In a case of opposites attract, two very different diet philosophies have come together to create what many are calling the next big thing in nutrition; merge paleo and vegan and voila; you get pegan. Yes, you’re reading that right. We probably haven’t seen such an oddball coupling since Beauty and the Beast (who doesn’t love a Disney reference?)
Despite what might seem as a strange match, dietitians and medical professionals are backing this new approach to eating. Don’t worry, the diet doesn’t simply combine the rather extensive restrictions of both…if that were the case then what would be left?! Instead, the pegan diet draws principles from both a paleo and vegan diet that allow for a much more sustainable diet. As a dietitian I am generally pretty skeptical when I hear of any new diet that proclaims to be the next big thing in health or weight loss. Most popular diets offer promises they can’t deliver on or have ridiculous guidelines that even the most devoted dieter can’t adhere to. Needless to say I was more than a bit weary when I heard of this latest and greatest diet, but after some further research I have to admit, I might be sold.
Before you question my sanity or worse yet my taste palette, hear me out. Although I understand the general premise of the paleo diet and find it to have many redeemable qualities, I still can’t get behind the ban on grains. I also find that while a vegan diet is very healthy, many vegans struggle to consume adequate protein. Just like many odd couples, one’s weakness is the other’s strength, which makes the combo of paleo and vegan such a perfect pairing. Plentiful protein with an allowance for healthy grains creates a much for sustainable and even effective diet.
What does it mean to go pegan? First up, meat is back on the menu! However, just as with the paleo diet, all meat should be organic. That means free-range, grass-fed and free of hormones and antibiotics. As in paleo, but a far cry from a vegan diet, protein from animal sources makes up a good chunk of the pegan diet. In this new approach, about a quarter of your intake should come from meat, poultry, fish or eggs. However, the rest of a pegan’s plate will be brimming with fruits and vegetables, making up roughly the other three quarters of the diet. That’s not to discount healthy fats from sources like coconut oil, olive oil, nuts and avocado.
Another positive of the pegan diet is an allowance for grains; at least those of the gluten-free variety. You can even loosen the reins on small beans and lentils if you consume them in limited amounts. But beware; legumes like peanuts and other beans are still off limits. While vegans tend to rely heavily on soy for a protein source, pegans must forgo all soy products. However, both agree that dairy has no place on the menu and sugar is shunned, but not altogether banned since hey, we all need a little sweet in our life.
It remains to be seen what the long-term benefits are of adhering to a pegan diet, but given its high protein and fiber content, all signs point to the positive. Most importantly, the pegan diet emphasizes whole foods, something we are fully behind at Whole Health Nutrition. Thinking of becoming a pegan? Come in to chat with one of us and maybe you’ll find that opposites really do attract.
Try my favorite Pegan Recipe from justataste.com
Skinny Shrimp Scampi with Zucchini Noodles
Yield: 2 to 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 10 min
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 cup white wine
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 medium zucchini, cut into noodles (See Kelly’s Notes)
Chopped parsley, for garnish
Place a large sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and heat it for 1 minute. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and cook them for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
Add the shrimp to the pan and cook them, stirring as needed, until they are cooked throughout and pink on all sides, about 3 minutes. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and then using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a bowl, leaving any liquid in the pan.
Increase the heat to medium. Add the white wine and lemon juice to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan, cooking the wine and lemon juice for 2 minutes. Add the zucchini noodles and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Return the shrimp to the pan and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, garish with parsley and serve immediately.