I Can’t Eat That, I’m Paleo

March 29, 2012

(Photo by Robert S. Donovan)

Vegetarianism and veganism is so commonplace, it’s downright respected. When a vegetarian or vegan says, “Oh, I can’t eat that, I’m vegetarian/vegan” – does he/she get weird looks? A blank stare? Confusion followed by “what’s vegetarian?”. Of course not. The response is a look of understanding. A knowing nod. Oftentimes even followed by, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t know”. As if offering a vegetarian meat, or a vegan eggs was offensive and warranted some sort of apology. And I’ve certainly never seen someone counter a declaration of being vegetarian with shock or indignation or an argument as to why they should be eating meat. Just once I’d love to see someone respond with “You’re vegan? Man, that’s so unhealthy.”

That’s a status I envy and aspire to for paleo/primal. In fact, I think I’m going to matter-of-factly start saying, “I can’t eat that, I’m paleo.” Rather than just saying “Oh, I don’t eat grains.” Or “No thanks, I’ll pass”. Or staying quiet. Truth of the matter is, I don’t always feel like explaining. Especially when I don’t expect the audience to be receptive or open minded. Most people just aren’t happy to hear that you eat lots of fats, plenty of meat, and very few carbs. And although sometimes I get a kick out of the reaction, most of the time it’s just not worth it.

Celiacs are starting to rank up their status-wise. There are now entire gluten-free menus and a server at Cactus Club recently asked me if I’m Celiac, rather than “allergic”. This is helpful to paleo, but not nearly good enough since gluten-free  does not automatically mean paleo.

I look forward to the day when someone offers me something cooked in rancid oil, or laced with grains, only to revoke it apologetically once they find out I’m paleo.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen P. March 29, 2012 at 8:01 AM

Weeeelllll…veggies have had the benefit of several decades to earn acceptance. In some places, it’s still a “weird” thing, like the Midwest and other parts of the world. When I went to Croatia, I felt bad for the vegetarians in the group because they basically got a plate of soggy boiled potatoes and chard. For a week.

But, point taken! I agree. I’ve stopped feeling like such a pariah. My favorite response (only in certain company) when asked why is, “That shit’ll kill ya.”


[email protected] March 29, 2012 at 10:00 PM

“they basically got a plate of soggy boiled potatoes and chard. For a week.” <-- that'll teach 'em to eat meat.... ;) Good point about it still being "weird" in some places. As it should be :)


Chelsea A March 29, 2012 at 1:47 PM

” And I’ve certainly never seen someone counter a declaration of being vegetarian with shock or indignation or an argument as to why they should be eating meat.”

… really? Because I overhear that pretty regularly. I’ve heard vegans get questioned about their health plenty, too, haha (even the ones who seem plenty healthy).


[email protected] March 29, 2012 at 1:50 PM

I’m moving to where you’re from! :p around here, it’s almost… politically incorrect. Sadly, the vegan/vegetarian movement is pretty big here in Vancouver.


Aaron March 29, 2012 at 4:24 PM

The tricky part for us is that there’s no easy and brief way to describe Paleo do’s and dont’s

Vegetarian is easy – no meat and you’re pretty safe

Veganism is easy too – no animal products at all

Paleo – Well, no grains or seed oils (what’s a seed oil most people will ask) and maybe no legumes or dairy. And keep the sugar down. Maybe corn or rice is okay since I only go out occasionally and these aren’t the worst offenders. And if there is rice, make it white because there are too many anti nutrients in brown. And what’s in the gravy or sauce? And on and on.

For the time being it’s going to be easiest for us to make most of our meals at home and do the best we can when we’re out. You already know this of course. Perhaps we can rub some brain cells together and come up with what would be our ‘best/easiest to understand’ line when we’re out.


[email protected] March 29, 2012 at 9:58 PM

Hi Aaron. Good points all around! :) For starters, I’d be happy if paleo was recognized as 1) quality food (no preservatives/flavorings/crap) with 2) absolutely no grains/legumes (i.e. not just gluten-free), and 3) not cooked in seed oils. The fact that it’s so complicated only goes to show how messed up the world is :P I’m so used to eating my burgers without buns that I forget to order bun-less when I’m out – my friends actually end up reminding me.

For now, I find gluten-free a starting point when I dine out, but it quickly derails from there when I get offered a bunch of other crap in its place (post coming up on this).


laura west kong April 25, 2012 at 4:51 PM

My doctor told me in essence that my veganism was unhealthy. You can’t get more direct than: You really need to eat meat.


[email protected] April 25, 2012 at 7:26 PM

That’s refreshing – doesn’t sound like your typical doctor.


Theresa May 18, 2012 at 3:49 PM

My doctor recently went vegetarian. So when I told him I was doing CrossFit, he said, “so you eat a lot of meat and stuff, huh?”

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[email protected] May 18, 2012 at 7:06 PM

Time for a new doctor? :) I was just checking out the paleo physicians network – wish there was a paleo doctor somewhere in Vancouver, BC..


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