Have you ever wondered what could happen if paleo and vegan diets had a lovechild?
I mean, something like a middle ground that shares certain principles unique to each diet?
I’m asking these questions since I have observed that some diets, faddy or otherwise, are somewhat lacking in terms of nutrients or have the emphasis on more unhealthy food in my opinion.
While dieting in its essence is a practice involving restrictive food intake, don’t you think you can shake things up so you could enjoy more choices yet still experience optimal health?
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I know exactly how you feel.
I have actually spent a lot of time researching and tweaking my own diet in order to satisfy both needs.
And I have come to a conclusion that, yes, a diet that is a combination of paleo and vegan principles is possible and could actually increase your chances of getting healthy exponentially.
A pegan diet is pretty much how I eat with some subtle but important differences which I will share at the end of this article.
Now, I’ll show you how you can follow a pegan diet and what benefits you could get out of it.
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Benefits of the Pegan Diet
The term ‘pegan diet’ was coined by Mark Hyman.
A pegan diet banks on the idea that whole, unprocessed, and nutrient-laden foods aid in reduced inflammation and balanced sugar levels.
This in turn translates into overall optimum health.
Specifically, this diet promotes increased fruits and vegetables intake.
Its emphasis on plant-based foods not only provides you with a diverse range of meal options, but also helps in prevention and reduction of diseases, oxidative stress and inflammation through their high nutrients content.
Going “pegan” also helps you to maintain a healthy heart through encouraging more healthy whole fat sources into your diet like nuts and seeds.
Perhaps most of the appeal of the pegan diet comes from the fact that it sticks to only whole foods and discourages all processed foods.
This way, you get to improve the quality of your diet while also avoiding health risks by not consuming too much preservatives and chemicals which are typically added to foods.
If you didn’t know, studies point to processed foods for the growing obesity rates and disease all over the world.
Paleo Vs Vegan
Before I tell you how exactly to embark on a pegan diet, let us first study the two contributing principles from which the diet in question derives.
What Is A Paleo Diet?
Paleo is short for “Paleolithic Diet”, which refers to the kind of diet reminiscent of the prehistoric man’s modes of consumption and inspired by provisions available to him at that time.
It is a throwback to the caveman diet consisting primarily of hunted animal meat, poultry, and gathered edible plants such as vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts.
The predatory nature of accumulating food during this era suggests that a caveman subsisted mainly on animal meat and whole, unadulterated foods.
This is the aim of paleo diet: to go back to the old ways in which the human body is believed to be genetically-modified to subsist on.
More on paleo vs vegan, here’s what the latter has to say.
What Is A Vegan Diet?
The vegan diet originated from an anti-animal cruelty advocacy promoting consumption of plant-based edibles instead of meat and animal derivatives.
Hence, the diet strongly rejects the inclusion of meat and animal by-products, and only recommends that you munch on anything that isn’t derived from animals.
It is hard to imagine how two opposite spectrums can be bound together by shared philosophies.
But interestingly, there some aspects of each diet that are similar to the other.
Obviously, the emphasis on consumption of plants is a main principle that both paleo and vegan diets share in common.
While the paleo diet considers it just a part of the whole equation, vegan diet has no other option but to stick with plant edibles.
Another similarity between paleo and vegan diets is the fact that they both reject the consumption of dairy.
For paleo proponents, consuming dairy would be a contradiction to the principle of the primitive diet which focuses only on readily-available foods as compared to modern day’s utilization of technology to draw out more by-products.
On the other hand, a vegan diet strongly discourages dairy consumption due to the fact that it is still derived from animals.
Both diets also share fondness of seeds and nuts.
Finally, paleo diets highly promote consumption of whole foods, which alternately means that they are against processed food items.
A lot of vegans also focus on consuming whole foods, but it does often depend on the motives for following a vegan diet, health vs ethical.
You tend to find more unhealthy ‘ethical’ vegans.
That’s not to say that people following a vegan diet for health reasons are not also ethical, but that wasn’t their primary motivation for going vegan.
You already know that vegans do not eat animal meat, and this is not shared by paleo dieters as meat is actually the main source of nourishment for them.
Aside from this obvious difference, the origins of both diets are two opposite poles.
Paleo has always been about diet, while veganism sprouted more as an advocacy rather than a lifestyle.
Finally, paleo is against legumes and grains which are obtained through farming techniques, which is a red flag for its proponents due to the fact that it used modern-day technology.
Vegans, on the other hand, are open to the inclusion of these food items mainly because legumes and grains are still considered plant-based.
What Can You Eat On a Pegan Diet?
Vegetables and fruits should make up 75% of your plate, and each should be fresh and no additives included.
For your protein fix, nuts, seeds and lean meats are supposedly allowed on a pegan diet. (Read my thoughts about meat being allowed later).
Make sure that you are consuming the remaining 25% allocation for protein foods to ensure a holistic diet.
Also, it is advised that you obtain your meat from grass-fed animals.
Your meat consumption allowance (including fish) for pegan is much lower compared to actual paleo diet requirement, but you should not worry about it because you can always depend on plant-based protein.
However your choice of plant based protein will be more limited on a pegan diet than a vegan diet because you are not allowed to eat legumes unless they are sprouted.
Eggs are also an acceptable substitute on a pegan diet.
What Foods Are Not Allowed on a Pegan Diet?
Be careful not to consume dairy products which include milk, yoghurt and cheese.
Gluten-rich foods are also frowned upon in this diet so avoid them at all costs.
Legumes and grains which are staples for most vegans, are not allowed on a pegan diet. However sprouted legumes are allowed. Also grain-like seeds such as quinoa are also not on the list.
Food additives, refined oils and sugars are also not allowed into the diet.
Delicious Pegan Diet Recipes
If you’re looking for meal ideas to kick-start your pegan diet, I suggest that you follow these sample recipes I have personally curated and prepared.
These recipes are culled from my very own Leaf System Diet, which is loosely based on the principles of a pegan diet.
Here are two recipes for pegan snacks that you will love.
Spiced Sweet Potato Wedges Pegan Recipe
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Calories: 86 per serving
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled (200g in total)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 220°C/425°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
- Chop the sweet potato into thin wedges and transfer to a medium-sized bowl.
- Add in the spices, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss the potatoes until all wedges are lightly coated with the spices.
- Arrange the sweet potato wedges on your prepared baking sheet and bake for 30-45 minutes, flipping them once halfway through.
You could also cook these in an air fryer for 18 minutes, shaking your basket every 5 minutes.
- Let the wedges cool for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Crispy Kale Chips Pegan Recipe
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Calories: 97 per serving
- 2 packs packed kale, washed and stemmed
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F.
- Chop the kale into bite-sized pieces and transfer to a large baking sheet lined with some parchment paper.
- Add the coconut oil, garlic powder, cayenne, and a fat pinch of salt and pepper, and massage the kale until each piece is coated with the oil and spices.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the kale is very crispy. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Perfectly Planned Pegan Diet Meal Plan For Fat Loss and Incredible Energy
Usually, faddy diets cannot be expected to fix all loopholes.
I mean, sure, you lose weight, but is it safe and making you feel awesome?
If you answered “no” to both, then you probably need to rethink your meal planning options.
Fortunately, I can share with you a perfectly planned pegan meal plan that I myself have painstakingly put together.
Instead of making you feel bad about dieting, my meal plan emphasizes on variety and quality to help promote an energized body despite being on a diet.
And when you’ve been ‘on’ this diet for a while, hopefully it will just become your diet that you eat every day just because it makes you feel amazing.
Here is a sample meal plan that you can try for yourself.
For breakfast, you can have Wet Summer Watermelon Thickie which is a blended drink.
It replaces your entire breakfast because it’s a complete meal in itself.
For lunch, you could have an Artichoke Salad with Pesto Dressing for a filling meal.
Dinner meal could be Asian Cashew Veggies so you don’t have to feel deprived prior to going to sleep.
Is The Pegan Diet A Good Compromise?
The pegan diet being a mashup of paleo and vegan principles brings you the advantage of food variety and improved fitness results.
Despite the notion that the two originating diets are exact opposites, pegan diet establishes a middle ground which allows you to enjoy dieting in a sustainable and flexible way.
Pegan diet is the way to go if you’re aiming for a more inclusive yet carefully curated diet and you do still want to eat a small amount of animal products.
Do I Follow A Pegan Diet?
A pegan diet is pretty much how I eat right now with a couple of exceptions.
I actually follow a vegan diet, but that doesn’t accurately describe the food I eat seeing as a lot of vegan diets can be based on processed food which is actually very unhealthy.
I base all my meals on whole foods and absolutely nothing I eat is from mixed processed foods – i.e. I only eat foods with an ingredients list of 1 item. Preferably the food doesn’t have an ingredients list at all such as fruits and veggies.
And even though I don’t eat animal products personally, I love the principals of the paleo diet in terms of the focus on natural, whole foods.
So meshing these two concepts together is perfect in my eyes.
However, in my opinion if you take the main principles of paleo which is whole foods based and the main principles of vegan which is no animal products, you cannot have a combined diet that does still contain animal products.
So the concept of a pegan diet is flawed to me because no vegans would be able to follow a pegan diet without adding some of their own clauses.
And as a pegan diet does still allow you to eat meat, if you take that into consideration I’d probably have to describe myself as a ‘Pegan Vegan’. Kinda sounds hilarious when you say that outloud!
Should Vegans Become Pegans?
Although I love that vegans are focusing much more on healthy eating, I think perhaps eating in the style of a pegan vegan is very difficult because you are excluded from eating both grains and unsprouted legumes (beans and lentils).
So that only really leaves fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds and potatoes as your main diet sources.
I have previously spent 10 months following a raw food vegan diet where I ate only fruit, veggies, nuts and seeds and I felt amazing.
So know this style of dieting is very doable and healthy.
And had I also been able to cook my veggies and include potato I think that would have made this style of eating much more doable for me in the long term.
The only additional food groups I have in my current diet is both a small amount of whole grains and also some legumes.
I do believe cutting out whole grains and legumes makes for easier digestion.
But it also means you have to rely on nuts and seeds as the highest protein source of all your food. Yes all foods contain protein, but your protein intake will be very low eating this way.
The problem with only eating nuts and seeds as your protein is that they are both very high in fat, so you can’t eat too many of them or you’ll be eating a high fat diet, which isn’t good for your health, no matter what the source.
So if you want slightly more protein and less fat as a vegan (which I do as I’m currently into bodybuilding) you will need to include legumes in your diet.
Should Grains And Beans Be Banned On A Pegan Diet?
The paleo diet is based around what was thought to be the diet of the time of the Paleolithic era which wasn’t thought to include grains or legumes.
However that line of thinking has now been debunked. Lots of different evidence now shows that cavemen did indeed eat both grains and oats, even though it was a lot more work for them than it was for us.
Studies have also shown that whole grains and legumes have many health benefits and are eaten daily by the longest lived populations in the world.
Many people report an improvement in their digestion when they go paleo and cut out grains and legumes. However, they haven’t compared the diet to an unprocessed diet including grains and legumes for any length of time.
Supposedly it is the processed junk food that ruins our guts and makes us unable to tolerate eating beans and grains. The gut flora is destroyed and a paleo or a pegan diet can make things feel a lot better.
My own digestion was much better on both a paleo and also a pegan style raw food diet not including beans and grains.
However when I introduced beans back into my diet again, my digestion did suffer.
But I have since learned that this can be improved by improving the gut flora.
Medical medium encourages people to drink celery juice daily to improve their digestion. I have been doing this myself and I can now tolerate both grains and beans very well.
Without the celery juice I have previously followed a healthy cooked vegan diet and had occasional vegan junk food and my digestion of beans was awful.
Now I eat no junk food, drink the celery juice and things are much better than they’ve ever been in terms of my digestion and everything else for that matter.
So I personally see no reason why we shouldn’t eat whole grains and also legumes.
I don’t think we should eat wheat for good health, even if it is in the whole form. Increasing numbers of people are now being diagnosed with celiac disease (myself included just in the last couple of years) and many more are intolerant to gluten.
Although wheat used to be a health food, now it is a different grain which is sprayed very heavily with toxic chemicals, which many believe is actually what people are having sensitivities to.
So bearing this in my, due to the evidence and my own personal experiments, my own meal plans, The Leaf System is based on whole foods, healthy meals prepared from scratch.
There are two different meal plans provided each month, one is paleo with an emphasis on fruit and vegetables and a small amount of animal products, which definitely are also pegan according to this definition.
The other meal plans are vegan, and do include healthy whole grains (no gluten) and legumes but are also based on an abundance of fruit and veggies. And now that we’ve discovered that legumes and beans are actually healthy, to me, they also do fit into the pegan diet.
As there is some confusion about the pegan diet, and as it is not strictly a combination of the main principles of veganism and paleo, I’d like to propose a new dietary term..
The Valeo Diet!
What Is The Valeo Diet?
The valeo diet is the TRUE combination of both vegan principals AND the food that the REAL paleolithic people really ate which does include both beans and grains.
What Is Allowed On The Valeo Diet?
- Vegetables including potatoes
- Whole grains
- Leafy greens and herbs
- Spices from whole foods
What Is Not Allowed On The Valeo Diet?
- Meat, eggs, dairy, honey or any animal products
- Processed foods with more than 1 ingredient on the ingredient list
- Refined processed foods where nutrients have been stripped away (white sugar, white flour)
- Harmful chemicals and additives
- Refined oils, even coconut oil will be limited as whole foods are always a better option
So will you be starting a pegan or a valeo diet yourself any time soon?
If you want to get started on a valeo diet, you can get my meal plans FREE by clicking here.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
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