Pegan Diet Principles & Potential Health Implications

The Pegan Diet is a combination of Paleo and vegan diets. It includes meat-based proteins, but is centered on a plant-based philosophy.  It emerged in 2015 from Dr. Mark Hyman and his belief that food is medicine. His diet plan focuses on food quality. Hyman recommends a shift away from modern agriculture and processed foods. Instead, his diet emphasizes plant-based whole foods, healthy fats and grass-fed proteins. To learn more about the Pegan Diet, continue reading below.

Pegan Diet Principles:

  1. Plants comprise the majority of the diet, about 75%.
  2. Fat intake from omega-3 fats (fatty fish and flax seeds), as well as fats from nuts, seeds, coconut and avocados are encouraged. As are saturated fats from grass-fed or sustainable raised animals, but in smaller amounts.
  3. Vegetable oils, dairy, gluten and grains are omitted.
  4. Sugar intake, in all forms, is discouraged.
  5. Legume intake is limited.
  6. Organic foods are recommended to limit intake of pesticides, antibiotics, hormones and GMOs.

For a sample meal plan, visit Dr. Hyman’s website for a quick look at his “Eat Fat, Get Thin” program:

Potential Health Implications of the Pegan Diet:

Nutrition experts agree with several principles of the Pegan Diet. First, they believe that including fruits, vegetables and omega-3 fats is appropriate for optimal health and weight management.  These foods also help maximize nutrient intake and protect against cancer and disease. Second, they agree with Pegan Diet recommendations to limit sugar and meat consumption. This helps protect against cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

However, nutrition experts disagree with omitting and restricting food groups unless a true allergy or intolerance exists. Restriction of food groups could result in inadequate intake of nutrients that actually help improve health outcomes. For example, the Pegan Diet restricts consumption of whole grains. This is in direct contradiction to advice from nutrition experts. Contrary to Pegan Diet principles, consumption of whole grains is linked to decrease risk of cardiovascular disease and lower blood glucose levels. They are also an excellent source of dietary fiber, along with legumes, which may help reduce risk of cancer, diabetes, and other health complications.

Therefore, with some exceptions, the Pegan Diet is inline with mainstream nutrition advice. However, before you begin any diet speak with your healthcare provider. This will help reduce risk of inadequate nutrient intake, as well as help to find a program tailored to your specific health needs.

By: Mallory Spinelli, RDN


  1. Thalheimer, Judith. “For Your Information: Understanding the Pegan Diet.” Today’s Dietitian,” Oct. 2015, Accessed 18 July 2018.