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What is vegan, paleo, keto? Who needs them? Why are they good for me?

Kosher foods, soy-free, gluten-free, dairy-free what are the differences and similarities?

Home Grown Squash


Organic agriculture uses natural inputs while prohibiting, or strictly limiting synthetic substances and chemicals. Manure and bone meal may be used for fertilizers, for example. Pests are controlled through biological means and farming practices. Organic agriculture is tightly regulated in most countries. 

Requirements vary from country to country (List of countries with organic agriculture regulation), and generally involve a set of production standards for growing, storage, processing, packaging and shipping.


Veganism seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.


Vegans have a plant-based diet avoiding all animal foods such as meat (including fish, shellfish and insects), dairy, eggs and honey - as well as avoiding animal-derived materials, products tested on animals and places that use animals for entertainment.



Foods that are labeled gluten-free, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules, must have fewer than 20 parts per million of gluten.

A gluten-free diet is an eating plan that excludes foods containing gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye).

A gluten-free diet is recommended for people with celiac disease, gluten-sensitivity or the skin disorder dermatitis herpetiformis. A gluten-free diet may be helpful for some people with irritable bowel syndrome, the neurological disorder gluten ataxia, type 1 diabetes and HIV-associated enteropathy.

Vegan Bowl


Kosher food is any food or beverage that Jewish dietary laws allow a person to eat. It isn’t a style of cooking. Keeping kosher is much more complex than that. Rules are the foundation of kosher food.

It starts out simple. Kosher foods fall into three categories: meat, dairy, and "pareve," sometimes spelled "parve."

Kosher certifications are on the packaging of any product considered kosher:

  • A "K" means kosher certified. If the "K" is in a circle, it means the company OK Kosher Certification approved the product as kosher.

  • When there's a "D" after the "K," it means the product has dairy or that processing equipment that handles this food also handles dairy. The rules for dairy products apply when you eat that item. For example, you can't eat it with meat.

  • The word "pareve" or "parve" after the kosher symbol means it's neutral -- not dairy or meat, but still kosher. A "U" in a circle means the same thing.

  • A "P" means the product is kosher for the Jewish holiday Passover, which has its own dietary laws.

Most Jewish people who keep kosher do so because the Torah says to, not for health reasons. But kosher symbols on products mean that each ingredient, even food additives, meets strict regulations. It's especially helpful if you have allergies to certain foods like dairy products.

You might also appreciate kosher food labels if you are vegetarian or vegan. Kosher food packaging must note when the food shared equipment with meat or dairy.



The paleo diet is a nutritional approach that focuses on eating only foods that are high in nutrients, unprocessed, and based on the foods that were available and eaten by humans in Paleolithic times.


The paleo diet is a focus on eating natural, real food that is widely available with little or no processing.

Paleo-friendly foods:

  • Grass-produced meats (high quality meats, not any processed type like hot dogs or most cold cuts)

  • Fish/seafood (all kinds)

  • Fresh fruits (all kinds)

  • Fresh vegetables (all non-starchy kinds, starchy kinds in moderation)

  • Eggs

  • Nuts (does not include peanuts which is a legume)

  • Seeds

  • Healthy oils (olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, coconut)

  • Natural forms of unrefined sugar in moderation (raw honey, real maple syrup for example)

Foods not considered paleo:

  • All grains (oats, wheat, quinoa, etc)

  • Legumes/beans (including peanuts)

  • Dairy (cheese, milk, yogurt, ice cream)

  • Refined sugar or artificial sugar subs (also includes all sugary processed foods like soda or candy)

  • Potatoes/starchy vegetables (only paleo and okay in moderation for those who don’t need to lose weight)

  • Processed foods of any kind (if it’s not natural, it’s not paleo)

  • Overly Salty Foods

  • Refined vegetable oils (palm oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, etc.)

  • Alcohol (all kinds)


Low-carbohydrate diets restrict carbohydrate consumption relative to the average diet. Foods high in carbohydrates (e.g., sugar, bread, pasta) are limited, and replaced with foods containing a higher percentage of fat and protein (e.g., meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, cheese, nuts, and seeds), as well as low carbohydrate foods (e.g. spinach, kale, chard, collards, and other fibrous vegetables).

There is a lack of standardization of how much carbohydrate low-carbohydrate diets must have, and this has complicated research. There is no good evidence that low-carbohydrate dieting confers any particular health benefits apart from weight loss, where low-carbohydrate diets achieve outcomes similar to other diets, as weight loss is mainly determined by calorie restriction and adherence.

Homemade Cheese


Despite all of the nutrients found in soy and its high protein content, there are some concerns about including soy as a key part of your diet. While soy has been consumed in a healthy way for centuries, it can have negative effects when consumed in large quantities, which can commonly occur when people who follow plant-based diets rely on meat substitutes that are made with soy. 

Soy should not be consumed with people who have a soy allergy or who have a gluten sensitivity, as the consumption of soy will cause an immune system response in these individuals. Individuals who are at risk of poor thyroid function or who have an underactive thyroid should avoid soy, as soy has been found to increase levels of TSH in some individuals. Women who are experiencing infertility or who are at risk of infertility should also steer clear of soy, as changes in the levels of estrogen in the body can cause irregularities in your cycle.


For those with a very severe dairy allergy or intolerance, even trace amounts of milk protein or sugar may cause a reaction. In product manufacturing, “dairy-free” products may be cross-contaminated with trace amounts of dairy due to the use of shared equipment.

Lactose intolerance spurs a myriad of digestive symptoms in millions of people, including stomach pain, cramps, bloating, flatulence (yes, gas), diarrhea, and nausea. It has been estimated that 70% of the world’s population has some degree of lactose intolerance. The severity of milk allergy ranges from life-threatening (anaphylaxis) to relatively mild (hives), and researchers have discovered other pathways in which milk can cause an immune response. Dairy has also been labeled as a key trigger in IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and various other digestive conditions.

Soy free
Dairy free


Raw foodism, also known as rawism or following a raw food diet, is the dietary practice of eating only or mostly food that is uncooked and unprocessed. Depending on the philosophy, or type of lifestyle and results desired, raw food diets may include a selection of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, meat, and dairy products.


The diet may also include simply processed foods, such as various types of sprouted seeds, cheese, and fermented foods such as yogurts, kefir, kombucha, or sauerkraut, but generally not foods that have been pasteurized, homogenized, or produced with the use of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, solvents, and food additives. Raw foods included on such diets have not been heated above 40 °C (104 °F).

Varieties of Grain


Eating grain-free involves eliminating not only wheat products containing gluten, but also any gluten-free grains, such as rice, corn, oats and barley. On a grain-free diet, the not-technically-grain products of quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat are allowed in small quantities.


Complex carbohydrates in potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and pumpkins are encouraged in moderation.


The grain-free diet does not restrict meat or fish products, eggs, legumes/beans, seeds, nuts, sugar, or dairy.

Gluten free
Gran free


Corn is hidden in many things other than corn tortilla chips, popcorn, and cereals and may be harmful to some people who are corn-free because they have celiac disease or cannot tolerate gluten. Corn and gluten sensitivities tend to overlap in their symptoms when it comes to our health issues.  For those who cannot eat gluten, like oats, there is a risk of cross-contamination of gluten into the corn crop.

Many processed foods in our society contain GMO corn and deplete our gut (stomach) of good bacteria whose job is to help our keep us healthy and help with digestion. Throughout the past few years, there has sadly been a rise in GMO corn which our bodies cannot digest and process completely. Corn is used in a host of processed foods and corn allergies/sensitivities are hard to diagnose. Working with an Integrative or Functional M.D. through an elimination diet may be your best way to know if you are reacting to corn.

Farmer Holding Corn
Corn free
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