It’s not the paleo diet; it’s not the vegan diet; it’s the Pegan diet. As you may have guessed, it takes inspiration from both paleo and vegan dietary standards. It is said to be nutritious, reduce inflammation, balance blood sugar, and improve general wellness.While simultaneously adopting standards of the paleo and vegan diets may sound nearly impossible, the Pegan diet is not as restrictive as either diet on its own. It emphasizes eating fruits and vegetables, but there are small allowances for meats, fish, seeds, nuts, and some legumes. In fact, even some processed sugars, oils, and grains are acceptable.If the diet sounds good to you so far, read on to learn more about what’s involved.
About the Pegan Diet
The Pegan Diet was introduced by Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D., in 2014. It combines elements of the paleo diet and the vegan diet.Also called the caveman diet, the paleo diet consists of foods that existed before processed foods were introduced, including lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.A vegan diet eliminates meat and any type of food that would be considered an animal byproduct.While the Pegan diet is inspired by two highly restrictive diets, it offers more freedom than either on its own.Those wishing to follow the diet are advised to purchase Dr. Hyman’s book, “The Pegan Diet: 21 Practical Principles for Reclaiming Your Health in a Nutritionally Confusing World”. It provides a complete outline of what’s involved.
What Foods Can I Eat on the Pegan Diet?
The Pegan diet involves consuming the following food items.Fruits and VegetablesThe Pegan diet encourages followers to eat a good amount of fruits and vegetables. They should account for about 75% of your diet.The plants you eat should include mostly low-glycemic fruits like berries and non-starchy vegetables that will keep your blood sugar in check. However, small portions of starchy vegetables and sugary fruits are permitted to those with healthy blood sugar levels.Responsibly-Sourced ProteinWith fruits and vegetables making up 75% of your diet, you can make room for 25% animal protein. You will eat less meat than you would on a paleo diet but a lot more than you would on a vegan diet.The protein you eat should be responsibly sourced, including grass-fed and pasture-raised beef, pork, poultry, and eggs. Fish with low mercury content like salmon and sardines are also recommended. Avoid conventionally raised meats and eggs.Minimally Processed FatsHealthy fats to be included in the diet are as follows:
- Omega 3’s sourced from low mercury fish
- Coconut and some coconut products (including unrefined coconut oil)
- Avocado and olives (including cold-pressed avocado and olive oil)
- Nuts (peanuts are not permitted)
- Seeds (processed seed oils are not permitted)
The recommended meats and eggs will also contribute to the diet’s healthy fat content.
Some Whole Grains and Legumes
Most whole grains and legumes are to be avoided on the Pegan diet, but a few gluten-free whole grains and legumes are permitted. However, they should be limited to a grain intake of no more than ½ cup per meal and a legume intake that does not exceed 1 cup a day.Permitted grains include quinoa, black rice, millet, teff, oats, and amaranth. Chickpeas, black beans, lentils, and pinto beans are among the legumes that get the green light.It should be noted that legumes and whole grains have the potential to influence blood sugar and should be further limited if you have diabetes or other conditions that affect blood sugar control.
What Can’t I Eat on the Pegan Diet?
While the Pegan diet is more flexible than the vegan or paleo diet, there are some foods you should not eat when following the meal plan. These include:
- Dairy: Dairy intake should be avoided. However, some foods made from goat or sheep milk can be added in limited amounts. Grass-fed butter is sometimes permitted as well.
- Food Additives: These include artificial colors and flavors, preservatives, and other additives.
- Gluten and Gluten-Free Grains: Gluten-free grains are strongly discouraged. Gluten-free whole grains may be consumed on occasion.
- Legumes: Legumes are mostly excluded from the diet due to their potential to raise blood sugar. However, low-starch legumes such as lentils can be consumed in limited quantities.
- Refined Oils: Refined oils like sunflower, canola, soybean, and corn oil are known to be toxic and should be eliminated.
- Sugar: All forms of sugar are mostly eliminated from the diet. In some instances, it may be consumed in small amounts.
Pros and Cons
The Pegan Diet has its share of advantages and disadvantages. Here are some to consider.
- Nutritious: The diet emphasizes nutritious foods that are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- Eliminates Unhealthy Foods: The Pegan diet discourages eating unhealthy foods that contain refined oils, food additives, and sugar.
- Boosts Overall Wellbeing: By eating healthy foods and eliminating unhealthy foods, you will experience improved heart health, reduced inflammation, and an increase in overall wellbeing.
- May Lead to Weight Loss: The Pegan Diet eliminates many calorie-dense foods and may help promote weight loss.
- Unnecessary Restrictions: The restrictions in a diet can make it hard to follow, so you don’t want to add any that aren’t necessary. Yet the Paleo diet calls for the elimination of potentially healthy foods like dairy, legumes, and whole grains. While some people have sensitivities that call for the avoidance of these foods, they may lead to a nutritional deficiency in those who can tolerate them.
- Lack of Accessibility: The ideal Pegan diet meal consists of organic fruits, vegetables, and pasture-raised meat. Unfortunately, these foods tend to be expensive and difficult to prepare. The restrictions also make it challenging to eat out, which can lead to social stress for some people.
- It Isn’t Backed by Scientific Evidence: The diet is based more on philosophy than science. While eating more fruits and vegetables can improve health and lead to weight loss, the foods that are restricted make their effectiveness questionable.
Despite the possible downsides of the diet, it has been gaining popularity over the last few years. Will you be making it your new meal routine?