Why a ‘Pegan Diet’ Might Be the Healthiest Diet Of Them All

You’ve heard of the vegan diet and you’re most likely au fait with Paleo too, but how about ‘Peganism’?

Yep, we had no idea the Pegan diet existed either, but according to one of the top functional medicine doctors in the US this way of eating might be the healthiest of them all.

After living strictly by both diets himself, Mark Hyman, M.D. says that vegan and paleo diets are flawed, in an article on Mind Body Green.

“Even the perfect vegan diet” will be lacking in important nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, iron, zinc, copper, or vitamin D.

Pegan Diet

While he found that a Paleo diet can often be used as an “excuse to eat much meat and too few plant-based foods.”

He admits, however, that both diets have their strengths and he found himself somewhere in the middle, coining this way of eating the ‘pegan diet.’

“The best versions of both diets are built on the same foundation: Eat real, whole food,” Dr Hyman says of vegan and Paleo diets.

“Vegan and paleo diets focus on foods that don’t raise our blood sugar, plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, healthy protein and fats, and no crap.”

“I synthesized the best aspects of each and integrated them with the anti-inflammatory and detoxification principles of functional medicine to create a balanced, inclusive dietary plan that changed my life and my patients’ lives, too. Now thousands of people all over the world are following the pegan diet.”

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Many of you have been asking, “So, what the heck does Dr. Hyman eat?” A typical day of what I eat often consists of two whole pasture raised eggs, an avocado and sliced tomato with olive oil, and salt and pepper for breakfast. For lunch, I often have a fat salad – lots of veggies. Arugula, tomatoes, avocados, olives, chopped fennel, toasted pumpkins seeds and olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper homemade dressing. And I might throw a can of wild salmon or sardines on top. For dinner, I have two to four veggies – a salad, roasted eggplant, sautéed greens, mushrooms, broccoli and a small piece of organic chicken, grass fed beef or lamb. Sometimes I add a small amount of black rice or some lentils. And of course, I like some dark chocolate from time to time or a piece of fruit – some berries, or kiwis. None of this takes a lot of time once you learn some basic shopping and cooking skills. Most importantly, I never, ever, ever stress about food. Stress is toxic, even more toxic than junk food. That’s why I also follow the 90/10 rule. If I veer off 10% of the time I don’t worry about it. We are resilient as humans. But if I do veer off, it is always with real food. Food is the road to your fully expressed life, and my goal is not only to help you create amazing health, but to take away your food anxiety. This is why I wrote my new book, "Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?" which comes out February 27th. Learn more and pre-order your copy today via the link in my website. #foodthebook

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Dr Hyman’s Pegan diet rules are pretty simple:

1. Stay away from sugar

That means anything that causes a spike in our insulin production. Thhink sugar, flour, and refined carbohydrates.

2. Eat mostly plants

Half your plate should be covered with veggies. The deeper the color, the more variety, the less starchy, the better.

3. Go easy on fruits

Stick to low-glycemic fruits, like berries, kiwis, and watermelon, and enjoy the others as a treat. Think of dried fruit as candy!

4. Stay away from pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and GMO foods

The title says it all!

5. Eat foods containing healthy fats

You can find mega-3 fatty acids and other good fats in nuts, seeds, olive oil, and avocados.

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The second principle of the Pegan Diet is to eat mostly plants. 70 to 80% of your diet should be from veggies and nuts and seeds. Stick with mostly non-starchy veggies and go easy on the potatoes. It can be in our diet but shouldn’t be the #1 veggie eaten by Americans – mostly in the form of French fries fried in toxic oils! Unfortunately, carbs get a bad rap. Cauliflower and ice cream both fall into the carbs category, but we all know one is healthy and the other isn’t. By volume, most of your plate should be carbs. Note I said volume, not calories. Many plant-based carbs actually have very few calories. In my book, "Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?" I go in depth into the key food principles that almost everyone can agree on. I jokingly call it the Pegan Diet—poking fun at the extremes of Paleo and Vegan. I also delve into all the categories of real food, because there still is so much confusion around answering the question, "What the heck should I Eat?" "Food" is out on 2/27 and available for pre-order today via the link in my profile. #foodthebook

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6. Stay away from most vegetable, nut, and seed oils

This one can cause a bit of confusion. Avoid rapeseed, sunflower, corn, grapeseed, and especially soybean oil, which now accounts. Allow small amounts of cold-pressed nut and seed oils like sesame, macadamia, and walnut oils, using as condiments or for flavoring. Avocado oil can be used for higher-temperature cooking.

7. Avoid or limit dairy

It just doesn’t work for most people. But the occasional yogurt, kefir, grass-fed butter, ghee, and even cheese can be fine for most. You can also try goat or sheep products instead of cow dairy- and always go organic and grass-fed.

8. Think of meat and animal products as condiments

Dr Hyman like to call meat and animal products “condi-meat” – ie. not a main course

9. Eat sustainably raised or harvested low-mercury fish

Choose sustainably harvested or farmed, high omega-3, low mercury varieties such as sardines, herring, anchovies, and wild-caught salmon.

10. Avoid gluten

Dr. Alessio Fasano of Harvard, the world’s top gluten expert, has done research showing that gluten damages the gut—even in non-gluten-sensitive people who show no symptoms. Need a bread fix? Look for heirloom varieties of wheat like einkorn.

11. Eat gluten-free whole grains sparingly

Small portions of low-glycemic grains like black rice, quinoa, teff, buckwheat, or amaranth can be enjoyed, though be mindful these still raise blood sugar and can trigger autoimmunity.

12. Eat beans only once in a while

Stick to lentils and avoid starchy beans. Lentils are best. They are a great source of fiber, protein, and minerals, but they cause digestive problems for some, and the lectins and phytates they contain may impair mineral absorption.

13. Get tested to personalise your approach