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Why I am a Pegan – or Paleo-Vegan – and Why You Should Be Too!

Why I am a Pegan – or Paleo-Vegan – and Why You Should Be Too!

As a doctor, it is my job to figure out the best way to keep my patients healthy. We now know that food is medicine, perhaps the most powerful drug on the planet with the power to cause or cure most disease.  If food is more than just calories, if food is information that controls every aspect of our biology and health, then I better know what to advise people to prevent, treat and even reverse chronic disease.

So the fundamental question of our time, given that the cost of chronic disease caused mostly by what we eat will cost our global economy $47 trillion over the next 20 years and cause over 50 million preventable deaths a year is this:

What should I eat to feel good, lose weight and get and stay healthy?

On the one hand, Lebron James is eating Paleo and the number one tennis player in the world cut out gluten and dairy and went from not winning at all to winning everything in just one year.  But on the other hand, Rich Roll completed five Iron Man marathons in seven days on a vegan diet.

The Problem with Nutrition Research

Looking at the research it is easy to get confused. Vegan diet studies show they help with weight loss, reverse diabetes and lower cholesterol.  Paleo diets seem to do the same thing. So should you be shunning animal foods and eating only beans, grains and veggies or should you eat meat and fat without guilt and give up all grains and beans?

Essentially, each camp adheres to their diet with near religious fervor. And each can point to studies validating their point of view.  We call this cherry picking.  After reading dozens of studies on vegan and paleo diets, even I could get confused. But I don’t because I read BETWEEN the lines not just the headlines. I read the methods and analyze the actual data to learn what the studies actually demonstrate.

The problem with nutrition research is that most of it relies on large studies of populations and their dietary patterns obtained mostly through dietary questionnaires or 24-hour dietary recall.  The first study linking saturated fats to heart disease by Ancel Keys1 (and on which 50 years of dietary policy to eat low fat was based) looked at about 30 men from Crete and their previous day’s diet and linked that to the fact they had fewer heart attacks than people from countries that ate more saturated fat. Skimpy evidence at best!  In fact, most of the “evidence” that fat in general and saturated fat in particular is bad for us is being rigorously challenged by better and more specific research.2

These type of studies are further complicated because it is very hard to tease out the factors that matter. For example, when Asians move from Asia to the US, they eat more meat and have more heart disease and cancer, but they also consume far more sugar.  So it is the meat or is it the sugar?  Hard to know.   These types of population studies also cannot prove cause and effect, only show correlation. Yet, the media and consumers take it as gospel. We thought dietary cholesterol was bad3 and were told to avoid egg yolks4 at all costs. Turns out they are good for you and have no impact on cholesterol.

Many experimental studies on vegan or paleo diets, which should give more direct evidence of cause and effect often have only small numbers of people in the study, making it hard to draw firm conclusions.  Even worse is that the diets they use for comparison (the control group) are not ideal alternative diets. Comparing a vegan diet of chips and Coke, bagels and pasta to a paleo diet of healthy veggies and grass fed meat won’t be very helpful, nor would comparing a paleo diet of feedlot meat, bologna and no fresh veggies to a whole foods, low glycemic vegan diet.

Also, eating a low fat versus a high fat vegan diet has very different health benefits5. The Eco-Atkins or high fat, high protein, low carb, low glycemic vegan diet performs better for weight loss and cholesterol lowering than a low fat vegan diet that avoids nuts, seeds and avocados.

RD Laing said that “scientists can’t see the way they see, with their way of seeing.”

Why You Should be a Pegan! 

So what’s an eater to do?

I vote for being a Pegan or Paleo-Vegan, which is what I have chosen for myself and recommend for most of my patients. Keep in mind that most of us need to personalize the approach depending on our health conditions, preferences and needs.

What is a Pegan?  Well since I just made it up, I guess it’s up to me to define.

Let’s focus first on what is in common between paleo and vegan (healthy vegan), because there is more that intelligent eating has in common than there are differences. They both focus on real, whole, fresh food that is sustainably raised.

Here are the characteristics of a healthy diet everyone agrees on:

  1. Very low glycemic load – low in sugar, flour and refined carbohydrates of all kinds.
  2. High in vegetables and fruits. The deeper the colors, the more variety, the better. This provides a high phytonutrient content protective against most diseases. (Although the paleo camp recommends lower glycemic fruit such as berries.)
  3. Low in pesticides, antibiotics and hormones and probably no or low GMO foods.
  4. No chemicals, additives, preservatives, dyes, MSG, artificial sweeteners and other “Franken Chemicals” that you would never have in your pantry.
  5. Higher in good quality fats – omega 3 fats for all. And most camps advise good quality fats from olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados. Although some, such as Drs. Esselstyn and Ornish still advise very low fat diets for heart disease reversal.
  6. Adequate protein for appetite control and muscle synthesis, especially in the elderly.
  7. Ideally organic, local and fresh foods should be the majority of your diet.
  8. If animal products are consumed they should be sustainably raised or grass fed.
  9. If you are eating fish you should choose low mercury6 and low toxin containing fish such as sardines, herring and anchovies or other small fish and avoid tuna, swordfish and Chilean sea bass because of the high mercury load.

Now comes the areas of more controversy.

  1. Dairy – Both the paleo and vegan camps shun dairy and for good reason. See my blog on Got Proof about the problems with dairy in our diet. While some can tolerate it, for most it contributes to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer and may increase (not decrease) the risk of osteoporosis.
  1. Grains– For millions of Americans gluten creates inflammation, autoimmunity, digestive disorders and even obesity. But do all grains cause a problem?  Even though we started consuming grains recently in our evolutionary history, they can be part of a healthy diet, but not in unlimited amounts.
    1. Any grains can increase your blood sugar. And if you eat any flours made from grains, you might as well be drinking a soda.
    2. Stick with small portions (1/2 cup at a meal) of low glycemic grains like black rice or quinoa.
    3. That said, for type 2 diabetics wanting to get off insulin and reverse their diabetes and those with autoimmune disease, a grain- and bean-free diet could be a good experiment for a month or two to see how it impacts health.
  2. Beans – Beans are a great source of fiber, protein and minerals. But they do cause digestive problems for some and if you are diabetic, a mostly bean diet can trigger spikes in blood sugar.  Again, moderate amounts are ok – meaning about up to 1 cup a day. Some are concerned that beans contain lectins that create inflammation or phytates that impair mineral absorption.
  3. Meat – Here’s the sticky point. All meat is not created equally. Is it feed lot beef that has more palmitic and myristic acid7 that raises cholesterol and increases inflammation, or is it grass fed beef that has more cholesterol neutral stearic acid and contains protective omega 3 fats and vitamins A and D that raises glutathione and other antioxidants?   Some studies8 show meat increases heart disease and death rates, but others show the opposite9. In truth it depends on the quality of the study, but the evidence in my mind is trending toward meat not being linked to death or heart attacks for the reasons I explained earlier – there may have been other reasons excluded from the analysis in the meat eaters – such as they were higher sugar consumers, they were more sedentary and they were more likely to smoke and drink.  Eating sustainably raised, clean meat, poultry and lamb and other esoteric meats such as ostrich, bison or venison as part a healthy diet is not likely harmful and is very helpful in reducing triglycerides, raising HDL (or good cholesterol), lowering blood sugar, reducing belly fat, reducing appetite, raising testosterone and increasing muscle mass.  On the other hand, eating a lot of meat puts pressure on the planet – more water use, more climate change, and more energy inputs. Eat meat as a side dish or condiment, and only consume grass fed and sustainably-raised.
  4. Eggs – For years we were taught that cholesterol is bad, that eggs contain cholesterol so they must be bad, so we all suffered through years of egg white omelets, leaving the vitamins, nutrients and brain fats like choline in the garbage. Now eggs have been exonerated10 and don’t have any impact on cholesterol and are not associated with increased risk of heart disease.  They are a great low cost source of vital nutrients and protein.
  5. Fish – If you are worried about mercury in fish (and you should be), then choose small, omega 3 fat rich fish such as sardines or wild salmon. If you are a vegan and don’t want to eat anything with a mother for moral or religious reasons, then that perfectly ok. But it’s critical to get omega 3 fats, and not just ALA (or alpha linolenic acid) found in plants.  You need pre-formed DHA which is what most of your brain is made from. The good news – you can get it from algae.
  1. Everyone needs Vitamin D3 (unless you are life guard or run around naked south of Atlanta for at least 20 minutes a day, all year long).  And omega 3 fats are hard to get for most. Supplements (or a regular sardine diet) are essential. And for vegans, Vitamin B12 is also critical.

So what’s an eater to do? Become a Pegan or Paleo Vegan.  Don’t worry about focusing on how much you eat, if you focus on what you eat, your body’s natural appetite control systems kick into gear and you eat less.

Here’s what that looks like.

  • Focus on the glycemic load of your diet. This can be done on a vegan or paleo diet, but harder on a vegan diet.  Focus on more protein and fats.  Nuts (not peanuts), seeds (flax, chia, hemp, sesame, pumpkin), coconut, avocados, sardines, olive oil.
  • Eat the right fats. Stay away from most vegetable oils such as canola, sunflower, corn, and especially soybean oil which now comprises about 10 percent of our calories. Focus instead on omega 3 fats, nuts, coconut, avocados and yes, even saturated fat from grass fed or sustainably raised animals.
  • Eat mostly plants – lots of low glycemic vegetables and fruits. This should be 75 percent of your diet and your plate. I usually make 2 to 3 vegetable dishes per meal.
  • Focus on nuts and seeds. They are full of protein, minerals, and good fats and they lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
  • Avoid dairy – it is for growing calves into cows, not for humans. Try goat or sheep products and only as a treat. And always organic.
  • Avoid gluten – Most is from Franken Wheat – so look for heirloom wheat (Einkorn); if you are not gluten sensitive, then consider it an occasional treat.
  • Eat gluten-free whole grains sparingly– they still raise blood sugar and can trigger autoimmunity.
  • Eat beans sparingly – lentils are best. Stay away from big starchy beans.
  • Eat meat or animal products as a condiment, not a main course. Read The Third Plate by Dan Barber to understand how shifts in our eating habits could save the environment and ourselves. Vegetables should take center stage and meat should be a side dish.
  • Think of sugar as an occasional treat – in all its various forms (i.e., use occasionally and sparingly).

This way of eating makes the most sense for our health and the health of our planet.  It is sustainable and kinder to animals.  I have addressed the topic of sugar and its dangers in my books The Blood Sugar Solution and The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet, and am now working on a book about fat and meat.

This is a complicated story with many characters, opinions and beliefs – all arguing their points with a mix of studies showing a variety of conclusions.  My goal is to focus on biology – how food affects us through human and animal experimental studies which prove cause and effect- and not rely solely on studies of population habits which can often mislead and confuse because we can’t draw cause and effect conclusions from them.  Stay tuned for the real story on fat and animal food.

In the meantime, we can try to focus on what we know and customize it based on our preferences and beliefs. But we should leave religion out of nutrition while respecting individual choices and yes – vegans and paleo folks can be friends!

How do I eat? After researching nutrition for 30 years and analyzing thousands of scientific papers and treating tens of thousands of patients with food, I vote for being a Pegan!

Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD.

1Keys A, Menotti A, Karvonen MJ, Aravanis C, Blackburn H, Buzina R, Djordjevic BS, Dontas AS, Fidanza F, Keys MH, et al., The diet and 15-year death rate in the seven countries study. Am J Epidemiol. 1986 Dec;124(6):903-15.
2Astrup A1, Dyerberg J, Elwood P, Hermansen K, Hu FB, Jakobsen MU, Kok FJ, Krauss RM, Lecerf JM, LeGrand P, Nestel P, Risérus U, Sanders T, Sinclair A, Stender S, Tholstrup T, Willett WC., The role of reducing intakes of saturated fat in the prevention of cardiovascular disease: where does the evidence stand in 2010? Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Apr;93(4):684-8. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.110.004622. Epub 2011 Jan 26.
3PMID:14780592[PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE], SERUM cholesterol levels in human beings fed egg yolk and cholesterol., Nutr Rev. 1950 Nov;8(11):341-3.
4McNamara DJ., Dietary cholesterol, heart disease risk and cognitive dissonance., Proc Nutr Soc. 2014 May;73(2):161-6. doi: 10.1017/S0029665113003844. Epub 2014 Jan 9.
5Jenkins DJ1, Wong JM, Kendall CW, Esfahani A, Ng VW, Leong TC, Faulkner DA, Vidgen E, Paul G, Mukherjea R, Krul ES, Singer W., Effect of a 6-month vegan low-carbohydrate (‘Eco-Atkins’) diet on cardiovascular risk factors and body weight in hyperlipidaemic adults: a randomised controlled trial., BMJ Open. 2014 Feb 5;4(2):e003505. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003505.
7Daley CA1, Abbott A, Doyle PS, Nader GA, Larson S., A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef., Nutr J. 2010 Mar 10;9:10. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-9-1
8Sinha R1, Cross AJ, Graubard BI, Leitzmann MF, Schatzkin A., Meat intake and mortality: a prospective study of over half a million people., Arch Intern Med. 2009 Mar 23;169(6):562-71. doi: 10.1001/archinternmed.2009.6.
9Lee JE1, McLerran DF, Rolland B, Chen Y, Grant EJ, Vedanthan R, Inoue M, Tsugane S, Gao YT, Tsuji I, Kakizaki M, Ahsan H, Ahn YO, Pan WH, Ozasa K, Yoo KY, Sasazuki S, Yang G, Watanabe T, Sugawara Y, Parvez F, Kim DH, Chuang SY, Ohishi W, Park SK, Feng Z, Thornquist M, Boffetta P, Zheng W, Kang D, Potter J, Sinha R., Meat intake and cause-specific mortality: a pooled analysis of Asian prospective cohort studies., Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Oct;98(4):1032-41. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.062638. Epub 2013 Jul 31.
10Rong Y1, Chen L, Zhu T, Song Y, Yu M, Shan Z, Sands A, Hu FB, Liu L.,Egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies., BMJ. 2013 Jan 7;346:e8539. doi: 10.1136/bmj.e8539.

Mark Hyman MD is the Medical Director at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, the Founder of The UltraWellness Center, and a ten-time #1 New York Times Bestselling author.

Comments (144)

  • On the 10- Day Detox, quite a bit of meat and fish is eaten. Does this mean the plan is not one Dr. Hyman would himself eat, as it is clearly not vegan? I had fantastic results after ten days. It improved my metabolism and cleared up some water retention.

  • So, just to clarify…. You advocate eating meat when being a Paleo and vegan?

    • It is not whether Dr. Mark advocates eating meat or not. The question you should be asking yourself is what does
      ‘My Body’ actually need to Thrive. This is call Biochemical
      Individuality. Meaning you have different nutritional needs than anyone else. Some of the factors involved here metabolism (fast or slow), family of origin, climate of where
      You live, and others believe that blood type plays a role here. But to make it more simpler. Ask yourself how do I
      feel when I eat a certain food or a food combination.
      If it makes you sluggish or hyper, this is not the food for. You.

  • HI Dr and thank you for this awesome article, I will read it tomorrow line by line. As a Mediterranean I will stick on my Mediterranean diet, I cannot give up my seasonal vegetable and fruits, my virgin olive oil, dried figs, home made whole wheat bread made with black seeds, dates, tahini, sardines, artisanal whey, couscous, … best health to everyone,

    • I think what hes trying to say is keep the meat consumption to a minimum and only eat grass fed, good quality meat (if your choosing to eat meat)….increasing your vege intake, keep the dairy out, etc etc! I really like this article!

  • Thank you for this informative post with concise recommendations. I am a RN in a hospital and see day in and day out chronic illness taking tolls in quality of life and leading to disability and death. Knowing exactly what to do to prevent chronic illness is what is needed. Ironically, in hospitals the offered snacks from the refrigerators on each floor are yogurt (sugary), sandwiches, puddings, cereals (frosted flakes and fruit loops) and I recently mentioned this to a leadership team member and they said “that’s what patient’s want.” I am concerned that most Americans, including MDs, RNs and other health care providers don’t believe they, their families and patients are being made ill by the food industry. I will continue to do the correct practices myself to the best of my ability and impact those that I can to do the things to be healthy. Thanks again for all your recipe ideas and informative posts. We recently watched Fed Up (movie) and can’t imagine where we are going to be in 10-20 years if significant change doesn’t occur.

    • I was in and out of hospitals in Vasterbottem County, Sweden for 4.5 years due to a malpractice injury. I started having food brought in when I had to stay in the hospital for treatment as they attempted to correct their mistakes. The standard food offerings in the hospitals were salty, starchy foods with lots of poor quality meat-like stuff such as hot dogs and bacon. Several times there were no vegetables or fruit available. “I asked a nurse about this; her response: “it’s what the patients want”. Several times I simply went without.

      • I also work at a hospital and when we opened, we only offered healthy foods (low salt, no fried foods, fresh fruit and veggie snacks, we’re a cardiac facility) AND patients complained, said they would go to another hospital in the future…most of the “down marks” we ever got on patient surveys were food related. And patients really will go somewhere else if the food or accommodations aren’t well. We’ve also had patients dump doctors for prescribing healthy lifestyles. Recently I talked to someone who left a cardiologist because, “He told e every time I came in that I needed to ditch fast food. I found a doctor who would work with my lifestyle.” [I took that to mean one that has given up].

        You cannot blame hospitals for giving patients what they demand. I feel like our care and physicians are better and people get better care here, regardless of the food. So, should we do things that send them to a lesser facility just because they serve fries there? They are going to eat that crap when they go home anyway. Instead, we try to introduce baby steps and concepts like the glycemic index, so they will make a change slowly (and offer healthy options, but they aren’t popular).

    • Thanks for speaking up for the nutritional rights of patients! Maybe some want junk food, but many others only want to get better. How can one improve their immune system when being fed sugar 3X per day? How scary that western medical doctors are oblivious to nutrition. “Sure, just keep giving them fruit loops and cake and they will be sick for life. Truly should be renamed the “sick care industry”. My mother was hospitalized during the end stages of cancer and wasn’t even able to get onto a sugar free diet despite my pleading. The staff treated me like I was the crazy one while they kept shoveling sugar into her body. To make matter worse I was made to feel like the bad guy fro not giving a dying person “what they wanted.” She could have done better on a 100% veggie diet with no sugar, no meat and no gluten. Why can’t western medicine recognize our bodies need nutrition to survive, not junk food?

      • Absolutely! My grandchildren just lost their Father’s mother to cancer; and among many other interesting things we learned a high sugar diet is like giving cancer cells steroids.

  • This article makes the most sense to me. I have been so confused for so long about what to eat and what not to eat. Many of my questions have now been answered. I too think Peganism is the way to go.
    Thanks you Dr. Hyman.

  • Great article! I’ve pretty much followed these recommendations for a couple of years and at the young age of 58 have never been in better health. I do, however, eat a good bit of yogurt (for the probiotic benefit). Yogurt is dairy so should I cut that out?

    • My body is sensitive to dairy so I eat yogurt made from Almonds. Same great probiotic benefits without the dairy. There are soy based yogurts but I avoid soy because it breaks out my skin and most soy is GMO.

      • Could you share your almond yoghurt recipe? I tried making it but it didn’t set. I used a soya yoghurt culture. Thanks!

    • I recently watched an interview with Jon Gabriel and he said that while yogurt does have probiotics, it is made with pasteurized dairy which causes inflammation so it is best to get your probiotics from fermented foods like sauerkraut or kimchi, or just take a probiotic.

  • Thanks for the article. I just have one concern. You write, “If you are worried about mercury in fish (and you should be), then choose small, omega 3 fat rich fish such as sardines or wild salmon.” But you don’t mention the fact that selenium in fish counteracts the effects of mercury. Because of its other health benefits (especially high omega-3), ideally people should eat fish as long as it contains a lot of selenium.

  • Absolutely love the common sense this article displays – except for legumes not being good for blood sugar? I have always thought that the fiber and resistant starch made them especially healthy for diabetics. The phytates can be removed or reduced by soaking.

  • Totally agree with this approach. I came to same conclusion about 6 months ago, when I decided I was eating way too much carbohydrate. It took a little while for my body to learn how to burn fat and now I have much more energy, lower blood sugars and have even lost weight. How cool is that?

  • I also agree. Pegan is a more sensible long-term sustainable approach. Dr. Hyman, when you talk about nuts, you say not peanuts. Why are peanuts bad for you? Thank you.

  • “As a doctor, it is my job to figure out the best way to keep my patients healthy.” Unfortunately your the exception. When is our society going to focus on wellness? In the mean time we can continue to teach others to be responsible for our own health.

  • Dr Hyman., that was a great paper. I have recently completed your 10 day detox and dont EVER remember feeling as good as i do now. My blood sugar dropped about 70 pts. With that said i still worry. I have had a heart attack then 2 months later a stroke. I have read Dr Esselstyns Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. His diet, with proof, has actually reversed heart disease. I just get more and more confused. I have a lot of respect for all you do. I want to avoid another Heart attack/stroke. thank you

    • Please make sure your doctors check your MTHFR genetic mutation status. People with MTHFR polymorphisms are more likely to suffer from heart sconditions and strokes, but they can be treated with simple lifestyle changes and supplements. A great resource is Dr. Ben Lynch and Unfortunately many conventional doctors know nothing about MTHFR polymorphisms and will not test for them. Do your homework because it could save your life. And never ever take folic acid! Best in health!

  • A huzzah from a fan: I have been going around claiming to be a paleo vegan, and anyone who knows anything about the two terms will always laugh!

  • My book, “Paleo Vegan,” was chosen by Amazon as one of the top 30 “Hot New Releases” when it came out in March of this year, and was one of the most anticipated books of 2014 by “Veg News Magazine.” It was practically quoted in a dozen different sections of the September edition of National Geographic. The cover story, “”The Real Paleo Diet,” made many of the same points I did in the book and in numerous lectures on book tour. The highlights were that the current meat-based paleo books are “a stew of misconceptions,” and that the reality of primitive tribes being able to catch a wild animal three times a day was ridiculous. It also made the point I do constantly, which is that “the planet can’t support a meat and dairy diet.” Check it out. 😉

    • Just wanted to leave a quick reply. In the past, my tribe (Blackfeet) lived predominately on meat. Catching wild game on daily basis wasn’t required as preserving methods were used. Preparing for the winter when food was scarce or nonexistent was a huge priority. Dried meat was a staple and is still prepared today.

    • As long as the diet is full of fresh, organic plant foods, enough brain fats and avoidant of processed GMO soy products, Veleo can work wonderfully. Unfortunately, I see a lot of vegans who don’t do it right (can’t blame them since they don’t really know) eating a lot of processed meat replacers with GMO soy and suffer the same chronic diseases as those on a typical diet. One example, a friend of a friend developed early-onset Alzheimer’s at age 60 after many years as a strict vegan – I suspect her brain shrank after years of not getting enough fat.

  • Dr Hyman, you have nailed it! This is a great article that will help many people understand why Pegan is an easy and healthy diet. I have thought of myself as a vegie-Paleo for years now, but I think Pegan is great term.
    Thank you once again for your great work.

  • I have been working with your program and the one thing I cannot budge is my fasting blood sugar. Any thoughts?

    • Hi Alice,
      Regular exercise, quality sleep, and stress reduction are key elements for lowering your fasting blood sugar in addition to eating a low-glycemic diet. Did you know you can work with Dr. Hyman’s nutritionists virtually? For personalized nutrition coaching where you can receive 1:1 support with Registered Dietitians, please see:
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

    • Alice, research Cortisol and you will more than likely find the answer.

  • Would like to see someone publish criteria for truly worthwhile studies of diets, including the genetics of those being studied and not funded by anyone with financial interests. Is there anyone doing this type of research? Anywhere in the world?

  • I have recently been diagnosed as having hemochromatosis.. What can I eat. Trying to be gluten free, Diary Free, low sugar and low iron.
    So confusing as what to eat.

  • Lot’s of this makes good sense and what I recommend to many
    I am grateful that Dr Hyman is coming around to really appreciating a vegan diet.
    At this point, seriously taking into consideration the science regarding the carbon footprint of the meat industry, large conventional and grass fed, is essential. This is science and not religion here…The planet needs to be healthy for us to be healthy! Going vegan is the most significant action we can take to help the earth….eating pegan is a great idea for body and earth!

  • I love this post and actually wrote something very similar a few weeks ago on my own blog. I really like what you have to say and I’m glad we are in alignment in so many ways. I think your blog post accounts for the biochemical individuality that might make some foods great for one person, but not so good for someone else.

    I’ve been recently calling myself (to just my husband) a “part-time-paleo-pescatarian.” I eat lots of veggies, low-glycemic fruits, nuts and seeds, some fish and grains every now and then (and in moderate amounts). I eat very little eggs, gluten grains, sugar, processed foods, dairy, etc. and no meat.

    Two questions:
    1. What about soy? You didn’t really address it here. I’ve read many of your other books and posts, so I think I know where you stand, but I think it would be helpful to address it.

    2. So what EXACTLY do you eat as a pegan and in particular, where do you get your quality protein?

    Thanks again for all you do!

    • I agree with Michelle and eat almost the same exact way, I also have been confused with soy, my question for Dr. Hyman is after watching all the documentaries (Forks over Knives, Fed Up, and one other that is slipping mind) I distictly remember a research Doctor stating that meat can take days to digest and that it basically sits and rots inside your body, this along with many other reasons I have been vegan for 2 years. The problem I’m having is I am O-blood type and truly feel my body needs and craves red meat. I am on the fence especially after reading your article, it hit home and I thank you, I love following your lead.

  • DR. HYMAN,



  • After interviewing Lierre Keith, author of The Vegetarian Myth, I no longer believe that eating animals is “bad” for the planet. Folks with CFS and fibromyalgia often need the most nutrient dense foods on the planet to heal….and that is animal meat. It is really hard to digest proteins from plant kingdom (see Weston A Price research and website) and organ/muscle meats are so much more nutrient dense. Local organic farming is both good for the gut and good for the land. Dr. Karen

    • L

      Thank you!!! I too, think the whole “pressure on the earth” thing is ridiculous!

      • It is factory farming specifically that puts “pressure on the earth.” That is why Dr. Hyman is not completely writing off meat because it can be part of a healthy diet so long as it is raised as Dr. Karen Kan described. Dr. Hyman is just recognizing that some people do not feel it is ethical to eat animals and that you can still have a healthy diet w/o eating meat. And also that if we eat meat as the main portion of our meal three times a day, that is not sustainable and can cause “pressure on the earth” no matter how it is raised because it takes way more energy and resources to produce a steak than a salad.

  • I’ve been dealing with Minimal Change Disease (autoimmune kidney illness/glomerulonephritis) for a year now and am steroid dependent. I’m finally to a point where I’m ready to try an elimination diet to possibly identify triggers to my kidney inflammation. I’ve been contemplating paleo but was concerned about eating too much protein as that can be hard on the kidneys. I think this post is a great guide for me, thank you!

  • I’m a bit confused. You talk about doing a vegan Paleo diet, but you talk about consuming animal protein throughout your article. I do live on a Paleo vegan diet, so I understand what you’re talking about. So are advocating vegan or not. Either way is fine.

    • He’s saying an all-vegan diet is healthy and so is one with some meat “as a side dish” in it. His personal choice is to include some meat as a side dish in his diet. Both ways are healthy and your choice. “If animal products are consumed they should be sustainably raised or grass fed.” See the “if” in that sentence?

  • You must be psychic – “Pegan” or “Paleo-Vegan” is exactly how I am going to eat in five days when I complete 4 weeks on your old UltraMetabolism beta test – I do it once or twice a year although this is the first time I have done for longer than 7-10 days. I am getting up to speed on what the experts, yourself included, are now saying about nutrition (including recent studies that correct nutritional misinformation). Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I look forward to next your next book (I have all of them).

  • I am so glad that someone finally addressed the confusing issue of vegans and paleos making the same claims. This is a fabulous article. It would be wonderful for some of the vegan doctors (Dr. Furhman, ex.) and paleo doctors (you, Chris Kesser, Mark Sisson, etc.) to have a summit and really scrutinize the research and debate on what it shows and why some are using the same research to advise for and others use it to advise against animal products. (For example, several recent Dr. Fuhrman articles advise against eggs, especially for their choline content, when other authors say that choline is important to get.)

    One point to add is that legumes, nuts, and grains are supposed to be more tolerable and have fewer lectins and phytates if soaked, sprouted, and/or fermented. Chris Kesser addresses this, as do some raw vegans.

    What about beging sure to eat fermented food, and work on your gut microbiome? I would say that is very key to being healthy as well.

    Thank you for starting this discussion, and I hope to see it continued to whittle away more confusion.

  • I’m sorry, but a vegan diet will cause severe malnutrition. I have to eat meat for medical reasons (I have hypoglycemia in the family). I tried being a vegetarian. It didn’t work. I am a Christian, and I believe the Bible is completely true. In the Bible, God commanded Noah to eat meat, after the flood. It isn’t an option. It is a requirement for me also, in my religion. I think the reason is because many of the sources of sufficient nutrition from a vegan diet had been wiped out by the flood, and didn’t grow all over the world anymore. It also reminds us that sin is evil, and results in death. Our need to eat meat arises out of the corruption brought on by sin. When you give advice like this, please be aware there is a spiritual component to it, and you should be careful not to advise people to disobey their religion.

    • Pat, did you actually READ the article? Dr. Hyman isn’t telling you to be vegan, he’s comparing vegan and paleo diets and offering his opinion on the healthiest way to eat, which happens to include eating moderate amounts of sustainably raised meat.
      As a Christ follower, I need to tell you that your comment is phrased in a way that pushes people further away from Christ, not towards Him. Using fear to share a message with people is not what Jesus came to do and not what He wants us doing. His message was LOVE and He came to abolish religion. Please don’t hide your opinions behind “religion”. It furthers the negative reputation Christ followers already have.

    • Pat, no one is suggesting they disobey their religion. Something I learned in La Leche League is applicable here; Take what speaks to you and leave the rest behind. You have strong beliefs, so obviously you’ll have to do what feels right to you, and leave what speaks to others for them to decide. Peace.

    • Hi Pat,

      While I appreciate your religious rationale for eating meat, don’t you think God intended for us to spiritually evolve beyond where we ended up after the “fall of man”? In Genesis, He commanded us to eat plants. After we (so to speak) “fell” He instructed us to eat meat because we were too “weak” to live on plants alone. Are you still clinging to a level of spiritual evolution from the paleolithic cavemen and/or Noah of thousands of years ago? God also instructed us to be compassionate, to love our neighbors as ourselves, to respect animals and nature, to be good stewards of the animals, etc…Do you think it’s “Christian- like” to eat meat when every pound of meat that you consume requires 16lbs of grain that could be fed to starving children who are dying everyday. that for every pound of meat you waste 2500 gallons of water that is contributing to drought and arid, unusable land, that for every pound of meat you are contributing to the pollution of our waterways and aquifers, the destruction of our rainforests, the depletion of our ozone. Do you believe that we are being good “stewards” of animals when we kill an animal whose life span is 25 years at age 16-18 months? Do you think it’s compassionate to de-horn, brand with hot iron and “tail dock” (cut off the tail of cows without anesthesia) for our convenience so we can enjoy a tasty hamburger? Before you condemn Dr. Hyman for not considering your religious rationale behind your choice to eat meat, take a good hard look at what your choice means to those around you. God did not command us to eat meat; he did however command us to love, respect and show compassion towards others. Choosing to eat meat is the least loving and compassionate choice you can make. God Bless.

    • As a lutheran I certainly understand your concern. Dr Hyman is simply offering a discussion about the effects of food

    • Pat, it is NOT a requirement as a Christian to eat meat, please get your facts straight. Also, if you actually read the entire article, you would see that Dr. Hyman wrote: Eat meat as a side dish or condiment, and only consume grass fed and sustainably-raised.

  • I love the post. I work with a nonprofit that educates the public and medical community about reversible causes of dementia (seven and counting). Nutrition is huge. One founding board member’s mother came back from a 2 weeks to die diagnosis of terminal dementia and lived another 4 years with her husband. Basic diet: fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, omega 3s, lots of water and none of the bad stuff. Hospice withdrew after just 3 months—you’re not dying—and in another year she had signed up for physical therapy to get moving again. Others have had equally dramatic results.

    I have the same two questions as Michelle Dwyer, above.

    THANK YOU for all you do!

  • Dr. Hyman, I generally have a great deal of respect for your message, so I’m surprised you would put out such confusion. Vegan MEANS zero animal products, yet that is not what you propose. I think your eating recommendations here are fine, and they align especially with your 10-day detox. But calling it a Paleo Vegan way of eating is just nuts. Vegans do NOT consume animal products, and that is NOT what you are suggesting. Crack a dictionary once in awhile, okay?

  • An excellent, open-minded article.

    Both the hi-fat, lo-carb and hi-carb, lo-fat camps have demonstrated that their very different approaches lead to weight loss, lower triglycerides, lower BP, excellent all-round health, the avoidance of inflammation and thus the elimination of chronic diseases, including diabetes. It is therefore clear that the body has evolved to make very efficient use of two fuel sources: glucose from carbohydrates, i.e. sugars and starches, and ketones from fat – but apparently not at the same time.

    This to me fits extremely well with how our hunter/gatherer ancestors must have eaten. It’s only during a relatively short period of the year – what we now call harvest time – that carbs are abundant, so glucose would be the fuel source from gathered fruits etc. However, for the reminder of the year, the hunter would have to rely on fats from animals, fish and fowl to sustain him.

    So, while I’m currently following – with very good results – a ketogenic hi-fat, lo-carb lifestyle not dissimilar to that being recommended in this article, but including animal protein and fermented dairy products such as cheese and yogurt, I’m wondering if I should be eating seasonally as outlined above, if that’s what my body has been programmed over millennia to expect.

    Which brings me to a third camp, which recommends carb-cycling, where we eat hi-carb one day and lo-carb the next. They claim even better results and avoid the cravings for the denied food groups that can be the downfall of the other, more extreme diets. As this is similar to the seasonal approach I propose above, but on a day-by-day basis, it’s something in which I’m just becoming interested.

    However, as adaptation to a state of ketosis, i.e. burning primarily fat for fuel, can take a few weeks to attain, I can’t at the moment see how this can occur on such a diet. That being the case, it doesn’t seem to provide the dual fuel energy sources the body has evolved to expect. Perhaps I’ll find out if it does as I learn more about it, but for now I’d welcome your opinion.

  • Well written, and an easy read. There are two things I would add, which are quite important for vibrant health – fermented foods, for gut health, and bone broth, for readily absorbed minerals. How do you feel about either of these?

  • Hi Dr. Hyman,
    Lierre Keith, a militant vegan turned omnivore, explains why the vegetarian diet isn’t sustainable for the planet, while the carnivore diet is completely sustainable in her book The Vegetarian Myth. Attached is a link to chapter 1 .
    Thanks for all the good work that you do! But I got to disagree with you also on dairy. It has kept cultures healthy for eons. Come on over to the traditional diet if you want the fullest truth of the healthy diet!

  • I think you mean Rich Roll completed 5 Ironmans in 7 days. He writes about it in Finding Ultra.

  • Our family became Vegan for about 4 years & initially felt great. However after about 3 years I was reading JJ Virgin’s book & started on her diet which included meat & began eating it again. It was too much. I backed off to having meat about 3 times a week which seems better for us. This article was great as I have thought the same thing for some time. I have known people who are Vegetarian but eat only breads, pasta & cheese with so few vegetables it can’t be healthy. Then others who eat Paleo but go way overboard with meat even if it is good quality organic & grass fed (many don’t focus on that aspect) yet eat way too few vegetables. Meat is DEAD food compared to vegetables which are LIVE. In fact I purchased a beet root recently & it started sprouting new growth on my counter. To me that means it has more nutrients than something dead & decaying.

    As a Christian I’d prefer NOT to call myself a Pegan because that implies you are not a believer in Christ. If the first focus of food should be vegetables or Vegan then start with Veg… in the name & Paleo last. Also somehow to reference REAL FOOD to help people realize that processed food is not the focus either. I do believe our diets have gotten way off track from what God created for us to eat. In the Bible’s first book of Genisis it talks about the plants & seeds that God gave us for food. Then after the flood meat was required due to all vegetation getting destroyed. I always go back to if the food we eat is made by God or not. If not avoid it.

  • Dr. Hyman; thank you for putting lots of information into a concise and easy to understand format. For me. sometimes information overload equals confusion and procrastination.
    Thanks again,

  • I have lost 185+ lbs since reading and following your Blood Sugar Solution in March of 2012. I have tweaked the plan after the first year toward the Paleo diet. Then, to help joint pain, I went Paleo-vegan (with the occasional pastured egg).

    Great article!

  • Thank you for finally saying that a low glycemic vegan diet is healthy. I think it is possible to eat a very healthy vegan diet (which I am to do) and I think MANY aspects of the Paleo diet make a lot of sense. I am vegan for ethical reasons, but it is satisfying to hear a very common sense, balanced, and smart approach!!

  • I have been following your eating plan, Blood Sugar Solution, for the last year and found that I have feel better & have lost 50 pounds. Terms are getting confusing…you said you are a
    Pegan or Paleo-Vegan. Are the Blood Sugar Eating Plan and Pegan/Paleo-Vegan interchangeable?

    Also, after one year of eating perfectly I now find myself craving things…Any suggestions.

  • I love the term ‘Pegan’! I think this is what I’ve been looking for. I’m a vegetarian, and mostly vegan – but still take inspiration from reading the paleo recipes. I have hypothyroidism so have very recently gone gluten free to see if that helps, but generally avoiding dairy & soy too.

    Thanks for coming up with the perfect term!

  • I would love to see a sample meal plan on a Vegan Paleo Diet –
    I have been a long time vegan but would like to make a shift further from grains / the wrong carbs –
    – And what about soy & tempeh —

    thank you

  • I was wondering what you suggest to someone like myself who has an alpha-gal allergy from a tick bite and cannot consume D3 (cholecalciferol) because of the origin being lamb’s wool? I do try to be in “safe sun” as much as possible, and eat almost exactly how you suggest. Thanks!

  • Excellent article! I wish your facebook link worked…I would love to share. It doesn’t seem to be working properly but maybe it’s just me? I tried two different browsers.

  • Excellent article, but I wish it had emphasized or included these things:

    Where do you stand on fermented foods, such as kombucha, saurkraut, tempeh, etc? This is another controversial topic where some say fermented foods are evil incarnate and others say they are a panacea.

    I wish you had mentioned the importance of free range, organic, preferably local eggs (also the taste is amazing).

    Another controversy is the realm of raw milk. Some who would say pasteurized milk is the root of all evil heavily promote local raw milk and kefir.

    But, overall I loved your article! Thank you!

  • I agree with you: your guidelines are very close to the macrobiotic standard diet, which is exactly between vegan and paleo, but with more grains.
    Grains have been the humanity’s staple food for ages, but they have never harmed anyone.
    The main problem is in the mutations happened in wheat in recent times, which has got more and more gluten.
    Here is an article which talks about this issue:

  • I became a vegan for the last two months. I took Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s 3-day live course on Whole Food Plant Based eating. I completely bought in. I felt fine eating a vegan diet and I found it quite easy to switch over to.

    I have been a very dedicated weight lifter for 40 years. Unfortunately, I lost a considerable amount of my strength on the vegan diet. To be honest, I was shocked by how much my strength declined. My body weight remained the same so it’s not that I didn’t consume enough calories.

    I decided just last night that I needed to reintroduce some animal foods into my diet. I consider physical strength one of the major components of excellent health. It’s been my experience that when we focus on maximizing our physical strength (drug free) the other components of developing and maintaining excellent health become almost no brainers.

    Fortunately, I remembered reading Mark Bittman’s “Pegan” article in last week’s NY Times. As of today, I am a practicing Pegan. The return of my previous strength levels will be the proof in the pudding so to speak.

    I do have one question. What are your thoughts on eating canned sardines and canned herring as part of this style of eating? I think it would be difficult to find and keep fresh sardines and herring on hand. However, I have never actually looked for them in the fish market.


    • Hi Jim,
      Thank you for sharing your story and I hope you regain your strength quickly. Yes, canned wild salmon, sardines or herring are an excellent option. Some of our favorite brands include Crown Prince Natural, Vital Choice Seafood, Ecofish, Inc., or SeaBear.
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • I’m so glad to see this article! I was just telling someone the other day that I eat a vegan version of the Paleo diet. I’m vegan because it’s the diet that matches my spiritual/ethical beliefs. I think I’d probably do well on some lean animal protein, but I just can’t eat that way. I’m trying to find my way back to radiant health with a diet that takes in my physical and spiritual needs. It’s not easy! So interested in what you have to say about adequate protein sources for vegans. Thanks for all of your good work!

  • I really appreciate the two lists. I think you’re right about the areas of general agreement and controversy.

    The focus of your article seems to be on weigh loss, diabetes, and heart disease. I’m wondering what your thoughts are about preventing cancer through nutrition?

  • Okay so this is really bugging me. First off you are plant based being since you suggest meat (even in small portions). Secondly, veganism is not a diet. You can be plant based but would never eat or suggest eating meat. Animals are here with us not for us. I really wish people would stop calling themselves vegan when they only eat a plant based diet. I am happy you, yourself don’t eat them. But do you use animal products, wear them, use or suggest use of animal tested products? Is you say yes to any of these you are not vegan. You just have a plant based diet. Thanks for reading.

  • I so appreciate this article. It affirms what I have been thinking and subsequently eating like after steeping myself in a plethora of information in recent years. It’s a bit like Mark Bittman’s 80/20 Vegan stance for himself, recognizing the damage that our animal food industry has been wreaking,and recognizing the need everyone has to take in the phytonutrients of plant foods. Personally, I would like to be a full vegan. It is where my heart lies, but then I started challenging myself to cut out all grains and found myself wanting to have some meat. I do believe a body can get all needed nutrients except B12 on a vegan diet. And I do believe that so much of what we eat is cultural and habitual,but that these can change over time with advertising and marketing, but also with education and experimentation. I have the same questions posed above- what about soy? I eat lots of it as I’m going with the research that indicates that it helps to prevent cancer. I’m thinking the problem with soy that most people have is the GMO and pesticide link that wreak havoc with the endocrine system, that organic soy is fine and healthy, and the phytoestrogens in soy are beneficial vs harmful. I would love an article from you on soy in its various forms and how you see the various health effects. Thank you so much for this article.

  • I don’t really understand how your recommendations are different than paleo. Ideal paleo in my book is basically ‘eat tons of veggies and a variety of meat (not just muscle meat, grassfed if available), eggs (pastured), some fruit (low glycemic, generally), some nuts, seeds, and natural fats used at appropriate temperatures.’ The active have more flexibility in terms of health starches like potatoes and other tubers, and can eat fruit as they please.

  • Great article. Peganism its also kind of a variety of our so called LOGI structure here in Germany. Eating foods with low glycemic index, very low carbs from grains, high in plant food and protein.
    I have been also very confused for a long time, vegan, paleo etc. but LOGI works best for me

  • I love this article! So important to find common ground instead of constantly being at odds. Your reasoning seemed totally unbiased on every single issue except for the issue surrounding meat and sustainability. Only one book was recommended in an attempt sway the audience’s opinion. How about some sources from both sides of this issue – like you did with the other issues in this article – for a more unbiased view? Grass-fed and pasture-based rotational farming can be sustainable and good for the planet!

  • Why do we insist on labels. Dr Hyman, your article was spot on except for the labeling eating whole fresh foods should say it all whether you choose to include meat , beans , grains or not. I believe we all can choose a healthy balanced diet and modify it to our individual needs and prefrences.

  • Thanks for presenting the pegan/paleo-vegan nutrition choice. My husband and I have dramatically changed the way we eat since 2009 with very satisfying results. We were influenced by Drs. Fuhrman, Esselstyn and T.C. Campbell, and along the way we have tweaked what we’ve learned as we apply it to our daily life. Thanks for pointing out how confusing nutrition research results can be. The bottom line for us is to be healthy, enjoy what we eat and not deprive ourselves. We’ve just started blogging about our weight loss and healthy lifestyle experience – – so that we can share what we have learned and hopefully inspire others.

  • Hi Dr. Hyman,

    I’m not clear on whether you eat animal products or not; in your article it is unclear. You seem to suggest eating meat as a side dish. Do you, in fact, advocate for eating meat? I understand you are trying to be fair to both sides -vegans & paleo alike – but in giving both sides credit it becomes unclear what you advocate for. I’d love to know!

    I made the assumption a pegan was essentially a healthy vegan that still eats no animal products but is balanced and healthy in other ways (seeing as there are many extreme vegans that do things like only eat fruit or simply don’t follow a healthy, balanced diet rich in vegetables, seeds, nuts, and grains & legumes prepared properly).

    Can you clarify please? Also, there’s not much “Why” in here – why are you a pegan? So WHY do you eat animal products – if you do. What is the reason you chose this. Thank you,

    • Hi Rachel,
      Dr. Hyman recommends eating sustainably raised, clean meat, poultry and lamb, wild-caught fish, and other esoteric meats such as ostrich, bison or venison as part a healthy diet as they are very helpful in reducing triglycerides, raising HDL (or good cholesterol), lowering blood sugar, reducing belly fat, reducing appetite, raising testosterone and increasing muscle mass. We encourage you to customize the protein choices in your diet to fit your preferences.
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • Dr. Hyman, you have made several good observations on nutrition over the past thirty years.

    Please take into consideration the health of farm animals. Is their contribution to our diet so essential that we need to subject them to the animal farm environment and eventual slaughter?

  • Hi Dr. Hyman,

    I’m a vegan (for ethical reasons) but have been following the 10-Day detox. (Actually, this is my second time.) I’m really having a hard time finding plant-based protein that’s on the detox, especially since I try to avoid soy products.I’ve been working with your nutritionists, but it’s a puzzle, especially if legumes are off the table. Mostly, I’m just choking down tofu, which I loathe, in hopes that I will develop a taste for it! In the future, I hope you’ll consider developing an all-vegan approach to the detox for people like me, who believe strongly in your philosophy, but who are unable to eat animal products.

    With admiration,
    Barb Cooper

    • Whoops, I meant to say that I was having a hard time getting ENOUGH protein. I’m a yoga instructor and pretty active, so the RDA of protein for me is 46 grams. I can get a lot of that from the seeds and nuts and broccoli. But I almost never get the full 46 grams without beans or quinoa. Thanks!

  • Surely “dairy” includes all milk from all mammals? Sheep milk is intended to feed lama a, goat milk for goat kids, etc. This invalidates the argument that people shouldn’t use cow milk because it’s intended for calves. For many pastoral peoples, milk from horses, camels, sheep, goats, or cattle, was literally life giving.

    It can be argued that no natural foodstuff was intended or designed for humans. Trees produce nuts or fruit to make more trees. Sweet potatoes make more tubers to make more sweet potatoes.

    Humans evolved mosaic-wise in many different places, eating whatever they could extract from their local environment and digest. There’s no specific blueprint. We didn’t stop evolving 200,000 years ago, or even 10,000 years ago. We’re still adapting and evolving. Then there are epigenetics, so what our grandparents ate and experienced affects us.

    Humans have such high variability that each person has to work out what works for her/him. There’s no need to evoke any particular vision of an evolutionary past.

  • Funny, your newly termed way of eating was given to me about 20 years ago by my allergist. (He was well into his 60’s then) After my elimination phase to find my food intolerances, (nightshade-chemicals/perservatives-dairy-grains-undercooked eggs) he told me to eat this way from now on. He actually termed in an “Anti-allergic Diet” and said most people would benefit from eating like this, mainly getting away from the chemical laden foods. His recommendations, with the exception of my intolerances, is exactly like yours!

  • I live and golf in the sun belt. My vitamin D level at the end of the winter was low-normal and I was advised to take vitamin D. While taking vitamin D, I slowly developed crippling joint pain. After 10 months or so of supplementation, after stopping every activity that I thought might be contributing, I stopped the D supplement. In ten days my “good” joints stopped hurting and my arthritic joint improved substantially in 3-4 weeks. Four other women living in the sun belt reported the same decrease in arthritis pain to me after trying the same experiment. Do you really think that everyone, indiscriminantly should take vitamin supplements? I don’t. Maybe I just happen to know the only other four people who developed pain from D supplementation, but I doubt it.

  • Just want to mention this, because Rich Roll is such an amazing athlete, and his podcasts are worth listening to—you wrote that “Rick Rockhold” did 5 Ironmans in seven days. Rich Roll.

  • Have you seen the work of Alan Savory? He is an ecologist with a cutting-edge take on the place of animal products when considering the environment and in particular desertification. I recommend his TED talk on it as it is quite a paradigm shift.

  • This article not so cleverly sidelines the fundamental reason that Veganism supersedes paleo as the ONLY diet you should be using. The question of the moral and ethical treatment of animals and their innate rights. You can live an incredibly healthy life, be fit and strong right up until the day you die eating a Vegan diet. To choose to kill a living being simply because embedded social norms dictate it and your tastebuds have become used to it, shows a compete lack of moral and ethical, awareness, maturity and evolution.

  • I like the objectivity of this article! I would argue though, that there is nothing inherently good about local or fresh foods. The qualities one seeks, such as high nutrition content isn’t guaranteed just because it is fresh or local.
    Also, nothing has been proven regarding negative health effects of MSG, although I agree it should be avoided just because it is only in processed foods.
    Dairy is actually associated with lower rates of obesity and other diseases and is endorsed by the primal fraction of paleo.

  • Hi, so do you think eating meat and eggs is necessary for good health or is it possible to get all the nutrients necessary from a plant based (aside from B12)?

  • Dr Hyman sir, that was a great paper. I have recently completed your 10 day detox and dont EVER remember feeling as good as i do now. Thanks for that 🙂

  • I was a vegetarian for over a decade, with bouts of veganism. I never felt right, so I starting eating meat again. Now, my diet is probably 80% vegan and 20% or less animal products and the occasional cheat meal. The biggest thing for me was to give up grains. I still eat legumes (mostly lentils), but not every day. Vegetables, nuts and seeds make up the bulk of my diet and I have lost weight, have more energy and got rid of my adult acne!

    I wrote a very similar blog post:

  • Now this gave me a lot of reason to include vegan lifestyle as part of my 2015 resolution. This is going to be a big gut cleansing and healthy adventure! Thanks for sharing this.

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  • Vegan in and of itself is meat and dairy free. To say the two can co-exist means the good doctor does not fully understand the definition of vegan. It cannot be changed to make ones point. From Websters Dictionary;
    veg·an noun \ˈvē-gən also ˈvā- also ˈve-jən or -ˌjan\
    : a person who does not eat any food that comes from animals and who often also does not use animal products (such as leather)

    People who say they tried being vegan but didn’t usually feel right, about three sentences in will usually say they ate junk food instead of a plant based diet.

    Eat healthy, eat right, eat for the animals, not the animals.

  • Great article! Although I wish you would have also discussed the subject of cage-eggs and grass fed eggs – not all eggs are created equal!

  • Our ancestors didn’t have the same problems we do with their food sources. When they ate a food, there were no man-made ingredients to worry about. Today, when we check an ingredient list there can be a slew of words we can’t pronounce. And that means that many of us are putting things into our bodies that shouldn’t be there at all. Think of it this way, following a Paleo diet means that the foods you eat are actually food! Like on any others diet snacking is very important and my favorite one is 100%grass fed beef, gluten & sugar free and most important Paleo friendly Chomps(

  • I agree with your reasoning around the guidelines. Is there a suggested diet / regime that you recommend from day to day, especially if you are vegetarian? What is your opinion on sprouting beans and lentils?

  • I came here because from the intial blurb on google, it sounded like I had actually found someone was sincerely vegan and combining that with the best of Paleo which would have been really interesting and helpful to me. But after reading your article I feel mislead.

    All animal products, whether factory farmed or “grass-fed” or “free-range” are treated as equally unethical from a truly vegan perspective. Vegans don’t eat animals or their secretions at all, not even as a condiment. I’m not saying that everyone has to take this point of view, as it’s highly personal. I would categorize this more as a low-meat Paleo diet, which is a great environmentally-conscious choice, but it’s not vegan.

    I do really appreciate you laying out the areas which vegans and paleo eaters can agree. I do appreciate the Paleo perspective on whole and natural foods, and understand the avoidance of grains and sugar. Vegans can benefit from this knowledge, too.

    Check out Cowspiracy for some research and information on how grass-fed beef is anything but sustainable.

  • I really like your post! The idea that many believe Paleo is carb-limiting and ultra-restrictive is just wrong. Good fats are high in calories; eating most calories from healthy fats (coconut, avocado, olive oil, grass-fed meats, wild caught fish, raw nuts and organic pasteurized eggs). The largest quantity of food that my husband and I eat is low-glycemic vegetables and fruits. We avoid all grains, which have been proven to be inflammatory and unhealthy and made us feel sluggish. We’ve been cleaning up our diets for several years now: no processed foods, limiting sugar and alcohol consumption. For the last few months we took it a step further and began eating Paleo with the last 30 days on the Whole 30. We just had blood panels done and they have shown huge improvements in our triglycerides, cholesterol and blood pressure and we have both lost weight. As omnivores we are eating meat & a little organic dairy, but a vegan could successfully eat Paleo as well. We both feel much better than we have in years. My point is don’t condemn a lifestyle choice based on labels, misinformation or misinformed people. Making healthy choices that include lots of vegetables and healthy fats is good idea no matter what.

  • This is the diet I have chosen, totally organic, gluten-free, very little meat, plenty of fruit and veggies. I didn’t know about the fish, but I will add it to my diet.

    I suffered with Chronic Sinusitis, Chondromalacia, Degenerative Arthritis, and Hives. I have only be gluten-free for a little over two weeks, and I no longer have pain in my knees. My sinus problem has greatly improved and Hives is no longer a problem, either.

    For those who might say I have a boring diet, I would say, absolutely incorrect!!!! God created enough foods for me to enjoy a delicious variety of foods I love and some I am learning to love.

    This is a wonderful article!!!!

  • I am actually looking for info on how to safely eat “Pegan” or at least a veggie-based egg-free diet. (I don’t eggs because they showed up on an Igg test…so they cause inflammation.) However, I don’t see any suggestion on how to get adequate protein without eating meat, dairy, eggs or legumes…is this a viable way to eat long term?

    • Su, There is plenty of protein in a plant based diet. In fact broccoli and other leafy greens have more protein per calorie than even high quality animal products, without the cholesterol and saturated fats.

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  • Can we please stop calling this a “paleo-vegan” diet? Eating meat “as a side dish” is not remotely vegan. It’s not a “take-it-or-leave-it” option. Vegans DO NOT eat meat, fish, or animals products of any kind. You can’t call yourself a vegan who eats chicken because of health issues. You’re not a vegan.

    • You’re taking this much too personally. He’s not calling this a vegan diet, but a hybrid of the paleo and vegan diets. He’s taking the best of both and advocating a way of eating. Seriously, you vegans are so uptight over a word. Calm down and get that B-12 shot cause you are cantankerous!

      • I sort of see the point. I don’t think it’s intended to be uptight. What we are talking about is the difference between the plant based whole food camp and the paleo camp. I personally agree with Dr Hyman and that there is common ground between both to learn from. To be vegan, on the other hand, is a lifestyle choice where diet is just a fraction of it. You can eat an entirely plant based diet and still not be a vegan. I would imagine many “Forks Over Knives” followers fit this description and continue to wear leather, as an example.

  • darn, you got to the word first: Pegan! Excellent. That’s for me. Pegan. I’m trying no-till (hi-mulch like Ruth Stout) gardening to not maim thousands of tiny creatures for every head of lettuce I grow. Also, eating offal from grassy free-rangey cows (cows provide a lot of offal within a single consciousness, and offal is the most nutritious bits and doesn’t incentivize the meat industry very much). Lucky I don’t like meat so I can eat guts as easily as muscles [so-called ‘beef’]. Not eating pigs, as they are clearly our sisters and brothers. Trying to figure out more ways to make it up to the cows. Also, fermented foods is probably important. But basically everything you say here but more attention to gentle gardening and to gently disrupting the profit incentive in even relatively healthy ‘meat’ practices. Pegan. Kudos to you for getting to that word first, Mark.

  • People need to forget the idea that veganism is a diet. It’s a lifestyle. Whether or not I eat a balanced diet of fruits and veg, or a diet of chips, coke and chips, I do not make diet choices based on health, I do it for in an attempt to end the suffering and slaughter of 150 billion animals each year.
    And if you’re promoting aspects of a vegan diet whilst promoting meat consumption too, then this whole article proves how stupid we are

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  • This diet is not sustainable without a solid meal plan. You should have a strong paleo meal diet plan before starting the diet. To ease your work, here is a healthy meal planner. We are including a a paleolithic diet infographic which is will be the perfect meal plan for your everyday routine.
    Get More Details Here :

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  • Very well written article with lots of great information. However, I’m a little concerned about the comments about meats and eggs NOT increasing cholesterol. After starting on a plant-based diet, my husband’s LDL cholesterol decreased from 150 to 90. His high blood pressure has also gone from very high to normal. We still eat very high quality grass fed meat and lowest mercury fish, but only up to twice a week and 4oz per serving as recommended by Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat To Live plan. We have our own free range chicken, and only eat her eggs, but only as a subsititute for the meat or fish for variety. (up to twice a week)

    Many of the studies that are all over the news have been funded by the meat and egg industries! For example, the egg industry took people already eating eggs and had them add 1 egg per day to their diet. Their conclusion was that adding eggs to a diet does not increase cholesterol. That’s a little like saying that if you smoke a pack of cigarettes a day and add another pack, that adding cigarettes to your diet does not affect your chance of lung cancer! Similar studies have been done with the meat industry with misleading results. Beware of where your information is coming from.

    We have seen first hand that cutting down animal products to VERY small amounts, and making sure that they are the highest quality available does work. Of course cutting out processed foods, dairy, added salt and increasing your fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds is the way to go!

  • I think that Paleo is good because avoids grains and Vegan is good because avoid animal products. Both things are unhealthy. If you do both things, that is, avoiding grains and animal products, you will have double better diet. This is basically a raw food diet: no grains, no meat, no fish, no diary, no concentrated carbohydrates (potatoes). High in fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, this is the only food we need.

  • Hi every body,
    Diet is not about losing weight, it’s about eating right. Read Grain Brain and you will understand Paleo Diet. Sugars cause inflammation, which ages us. Marketing is damage you up. A slice of whole wheat bread is probably the worst thing you can put in your mouth. It’s about putting gas in your engine, not diesel. And yes arthritis is gone, the bags under my eyes are gone and as a side effect, went from 180 to 152. Don’t knock it till you try it. And you have to put the alcohol away.I used to have big problems with lose weight tips, but am getting in better shape now. Here’s a good site I found that really helped. It gave me great methods and and showed me what I was doing wrong before…there’s even lots of free articles on the site…

  • As a chef, health coach and nutritionist, I advocate a predominately healthy “vegan” diet. I like the idea of small quantities of very clean meat, for some clients (less than 10% of total calories) BUT I disagree with Dr. Mark about legumes & beans. I have had several clients REVERSE their diabetes and even totally get off meds by eating beans! One successful guy actually switched to almost only beans (he ate oatmeal too) but ofcourse he eventually got bored, after about a year, and went back to his old dietary patterns.