17 Primal Tips for Vegans and Vegetarians

We all know vegetarians and vegans. And while we have our differences, they are our friends, our family, our partners, our spouses, even our children. We all have people in our lives who avoid meat and/or animal products in general for multiple reasons—health, ethics, the environment, squeamishness, animal welfare—but we care about them. We also subscribe, with varying degrees of rigidity, to an eating philosophy based on the nutritional importance of animal foods. How do we reconcile these competing loyalties? Should we give up on them? Are they a lost cause? Should we simply wait for them to come limping toward us with sallow skin and low muscle tone? I kid, of course. We should absolutely help where and when we can.

Yet telling them to “just eat meat” doesn’t work. If anything, it’s counterproductive. Instead, we can offer productive, legitimately helpful advice from a Primal perspective. Like:

1. Eat real food.

Don’t waste time with fake meat products and vegetarian junk food. Skip the Tofurky, the boca burgers, the canola-infused mock chicken nuggets, the facon, the mockeroni. Because if you’re willing to eat that dreck just because it vaguely resembles real meat, you should probably just listen to your body and eat the actual meat.

2. Don’t be a pastatarian; eat plants.

These are the vegetarians and vegans who subsist almost entirely on pastas, rice, boxed foods, pre-prepared foods, bread, crackers, and crispy grain-based foods.

They’re not eating the voluminous salads. They’re not whipping up homemade hummus and complex lentil stews with a million spices. They’re not eating anything close to a “traditional” vegetarian diet. Rather, they’re eating the easiest most refined junk food that technically qualifies as “plant-based.”

If you call yourself a vegan or a vegetarian, act like it. Eat actual plants. Plants are incredible, delicious, nutrient-dense, and varied. You claim to be about them. You should actually eat them.

3. Avoid refined seed oils.

Don’t eat soybean oil, corn oil, canola oil, sunflower/safflower oil. These are all heavily refined, high in omega-6 fats, easily oxidized, and stripped of their nutrients.

Instead, eat extra virgin olive oil, red palm oil, coconut oil, high-oleic sunflower/safflower oil, grass-fed butter/ghee (if you do dairy), macadamia oil, and avocado oil.

4. Go grain-free.

You don’t need the grains, and being vegan or vegetarian doesn’t absolve you of the potentially harmful effects of consuming them. On the contrary, the increased reliance on grains for your calories and nutrients may even increase the harmful load of antinutrients you consume.

Okay, Sisson, what the hell am I supposed to eat if not grains? You’re right, except for potatoes, legumes, sweet potatoes, bananas, apples, blueberries, strawberries, pears, taro, cassava, tigernuts, and a thousand other foods, there’s no way to obtain carbohydrates, minerals, protein, fiber, and vitamins without eating grains. Scratch that suggestion.

5. If you do eat grains, eat sprouted grains.

Most vegetarians and vegans are going to eat grains. I accept that and submit that sprouted grains are the superior choice. Why?

Sprouting increases the nutrient content, including soluble fiber, folate, vitamins C and E, and various antioxidant compounds.

Sprouting reduces the antinutrient content, including gluten, phytic acid, various enzyme inhibitors, and tannins.

6. Eat fermented soy.

Many vegans and vegetarians turn to soy to replace the protein they’re not getting from animal products. This makes sense and, contrary to popular belief, studies indicate that soy protein is decent (though not as good as animal proteins like whey or egg) at maintaining physical performance. So I’m not going to tell you to stop eating soy.

But make sure some of it’s fermented. I’m talking about natto (which contains a huge amount of vitamin K2, another vital vitamin usually found in animal foods like eggs and liver), tempeh (which has reduced levels of mineral-binding phytic acid), stinky tofu (which contains beneficial bacteria known to ameliorate intestinal inflammation), and soy sauce (which has elevated levels of antioxidants and little to no residual soy proteins or gluten). In general, fermenting soy unlocks the isoflavones, making them and their purported health benefits actually bioavailable to humans.

7. Eat eggs and dairy.

As long as you’re willing to eat eggs and dairy, you’re good on most nutrients you’ve been missing. Pastured eggs have choline, omega-3s, DHA, protein, cholesterol, vitamin B12, and many other vital nutrients vegans and vegetarians typically lack. Contrary to popular belief, eggs do not increase cardiovascular risk (not even in vegetarians). Pastured dairy has saturated fat, omega-3s, CLA, calcium, protein, and probiotics (if fermented), and the full-fat stuff is consistently linked to good health.

For nutritional completion, a good mix is eating both DHA-enhanced eggs (typically attained by adding algae to the hens’ feed) and pastured eggs. Most health food stores will have both.

And vegans, I know you’re opposed to eating eggs and dairy. I get it. But do consider raising your own chickens or goats or getting eggs and fresh dairy from someone you know and trust to be a faithful and ethical steward. They really aren’t going to miss all those unfertilized eggs or that extra milk.

8. Consider oysters.

Oysters have no central nervous system. Like plants, they respond to environmental conditions and stimuli, but there is no central brain conducting operations and perceiving sensations. As such, I see no logical reason for ethical vegans and vegetarians to avoid eating oysters. They’re not being harmed, because there’s no consciousness present to perceive harm and take umbrage. Even longtime animal rights activist Peter Singer suspects oysters feel no pain and once actively endorsed their consumption.

Also, oysters are the greatest source of zinc on the planet. Zinc is tough to get from plant foods. They’re also rich in vitamin B12, also absent in plant foods.

9. Consider insects.

Don’t lie. You smash mosquitoes, spiders, and other assorted creepy crawlers that invade your pristine home and threaten your supply of sprouted rice cakes. Why not take the next step and eat the things?

While I’m unaware of mosquito-based foods, there are some damn tasty cricket bars out there on the market which provide ample protein, pre-formed vitamin A, iron, and vitamin B12.

10. Consider protein powder.

Whey is my favorite (obviously) and the most effective. So if you do dairy, throw some whey isolate in there for the most bioavailable protein available. If not, you’ve got other options, like egg white protein, rice protein, or hemp protein (which also gives you fermentable fiber and some omega-3s).

11. Take vitamin B12.

I’m serious, guys. Don’t believe the hype. No, your incredible vegan gut bacteria aren’t synthesizing enough vitamin B12 to keep you replete. No, your spirulina smoothies don’t really contain enough B12 to get you by; you’re actually consuming a pseudovitamin B12 that increases the need for real B12. You are at risk for deficiency and you do need to supplement with B12 or eat foods that contain it because it is that important for cognitive, cardiovascular, mental, autoimmune, sexual, and cancer health.

Don’t assume you’re replete in B12 unless you’ve taken the latest assays, which are more sensitive than normal serum B12 tests. According to normal serum tests, 52% of vegans and 7% of vegetarians are deficient. According to the newer, more sensitive tests, 92% of vegans and 77% of vegetarians have low levels of the active form of vitamin B12. Here’s a good one.

12. Take creatine.

Creatine is mostly found in skeletal muscle so if you want creatine from the diet, you have to eat things that have muscle, like meat and fish. Human muscle contains creatine as well, where it’s used to fuel muscle and help recovery during training by recycling ATP (the basic energy currency of the body). Creatine is also found in the brain, where it maintains cognitive function. Studies show that vegetarians who supplement with creatine enjoy improved cognition and physical performance. Vegan brains and muscles, which have even less (small amounts of creatine are present in eggs), should benefit even more from supplementation.

Creatine monohydrate is cheap, widely available, effective, and doesn’t come from actual animal flesh. There’s no reason for vegans and vegetarians not to take it.

13. Take carnosine.

Carnosine is a fusion of two amino acids (beta-alanine and histidine) and is found abundantly in meat. You don’t hear much about carnosine (except in certain Asian countries, where chicken extract is a popular carnosine supplement used as a mood enhancer that actually works), but it’s important and vegetarians/vegans should supplement it. Why? After all, carnosine isn’t essential; we can synthesize it.

It turns out that vegans and vegetarians tend to have lower levels of carnosine. Since the compound is linked to muscle endurance and acts as an antioxidant in the brain, it’s probably a good idea to top yourself off. Try this one.

14. Take taurine.

Taurine is similar to carnosine: it’s not essential (we make it, just probably not enough), it appears only in animal foods, and it plays a major yet under-appreciated role in preventing death and disease.

This is a good supplement to take.

15. Take algal oil.

DHA is perhaps the most important long chain omega-3 fatty acid. You can make a bit from ALA, which is found in plant foods and grass-fed meat, but it’s unclear how reliable the ALA-DHA conversion rate is in humans. Since vegans and vegetarians tend to be deficient in DHA, I suspect the conversion is rather poor. Good news is that you don’t have to slaughter and consume fish flesh to get DHA. You can get it from the same source marine animals get it: algae.

This is still a fairly new product and the human research is preliminary and scant, but algal oil improves blood lipids and increases blood levels of EPA (another long chain omega-3 found in fish oil). I suspect it’s a good substitute for fish fat. Try this one.

16. Consider pescetarianism.

Among all the plant-based groups, pescetarians appear to be the healthiest, beating vegans, vegetarians, and lacto-ovo-vegetarians when it comes to mortality risk.

My wife was a pescetarian for decades before adding meat to her diet, and she’s always been the fittest, healthiest person I know.

17. Consider peganism.

No, not Norse god worship. Peganism—veganism with a smattering of paleo. It involves mostly eating plants and treating animal products like meat, eggs, shellfish, and organ meats as essential condiments, supplemental foods that provide the nutrients you simply cannot get—but as a human still require—from plants. This is a growing dietary movement popularized by Dr. Mark Hyman. In my opinion, our good friend Denise Minger is the best example of a successful pegan dieter. Consult with her for a more detailed plan of attack.

You don’t have to adopt all these suggestions (except for taking vitamin B12). But doing even a couple will markedly improve your health and long term outcomes. More importantly, it will allow you to continue eating the way you’ve chosen without compromising your beliefs or values.

Thanks for reading, everyone! What other recommendations do you have for vegans and vegetarians?

Prefer listening to reading? Get an audio recording of this blog post, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast on iTunes for instant access to all past, present and future episodes here.

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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123 thoughts on “17 Primal Tips for Vegans and Vegetarians”

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    1. “Among all the plant-based groups, pescetarians appear to be the healthiest, beating vegans, vegetarians, and lacto-ovo-vegetarians when it comes to mortality risk.”

      No, among ALL groups. A plant and fish based diet, with lots of fish oil, has been associated with the greatest longevity… followed by A PLANT BASED DIET. Those who ate animals/animal products other than fish fared the LEAST well.
      patronizing vegans and vegetarians with your “primal” tips, you should be in your kitchen working on how to make marinades for tempeh.

      And regarding insects? I don’t squash them. Not everyone does.

      1. Never argue with the veggie peeps. It is a waste of time and thought. They must walk into the light when they are ready and this can’t be changed.

        1. Interesting how super centenarians not only eat animal products, but they eat bread, drink alcohol, eat just about everything — but everything in moderation. Have a positive attitude and enjoy life.

      2. First time I’ve ever seen a man told to shut up and get back in the kitchen!

      3. You are right!! The study we’re talking about was in Loma Linda. In this group, people have homogenous healthy lifestyle risk factors including physical activity, no smoking, little or no drinking with heterogenous levels of meat eating. The meat eaters did the worst along with semi-vegetarians. First, second and third went to pescatarians, vegans and vegetarians.

        In this group nut eating is promoted which is good, but choosing certain nuts like cashews and almonds without balancing with flax, walnuts or algal omega-3 supplement could shoot your omega-6 ratio up. Also, at the time of this study, vegans may not have been supplementing with B-12 like today, because it was not widely known that commercial fertilizers and poor soil in conventional farming greatly decreases B-12, making plants an unreliable source of B-12. Also, because conventional water needs to be treated, B-12 is not in the water supply as it had been for our ancestors and is for wild ape relatives.

        My suggestion to vegans, which follows Dr. Gregor’s and Brenda Davis’s, RD, long term vegans and nutrition experts, advice is to consider an algal supplement and definitely stay away from omega 6 oils and include flax, chia, hemp seeds and walnut daily.

        Many vegans and near vegans using WFPB diets are extremely healthy, just like vegans in the only Blue Zone in North America- Loma Linda, CA.

        1. Thank you plants with pesto for the plant-based supplements.
          I appreciated this article, but found it disrespectful to keep pushing animal by-products and supplements made with them.
          For ethical vegans, killing other creatures except in self-defense, is indefensible.

      4. I am extremely disappointed in the vegetarian/vegan comments at opening of article. I was excited to read and learn about this form of eating and he totally turned me.

        Thank you for writing

    2. I am interested and curious .A blood group is semi vegie would they be the ones who do better on the vegie diet because of the chemical make up in their blood compared to the the other groups which are not

    3. I have to apologize. When I came to this blog, I thought Mark was a Paleo that was not restricting carbs, because I had heard him sing the praises of fruits and vegetables so much. Then, I saw the vegan and vegetarian thread and thought- yes, whole foods inspired by primal diets and plant-based- I felt this was exactly what I might be looking for.

      However, I am a near vegan who eats a little bit of fish and eats a lot of whole food carbohydrates- 300-340 grams of carbohydrates daily with about 50 g fiber. Most of the carbs come from beans, fruit and whole intact grains. So, I guess there is no way that fits with the primal blueprint.

      However, I do have to share, that I have been eating this way for 7 years and at age 47, my BMI is 21, my waist is 25″, and my hba1c has been 4 and 4.1 and, I only, moderately work out. So, if that inspires plant -based eaters out there to still eat well prepared legumes, fruits and some whole grains like black rice and steel cut oats, without worrying about the grams of carbs- great. Everybody has to find what works for them.

      Good health to you, all.

      1. Hi deanna
        Can I chat with you more about your diet and how you prepare foods? Laura x

  1. No matter how much a hippo diets she will never be a gazelle. Vegetarianism will never be an optimal diet. It is an affectation that leaves it practitioners jumping through poor hoops to get up to subnormal. Don’t misunderstand the issue: It’s not the vegetable part that is bad, stupid, or ridiculous. Vegetables are good. It is the no meat side that is juvenile. And there is nothing wrong with that if 1) the fools following that course accept sub-optimal health in exchange for putting philosophy ahead of nutrition and 2) they do not expect the rest of us to pay for their lousy health care stemming from their poor diet.

    1. I’m a vegetarian that tries to follow a primal diet and it is definitely not ideal. Any vegetarian that tells you their diet is optimal is lying or ignorant. However, I follow a vegetarian diet because of ethical reasons and that is something science cannot denounce. Calling vegetarians “fools” is quite immature; as for health care, I’m probably in better health than you due to diet not being the only factor in determining health. As such, I can just as easily complain about paying for your health care.

      1. On THIS site I don’t think you can say your health is better than someone else’s heath. You are probably healthier than the average American. In a Vegetarian vs Paleo contest you might not be the winner. I agree, diet isn’t the only factor. This blog discusses all the factors for thriving. It appears you might have missed some of those excellent articles here. This is not a one size fits all place and it is usually quite respectful of other people and the variety that makes us human.

      2. You should check out the podcast Sam Harris put out with Uma Valeti about cultured meat and the ethical implications of lab grown meat. Might be a future option for you. Check it out, its called: “Meat without Misery”

      3. I agree calling vegetarians fools is immature.

        Hope you don’t mind me asking, but are you trying to do a low-carb vegetarian diet?

    2. Anyone who is plant- based, vegan or veg. The best advice comes from those doing it the longest and best.
      Check Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis or look up Dr Ellmsworth Wareham (102 yr. old vegan in American Blue zone who does not eat dairy but takes b12) find Dr Barnard’s Prevent and Reverse Diabetes and Dr Gregors daily dozen of what to eat in How Not to Die.

      These successful healthy vegans eat legumes, iodized salt, take B 12 and include sunshine or bit D and a variety of plants with zinc and calcium: collards, kale, flax, chia, steel cut oats, beans cooked with cooking water removed to mitigate phytic acid levels (phytic acid does have cancer fighting properties; however), sweet potatoes, figs and other nuts and seeds. Some do take algal Dha supplements

      Seven years @ 98 percent WFPB and in the best shape and health ever – lean and no meds, super energy levels!!!

    3. A vegan or vegetarian diet isn’t necessarily unhealthy. It seems to work quite well for many people worldwide. It didn’t work for me, but I see no valid reason to condemn or criticize those who prefer a diet free of animal products. It’s a personal choice and should be respected as such.

    4. It’s ridiculous for you to insult over 500,000,000 strangers based on their personal beliefs and habits and then refer to them as juvenile. Sensible people don’t need to do that to defend their choices.

      I agree that the optimal diet would contain some meat. There are other considerations involved that are more important to me than eating the optimal diet. You have a different position and that is fine.

    5. It’s not so black and white. Every body is different and you have to go on a case by case basis. Cave men certainly were not eating muscle meat 3 times a day. They went through feast and famine; ate the animal, the entire thing when it was available and subsisted on whatever else they could find to keep them going until the next hunt. They also lived to be about 30 years old. Anyway, eating based on a philosophy whether it’s paleo or veganism still should honor the body’s signals for nutrition and what works for you may not work for me. Different body, different hormones, different genetics, different climate, etc.

      1. Mostly agree with you , especially the use of the whole animal. However, I do want to point our that the average of 30 years factoid must take into account all the folks that died very young from violence, disease, and simple inflections which basic antibiotics would take care of today. Early European explorers remarked at the health and vigor of the stone age native Americans, including their elderly.

    6. I would like you to open your mind a little bit. Ellmsworth Wareham, vegan, and many of America’s Blue Zones (one of densest centenarian population in world) are vegan and vegetarian. For personal examples, please check out Elmsworth Wareham and Caldwell Esselstyn online. They have been vegan for 50+ and 30+ years and are thriving!!

      Let’s be honest, Great Apes, including humans, are much, much more similar to hippos than cats, canines and other meat-heavy eaters. Chimpanzees, bonoobs (our closest relatives) and humans have included animal foods (this includes insects and eggs) in their diet. However, the science shows that the amount is approiximately 2-3% of their total calories. This is not more than a couple 3-4 oz. servings of meat per week, without any eggs or dairy or may be one 2 egg omelette and a 4 oz. piece of meat per week, depending on your calorie needs.

      Even the Inuit, ate mostly marine mammal fat (50-60%) caloriesnot animal protein (only 30% calories). Meat-heavy hunter-gatherer tribes rely on blood drinking to get nutrients, normally obtained through plant foods. Even the Inuit, would strip the stomach contents of small mammals to get fiber, vitamin C etc. -nutrients know to be vital to all apes, including us! The Inuit do not thrive the way the vegans and vegetarians in Loma Linda or the near vegans on the traditional Okinawan diet (96% plant-based with no beef or dairy).

      Great apes do not eat any dairy, and most of human population is lactose intolerant after weaning, so suggesting to vegetarians to eat dairy is not an improvement in the diet; however, choosing highly available forms of calcium such as kale, collard greens, calcium-set tofu, as well as, figs, sweet potatoes, white beans and oranges would improve calcium levels in vegans and veg. while adding vitamin K and other nutrients crucial to bone health.

      I have not seen a human group/dietary pattern of high animal protein to plant protein ratio do well. Please give me the science of someone who is thriving, not surviving, on this type of diet. If it includes drinking blood, don’t want to go there. Thanks

    7. from comment above: The study we’re talking about was in Loma Linda. In this group, people have homogenous healthy lifestyle risk factors including physical activity, no smoking, little or no drinking with heterogenous levels of meat eating. The meat eaters did the worst along with semi-vegetarians. First, second and third went to pescatarians, vegans and vegetarians.

      So your claim that a vegan or vegetarian diet cannot be ideal is false at least in this population study.

    8. Hippos are vegan. That’s vegetarian without dairy, eggs, or honey.

  2. so if i can’t reliably acquire pastured meat would i be better off to adopt peganism instead of primal/paleo? i.e. get some of my protein from organic lentils etc.?

    1. I’ve been wondering about crossed out links as well. I don’t remember older posts having those but noticed in the last year or so there started being a lot of striked out links…

      1. I think you’ll have to keep wondering. I’ve asked here repeatedly and apparently there is no one from MDA who actually reads these comments.

        1. The software does trackbacks automatically to test links. if they become dead, it strikes them out and deactivates the hyperlink so you don’t follow them. If the link becomes active again, the strike out disappears.

        2. Hi Clay, it’s clearly not working. Every time a new article is published multiple links are almost always immediately struck through but you click and they work.

          This is causing confusion for MDA readers and is clearly broken.

  3. As a vegetarian for almost ten years I appreciate this post! I started off eating a lot of fake meats before quickly realizing how bad that was for me. Now I get plant based protein and supplement with whey protein.

  4. Excellent overview. My semi-vegetarian days were driven primarily by economics with a smattering of a misguided sense of blamelessness. Many of these I did, including sprouted grains, only eating soy that was fermented, lots of real veggies. I still occasionally ate small amounts of grass fed red meat, eggs, and full-fat grass fed dairy, mostly on weekends, but my primary protein source was beans. I was very sick during the time, sicker than I ever was on SAD, Sicker in my labs and sicker in my symptoms. I realized that even “semi-vegetarian” was too imbalanced for my needs, Now that I’ve abandoned any efforts to obtain the bulk of my protein requirements from plants, I still occasionally make a pot of beans WAPF-style, super-soaking them with a spash of ACV and long-cooking them with bone broth and a pastured ham hock. Not vegetarian, but certainly more cost effective and protein-sparing for those who are avoiding meat for economic reasons. Also provides a boost of folate when I haven’t been in the habit of eating liver.

  5. I’ve been so anxiously waiting for this post! Thank you, it’s great. I’m not vegan still, and I probably won’t be at this time in my life because I’m pregnant and breastfeeding, but this gives me good insight for the future if I decide to be vegan. I’m also glad to see you say that pescetarianism and peganism are really healthy things. I considered pegan because I have a low budget, so if I want to eat grass-fed meat it’s going to be a maybe weekly thing. And I considered pescetarianism because of my personal ethical issues with eating meat, it felt like the next best thing to vegetarian/vegan, and canned Alaskan salmon is one of the cheapest good quality meats I can buy. Anyway, I’m really happy to see this! Thank you for taking the time to write such an in-depth post about this topic.

  6. This is a great article. I was veg for a long time. I experienced many health issues, all stemming from general kinds of inflammation. Mark’s Daily Apple, Empowered Sustenance, and many other blogs promoted animal products as being highly nutritive and backed up with not just science but experience after experience, testimonial after testimonial. Still, highly sensitive and spiritual being that I am, I could not resolve the decision to take in dead animals. On an energetic level it just didn’t make any sense to me. But eventually I noticed that my symptoms were getting worse, and that I was in danger of adopting negative thought patterns; making negative judgements about people who ate meat. It was this change in mentality that set me free. All the physical signals were showing and now my spirit seemed to be telling me that this is simply what needs to happen. So now most of the time, I take a moment to think about and visualize the animal I’m about to eat and thank him/her for their life. It’s all about changing patterns. We can label our diets so many different ways but it really always comes down to what your body is telling you in that exact moment. It is a great responsibility to investigate the context of what we eat and how it may nourish or harm our spirits and our bodies. And it is often not as black and white as our minds make it out to be.

  7. Excellent article, and fun to see discussion on whether oysters are conscious. Since consciousness has no definition, there’s no way to say that it requires a central nervous system. There’s no way to say that plants don’t have consciousness in some form. When deciding what to eat based on ethics or squeamishness, almost everyone draws the line somewhere, and the line is based on perceived self-similarity. Personally I draw the line at primates, mammalian brains and testicles, and as such I could never criticize anyone else’s personal preference.

    1. This is a really excellent and thoughtful response. We all draw the line somewhere. Why and how we do that is a personal choice. Most meat eaters have their own taboos – dogs, cats, primates? Vegetarians and vegans (I live with a veggie) simply draw a different line and many educated and considered vegetarians and vegans are happy to take a bit of a hit to their own health so as not to compromise another creatures life. Personally my line is that I am a pescatarian, I eat fish and shellfish, but I would not touch whale or dolphin or shark, and I don’t feel comfortable with octopus or squid – all way to conscious. Where anyone draws their line is not for me to criticise.

  8. Link to a vegan-friendly EPA+DHA supplement. It does have a bit of a flax seed oil taste and I don’t think that it seamlessly mixes into whatever you’re drinking, but it did seem to work for my purposes. It was easier to just use the dropper to put a few drops on my tongue and follow it up with something that tasted better. I used it, in conjunction with a variety of other supplements, to combat severe nutritional deficiencies I ended up with after 2 years of being pregnant/breastfeeding while on a strict diet.


      1. with omega-3, its all about balance with omega-6, and these supplements have sunflower oil which is full of omega-6.

        1. Eugenia, I appreciate your feedback. You’ll notice that they use High Oleic Sunflower oil, not the regular kind. The former is a variety that contains nearly 85% monounsaturated fat. That is actually more than what you get with olive oil! And at that over 3/4 of the fatty acids are from omega-3. The actual amount of omega-6 is about 20mg. You would get more omega-6 from eating a single Brazil Nut. I would not worry a bit about overloading on omega-6 fats taking this supplement.

  9. I’ve been vegetarian for 25 years and have no desire to eat meat. I go for extended periods being vegan, and I occasionally eat fish (seriously, if someone offers you fresh-caught salmon, are you going to say no?). My biggest beefs (pun intended) are with the commercial meat industry, which is what started me on the veggie path. I grew up among farmers and hunters who butchered their own meat, so I know the process in intimate detail (we kids would catch one of the farm chickens, my mom would eviscerate it while giving us an anatomy lesson, and my grandmother would cook it for dinner).
    I eat whole foods, very little soy, am currently experimenting with fermented things, and generally believe that we all get to eat whatever we want and we should let bygones be bygones (I live in Alberta, land of beef, and take a lot of criticism for my vegetarianism).
    I also lift heavy and my skin is good. Not so long ago, I competed in an international kettlebell competition and defeated 13 other women in my KB weight category, most of whom were meat-eaters and 20 years younger than me. That said, I’m a fan of your website and this article was excellent!

    1. I have only been vegetarian (no dairy) for a few months, i can only say i feel a lot better for it. Around a month in i realised someone had switched my brain back on! i was clear thinking my studying was easier i could understand and remember the material. I’m thinking this has more to do with giving up dairy than meat. I agree with you wholeheartedly about the commercial meat industry, i cannot afford to buy grass fed, organic meat and i no longer wish to pay into and support this horrendous industry. I can afford to buy organic eggs from free roaming chickens so i eat them and i occasionally eat fish when i can afford to splurge on the good stuff
      i have to say maintaining my weight loss at 129lbs is so easy eating vegetarian, i don’t need to think about it anymore
      i eat loads of fresh veg, some fruit, a little fermented soy and slap coconut oil in everything!!
      i’m getting into lifting, kettlebells are my next project, i also run (not far, not fast!!) and love hiking
      i have nothing to prove it but i feel thoroughly healthy
      Oh and hemp protein smoothies with coconut are yum!

  10. Excellent post…and will be a wonderful one to share!

    I’m especially glad you brought attention to the importance of getting sufficient and the right kind of vitamin B12. (Personally, I think something seems off when someone has to rely on supplementation, rather than diet, to obtain something so vital to well-being and longevity, but better than nothing!)

    Also love your advice to ditch the fake meats, grains and processed foods–those are not healthy, regardless of whether you’re a vegetarian. During my 10 years as a vegetarian, the first half was spent subsisting on veggie burgers and sugary cereal. Then I transitioned to real food (though was still eating rice and some other grains)…then added eggs and fish…then moved toward paleo-primal. When I had a burger, it tasted like the best thing ever!

    I truly believe that there is no ONE optimal diet for everyone. That said, as a practitioner, I have never treated a healthy vegan and have only very rarely treated a healthy vegetarian in my practice of medicine. And, on a personal level, being strict vegetarian did not work for my body or mind.

    If someone is vegetarian and eats high-quality dairy and eggs and avoids processed crap and excess sugar (i.e., if they are vegetarian AND primal), it’s totally possible to have a solid, healthy diet. (Indeed, this is the way I still eat, except for dinner, when I add meat.)

    If someone is vegetarian or vegan and avoiding all animal protein in any form (including eggs and dairy), I cannot imagine them getting all their nutritional needs met, particularly if following modern-day preparation/cooking methods. Might work okay for a while…but probably not without consequences over the long term.

    1. Dr Leigh,

      Please consider using, Becoming vegan by Brenda Davis and Ms. Messina, as a reference for vegan and vegetarian patients. It will give them the best shot at making their choice work for them.

    2. Dr Leigh-Lyons,

      You may also want to check out the vegans from Loma Linda, including Elmsworth Wareham, and find out what they are including in their diets to help your vegan/veg. patients meet their nutritional needs and live a long, healthy life like the Loma Linda Adventists.

      Dr. Wareham was a practicing thoracic surgeon up until his retirement at age 95- vegan since he was 50. I believe he is 101, nearly 102, and has interviewed with Dr. Gupta, CNN. At 102, he lives independently and still does all his pruning and yard work year round in CA, and reads the Washington Post daily. The catalyst for his vegan diet was, as an open-heart surgeon, he saw that vegetarians had much better coronary arteries (mush less plaque) than non-vegetarians- he never liked dairy. He did work outside of the country with folks who had genetic heart defects so really got to see a range of vegetarian and non-vegetarian hearts.

      This article in Today’s Dietitian, succinctly details best practices for vegans:


      Other great resources for vegans and vegetarians:




      Though you may not agree with their diet choice, as a doctor, you can help them optimize their choice.

  11. I was on a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet for a year before switching to meat based, I wasn’t doing too bad, but I didn’t felt great either. I think with the consumption of more healthy fats allowed me to go longer without being hungry, so I have less thoughts of foods on my mind while working. While I still believe I need 7hrs sleep for better health, which I don’t get enough, I feel more refreshed in the morning now than before with the same hours of sleep. Also my cognitive performance is improved. I like to listen to audiobooks while driving to work, which is a long drive, and now I am more awake while also absorb the audiobooks contents better. And I my brain don’t zone out near the end of the work day like it used to (the part where your brain stopped working and you’re just waiting to get out of there).

    About sprouted bread, I avoided bread, but I was making burgers, so I wanted to try Ezekiel bread. I ate two burgers, which totaled 4 slices of bread. Two hours later I was feeling hungry and craving foods, even though I just stuffed myself previously. So after that I decided even though Ezekiel bread isn’t bad, and it’s sprouted, it still have that carb elements that makes you crave if you eat too much. So now it’s collards leaves as wrappings, or I make meatloaf instead, with flax and hemp seeds in it.

    It’s hard to get everything grassfed in the city. Grassfed is a term that can be manipulated and misused I think, like “all natural”. Depending on where you get the meat from, the cow can still be grainfed for the later of its life. I have never came across meat labeled as “grass finished” even at farmer’s market, which mean the cow eat grass its entire life. I’m not about to seek out CSA to join, I know I can order some grass-finished meat to be shipped to me packaged with ice, but it’s not something I can easily afford. I get local pasture raised chicken/turkey’s heart, liver, gizzard, etc from farmer markets. And grassfed beef liver on rare occasions. I haven’t looked enough into it, but I understand lamb is grassfed the majority of it life and grained only a bit before slaughtered, so I’ve been eating lamb more than beef.

    I find it comical that when you go to WholeFoods and Trader’s Joes, the more lean the meat, the more expensive it is. Seems like a big scam to me (although I understand you can get an animal more fat with grains, but I’m talking about grassfed). It is wrong to think there is a shortage of demands for high quality meat that is high in fat, even one thinks lean meat is better for them. Which is why I am considering eating more pork. There are lots of concerns with pork meat and I’m looking for some evidences/study/mark’s article to put my mind at ease for long term pork consumption.

  12. I love the way you write: Common sense with a touch of “why-the-hell-don’t-people -have-more-common-sense” thrown in.

  13. You had me at facon and mockeroni. I laughed so hard, I got a six pack!

  14. I was a vegetarian for about 12 years. I ate a lot of eggs and consumed whey protein drinks. After reading MDA every day for a couple of years I came over to the dark side and started eating chicken, turkey and fish, and drinking bone broth. I blame you Sisson for derailing my dream of becoming a buddhist monk. I was even going to eventually read a book about Buddhism to learn what the heck kind of ism it is … and what kind of ism it isn’t.

    1. I love it! About fell off the couch. Welcome to the dark side.

    2. This is funny.

      I am WFPB, but I do love my serving of sardines, herring or wild caught salmon each week, but know others who do well 100 percent vegan.

      As a plant-based, no dairy pescatarian, I don’t have a really cool specific name or group like primal, Paleo, vegan, pegan, vegetarian, low carb but the WFPB is what works for me and this diet does allow for some meat eating, like the Okinawan diet.
      Everyone needs to do what works for them.

      I do like Mark’s suggestion of algal Dha for non- fish eaters: vegan, veg or omnivore. In our omega 6 rich world, it’s hard to get optimal omega balance without supplement or fish, even when you are doing your very, very best to eliminate all omega 6 oils and omega-6 dominant meats.

  15. My naturopath recently did some blood typing food diet test for me. I am/was skeptical and can’t quite tell if the results are about me personally, or about humans, in general. Would I really tolerate a vegetarian diet better if I were a different blood type? I *really* want to be vegetarian still, but over the years, my O+ blood type has steered me in a very different way. I kind of dislike how accurate the test is to what I’ve found personally. Nonetheless, I haven’t fully jumped on board because paleo is challenge enough for me without tossing out random foods like carrots and chicken (per the O+ Gatherer diet recommendations). These are good tips for when I want to err on the side of pegan (not while pregnant or nursing, for sure!).

    1. Don’t know if this helps with your decision-making process, but genetics has shown Type A to be the oldest blood type, not O. The Eat Right for Your Blood Type diet is thought to work for people, not because of blood type, but because it has decently healthy diet recommendations.

      Here’s a link: https://genetics.thetech.org/ask/ask342.

  16. Is canned sardine and wild caught salmon good for me? But canned sardine and alaskan salmon is the most affordable for me I mean, anything canned, i am concerned…
    any suggestion?

    1. Yes, canned sardines and salmon are great! I eat them a lot.

    2. Yes, in fact Mark has written in other posts why canned fish is often BETTER quality than not. Farm raised fish does not can well, so eating canned fish is a great way to get wild caught naturally occurring fish. Cheaper and often healthier.

    3. Yes.

      Canned sardines have much less mercury and other toxins because they are non-predatory (only eat plants), thus are low on the food chain, and do not accumulate toxins like the larger, predatory fish.

      Sardines also give vitamin D, calcium and B-12!

      Larger fish like salmon have the omega-3’s etc., but have more toxins, because they are higher on the food chain.

      Fish, unlike grass-fed or conventional mammal meats, do not accumulate pesticides and give a favorable omega3: 6 ratio. Even grass fed meat, has a 1:2 omega ratio and pesticide accumulation is in its fat. In fact, 40% of Americans pesticide consumption comes from meat, not plants.

      If you wash non-organic produce with dish soap and towel, like your dishes, and rinse well with cold water(removes soap better), you can remove 80-90% of pesticide residue. Dirty dozen produce which is best to purchase organic include berries, celery, peaches, nectarines, plums, apples, pears, lettuce, potatoes and bell peppers.

      There is really nothing you can do about the pesticides accumulated in mammal meat fat, even the marbleized fat inside the muscles contain pesticides.

      Taking an algal supplement gives you no mercury or dioxins etc. But DHA supplements do thin the blood and should only be considered after getting green light from a doctor. I eat a little sardine or wild shrimp 1-2x week and take a supplement 1x week or every other week, depending on my fish consumption.

      Anthropologists are finding that the likeliest healthiest omega6:omega3 ratio is 1:1 or 1.5:1. Jane Goodall’s research showed chimpanzees, our closest ape relatives, eat a lot like primal humans (~ 2% calories from animal-sourced foods, including insects, eggs and small mammals) eat a 1.4:1 omega6:3 ratio.

  17. Such a great post! I was vegetarian for over 30 years, mostly raw vegan towards the end. I felt good as a vegetarian, felt amazing as a raw vegan in the beginning, but about 6 months in my acne prone skin was at its worst ever, and my anxiety was through the roof. At this point in my life (49 years old) I feel best eating meat. I can honestly say that I physically feel the best I ever have. I think s big difference for me is the amount and variety of high quality fats that I get. But I am super picky about the quality of my animal products. I will gladly eat vegan when the only meat choice is crappy factory farmed stuff. And LOVE Mark Hyman….agree with his idea of loading the plate with vegetables, but getting most of your actual calories from fat. I think that’s pretty much the way I eat now.

  18. Elizabeth, I know how u feel, being a yogi, all the past decade plus, there is a lot of inclination for me to be vegetarian, vegan, however, being of Vata dosha, and its cold, dry, windy wintry days on end…..despite all the beans, veges stew etc and avocados……I feel anxious all the time, and constant heart palpitations….even fish doesnt cut it, a chicken stew really helps me the most….even if its only twice a week….
    the things we live and learn, im 51….
    Thanks, HopelessDreamer, for the tips on canned fish…

    1. Jacquie, the modern trend towards the masculine-oriented Vaishnavite and Saivite forms of Hinduism that are influencing the west’s ideas of yogic philosophy & practice do all advocate vegetarianism – however, the far older female-oriented stream of Shakti (goddess) worship holds no such prohibition against eating meat.

      I’ve included two links below, that you might find interesting to factor into your decision-making process:



  19. This is incredibly interesting to me- mainly the bit about Peganism.

    I actually am not a vegetarian but don’t eat a lot of meat in general. I only buy grass fed / free range animals that have lived normal lives so meat can be expensive!
    I love eggs. I eat a lot of those but I’m a 98 lb woman in her 30s and when I was doing 100% paleo, I found eating that much meat was actually not good for my system in general. I mean, I would eat lots of veggies but found I would bind up eating so much meat! Upon reducing my meat intake I would be regular again. Listening to your body is key. I basically was eating paleo and having a much smaller portion of meat. I’ll have to look into this pegan thing – I think I have already been doing it!

  20. I read that it is much more efficient to take beta-alanine alone, as it is the limiting factor in carnosine.

  21. Been a lacto vegetarian for 47 years for ethical reasons. Been just about dairy free for the past 3 years. I want to avoid beans and grains as much as possible. Thus, I bend on milk products by taking whey to get my protein.

    I appreciate the heads-ups on proper oils, vitamin supplements, nuts, proper veggies and exercise that Marks shares with us. Thanks.

  22. Been a lacto vegetarian for 47 years for ethical reasons. Been just about dairy free for the past 3 years. I want to avoid beans and grains as much as possible. Thus, I bend on milk products by taking whey to get my protein.

    I appreciate the heads-ups on proper oils, vitamin supplements, nuts, proper veggies and exercise that Marks shares with us. Thanks.

  23. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this — sharing it on Facebook and hoping my vegetarian friends will take these awesome tips into consideration. “Pastatarianism” is unfortunately alive and well.

  24. I’m a *former* vegetarian, I stopped for several reasons and am really happy with that, but I cringed back in the day at the “Carni-Bores” who harangue vegetarians – and I still do now.

    So in the spirit of that, here are some rebuttals to the common arguments *against* vegetarianism:

    1. It can’t be healthy if you have to supplement.

    For a start, most people reading this probably take some form of supplement, or at least view some kind of seperated macronutrient such as gelatine, whey, butter, or coconut oil, as essential to their diet. I don’t know many paleo people who don’t take supplemental magnesium, for example.

    The moment you veer away from relying entirely on whole foods in their natural state towards favouring isolated macros (like fats or specific proteins), you’re on the pathway towards supplementing micros as well, because you’re saying that even a diet packed with the whole foods of your choice, still can’t supply you with the individual nutrients you need and want.

    Along similar lines, there’s nothing unusual about making an ethical choice that takes us one step further from the place we were in 10,000 years ago via some created object or institution – this is why we have laws, instead of lynch-mobs, fire and clothing, instead of freezing and dying: it’s totally human and primal to manipulate the environment and everything within it, to improve one’s life.

    Sometimes we take these attempts to adapt the world too far, hence the whole ancestral eating movement, but if you’ve drunk coffee today outside the countries where it originally grew, or had some coconut oil, or any other kind of food you didn’t personally take from the wild, you’re a beneficiary of this overall trend to manipulate things away from their natural state, just like everyone else.

    2. “Vegetarians and vegans are juvenile.”

    Most of the veggie-munchers I know have actually watched videos of slaughterhouses, and the shipping and transportation of animals to slaughter; have read about (and been appalled by) the various malpractices and outright cruelties involved, and know far more about the reality of commercial livestock farming than the average meat-munching SAD-eater, who believes that the pictures of the cows grazing on his pint of milk represents reality.

    Yet, I see less condemnation of those people as being immature or wilfully blind about their chosen food sources – funny, that.

    To accuse people of being juvenile because they don’t wish to participate in, or benefit from, a system that they find ethically revolting is actually the polar opposite of the babyish mindset of “gotta eat bacon coz tastes good”…

    3. “All vegetarians & vegans secretly like the smell of bacon/grilled cheese.”

    Dude, I could take your child, pet, or your own left leg, grill it with herbs and garlic, and if you were hungry enough, you’d involuntarily salivate and your stomach would growl for it.

    Our stomachs have no conscience, which is a good thing if you’re stranded in the Andes with some deceased friends and not much else, and has no bearing whatsoever on the topic.

    And, one last thing – chickens are NOT vegetables!

    Didn’t like this one back then, don’t like it now – stop, I entreat you, Carni-Bores of the world, lest your claims to superior cognition from all that extra meat and fish fall apart, as you try to insist they’re more or less just lentils on legs.

    Peace, love, and happy dining – whatever (or whoever) you eat today! :o)

    1. +1.

      Some meat-eaters like to think they’re superior to vegetarians/vegans. They aren’t. Truth be told, I wish I could feel and function optimally on a vegetarian diet, and I sort of envy those who can. I tried, but it just doesn’t work for me. Diet is a choice only up to a point. Ultimately you have to give your body what it requires if you want to remain in good health.

      1. Agree completely. What bugs me most is when vegans say that omnivores are selfish and they eat meat only because it tastes good. The ones who claim that everyone could thrive on a vegan diet. Meat is delicious, but that’s not why I eat it. I eat it for the healthy fat and the bioavailable protein and nutrients. If it was all up to taste, I’d be perfectly fine eating a bunch of peanut butter sandwiches and vegan wheat patties lol

    2. Excellent Mrs Rathbone!

      The main problem i have found in talking to people about my decision to go veggie is their offended attitude, often aggressively defensive as if i’m a contagious disease!

      this is my decision i don’t give two rats a****s what anybody else eats and i’m certainly not going to try to “turn” you vegetarian

      And i don’t care that humans have been eating meat since we started standing up right, we also ate veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds all those things i eat

    3. As a pakeo dieter for several years, i can assure you that i get an equal amount of venom and sarcasm from vegans and vegetarians for my choice to eat meat. In fact, I’ve gone out of my way to make sure there was vegan dishes at potlucks. However, when I was talking with the vegan (obese) chef at our local vegetarian restaurant, my request/suggestion that therr be hard boiled egg available to put on one of their salads, it was met with disdain. Havent spent a dime there since, nor do i consider it my job to make vegan food anymore for potlucks. Just saying that the understanding has to come from both sides.

      1. I’ve met my share of veggies who seem to feel quite superior for not eating meat (or animal products in the case of vegans) as well. I’ve also met my share of those who claim their carnivorous pet does “just fine” on vegan dog food. I have a good vegetarian friend who lurks on MDA as she can’t quite yet wrap her mind around eating meat, but understands the benefits. The superior attitude goes in one ear and out the other anymore. I know I’m careful about sourcing my meat from the best suppliers I can.
        Recently I had a vegan explode at me on social media about my “disgusting” habit of eating eggs. I asked what the farmers were to do if they couldn’t afford to feed large groups of food animals as “pets” with no profitable turn-around (since they couldn’t sell the meat, eggs, etc), or asked if being turned loose to be starved, killed, hit by motorists (not to mention turning the ecosystem upside down), I was told that simply killing the animals (and allowing species to go extinct) would be the humane solution. That logic I do not follow.

        1. I have also met with disdain and and a superior attitude from vegans, even though I was only asking advice on becoming one! What ever you do do not get into saturated fat debates with them! I was promtly banned from their fb group. Totally agree with you on the pet thing. I enjoy being veggie but that’s me, my hubby is ketogenic and my son will literally eat anything
          Meal times are fun!
          We should all be eating what is right for ourselves, and makes us happy

        2. AHHH, I know! I just hate it when I see that a vegan is feeding their dog strictly vegan food… It’s absolutely fine if they choose not to eat meat, but they shouldn’t be allowed to make that decision for an animal who literally needs it… Honestly I consider that a form of abuse. But, I feel the same about all the other people in this country who feed their dogs dry garbage food. My dad still gives his dogs leftover pizza crust as a “treat”… -sigh-

        3. “I was told that simply killing the animals (and allowing species to go extinct) would be the humane solution.”

          PeTA logic.

      2. So the fact that a vegan chef at a vegetarian restaurant was not responsive to your “request” that he include eggs on the salad is proof, in your mind, that vegans are treating you with “venom and sarcasm”? And because of this incident you now don’t wish to extend hospitality to other vegans – unrelated to the chef – at your private gatherings? I have to admit I find this very strange.

    4. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts, especially the third response.

    5. Our instincts are to search out the most calorie-dense foods. However, today’s bacon and cheese were not a part of the diet we evolved upon.
      This is part of why, I believe, we have such a huge health crisis right now.

      Our instincts are now turning against us, or rather, the food supply. Because we have such an unnaturally, calorie dense and prolific food supply, our seeking out of fat, sugar and salt is creating our diabesity, hypertension and heart disease epidemic.

      I will tell, you from personal experience, taste buds and food preferences do change. After going 98% plant-based, the smell and taste of a greasy burger does not sit well with me- no lie!!

      It’s a little like switching from whole to skim milk, or skim to whole milk. Once you get used to one type the other tastes either too rich or too watered down.

      Once you go plant-based, animal foods can taste too heavy or too rich and you crave the crisp, crunchy, fresh lightness and complexity of flavors in a 100% plant meal- not that a dish with meat can’t be complex- but a plain cheeseburger does not have the herbal and spice complexity of say a tabouleh or and Indian dal palek.

      When you are animal-based and go plant-based it may not feel rich enough for you, and you have to adjust to eating a higher volume of food (plants have lot less calories) or you will, unknowingly eat too little calories. When going plant-based, I discovered legumes and starchy vegetables are essential in getting enough calories, and they give you more time, better satiation, between meals/snacks, because they are much slower digesting than fruits and veggies. Not including legumes and starchy vegetables regularly-at every meal- is part of the reason, I believe, some people do not make the transition to plant-based very well.

      Also, studies show foods with highest cravability include cheese, sugar, wheat, chocolate and meat. So if humans can overcome a sugar addiction/craving, they can overcome their intense or not-so-intense cravings to the other foods on the list, including cheese and meat(bacon is likely one of the highest because of high salt content).

      I’ve also found essential omega 3 fatty acids in black beans, kidney beans, flax, walnuts, chia and winter squash to be important to a WFPB diet, also, while keeping omega 6 oils out. I do not really like the taste of flax oil, but will mix with a little splash of maple syrup or honey and flax meal and drizzle over apples, squash etc. Yum!!! A primal diet did include some honey.

    6. Very, well said. Thank you for this.

      Many extremely intelligent people, very knowledgable in nutrition, choose a vegan and vegetarian lifestyle for reasons other than animal welfare.

      I agree the carni-bores are misguided in thinking people only choose vegan veg. or plant-based diets for animal welfare, and they are ruining their health because of it.

      Many choose it because it gives them improved health. Everyone is not the same; though meat may be important for you does not mean, it is critical for everyone.

      Surprisingly, legumes combined with cooked kale and collard greens, walnuts, chia & flax seeds and a B-12 supplement can provide all the nutrients most people eat meat and eggs for.

  25. Mark, am your follower from Malaysia (do you even know where that is?? : ) ). Started following you when I was a “eat everything” Primal blueprint fan a couple of years ago. Then turned pescetarian, and then from the begining of this year embraced non dairy food choices. All your well researched, pithy and downright funny articles and guidance became less and less applicable and I started drifting away. So glad that you wrote this!! Thanks. Good to know that you realize that you have do vegan, vegetarian and others modified primal eating ppl following you. Thanks my friend.

    1. Agreed; sometimes reaching out and offering some tips and solutions is the best thing to be done. I enjoy the humor in the articles as well.
      Most people I know who follow a Primal way of eating and living modify it in some way to suit them. I eat a lot less meat than most I know, simply because I don’t want it or don’t need it as often. My go-to meal is a BAS, usually with several eggs. I eat more carbs than most. It’s a balancing act. Since Primal isn’t a “diet”, rather a way of life, it has helped me tune into what my body is telling me and learning to do as it asks or needs. There’s a certain few vegetables I hate the taste of, but occasionally I crave them even though I don’t like them. It’s a weird sensation coming off SAD many years ago, but one I’ve learned to take seriously and listen to. It’s super weird to finish eating something you’re not fond of, then think “that was disgusting. I think I’ll have more.”

  26. I was never a vegetarian or vegan, but the best way I found to battle that underlying problem with ethics was to seek out a family farm that raises meat and eggs in the most humane way possible. Walking around a farm where the animals are on grass/pasture, roaming around, with the calves and baby animals running and having a grand time in the sunshine feels right. Something inside me just knows this is a good thing. The farmers in question work their asses off to ensure the meat, eggs, and dairy they produce is of the highest quality, and that the animals used to provide these things are respected, treated better than simply “humanely”, and any weaning done on the youngsters is done by nature and no one else. The calves stay with their mothers until they’re good and ready. The meat is more expensive, sure, but buying a quarter of half cow brings the cost down considerably. If you go in (financially) with someone else to purchase the entire cow, the cost drops even more. Filling our freezer full of meat last fall cost no more than it would have to stuff it with CAFO meat, so it was a win-win for us.

  27. Good article. I have been vegetarian my entire life and they key is sprouting and culturing your foods. The best expert in vegan and raw vegan diet is LOU CORONA. He gets it right and he has healed countless people. When he was 21, he had chronic asthma, constipation, acne,tumours and prayed to be healed or else die. He then found a mentor who travelled the world and met the healthiest and longest-living people on earth. He learned this wisdom and healed completely and at age 60 he honestly looks 25.. See his YouTube videos! And good news: he is into high-fat! Not like the dangerous low-fat vegan diets! I try to incorporate paleo principles into my veggie diet and it think we can have the best of both worlds without any cruelty to animals!!

  28. I have a good friend who is a park ranger and a vegetarian, HOWEVER he does eat meat occasionally when they have to cull the managed deer in the park, or if he has to put an animal down after injury (he did this with a couple of pheasants hit by cars on the estate).

    I have massive respect for his adherence to his ideas of right and wrong, as his problem is with commercial meat production.

    Most vegetarians and vegans aren’t in a position to eat culled deer, but could I suggest eating roadkill? If an animal has lived wild and been accidentally killed then it would perhaps be suitable for many ethical veggies.

    There’s a useful guide to eating roadkill in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘A cook on the wild side’.

    Interestingly I have heard that Bhuddust monks used to pasture yaks in fields that bordered cliff edges in winter, if any fell to their deaths then the monks would eat them.

  29. Do I need to ask the obvious question? What would a vegan be doing on MDA? Unless they show up to try and smear the primal blueprint which I would love to here a vegan try that they won’t find anything here to support their ways. Go off to a site doctor mcdougall is on if you’re vegan and listen to his mumbo jumbo. A high fat lower carb diet that’s devoid of any processed foods and vegetable oils is the healthiest in the world. I suppose a grain free pesectarian would be a distant number two considering they eat wild fish/shellfish. My opinion though if you’re going to rationalize your ethical approach to not compromise your health then just go all out and eat grass fed meat too!

    1. There are low carb high fat vegans out there, not many but some and why not be on MDA there is some good advice on here its not all about meat

      1. I could get behind that. A vegan who eats a shit ton of avocados, coconuts, and olive oil is very likely to be more healthy then the grain loading ones.

    2. Some people just don’t care for the taste and texture of meat, or meat consistently gave them indigestion (me on both accounts). It has nothing to do with righteousness. How many people don’t eat tomatoes, brussles sprouts, asparagus, milk, or eggs because it doesn’t agree with them or it tastes terrible to them. Millions probably. Should tell them MDA is not for them as well? How about people who can’t sprint? Or big salads make their nose run? Should they pack their bags and get the hell out of MDA as well.

      1. Whoa, I wasn’t meaning any offense here, but there’s no denying that most vegans are vegans due to ethical reasons. I guess if your a non-meat eater who wishes to use primal principles then go for it. When I said that I was referring to the general vegan population who don’t eat meat because they choose to, not because of digestibility problems. I won’t pretend to know what your problem is but you should look into gut flora imbalances, it’s responsible for a lot of digest problems and is exceedingly common. Salads make my nose run (because of onion) but I still love them!

        1. No offence taken Barry, no probs. I love MDA, its how i got to eating well in a primal way, after a couple of years of eating this way i think i got meat overload! i found myself consistently giving the meat to hubby and just going with the veg. i also can’t afford the good stuff (grass fed) and don’t like supporting the commercial meat industry. I don’t know how long my veggie spell will last, but as Mark is always saying “listen to your body” i did and it was telling me no more meat. i’m trying to keep my fats up with coconut oil, nuts and seeds, keep my grains down and staying wheat free. I am also dairy free, which makes it a bit difficult, but i still eat eggs as i can afford organic and am looking at fish once a week.
          As for Mcdougall the guy is an idiot!
          I soon found i don’t belong on veggie websites and definitely no where near vegans. The Primal and Paleo diets are actually nearer to what i eat even though i don’t eat meat 🙂

        2. There’s nothing wrong with being a vegan for ethical reasons provided it also agrees with one’s body. Some people (myself included) simply feel better on a diet that includes animal protein.

        3. Yeah I got to hand it to you Julie that does sound like a overall healthy vegan”ish” diet. The fact you include eggs (whether organic or not) in your diet would eliminate any problems traditional vegans would normally have. Adding the fish as you suggested would practically be a primal diet just without the meat, which wouldn’t’ really matter considering you’re getting ample amounts of animal protein (i.e eggs, fish).

    3. Mark posted this article because he gets a lot of questions about combining a primal lifestyle with a vegan one. I personally sent him a question about it and he said he gets it a lot and was working on a post for it. So apparently lots of vegans or vegetarians do visit this site.

      1. If it all boiled down to ethics, I would have a rough time eating meat that didn’t come from a farm that treated the food animals well. CAFO operations are the worst of the worst, and eating meat that comes from one does kind of make my stomach turn (the thought of it, not necessarily digestive related.) Knowing where my food comes from and seeing with my own eyes how the food lives before it’s “meat” is the best for me, personally, to fight the question of ethics and meat. Since my body doesn’t require meat at every meal (or even on a daily basis) in order to do well, it’s a win win and I’m very lucky to have the source I have in order to keep my freezer full, without making my wallet empty.

        I’ve found through personal trial and error I’m fine for a few days without meat (this doesn’t include butter or eggs, though!) After a week or so, I feel like crap.

        Most soy in the grocery stores isn’t properly prepared. I’ve never messed much with soy (too many GMO’s and, frankly, even “good” soy tastes like gnats piss to me), so I’m pretty ignorant on the subject as a whole.

        I have heard several times “oh, you’re into paleo? That’s really high protein, it’s bad for your kidneys,” as the person “educating” me is wolfing down their 100 calorie snack pack of cookies and drinking their 5th diet soda or Coke Zero of the day. I shrug and walk away (and fight the smirk threatening to give my thoughts away 😉

        1. I know exactly what you mean. I normally don’t touch CAFO meats either, unfortunately with the exception of hamburger meat my local stores don’t sell grassfed/pastured meats. I can travel a bit further down the road to whole foods and they have grassfed steak cuts for about 20 bucks a pop, that’s no good either I’m not paying that. I do however have a website that I can order bulk grassfed steaks from, I can normally get 20 steaks for about 375 which is a lot but I don’t have to buy any for months. I do go a few days every week without meat as well but like you said I eat eggs, and actually drink goat milk (un-primal I know). You are most certainly right about most soy being prepared poorly and most likely is GMO as well. Mark don’t get into this much mainly because soy isn’t primal but dr. weston price says fermented soy can actually benefit you. I like miso in a salad dressing I make on occasion but not much else. Mark and many others go in explicit detail (one thing I like about this site, it provides links to the science backing it) about healthy kidneys can handle plenty protein.

        2. I agree about the CAFO meat most definitely. I don’t buy grass-fed meat but I buy meat from whole foods that have pretty strict welfare standards as far as I know. I haven’t bought meat from a regular grocery store in a very long time. But I have gotten bacon and sausage when going out to eat at IHOP with family. I mean, didn’t have much other choices not eating pancakes and waffles… I did feel pretty awful about it for the next few days though… I can’t stand the thought of how those animals were treated and I torture myself mentally just for eating it one time… -sigh-
          Barry – grass-fed is most definitely expensive at Whole Foods. I can’t even afford the cheapest cuts (grass fed ground beef is 8.99/lb here). I wish I could go a few days a week without meat, but I can’t eat eggs, and I don’t do much dairy, so that would be some pretty low protein days… As far as soy goes, I looove tamari. I could drink the stuff. I also like tempeh though, it’s got a really nice flavor to me. Never had any unfermented soy and I don’t plan on it… Anyway… One reason (next to personal ethical issues) I’m so interested in vegan/vegetarianism is because I can’t afford good meat, and honestly I can barely afford sub-optimal meat… If I could eat grass-fed beef every day I’d be set… Maybe one day.

    4. The original primal diet had vast differences in meat-eating and carbohydrate levels depending on location. So why can’t modern primal-inspired diets include variation?

      Primal diets near the equator were high in carbs and low in meat (more fruit and insects than mammals), and shoreline and island diets may had no mammal meats at all-only fish and crustaceans. On the other extreme- we know Inuits ate lots of MARINE mammal fat and stomach contents of animals, plants when they could get them, along with fish.

      A modern-day primal example: the Papau New Guineau highlanders have kept their native diet (really primal here). They thrive on lots of sweet potatoes (90% of total diet), 5% non-tuberous vegetables, very low sodium, and rare feasts of pork ~1% calories. (Sounds familiar to Okinawan diet wartime- 60% sweet potatoes-imp). They have no heart disease-none. No protein deficiency or osteoporosis, good iron levels. The only shortfall in rare cases, was iodine.

      They were not taking creatine, taurine, carnosine, or protein powders. However, they were likely getting b-12 from eating and harvesting tuberous vegetables (not as sanitized as here) and fresh (untreated) drinking water, as well as feasts of pork.

      I am not commenting on creatine, taurine etc. to disrespect Mark, and his suggestions for vegans, but I think the crucial part to primal is WHOLE FOODS. The amount of meat vs. legumes or tubers, carbohydrate, fat etc. can vary with individual preferences, needs and geography, but the most important part is eat WHOLE FOODS. Vegans and vegetarians do not need all those potions and powders (with exception of B-12 and possibly DHA,if not eating good ratio of omegas). These supplements, creatine etc. have potential to cause imbalances and harm.

      My easy suggestions for plant strong eaters (vegan, vegetarian, WFPB) are below.
      I have successfully fed lactose-intolerant,vegetarian/vegan kids for years! We all have great iron, B-12 etc. levels and no meds. or procedures: no kidney stones, gallstones, gout, constipation etc. Though I love Mark’s approach to whole, primal inspired foods, he is not as familiar with the needs of vegans, as those of us cooking for vegan and plant strong family members.

      1. Take B-12
      2. Use iodized salt in your cooking; consider occasional seaweed- sushi, wakame.
      3. Eat calcium-rich legumes, fruits, starches (every meal) for sufficient calories and calcium: white beans, calcium-set tofu, sweet potato, figs, oranges, collard greens, kale
      4. Eat omega-3 rich plants: flax, chia, walnuts, cooked greens, black beans
      5. Consider algal DHA and limit high omega 6 fats: oils, mammal meats
      Does thin blood, consult doctor before taking DHA.
      6. Consider quinoa, steel cut oats, black rice for a variety of amino acids
      to complement your legumes, mushrooms, green veggies
      7. Eat high vitamin-C foods and onion or garlic at each meal to increase
      non-heme iron 4x or more, garlic also increases zinc absorption
      8. Soak, rinse and cook legumes properly for best zinc and iron absorption.
      9. Drink teas: black, green, chamomile, peppermint, between meals so they
      do not interfere with iron absorption.
      10. If you do choose any bread, or corn tortillas make it low-sodium, sprouted and, gluten-free- ekekiel is best choice found thus far for GF
      11. For those plant strong, favor a small serving of small, non-predatory fish (rather than mammal meat) 1-2x per week. This fish has less mercury and other toxins.

  30. It seems many of the vegan/vegetarians I have come across also sustain as low fat mantra. They avoid olive oil and avocado because of the fat but are happy to mow down a bag a kettle corn. Then I discovered that next to water, the human brain is mostly fat. Lets just leave it at that.

  31. Trees actually do communicate with each other: about water source, insect attact etc. They apparently do it through chemicals they emit that other trees in the vicinity pick up and respond to. Our sense of consciousness is so limited.

  32. this is a wonderful post but the pescetarianism RUINED it!!! common! can people really be THAT cold???

    1st) 7 billion people simply CANNOT collect from nature to suvive! that’s totally ruining our oceans! and farmed fish are just as bad in unhealthy fat and treatements as farmed animals, plus, fish farms polute the ocean like hell.

    2nd) most fish are as smart, preceptive and conscious as your everyday cat or dog. Believe me, I’ve had a saltwater tank for 9 years now and tons of different fish caught at the beach down the street have lived there and all but 1 or 2 species seemed a bit dumb. Most of them however, acted the same as most mammals I know. I’d supected that for years, being an avid snorkler since I was 4yo and observing them as a fave sport! But actually living beside them confirmed it!

    Don’t take me wrong, I eat meat and fish, I hunt and I spearfish, though it pains me an awful lot wenever I don’t get a clean death shot (my reasonling is always if some bear once gets me for food, I just whant him to kill me as swift as I try to do with my own food)

    But if you are vegetarian of vegan for ethical reasons, then do NOT eat fish! unlike cattle and pigs who are desensitized before being killed, fish are hooked, speared or left desperately tangled in a net for days before being thrown out of the water and left to slowly suffocate or bleed to death… NOT ethical…

  33. Whether to pursue vegetarianism, veganism, (any ism)…these are all relatively new concepts in human history – concepts afforded by the luxurious ease of our modern lifestyles. Only a few hundred years ago, humans were still wild animals and ate whatever they could get their hands on. Go outside and observe wild animals. Go on safari in Kenya. There, I watched a baboon snatch away and eat (while still alive, baboons don’t even kill their pray first) a newly born Thompson’s gazelle. Everyone usually considers baboons to be vegetarians…but they are wild and life is hard, so they will eat whatever they can find when times are tough. If hungry enough, a human will eat anything too.
    Recommended reading: “Go Wild: Free Your Body and Mind from the Afflictions of Civilization”

  34. Here is a psychological fact.
    Human trends to find its community. Once an human choose his community (religion, diet, being a rock person or not, politics, and so on…), it becomes the best and eventually, he starts to participate to debates to explain why its community is the best and why the others are all wrong or stupid.
    => Debates never ends because they want to be right not for the arguments. But for psychological reasons (including certain perception of the world + a lack of self-estime that make them want to stay consistent).

    About vegans, it’s a way to join a community that helps them to feel good about themselves. Then all of the arguments are just bullshit. Their decision is just psychological.
    What is the consequence?
    1) Almost none type “how to save animals” in google (ask any webmaster that possess an access to google search tool). People will type “how to lose weight” or “how to improve health” or “how to cure such disease”. And then, eventuality, they will get recommended a certain diet like a vegan one or other stuff.
    Or weak guys will accept manipulation from vegan and become one because they are afraid of saying no to the invitation.
    2) If you tell a vegetarian that most a the animals that are being kill are not those who eat. But those who die from intensive culture, including grains culture. They don’t give a shit even if it is very easy to see that: you just need to walk in an intensive culture and see there are no life there. A study shown that grains culture will cause 25 times more death that grass fed meat.

    Once you understand that, you can stop useless debates and the only thing that work. Inspire those who are looking for their community to avoid the shitty ones and instead: surround them-self only by good leaders.
    Mark Sisson is a great example of a leader that inspires a lot of people to do the right choices in their life. 🙂 But only with positive talking, not with shitty manipulation talk “Do what I say or you are otherwise and horrible person doomed to go to hell”. Eric Tomas is another great example in sport and business.

    Hope this will help some of you,

    Cédric from Europe

  35. As usual, I learn just as much from the comments as the article! Therefore, I’m gonna ask you guys for some advice. I’m a vegetarian who’s been living primally for a few years now. I don’t eat meat or fish, but I do eat eggs, dairy, and take cod liver oil supplements. I usually stick with the 80/20 ideal, and other than occasional cheat meals, my only exceptions to the primal rules are occassional white rice, sprouted quinona, or sprouted lentils. Eggs and cultured dairy were the bulk of my calories: eggs and or yogurt for breakfast each morning, cheese with either lunch or dinner (or both!).

    However, I’m suffering from some adrenal issues, which are impairing my digestion. My body is producing way too much cortisol and not enough DHEA, so a good bit of the food I eat – when I’m able to eat – doesn’t get digested properly. My fabulous naturopathic doctor recommended that I go on the Adrenal Reset Diet to give my adrenals a rest while they’re healing, but that involves cutting out the 4 big adrenal agitators: gluten, sugar, eggs, and dairy. While the first 2 I quit when I started living primally, eggs and dairy have been really difficult to give up, as that has left me basically a vegan. Some days I get so hungry that I will eat plates of food, but nothing satisfies me. After usually a week or so of this, I’ll be so drained that I can barely function, and then I break down and make some eggs and I’m fine for a few days, until the process starts over.

    So I’m asking you, primal friends, for any suggestions. Any tips on how to help heal failing adrenals? Any good vegan protein-packed recipes? A gal can’t live on nuts & seeds alone!

    1. Maybe whey isolate shakes a couple times a day to replace the eggs and full dairy. I make mine with whey and coconut milk. Maybe double up on the fish oil. I have a question though. How do you know your body is producing way too much cortisol and not enough DHEA and you have adrenal gland issues. That’s a very specific diagnosis that seems like you’d need extensive tests to know for sure.

      How about add some more spices like chili peppers, ginger, cinnamon and tumeric and only eating warm food for breakfast. Maybe add some black beans and avocado. I only suggest those things because in my experience they improve things all around. And they taste delicious!

    2. You need to talk to your doctor about adrenals.

      But, I believe, to be successful as a vegan, you need to eat properly cooked and rinsed/drained legumes and starches at every meal to keep you fuller, longer- they are more slowly digesting than fruits and veggies.

      Also, some healthy fats like walnuts, chia and flax meal can help meet your calorie needs also.

      Dairy with lots of estrogen and whey protein or other extremely high protein foods can really trigger m-tor and changes in endocrine systems.

      I wouldn’t hurt to try legumes hummus, black beans, white beans at every meal with some healthy fats, along with your fruits and veggies!

    3. I feel for you….i am the same, and on top, lactose intolerant, and lamb, beef, eggs make me nauseous, even if its once a day small portion, twice a week with days in between, i could stomach, and nuts make my throat itch and very thirsty, dont eat gluten as cant digest, dont eat sugar as makes me super anxious….and adrenal depleted….
      Any suggestions??

  36. I am interested in making crickets and other insects a larger part of my diet.

    Daniella Martin makes a strong case for them in her book: EDIBLE: An Adventure into the World of Eating Insects and the Last Great Hope to Save the Planet. She starts of talking about just how tasty and interesting they are to eat. On top of that, they are packed with nutrients and require substantially fewer resources to raise than chickens, pork, and beef.

    After reading her book I ordered crickets and wax worms. They came in the mail live and I popped them in the freeze overnight before cooking them. For the first try, I roasted the crickets in the oven. My teenage daughter popped one in her mouth and said, “Hey, these are actually GOOD!”

  37. dude – Nature made B12 ????? Come on Mark there has to be a better B12 supplement then that! It has artificial flavors and wheat in it!!!

  38. You suggest supplemental Carnosine in the body of this article but you link to a source of L-Carnitine. Which are you actually recommending? Thanks.

  39. Mark,
    Thanks for this post! I’ve been a Primal Blueprint-Mark Sisson “disciple ” for almost 9 years now. It has changed my life. I lost 50lbs in the 1st 4 months, but the best thing is the elimination of pain. I “had” 4 bad joints in my late 40s.
    Now I’m 56, no pain, full of energy, wearing my college jeans, and feeling the way I did back in college!!!
    I’m facing Prostate Cancer. PSA is at 18. PSA has doubled from last year, was 9. I’ve been watching this rise over the last 3 years.
    In researching Prostate Cancer, I’ve found that Prostate Surgery/chemo/radiation vs sitting at home doing nothing have the same survival rates.
    I’ve found those who have been “Proactive ” in their Lifestyle changes have actually beat the odds and have outlived the clinical studies.
    I now trying to modify my Primal Blueprint lifestyle to be more Vegan/Vegetarian.
    I will study this recently discovered post and make further modifications to my diet!
    If you have any other suggestions or resources for me to help this transition easier, I’d love to hear from you!
    Again, I feel like I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been in my life, no symptoms, yet, just an elevated number on a piece of paper.

    1. Chris, it’s great to hear from you, and thanks for sharing what you’re facing right now. I’m glad you’ve seen so many positive changes with Primal living, and it’s good to hear you’re coming to your diagnosis with (otherwise) excellent health and a strong resolve. I don’t know the particulars of your situation and can’t in any way give medical advice, but I hope you feel like you’re set up with a physician you feel like you can have a solid conversation with. Again, this isn’t medical advice, but you might find some useful follow-up questions for your doctor in this post. Let me know how things develop. I’ll be wishing you the best on the road ahead. — M

    2. My sister is Veggie keto and underwent surgery and chemo for breast cancer. Her secret, based on Dr. Longo’s research, is to fast for 48hrs prior to chemo and 24 hrs after. Her blood work is so good that nurses always do it twice as they don’t think the results are possible..She has more energy than ever and on the road to 100% recovery.

  40. I think on the ethical question of eating meat, if you are capable of going into the woods and shooting an animal, skinning it and preparing it, then you have earned the right to respectfully take a life and include meat in your diet, within reason, as other animals do with respect to their place in the food chain. If you are not capable of killing an animal, you have no place in eating one.

  41. Your articles are informative and helpful and thanks for not writing 20 pages before getting to the core stuff. Is there a way to connect to have a personal dietary question answered? Anne

  42. I am extremely disappointed in your vegetarian/vegan comments at opening of article. I was excited to read and learn about this form of eating and you totally turned me off. Animal welfare recognition is the acknowledgement of modern day holocaust/slavery of another living, sentient creature. Your disregard of people who recognize this is a gross turn off. Additionally, the undeniable health effects of plant based, as well as the undeniable inadequacies in digestive system of humans for animal products- dairy and meat- is scientific obvious proof humans don’t belong eating meat.