Hi there – Tash here again! After a few months of returning to vegetarianism, a friend of ours asked Jarrod and I how I could still follow a “Paleo” lifestyle. After all they said – isn’t Paleo all about eating lots of meat and fat? Good question, and one that got me thinking about the true meaning of “Paleo” living and how Jarrod and I make our meal times work with his relatively high intake of meat and my relatively new vegetarianism.

So the focus of this blog – How can a Vegetarian take on Paleo living? I did, and I am working at it with great interest and enjoyment in the realisation that these two seemingly conflicting dietary choices are indeed compatible. Furthermore, how do I make my food choices compatible with Jarrod’s (a keen carnivore) without adding to meal time confusion, additional meal preparation hassle etc etc.??

Well, firstly my definition of “Paleo living” is really eating whole, nutritious foods from quality sources in their least processed state, being mindful of what and how much food you put on your plate, and acknowledging and appreciating food and the abundant energy that it provides your body. To put it quite simply – just eat to nourish your body and mind.

Being vegetarian is a choice I made after really coming to the conclusion that I wasn’t feeling all that great eating meat – I didn’t particularly enjoy the taste or texture, and didn’t seem to get much energy from it at all. I battled this for a while, thinking that as an athlete, I couldn’t possibly get all the protein, iron and B vitamins (amongst other nutrients) that I needed from vegetable sources alone. I soon realised, after a stock-take of the actual amount of protein that I “needed” was actually substantially less than the amount I was putting in, and that I could easily get enough iron and other vitamins and minerals from careful food choices and supplementation. Plus, I really wasn’t eating that much meat anyway – I seemed to have a natural inclination to put less on my plate anyway!

Pretty much all the food I eat is either vegetable, fruit, legume or grain and as much as possible, organic. But, importantly, I do still eat an egg everyday (free range of course!) – this actually provides quite a lot of Vitamin B12, which is only found in animal products and most likely deficient in vegetarians. The form in which I eat these foods is either raw, steamed or lightly blanched – i.e. as close as possible to the natural state and perhaps with a pinch of Himalayan rock salt for a good source of trace elements. I eat the foods that I know will make me feel good, thrive with energy, and most of all, enjoy eating. So yes, I believe, based on my definition of “Paleo,” that I am still living a Paleo lifestyle…just without the meat.

Jarrod and I make this work pretty well. I generally cook up a large batch of mung beans or adzuki beans and rice at the beginning of the week and portion them throughout the week to save time. Nightly, we steam the vegies, he cooks his meat how he likes and we both plate up – I just skip the meat and add some beans or a bit of sliced raw tempeh. Easy, quick, delightful and….Paleo – the both of us!

For a good read on being a sporty or active person looking to go veggo – I highly recommend going to http://www.nomeatathlete.com. A great site for vegetarian tips and recipes.

Bon appetite! J