Considering the Pegan Diet? Here's What You Need to Know

Photo: Unsplash

Photo: Unsplash

What happens when you put together a Paleo and a Vegan? According to a few jokes I’ve heard, they’ll both talk ceaselessly about their diets. Oh, and usually a Crossfitter will interrupt with a detailed description of that morning’s WOD. (But why not? We should all be passionate about our lifestyle choices! Even if nobody else really wants to hear about them.) Anyway, I digress. The real answer is: Paleo + Vegan = Pegan!  

Whether you’re seeing the term Pegan for the first time or you’ve been hearing it thrown around a bit recently, you’re probably wondering if this is the accessible and maintainable road to healthy eating you’ve been seeking all this time. And you’ve got questions. So, we’ve got answers — we hope this covers all you need to know to get started with the Pegan diet.


There are so many diets out there. Remind me what Paleo and Vegan mean?

Vegan avoids consuming any animals or animal products — not only meat, but eggs, dairy products, fish and foods containing animal-derived ingredients. Technically a Vegan can live on faux meat, white pasta and Twizzlers, but a healthy Vegan diet emphasizes nuts, seeds, fruits, veggies, seaweed and other plant-based foods.


Paleo, at the other end of the food chain spectrum, allows only foods thought to be consumed during the caveman days and consists primarily of meat, fish, nuts, vegetables, and some fruit. Dairy, grain products, beans and all processed food (carbs and sugars!) are out.


Yikes. Combining those sounds impossible! What’s left to eat?

Actually Pegan is a little less restrictive and combines the best bits of both: it’s highly unprocessed (like Paleo) and largely plant-based (like Vegan).

According to Dr. Mark Hyman, who appears to be the person to coin the term and to really define the Pegan diet, here are the key components:

  • Eat mostly plants — stick with low glycemic veggies and fruits.

  • Focus on nuts and seeds.

  • Avoid dairy — but note he doesn’t say eliminate. Always organic.

  • Avoid gluten — and eat gluten-free whole grains sparingly.

  • Eat beans sparingly.

  • Eat meat and animal products as condiments.

  • Keep sugar — in all its forms — as an occasional treat.

See? Doable. Nothing is eliminated, but the right things are emphasized.


So there are still animal products. Are the Vegans of the world on board with the name Pegan?

We love our portmanteaus, don’t we? But some analysts say a better descriptor for this diet is a “clean, modified-Paleo diet.” Since Veganism is as much a way of life as it is a diet, “modified Paleo” is probably a more accurate way to look at it. But “Pegan” is just so catchy!


Okay, show me what this looks like. What can I eat tomorrow?

Well, taking on board what Dr. Hyman says and pulling a few ideas from the, try something like this:

  • Breakfast: 2 eggs, a little sweet potato and a side of strawberries

  • Snack: Apple slices and organic peanut butter

  • Lunch: Sauteed kale and fresh sliced mushrooms with a small handful of cashew nuts. (Sprinkle on your favorite seasonings to add a little extra flavor as it’s cooking.)

  • Another snack: Half an avocado (drizzled with a little balsamic, maybe?)

  • Dinner: A big salad with lots of greens, a colorful variety of fresh chopped vegetables, seeds, lightly topped with grilled organic chicken or fish and dressed with oil and vinegar

The above menu is just an informal starting point — you have to make your dietary decisions based on your own nutritional needs. But you can see you don’t have to suffer to eat the Pegan way.

Let us know if you have more questions about the Pegan diet. And if you’ve tried going Pegan, we want to hear your experience with it!

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