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What happens when you combine the Paleo diet with the environmental and health benefits of veganism? According to Dr. Mark Hyman, MD, founder of The UltraWellness Center and author of the new cookbook Food: What the Heck Should I Cook? (Little, Brown and Company, 2019), you get the Pegan diet, a “best of both worlds” hybrid, and Hyman’s brainchild.
While many of the Pegan diet’s tenets are the same as Paleo’s, with an emphasis on plant-sources of food, going Pegan loosens some of the popular diet’s more restrictive aspects. “Paleo restricts legumes and grains while Pegan does not,” explains Hyman, adding that sticking to gluten-free grains (like oats) and low-glycemic legumes (think chickpeas and beans) is still best. However, he is quick to point out that certain ingredients like peanuts are still off the table whether eating Pegan or Paleo.
On the other hand, Peganism doesn’t shirk animal products altogether, but instead shifts the focus to high-quality, consciously sourced proteins; Hyman names grass-fed beef and wild-caught salmon as two great options. “These are always meant to complement a colorful variety of vegetables, which should be the true star of any meal,” he notes.
Diet of choice aside, Hyman admits there is far too much “health washing” in the current nutrition landscape, a reality that he tries to combat with his no-nonsense approach to food, as found in his new cookbook and its predecessor, Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? (Little, Brown Spark, 2018) “’Natural’ is still one of the most common and most deceiving terms used by companies to sell food products, and it’s largely unregulated and loosely defined,” he points out. Foods with this ambiguous label can still contain ingredients that negatively impact your health, such as refined sugars, artificial flavors, added hormones and inflammatory fats.
Hyman believes improving one’s relationship with food by focusing on whole ingredients is one way to get ahead of the marketing machine and regain control of your health. Try these two Pegan recipes, taken straight from Hyman’s cookbook, which put flavor and nutrition at the forefront. (Bonus: They are a breeze to put together!)