How I Survived for 8 Weeks as a Paleo Vegetarian (and Lost 19 Pounds)

Post written by Susan Lacke.

I’m never one to back down from a challenge. If you tell me I “can’t” do something, you’ve guaranteed I’ll set out to do it.

So when my buddy Joel Runyon bragged about a new diet plan of his, I was intrigued and wanted to give it a shot for myself.

“Aww, that’s cute,” Joel smirked, “but you can’t do it.”

“Why?” I retorted.

“It’s based on the principles of a paleo diet plan. You couldn’t do it. You’re one of THOSE people. You know…” Joel leaned in and whispered, like a parent saying a dirty word in a preschool, “vegetarian.”

“Eff you, Runyon. It’s possible for the paleo diet to be adapted to the vegetarian lifestyle.”

“Prove it.”

“Fine. I will.”

The principles of paleo

If you’re unfamiliar with the paleo diet, it’s a diet that encourages “eating like a caveman.” In other words, only foods that our ancestors would have hunted or gathered. It’s what we’re “meant” to eat, say proponents, and for many, that idea translates to the notion that we’re “meant” to eat meat — lots of it.

A quick search for “vegetarian paleo” doesn’t yield much of use, other than Matt’s long post about three ways to make it work. In fact, an overwhelming majority of sources said it’d be almost impossible to sustain a paleo-vegetarian lifestyle. Some even claimed that, like our cavemen ancestors, a person would die of nutritional deficiencies if they didn’t get their hands on animal protein.

Though a dramatic assertion, it does underscore the reason animal protein is so important to the paleo diet. Most plant-based protein sources are considered inflammatory to the body to paleos, and therefore off-limits:

  • No beans.
  • No soy.
  • No rice.
  • No quinoa.
  • No grains of any kind.

Further, there’s no starchy foods, no dairy, no alcohol, no sugars (except those found naturally in fruit), and no convenience foods of any sort.

I finally understood why there were so few resources on paleo for vegetarians. Flustered, I began to wonder if I had met my match in this challenge. What the hell was I supposed to eat for the next eight weeks?

Paleo for vegetarians

Let’s mark this one in the “win” column: I survived 8 weeks as a paleo-vegetarian, and I didn’t die from protein deficiency. Meticulous tracking of my food intake allowed me to see if I was meeting my daily nutritional needs. Yes, even protein.

As it turns out, the veggie-caveman-death theory was wrong on a lot of counts.

Yes, protein sources are particularly important in a paleo diet. However, animal protein is perhaps given too much prominence. Some paleo followers claim that cavemen consumed 60 to 80 percent of their calories from protein, mostly from animal sources. But recent research shows that cavemen likely got 45 to 50 percent of their protein from … you got it, plant sources.

So where — specifically, from what plant foods — did those cavemen get their protein and fat? More importantly, where should today’s No Meat Athletes look if they want to take on a paleo diet? During my 8-week paleo experiment, I centered my diet around vegetarian, paleo-friendly staples offering the highest amounts of protein and healthy fats:

  • Almonds
  • Avocado
  • Broccoli
  • Eggs
  • Hemp Seed
  • Pistachios
  • Potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Spirulina
  • Walnuts

A rather short list, yes, but keep in mind they’re not the only foods I ate. There were plenty of other plant-based foods in my diet, but I tried to include at least two of the above items in every meal or snack. A smoothie would include hemp seed, almonds, and spinach along with frozen berries. My dinner would be a salad would be loaded with vegetables, including avocado and broccoli. A snack would be apples with almond butter and a hard-boiled egg white.

Off to a rocky start … 

The first week of the diet was a major adjustment period. In all my time as a vegetarian, I’ve never felt restricted because I “can’t” eat meat. Instead, I’ve chosen to focus on the things I can eat – which is a whole heck of a lot. But adding paleo meant learning to live without grains, dairy, and convenience foods. Suddenly, food felt incredibly constricting.

Also, my initiation into the Caveman Club meant I had to endure a nasty transition in what my body was utilizing as fuel. When your carbohydrate intake drops, your body learns to burn fat instead of sugar. It’s actually a great thing for endurance athletes to harness, since it allows for a body to use fat for fuel instead of relying on glycogen reserves, which are easily depleted.

But holy geez, the process of getting there is hard. For the first week of the diet, I felt like I had a case of the flu. I was plagued with fatigue, incoherent thoughts, pounding headache, and a lot of bonking during my workouts. All of my research told me to expect a crash, but my body didn’t just crash — it dive-bombed.

And then, on the seventh day, I woke up and felt good. Actually, I felt great.

Why being paleo-vegetarian was shockingly easy

As I adjusted to the new diet, I realized something surprising:

This isn’t so hard after all.

Yes, it was an adjustment to learn how to get enough protein without my go-to sources, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I was certain I’d constantly crave baked goods (my comfort food), but as it turns out, I could be just as satisfied with healthier, real-food alternatives. I couldn’t imagine a breakfast without oatmeal, cereal, or pancakes, but smoothies, fruit salads, and egg-white omelets loaded with fresh veggies gave me more energy than the grain-based foods.

And though it was a “diet,” I was never ravenously hungry. I always felt satiated. The nice thing about paleo diet is that it only provides guidelines for what to eat, not how much of it. In other words, if I was hungry, I could eat as much as I wanted. Only this time, instead of reaching for a nutrition bar or a coffeehouse muffin, I’d grab some veggie sticks or a bowl of fruit.

Even eating out at restaurants wasn’t all that hard, so long as I planned ahead. If friends wanted to get together for dinner, I’d suggest we meet up at a Mexican restaurant. There, I could order a veggie fajita salad with salsa and avocado instead of cheese or sour cream (which I never really liked anyway). While traveling, I could grab some nuts and fruit at convenience stores for a quick snack.

Was I perfect? Absolutely not.  There were several times where I’d find myself in a situation where the only vegetarian options weren’t paleo-friendly. If I was hungry and unable able to get my hands on something that fit within the diet, I ate the sandwich or the granola bar. And when my partner brought home a cupcake one night, I devoured every single crumb, cavemen be damned.

Overall, though, my consumption was healthier than it was previously. Aside from the sporadic indiscretions, it was a completely clean diet. I thought I did a pretty good job of eating healthy before, but taking away convenience foods forced me to eat more fruit in the morning, or to snack on vegetables instead of a Luna bar.

The surprising results (19 pounds!?)

Let me be very clear: I did not take on this challenge to lose weight. I tend to be anti-diet, advocating healthy lifestyle changes instead of temporary food restrictions. My purpose for doing this for 8 weeks was to prove that it was possible for a vegetarian to be paleo, just to quiet the peanut gallery (including Joel).

I did lose weight, though. Nineteen pounds, to be exact. As of this writing, I am at the same weight I like to be at when I race an Ironman, only I didn’t have to take on the volume of Ironman training to get there.

My body fat percentage also dropped from 29.5 to 24.9 percent. I didn’t get the six-pack abs that launched off this whole experiment, probably because I didn’t follow certain principles of Joel’s diet, including the accompanying exercise plan.

Perhaps most surprising was that I was able to sustain my long workouts on a vegetarian paleo diet. Instead of needing to rely on carbs to fuel my workouts, I burned fat. Instead of carrying gels and sugary drinks on a long ride, I carried water.

A modern-day caveman?

Lest you think I’ve gone off the deep end, I’ll have you know that I’m about to head out on a date. We’re going out for pizza, which is, well … about as non-paleo as you can get.

While this experiment was eye-opening, I’m not 100 percent sold on the idea of being a vegetarian paleo. Though it’s not impossible, it’s still a lot of work. There’s so much planning involved, and I’d like to spend less time thinking about food and more time eating it.

I’ll certainly take some principles away from these past eight weeks. For example, I’ve decided not to purchase dairy products for my home anymore. I’m also stocking my fridge and pantry with many of the same foods I had consumed during the experiment – turns out if I don’t buy crappy processed foods, I don’t eat crappy processed foods (imagine that!). I don’t plan on going back to my old breakfasts of oatmeal, since paleo-friendly breakfasts give me sustained energy every morning. I’ll also place fresh, raw fruits and vegetables high on the list of priorities, remembering how much better I feel when I opt for those instead of convenience foods.

But if, on a cold day, I want to make a bowl of chili, filled to the brim with lentils and topped with crackers, I’m going to. If I’m making a salad and want to throw some grilled tofu on top, I’m going to. And gosh darn it, if I want to eat a cupcake, I’m going to.

However, the next time someone tells me vegetarians can’t follow a paleo diet, I’ll be quick to share my eight-week experiment. It’s not as impossible as they might imagine.

“I know,” I’ll say, “because I’m one of THOSE people. You know…vegetarian.

About the Author: Susan Lacke, No Meat Athlete’s Resident Triathlete and author of the No Meat Athlete Triathlon Roadmap, is a writer from Phoenix, Arizona. When she isn’t subjecting herself to ridiculous experiments in the name of good storytelling, she can be found filling up Matt’s inbox with annoying e-mails and training for Ironman Arizona. “Like” her on Facebook for her latest in Competitor, Triathlete, and Women’s Running Magazines.



Dig this post?
Spread the word!

Keep in touch:

Everything that Might Be Missing from Your Plant-Based Diet (and Nothing Else!)

1bottle-square-no-sub-250I believe that plant-based is the healthiest way you can eat -- both for how you feel and perform in the short term, and for long-term health. But there are a few nutrients that are hard to get from plants, and I didn't want to take a whole multivitamin with so much extra that I'm already getting from my food. That's why I created Complement Plus, the perfect nutrient formula for plant-based athletes.

Complement Plus brings together, in one place, the essential nutrients that are missing from a reasonably diverse, whole food plant-based diet:
  • B12
  • D3
  • DHA/EPA Omega-3s
  • K2
  • Minerals like zinc, iodine, and selenium
It's everything that might be missing from your plant-based diet, with nothing extra. Click here to learn more.


  1. this is fascinating! as a vegan, i myself have been quite curious about this caveman diet and wondered if it was possible. i kind of want to do it as an experiment and to challenge myself. thank you for this post!

  2. That’s quite a feat. I’ve found that even removing gluten from my vegetarian diet is tough, and had to start adding nutritional yeast and pea protein powder to my foods. How did you make sure your amino acid intake was complete?

    • Susan Lacke says:

      Diana, I used the SELF nutrition tracker ( to log my food. This allowed me to see if I was getting enough variety, and to change course when I wasn’t. If someone were to take on the experiment for themselves, I’d definitely suggest nutrition logging, especially for the first few weeks.

      • Christopher A says:

        i love that website! just recently i’ve been utilizing the feature of adding foods that aren’t on the website to my ‘My Foods’ list by uploading their nutritional facts. good to know that another athlete uses! Nice article

        • I was looking for a tracking website and subscribed for the website Susan used. I had some trouble using it; there were some errors and I didn’t get how to use it (I’m pretty sure impatience killed the cat, not curiosity). So I found the CRON-O-Meter, which might be a good alternative for the ones having the same problem as I had (

          • I love the Cronometer! It is customizable and easy to use. The free version was more than sufficient for my needs.

    • Has anyone made any progress on finding good amino acid combinations for vegans since Diana asked about this in her 2012 post?

      I know many vegans emphasize that we don’t need to be scrupulous about combining amino acids to make complete proteins in a single meal, or even a sing day. But if we’re considering a dietary shift away from grains, we cannot be reassured by that. We still need to combine our proteins well over the course of several days.

      Here is some background to my question. Legumes are nutrient dense in many ways, including protein. But legume protein is low in two amino acids that our bodies cannot make: methionine and cysteine. For this reason legumes have traditionally been combined with grains, which are high in these two amino acids. Grains are low in another amino acid our bodies cannot make, lysine. Legumes are high in lysine. For this reason, legume and grain proteins are said to be complimentary.

      The above leaves out some of the other amino acids we can’t make, but pretty well explains the reason legumes and grains form a complete protein. Two other amino acids that our bodies can’t make, and that some vegetable proteins are low in, are isoleucine and tryptophan. Since legumes and grains both have a moderate amount of these, we don’t need to combine legumes and grains to get enough of these.

      Unfortunately, grains are not a nutrient dense food. They are very high in starch and low in phytonutrients. So, what are some nutrient dense sources of methionine and cysteine? Or, in simpler terms, what is a good alternative to grains as a way to compliment legume protein?

    • What is and where do I get and how do you fix neutrino all yeast? Isn’t yeast what you put in bread so is this different? I am vegetarian for the most part but I eat cheese and eggs. I still have a problem with excess weight! As a vegetarian in my 20’s I lost 70 pounds. Now as a middle aged adult I can’t ahead 30 of those I gained back in my late 30’s. I also do eat meat because as a SDA we tend to feel the plant based diet was what was originally intended for man. Then my thinking too is didn’t cavemen die early over diseases?
      So to me meat eating isn’t all that healthy either. Now with that being said my sister is paleo and lost 50 pounds at age 50! She is older then me! So there is something there so I have been wanting to do this!
      But I don’t want to eat meat still. Can you tell me if there is a menu of easy recipes or a meal plan grocery list? Thanks so much

      • nutritional yeast is yummy and totally satisfies that cheese craving. I can get it at local healthy foods shops, but its can also be bought online and amazon stocks it

  3. Chuck Rose (@crose6584) says:

    Great article! I think I’ll try this too!

  4. I am THRILLED you wrote this. I’m devoted to Mark’s Daily Apple, a paleo blog, and I’m one of those people who have been googling “vegetarian-paleo” with almost no luck.” Any chance you would post a weekly menu of what you ate? I’d love to use it as a guideline/blueprint to try this myself.

    And on the subject of fruit, I know paleo allows it, but isn’t it limited? How much fruit did you actually eat each day?

    Congrats on the experiment and thanks again for such an encouraging post.

    • Susan Lacke says:

      It wasn’t really all that limited, at least not in my opinion. I’ve always preferred vegetables over fruit anyway, which is what the paleo plan encouranges. As for the menu, it’s not a bad idea! Perhaps for a follow-up post!

      • Excellent post. I would also be very interested in a seeing sample meal plan/menu if you decide to do a follow-up post.

      • I would also love to see a weekly menu!!

      • Cynthia says:

        As would I!!

      • I don’t think its limited either, I use vegetables to make noodles with my spiralizer, and to make rice/couscous using my food processor. I use big green leaves to make wraps, have used other vegetables to make buns or open sandwiches. So many options, its just a different way of eating – replace grains with vegetables. I also make tortilla wraps using egg whites, eggs, blended vegetables (usually 1/2 an onion and some green leaves) and a very small amount of coconut flour. I ferment as many vegetables as I can, and liberally use nutritional yeast. I make lovely raw cakes on occasion if I fancy something a bit special – I absolutely love my diet, and spend very little time thinking about it or prepping food – once its a way of life, its a lot less effortful

  5. Well done Susan! This is a really interesting experiment. I’ve been considering cutting significantly back on soy and grains to see how that felt, but I think it would be really hard to do it all together.

    I’m glad you proved to all those Paleo-natics that us NMAs can be cavepeople too!

  6. Hey Susan! Having read your posts for a very long time (since your first here on NMA) I think I understand a little bit how hard it was for you to give up the cupcakes. 😉 Super excited to hear it went so well for you. As always I’m glad you and Matt take on these challenges and share with us.

  7. I have been a paleo vegetarian for 7 months. What made this transition possible for me was the fact that you can now get eggs from certified humane sources. If I couldn’t eat eggs, I personally would not be able to be a paleo vegetarian. I have worked hard on my diet and it’s gone through many stages in those 7 months. I’ve lost 26 pounds.

    Dairy is not a plant-based protein. 🙂 I find that I don’t like how I feel when I eat cheese every day, but I do fine with full-fat yogurt (humane source) a couple times a week. As I understand it dairy is in the grey zone, meaning it’s up to the individual whether or not it fits into their personal paleo plan. I had been hoping to eat humane cheese as a protein source, but it just didn’t work out for me.

    I would recommend sweet potatoes over white potatoes. Also it’s squash season, yay. I don’t eat a lot of spinach but I eat lots of kale. I don’t eat walnuts but I do eat macadamia nuts. Better fat profile.

    • Alice – same question to you. Any chance you could send me a sample meal plan of what/how you eat?

      • I would be happy to share information on what I eat. I don’t know if it would be appropriate to put the information here so I’ll contact you through your web page.

        • I also would be interested in information about your meal plan. I think paleo vegetarian might be the direction I’m headed. I’m not sure how we could get in touch without tons of spam (so sad). I know you mentioned someone else’s webpage. Maybe something could be posted there that I could access??

        • Brian Karim says:

          Send me the meal plan as well.
          karim.brian at gmail dot com

          • Nicole Lees says:

            I have recently been told I need to follow a Paleo Diet with my medical condition but I am a vegetarian(but I dont eat dairy) and was devistated to hear this news.
            Then I cam across some articles including this one and saw I could be a vegetarian Paleo!!!
            So Excited.
            I see you may have shared some meal plans/recipes/ideas and was wondering if I could also receive that information?
            It would be a great help!

            Thank you,

            cookingnicole at aim dot come

        • Hi Alice- I have started veg-Paleo for few days and find it hard to search for new recipes. I would love to see your meal plans as well. It will be very helpful for me. Thanks !

      • I would love to see your meal plans as well. i find them very helpful to look at.


      • I was wondering if I could also have your sample meal plan too. It would be very helpful and greatly appreciated!

    • Susan Lacke says:

      D’oh! You’re right. Let me go in there and amend that so it’s in the right list. 🙂

    • OK I will write it all up and email it out to you 3 a little later today. I have linked my web page to this comment so if I miss anybody who comes here later, you can find me that way.

    • Can u please send the meal plan to me too?

      Also what is ur average calorie and macronutrient percentage/grams?

      What body composition and athletic changes occured?
      Petluvr10 at aol dot com


    • I would love the meal plan as well. I saw that you mentioned you would attach to post but I don’t seem to be able to locate it. I joined a crossfit gym and most say a veg diet doesn’t work. I know it will and a meal plan would be ever so helpful halesmeg _at_ gmail

      Thanks a bunch

    • VEgaN=LovE says:

      Humane dairy? There is no such thing. More humane than factory farm dairy, maybe? I<3 Vegetarians for the efforts they make but, have you ever breastfed? Its really hard on the body, and the hormones are really intense–especially if the milk is not going to a little baby cow. Plus, there are so many cows, they are ruining the planet with their feces, food/water intake, and their giant carbon hoove-prints.

    • jemimallah says:

      where did you find these humane eggs? are you raising them yourself? if not, i can only assume that these eggs must be extremely expensive, given that the establishment producing them would have spend 75% of its of its resources catering for chickens who don’t produce any eggs (males, laid-out hens).

    • I really apologize for the confusion and upset regarding my offer of my meal plan (as seen further down in the comments). I am not affiliated with this blog. Around the time of these requests for my offer, I was in surgery for a kidney stone. I now believe that my diet had too many high-oxalate vegetables. I have been diagnosed with hyperoxaluria and am in treatment. As a result of all this I would prefer not to share my diet plan. Again, apologies.

      • Hi Alice, you have my sympathy! I too ended up being hospitalised with renal colic some months into my new clean diet. I significantly cut back on the greens which helped a lot, and since I started drinking kombucha tea, I have not experienced any kidney pain at all

    • 7 months, amazing! I would also love to hear some of your meal plan recommendations, as well as an update on how you are doing now. Also what is your workout regime like? nourishny at g mail

  8. In the words of Barney Stinson from “How I Met Your Mother”…CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! Thanks for the motivation….When I became Vegan, without realizing it, I did the Paleo Vegetarian thing and have recently gotten a little lazy with some processed vegan foods. It’s time to get back on track and to get creative in the kitchen again.


    • Wondering if we can get some sort of group challenge together for those vegetarians among us who want to try it? Maybe an 8-week challenge, set it up as a FB page, check in, encourage each other. Hmmm..

      Anyone interested? If so, I’d be willing to set up the FB page for us.

    • Susan Lacke says:

      That will be LEGEN – wait for it – DARY.

      You touched on one of the things I didn’t mention in this post – the creativity in the kitchen. I found myself cooking more, which was a good thing. Even when I said I “didn’t have time” to cook a meal, I did. It forced me to re-think how I approached food – it takes the same amount of time to throw together a salad as it does to order a pizza.

  9. Impressive! As a vegetarian and an athlete, I’ve always assumed Paleo was completely off limits to me.

    Now you’ve shown it can be done! Although, truthfully, I still think I’d be hungry all the time…

    • Yes Krista, you would be hungry much of the time….grains are the fuel of winners..wholesome carbs that have fueled the world for centuries. I am an 80 yr old high performance athlete in four different sports and grains are my fuel basis. The Paleo diet of eating dead animals while avoiding the benefit of grains is for the looneys, but obviously someone is making money from this unscientific, untested nonsense. Happy veggies…..

      • Boy are you wrong here. Of all the inflammatory foods we put in our bodies grains, especially wheat are the most inflammatory of all. I am a vegan but have gone of of grains completely and feel great.

        • Larry, I have never seen a scientifically valid proof source for your statement on inflammation caused by grains…What is the mechanism behind this inflammation? .If you Google the “Blue Zones of Longevity” those 5 areas where people routinely live to be centenarians, you will see that various grains were their primary food source…..I make various grains a major daily source of food and am 80 yrs old, competeing in 4 sports and holding world records in some of them. It is, of course, possible for some people to be allergic to anything…Regards. Terry

        • Hi,

          I listened to a podcast by JJ Virgin recently in which she shared some research that said the gluten and wheat in Italy was much different than the one in USA & didn’t cause the same allergic reactions. The reason, unsurprisingly, was that wheat (and indeed many other grains) in USA was genetically modified.

          I live in India. About 60-70% of our population of 1.25 billion thrives on wheat. Gluten intolerance and celiac is almost unheard of (except among expats who’ve lived in western countries.)

          It’s unfair to blame the grains when it’s really us humans that have mutated it to such an extent that our bodies no longer recognize or assimilate it. We really need to stand up & speak out against the corporations that promote GMO.

  10. Loved reading this! I know it is probably a lot of work for you but would love to see a couple of your ‘usual’ meal days including how much you ate. (Nosy I know…) 🙂

  11. Fascinating post! Thank you so much for sharing. What quantity of eggs were you consuming? Do you think you would have succeeded without eggs? I ask, of course, because I’m vegan!

    • Susan Lacke says:

      Quantity-wise, not that much. Usually one whole egg or two egg whites a day, either scrambled with a bunch of veggies for an omelet or a hard-boiled egg as a snack.

  12. Great post! I know a few friends who follow the paleo diet, and I never thought it could be doable as a vegetarian. Interesting to know it can be done!

  13. Johnna Jackson says:

    I’ve been following a Paleo-vegan diet for the past several months. When i decided to try it I found it near impossible to find blogs or research online!! It’s definitely been a unique experience.

    For me I have found that I do feel better eliminating grains and soy. I haven’t eaten beans for a couple of years so that wasn’t a hardship. I get a lot of pushback from my CrossFit box that my lifestyle can’t lead to success in the athleticism department. However my results usually speak for themselves and I’ve competed in CrossFit competitions twice already in the past four months. It CAN be done. It requires a lot of thought and time … And dedication!

    I too would be interested in seeing meal plans. I tend to eat the same food over and over and it gets a little boring.

    Great article!!

  14. I’m curious as to why you didn’t eat any starchy foods. I’m pretty sure starchy tubers are allowed on (some interpretations of?) a paleo diet, lots of non-industrial peoples (South Pacific mostly) ate cassava and sweet potato in large quantities . Congrats on your success!

    • Susan Lacke says:

      I didn’t eschew them completely. I did eat potatoes (sweet potatoes, actually) very sporadically. Though they are considered paleo, they’re seen as more of a “treat” and not a “staple.”

  15. How awesome! As a vegetarian, I never thought I could follow a Paleo diet and this totally debunked that. Kudos to you for sticking with it for 8 whole weeks…and 19lbs..that might be a reason just to TRY it. 🙂

  16. According to Dr. T. Campbell, one would literally have to be starving to death to not be getting enough protein. Therefore, a protein deficency is an indication of a much worst nutrition situation.

    Also, I don’t think cavemen had access to spirulina.

    • Spirulina and hemp were two items that were a question mark at first for me. But after asking around in various paleo circles, I did get the okay, since they are “clean” – that is, not processed.

      Also, cavemen didn’t have access to blenders for smoothies. Or George Foreman grills. Or anything I used in the 8 weeks of this experiment. Also, they didn’t have access to T. Campbell. and comment boards on blogs. I can sleep at night knowing I consumed spirulina.

  17. Okay… I made a down and dirty FB page: Let’s start sharing ideas and recipes on how to be paleo-vegetarians.

  18. A couple of years ago I tried following the Thrive plan pretty stringently. I know there are some differences from Paleo, but I feel like its pretty similar. I only did it for 3 weeks, but lost 5 pounds and remember feeling terrific. For once in my life I actually got out of bed in the morning and felt refreshed. I stopped due to plain old laziness, but you may have just pushed me back into giving it another go. I’d be very interested in a meal plan follow up post!

    • That’s exactly what I said, too – there really isn’t much difference between the two “camps,” other than the presence of meat. That’s why I’m not convinced so much it’s the “paleo” thing that made this diet so effective, but the “quit eating so much crap ” thing.

      • My chiropractor is an athlete (cross-fit fiend, actually) and follows the paleo diet. He and I have had a few discussions about carnivore paleo and a vegan diet. We agreed that it was the unprocessed part of the diet that would benefit most people, especially those people who ate the standard american diet. I asked him how stringent he was about the grass-finished beef, pasture-raised chicken part…and he said he tries hard. He was sort of aware of factory farming, but did not have an animal-advocate’s view on that system. He has never suggested that a sensible vegan/plant-based diet is bad for one’s health, so I give him credit for respecting my views.

      • Susan Lacke. I’ve been eating Paleo for about 3-4 years. Now and then I slip and slide around with ice cream, cheese and wheat but definitely NO other dairy or grains. I love Paleo but also have recently been toying with the idea of eating less to no animal protein. I stopped eating beef about a year ago so now eat a lot of fish and chicken. I’m also experimenting with eating 6 small meals/snacks per day. I’ve lost weight and cleared up a couple of health issues I had. I found your article fascinating, informative and very helpful/encouraging. Thanks. I have to say, though, for someone who is as fit and health conscious as you are, I was really surprised by how much processed food and sugar you ate before. To my way of thinking, eliminating that kind of thing from my eating is a no-brainer. Wish you the best and continued success.

  19. Can you follow up with a weekly meal plan?

  20. I would love to participate in a group effort! I am not on FB though. Been there, done that, got hacked, dumped FB.

    Getting back to clean eating is always good and I love to do it around the holidays as extra incentive to stay on track. I need to give coffee up…again.

  21. if i lost 19lbs i’d disappear

  22. wow I don’t know how you managed to do that, I tried cutting grains and felt like I was just eating potatoes ALL THE TIME just to get carbs up! Everyone is different though!
    ps you won’t see 6-pack at 24% body fat. for women you need to be around 15% 😉

  23. What a great place this is. Found it last night and all because I googled “can I do an ironman”! Some very inspirational articles on here.

    Great article too Susan, glad that you found it so easy in the end. I can attest that vegetarian paleo is VERY possible as that is the way that I have been living for the last two years. I manage 3000 – 4000 kcal per day on this type of diet and am leaner, fitter and mentally sharper than I have been in a long long time. I strength train and endurance train fasted and I also practice intermittent fasting every day, ala Martin Berkhan (basically skipping breakfast). It sounds extreme I know but it works well for me. Not done any competition yet but am doing my first tri next year so will be interesting to see how I hold up with my dietary lifestyle.

    Ultimately you have to use science as a guideline and not a law when it comes to both training and diet. Sports physiology is still in its infancy and unfortunately is too snobbish to investigate some topics. I find this extremely frustrating having been involved in it for 10 years now. You have to your own experiment until you crack what works for you. It is refreshing to see people taking this approach.

  24. Hey there!

    Funny thing, I actually came across this blog because of Matt’s article on how to adapt the paleo diet to a vegetarian lifestyle. And after that I already started to wonder if there will ever be an article as worthy of reading again – that’s when this one was published!
    Anyhow, even before I discovered this blog and way before your article I have been experimenting with a vegan / vegetarian paleo diet. In the beginning it made me loose quite a lot of weight (~ 10 kg), partly because I was not eating enough and partly because I was eating the wrong things. Also I think I went through most stages of malnutrition – protein-deficiency, fat-deficiency… except for vitamin-deficiencies of course.
    I don’t think it is sensible to stick religiously to the food restrictions of non-veg paleo diets especially since some of them just seem so artificial to me… and it really is close to impossible to achieve thriving on a veg paleo diet with these food restricitions on the long run. I never doomed legumes, but started sprouting them or – to eat those I was unsure whether or not sprouting was enough – soaking them to get rid of phytotoxines and it really helped me get rid of most intestinal problems (bloating, diarrhea, gas) and be sure to get enough protein.
    Incorporating eggs was another important step for me to reach my protein-needs. Since my partner and I have been raising (rescued) chicken I got eggs from the most humane source I could imagine and I can live with them now. After living as a freegan before you can only get better as far as nutrition goes. But eggs are only the second best veg paleo breakfast eversince I discovered Chufli, which is tigernut meal. The tigernut is quite starchy (30% starch, 25% fat and only 7 % protein, which for a vegan protein source actually isn’t that bad) and I don’t know if paleo-gurus would consider it paleo, but it’s one of the things where I think my common sense overweighs religious restrictions.
    Maybe one day I’ll share my journey as well, but since it’s not just an experiment, but a constant change of my lifestyle with the ultimate goal of optimal health and fitness it may take another year or two 😉
    And by the way, I’m gaining back the pounds I lost week by week, maintaining a body fat of 10 per cent and that’s what I wanted to accomplish. I’m aiming for 165 lbs now, imagine there was a time when I weighed in at 140 lbs (@ 5″8′)!

    Have heart

  25. Just a couple of omments:
    Totally agree with the fact that protein deficiency is pretty much impossible if you take in enough calories. Additionally human breast milk is “only 5% fat” and yet human babies manage to grow and thrive on that and only that.
    Also the diet you describe sounds a lot like high raw vegan. I have been switching to a raw vegan diet, which is probably more paleo than the so-called paleo diet, no cooking and nothing refined.
    I am having some problems with it because I have a major chocolate tooth…otherwise I am feeling great and am getting over an injury much better than I thought. The big question will be how well will my workouts go once I can work out again.
    Btw, I love your site and proidly wear your shirt on runs…esp as I am passing the “beef” athletes…lol

    • 55% of Human breast milk calories comes from fat, it is 87.5% water, so most of the calories come from fat.
      So I guess fat is more important then carbs and protein.

  26. I am impressed that you pulled this off and found it relatively easy after the first week. That’s great. I’m on a GF diet (have been for the past three years, with a few regrettable slip-ups) and have tried – with not much success – to follow a vegan lifestyle on top of that. I found that having so many restrictions does get pretty burdensome, especially when you travel a lot and/or when your friends like to socialize around food. It does require a lot of preparation, planning, and thought – which is fine, but time-consuming.

    Anyway. Not the exact same situation – since I have little desire to go paleo – but I know how difficult the food restrictions can be and applaud you for overcoming that challenge.

  27. As an archaeology major, the term “paleo diet” makes me cringe, since the science behind the paleo diet (“this is what our ancestors ate”) is completely wrong. I’m glad that it works for people, but it’s not what our ancestors ate. *Phew. Sorry, just had to get that out there. It really bugs my colleagues and professors.

    • I really am glad that the paleo diet works for people, but the historical background for it just isn’t there (I like this spoof article that accurately sums up most of the archaeological arguments against the name: ). I know it’s just splitting hairs, but the “diet of our ancestors” just isn’t close to the current paleo diet. I am glad people are finding a way to make paleo vegetarian. The more no meat athletes we have, the better. I get crap for my NMA singlet in races from the current paleo crowd, so I’m probably also a little testy about the diet.

      • Dr Graham Sayer says:

        Kate is absolutely correct….also you seem to forget that the cavemen that you wish to emulate had the shortest lifespans of any group in history….the blue zones of longevity show a mostly vegetarian diet (and lots of grains) is the way to become a centenarian…and what is all this nonsense about gluten being harmful?

        • Dr. Graham you are another ignorant doctor.

          • Why is that Tom? Please elucidate. Do you (like many meat eaters) have a guilty conscience about killing & eating dead animals?
            I am 80 years old and still involved in four different sports holding world top ranking in one of them & all this on a diet of grains and plant foods. I spent many years as a jungle doctor amongst primitive peoples in Third World countries and admired how fit they were on plant diets with a little fish thrown in..(Solomon Islands, Bougainville, Papua New Guinea).
            There are now numerous papers linking the consumption of animals with many diseases and a shortened lifespan. A dozen well-constructed medical trials alone linking red meat consumption with increased risk of CVD, stroke, diabetes, hepatocellular carcinoma and certain cancers, the latest medical trial being “Daniel et al: Large prospective investigation of meat intake, related mutagens and renal cell carcinoma Am J Clin Nutr 2012 (1) 155-162.

            Meat is a second class protein. The animals being killed for meat consumption all obtained their protein from the grass or grain that they ate….by then eating them, you are getting the protein second-hand. They are all vegetarians just like the longest living animals on earth..all vegetarians. Additionally, a detailed examination of human anatomy and physiology demonstrates that humans were designed to be plant eaters. As for being superfit, well many of the worlds toughest athletes and ironmen/ironwomen are vegetarians (including Hugh Jackman who gained some 10kgs of muscle for the Wolverine film series by eating only plant foods. Last years’Tough Mudder World Champion female contestant was Juliana Sproules, a vegan. (This is a Special Forces combat course contest)
            I do realise, and I empathise with you, just how hard it is to make the transition to a healthy plant diet. Let me know how you go in your goal of healthy eating, superfitness and longevity. Regards Graham

  28. When I switched to a vegan diet this summer I started by following Dr. Graham’s 80-10-10 diet (80% carbs, 10% fat, 10% protein) and I felt great. In short it involves eating A LOT of fruit and green leafy veggies.I could get up at 5:30am, take care of my daughter, then work 12-13h, come home at 9pm and head out for an hour run and feel great and then still wake up the next day at 5:30am feeling rested.

    I’m still a vegan but has added more items to my diet such as quinoa, beets, more nuts, etc. but truly believe that staying away from processed foods is very important since it adds a lot of “toxins” that your body has to remove and the micro nutrient levels are low. I also try to minimize grains since I feel more sluggish after eating them. I also stay away from dairy since I noticed reduced energy levels the next day (and my sinuses are plugged).

    I start each day with a large smoothie with fruit, berries, beets, kale, spinach, nuts, hemp seeds, Maca, Spirulina, etc and it’s a great way to load lots of nutrients in an easy to digest format.

    Be creative and it’s not as hard as you think to eat awesome foods and still stick to a whole food plant based diet. The biggest hurdle I find is more of a social issue (dinner with friends etc) than craving other things.

  29. I’ve been doing a paleo-vegetarian diet for the past few months, and while it was tough at first, I definitely feel much better. Great post!

  30. It is incredible to learn that you can be a sports person without leaving veg. Marathon and many sports need a lot of physical fitness and it is great info for veggies like me.

  31. Dr Graham Sayer says:

    To be considered gluten intolerant, you must have inherited one or both of the faulty genes HLA DQ2/HLADQ8, but, even then only around one in thirty approx. of those people will develop celiac disease, that is, gluten intolerance.
    Pathology tests for confirmation are: 1. A check on IgA and Ig G plus total immunological levels measured by blood sample, and 2. small bowel biopsy to examine for villous atrophy, and 3. Further gene testing of HLA genes by blood sample or buccal mucosa scrape, if above tests are inconclusive, however, test 2 is the gold standard.
    It is most unfortunate that many people have self-diagnosed themselves as being gluten intolerant thus depriving themselves of a valuable nutrient.

    • I’m not gluten intolerant, but I definitely feel WAY better physically/energy-levels/emotionally/mentally when I don’t eat it.

    • How is gluten a valuable nutrient? You can get more than sufficient vitamins and other nutrients from a variety of other foods. If you feel better when not eating wheat and balance your diet accordingly, what’s wrong with avoiding gluten?

      • Are you sure that you don’t just imagine that you are feeling better? This avoidance of gluten is just another fad, and there’s no shortage of them, a new fad/trend pops up every month….have you had a blood test for IG’s and a small bowel biopsy to demonstate gluten intolerance? Grains are ironman food…Meat predisposes you to certain cancers and CVD …If you must follow this Paleo fad, then do it the vegetarian way and live longer and healthier..

        • Grant – I’m basing it on when I was raw vegan (aside from bee products) and started added sprouted breads back into my diet. When I switched to gluten-free grains the fogginess/energy dip went away. I’ll note, in addition to being vegan and GF, I avoid processed sugar and soy. Sure, it may be something else in the bread or whatever it is I’m eating with the gluten however, after ongoing observation of how I feel after I eat gluten, that seems to be it. I won’t contest the possibility I imagine feeling better, though placebo effect is unlikely.

          • That’s all good Naya, you must “listen ” to your body..if it works for you then stay with it.

  32. I’ve been a vegetarian for years but lately I am getting more and more interested in the direction of the paleo diet (minus the meat). I’ve tried Tim Ferris’ Slow Carb Diet and I feel so much better on a diet without the grains and the processed carbs. What I am struggling with is getting enough protein and calories without them. Merely replacing all carbs with legumes is getting a little boring over time (and there is only so many kidney beans I can eat). I can totally relate to Susan’s experience of bonking and general symptoms of carb withdrawal. It’s a real balancing act so far.

    But anyway, thanks for the great post!

  33. I’ve been searching for a vegan-paleo diet for ages. For some reason you guys aren’t on the first page (Yes google sucks) Anyways, thanks to my non vegan friend, I’m on this page, reading your post. Do you have like a weekly menu by chance? I just want something I could work with.

  34. There is so much interest for a paleo vegetarian diet that I started a website: We’ll do a January PV eating challenge. Would LOVE sample eating plans to share from those of you already doing the pv thing? 🙂

  35. would love a meal plan/recipies if possible 🙂

  36. This is quite interesting! I kept reading about the Paleo diet and thinking how in the world could I ever do this? I am curious as to how you feel during workouts now, since you mention it was really hard at first. I feel like when I don’t eat carbs, I don’t have any energy for runs. And you feel fine on just water at this point?

  37. So interesting! I’m a vegetarian and my family has recently made the switch to Paleo. I kind of want to try it now. Thank you for the post!

  38. This website is so helpful! We are transitioning to a vegan diet and I had just been succeeding on the paleo (weight loss, no food cravings,,,) However our 8th grader challenged us to go vegan. What foods to eat without setting off the inflammation again? Thanks for the list of food.

  39. Me and my sister are following vegetarian paleo diet for the past 6 months, we feel much much better. I eat approx 5-8 eggs a day, use natural whey protein shakes after workouts and take fish oil capsules, also add high fat dairy like butter and cream and gauda cheese.
    I Eat plenty of vegetables, one fruit a day, sweet potatoes, almonds and nuts, drink coconut milk and use coconut oil in my coffee, eat a lot of dark 85% chocolate.
    I am much leaner and stronger then I was before, my energy level are very high. I feel great overall, I used to be tired all time.

    • Ariel, that’s awesome…. Can u post what a typical days meals/snacks looks like so we can see how u implement this meal by meal (like what ur usual bf, lunch, dinner snacks specifically consist of)? That would be so helpful. Also, what macronutrient ratios/percentages/grams and cals do u shoot for?

      How long have u ate this way and what results have u noticed? What kind of athlete are u?

      Thanks so much!!!!!

  40. Hilary Pearce says:

    thanks for your piece on the Vegetarian Paleo diet. I’m a vegetarian (mostly vegan diet) with no weight problems and a fairly athletic build. I’m about to start the Impossible Abs for pretty much the same reason as yours: curiosity, challenge and possible results of a leaner figure. I’m sceptical of fad diets that restrict foods, i believe a varied and balanced diet is essential for health and body function. Weight loss is not important, healthy organs are! A Ferrari body ain’t nothing if it’s got a Dodge engine, but I can’t knock it til I try it 🙂 The hardest part is going to be no tofu or quinoa, I eat and love them everyday. I don’t usually eat eggs but feel I will have to eat them on this program which is disappointing. I also love my weekend beer, that will be a killer. This is going to be HARD.

  41. Interesting post. My favorite quote was the one about preferring to spend more time actually eating your food instead of planning how and when to eat. That is so true. The Paleo diet seems to take too much effort and planning. I can be pretty organized but this seems a hell lot of work! No matter how healthy you are, you still have to give yourself some breaks, otherwise you will end up alienating family and friends for being a “picky eater”. What do you think about this?

  42. Paleo-ish Vegan (Find me on Facebook) says:

    Thank you for the great information. I enjoyed reading your post. I have recently started a facebook blog about being a paleo-ish vegan. No grains, no sugar, no legumes, no tubers (potatoes), no animal products. Minimal processed foods. Coffee in the mornings, wine on a occasion, raw when I can.

  43. Live Food! says:

    These faux “paleos” like your friend Runyon really get on my nerves. They act like they’ve “discovered” something new (or old) when us raw foodists have been eating grainless (and non-cooked) for decades now already.

    And I can’t believe they buy into the outdated protein myth. Protein is found in almost everything we eat – whether vegan, vegetarian or non-vegetarian. Its a non issue.
    As a raw vegan I get more than enough protein from dark leafy greens and sprouts.

    And most of the so called “paleos” I know are over-weight and without vibrance because they eat too much meat and not raw greens. The raw vegans on the other hand are all healthy, vibrant and youthful looking (check youtube, we’ve got thousands of vids).

    Here are 3 living food/raw food pyramids;
    and the one I follow which emphasizes wheatgrass and algae at the top;
    and another one for good measure;

  44. Terry Ryder says:

    The correct name for the fad diet “Paleo” is the “Faileo “diet. Follow it and your lifespan will be very much shortened just as our so-called cavemen lives were very brief. Legumes, soy, rice and grains together with fruit are the fuel of athletic champions and centenarians. Meat eaters are digging their own graves with their teeth….arrhg

  45. Come on all you vegans & vegetarians….Why are you being side-tracked by this nonsensical fad Paleo crap? You should already know that you are eating healthy, so stay with it…Anyhow, there will be another fad celebrity diet along next week….can’t wait for the next revelation from morons who are always looking for something new….OMG

    • Well, didn’t have to wait long….the new fad is the 5 – 2 diet, which means that you eat on five days and fast on two days, but not consecutive days. Actually, not a total fast, in that, you can eat up to 600 cals. They claim this diet will lose weight effectively…..Well yes, as soon as you reduce your intake you will lose that excess fat…but the never empty, never full mantra is better..and it’s taken for granted that you are eating plants and fruits, not roadkill… (Incidentally, because my children are waiting for their inheritance, they would like me to return to a meat based diet and thereby drastically shorten my lifespan…no way..haha )

      • Those misguided persons trying the Paleo diet should now look at the scientic report just published March 11, 2013 in The Lancet medical journal,,ref: “Atherosclerosis Evident in Four Ancient Populations, Including Hunter-Gatherers, Medscape pub
        CT whole body scans were performed on mummies taken from four geographical regions, Egypt, Peru, Puebloans, and hunter-gatherers from Aleutian Islands. Researchers were able to identify atherosclerosis in more than one third of the mummies. None of these groups were vegetarian and all ate meat and or fish as part of their diet.

  46. YAY!!! I’m glad I happened to find this 🙂
    I’m on my first day of my paleo experiment, I did a month without gluten, processed sugar (I switched to honey, it was a tiny amount left anyway), and most dairy products (I sometimes eat cheese and even not strict paleo have them, at least the hard ones), I had to be creative but I even got nearer and nearer to paleo just because my body desired doing so. I never planned to reach it (I don’t see why I should give up peas, for example) but I wanted to prove or check a few things. I’ve read paleo converts vegetarians into meat lovers in no time and I seriously doubted it. I’m not 100% vegetarian but I don’t eat meat in every month (and not any meat, I don’t dig the ways of food industry, you know). I can’t imagine I’d change my ways, I have multiple very good reasons not to eat meat except very occassionally.
    Doing this diet is challenging but doesn’t seem impossible for me, it’s good I eat tasty eggs from the neighbourhood and my favourite raw vegan recipes help too 😉
    Today I fought hard to satiate my hunger, I’m sure tomorrow will be easier, I got some ideas. And now that I see others could do it and they didn’t even endanger their life :D, I’m even more relaxed. But my body will tell me if it needs something anyway 😉

    • Shi NIN…leave out the eating of dead animals and just try the vegetarian side. No human can ever be sure of reaching their full life potential if they make the eating of flesh a main part of their diet…Paleo is a passing nonsensical fad and those misguided people advocating it seem to forget that the original followers of this diet had the planets shortest lifespan, just 16 to 25 years, depending which researchers/guessers you choose to quote….After switching to a full vegetarian diet some years ago, and now being a superfit athlete, I intend to live to 130 years old and be a grumpy old annoying bastard…haha

      • Well, 2-3 pounds of meat per year couldn’t be called “main part of my diet” I guess 🙂 I doubt it has any effect on my health except it raises my spirits because I carefully choose what I eat those times. I was full vegetarian for 1.5 years by the way. I don’t know the meat based diet because mine never was like that.
        I don’t even care what the caveman ate, definitely totally different things than me or any modern man. The soil, the plants are way different now. It’s just a funny name, people doing paleo just wish to be healthy and energic. I never believe in diets, I listen to my body and my body wish to live in an almost paleo way. I don’t plan to be 100% paleo in the long run, I never follow anything I don’t feel it’s good for me. I just try this for a little while 😉 I don’t know exactly what will be my ideal diet yet… I just did some big changes and I won’t go back to eating gluten/lactose/processed sugar, that’s sure. I buy ingredients and try to use much of it raw. I like this direction, it just gets more and more enjoyable 😀

        I probably will live over 100 myself, I plan to go hiking on my 100th birthday with my oh so younger boyfriend (he will be 97 that time). Genetics are okay, I work on the others 😉

    • Terry and shi: can u post ur daily diet? I’d love to see what u both do

      • Hi there is a sample:
        wake up to train around 3.30 am and have tea and toast with Marmite spread. After a boot camp session or rowing/cycling, around two hours, go to beachside coffee shop for a flat white expresso coffee and sometimes a passionfruit slice (Yes, I know it’s got too much sugar, but I’m in calorie deficit after a hard session)
        Breakfast: Weetbix, banana & fruit & yoghurt. Drink is sports electrolyte in water.
        Morning tea: coffee & wholegrain bread with peanut spread or similar.
        Lunch: Wholegrain bread, olive oil based margarine (butter clogs arteries) with avocado or similar sliced on it and a super shake based on skim milk, cocoa & other goodies. Two glasses.
        Afternoon snack: nil…just a large drink of water or electrolytes
        Dinner: Either vege patties, or vege sausages all with a selection of fresh vegetables such as cauli, brocholi, potato, pumpkin, beans, carrot, and gravy on the patties for added flavour. Pasta with five vegetable fine blended sauce and parmesan cheese with garlic bread.
        White wine, limited to two glasses (because I’m not a good dancer)
        Late snack sometimes is tea and a fruit slice or shortbread biscuit.
        In many countries, I would not consume milk products because of the conditions the cows are kept in…but, here in Australia, we have green grass all year around and the cows are contented..come milking time, they run (not walk) from their distant paddocks up to the milking sheds without any help from the farmer and they are smiling all the way…

      • Well, my eating is quite chaotic now, I did too big changes and before I could use to them, I started my paleo experiment… The first day was horrible, I ate a lot of calories, carbohydrates and fat, enough protein, 6 eggs and was hungry all day. Once I had an almost paleo day where I ate few calories, it was lowcarb (because I ate no fruits at all) and I never was hungry, I felt perfectly fine for 6 hours after eating my lunch and dinner, not even my usual desire for something really sweet. But I ate much fish that day and it’s far from typical in my life. But that day was simple:
        A little green smoothie in the morning, lunch and dinner were the same: 20dkg fatty fish fried along with some vegetables (carrot, broccoli, green beans, just a little of them), 15dkg pumpkin puree. My hunger was satiated and I felt so great. If I could reach it without meat… The fish were nice but I always loved vegetables more than meat and I definitely won’t do this frequently, I eat meat a few times a year and more would trouble me I think. I became a strict vegetarian when I couldn’t stand eating a little meat every week (and it usually was chicken, at that. Salmon or home raised pig would have made a difference but not too much I guess.)

        Normally, I eat an orange when I get up (I’m not a morning person, I’m practically asleep till noon). It’s so nice. Sometimes I eat an apple or half a banana or both or more bananas… The average is two fruits (a banana counts as 2). It’s winter here, I have not so much possibilities. (It should be spring but the thick snow makes me thing different.)
        Later (when I’m finally able to eat anything besides fruit) comes my egg meal 🙂 An omelett with veggies inside (fried) and outside (raw), an “egg-muffin” (egg with some seed, typically poppy seed and flaxseed) or a sunny side up egg. I use 1 egg for every kind, well, maybe 2 for the sunny side up because it has only egg with a few slice of raw vegetable, it’s not much for even my moderated morning hunger. (The fruits just make me hungrier.)

        My dinner usually is egg again with vegetables, preferably raw (I mean the vegs, I eat raw eggs but they are desserts :)).

        The problem is the in-between time. Eggs, oil, seeds, vegetables and some fruits combined couldn’t satiate my hunger this far, I did something wrong I’m sure.
        Before my paleo experiment, it was easy: I ate some filling food: legumes, brown rice with a lot of veggies, potatoes with something (potatoes alone aren’t that filling but they help). They aren’t expensive either, easy to make, I like how they taste…
        I sometimes eat paleo or almost paleo pancakes.
        Whatever I eat, if it’s not sweet, I usually eat it with raw vegetables (veggie soup is an exception, I never could do it raw and tasty).

        And I eat snacks: a little amount of nuts and maybe raisins too. I don’t need much if my meals don’t leave me hungry. My favourite raw vegetables are great snacks too, I prefer cauliflower nowadays, I love crunchy stuff.
        Sometimes I make a little sandwich using my raw bread (flaxseed and some walnut) 🙂 This “bread” becomes a delicious sweet snack if I use poppy seed and raisins as well, more walnut and eat it with a bit of high quality honey on the top.

        I’m at home and I experiment so once I drink some poppy seed “milk”, then I bake some pumpkin souffle so my days differ a lot.
        That’s one reason I was unable to be concise…

        I live in Hungary if this information is relevant. I cook myself and I almost always buy just ingredients. Oh and I live with my boyfriend (practically husband, just the paper is missing), he happens to follow me when I change my way of eating, well, not now, paleo is too sudden, he just stopped eating huge amounts of bread… He felt it’s no good for him and I totally agreed. It was the worst part of our diet. Lactose were minimal, fresh vegs and fruits were much, seeds were little but present almost every day.

  47. Hi,
    so im intertesed in trying this and as a vegetarian I love my veggies. Did you ever cook- them or oven bake them? Would it be horrible to still use olive oil?

    • Rice Bran oil for high heat cooking and olive oil for evrything else. These are the two healthiest oils…and remember that Jesus gave a promotional plug to olive oil, so cant get better than that..

  48. Um, didn’t read through all the comments, but is anybody trying this without using eggs? I am 100% vegan so no animal products whatsoever. I found out I may have food sensitivities so have to cut out legumes and most grains too. Suggestions?

    Thank you!

    • Hi there LZ…You are already on a very healthy longevity diet, so don’t be fooled by this unscientific Paleo fad….grains and carbs are the fuel of both elite athletes and centenarians alike. Paleo advocates conveniently omit to mention that the average lifespan in those hunter/gatherer days was around 22 yrs, this low lifespan being influenced by the very high infant mortality rate.
      Google the “Blue zones of longevity” and you will see that todays centenarians are mainly vegetarians.
      Regarding possible sensitivities, it is suggested strongly that you be tested by a fully qualified medico, an allergist, because there are a million quacks out there just waiting to take your money with false information….case in point being the large number of people who have self-diagnosed gluten intolerance without the IG patholgy test or the gold standard small bowel biopsy. All the best…

      • Paleo people should note the recent study results published on the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine…Eating More Meat, Dairy, and Other Unhealthful Foods Leads to Worse Aging

        After an average 16-year follow-up, people who consumed a “Western-type” diet, including a high intake of red and processed meats, whole dairy products, and fried foods, were more likely to die prematurely and to suffer from various chronic diseases including heart disease, stroke, cancer, and mental health disorders, compared with people who avoided such dietary patterns. Researchers analyzed data from 5,350 participants from the WhitehalI II study in London and scored dietary patterns using the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI) to assess disease risk. People with better AHEI scores had better overall health outcomes as they aged.

        Akbaraly T, Sabia S, Hagger-Johnson G, et al. Does overall diet in midlife predict future aging in phenotypes? A cohort study. Am J Med. 2013; 126:411-419.

        For information about nutrition and health, please visit

        Eat dead animals at your peril.

    • I’ve been vegan paleo for about 4 days. not too bad!:-)

  49. So many people have asked for the plan but no answers….It is quite rude for the administrators of this site to ignore these requests….Perhaps you should shut the site down…

    • Susan Lacke says:

      Hi, Grant & Bee, it’s important to note that No Meat Athlete (that is, Matt, Doug, or myself) did not say they would send out a meal plan – that was another reader, Alice, in a comment above. I don’t know if she has an official “meal plan” or if she was just offering that to be helpful to other NMAs (it’s a pretty friendly community). But to date, we’ve never offered a meal plan. In a follow-up post to this piece, I answered some common questions:

      • I was replying to Alice, who promised to send her meal plan to anyone who asked bc she (for some odd reason) didn’t want to post it in the comments. Many people have requested her meal plan, but she hasn’t sent it to anyone that I’m aware of. It would be very helpful if she followed thru with her promise, or at least post it in the comments. It would help a lot of us out….. I know too many vegans turning full (meat heavy) paleo, which is disheartening.

        • bee,
          If you read through all the comments you will see Alice found out she was eating too many high-oxilate foods which caused her kidney stones so she preferred not to send out her diet.

      • My apologies Susan for coming on too strong…I misunderstood the situation. All the best in the fantastic writings that you do, especially triathlon……In Australia now, we have a program for children devised by Sanitarium Health Foods, thats called Try-a triathlon…it is very successful with very small children swimming just a short distance in a pool, a short cycle around the block on any old bike, followed by a short run and a finishers T-shirt or medal…Highly successful and generating a new group of triathletes….

  50. To restate Susan’s comment above: the offer to send a meal plan was from a reader in one of the comments, not from anyone at No Meat Athlete. If you get anything of the sort, please understand that it is not from No Meat Athlete. I’ve gone ahead and deleted any comments where people had left email addresses, just to avoid the chance of anyone getting something about a Paleo-vegetarian diet (other than a blog post on and thinking it’s from us. I’d suggest going to Dena’s site,, and looking for more info there.

    By all means, continue the discussion about paleo vs vegan vs paleo-veg; I’m enjoying it. 🙂

  51. Jessica COrneau says:

    I am on my 4th week of going paleo-veggie and I used your story as a motivator that it could actually be done! People said to me, and KEEP saying to me, that they can’t believe I’m doing it, or that they would be starving all the time, or my favorite “sooo..what do you eat?!?!” hahah and I reply in a very educated, trying not to be offended, way of what I eat and how I do what I do and how much I LOVE how I feel doing it. I feel the same way that you do though-once my 45 days is “over ” I’m definitely going to stick with it…for the most part. I will still eat some beans if I need protein, and if I want a bagel from my favorite bagel shop or a slice of pizza from my favorite pizza place-you bet I’m going to eat it! I think it’s the only way to actually stick with a healthy, clean diet plan without completely falling off the wagon. Just wanted to share and say thank you! 🙂

  52. Lacey Snow says:

    Ummm….. eggs are not plants ….so not sure what your point is here. If you van eat eggs and still be plant based than I can have a steak or some fish once in a while and still call myself a vegetarian. Most people who do well on The Paleo Diet do so because they eat mostly plants and meat every once in a while. They eat this way because the chances of a cave man stumbling across some eggs to eat for breakfast, then chasing down a chicken for lunch, and finally killing an elk for dinner are probably slim to none. I also like the raw food diets idea of mono meals and eating what you choose to eat in its raw state. If i was a cave girl and happened to find a a bush of wild currants or gooseberries I would sit there and eat as many as I could to sustain myself until the next food source came my way. I really think it is important to fully examine all the information out there diet wise and then come to some sort of compromise between the ideas you feel have some merit.

  53. you rock!! as a vegetarian I’ve been looking into the paleo lifestyle and diet and your post is perfect timing. I’ve taken a ton of notes and am going to go for a 4 week stint with this. keep writing, experimenting and inspiring the world. Big thanks all the way from New Zealand xx

  54. Hi, I’d LOVE to speak with the author of this article more. I’m curious about this lifestyle BUT cannot afford to lose weight. If you can give her my email address so she can email me …thanks!

  55. I love that you experimented with this! I eat meat and like it, but my sister is vegetarian and she wants to try to limit her grains and dairy, but was worried about protein intake and wondered what she would have left to eat! I forwarded this along to her. Great article, thanks again!

    • If you eat meat, then you can expect to live 8 to 12 years shorter than a vegetarian and suffer CVD and various other organ failures…there are now more than 12 well-constucted medical trials proving this…..remember also that the longest living animals are all vegetarians..
      Why would you limit grains..they are the perfect fuel for the body. The paleo passing fad ignores the fact that those early humans had the shortest lifespan in history…Basic intelligence indicates plants and fruits the food of centenarians.

      • Hisham Besheer says:

        You’re exactly why most people are annoyed by vegetarians. I don’t tell you what to eat, and sure as hell don’t need you to tell me what to eat. Cows are delicious to me. Well worth dying 12 years early for…even if that were true by any scientific measure.

        • Sorry to upset you Hisham, although meateaters are easily upset because their subconscious is full of guilt when they think of the horrific cruelty during the animal slaughter process and continually wonder how long they will live on a sub-standard diet of dead animals…..I have a right to make comments because I am a medical scientist and former consultant to the World Health Org……Let me know when you die prematurely and I will be happy to read one of the eulogies….I mean this in the nicest possible way…

      • What is your study based on? How can you compare one’s life span based on a diet?
        It’s impossible to do so unless a person gets to have two lives.
        A lot also has to do with genes and a life style.
        FYI, my grand mother was a chain smoker until the day she passed away and ate whatever came to her way.
        Well, she didn’t eat sweets and dairy. She lived in a farm village and a lot of her food came from local farm.
        She also loved barbecued meat.
        Anyway, she lived a full and healthy 93 years.
        I am not sure if she would have given up all her guilty pleasures with an assumption that she might live 10 more years.

        • Hi Jasmine, Yes, genes do play a major role in longevity and there are always examples of those who have abused their bodies yet still lived a long life…bit risky to count on having genetic advantages though.
          The lifespan claims are partly based on an examination of the so-called “Blue Zones”, some five areas in the world where people routinely live to be centenarians while the medical studies are all well-designed studies on large groups. They all show the links between diet (particularly red meat) and cardiovascular disease and links to certain cancers….I would be happy to post all of these study references here but they would take up a lot of space..
          The moderator would have to give permission for this.
          In summary, vegetarians are at a lower risk of developing: cardiovascular disease, colorectal, ovarian & breast cancers, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.
          If you take part in any sport then the change to a plant-based vegetarian diet will make a tremendous impact on your performance and you will achieve personal bests.
          Kind regards, Grant

      • Silverback says:

        “Why would you limit grains”

        Because they trap me in a perpetual cycle of hunger.

        • Exactly, Silverback. I have that same issue and plan to avoid grains as much as possible since I feel sleepy every time I eat them!

  56. I’ve been vegan for about 13 years. I’ve been vegan AND Paleo for about 4 days. It’s a little challenging, but it’s forcing me to eat more veggies! Although, I just made a dangerously delicious almond flour and chia seed pizza with peppers and onions…yum! Anywho. Question. From what I’ve read about the Paleo diet, there aren’t really restrictions on the amounts of food you can eat. (Other than sugar, dried fruit, and sweet potatoes). I’m eating veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, olive and coconut oil, raw unsweetened cacoa nibs… But I wanted to ask you, did you count calories while eating Paleo? I really want to lose weight, but I have serious portion control issues… Let me know your thoughts. Thank you!!

  57. Great article! I am allergic to soy, milk, peanuts, and gluten, and usually eat paleo-like, but recently I have been considering eating less meat. I thought it would be almost impossible, but this was really encouraging! Thanks!

  58. Hi there,

    What do you do after reboot? Do you slowly introduce legumes and Soy back into your meals and did you see weight gain from doing so?

  59. Hisham Besheer says:

    Cavemen ate smoothies?

  60. Thanks Susan for this post! I googled “vegan-paleo” and came across your article. I have been having (fatigue/intestinal/skin) health problems and in the process of getting tested. I suspect my issues might be food allergy and/or high-glycemic food related since I do eat grains, legumes, and sometimes soy; so I was interested in how I could adapt my diet and still remain veg. I too would be interested in seeing your 8 week food menu as well. Best wishes.

    • Please see Grains and legumes are not high glycemic and are extremely high in phytonutrients and anti-oxidants. Meat has none – just protein and vitamins. Since going vegan my headaches have stopped, I lost 10 lbs, am full of energy. You MUST take B-12 supplements since this vitamin is formed by bacteria in animal intestines – not available in plants. B-12 deficiency is VERY serious.

  61. well…since humans lived for thousand years as gatherers before acquiring the ability needed to hunt and fish…it makes sense to think that the first paleos were actually vegetarians

    • If you believe in creation then the first gatherers (not hunters of animals) were indeed Adam and Eve who were vegans according to the Bible….It continued this way until Noah’s flood that covered the entire earth and necessitating the survivors having to eat whatever they could find, but, Noah had animals on his ship/ark…so, did they start eating them?
      Evolutionists are never quite sure what to believe as they have changed their theories so many times, but we can look to the Blue Zones of Longevity today (Google it) and see that centenarians are virtually vegetarians with a strong reliance on various grains….compare this to your Paleo people who had an average lifespan of <20 years and you can see why this paleo fad will eventually die out, like its authors….Then next month another fad will come along to take its place..Ho..Hum

  62. Respectfully disagree about “no quinoa” That is the one “grain” that is allowed because it is not a grain at all. It is a seed, which, as anyone who does Paleo knows, seeds are allowed. Opens up a nice avenue for people who can’t give up grain easily, and can learn to think of quinoa as a rice type alternative.

  63. The only fly in the ointment with Susan’s diet is the inclusion of eggs. For all intents and purposes, eggs are animal protein.

  64. Mandy Moore says:

    If you were including eggs why all the focus on egg whites? You were working so hard to get enough fat. Egg yolks have fat and also tons of other nutrients. I’m curious about why you didn’t eat them.

    • I hope you will do your own research. The concerns over grains and beans and carbohydrates is unfounded. The idea that your body “learns” to burn fat more efficiently by starving it of carbs is deceptive. You body already knows how to utilize available glycogen and fat stores during exercise Causing deliberate stress on your system by going through a ketosis state may have some interesting near-term effects, but the longer term damage you do is not worth it. I lost 10% of my body weight on a vegan diet and exercise vigorously. The addition of healthy plants in your diet is so beneficial that they can counteract some of the downsides of the animal protein in eggs.

      • Paul is absolutely correct in his support of grains, the fuel of champion athletes and centenarians….The Paleo fad diet will eventually go the way of the dinosaur, where it belongs and perhaps we can get rid of that other fraud, alkalinizing the body, which ignores the fact that there are three mechanisms within the body to prevent this happening…in other words, if you could alkalinize the body, you would die within the hour….just keep your blood pH at 7.4 and run on plants…your body will thank you and you will be able to stand in front of the mirror in your birthday suit happy with what you see….xoxo

  65. It is wrong to not eat beans if you’re Paleo-veg*n. I’m normal Paleo, but in the specific case of Paleo-veg*n, it is my opinion that the dieter will have to eat beans, or specific vitamins can’t be obtain as much as you need them to, namely iron, B1, and a few others. In fact, the tide is turning inside Paleo right now regarding legumes in general. The research shows that if you soak them for at least 24 hours, or if you sprout them, and then pressure-cook them, their lectins are going away big time. In my opinion, after 1-2 months on full Paleo-veg*n, while your gut has healed, introduce back legumes if you’re not going to eat meat or fish/shellfish. Research paper: and there are 1-2 more papers about pressure-cooking too (I don’t have them handy right now). Just because full Paleos don’t do legumes, doesn’t mean it’s healthy for Paleo-veg*ns not to have them. Personally, after two years of full Paleo, I introduced sprouted legumes (I bought mine at Whole Foods) and I had ZERO problems with gut and gas (my main health problem prior to Paleo was gut-related, and so it would have shown easily if I was intolerant to them. I’m not, at least not for sprouted lentils).

  66. woowww… this is so cool.. am a brand new paleo – just a day in it and fall in the NMA section too cos in India most of us are “Vegetarians” 🙂
    I do eat eggs though.. so I think your post is my new found inspiration to go for it with even more gusto.. Yes I am still googling on stuff to make other than just salads.. with minimal cooking (olive oil) and thanks to Non stick pans to help us ease the way.

  67. I am so happy I found this! I am not completely vegetarian, I do have shrimp about 2 or 3 times a month and eat chicken and beef a couple times a year. I love the idea of paleo as I’m gluten and dairy free, just the heavy on meat and no beans thing killed me (really? No beans??). So I’m going to try this from now until summer.

    • So sorry Anne to hear that you have been diagnosed as a celiac patient…The gluten free diet is decidedly unhealthy with the loss of important fibre, and essential vitamins and minerals. Any gastroenterologist will confirm this. Gluten free has become a fad for many, promoted by the fruitcakes in Hollywood who are always looking for some new gimmick diet but if you have had a positive small bowel biopsy then unfortunately there is no choice.
      As for Paleo, well they had the shortest lifespan of any group in history…As a medical scientist and a record-holding athlete, can I tell you that plant foods are the clean burning fuel you need and no one can be sure of reaching their ultimate health/fitness goals if they make the eating of dead animals a major part of their diet. Kind regards

  68. Dorothy says:

    Hello! I’m looking to do a vegetarian version of Whole30, but I want to make sure I’m getting the nutrients I need in appropriate quantities. You said you were meticulous about tracking – can you give any details on how you did this? Did you use any tools or tracking apps etc? How do you account for not everything you consume being absorbed? Is there a way to know how much you are actually absorbing or to track accurately?


  69. Ultrarunnergirl says:

    Awesome Susan! Paleo is not necessarily some meat heavy diet, it’s way more about eating “veggie heavy” and cutting out processed crap. I was vegetarian for 6 months after being “almost vegetarian” for a long time. I love veggies. But I found I do vastly better with some meat.
    Thanks for sharing your courageous plunge into paleo vegetarianism. Like you I will sometimes eat legumes but dairy is not my friend and I save it for very special occasions/treats. And beating my out of control sugar addiction was truly the best part.

  70. Love this post. I tried doing raw vegan for about a month. I felt good, but like you said in this post it requires A LOT of planning. I decided to include some of the principles in my diet, but not let myself be restricted to one label.

  71. Great job on your challenge and experiment! I eat eggs and on occassion seafood, but do include oats, beans and quinoa in my diet on occassion. Do you have a meal plan example of 2-3 days that you could share? Thanks!

  72. Николай says:

    Thank you !
    Being a vegetarian restricted me to even consider paleo diet as a possibility.
    I am certainly trying some (probably not all) principles you followed.

  73. Any recommendations of what to do with Spirulina?

  74. I am not vegetarian, but it drives me crazy when people try to use the Paleo diet as a way to eat so much meat. No, I really don’t think ‘cavemen’ had access to huge amounts of meat all the time. I think they had a kill maybe a couple of times a month and ate a bunch then, but for the rest of the time it was plant based foods. Maybe the people close to a beach had fish more often, but by and large, I do not think diets were 80% meat.

    I try to follow a Paleo style / whole foods diet, but have to limit my protein due to AutoImmune liver disease. Luckily, I feel like the resources for vegetarian paleo have greatly increased lately.

    Thanks for your article. This was very interesting.

  75. Dottie Rothenberg says:

    Thank you for your article. I cannot suddenly detox from grains as I do have to maintain my jobs but I think doing it slowly would be an option I also eat a vegetarian diet and also rely on seeds, nuts and grains as a big part of my diet.I am going to take the same challange and aant to thank yiu fir making it easy for me.

  76. Alejandra Parra says:

    Hi! Im curious about your macros, what % of macros did you follow???

  77. raman a v says:

    Few of the Paleo vegetarian diet suggest Diary products like butter, ghee, cheese and advice to avoid all fruits other than Butter Fruit (Avocado). Please clarify.

  78. Helene Kay Yeager says:

    As someone in stage 3 kidney failure have gone on a vegetarian renal diet, which limits beans, tomatoes, avocados, etc. Having a nearly impossible time finding kidney-friendly vegetarian versions of favorite foods such as chili. Any hep with my search will be appreciated.


  1. […] Experimenting with the Paleo Diet for … – I have been a paleo vegetarian for 7 months. What made this transition possible for me was the fact that you can now get eggs from certified humane sources. […]

Leave a Comment