First coined by Dr. Mark Hyman in 2015, the Pegan diet has resurfaced recently thanks to his latest book. Celebrities like Eva Mendes have praised the Pegan diet, a way of eating that combines Vegan and Paleo principles. 

Hyman says that the name “Pegan” started as a joke as he sat on a nutritional panel between a vegan cardiologist and a Paleo enthusiast. To break the tension, he declared himself Pegan. But combining the two diets didn’t seem so silly after a while. 

Hyman takes the best of both the Paleo and vegan diet and combines them to create what he calls a lifestyle. Both diets encourage plant-rich, whole foods; healthy fats; little to no consumption of processed foods, additives, hormones, antibiotics, and GMOs; and reduced sugar and starch consumption. 

What is the Pegan Diet?

Pegan Diet Food List

  • Lean protein: 25 percent of your plate should consist of a lean protein like organic pastured chicken, grass-fed beef; small fish; wild Alaskan salmon OR ½ cup of non-starchy beans like lentils, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans, and mung beans 
  • Whole, unprocessed grains: enjoy ½ to 1 cup of grains like black rice, millet, oats quinoa per day 
  • Non-Starchy Vegetables: eat an unlimited amount of veggies every day (75 percent of your plate) like leafy greens, asparagus, carrots, peppers, and up to ½ cup of starchy veggies like yams, butternut squash, and potatoes. 
  • Include Healthy fats: nuts (no peanuts), seeds (no processed seed oils), avocados and olives, unrefined coconut oil, omega-3s from low-mercury fish or algae 
  • Ideally, organic, local, and fresh foods 

Foods to Avoid on the Pegan Diet

  • Dairy products: if you can’t stay away from dairy, try sheep or goat’s milk or milk products. Ghee is a great option and grass-fed butter is allowed in small amounts 
  • Gluten: all gluten-containing grains and products are discouraged 
  • Sugar: especially processed sugars and any high sugar fruit that spikes blood sugar 
  • Refined Oils: highly processed oils such as canola, sunflower, corn, and soybean oil are to be avoided 
  • Food additives: preservatives, artificial colorings, dyes, MSG, flavorings, and other additives should be avoided 
  • Food grown with pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones 

Despite the Pegan Diet being called the Pegan diet, Hyman likes to say it is an un-diet. Meaning, it’s a simple set of principles that blends common sense and science into guidelines for promoting energy, health, longevity, and weight loss. It can be easily adapted to any cultural preference or background. 

The Pegan lifestyle does not blame or shame, and it is not restrictive. It encourages a way to eat and foods to prioritize when shopping. 

Potential Benefits of the Pegan Diet

Upping your intake of vegetables to 75 percent of your food per day may promote a ton of benefits. Leafy greens and other veggies are nutritionally diverse, full of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that can help reduce stress, inflammation, and risk of disease. 

The Pegan diet also emphasizes healthy fats that can have a positive impact on heart and brain health. Eliminating ultra-processed foods and sugars can have an incredible impact on mood, skin, energy, brain function, and weight. 

  • Clarity and focus 
  • Better digestion 
  • Less stress 
  • Lower inflammation 
  • Better mood 
  • Enhanced energy 
  • Clearer skin 
  • Weight loss 

Pegan Diet Meal Plan and Recipes

Hyman’s book includes more than 30 new Pegan recipes, from breakfast quinoa berry bake to grain-free steak tacos and raw snickerdoodle donuts.

Sample Menu

  • Breakfast: vegetable omelet with a simple green salad dressed in olive oil or sauteed mushrooms or berries 
  • Lunch: mixed green salad with avocado, cucumber, olives, tomatoes, and cider vinaigrette 
  • Dinner: Grilled salmon and veggie kabobs with black rice pilaf 

Sample Menu 2

  • Breakfast: Coconut yogurt with berries and homemade granola
  • Lunch: lentil salad with chickpeas, peppers, carrots, onions, and cider vinaigrette
  • Dinner: Grilled summer squash and zucchini with a grass-fed steak and green salad

To read more about the Pegan diet from the first pegan ever, check out this article

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