What Is the Pegan Diet? Experts Share the Pros and Cons of the Mostly Plant-Based Lifestyle

You’ve heard of all the most popular diets of the moment: vegan, flexitarian, keto, plant-based, paleo, Mediterranean, Whole30. But is peganism (yes, you read that right) on your radar?

The pegan diet—a combination of eating vegan and paleo—is one of the latest eating plans touted as being great for your health. Created by bestselling author Mark Hyman, M.D. and detailed in his book, the pegan diet emphasizes plants over anything else: Most of each plate will be vegan, while a quarter of your diet is meat and eggs.

“It’s not one of the more well-known diets that have been around for many years,” explains Selvi Rajagopal, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine and a dual-board-certified medical weight management specialist. But “it does have similarities with some of the eating patterns that have been studied more.”

Dr. Hyman claims the diet can spur weight loss, balance blood sugar, and lower inflammation, leading to overall better health. However, the plan also has its skeptics, and it’s very restrictive. Here’s everything you need to know about the pegan diet, according to experts.

What is the pegan diet?

Again, the pegan diet combines veganism with paleo. Think of it more as a plant-focused paleo or a modified version of vegetarian eating, since vegans can’t eat any animal products. Pegans, meanwhile, can.

Fruits and vegetables (plus nuts and seeds) should make up about 75% of your pegan diet, says Jerlyn Jones, R.D.N., L.D., a registered dietitian based in Atlanta. The remaining 25% of your plate can be filled with eggs, meat, poultry, and fish. Oils high in healthy fats (like coconut and avocado oils), plant-based dairy alternatives, and minimal amounts of black rice, legumes, and quinoa are also fair game. Whenever possible, emphasize non-starchy veggies (like broccoli instead of potatoes), low-glycemic foods, and organic meat.

You’ll also have to cut some foods out of your diet, Jones notes: Most grains, including oats and wheat, aren’t fair game. Plan to ditch all dairy products, too. And since this diet is inspired by paleo, processed foods are also off-limits.

What are the benefits of the pegan diet?

The pegan diet is similar to other dietary plans with proven benefits, Dr. Rajagopal notes. It’s akin to the Mediterranean diet in that it emphasizes whole foods and healthy fats, but differs because grains and dairy are excluded. For certain patients, that could be its biggest selling point.

“We know that diets that are overall lower in grains or carbs in general can be helpful for folks who have issues with blood sugar,” Dr. Rajagopal continues. “That can help with lowering their glycemic numbers.” In doing so, cutting back on grains can also help lower triglycerides, which can contribute to the hardening or thickening of the arteries, increasing the risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart disease.

“There are always health benefits to eating more fruits and vegetables, which are full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants,” Jones adds; these nutrients can help protect against inflammation, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Pegan eating also “possibly” aids weight loss, she says, “because it focuses on eating whole foods and few high-sugar and highly processed foods.”

Other potential health benefits of the pegan diet, including lower blood pressure, haven’t been observed in clinical studies, Dr. Rajagopal notes, since so little research has focused specifically on this eating plan. The jury is still out, at least on a clinical level.

What are the drawbacks of the pegan diet?

Jones is skeptical of any diet that “eliminates or severely restricts” entire food groups or macronutrients, including, in this case, carbohydrates. “Even if you take a multivitamin, you’ll still miss some critical nutrients,” she says. Dr. Rajagopal expresses similar concern over dairy, since it offers plenty of health benefits to those who can process it.

If you’re allergic to any of the diet’s key foods, like nuts or seeds, you could struggle to get enough healthy fats, Dr. Rajagopal continues. Type 1 diabetics should also exercise caution when starting any low-carb diet, she says, because it could lead to dangerously low blood sugar if not monitored.

And although it’s not quite as restrictive as keto, the pegan diet requires a lot of forethought—and money, Jones explains. “Limiting food choices or following rigid meal plans can be an overwhelming, frustrating task,” she warns. “With any new diet, always ask yourself: ‘Can I eat this way for the rest of my life?’ If the answer is no, the plan is not for you.”

There just isn’t the same amount of research backing the pegan diet as there is for other, more well-known eating plans, including the Mediterranean diet, Dr. Rajagopal explains. In the end, both experts suggest meeting with a registered dietitian or medical professional who specializes in nutrition—they can help point you in the direction of an ideal eating plan, pegan or otherwise.

Read more  Paleo vs Mediterranean Diet: Which One Is Best For You

Additional research by Bryce Edmonds.


— Update: 25-12-2022 — We found an additional article I Switched to a Pegan Diet and I’ve Never Felt Better—These Are the Pros and Cons from the website camillestyles.com for the keyword pegan diet pros and cons.

Like many, I haven’t always known what to eat. The past 10 years (post-tennis career) have been especially difficult. I’ve tried vegan, Mediterranean, Whole30, paleo… and nothing at all. My hope has been to find homeostasis. I’ve wanted to feel good, perform well, and maintain optimal health. I’m convinced those entities look different for everyone and in a world filled with processed foods and harmful temptations, it’s hard to stay on track. It’s hard to discover what works for you. That’s why I’ve loved my experience on the pegan diet.

I went off birth control last July. I was on the medicine for over a decade, and ever since giving it up I’ve experienced symptoms I’ve never had before. My OBGYN has me exploring nutritional shifts and acupuncture. I’m also working with a nutritionist whose practice is rooted in a macro diet. We’re making sure I consume the appropriate amount of macronutrients for my physical makeup while incorporating real, whole foods that fall within the pegan diet.

What I love most about the pegan diet is that it’s largely intuitive and more focused on what you consume rather than what you restrict; achieving optimal health rather than losing weight; incorporating food you love rather than feeling guilty about “falling off track”.

Below I’ve broken down the pegan diet, what it is, and why it might be the perfect choice for you. Let us know if you’ve explored this way of eating in the comment section and if so, drop us your favorite recipe!

Editor’s note: This story is based on my own personal experience and research into the pegan diet. Please consult your doctor or nutritionist before switching your diet to ensure this plan works for you and your health goals.

1 of 9PHOTO: Kristen Kilpatrick Photography, Kristen Kilpatrick, Camille Styles, Camille Styles Blog, Target Style, Target, Target Party Inspiration, Fourth of July party inspiration, Who What Wear Target, Martha Stewart Party Inspiration, Kid Friendly Parties , Italy, Florence, HomeAway, Italian Cooking Classes, Camillestyles.com, Squash Blossoms, Cheese Farm, Sheeps Cheese, Sheep Cheese, Italy Cheese Tasting, Florence Travel, Florence Cheese Farm, blue diamond

What is the pegan diet?

In simple terms, the “P” stands for paleo and the “egan” stands for vegan. It can be a mind buster because firstly, there are a lot of different opinions about what you can consume on the Paleo diet (essentially foods that predate agriculture), and secondly… vegans don’t consume anything that comes from animal products or byproducts. The Pegan diet is a blend of the two.

It may seem like a dichotomous way of eating but there is an underlying principle: eat real whole food. It’s not so far off from other popular ways of eating such as the Mediterranean diet or Whole30. And it is a perfect representation of one of my favorite quotes about eating:

2 of 9

So… what do you eat?

  • PLANTS. It’s suggested that at least one-half of your plate consists of vegetables. Whether the words ‘plants’ and ‘vegetables’ are interchangeable… good luck finding a solid answer.
  • With that said, fruits and vegetables. You want to include deep colors and lots of variety; it’s really important to eat fruits and vegetables that you find tasty; remember, for a habit to stick, make it appealing!
  • Grass-fed and/or sustainably raised meat. Granted, a more expensive route however in the long run you’re putting more pure food into your body and much less of it. Cheap is expensive.
  • Nuts and seeds. I keep fat minimal (55ish grams a day) as I have found that a higher fat diet just doesn’t work for me, but we are all built differently. Do what works for you!
  • Eggs. This is an incredible source of protein and super versatile.
  • Fish. Aim for twice a week. Dr. Hyman suggests low mercury.
  • Low sugar, flour, and refined carbohydrates of all kinds.

Personally, as mentioned, I’ve gone back to my athletic roots and am combining pegan ideology with a macro-focused diet. Therefore I shift outside of these guidelines by limiting nuts, elevating my protein, or having a restricted food from time to time. As long as I feel good and fueled, I’m on the right track.

Which foods do you avoid?

  • Dairy. Though I still eat non-fat Greek yogurt.
  • Grains. If you do eat grains, opt for gluten-free like brown rice, oats, and quinoa.
  • Beans. They are a great source of nutrition however, due to the lectins in their skin, beans can cause inflammation. Personally, like many others, they present digestive issues. Some medical professionals say that moderate consumption is okay. Dr. Gundry has written a lot about lectins and which foods to avoid but if you are going to eat beans, make sure they have been soaked overnight, rinsed well, and pressure cooked—it won’t get rid of all the lectins but it will reduce them considerably.
  • Sugar. You don’t need it. But if you have a craving, find a way to fulfill it. The more you withhold, the more likely you are to spring back full force. Consider an occasional treat.
3 of 9

What are the benefits?

  • More fiber and micronutrients in your diet
  • Helps stabilize blood sugar
  • Mitigates the impact of negative environmental impact by scaling back on meat and encouraging sustainably raised meat
  • More balance and flexibility than other fad diets. It’s much easier to commit to eating in a flow state and will lead to more mindfulness and intentionality.
  • Encourages you to listen to your biology, rather than focusing on ideology. Advocates for personalization so that you can fulfill your unique needs.

What are the downsides?

  • Though it is less restrictive than other diets, it is still packed with rules. If you aren’t used to a program like Peganism, you might find it difficult and frustrating to follow.
  • Some research suggests that whole grains, dairy, and legumes are beneficial for total health.
  • It is more difficult in social situations such as gatherings or eating out at restaurants. Frustration could potentially lead to burnout.
  • Should you decide to go extreme, it can be expensive. High-end meat and farmer’s market runs can get pricey. But honestly… maybe just cut out sustainably-raised ostrich?

Read more  How to Lose Weight Quickly in 2 Weeks?

4 of 9

Why I do and do not recommend the pegan diet

The only reason I wouldn’t recommend the pegan diet is if it just doesn’t suit your physical makeup. If you find that there are food groups you need that aren’t listed in this diet, don’t do it. Otherwise, I recommend Peganism. It involves common sense, less complexity, dense nutrition, and a climate-conscious way of eating.

One of my favorite questions Dr. Hyman poses that you can ask yourself when eating is: Will this enhance or degrade my health? It’s more about what you add than what you take away. A Pegan diet will likely positively affect your microbiome, your immune system, your detoxification system, your hormones, and your brain chemistry.

5 recipes to get started on the pegan diet:

5 of 9

Turkish Cauliflower Pizza by Farmacy

Whether you have kids, a busy life, or just want a cozy night in, this is the pizza for you. It’s rich and yummy with layers of flavor. Everything can be prepared in advance and then assembled and cooked when you’re ready to pop it in the oven.

Cauliflower is a great pegan, diet-friendly option for pizza crust and is filled with vitamins like C and K. It also pairs well with almost any spice! And gosh, don’t even get me started on the health (and taste) benefits of lamb.

6 of 9

Thai Mango Avocado Salad With Grilled Sweet Potatoes by Food, Faith, Fitness

Perfect for summer, this salad has grilled sweet potatoes and a dressing that packs a punch. It’s great before or after a workout and mangoes are truly thriving right now. Tangy, juicy, smoky, salty, yummy.

7 of 9

Garlic Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Bacon by Paleo Running Mama

Packed with flavor, this is the perfect side dish. To be honest, this is pretty much the only way I like to eat brussels sprouts. Not just because it’s so easy but also because I’m really into balsamic dressing these days and if you leave the sheet pan in a little extra longer… you’ve got Brussels crisps. Brb, gotta go turn on my oven.

8 of 9

Cucumber Avocado Watermelon Salad by Heartbeet Kitchen

I could write my own excerpt but Heartbeet Kitchen puts it so perfectly:

“I love how the definition of comfort food drifts with the seasons. August. The steamy days, and long nights. Those that allow the fields to flourish with fruits and vegetables, and their keepers to harvest them with steadfast soul. To then arrive in our hands. Watermelon dripping from our chins. Crunchy bites from cucumbers still warm off the vine. Sweet corn in our teeth. Juicy tomatoes dripping from a quintessential BLT. So much of what I eat this time of year is essentially a non-recipe, those you throw together on a whim with so few ingredients, yet they meld together so perfectly you make every week until those ingredients are out of season.”

9 of 9

Thai Turkey Soup by Salt & Lavender

Great for leftovers or for a stand-alone dish, this Thai turkey soup is creamy (without the dairy!) and super flavorful with fresh herbs and vibrant vegetables.


— Update: 25-12-2022 — We found an additional article What Is a Pegan Diet? Pros, Cons, and Food List of the Paleo-Vegan Diet from the website www.newsweek.com for the keyword pegan diet pros and cons.

For many people the start of a new year is a time to set personal goals, with some focusing on health. According to Google Trends, search queries for “diet” increased sharply between Christmas and this week in the U.S.

Diet trends come and go. One diet, the pegan diet, seems to have garnered interest recently according to Google Trends, although it has been around for several years.

The pegan diet is essentially a mixture of a vegan diet and a paleo diet. The former is a diet that excludes animal products like meat and dairy, with a focus on plant foods instead. The paleo diet is based on foods that could theoretically be obtained through hunting and gathering and includes lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, whilst limiting foods like dairy products, legumes and grains, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Former NFL star Troy Aikman recently told Insider that he follows the pegan diet.

Physician Mark Hyman is credited for the pegan diet idea. According to his website, the pegan diet places a focus on plants—low glycemic vegetables and fruits—which should make up 75 percent of the diet. Another focus is nuts and seeds.

People following the diet will also avoid most vegetable oils and instead focus on other fats like omega 3, nuts (excluding peanuts), coconuts and avocados.

Despite the diet’s vegan roots, Hyman says the pegan diet permits meat and animal products, though as a “side dish” as opposed to the main part of a meal. It also discourages conventionally-farmed meat or eggs and places an emphasis on grass-fed meat products, Healthline states—though this may be financially restrictive.

In terms of what to avoid, Hyman states that dairy, gluten and sugar should be seen as an occasional treat. The diet also discourages most grains and legumes, according to Healthline.

The diet does not tell people how much they should eat or when.

What Experts Say

According to Healthline, the diet’s best trait is perhaps its strong emphasis on fruits and vegetables. But Heathline also states that it places unnecessary limitations on “very healthy” foods like legumes.

Carolyn Slupsky, professor of nutrition at the University of California, Davis, told Newsweek that people should be mindful about any diet that excludes one or more food groups.

“I would be concerned about the exclusion of dairy, grains and legumes. In my opinion, any time you have an exclusionary diet (i.e. you exclude one or more food groups from your diet), then you need to be very mindful about what you are eating to ensure that you are meeting all of your nutrient requirements.

Read more  The Best Low Glycemic Index Foods to Keep Blood Sugar Levels Stable

“Thus, people who follow exclusionary diets often end up being at risk for deficiency of one or more nutrients. When you are nutrient deficient, it will impact on your health.”

She said foods like whole grains and legumes are important sources of fiber and B vitamins while dairy is an important source of protein and calcium.

However, she added that she strongly supported limiting consumption of processed foods and added sugar, but said “you don’t have to go onto a pegan diet to do that.”

Registered dietitian nutritionist Rosemarie Lembo James told the Cleveland Clinic of the pegan diet: “Eating more fruits and vegetables can lower your risk of heart attack, stroke and cancer. But don’t skimp on dairy, legumes and whole grains without talking to your doctor or nutritionist.”

Charles Mueller, clinical associate professor of clinical nutrition and director of the didactic program in dietetics at New York University Steinhardt, told Newsweek: “The way to eat day to day for a lifetime: Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and poultry, meat in moderation, and not too much of any of it—the most important element.”

A stock photo shows a man shopping for food in a grocery store aisle. The pegan diet combines aspects of a paleo and vegan diet. TuiPhotoengineer/Getty

— Update: 25-12-2022 — We found an additional article The pros and cons of the pegan diet from the website www.houseofwellness.com.au for the keyword pegan diet pros and cons.

A blend of paleo and vegan-style eating, the pegan diet promises the best of both worlds. But do our experts give it the tick?

The paleo diet and veganism are two increasingly popular approaches to eating, and now comes the pegan diet – a hybrid of the two created by Dr Mark Hyman who believes whole, fresh food can help maintain good health.

Less restrictive than either a vegan or paleo diet, the pegan diet doesn’t eliminate proteins such as meat and eggs as with veganism, or avoid all grains as on a paleo diet.

Instead, Dr Hyman encourages focus on glycemic load, eating the right fats, eating mostly plants, nuts and seeds, having some sustainably raised meats, and generally avoiding dairy, gluten, sugar and beans.

“The best strategy for a long and healthy life is to eat your medicine – get your drugs at the farmacy, not the pharmacy,” he writes in The Pegan Diet.

“Food is far more than just calories or energy to fuel our bodies.

“It is information, instructions that regulate every function of our bodies in real time… every time you take a bite of food, consider that you are programming your biology for health or disease.”

  • Plant v meat: Are vegans healthier than carnivores?

What can you eat on a pegan diet?

Promoting nutrient-dense foods, about 75 per cent of the pegan diet contains vegetables and fruit, while the remaining 25 per cent comprises protein, eggs, and healthy fats such as nuts and seeds.

“The pegan diet encourages us to eat lots of plant-based foods like vegetables, salad foods, nuts, seeds and legumes. It also includes fruit,” says dietitian Margaret Hays.

House of Wellness TV co-host, nutrition coach and personal trainer Luke Hines says the abundance of fruits and vegetables “gives us a spectrum of fibre that feeds our gut bacteria”.

“Our gut is often referred to as our second brain and it has an effect on our energy, mood, focus, hormones and how we sleep,” he says.

Eggs, oily fish and grass-fed meat should be eaten in small amounts along with healthy fats.

These can include grass-fed butter, ghee, tallow, duck fat and coconut oil, says Luke.

Kefir and grass-fed full fat unsweetened yoghurt can also be eaten.

If you eat dairy, Dr Hyman recommends sheep or goat-based products as they have lower levels of the A1 casein protein that contributes to inflammation.

  • Happy belly: 5 natural ways to boost gut health

Foods to limit or avoid on the pegan diet

Dr Hyman pinpoints “bad fats, refined sugars, excessive starches, processed foods, conventional dairy products and poor-quality food” as being key culprits in damaging our body.

Foods containing highly processed sugars like high-fructose corn syrup, refined white sugar and brown sugar and artificial sugars are off-limits.

But you can have limited amounts of honey, coconut sugar, date sugar, maple syrup and fresh fruit juice.

Processed and refined grains are also off the list, but the diet recommends eating 60g to 100g of whole grains per day.

  • Inflammatory foods: What to eat and avoid to keep inflammation at bay

Experts’ verdict on the pegan diet

Margaret: “This diet focuses on eating whole foods, fruits and vegies and cutting out processed foods and sugar – which is positive.

“It’s a good idea to limit meat to two or three serves a week, but it cuts out grains, legumes and dairy.

“Dairy is important for calcium and grains are a source of energy for our brain and muscles and they provide fibre and vitamins.

“It’s another diet with an unusual name – I wouldn’t recommend it.”

Luke: “I’m a big fan of this diet. It is based on real food and we can get all the nutrients we need from simple, real food.

“We all need to eat more vegetables and being mindful about how much animal protein and healthy fat we eat is a boost for our health.

“You won’t have to count calories and will become an intuitive eater – your body will be more receptive to how you feel, so you’ll know when you are full or when you need more energy.

“It’s a good way to live.”

  • Nutrient rich: Easy and delicious ways to boost your fruit and vegie intake

Written by Sarah Marinos.

References

Recommended For You

About the Author: Tung Chi