Seventies housewives raved about Weight Watchers. In the early noughts, it was all about the Atkins Diet. Since then, we’ve had Keto, Whole30, Dukan, Alkaline, Macrobiotic, and the (extremely dubious) Blood Type Diet.
There’s even been a Subway Diet, which we very much doubt has been recommended by any dietician ever.
The latest dietary fad, however, is a strange mash-up between Paleo and veganism – called peganism (or paleo-vegan). It’s not quite paleo and it’s most definitely not vegan. You are allowed bacon (provided it is sustainably sourced). Beans, however, are a definite no-no.
So, what exactly is peganism?
It is a primarily plant-based diet, with an emphasis on vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruits (provided the latter are low-glycemic berries). Meat, fish, eggs, and some dairy is allowed but should be sustainably sourced and are considered a “topping” or a “side dish” or a “condiment” rather than the main event.
Other foods on the “Avoid Eating” list (besides legumes) include: grains, sugar, some refined oils, and all processed foods. Dairy is also prohibited unless it is yogurt, kefir, butter, ghee, or cheese, ideally from a sheep or goat. This is a relaxation of an earlier edition of the diet, which recommended cutting out all dairy, full stop.
Peganism was first described by physician Dr Mark Hyman, who explained the rules to the diet on his blog back in 2014. But if Google search results are anything to go by, it appears to have picked up more steam recently, since the release of Hyman’s book Food: What the Heck Should I Eat and an interview on CNBC last year.
The fact that it allows some animal-product may make peganism an easier diet to follow for would-be vegans. Plus, an emphasis on plant-based food is always a positive as far as personal health is concerned – but what do registered dieticians make of the craze?
While Wesley Delbridge, a spokesman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, praises the diet’s focus on vegetables, fruit, and fatty fish and its intolerance of sugar, he does have some concerns about some of the restrictions. For example, beans.
“Beans are nature’s superfood,” Delbridge told the Washington Post. Not only are they inexpensive, “They have protein, they have fiber, they have starch. Beans have been a staple in diets across the world, and beans have shown so many health benefits, including a reduction in cancer risk.”
Peganism also bans grains, even those without gluten, claiming grains raise blood sugar and trigger autoimmunity, without any scientific backing. Not only does this make no medical sense (unless you are celiac), it ignores the health benefits of eating whole grains, which are high in nutrients and fiber and have been linked to lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and cancer.
All in all, it seems the health benefits of peganism are mixed. Then again, we’ll no doubt be discussing the next diet fad before long, anyhow.
[H/T: The Washington Post]