The Pegan Diet: What to Know

The “pegan” diet is a hybrid, combining the paleo diet -- which focuses on whole foods that might have been hunted or gathered, like fruits, veggies, meats, and nuts -- and the vegan diet, in which you eat only plant-based foods.

The pegan principle is a nutrient-rich diet that consists of about 75% plant-based foods, with the remaining 25% of your nutrition from animal sources. It stresses eating whole, fresh foods that are sustainably produced, with limited effects on the environment. The diet also limits processed foods. Dairy products and gluten are off-limits.

What Can You Eat on the Pegan Diet?

The pegan diet focuses on eating “clean.” This includes:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables, mostly those that have low starch or rank low on the glycemic index, such as broccoli, carrots, peas, and tomatoes
  • Nuts like almonds, pistachios, and walnuts
  • Seeds such as chia, flax, and pumpkin
  • Grass-fed meats like beef, chicken, and pork
  • Fish high in fats and low in mercury, like salmon, herring, and cod
  • Eggs
  • Gluten-free grains (now and then) like quinoa, brown rice, oats, and amaranth

You can have sugar on the pegan diet, but only as an occasional treat.

What Should You Leave Out?

Gluten and dairy are big no-nos on this diet. You’ll also need to leave out or limit some of the processed foods that have additives for a longer shelf life. Foods to avoid on the pegan diet include:

  • Bread, pasta, baked goods, cereals, granola, and beer
  • Cow’s milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Legumes like beans, peas, and lentils
  • Foods treated with pesticides
  • Anything with preservatives or artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners

Are There Health Benefits to the Pegan Diet?

No in-depth studies have looked at the health effects and possible benefits of the pegan diet. Experts say they need more data before they can decide whether it’s good for you.

But many agree that a plant-based diet that focuses on fruits and veggies that are high in fiber and low in starch can boost your overall health and lower your risk of certain diseases. Some studies show that plant-based diets can lower weight and reduce bad cholesterol in your body.

You don’t need to avoid gluten if you don’t have an intolerance or a health condition like celiac disease. And leaving it out can make it hard to stick to a diet in the long run. It may even make your body lack nutrients, in some cases. And research finds that including whole grains and legumes in your daily diet might improve your overall health.

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The Takeaway

Thinking about trying the pegan diet? It’s a good idea to talk to a professional before you change up your daily meals, especially if you’re not used to eating a plant-heavy diet.

Ask your doctor, a registered dietitian, or a nutritionist to help you come up with a plan to get the nutrition you need and find the options that work best for you.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on April 12, 2021

Sources

SOURCES:

Food and Nutrition: “What is the Pegan Diet?”

Food Insight: “What is the Pegan Diet?”

Celiac Disease Foundation: “Sources of Gluten.”

Cleveland Clinic: “What You Should Know About Plant-Based Diets,” “13 of the Best Vegetarian and Vegan Protein Sources.”

Food Print: “Raising Animals Sustainably on Pasture.”

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