You’re probably familiar with the Paleo and Vegan Diets and you may have attempted both of them but found them restrictive and difficult to follow.
The Pegan Diet is a new trend combining Paleo and veganism principles.
When following this diet, you are supposed to stick to certain ways of eating that are somewhat strict but you’re not completely giving up some of the foods you love.
The idea behind this diet is making it more sustainable so that you are able to follow it in the long run with no issues.
What is the Pegan Diet?
When following the Pegan Diet, emphasis is on a plant-based diet composed mainly of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and small quantities of meat, fish, and eggs (i.e. side dish instead of star of the dish).
In this sense, 75% of your plate should mainly be vegetables and fruits and 25% some type of protein from meat, fish, nuts and seeds.
You are not allowed to consume dairy, grains, legumes, sugar, and processed foods.
However, some foods from these categories may be tolerated to a certain extent and occasionally, in limited quantities.
Some would say that this diet may be hard to stick to in the long run given its restrictiveness.
Opinions do vary about this and if you are able to implement it and follow through, you will notice a great reduction in inflammation, healthier blood sugar levels and in general, a healthier you.
This is all possible since you will mainly be consuming nutrient rich and whole foods.
The followers of this diet agree on the fact that any type of processed foods including sugars, oils, and grains are not tolerated as part of your daily nutrition but is allowed very occasionally and in very limited quantities.
What are the benefits of the Pegan Diet?
The pegan diet has numerous long-term and sustainable health benefits.
The fact that there is a strong emphasis on plants intake makes this diet very appealing to those looking to improve their health by including more fruits and vegetables.
Considered the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet, fruits and vegetables are loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals as well as other plant compounds which aid in the prevention of diseases and the reduction of oxidative stress and most importantly, inflammation.
The pegan diet also emphasizes healthy, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from fish, nuts, seeds, and other plants which have a positive impact on cardiovascular, cognitive, and digestive health.
Whatsmore, when your diet mainly relies on whole and natural foods, with limited and occasional quantities of processed and refined foods, the quality of your overall diet will drastically improve and you’ll feel better about yourself physically and mentally.
If you’re anything like me, my personal experience with dieting in general has been switching from one mindset to another.
The mentality of having meat on my plate as a main source of protein has existed since the day I was born.
The concept of switching from one ideology to another can seem overwhelming at first, but what is interesting about the Pegan Diet is the fact that you are not expected to eliminate anything from your plate, you are only switching ratios.
You are ensuring that plant-based foods are becoming the star of your meal, and meat or other sources of protein are a complement.
This is exactly why many individuals are able to stick with this diet in the long run since it promotes the concept of inclusivity over exclusivity.
List of Pegan friendly foods to enjoy
The idea behind the Pegan diet is to encourage individuals interested in following this lifestyle to consume fresh, local, organic, and sustainably raised foods.
The minimal the processing, the better are the results achieved when following this diet.
Vegetables and fruits are a big part of the Pegan Diet, occupying 75% of your daily food intake.
The attention is mainly given to fruits with a low glycemic index such as berries and non-starchy vegetables such as leafy greens in order to control spikes in your blood-sugar levels.
You are however allowed to occasionally consume small amounts of starchy vegetables (i.e. potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, pumpkin, etc.) and high-glycemic fruits (i.e. bananas, pears, oranges, peaches, apricots, etc.) if you didn’t have blood sugar problems before starting the diet.
You are encouraged to eat a variety of rainbow-colored vegetables such as leafy greens (i.e. spinach, kale, collard, lettuce, bok choy, etc.), orange vegetables (i.e. carrots, squash, pumpkin, etc.), and other sorts.
When choosing your fruits, you should aim for varieties such as berries (i.e. blueberries, raspberries, blackberries), apples, grapes, papayas, watermelon, prunes, and other low sugar varieties.
According to Dr Hyman, if animal protein is being consumed as part of the Pegan Diet, it should be sustainably raised or grass fed.
Even though 75% of your daily intake is supposed to be plant-based (i.e. fruits and vegetables), adequate intake meaning around 25% should be protein-based in order to control your appetite and aid your muscle synthesis.
When choosing your animal-based protein, you should focus on red meats, poultry, lamb, bison and whole eggs.
Also, there is a lot of emphasis on low-mercury fish and shellfish such as sardines, wild salmon, shrimp and oysters as being an excellent source of protein and healthy fatty acids (i.e. Omega-3s).
This category includes:
- All tree nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, macademia nuts, etc.
- All seeds such as sesame seeds, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.
- All cold-pressed, virgin/unrefined types of healthy oils including olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, etc.
- And Omega-3s, essentially from low-mercury fish and algae.
Note: If you are ok with consuming animal-based protein, grass-fed and sustainably raised meats as well as whole eggs are also considered healthy fats.
Whole Grains and Legumes
This is a controversial one.
Most grains and legumes are supposed to be healthy for you, but some individuals may have digestive issues when they consume grains and legumes.
For these reasons, only some grains and legumes are accepted as part of the Pegan diet and in moderation.
These include gluten-free varieties of grains such as quinoa, wild rice, millet, amaranth, oats and teff.
Some legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, black beans and pinto beans are also encouraged.
The recommended intake of whole grains is a maximum of half a cup per meal and one cup a day for legumes.
These servings are for individuals who have healthy blood sugar levels.
If you have diabetes, you should eliminate these foods from your diet when you start until your levels stabilize and re-introduce gradually.
Foods to Avoid
The beauty of the Pegan diet is the fact that it combines two diets in one, so you get the best of both worlds, with moderation of course.
Some food groups are completely discouraged from all types of diets since they can cause blood sugar level spikes and/or inflammation.
This being said, and opinions may vary from one person to another, some healthy foods are to be consumed occasionally when doing the Pegan diet due to that same reason.
These foods include:
Given that some individuals are sensitive to cow’s milk, products such as cow’s milk and derivatives (i.e. cheese, yoghurt, kefir, etc.) are to be avoided.
However, some can still tolerate sheep or goat milk, and for this reason, other types of milks are allowed occasionally and in limited quantities.
Again, it is completely discouraged to consume products containing gluten when doing the Pegan diet due to the fact that they raise blood sugar levels and can cause digestive distress and/or inflammation in certain individuals.
Occasionally, very small amounts of gluten-free grains may be tolerated but in general, they are discouraged.
Most varieties of legumes are discouraged given their impact on blood sugar levels.
This includes refined and unrefined sugar.
Some suggest consuming organic sugar, honey and maple syrup very occasionally and in limited quantities is tolerated but opinions vary widely in this regard.
Refined and processed oils
This category includes:
- Vegetable oil.
- Canola oil.
- Grapeseed oil.
- Soybean oil.
- Sunflower oil.
- Peanut oil
- And corn oil.
This one is a must avoid for all diets, including the Pegan Diet given the chemicals found in most additives, including artificial colorings, flavorings, sweeteners, preservatives, GMOs and other additives.
Basically, if you’re not cooking it from scratch, better to avoid it.
This category includes all packaged and ready to serve foods.
I hope you found this article informative. If you have comments and would like to discuss, please leave them in the comments box below.