The latest diet to hit the headlines. We’ve had the Paleo, 5:2 and now we have the Pegan. But what is it and what principles does it follow? A cross between the Paleo and Vegan diet, the Pegan diet takes bits from both dietary plans to make what could be an ultimate healthy eating plan.
The Pegan diet was created by Dr Mark Hyman MD. According to Dr Hyman, “What is in common between Paleo and Vegan is that they both focus on real, whole, fresh food that is sustainably raised and on what you eat and not how much and this helps your body’s natural appetite control systems kick into gear.”
What are the main principles?
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1. Eating foods that are low Glycaemic Index. This means avoiding sugar and refined carbohydrates.
2. Keeping diet high in plant foods, fruits and vegetables, so you are giving your body the nutrients it needs to function optimally.
3. Foods from a good source; local, fresh, organic is best. This ensures that they are low in pesticides, antibiotics and hormones.
4. No chemicals from sweeteners, additives and preservatives.
5. Includes animal proteins like meat and eggs but grass fed. Fish should be low mercury and all should be sustainably raised
6. High in EFA’s, especially Omega-3, including olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados and oily fish
And what should we be avoiding?
– Both Paleo and Vegan diets avoid dairy, so on a Pegan diet this is a definite no-no. It’s poorly digested by most people, is a common allergen, and the nutrients can be found from plenty of healthier sources.
– Grains; while these are not avoided completely on the Pegan diet, they should be limited and kept to certain types. Low GI gluten free grains like brown or wild rice and quinoa are the best choices.
– Beans are avoided on the Paleo diet but embraced on the Vegan. Beans are a good source of fibre and should be included in small quantities if you can tolerate them. Soaking them will help release phytic acid, making them easier to digest.
Is the Pegan diet the healthiest option?
I follow a similar diet myself, I just didn’t know it had a name for it! In my opinion, any diet that focuses on mostly plant-based foods with good quality proteins and healthy fats while avoiding processed, refined foods and sugars is worth following.
Steps to make the Pegan diet part of your lifestyle
– Consume a mainly plant-based diet (aim for 75% of your diet)
– Eat low GI foods focusing on protein and fats; nuts, seeds, avocado, oily fish, olive oil are all good options
– Avoid dairy and gluten
– Eat gluten free grains and beans in small quantities
– Avoid all processed, refined foods