Celebrities Abandon Vegan Diets and Go Paleo

anne-hathaway-dp1Cover your eyes vegans…because you’re probably not going to like this. It looks like actress Anne Hathaway and former President Bill Clinton are making headlines yet again for their dietary choices, but this time they’re chewing the fat…and I mean that literally. In a report published by the Inquisitr, both celebrities were interviewed for their recent shifts away from a vegan diet and towards low-carb Paleo diets. Anne Hathaway states that her vegan diet was sapping her energy and that she “just didn’t feel good or healthy.” In an apology to PETA, she explained that she has shut the door on veganism, forever. Likewise, former President Bill Clinton along with his wife Hillary have adopted Paleo-style low-carb diets per the advice of Dr. Mark Hyman, who explained that the former President’s vegan diet was too starchy…something that he’s seen make a lot of vegans fat. More and more celebrities are taking the Paleo plunge by the day, but it’s not because Paleo is a ‘fad diet.’

My Veggie Diet Nearly Killed Me

vegan-paleoSo what’s the deal? Isn’t veganism supposed to be healthy? Well vegans, if you haven’t covered your eyes yet, you might want to do so now. I have a big ol’ Paleo bone to pick with whoever started the rumor that vegan or even vegetarian diets are “healthy.” I was a vegetarian/vegan for almost 25 years and up until the end, I was under the impression that my diet was “healthy”. That was until I developed multiple autoimmune diseases by the age of 30, and found myself extremely depressed, covered in painful rashes, bald, and crippled with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. My doctors told me that my genetics were to blame, but a deeper intuition told me that my diet was somehow related to my illnesses. After using my background in biochemistry to educate myself about the science behind the Paleo diet, I knew that I had no choice but to abandon my long-term veggie-based diet and ‘go Paleo.’

After only one day of eating Paleo, I felt surprisingly better, much like Anne Hathaway who claims she felt a notable difference overnight after renouncing veganism and starting to consume animal protein again. Within a couple months of eating Paleo, my symptoms were mostly gone, and my bloodwork showed major improvements in my health. Despite all this, I could still barely believe that by eating meat instead of grains and legumes, I was able to overcome my illnesses without drugs and by diet alone! This powerful experience led me to obtain my Master of Science in Human Nutrition and to study the science behind why and how my veggie-based diet had made me sick. Here are 7 compelling reasons why you may want to follow the lead of several celebrities and scientists, and think twice about your vegan or vegetarian diet.

7 Grains7 Reasons Why a Vegan Diet is NOT Healthy

1. Grains and Legumes – Grains and legumes contain chemicals called anti-nutrients
which are well-known to contribute to a leaky gut and other health problems. Leaky gut syndrome underlies many ‘diseases of modern civilization’ including autoimmune diseases, many types of cancer, depression and other mental illnesses, to name a few. Grains and legumes are also high in omega-6 fatty acids, which contribute to inflammation in the body.

2. High in carbohydrates – Vegan diets are high-carb due to the majority of foods that are consumed: grains, legumes, fruits, seeds, starches, and other vegetables. High carbohydrate diets are largely responsible for the obesity epidemic, and indeed many vegans experience difficulties trying to lose weight. Carbohydrates in excess can create inflammation in the body, which can further trigger a host of different diseases. It is important to understand that when carbohydrates are digested, they turn into sugar. High-carb diets lead to blood sugar disorders (i.e. diabetes) and can readily contribute to microbial overgrowth in the gut (dysbiosis).

3. Low in quality protein – While vegans and meat-eaters may eat a comparable amount of protein, the bioavailability of vegan protein sources is low. Less bioavailability means that the body is unable to use vegetable-derived proteins as efficiently as proteins that are derived from meat. Laboratory evaluations indicate that vegan diets are commonly deficient in the essential amino acids lysine, methionine, tryptophan, and threonine, which are required for life to be sustained. If intake of any one of these amino acids is low, then the body is unable to make other proteins as well. The most important antioxidant in the human body, glutathione, is also commonly deficient in vegans as is another important antioxidant amino acid known as Taurine. Many vegans consume soy as a protein source, which is well known to disrupt hormone function, and lead to a host of health problems.

4. Low in Bioavailable Nutrients – Vegans are at increased risk for deficiencies of vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin D, vitamin A, calcium, zinc, and iron, as plant-based foods contain less of these nutrients which are also less bioavailable compared to animal-based foods. Evidence also suggests that vegans store lower levels of creatine, carnitine, and carnosine, which play important roles in energy production and endurance. These nutrients are abundant in meat sources, but not plant sources. The anti-nutrients contained in grains, legumes, seeds, and raw nuts also bind to nutrients, making it difficult for the body to absorb vitamins and minerals from food.

5. Low in Essential Fats – Vegan diets tend to be low-fat diets, which contrary to seriously misguided popular belief, are NOT healthy. If anything, low fat diets may actually be hazardous to your health. Fat (especially saturated fat, which comes mainly from animals) and cholesterol play extremely important roles in the body to build our cell membranes, neurotransmitters, hormones, the brain and nerves, and other important stuff. Unless a vegan is consuming the right type of algae, their diet is likely deficient in omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA, which are also essential to sustain life.

6. Increased CVD RiskStudies have shown that vegan and vegetarian diets produce hyperhomocysteinemia, atherogenesis, and increase the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases (CVDs).

7. Destruction of Topsoil – Many vegans are trying to save the planet by eating only plants, yet fail to realize that the monocrop agriculture of grains and legumes has destroyed 98% of the American prairie land and 99% of Canada’s topsoil. Experts claim that the disappearance of topsoil “rivals global warming as an environmental threat.”

Celebrities and Scientists Can’t Both Be Wrong

Now I’m not trying to offend anyone here, and I know for a fact that many vegans have the best of intentions behind their dietary decisions. However the typical vegan diet is simply not sustainable for the vast majority of people, and I had to learn this the hard way. Vegan diets, comprised only of plant matter, do not provide sufficient nutrition for the long-term maintenance and repair that the human body requires. My belief that veganism was “healthy” was rooted in some seriously flawed logic, which I only discovered after becoming extremely ill. It was one of the most painful and challenging times of my life learning to eat meat again after nearly 25 years of brainwashing myself into thinking that meat was “gross” and “wrong.” But when I finally got over my fears and ate some meat, like Anne Hathaway, Bill Clinton and many others, I simply felt a heck of a lot better. By following a Paleo diet, I remain in remission of my diseases, and have witnessed many others also do the same. In my work as a Nutritionist, I receive almost daily messages from sick vegans and vegetarians who are often shocked and resistant to hear that their diet may be responsible for their poor health. Undoubtedly, the vegan vs. Paleo debate will continue to be polarized, but in the end, the proof is in the (Paleo) pudding.

In good health,
Kinsey Jackson, MS, CN


  1. What Is your opinion about quinoa and buckwheat in a Paleo diet? And what About gluten free oats? I sometimes feel I need a bit of energy from them, I have no sugar cravings but I feel I need a bit of those. Also my body asks me for bananas or dates when I feel very tired.

    1. Hi~
      Thanks for your comment. The Paleo diet strictly eliminates all grains and pseudograins, including quinoa, buckwheat, gluten free oats, and all other grains and legumes. The reason is that these foods are quite problematic for many people, due to the anti-nutrients contained in grains and legumes (i.e. saponins, phytates, lectins, enzyme inhibitors, etc.). These anti-nutrient chemicals cause damage to the gut lining in many people, which can result in a host of different diseases. Anti-nutrients also bind up vitamins and minerals so that we are unable to absorb these nutrients from foods. These are a few reasons why we avoid all grains and legumes on the Paleo diet. Instead you should get your protein from animal sources, and small amounts of nuts/seeds. It’s quite common to crave sugar when we are tired, because the sugar (from bananas and dates) raises our blood glucose which gives us a little boost of energy. But most people find that after they have transitioned to strict Paleo, that after a month or so, they do not struggle with these sugar cravings as often or as intensely. I hope this info helps!

      Best regards,
      Kinsey Jackson, MS, CN
      Paleo Plan

  2. Regarding reason #7: I believe that vast majority of this monocrop is consumed by animals (that are then fed to humans) rather than consumed directly by humans. So this is not a point against vegetarianism but against factory farmed meat consumption.

  3. I agree that humans were not meant to just eat plants. We were meant to eat things that eat plants. we are at the top of the food chain, and our nutrition is collected by grazing and foraging animals and delivered to us on a platter. We can’t eat grass, and there are essential nutrients in grass that we need, omega 3 is one of those things. don’t get your omega 3 from flax seeds, get it from animals that make it by eating grass. I blog about this every day over at dcarmack.com

    1. Thanks for your comment Dan! I completely agree with your thoughts here, and love how you said that “we were meant to eat things that eat plants.” That’s a great way of putting it! Thank you for sharing your wisdom; I look forward to checking out your blog!

      In good health,
      Kinsey Jackson, MS, CNS

  4. I have been closely-paleo since Dr Atkins’ entered the field of nutrition. But I have also experimented with low fat diets and Dr Ornish’s diet—shamefully succumbing to the trends of the times.

    The times I spent on the Ornish diet or the low fat carb substitutes that first entertained the marketplace, seemed to be fine, until I realised I was gaining weight and not feeling up to my usual spirits or energy levels. The low carb substitutes I gave up pretty quickly; Dr Ornish’s fare I stayed on over three months. Then I chanced a visit to a doctor for a return of hip pain from an injury thirty years ago, and he was confounded my the deformity of my hip bone so sent me to the cancer clinic. The results, and only results thankfully, were that my cholesterol and triglycerides were through the roof. The doctor wanted to put me on statins and pain killers. I tossed the freebees and prescriptions in the garbage tin once in the parking lot.

    So back to my paleo fair I journeyed. Miraculously my hip pain subsided as I was now on the Dr Peter D’Adamo’s O Blood Diet and wheat and gluten grains turned out to be the bugaboo in my pain. A few years later when I visited my home doctor, my specks for both my cholesterol and triglycerides were back to their healthy levels—as a moderate smoker and being on the chubby side my specs would put most staunch pro-abolitionist (smoking and drinking) to shame. They impress my skeptical doctor and are certainly better than my slightly older, thin, health-conscious sister’s to shame and we share the same genes (though I have a chromosome that she doesn’t have—which is supposed to put me at a disadvantage).

    Interesting point on the difference between herbivores and carnivores: herbivores actually ‘farm’ bacteria in one chamber of their sectioned stomachs. Once the bacteria have devoured the sugar* matter, the billions of bacteria enter another chamber where they are dissolved and digested for their fats and proteins. So, in a sense, even herbivores are carnivores.

    Another interesting off topic titbit: recently I had to have an abscessed tooth pulled. The new dentist insisted on a full facial X-ray. Looking at the results he was startled by my ‘strong bones’. He kept repeating this throughout the extraction but being the baby I am in the presence of pain, my own, I delved no further. The next visit I shall do that. But if indeed I do have strong bones, it is not from exercise, and smoking probably doesn’t assist in such matters. I have been a strong believer in Borax, a small daily dosage that adheres to a dry finger. I learned that little trick from Walter Last and his article “The Borax Conspiracy”, easily found in a Google search. I like to pass on good health tricks.

    *sugar: carbohydrate is a fashion word sounding better than the often negative connotations aroused from the use of sugar and starch. The body’s sources of energy generally come from sugars, and at times, proteins; though alcohol and sugar alcohols can also contribute some sugar, that is to say, carbohydrates.
    Namaste and care,

    1. Hi Mhikl,

      Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so glad you’ve found a working recipe for your health and it’s no surprise that it’s Paleo :-). Keep on keeping on!


  5. How are vegan diets low in any one of those nutrients? Iron is found in most leafy greens like kale and spinach, as well as in beans, lentils, and other legumes. A single sweet potato has more than 100% of your daily vitamin A. Carrots and cantaloupe also contain tons of it. Vitamin B12 is found in almost every almond milk on the market as well as in nutritional yeast. Vitamin D comes from the SUN and also in a variety of mushrooms. Calcium is also found in leafy greens and a variety of other plant sources. This is nutrition 101. Please do not publish information as fact, especially if it’s deterring people from eating the most basic and nutritional form of food, plants, without doing a little research first. To anyone reading this, yes a vegan lifestyle requires a bit of education. It’s easy to become deficient in certain areas if you do not have a basic understanding of nutrition. Lucky there are tons of books, websites, and youtube videos that explain how to do it right and also give great ideas on easy meal ideas. Get informed and eat more plants!

    1. Hi Nicole,

      I agree that eating plants is an important part of healthy diet. However, eating too many grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds (and even too many carbohydrates in general as a result of a vegetarian diet) can be very problematic. These foods contain an abundance of anti-nutrients http://www.paleoplan.com/2011/03-30/why-no-grains-and-legumes/ which can prevent nutrient absorption and irritate the gut lining triggering chronic inflammation and various disease states. Kinsey was a vegetarian for 25 years and ended up with crippling autoimmunity. She details her experience and how she reversed her disease with the Paleo diet in this post, http://www.paleoplan.com/2014/10-08/ra-rheumatoid-arthritis-paleo-diet/. For more information on how anti-nutrients create leaky gut and chronic disease states, check out this three part series, The Autoimmune Epidemic, http://www.paleoplan.com/2014/11-12/autoimmune-epidemic-part-1/, http://www.paleoplan.com/2014/11-20/autoimmune-epidemic-part-2-leaky-gut/ and http://www.paleoplan.com/2014/11-26/autoimmune-epidemic-part-3-autoimmune-protocol/.


  6. If I live to be 100 I’ll credit my vegan diet for that miracle. Let’s see who lives the longest then, vegans or flesh eaters. If you really care about animals and think they deserve better then don’t kill them, torture them or eat them. Rare, medium or well-done? No thank you, I’ll keep mine alive.

  7. I eat the whole food plant based diet of Esselstyn (similar to Ornish). I have previously been a vegetarian and a very unhealthy one, overeating chocolate, refined flour products, milk and eggs and overcompensating with not so healthy olive oil and of all things, not eating enough vegetables. I also tried Atkins and found that unsustainable.

    On a whole food plant based and oil free diet I also cut out simple carbs and processed foods. I did weigh 213 pounds, now 142. Did have a TC of over 300, now over 160. Abnormally high LDL, almost halved. I have never taken a statin drug.

    Of course I want someone to come along and tell me I can eat all those glorious fat laden products that line the supermarket shelves and to which effortlessly I need not spend hours or days hunting down. I’d also like to be thirty years younger and spend a night with Angelina Jolie.

    If you look at the indigenous rural populations that exist today they eat very little meat because they either have to hunt it down or they do not have the money or access to supermarkets. As soon as they migrate into the cities they get our diet and heart disease. Paleo people like to point out these tribes eat meat, but close inspection shows it to be a very very small amount when they can catch it.

    I am sure I would feel a greater physiological sense of satisfaction if I gratified my urges with more fat, but that was the problem in the first place. The older Japanese people mindfully stop eating at 80% capacity, unwittingly enducing a state of autophagy. No pain, no gain.

  8. What about everything in the meat that makes you sick? Hello, ever watched Forks Over Knives? But whatever society has its own funny beliefs anyways.

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