BIG Nutrition: Is the pegan diet the perfect marriage of plant based and animal protein eating?


BIG Nutrition: Is the pegan diet the perfect marriage of plant based and animal protein eating?

Take the best of a plant-based diet and add fish, meat, and eggs and what do you get? The pegan diet (a combination of paleo and vegan). Could this make the typically meat heavy paleo eating pattern a little more balanced?


The creator, Dr. Mark Hyman, developed the diet in 2014 with the emphasis on what you eat rather than how much. He recommends that 75% of intake be from plant foods that are low glycemic index. A glycemic index table for common plant foods is here.

Glycemic index? A ranking (0-100) of a food’s effect on blood sugar. GI of 55 or less is considered low.

Allowed: Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocado, fish, meat, and eggs. Non-gluten containing whole grains and lentils are allowed in small amounts,

Avoid: Sugar, processed food, beans, dairy, and gluten.

Nutrient compromise?

From a nutrient perspective, omitting whole food groups (eg, grains, beans) can leave some nutrient gaps and whole grains and legume intake have been associated with better health outcomes.


Given the multiple restrictions of many common foods, this could be difficult to maintain over the long term.

On balance?

With a heavy emphasis on whole, minimally processed foods, this approach to eating does have many good ideas. Good planning is recommended to mitigate potential nutrient gaps. With most people eating 21 meals per week (3 meals per day), perhaps another approach is striving for 18 meals meeting the pegan approach and 3 meals per week with more flexibility.

Happy and healthful eating,

Donna G. Pertel, MEd, RD, LDN

Considering or already eating a pegan diet and wondering about meeting your nutrition needs? Contact me at [email protected]

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