Is The Pegan Diet Healthy And Should You Try It?

Reviewed by Merlin Annie Raj, Registered Dietitian
by Charushila Biswas
ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition

The Pegan Diet is the hottest diet trend right now, but is it THE healthy diet of our era? What is it, anyway?

The Pegan Diet is the newest healthy eating trend that everyone is raving about. This unique diet was created by Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D., and it combines the best of Paleo and vegan diets.

But is it even possible to combine these two diets? Because the Paleo diet follows the eating habits of the Paleolithic era (that includes eating meat) while vegans avoid all animal products (1), (2)!

Before you judge the book by its cover, let’s investigate. Read on to find out if the Pegan Diet really is healthy, if it can help improve your lifestyle and overall well-being, and if you should try it. Swipe up!

Table Of Contents

What Is The Pegan Diet?


The Pegan diet is a combination of Paleo and vegan diets that is said to help fight obesity and obesity-related diseases.

Dr. Mark Hyman, director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, and author of The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Cookbook, came up with this concept in 2015. According to Dr. Hyman, “Although they (Paleo and vegan diets) may sound completely at odds, the truth is Paleo and vegan diets have more in common with each other than either have with the standard American diet.”

When you are on the Pegan diet, you will not have to let go of meat (or any other animal products) or limit the intake of good carbs (like in the ketogenic diet).

Main Idea – The Pegan diet is a Paleo-vegan diet that helps you strike a balance between plant-based and animal food sources.

And that brings us to the next question – was adding another diet to the list necessary? Let’s find out in the next section.

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Is The Pegan Diet Necessary?

Yes and maybe. For over two decades, the diet industry has been bombarded with new scientific evidence that supported one diet for a moment and dismantled it the very next. This led to a lot of confusion and left dieters wondering – what is the best healthy diet to follow? Thankfully, the Pegan diet is the answer to this question. Allow me to enlighten you.

You know that the Pegan diet is a happy combination of the Paleo and vegan diets. These two diets were specifically chosen by Dr. Mark Hyman because the vegan diet showed tremendous promise in fighting obesity and obesity-related diseases (3). Moreover, it is a great way to protect the environment and potentially lower animal harm.

The Paleo diet limits the consumption of meat (because in the Paleolithic era people had to hunt to eat meat) and does not allow the consumption of dairy (as the concept of domesticating animals for milk and milk products was not practiced yet), grains, legumes, and processed foods. This has shown to have a beneficial effect on patients with diabetes type 2 and cardiovascular disease risk (4). However, these diets caused other deficiencies that needed to be resolved.

The Nutrition Collaborative Research Support Program found that school children who followed a primarily vegetarian diet were found to be low on certain essential amino acids, vitamin B12, vitamin D, riboflavin, iron, calcium, zinc, and dietary fiber (5).

Therefore, it only made sense to combine two highly trusted and healthy diets so that you don’t lose out on any of the proteins, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that you get from both animal and plant food sources.

Main Idea – Every food group is important for you. The Pegan diet helps you get the nutritional balance that you don’t get by strictly following only vegan or only Paleo diet.

So, how can you start following this diet? Find out next.

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10 Pegan Diet Principles

  1. Choose Low GL Foods – Glycemic Index (GI) is the number given to a food depending on its ability to raise glucose levels in the blood (6). The glycemic load (GL) of a food is calculated by multiplying its glycemic index with its carb content (portion size is also considered in glycemic load). The lower the GI of a food, the lower the blood glucose spikes post meal consumption.
  2. Consume: Foods like nuts, legumes, veggies, low-GI fruits, black coffee, and green tea.
  3. Consume Healthy Fats – Healthy fats are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They help lower inflammation, inflammation-induced weight gain, and cardiovascular diseases (7).
  4. Consume: Fatty fish (mackerel, salmon, and tuna), avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocado oil, and flax seed oil.
  5. Eat A Plateful Of Veggies – Vegetables are great sources of dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients that improve your health and protect you from various diseases (8). Fill 75%-80% of your plate with veggies. Consume different colored (mostly dark-colored) veggies.
  6. Consume: Beetroot, carrot, kale, spinach, red bell pepper, purple cabbage, bok choy, scallions, squash, and green chili. (Take a look at the Foods To Eat section.)
  7. Control The Portion Of Meat – The Pegan diet allows dieters to consume meat, but too much of it can be harmful. According to Hyman, “A good rule of thumb is to fill about 25 percent of your plate with a protein-rich food — about the size of your palm.”
  8. Consume: A plateful of veggies and control your meat consumption.
  9. Say ‘No’ To Dairy – Hyman says, “While some people can tolerate [dairy], recent research has shown that it can contribute to ailments such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and may increase (not decrease) the risk of osteoporosis.” Both the vegan and Paleo diets do not recommend consumption of dairy. Therefore, avoid dairy while on the Pegan diet.
  10. Consume: Fresh fruit juice instead of milk and olive/coconut oil instead of ghee.
  11. Limit Legume Consumption – Legumes like lentils, groundnuts, beans, and pulses should be limited. Though they are a good source of protein, limiting them to one cup per day may help alleviate digestive problems and may reduce the risk of diabetes.
  12. Consume: Eggs, fish, mushroom, and meat as sources of protein.
  13. Avoid Whole Grains And Go Gluten-Free – In the paleolithic era, the concept of farming had not been introduced yet and people did not consume whole grains. They also did not consume bread, biscuits, cereals or anything else that contains gluten. Avoiding whole grains and going gluten-free can help keep your blood sugar levels in check and lower the chances of autoimmune diseases.
  14. Consume: Loads of veggies and meat instead of grains.
  15. Reduce Sugar Consumption – Refined sugar and artificial sweeteners should be totally off your diet chart. Opt for healthier sugar options and indulge in sugary treats sometimes and only in limited amounts.
  16. Consume: Honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar in limited amounts.
  17. Say No To GMOs And Chemicals – Avoid genetically modified foods, foods that contain additives, preservatives, artificial color, and flavoring agents, and foods that are loaded with pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics.
  18. Consume: Foods from the local market or foods that are labeled as non-GMO, organic, free-range, and grass-fed.
  19. Go For Grass-Fed Meat And Wild-Caught Fish – To opt for protein sources that are non-GMO and do not contain antibiotics and hormones, choose grass-fed meat and wild-caught fish.
  20. Consume: Grass-fed steak, grass-fed lamb chops/kebabs, and wild-caught salmon or tuna.

With so many foods that you need to limit or avoid altogether, you must be wondering, “What’s left to eat?” Well, take a look at the next section to find out what you can eat on the Pegan diet.

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Pegan Diet – List Of Foods To Eat


  • Veggies – Beetroot, carrot, kale, spinach, red bell pepper, purple cabbage, bok choy, scallions, squash, green chili, radish greens, chard, rocket spinach, turnip, cauliflower, broccoli, and tomato.
  • Fruits – Berries, plum, pomegranate, pineapple, pluot, and peach.
  • Protein – Grass-fed meat, wild-caught fish, mushroom, and egg.
  • Nuts and Seeds – Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pine nuts, macadamia nuts, pepita, flax seeds, and sunflower seeds.
  • Fats and Oils – Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, nuts, and nut butter.
  • Beverages – Water

It is clear now what you can consume, what you need to consume in limited amounts, and what you need to avoid completely. Now, let me show you how to integrate these new eating habits into your daily routine. Here’s a sample diet plan.

Sample Pegan Diet Plan

MealsWhat To Consume
Early Morning (6:00 a.m.)2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds soaked overnight in a glass of water. Drink it as soon as you wake up.
Breakfast (7:00 a.m.)1 tall glass of protein smoothie made with berries, coconut butter, seeds, nuts, almond butter, and unsweetened almond milk.
Mid Morning (10:00 a.m.)1 apple
Lunch (12:30 – 1:00 p.m.)A big salad with avocado, canned wild salmon or sardine, and pumpkin seeds.
Snack (3:30 p.m.)1 cucumber
Dinner (6:30 p.m)1 medium-sized bowl of wild-caught fish or pasture-raised lamb or organic chicken, two or three sides of vegetables including dark green leafy vegetables, winter squash, and roasted mushrooms.

The diet chart clearly shows that you need to eat clean to lose weight and feel better than ever. But how long should you do it? Let me tell you all about that in the following section.

How Long Should You Follow The Pegan Diet?

You may follow the Pegan diet for as long as you can. To lose weight in a healthy way, you must make your diet a lifestyle.

The Pegan diet is all about improving lifestyle habits that will not only help you lose weight but also improve your physical and mental health. In fact, according to Doctor Oz, you can follow the Pegan diet all 365 days of the year! If you do decide to go that way, here’s what you need to do.

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How To Follow The Pegan365 Diet


Following the Pegan365 diet, which is nothing but following the Pegan diet for a year, is pretty simple. Just remember what to eat and what to avoid, and the following rules:

  • Pegan365 Rules
  1. Consume 5 cups of veggies every day. Choose non-starchy veggies.
  2. Consume 4 carbs, which include fruits and limited amounts of grains and starches. For example, ½ cup grains, ½ cup oats, and 1 slice of bread (if you are gluten tolerant. Otherwise, consume gluten-free bread).
  3. Consume 3 proteins. Choose any vegan or Paleo protein. Make sure you consume limited amounts of legumes.
  4. Consume 2 fats. Choose nuts, nut butters, avocado, or fatty fish for your daily dose of healthy fats.
  5. Consume 1 dairy substitute. Consume almond milk, soy milk, nut cheese, and non-dairy yogurt.
  6. Consume dessert in limited amounts, twice a week (if you workout regularly).
  7. Consume alcohol (60 mL) twice a week (if you workout regularly).
  8. Snack on berries and low GL foods like baby carrots and cucumber.

Don’t get confused between the Pegan and Pegan365 diets. They are essentially the same, except for a few differences. Check out the table below to clear the fog in your head.

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Difference Between Pegan Diet And Pegan365 Diet

Pegan DietPegan365
Duration – 3 weeks to 3 monthsDuration – At least a year
Legumes, grains, and gluten are a strict no-no.You may consume legumes, grains, and gluten foods in meagre amounts.
No alcohol.May consume alcohol (60 mL) twice a week if you workout regularly.
Avoid refined and artificial sweeteners. May consume dessert in limited amounts once a week.May consume dessert in limited amounts twice a week.
Too restrictive.Restrictive, but not as much as the original Pegan diet.

Hope you now know how to plan your Pegan or Pegan365 grocery shopping list. I also recommend that you consume homemade food as much as you can. Here are a few recipes by Dr. Mark Hyman that will not take much time and are super easy to make. Take a look!

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Dr. Mark Hyman’s Recipes

1. Turmeric Shots


  • 1 ½ cups unsweetened or fresh coconut water
  • 2 tablespoons turmeric powder
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
How To Prepare
  1. Put all the ingredients in a shaker bottle and shake well.
  2. Pour it into a shot glass and take your shot.
  3. Store the leftover mixture in the shaker bottle in the fridge, and take 1-2 shots every day.

2. Berries And Cream Smoothie


  • ½ cup frozen berries
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground flax seed powder
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • A pinch of cinnamon
How To Prepare
  1. Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend well.
  2. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

3. Skillet Tofu With Broccoli And Peppers


  • 1 lb non-GMO tofu, drained and cut in cubes
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 10 broccoli florets
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • ½ inch ginger, grated
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons wheat-free tamari
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • A handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
How To Prepare
  1. Heat the sesame oil in a pan.
  2. Add the broccoli, tofu, and bell peppers. Toss and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the ginger and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Pour in the broth, tamari, and vinegar.
  5. Mix the arrowroot and two tablespoons of water in a small cup and add it to the pan.
  6. Simmer for 3 minutes.
  7. Give it a final stir.
  8. Switch off the burner.
  9. Garnish with sesame seeds and cilantro.

That was quick and delicious, right? Before you settle down and decide whether you want to if you should follow Pegan diet, here’s something else you’ve got to do.

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Calories out > calories in = weight loss. And, weight loss = low risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and hypertension, and reduced depression.

You cannot escape working out even when you are on the Pegan or Pegan365 diet. Do what you like – run, jog, walk, dance, swim, Pilates, strength training exercises, or parkour.

The point is to feel good when you exercise and be motivated every day. When you do that, you get to reward yourself with a sweet treat twice a week! Isn’t that great?

Alright, that brings us to the last – but most important – question. What are the benefits and side effects of the Pegan diet? I have listed out all the pros and cons below. Take a look.

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Pros And Cons Of The Pegan Diet

Very healthyToo restrictive
Aids weight lossMay prevent your body from getting the nutrients from legumes and whole grains
High satietyYou may lose interest in the diet too quickly.
Improves overall well-beingMay not be the ideal diet for vegans and vegetarians
You will start to see results in 3 weeks.May be more expensive than a regular healthy diet

So, is the Pegan diet for you? Let’s do some fact checking.

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Is The Pegan Diet For You?

Yes, the Pegan diet is for you if you are struggling to lose weight and haven’t found THE diet.

That said, I highly recommend that you take your doctor’s advice before jumping ship. Your doctor has expert knowledge about your health issues, the medicines you are (or were) on, your body type, medical history, and genetics. If your doctor gives you a thumbs up, go for it.

To conclude, there are hundreds of diets out there that may or may not work for you. I suggest you choose one that gels well with your eating habits and health goals. The Pegan diet is a successful diet because it is well-balanced. It cuts out all the foods that cause inflammation and weight gain in a majority of the population. Try it and see how a good, well-balanced diet and lifestyle can change your life in a jiffy. Get started now!

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  1. Paleolithic Diet” StatPearls, US National Library of Medicine.
  2. Beyond Meatless, the Health Effects of Vegan Diets: Findings from the Adventist Cohorts” Nutrients, US National Library of Medicine.
  3. Plant-Based Diets: A Physician’s Guide”The Permanente journal, US National Library of Medicine.
  4. The Beneficial Effects of a Paleolithic Diet on Type 2 Diabetes and Other Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease” Journal of diabetes science and technology, US National Library of Medicine.
  5. Nutritional importance of animal source foods.” The Journal of nutrition, US National Library of Medicine.
  6. The concept of low glycemic index and glycemic load foods as panacea for type 2 diabetes mellitus; prospects, challenges and solutions” African health sciences, US National Library of Medicine.
  7. Health benefits of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid.” Advances in food and nutrition research, US National Library of Medicine.
  8. Cardiovascular Health Benefits of Specific Vegetable Types: A Narrative Review” Nutrients, US National Library of Medicine.
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Charushila Biswas

Charushila Biswas is a Senior Content Writer and an ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist. She is an alumni of VIT University, Vellore and has worked on transgenic wheat as a part of her Masters dissertation from NRCPB (IARI), New Delhi. After completing her Masters, she developed a passion for nutrition and fitness, which are closely related to human psychology. And that prompted her to author a review article in 2015. She has written over 200 articles on Fitness and Nutrition. In her leisure time, Charushila loves to cook and enjoys mobile photography.