What is a Pegan Diet? Pros, Cons and Food List of the Paleo-Vegetarian Diet

For many people the start of the new year is a time to set personal goals, some focusing on health. Search queries for “diet” rose sharply in the US between Christmas and this week, according to Google Trends


Diet trends come and go. One diet, the Pegan diet, seems to have recently gained interest according to Google Trends, although it has been around for several years.

The Pegan diet is essentially a mixture of a vegetarian diet and a Paleo diet. The first is a diet that excludes animal products such as meat and dairy, instead focusing on plant foods. The Paleo diet is based on foods that could theoretically be obtained through hunting and gathering and, according to the Mayo Clinic, while limiting foods such as dairy products, legumes and grains to lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, Contains nuts and seeds.


Former NFL star Troy Ekman recently told Insider that he follows the Pegan diet.

Physician Mark Hyman is credited for the pegan diet idea. According to their website, the Pegan diet focuses on plants — low-glycemic vegetables and fruits — that should make up 75 percent of the diet. Another focus is nuts and seeds.


People following the diet will also avoid most vegetable oils and instead focus on other fats such as omega 3, nuts (except peanuts), coconut and avocado.

Despite the diet’s vegetarian roots, Hyman says the Pagan diet allows meat and animal products, although as a “side dish” as opposed to as a main part of the meal. It also discourages traditionally farmed meat or eggs and emphasizes grass-fed meat products, Healthline says—though this may be financially restrictive.

In terms of what to avoid, Hyman says dairy, gluten, and sugar should be seen as an occasional treat. According to Healthline, the diet also discourages most grains and legumes.


Diets do not tell people how much they should eat and when.

What do experts say

According to Healthline, perhaps the best quality of the diet is its emphasis on fruits and vegetables. But Heathline also says it places unnecessary limits on “very healthy” foods like legumes.

Carolyn Slupsky, professor of nutrition at the University of California, Davis newsweek People should be careful about any diet that does not include one or more food groups.


“I am concerned about the exclusion of dairy, grains, and legumes. In my opinion, whenever you go on an exclusionary diet (i.e. you exclude one or more food groups from your diet), you need to think about this a lot. Be careful what you are eating to make sure you are meeting all of your nutrient requirements.

“Thus, people who follow an exclusion diet are often at risk of being deficient in one or more nutrients. When you become deficient in nutrients, it will impact your health.”

Foods such as whole grains and legumes are important sources of fiber and B vitamins while dairy is an important source of protein and calcium, he adds.

However, he said he strongly supported limiting consumption of processed foods and added sugar, but added “you don’t need to be on the Pegan diet to do that.”

Registered dietitian nutritionist Rosemary Lambeau James tells the Cleveland Clinic of The Pegan Diet: “Eating more fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, and cancer. But don’t eat dairy, legumes and whole grains without talking to your doctor. Don’t skimp on cereal. Or the nutritionists.”

Charles Mueller, clinical associate professor of clinical nutrition and director of the didactic program in dietetics at New York University Steinhardt newsweek: “The day-to-day eating pattern for a lifetime: fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and poultry, meat in moderation, and not too many of these — the most important ingredients.”

A stock photo shows a man shopping for food in the aisle of a grocery store. The Pegan diet combines aspects of a Paleo and vegetarian diet.
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