At this point, you’ve probably heard of the vegan diet and also the paleo diet, which share some principles but diverge on others. Recently, however, people are starting to put the two together into what’s called the “pegan” diet, which is not only more flexible than either of these original eating plans but could also be great for your health and your waistline.
What is the pegan diet?
The word “pegan” is derived from the words “paleo” and “vegan.” The paleo diet, sometimes referred to as the caveman diet, is meant to mirror foods that would’ve been eaten during the Paleolithic era. It’s a largely plant-based diet that also incorporates certain types of lean meats and fish. If cavemen wouldn’t have been able to find it, paleo followers don’t eat it. For example, humans in the Paleolithic era didn’t eat candy or processed snacks. Those foods didn’t exist!
The vegan diet, on the other hand, is entirely plant-based. People who are following a vegan diet don’t eat any meat, fish, dairy, eggs, or anything else that comes from an animal, like honey or gelatin-based products.
Putting those two principles together, Mark Hyman, MD created the pegan diet, which is generally plant-based but allows people to consume meat and fish from time to time. The major focus is consuming nutrient-dense whole foods, particularly fruits and vegetables, that lower blood sugar and cut down on inflammation, two aspects of our health that can get worse as we age.
A huge benefit of going pegan compared to following a paleo or vegan diet? It’s way less restrictive with its guidelines, so it may be easier for some people to follow and stick with over time.
What can you eat on the pegan diet?
What does a diet that takes inspiration from both paleo and vegan lifestyles look like? According to Dr. Hyman, people should focus on getting plenty of fruits and vegetables every day as well as moderate amounts of legumes, nuts, whole grains, and sustainably sourced meat.
Because the diet is centered on managing blood sugar and getting inflammation under control, Dr. Hyman generally says to stay away from processed foods, large quantities of beans and legumes, foods that have added sugar, dairy, gluten, refined oils, and meat. But in all cases, he believes that consuming these foods occasionally on an as-wanted basis isn’t going to make or break this diet or your health.
As with any major diet change, it’s important to talk to your doctor to make sure you’re choosing a plan that’s right for you. But overall, focusing on eating more fruits and veggies and thinking about everything else in terms of moderation sounds like a good idea.