Peganism: Let's Look Outside the Diet Box

Posted On Aug 4, 2015 By Erin Kuh, MBA, RD

Peganism: Let's Look Outside the Diet Box

"The Pegan diet. Seriously!?" That was my initial thought when I first heard about this new fad combining elements of the paleo and vegan diets ("P"+"egan" = "Pegan"), two eating styles in stark contrast to one another. My second thought: Why do we have to label and put diets into boxes? Why can't we just eat (and enjoy!) whole-food nutritious diets with an occasional splurge and sprinkle of salt, sugar, and bread (yes, I know these are three of the evils of the word, threatening to kill all of mankind).

Ah, yes. The "Pegan" diet sounds exciting and sexy, unlike the term "healthy whole-food eating." And following a set of pre-determined guidelines rather than developing your own rules tailored to your lifestyle, goals, and preferences is simpler, in some ways.

As a dietitian, I frequently get asked what diet I follow. I know people are expecting something extreme. I must adhere to a strict ultra-clean (whatever that is) eating regimen. Then I name off my favorite foods that are a regular part of my diet (bacon, beer, and dark chocolate with sea salt) and people look confused and relieved. I'm human, they realize. And so are you!

Ironically, after reviewing the Pegan diet, I discovered it's fairly close to how I eat the majority of the time and what I consider to be the optimal diet. The majority of the Pegan plan is fruits and vegetables with whole, minimally-processed grains like brown rice and quinoa, healthy fats including nuts, avocado, and olive oil, and lean protein making up the rest of the plan. I can't argue with the nutritional quality of Peganism: it's solid. And by combining the best of Paleo and Vegan, it offers more variety and practicality for the majority of people. It excludes highly processed foods and beverages, added sugars, and dairy.

But you don't have to follow the Paleo or Pegan diet, or any specific diet regimen, to be super-fit and healthy. You don't even have to eat "super-clean." Focus on eating more whole foods, fueling your body with nutritious choices, and enjoy listening to your body's cues for when it's physically hungry and full. If you can accomplish this, the "You" eating plan should provide a solid foundation for your health and fitness goals!

What are your thoughts on the Pegan diet? What kind of "You" diet do you follow? Let us know in the comments below.