What is a Pegan diet you ask? Thank you Dr Mark Hyman for giving such an accurate, yet simple description of what I believe to be the best way to nourish your body. I refrain from using the word diet, and I generally don’t like to put a name to a style of eating. I feel that this just creates self-imposed rules and boundaries that people struggle to always meet. But Pegan I like!
So what is Pegan?
Pegan combines the best of a paleo style of eating with that of a vegan.
I love the ethics and heavily plant-based diet of a vegan, but I struggle to believe that vegans can get the full spectrum of nutrients that the body needs to thrive. Yes, I can hear all the vegans shouting that they can get their omega 3 and B12 from plant based foods, but I question the bio-availability of these nutrients from plant based foods. Is your body really absorbing what it needs?
On the other side, we often see paleo converts chowing down on meat and dairy 24/7. This is a big misconception about the Paleo diet, and it is certainly not how our ancestors ate. The paleo style of eating puts an emphasis on ethically raised animal meat, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and healthy oils. However, some paleo converts don’t quite eat enough vegetables, especially if they are watching their carbohydrates.
So a Pegan diet is one that is primarily plant-based, meaning lots of fresh seasonal vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, healthy fats with moderate amounts of legumes and fruit and occasional gluten-free grains. Combine this with small amounts of pasture raised, grass-fed animal meat and wild caught fish and a perfect diet is born.
So how much meat? I say a palm-sized portion of meat 1-2 times per day or a couple of eggs will supply your body with the protein that it needs. Of course, if you are very active or an athlete, you would need a more specific nutrition plan. When we consume too much protein our body converts it to glucose and it can then be turned into body fat for storage.
Your plate should contain around 2/3 vegetables with 1/3 animal protein, plus a drizzle of healthy oils. This way you are supplying your body with all the macro nutrients – carbohydrates, protein and fat, that it needs. Add in some fermented foods and to me, this is perfection!
FOODS TO ENJOY ON A PEGAN DIET
Fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables (low sugar, non-starchy)
Nuts and seeds
Meat from responsible sources (grass-fed, organic, wild caught)
Healthy Fats – avocado, olive, coconut
FOODS TO EAT IN MODERATION
Legumes (chickpeas, legumes, lentils, black beans
Gluten free Grains (quinoa, rice, oats, teff, amaranth)
Starchy vegetables (potato, corn, sweet potato)
Sweet fruits (mango, papaya, banana, melons)
FOODS TO AVOID
Factory farmed animals
Vegetable oils (canola, sunflower, saffflower)
Gluten containg grains
The benefit of the Pegan diet is that it is loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients from the heavy vegetable and fruit intake. It is high in fibre for bowel health and is very anti-inflammatory. The small amount of animal protein prevents many of the nutritional deficiencies seen in a vegan diet.
The Pegan diet also ticks all the boxes when it comes to environmental impacts as it encourages people to eat locally, in-season and organically.
To read more about diets that I like click here.