is responsible for intense deforestation in Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay and is often heavily processed.
- Cheese is worse for the environment than many meats, including pork and chicken.
- According to Christopher Weber and H. Scott Matthews’ study, fruits, vegetables, and cereals produce more greenhouse gas emissions from transport than those from red meat, chicken, or fish.
While the Paleo Diet does not market itself as an environmentally friendly diet, it is in many ways encouraging sustainability by emphasizing the importance of fresh foods (no processed, frozen, or prepackaged foods), nuts (aside from peanuts), seeds, and other low environmental-impact foods while encouraging a push away from high-fat and environmentally detrimental beef. Even if you don’t see the Paleo diet as “eco-friendly,” this new lifstyle choice is urging us to think critically about our food and question our nutritional intake. And there’s nothing wrong with that, right?