The Food Adventures of a Vegan Gal and a Paleo Dude

What happens when a plant-loving vegan gal and a paleo-zoning dude, grocery shop, cook, and eat together?

Four words.

Adventure (always)

Adjustment (constant)

Frustrations (often)

Compromises (difficult, but necessary)

People have plenty of things to deal with in relationships, but I think what we decide to eat together (and it is a decision) is starting to become a hot button topic for many of us.

We hear that couples most often argue about money, but with the proliferation of nutritional information everywhere we look, I’m sure marriage therapists will be seeing more and more couples fighting over what they “should” eat.  As a society, we spend an enormous amount of time grocery shopping, blogging ;), meal planning, eating, talking about food, eating out, reading foodie magazines, watching cooking shows, and following food trucks on twitter.

Although I’m being a little facetious here, I’m absolutely glad we are having these discussions. We should care deeply about what we put in our bodies. We may not have control over what genes we inherit, but we have control over what we eat.

The question of what we “should eat” often leads to fights, especially when you take a person like me, who is passionate about what I chose to eat, and someone like Eric who is also passionate about food. As a matter of fact, I read a post recently by a paleo guy that said he would never date a vegan because it’s “too hard”, and he’s “been down that road before”.

I’m not trying to spark a debate between the  vegan and paleo camps – there are plenty of articles, books, blogs, that do just that – but of course, if you have questions or comments, don’t be shy, and fire away.

This post gives you a glimpse at how we do what we do – that is, (try to) respect each other’s point of view, and eat what we each believe to be the “optimal” diet for our health and our conscience.

If you’re vegan, be prepared. There will be pictures of animal products in this post, because that is how we live.  No sugar-coating that Eric eats meat and eggs, and I don’t. But I will also spare you the details about the occasional “incidents”, like this morning’s horrific bacon encounter. Real bacon!  I haven’t seen it my fridge in two years!

Many people wonder how we make it work. Are we constantly fighting about food, or cooking separately? And isn’t it just way too hard? Are we constantly starving because we don’t know what to cook? And are we spending thousands of dollars a month on groceries?

In short, it is expensive, but we both choose to spend our money on good quality food and make sacrifices elsewhere in our budget. Also, believe it or not, we have much more in common than most people think.

Our fully stocked fridge looks like this. Most of the fridge is produce. A small drawer includes my tempeh (not happily shared with), Eric’s meat. {we need another drawer}. Eric’s eggs in the corner, and staples like almond milk and dates.


I think the main reason we don’t bite each other’s heads off is because in many respects, we have a similar approach to food. Eat the best possible quality produce and feed your body on a macro and micro nutrient level. I also care about the acid/alkaline balance in my body and take in as many enzymes as I can from fresh produce on the daily basis.

What I eat – Vegan/Mostly Raw

I’ve been vegan for two and a half years. In the last few months, I have eaten more and more raw food. My philosophy (now) is, simple is better. I don’t cook most of the food I eat. A typical meal is a huge salad with a ton of chopped up veggies, homemade dressing, usually using tahini or avocado for the fat, or balsamic vinegar mixed with a high quality cold-pressed olive oil. At this point, I would say, I’m 80% raw. I like it this way not only because it gives me a chance to share food with Eric the other 20% of the time – for example, when we both eat marinated roasted mushrooms, or veggies on the grill – but also because it allows me to have some extra protein in the form of tempeh. After experimenting with eating raw 100% of the time, I feel like I need extra protein to support my very active lifestyle, so I add tempeh from time to time. If you’re wondering whether I get bored with “just eating vegetables”, my answer is, I’m not obsessed with cooking food, I’m obsessed with the taste of each flavorful and ripe bite. I appreciate the taste in it’s natural form, and prefer not to tinker with it too much. But I do love me some cashew cheese – that I will admit.

What Eric eats – Paleo/Zoning 

Eric is paleo. Here’s what Eric had to say about his diet:

A Paleolithic diet is based on the food consumed by our ancient ancestors over 10,000 years ago.  This includes wild fish, pasture raised meats, eggs, fruits, vegetables, roots, and nuts.  No grains, legumes, dairy products, refined sugars, and processed foods. The diet is based on the premise that modern humans are genetically adapted to the foods of their caveman ancestors. Much of the processed foods of the standard American diet, which resulted out of the industrialization of the food industry and agricultural developments, have been around a very short time when compared to the length of human existence.

Not only is Eric paleo, but he recently started “zoning”. Here’s what he says about it:

The zone aspect of the diet focuses on the quantities of food consumed and the timing of meals.  The goal is too keep the body hormonally balanced and avoid spikes in blood sugar and insulin response. This leaves the body able to produce key anti-inflammatory agents that aid in recovery.  I am currently weighing every gram of food I consume in order to get an idea of how different amounts of the macronutrients (fat, protein & carbohydrates) effect my mood, energy levels, and physical performance.  I have a spreadsheet that details the amount of food and breaks each meal down into macronutrient content and total calories.  I am using this as a learning experience to understand the nutrient content of different foods and I have already noticed the benefits of a more balanced intake.

Yes, he has a spreadsheet.  It’s more like a mathematical work of art that I don’t understand.

I also know that he keeps his carbs to 40%, protein to 30% and fat to 30%. Eric has been zoning for about 3 weeks, and according to his testimony, gained 6 pounds of muscle. Remember that Eric experimented with food a bit – he did a 40 day vegan challenge, and up to recently ate a 50%-60% vegan diet.

Despite the vegan-paleo feud, Eric and I have more similarities than differences.

We both don’t eat processed food: unless it’s raw or dehydrated, we don’t eat anything that’s packaged. No cereal, oatmeal, bread, pasta, muffins, and cakes. Of course, there are those rare occasions that I have a vegan, gluten-free muffin at Temple. This happens seldom, and when it does, I don’t make myself feel bad about it, but enjoy it. I don’t try to justify it by telling myself my body must “need it”, and I stopped with the guilt, people! I just admit that it sounds really good and go with it.

Grain-free: we both don’t eat grains.

Legume-free (for the most part): we both don’t do the bean thing anymore. Eric has always hard a hard time digesting beans, and even though I had less of problem, beans have not been at the forefront of my meals. I eat sprouted legumes, but that’s about it. Legumes are very acid forming in the body so I chose to avoid them.

Diary-Free: We are both cheese, milk, yogurt free. No dairy, none.

Fruit and veggie Lovers: You already saw our fridge. Need I say more? I juice consistently: it’s not atypical for me to have a whole head of kale, lettuce, and romaine in one juice!

What about coffee and alcohol?

I go back and forth. I don’t need to have coffee every day, like I used to. But I do like to sit at Temple (like I’m doing now, as I write this), and sip on my delicious “dharma” cappuccino. With that said, I have de-caf often and just like the taste. I have juice instead in the morning to wake-up. Eric LOVES coffee and he has a french press every morning. I enjoy an occasional glass of wine, and sips of Eric’s beer, but definitely on occasion. Eric really enjoys beer, but found that the grain derivative causes inflammation and leads his allergies to flare up.

Now, leave all your stereotypes aside, and as we welcome you to a somewhat typical day in our kitchen.

* I say “somewhat” because it was Sunday, so we spent a little more time on dinner than we normally would.

Both Eric and I start the day with a couple of smoothies. The difference is that I add plant-based protein powder like, Vega, or Raw Meal into my smoothie for extra protein, plus half a banana and a huge handful of kale, while Eric’s smoothie is mostly fruit and hemp hearts. He, however, balances out the fruit smoothie with some eggs.

My cacao morning smoothie. A splash of almond milk, water, half a frozen banana, some blueberries, protein powder, a few ice cubes and huge handful of kale.

Maria's Smoothie

Eric’s blackberry smoothie.

Eric's smoothie

We keep bags of frozen fruit and bags of flax seeds, hemp seeds, and chia seeds in the freezer.

Smoothie ingredients

I typically have two snacks a day – usually a piece of fruit or green juice.  A snack around 11 am and another one around 5 pm. We shared this grapefruit.

grapefruit snacks

Since it was Sunday, Eric and I headed to the farmer’s market to stock up on some local fruits and veggies. You would think we would have different priorities, but we both we go for mostly greens and fresh fruit.

fm veggies1

fm veggies2

The only difference between our choices was that I picked up a bag of sprouts and Eric purchased a crate of eggs. He also browsed the meat-counter, but did not buy anything.

We got home and it was juice time.

Juicing prep

juicing greens

I am a green juice addict. I tell Eric all the time – “if you don’t appreciate the power of the green juice, then I can’t share it with you!” I’m absolutely serious. It takes a lot of organic, fresh, local greens to make just one cup of absolutely delicious juice. I LOVE to share the juice with people, but I only share it with those that appreciate it :)


Here is lunch. A huge vegetable salad for me. Some kind of meat concoction in the form of a taco salad for Eric.

Don’t worry, he also had a second lunch a little later. Eric normally also has two dinners to “stay in the zone”. I only say this with slight sarcasm.

Maria's Lunch

Eric's Lunch

Eric's food

Our Sunday dinner is bit out of the ordinary. Because Eric and I have opposite schedules, we normally eat dinner separately. I eat dinner before teaching my night classes – normally a salad or a big smoothie. I try not to eat past 8 o’clock. By the time I get home around 8 or 8:30 pm, Eric is already on his second dinner.

That night though, Eric grilled up veggies for both of us, and meat for himself.



Because I’m mostly raw, this day was a bit of an outlier. Remember what I said about compromises? Having a cooked meal, at least once a week, is one of those compromises that I don’t feel bad about at all. Sharing food that my husband took the time to prepare for both of us is a treat.


By the way, Eric is a grill master. This meal was amazing! There is a grilled kiwi on my plate.

I will briefly address the (so far) unspoken part of the vegan-paleo marriage – the ethical reasons why I choose to be vegan. I won’t go deeply into it in this particular post, but can in the future if you’re interested. We are both educated on the matter, but have different opinions. We read books, watch documentaries, and constantly educate ourselves on the topic. I am not interested in degrading another person’s point of view or convincing Eric that my deliberate choice not to eat animals or animal products is superior to his point of view, and Eric does not try to convince me that I should eat like a caveman does because “it is a natural way to live” or proudly devour a plate of bleeding red meat in front of me.

Once I find new information, I share. Once Eric finds new information, he shares. That’s where it ends. I suppose we could fight about it, and I would be lying if I said that tensions don’t get a little high sometimes, but just like many things in your marriage, we are learning to meet each other half way. That’s it for now.

If this vegan-paleo topic interests you and you want to know more about any of the details, or have any questions either for me or Eric, just leave a comment!

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  1. Ryan
    Posted May 17, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Psychos 😉

  2. Jedidiah Soliz
    Posted May 19, 2013 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    I love this blog Maria! Thanks for all the info and inspiration :) It is my plan to do nearly the same thing as you and go mostly (85% or more) raw by June 25th. I know what the benefits of being on living foods can do for you so I need to live that way for optimal health and performance! The cooked food addiction is just such a challenge to overcome, but I think I am ready to take it on and it is so nice to have friends like you who are doing it, to learn from and be encouraged by! Cheers to a healthy, vibrant, radiant lifestyle :)

    • Posted May 19, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      I have no doubt you can do it Jed, you’ve already gone such a long way in only a year! Cheers!

      • Jedidiah Soliz
        Posted May 21, 2013 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

        Thanks Maria! I hope you don’t mind, but I plan on coming over all the time for some of that green juice, lol 😉 I promise that I will appreciate it!!

        • Posted May 22, 2013 at 7:22 am | Permalink

          Well then, you are welcome anytime.

          • Jedidiah Soliz
            Posted May 27, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

            Thank you! Maybe I will bring you some of my fresh goji berries when they are ripe during the summer and we can do a trade :)

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    My name is Maria and I live in California. I love teaching high-energy Pilates classes, going on long runs, and making connections with all of you! Hope you find a few useful articles, fitness tips, and recipes while you're here.

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