A new diet debate: Paleo, vegan or pegan?

There are diets for weight loss, body building, disease fighting, health maintenance and religious, moral and ethical reasons. Some people are strict with the do’s and don’ts of their diet of choice, while others take a little of this and a little of that.

With the variety of diets continuing to grow and research sometimes contradicting what one camp swears by, how do people decide what’s best for their individual physical needs?

A good place to start is with the pros and cons of any given food regime and then mix and match its tenets as appropriate.

That’s a direction Dr. Mark Hyman, director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, advises. As a practicing family physician and New York Times best-selling author, Hyman takes the best from two diets that are based on opposing foundations: vegan versus paleo. 

He dubbed the modified diet “pegan.”

In general, a paleo diet focuses on animal protein while a vegan diet stands squarely on the opposite side of the fence. Whereas some vegetarians may add an occasional egg or piece of fish to their meals, vegans take everything that has to do with animals off the menu. Their diet consists solely of beans, vegetables, grains, fruits, nuts and seeds.

For paleo foodies, one of the top protein sources is animal protein — things such as grass-fed meat and wild-caught fish. They base their preferences on what our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate, and avoid grains, legumes and most anything else that didn’t exist pre-agriculture.


Pegan DOs:

•  Unlimited Fruits and Vegetables: Both vegan and paleo diets place an emphasis on plant-based foods, since they’re a tremendous source of the vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to remain healthy. They should make up 75 percent of your diet. (Check out these 9 Healthy Dinner Recipes for Meatless Monday.)

•  Small amounts of meat and eggs: Taking a clue from paleo, protein should come from grass-fed and antibiotic-free animals — in other words, organic. Animal protein like chicken, beef, fish and eggs should only make up approximately 25 percent of your diet.

• High-Quality Fats: Olive, coconut and avocado oils, in addition to avocados, nuts and other sources of omega-3 fats, are staples of the paleo diet and tend to be a part of good vegan diets, too. However, you’ll want to steer clear of peanuts, which are a legume, and limit the amount of saturated fats found in grass-fed or sustainably raised animals.

•  Healthy Grains: Vegans often rely on grains for energizing B vitamins. Reach for gluten-free, whole grains, such as quinoa, when you’re on a pegan plan.

•  Lentils: A nutritional powerhouse and great source of meatless protein, small beans like lentils are allowed in limited portions. Other beans or legumes like pinto and peanuts should be avoided.

Pegan DON’Ts

•  No dairy: Shunned by vegan and paleo dieters alike, dairy has no place in the pegan eating plan, since many people have a hard time digesting it.

•  Soy: This vegan diet staple is a no-no in the pegan and paleo camps. Why? Research links the bean to disrupting hormones and it also tends to be genetically modified.

•  No added sugar: As with most healthy diets, sugar should be viewed as a treat and used sparingly. Too much of the sweet stuff has been linked to obesity and disease so cutting back will do your body good

•  No gluten.

Sources: http://dailyburn.com/life/health/pegan-diet-paleo-vegan; yahoo.com


Loren Cordain, a professor emeritus with the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University, is founder of the paleo movement and author of numerous papers and books on the subject. His research covers the downside of a strict vegan diet and boils the answer down to one thing: B-12 deficiency.

As an essential vitamin, B-12 is found in foods such as fish, shellfish, meat, eggs and dairy products.  The vitamin helps make DNA and blood cells and plays a major role in feeding a strong immune system and a healthy brain.

“Vegan diets practiced indefinitely eventually become lethal because of the lack of vitamin B-12, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, iodine, iron, zinc and other nutrients,” Cordain said. “If contemporary people attempt a vegan diet, they must supplement their diet with these necessary nutrients.”

By definition, he said, a paleo diet involves eating foods that provide B-12 — fish, eggs, shellfish, meat, organ meats, poultry and game — whereas a vegan diet deliberately avoids all animal products.

“No pre-agriculture peoples ate vegan diets,” he said. “In fact, whenever and wherever possible, they always sought out animal foods because of a concept called optimal foraging theory in which they attempted to maximize the calories hunted or gathered compared to the calories expended to obtain the food.”

Cordain described a vegan diet as one that will cause vitamin B-12 deficiency unless it is supplemented with the vitamin.

“Any lifelong dietary plan that requires nutrient supplementation on a regular basis makes no sense from an evolutionary perspective,” he said.

To Hyman, the answer is in the blend — minus a little of this and plus a little of that. 

The pegan diet builds a common ground on one of the basic concepts that paleo and vegan aficionados agree on: Dairy is a no-no.

From there, Hyman addresses the yes/no pull of a vegan’s grains versus a paleo’s no grains. 

Whole grains provide nutrients, including fiber, B vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium and selenium. For millions of Americans, however, gluten causes inflammation, autoimmunity, digestive disorders and even obesity

To satisfy both camps, Hyman’s pegan diet allows small portions of low glycemic grains such as black rice or quinoa. He limits the amount of beans as well but gives them credit for providing fiber, protein and minerals.

The biggest split between a vegan diet and a paleo diet comes down to meat. Hyman acknowledges the conflicting studies that put meat in a good light as well as a bad one. His pegan diet recommends having meat as a side dish and making sure it ranks much higher on the chain than a fast-food hamburger — specifically grass-fed and sustainably-raised.

In general, the pegan diet focuses on protein and good fats and making 75 percent of food consumed low-glycemic vegetables and fruits.

Caleb Sommer, owner of Project Rise Fitness in Denver and Stapleton, runs a six-week challenge for people looking to tighten up, build muscle or lose weight. The program focuses on mindset, nutrition and exercise and a modified version of the paleo diet.

“There are options for vegans,” he said, pointing to meat alternatives such as quinoa, hemp and pea protein.

One of the main ideas is to eliminate processed foods and shop on what Sommer referred to as the perimeters of the grocery store where food that expires in about two weeks is found.

“It’s a common misnomer that if you’re a vegan or a paleo you have a healthy diet,” he said, “You can basically have too much or too little of anything.”

There are diets for weight loss, body building, disease fighting, health maintenance and religious, moral and ethical reasons. Some people are strict with the do’s and don’ts of their diet of choice, while others take a little of this and a little of that.

With the variety of diets continuing to grow and research sometimes contradicting what one camp swears by, how do people decide what’s best for their individual physical needs?

A good place to start is with the pros and cons of any given food regime and then mix and match its tenets as appropriate.

That’s a direction Dr. Mark Hyman, director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, advises. As a practicing family physician and New York Times best-selling author, Hyman takes the best from two diets that are based on opposing foundations: vegan versus paleo. 

He dubbed the modified diet “pegan.”

In general, a paleo diet focuses on animal protein while a vegan diet stands squarely on the opposite side of the fence. Whereas some vegetarians may add an occasional egg or piece of fish to their meals, vegans take everything that has to do with animals off the menu. Their diet consists solely of beans, vegetables, grains, fruits, nuts and seeds.

For paleo foodies, one of the top protein sources is animal protein — things such as grass-fed meat…