It’s a diet that has many people divided and yet it actually is rather uniting. We are talking about the pegan diet, a blend of vegan food and the meat-filled options of the paleo diet.
Now with a blending between the two, health seekers can have their plants and fill up on quality protein too. The pegan diet encourages about 2/3rds of your plate to be filled with plant-based food and a third of it to be made up of high-quality animal proteins. So what is out? No dairy and very little carbs.
With so much information out there about all these different diets is the pegan bandwagon one you should jump on or avoid? NYC Gastroenterologist Dr. Prem Chattoo of Hudson River Gastroenterology has actually recommended the diet to several patients. He says “Pegan is great because having fruits and vegetables as the bulk of your daily food intake is likely to reduce the daily caloric intake for many of us, and the pegan diet integrates a wonderful balance between meat, fruits and veggies. It is worth trying.” As someone who treats patients for food issues Dr. Chattoo also says that he likes the other health benefits of going from paleo to pegan including that it may improve overall cholesterol levels and increase your vitamin B12 levels which increase energy levels.
What’s interesting is that some are saying while it may have the name pegan now, this type of diet is something you may already be following only you aren’t labeling it. Nutritional Health Counselor Cindy Kasindorf, founder of Joni Juice, says, “Interestingly enough, I lived by the pegan diet before even knowing that there was a title to this method of eating.” As an expert in fruits, veggies and juices Kasindorf goes on to say, “Many studies have shown that we are much better off eating mostly a plant based diet and eliminating dairy, soy, sugar and processed foods.” What Kasindorf especially likes with this way of eating is that “while you are eating 75% plant food, there is also room for high quality lean animal protein and healthy fats such as avocado and olive oil. Some of us do best when having some high quality animal protein in our diet. Filling your plate with mostly vegetables and a smaller portion of lean animal protein is a great way to combine food so that it is easily digested and provides both the macro and micro nutrients. It also allows for a diet which is less restrictive so that there are more options and it is easier to stick with it.”
Another interesting side benefit of eating pegan may also have to do with your metabolism, that’s according to Karena Wu, owner of ActiveCare Physical Therapy. Wu, who helps keep everyone from professional athletes to the average gym goer pain-free says, “Eating pegan will help with becoming healthier and more fit because of the lack of ingredients that retain water and ideally because you are enjoying the list of items with minimal flavor additives. It should kick up the metabolism and reduce water and true fat. The diet should also stimulate the digestive and cellular systems more because of the processing required in digestion and bowel movements, from the increase in fiber and energy, from the true, healthy, whole foods that nourish the system.”
NYC Chef Mark Bailey is also a fan. As a private Chef he noticed some clients requesting a pegan menu. That’s when he decided he would give the diet a shot himself to loose a few pounds. How’d he do it? “I integrated lots of broccoli, green beans and asparagus into my pegan diet. These veggies compliment meat very well and are quite filling,” said Chef Bailey. “For the meats, I ate fish, chicken and turkey because they can be prepared quickly and are lighter than say beef or pork.” Lime and tequila shrimp/chicken kabobs, veggie frittata and fajita lettuce wraps are Chef Bailey’s go-to pegan dishes.
So this all sounds great right? Well not so fast. NYC vegan restauranteur Pamela Elizabeth, owner of NYC’s Blossom Du Jour and all the vegan restaurants that carry the Blossom name isn’t a big fan. She still believes vegan is best. “I wish the pegan diet did not promote meat consumption and did promote the importance of eating healthy carbs.” Elizabeth goes on to note that “While encouraging people to eliminate dairy from their diet, and promoting the intake of large amounts of vegetables daily is absolutely beneficial. I still stand by the vegan diet 100% though. It isn’t only good for the body, it’s good for the planet and for farm animals.”
Going Pegan also means giving up dairy. Many would argue that would mean a lack of calcium and a lack of some of America’s favorite sweet treats including 16 Handles CE-Yo Solomon Choi. Choi says diets like all the ones mentioned here are one of the reasons they are now catering to those who want to eat dairy and those who don’t. They always have two dairy-free options on tap and are even working on new flavors like Strawberry Lemonade Sorbet and a Yo Soy Chocolate flavor, both 100% dairy-free (available late summer/early Fall). Some people still want their dairy too so there are lots of options for everyone.
The moral of the story is whether you are pegan, paleo or vegan it’s still a personal choice. You know what is right for you and your body, label or not!