The pegan diet: everything you need to know

Many celebrities swear by it
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  • Physician Dr. Mark Hyman created this trendy diet in 2014, combining the Paleo diet and veganism to create a new way to lose weight and stay healthy.

    The Paleo diet is the internet’s most searched diet plan. Hinged on the caveman ‘hunter gatherer’ approach, it’s a diet based on the natural foods such as meat, fish, vegetables and nuts.

    This latest health craze, the Pegan diet, combines the Paleo with another way of eating – veganism. Vegans avoid any animal products or by-products. Although there is no evidence to suggest that avoiding meat aids the body, many vegans believe this way of eating gives them more energy, clearer skin and a slimmer waistline.

    Now, both diets have been fused to create the Pegan diet – a high fibre plan that gives your body the best of every food group.

    This is not the most restrictive diet out there, there is lots you won’t have to give up. But there are a few things you will.

    pegan diet

    Credit: Getty

    What can you eat on the Pegan Diet?

    The Pegan diet is mostly plant based with low glycemic vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower. Grass-fed, organic meat is allowed and so is fish, but they should be considered a side dish or topping rather than the main meal. It’s also better to stick to low-mercury fish such as anchovies, sardines and herring. Eggs are an important source of protein in this diet, as are healthy fats – coconuts, avocados, nuts (not peanuts), olive oil and Omega 3 fats are all approved foods. But be sure to stay away from canola, sunflower oil, corn and soybean oil.

    Dairy, especially cow’s milk and cheese, is not part of the diet. Neither is bread or other types of grains but occasionally small amounts of gluten-free grains are allowed. And while you are allowed sugar, it should be eaten sparingly – but absolutely nothing processed with additives or preservatives.

    So, still considering trying the Pegan diet? Nutritionist and author of Eat Well, Spend Less, Sarah Flower tells us the top five things you need to know before going Pegan…

    Is the Pegan diet healthy and safe?

    Sarah says, “Yes, it combines a variety of fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, meat, fish and eggs but does not include dairy, legumes, sugar and processed food. It is seen as a fad diet, however, the real fad diet is our highly processed diet. This way of eating can be incredibly nutritious.”

    So it seems two main beneficial takeaways of the Pegan diet are the fruit and vegetables at the heart of it, as well as the lack of processed food.

    pegan diet

    Credit: Getty

    What results can people expect to see from the Pegan diet?

    “It depends on where they come from to start with,” Sarah says.

    She adds, “If your diet is heavily processed with inflammatory oils, poor fats (or low fat) without many nutrient dense foods, you will see a dramatic change. If you are coming from a good diet, maybe not so much, however, changing to a paleo style or low carb diet has benefits in balancing blood sugars and nourishing the body with essential nutrients.”

    Are there any dangers to be aware of?

    While Sarah believes the Pegan diet to be a good choice, there has been conflicting evidence on the nutritional benefits of it.

    Some argue that the restrictive nature of the Pegan diet means that many healthy foods – such as legumes, whole grains and dairy – are left out. According to Healthline, the removal of these foods from a diet can sometimes lead to issues, such as increased inflammation and elevated blood sugar.

    This means that, for some, restricting these healthy foods could lead to problems down the road.

    Are there any special considerations with this diet?

    Sarah believes the diet is a good choice if followed correctly.

    She adds, “Remember processed food is low in essential nutrients, often high in unhealthy fats and sugars so opting for a real food diet, whether Pegan, paleo or low carb is always a good step.”

    However, experts have also raised the socio-economic problems associated wth this diet, as not everyone can afford (or has access to) organic fruit and vegetables, grass-fed meat and expensive nuts.

    The Pegan diet also requires a fair amount of meal-prep, so could be a time-consuming diet to follow – therefore not ideal for those with a busy family life.

    Find out more about veganism and the Paleo diet

    Will you be trying any of these diets?

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