Two vegetarians walk into a bar; how do I know? They’ve told everyone.
Awful vegetarians jokes aside, tofu gave the people on the vegetarian diet something to hold onto.
A glimmer of hope that just because your dinner plate looks like something Bamby eats doesn’t mean you’re missing out on much.
But is that really true? Can tofu replace meat, and more importantly, can you eat tofu on paleo?
To provide a proper answer, we’ll have to see what tofu is made of and how it would fit in with other paleo products.
This one might be a bit controversial, like everything with soy products is.
So before we tell another cheesy vegetarian joke, let’s get into it.
Can You Eat Tofu On Paleo?
This one kept us up all night.
After extensive research, we decided to do something we haven’t previously done, and that is to let you decide.
It’s entirely up to you if you want to eat tofu on the paleo diet.
What a shocker, right?
Some of you might be yelling at their screens, saying: “Tofu is made of soy, everybody knows soy isn’t Paleo, these guys are frauds!”
But before you go on Reddit and start a Paleo crusade against us, we encourage you to read this article to better understand our answer.
Tofu originated in China.
Some say a Chinese cook accidentally made it by adding nigari seaweed to curdled soy milk.
The fact is, tofu is made of soy, no two ways about it.
The traditional advice would be to skip it if you’re on Paleo, but sometimes tradition tends to be narrow-minded.
That being said, let’s look at a nutrition chart, and then we’ll go over the cons and pros of tofu.
|Nutrient||Amount||% Daily Value|
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This thing is packed with protein.
It can easily compete with even the most protein-dense meat.
Paleo and protein go together like Netflix and chill.
One hundred grams of firm tofu has 17.3g of protein.
Those are some paleo numbers right there.
However, objectively speaking, if you’re on the paleo diet, you should be eating more than enough protein on a daily basis.
Sure, it’s great that it has that much protein, but that definitely doesn’t make it a must-have on paleo.
We’ve said on numerous occasions that the paleo diet isn’t necessarily a low-carb diet.
Paleo diet dictates you have to eat nutritious food. Fruits can be high in carbs, but they’re allowed here because they’re also very nutritious.
But not all fruits are allowed on Paleo; read: can you eat watermelon on Paleo?; to hear our opinion on this delicious fruit.
That being said, tofu is both low in carbs and nutritious.
If you’re scratching your head right now, don’t worry; so are we.
At only 2.8g of carbs and zero sugars, we don’t know what to think; we’re leaning more and more towards this thing.
But again, meat provides you with this exact same benefit, lots of protein and zero carbs; it’s just how Paleo works.
This has to be it; vitamins and minerals have to be lacking here, right?
Nope, tofu comes out on top once more.
First, we have the calcium percentage. A hundred grams of tofu meets half of your daily intake needs for calcium, half!
The next best thing we have on Paleo is sardines with 570mg of calcium or 44% of RDI.
And let’s be honest, who likes eating sardines every day? They’re great and all, but they won’t set your world on fire with how they taste.
Next, we have iron and phosphorus. It’s not a massive percentage like calcium, but it’s a respectable amount.
These minerals are essential to our overall health.
Calcium is vital for your bone strength and health; the older we get, the more calcium we should consume to keep the old bones healthy.
Iron plays a part in the production of red blood cells, which carry oxygen around our bodies.
According to some studies, a lower level of oxygen causes a higher risk of cancer.
Phosphorus is important for both teeth and bones, but also for our DNA.
We got all these on Paleo; we get them in the right amount, but that doesn’t take away from the fact tofu can indeed hold its own in this regard.
4. Amino Acids
We’ll try to keep this part as short as possible since it can get complicated fairly quickly.
Basically, there are nine essential amino acids. Essential as in your body can’t properly function without them.
The most significant difference between plant-based protein and animal-based protein is that animal-based one has all of the nine essential amino acids.
But tofu, unlike its cousins, also has all nine essential amino acids. That’s why vegans and vegetarians swear by it.
That’s also why, in theory, it can completely replace meat.
Of course, we don’t recommend you do that, especially if you’re on Paleo, but we see the reasoning behind it.
It’s not all so fine and dandy, though.
Tofu doesn’t ‘fulfill’ all the paleo requirements, at least not in the way ‘experts’ see paleo.
1. Fat And Cholesterol Lies
At nine grams of fat and zero cholesterol, tofu is considered extremely healthy.
But as we stated before, cholesterol and fat aren’t the villains we thought they were.
Back in the Paleolithic era, our ancestors survived exactly due to fat.
The meat they ate, which of course had fat, provided them with enough energy to survive some extremely harsh conditions.
Tofu might be rich in protein and low in carbs, but you need something to fuel your everyday activities, and protein can’t do that properly.
2. Oh boy, more soy
Finally, we get to the meat of the story, which is soy. (such a bad pun)
It’s common knowledge that soy is not allowed on paleo.
The ”our Paleolithic ancestors didn’t eat it, so we can’t” argument aside, soy contains lectins that can increase your body’s toxicity.
They’re basically antinutrients that serve as a defense mechanism for plants.
Legumes contain this antinutrient, and that’s why paleo experts don’t recommend you eat them.
3. Gmo in soy
Soy is associated with Asian cuisine.
Asian cuisine is associated with healthy living and non-obesity.
However, the soy they eat is unprocessed, unlike the soy, we have access to in our grocery stores, which tends to be highly processed.
The point is, when eating Paleo, you know where the food you eat comes from.
Above all, you know it’s unprocessed, and there aren’t any potentially harmful chemicals in it.
The Neutral Argument
In order to remain as unbiased as possible, we have to mention soy isoflavones.
They’re compounds found in soy products and some studies suggest they may prevent cancer.
Now, we’re unsure who funded those studies.
The fact that the US is the second-largest soybean producer in the world makes us a bit skeptical about any study concerning soy.
That’s why this will remain in the neutral zone until some more research is conducted, and we have a more straightforward answer.
Some Paleo Philosophy
Here on theuskitchen.com, we try to be as objective as possible.
There are no can and cants when it comes to eating, only shoulds.
If you feel good about eating a particular food even though it might not be paleo, go ahead, put it in your diet.
To clarify, when we say ‘feel good,’ we mean healthy, not feel good as in “drown yourself in a tub of ice cream.”
Can You Eat Tofu On Paleo – Conclusion
If you’re a vegetarian who came here looking for a way to be on Paleo but without meat, we got bad news; you’re in the wrong place.
We don’t recommend you replace meat with tofu.
We consider meat an essential part of the paleo diet, which probably won’t change anytime soon.
Tofu is great, but the meat will provide you with pure energy, unlike any other food out there.
That being said, tofu isn’t something we would completely disregard on the paleo diet.
It’s highly nutritious; it’s full of protein and minerals. Plus, it has almost no carbs, all traits of something you would eat on Paleo.
But, it is soy, and soy carries some risks that can’t be overlooked so easily.
If you can get your hands on some unprocessed, organic tofu, go ahead, give it a go, see how you feel.
Just steer clear from the processed stuff.
To wrap it all up, we’ll say it again: It’s up to you if you want to eat tofu on Paleo.
The purists won’t agree, but at the end of the day, it’s your life.