As we spring into a new season, there has been renewed interest in how one diet stacks up to the next. In this presentation which I made at the Functional Medicine Conference in San Francisco in Spring of 2014, I contrasted the Paleo Diet to the Mediterranean Diet and vegan and vegetarian diets.
I have always said a Paleo Diet is not a diet per se, but rather a lifelong way of eating to reduce the risk of chronic disease. Although intuitively it seems like the traditional Mediterranean diet has been with us forever, on an evolutionary perspective (30 yrs per generation), this cultural dietary adaptation is relatively recent. Genetic studies of certain Mediterranean populations show that the majority, 65%, are not genetically evolved to digest lactose, the primary sugar in cows’ milk. Further, the Mediterranean diet is not as nutritionally (vitamins and minerals) dense as the Paleo Diet and it contains considerably more salt and is clearly not gluten free.
In our Three Part Series on Veganism and Vegetarianism, I have detailed extensively why this regime is an unnatural way of eating that has no evolutionary precedence in our species. No hunter gatherer society ever consumed a meatless diet, nor should you. So without further adieu, let’s take a closer look at how a Paleo Diet really stacks up to the Mediterranean and vegetarian diets.
Loren Cordain, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus