It seems as if in recent years veganism as a whole has become a lot more popular. More restaurants have vegan options, if not entire menus!
At the same time, people are becoming increasingly worried about the amount of carbohydrates they’re eating and a number of diets have emerged to get people away from eating carbs – the paleo diet being one of them.
In this week’s blog post, we’re going to take a look at the paleo vegan (pegan) diet. We’ll explain how the diet works and will look into its pros and cons so you don’t have to.
How does it work?
To begin with, we’re going to quickly cover how the paleo diet and veganism differ, because the pegan diet is somewhere in between. According to ThePaleoDiet.com, “the Paleo diet is based upon everyday, modern foods that mimic the food groups of our pre-agricultural, hunter-gatherer ancestors”.
Simply put, this means the elimination of carbohydrates, legumes, and dairy products from your diet with a greater focus on fruits and vegetables, as well as omega 3 fatty acids (these can be found most predominantly in marine oils).
On the other hand, veganism is less specifically focused on dietary constraints – it extends to all aspects of life. Life as a vegan means excluding “as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose” (The Vegan Society). But on the dietary side, veganism allows for all food groups outside of meat and animal products.
Moving on to the pegan diet, this maintains the paleo diet’s aversion to carbohydrates, legumes, and dairy products, with fruit and vegetables taking on the bulk of encouraged consumption in the diet. But unlike veganism, the pegan diet allows for a moderate amount of consumption of meat and eggs – with the assertion that the animals we take these products from are grass-fed and pasture-raised.
This stipulation is important, as grass-fed and pasture-raised animals tend to have a better quality of life than grain-fed, battery-farmed animals.
Pros and Cons – How does it stack up?
Overall, there are a lot of positive things to say about this diet. You’ll benefit from a wealth of nutritional benefits from eating more fruit and vegetables alone. Consider how much healthier you might be with more:
- Vitamin C – important for maintaining healthy body tissues.
- Vitamin A – important for maintenance of normal vision, skin and the immune system.
- Folate – important for normal and healthy blood formation.
- Fibre – helps to maintain a healthy gut.
- Potassium – helps to maintain a healthy blood pressure and is also important for the normal functioning of the nervous system.
[Source: British Nutrition Foundation]
Alongside this, by substituting carbohydrates with moderate amounts of meat, nuts, and pulses, your body will metabolise your food differently. Without carbohydrates and sugars to burn, your body will subsist off regular protein and fat intakes but will also steadily reduce your stored fats. With strict adherence to this diet, you could see remarkable levels of weight loss. Furthermore, research shows that by consuming less carbohydrates, you’ll be at far less risk of some chronic illnesses (see the documentary The Magic Pill for more information on this).
Unfortunately, this diet is not without its faults and difficulties.
- As with any low-carb diet, it is somewhat more difficult to stave off hunger pangs. Following this kind of diet, you’ll realise just how much carbohydrates the average person eats, as they will be abundant in almost every grocery aisle and on almost every menu.
- This is more of a compromise between veganism and the paleo diet, as opposed to a combination. Animal products are bought from significantly better sources – and the impact of this should not be understated – but ultimately by buying these products you are perpetuating demand in the meat market. This diet does not come with as clear a conscience as the vegan lifestyle, but the degree to which this matters depends on your beliefs and consumer choices.
Overall, it is clear that the pegan diet seems to offer multitudes of nutritional and dietary benefits. But is this low-carb lifestyle something you think you can maintain in your day-to-day life? And does the better sourcing of animal products justify meat consumption, or does adherence to true veganism matter more to you?